In the hallowed halls of my alma mater, a singular principle was instilled in us from an early age: become servant leaders. We were encouraged to dream big, aspire for success and reach for the stars. But our alma mater’s unwavering emphasis was on one crucial idea — success is most meaningful when shared.
Reflecting on it now, the values instilled in Millennials and Gen Z seem necessary and reflective of our time. Our formative years coincided with seismic shifts in the global landscape — 9/11 and the Iraq War, climate change, the internet’s rapid ascent and myriad other transformative events. The advent of social media intensified the significance of these events, thrusting them into the forefront of our generation’s consciousness.
Fast-forward to today, and discussions surrounding the supposed chasms separating different generations are rife. Labels or titles of laziness, entitlement, and the infamous “Ok, Boomer” retorts are flung around with reckless abandon. Yet, beneath these apparent divisions, a common thread weaves its way through all generations — a shared definition of success, albeit expressed in unique forms.
GENERATIONAL DISTINCTIONSThe Baby Boomer generation embodied the adage “The World is Our Oyster.” Their optimism, competitiveness and work ethics were exceptional. They subscribed to the belief that success will follow, if one is willing to give the time and pay their dues. While significant events during their era included the Cold War and the Vietnam War, this generation seems to embody an overall positive outlook, buoyed by rapid technological progress. Consequently, success for them meant accumulating wealth, home ownership and building a family.
Dubbed the “Middle Child of America” by CNBC, Gen X exhibited communication styles and success definitions akin to their predecessors, with a hint of adaptability and inclusivity. While they believe in putting in the 9-5 time, they are also open to leveraging technology. In fact, there was a certain point that they actually used their mobile phones more than any other generation in the workplace, acknowledging that there may be a shift in how people will work.
Millennials broadened the definition of success to include wealth generation and work-life balance. They laid the groundwork for remote work’s rise, valuing experiences over traditional career trajectories. A proliferation of social impact businesses emerged, with companies like Toms and Rags to Riches leading the way yet, so did technology businesses, especially those in the shared economy such as Uber and Airbnb.
Gen Z follows the Millennials’ blueprint but accentuates the importance of mental health and climate change. Companies such as Patagonia and Rare Beauty exemplify their commitment to social and environmental causes. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the demand for flexible work arrangements. While valuing experiences over material wealth align with the Millennial ethos, Gen Z’s emphasis on community departs from the Instagram-worthy experiences popularized by their predecessors. As digital natives, they embrace technology-driven side hustles, while grappling with the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) on the future of work and information dissemination looms large.
SHARED, YET REDEFINEDToday’s workforce comprises four generations, necessitating harmonious coexistence and communication. At first glance, value systems appear in contrast, but dig deeper, and they all share common roots. Wealth generation, financial security and recognition remain as aspirations. These generations share a yearning for home ownership and career progression. Community stands as a pillar of their happiness, though defined differently — via nuclear families, deep friendships or support networks, as seen by how older generations still value traditional marriage and marriage routes, while younger generations are redefining what families look like. The imperative issues of mental health, climate change and community engagement have evolved from older generations’ community service activities, driven by the democratization of information through social media and online news.
CALL FOR DIALOGUEAlthough the terminology varies, the core values underpinning success are universally shared. Yet, in an age marked by the rise of AI and algorithms shaping our social feeds, divisive politics, and global uncertainty, an urgent need emerges — open dialogue is now more critical than ever. After two years of the pandemic’s isolation, many of us have fallen into echo chambers, hindering genuine collaboration toward shared prosperity.
The 4th Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) NextGen CEO Conference, set for Nov. 9, 2023, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Sheraton Manila Hotel in Pasay City, aims to initiate this crucial dialogue. Fireside chats with experts will delve into the delicate balance between AI and well-being. At the same time, discussions with the heirs and executives of established corporations will illuminate the evolution of modern workplaces. A speed-networking activity promises to foster cross-generational learning and challenge long-standing stereotypes.
In an era when common values unite us more than ever before, it’s time for all generations to come together, learn from one another and collectively shape a prosperous future.
Maria Georgianna E. Carlos is a member of the MAP NextGen Committee and the founder and pack leader of Fetch! Naturals.