Rocking the Baby Boomers

What’s rocking the world of the “Baby Boomers?”

In this still-unfolding “Great Recession,” many Boomers have lost their businesses, homes, life savings and retirement funds. Many have been forced to forfeit their careers and abandon their dreams—not to mention any hopes of passing on the family business.

Who’s at fault might depend on your political point of view—but, that’s not the thrust of this article.


It’s time to get out of the rocking chair..and fight back!

As a Baby Boomer myself, I believe we were the most spoiled generation ever conceived in America. Having lost sight of the struggles and sacrifices of our parents during the war years, we partied, ate and made merry. We wasted and spent way too much, and saved too little, thinking prosperity would always be there for us. Convinced we had better answers for the future, too many of us divorced ourselves from what we called “The Establishment,” sang about free love, experimented with drugs and felt we had found true enlightenment. We were arrogant! We were…young!

Before anyone blows a gasket, I’m not saying ALL Boomers were doing drugs. I am saying many experimented with or condoned them, while many others of us just shook our heads and did little to stop what has now become epidemic in our country.

By contrast, my parents were part of what is now called “The Greatest Generation”—the World War II-era crowd. Growing up, I thought my dad was the tightest person I’d ever met, and I still smile at some of the cost-saving measures he would take. He actually tore napkins in half at the dinner table, thinking it was wasteful to use the whole thing. And I was embarrassed many times at the grocery store when he would buy bent cans in the sales bins. My dad never borrowed money for vacations or luxury items, and we rarely, if ever, ate out in restaurants. The only debt he had was a house mortgage and he paid that off early. Today, he would be seen as eccentric!

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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  • Graci

    Don’t depict ALL Babyboomers as financially inept, overspenders, and loafers.
    My wife and I are RICH! But- we worked 7 days a week, and didn’t take a week of vacation for 15 years! We sacraficed during the prime of our lives- and now we are enjoying what is now the real prime of our lives! You Get What You Sow- so Don’t Complain.

  • BrndXprt

    Philip: Simply one of the best peices I’ve ever read. Thx.

  • Itsoktoprint

    ????? Sorry, I missed the point of this article somewhere. We are all fat and lazy baby boomers and we’ll all be saved by better systems?

    CQI, Theory of Constraints, Lean manufacturing, etc. have all seen their beginnings in the post WW II environment. All of these process or system control/improvement theories work quite well when applied correctly and with passion. But we still are experiencing a tremendous amount of pain and will continue to do so regardless of all the system improvements made in the past 30 years.

    The system that needs the greatest amount of improvement is our government and the lazy, excessive, fat, stupid system we allowed to grow out of control on our watch. On that point of process or system improvement, I can wholeheartedly agree with Philip. But a generalization that all baby boomers are getting what they deserved, sorry I can’t disagree more. Comparing the two generations and the social, technological, and work habits of the two isn’t a fair comparison. 30 million baby boomers gathering crops by hand as a sign of hard work doesn’t really ring true anymore. We were the beginning of the information and technology age boom and the skill and work needs for our generation are so radically different, I think my parents would have shuddered to think about the constant retraining and learning that must go one just to stay competitive. They would much rather of chopped wood all day. Remember, they are of the "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" era….

  • Rob Reichstein

    Phillip Though many of your points are valid, I am not sure they correlate to preparing a family business for transition. Those entrepreneurs in "our parents generation" operated printing companies in an era where the competition came only from like competitors unlike various technological advancements of today, machinery and equipment maintained value unlike today, and banks were willing to lend on equity, again unlike today. We as baby boomers did buy into the concept that debt was not an obligation to pay monies owed as we renamed it "leverage", a vehicle to gain wealth through rapid inflation. The combination of too much leverage too much advanced technological change has eradicated the print world and is now wreaking havoc on more industries.
    The answer is to build or reconstruct your business to change with the times so your offspring have a platform to capture business opportunities.

  • businessasunual

    This article hit on several good points. I see too many family businesses not making because they continue to do business as usual when money was flowing well, and not marking the hard choices, the cuts that need to be made because the rose colored glasses say it will get better. It may get better, but not if you lay down and don’t address the situation. Printing was once the 2nd largest employer in the country, yes its changed, yes technology makes things different, but a lot of good people still have good companies and they need to stand up and fight for them.