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Nate’s Notes 96: “Okay Boomer” | NYU Professor Mike North on Bridging the Generational Gap

By October 16, 2023No Comments

Mike North

Professor at the NYU Stern School of Business

What interesting, timeless lessons Mike shared today.

First, leaders can come from anywhere, because leadership is a behavior, not a position, a verb not a noun. We can lead by example, by challenging the status quo, by having difficult conversations, or by listening to others. Ultimately, we get to decide what kind of leader we want to be, in the same way that Mike chose to wear a bandana on his head and a green leather jacket at work.

Second, age unnecessarily divides us in many ways, especially given that age is the only universal social category. We will all join each of its identities and subgroups if we live long enough. But rather than glue us together, age often divides us, whether its younger people saying, “Okay, boomer” or older people lamenting “kids these days.” But this is not a new phenomenon. There are similar quotes dating back to 800 BC. And even though both young and old are discriminated against, sadly young people tend to be viewed most negatively, both from older and younger generations alike.

One way Mike’s research addresses this gap is through advice giving in which he finds that the advice given by young people is equally as good as the advice given by old people. Just as leadership can come from anywhere, so too can good advice.

Finally, we probably focus too much on chronological age. To better appreciate people, we can view them through other age lenses, such as generation, tenure, and experience.

In summary, we can all lead and appreciate each other more, regardless of our age. It’s a simple idea. Please take it seriously.

Mike North Bio:

Mike North is a Professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business where he teaches leadership. Mike’s research focuses on challenges of, and considerations for, the aging and multigenerational workforce.

Mike was named a “Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professor” by Poets and Quants, a “Top 50 Best Undergraduate Business School Professor” by Poets and Quants, and a “Rising Star” by the Association for Psychological Science.

He has authored op-eds for the Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Newsweek, Quartz, and New Scientist, and his work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, BBC, New Yorker, Washington Post, Forbes, and TIME.

Mike earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from Michigan, a PhD in Psychology and Social Policy from Princeton, and completed a postdoc at Columbia.

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