Economic Recession and Positivity
Two demographics seem to have taken this recession the hardest in terms of facing and coping with job loss and job seeking: the Boomers who were in a set career for many, many years, and the wee Millennials.
I had a discussion with an awesome gentleman at a networking lunch today that set a threshold on the younger Boomer side: “the way it was before 45, those who ‘got it’ in biz before and those who didn’t was about 60/40…after about 45 it seems to reverse…” and as we discussed more, it surfaced that on the Millennial side it was more of a motivation problem than a technology and knowledge problem.
These reflections are purely subjective of course, but as we were sharing with one another we both had a definite perception of our peer groups having difficulty knowing how to find a job and stay productive in this slump.
In a post-’09 economy we are responsible for not only asserting, but building our own value. It’s important to self-regulate this in an environment where we are often devalued and those of us with college degrees and/or years of experience are constantly told to be grateful for the wages we make as a professional that are equal to or less what we made when much younger or while waiting tables or working retail part-time while still in school.
This is in part true, but we don’t have to stay devalued. You know who’s building the economy back right now? Influencers. Networkers. People who know their own value and can assert it. Those who believe they have the power to do something different than sign on with some company and just climb the ladder like dad did at McDonell-Douglas back in the 70s or 80s (and not that that was bad, it’s just different now).
It’s those who see value in other people and ideas and not just a piece of paper with a carefully manicured fonts, bullet points and spacing.
I’ve had the awesome privilege of getting to launch a great new idea here in St. Louis–notoriously one of the slowest cities to take to new ideas–which is Saint Louis Coworking. I co-manage the space with Rosa, a fantastic young woman, and we’ve had the opportunity to build this thing almost ex nihilo, out of nothing. You can see our personalities coming through everything and the way they’ve merged with and brought out characteristics of the tenants in the space as well. The whole thing has seemed to be governed by serendipity and there’s really a lot of lore and legend that surrounds this project. But truly, both Rosa and I just had the gumption to get ourselves to the right places at the right times to push the dominoes over.
In this space I’ve learned that the weird itching I got in traditional mid-size or corporate business settings may have been for a reason. It doesn’t HAVE to be that way anymore, we don’t HAVE to be in traditional office-type roles at the mercy of whatever downsizing, layoffs or bottom-line goals that entity may have. Experienced, older professionals don’t have to just roll over and accept a layoff while seeking a new job by shaving credentials off of their resume. Young pros don’t have to just continue to put on the apron and wait those tables indefinitely. I’ve learned so much about what individuals are capable of in every age group and I have collected some great insight and from everyone who is connected to this project.
My mom and dad are both entrepreneurs so I think I come honestly by this “itch” for something different. But you know what? If the economy had stayed the way it was in the mid-2000s, I may have been able to settle into a standard 9-5 sort of job and I never would have climbed out on a wire the way that I have. By questioning and seeking and straining and working and lamenting I’ve arrived at a light in myself that ease and complacency could have concealed indefinitely. I see this in many around me as well. People have found power in themselves to strike out and build something and we can empower each other to find these things at any age, across any age!
Difficulty really can be a blessing. Like a fire refines and melts away the dross. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.