COMMON SENSE PREVAILS

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All Ages Matter. As it should.

Four months ago I wrote a blog on Dr. David Goodall – a 102 year old botanist and ecology scientist – who had been told to pack up his office with the Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia declaring him unfit to be on campus.

His career spanned 70 years resulting in more than 100 research papers, earning him three doctorates and the Order of Australia for his contribution to serving Humanity.

David Goodall is also a Shakespearean actor of note.

Below link leads to the short original ABC News article on this 102-year old scientist.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-21/102yo-researcher-told-to-leave-his-edith-cowan-university-job/7769422

 

  • It turned out to be a silly decision.

 

The below link leads to a 20 December 2016 article titled “WA university reverses decision to eject 102-year-old scientist from campus”.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-20/wa-university-reverses-decision-to-eject-102yo-scientist/8136836

 

The 102-year-old scientist will now remain on campus after the institution reversed its earlier decision to kick him out of his office.

“I hope to continue with some useful work in my field in so far as my eyesight permits.”

Dr Goodall’s plight gained international attention, sparking debate about the value of older people in the workforce.

“I think people were rather sympathetic to me as a centenarian who wanted to continue life in society,” Dr Goodall said.

“I prefer to be on campus because there are other people around and people who potentially are friends.”

Dr Goodall has accepted an offer from the university to serve as an unpaid honorary research associate for another three years.

It feels great to blog a feel-good story in a year when The Grim Reaper and Father Time have plucked away so many very talented artists to perform on The Great Stage in the Sky.

 

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Ageism at Work: “Unfit to be on Campus”

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  • Discrimination is discrimination. And none more so despicable, pathetic and cowardly than when perpetrated against the elderly.

 

Today’s News in Australia:

 

Dr David Goodall – a 102 year old botanist and ecology scientist – has been told to pack up his office with the Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia declaring him unfit to be on campus.

His career spans 70 years resulting in more than 100 research papers, earning him three doctorates and the Order of Australia for his contribution to serving Humanity.

David Goodall is also a Shakespearean actor of note.

Below link will take you to a short article on this 102 year old scientist:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-21/102yo-researcher-told-to-leave-his-edith-cowan-university-job/7769422

 

This will be a death sentence. Most of his social exchanges are at the University.

This man is a scientist. Not a fitness instructor. Why send him home?

 

The Edith Cowan University is a public university, thus taxpayer-funded.

We also fund jails.

  • And this is where they are sending this man who has devoted his life to Humanity.

 

Says Dean of the School of Sciences, Andrew Woodward:

  • “This is not a decision we’ve taken lightly, this is something that has been considered over a period of time.”
  • “We are now of the opinion where the situation is at a point where we really do need to make this change in David’s best interest and our own.” (my accentuation)

 

(George Orwell: Rule # 3 on writing: “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out”

Question: Can anyone spot the excess words in the above statements? Or are both statements excessive?)

 

Here is a snip from Dean Andrew Woodward’s public LinkedIn profile:

  • “In my leadership role at ECU, I have a strong commitment to quality teaching, engaged research and a focus on expanding international partnerships. I believe strongly in ECUs values, particularly those of integrity and respect, and make sure that I demonstrate these values in my dealings with others.” (my accentuation).

 

Mr. Andrew Woodward, let me put this in a different context:

  • So, a person can be too black and must move off campus?
  • Or too white?
  • Perhaps too short?
  • Too tall?
  • Bald?
  • Wrong sex”

 

Or Too Old?

 

With modern science you may even be able to change some of the above parameters.

But age?

 

Here is a suggestion:

  • Let us put in place forced retirement of Deans after one year in their job. And move them off campus. For their best interest.

 

Sounds silly doesn’t it? But to paraphrase Andrew Woodward:

  • This is not a suggestion I make lightly, this is something that has been considered over a period of time.
  • I am now of the opinion where the situation is at a point where universities really do need to make this change in their Deans’ best interest.

 

I repeat: Discrimination is discrimination. And none more so despicable, pathetic and cowardly than when perpetrated against the elderly.

 

I would like to close with 6 points on “Remember – Age is Mostly a Number” from my 2nd book “50 PERSEPCTIVES – The Value of Things Unseen”.

 

KEY POINTS

  • How ‘old’ would you be if you didn’t know your birthdate and real age?
  • Ageism is another –ism, and is as offensive as racism and sexism.
  • Some reach mental maturity earlier whilst others are slower and even stagnate.
  • To age is a privilege. It is neither a sin, nor anti-social. Character is what counts.
  • Knowing and understanding things become easier as we age.
  • Ageing is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one with challenges taking on different hues.

 

I note Andrew Woodward was an IT Network Security Manager and Advisor for 10 years of his life. I can relate to that having been in the IT domain for 43 years of my life, and having had IT Network Security Managers work for me….

I can share the passion for acting with Dr. Goodall, having been able to play in numerous student movies and one feature film (at age 68/69) care of Singaporean independent filmmaker, director and producer Tzang Merwyn Tong. And am thankful for that opportunity to do something outside of the IT world…

 

Hence in closing:

 

“You are not old until regrets take the place of dreams” – Adapted from John Barrymore

Dr. Goodall – don’t be bullied. May you be spared for many fruitful years!

 

We all get old. Or die on the way trying to get there.

PERSPECTIVES: READ

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“Read. Learn. Become.”

 

“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, available from Partridge Publications early 2015

 

UNESCO estimates that the global rate of adult literacy is in excess of 84% – blessed with the privilege to read and avail themselves of the opportunity to inform, grow and be inspired.

However, the world is in many ways an unfriendly and unwelcome place for the remaining adults and their children who cannot read, many of whom yearn – nay, pray – to have a chance to join the ranks of the literate, not to mention those who suffer impairments such as dyslexia which often lead to terrible humiliation throughout life, being referred to as being “dumb and slow” by teachers, friends and yes, even family alike.

The process of reading involves many of Life’s gifts such as your eyes, hands, fingers, your nervous system and brain. It enables you to share knowledge and improve your frame of reference and decision-making whilst building character and relationships, and much more.

 

Physical

Reading – and its flipside, writing – required the development of alphabets, which was a huge intellectual advance. It meant that written records could be kept, which had a significant impact on knowledge-sharing and commerce.

The Ancient Library of Alexandria, Egypt – established in the 3rd Century – was one of the largest and most significant centers of knowledge in the ancient world, and part of a greater complex where most of the famous philosophers and thinkers studied hand-copied scrolls that were borrowed from around the world.

One version of history is that this beacon of light was sadly burnt down by Julius Caesar in 46 BC and others over time, and today stands as one symbol of the willful destructions of cultural and other knowledge.

 

Social

Knowledge is power.

Earlier political and religious authorities initially used the written word to subjugate and maintain their position of power over the masses by way of closely guarded secrets and knowledge. Religious learnings and scientific documents were written down and perpetuated by scribes and monks who laboriously re-wrote them for “internal circulation and consumption”.

Around 1439 Johannes Gutenberg brought an end to this in Europe by introduced movable printing type, heralding in the bulk book printing revolution which is widely regarded as one of the most important events in history.

It played a key role in the unrestricted circulation of information and ideas, which became a keystone of the Renaissance and the Reformation – ushering in the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution – forming the basis for our modern-day knowledge-based life and the spreading of learning to the masses.

Blessed are the children whose parents enjoy reading a bed-time story to them, tucked in, wrapped up with a good-night kiss and hug that builds a special bond between parent and child – extending their character and preparing them for Life.

 

Mental

Reading uplifting books and magazines give your brain a much-needed mental work-out. It builds cognitive ability and improves vocabulary, verbal intelligence and general knowledge.

Those who read as children will in all probability continue to do so throughout life. It is thus important to expose children to reading from an early age, and assist those who have an impairment, to help them enrich their lives.

 

Emotional

The Word is mightier than the Sword. People can be physically slayed (and libraries burnt down) but ideas cannot be undone, especially if they have been propagated by way of multiple means – word of mouth, written and otherwise.

 

Intellectual

Intellectual (and social) development is often based on critical reading which questions the purpose and content of written text, especially where and when it involves social causes.

It may ignite a spark and help grow an understanding of issues – empowering us intellectually to reach conclusions about how we – and our society – should act and grow. Two prime examples are an increased awareness of and approach to associated injustices of the ‘isms” such as racist, sexism, ageism, and how to better treat this planet – our home.

 

Spiritual

Heal through reading.

A great and longstanding friend of mine has recently been submerged for months in a dark and lonely depression. Through reading uplifting books – and writing some of the most heart-wrenching but beautifully poignant emails – she started to find solace, seeing an ever-growing light as part of her treatment and long climb back to the Top of her Mountain of Life.

The HEArt of HEAL spells READ.

 

KEY POINTS

  • Reading – and writing – required the development of alphabets and ways to “spread the word”.
  • It led to the Renaissance – the basis for our modern-day knowledge-based society.
  • Reading uplifting books and magazines gives your brain a much-needed mental work-out.
  • The Word – and Thought – is mightier than the Sword.
  • Intellectual (and social) development is often based on critical reading.
  • The HEArt of HEAL spells READ.

 

ACTION STEPS

  • Treat books with respect – in whatever form. They represent someone’s intellect – and may help develop yours.
  • Read a bed-time story to your children. Visit an aged or sick person and read to them.
  • Expose your children to reading as soon as possible in life.
  • Read with purpose.
  • Let reading empower you – intellectually, socially, spiritually.
  • Heal through reading – and writing.

 

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PERSPECTIVE: NOT LESSER – ONLY DIFFERENT

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We are all equal in terms of rights; it is not birth but virtue that should make the difference” – Adapted from Voltaire

 

Inequality in conditions is a fact of life. But equality of rights and opportunity should be the keystone.

It is a fact that due to a number of factors beyond your control you are different from any other person on the planet. But you are not lesser of a person than anyone else. Only different.

Opportunities may abound for those who are born under a certain circumstance, but almost any person can be anything and anyone they want to be – as has been proven with regular monotony – depending on how they see themselves, their perspective on life and how they make use of opportunities, which are often self-created.

 

Physical

Physical differences are inescapable, even if you are one of an identical twin. And that is where the difference should – but not always does – stop. It is my belief that this is one of the main points of departure for most discrimination – an unforgivable wrongness visited on vast multitudes of people by those who fear or are ignorant of the value and qualities of those they discriminate against.

 

Social

We are all equal in terms of rights – or rather, should be. Virtue should be the differentiating factor. Stories abound of people who have moved between social classes (despicable though it may be, they do exist) through self-application and a “can do” attitude.

For me the measure and worth of a person is counted in the way they treat the less fortunate amongst us and those who are different from themselves – including those we refer to as the animal kingdom.

Strive for equal treatment in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, color, disability and age. Find inspirational stories that are unbiased – in terms of specifically politics and religion – as a basis for personal motivation. Then embrace personal growth.

 

Mental

Empower yourself by way of learning, training and introspection. Leave behind the thoughts and people who will hold you back, keeping you entrapped and enslaved in their ways of doing and thinking, often for selfish reasons.

 

Emotional

I grew up in a racially divided country, now married to a lady of different ethnicity and the emotional impact of discrimination against her – by way of diminishing comment, aggressive behavior and yes, at times even swear words which leaves her emotionally hurt and frightened – is often compellingly visible to me.

Other than a wish for war to disappear, my next wish would be for discrimination to evaporate.

 

Intellectual

As a concept “intellect and being intellectual” is defined as a mental ability that allows beings to understand and through which things can be known. This is not the prerogative of any one person, elite group of people, a nation or even mankind. I question the approach that we are the intelligencia of the universe – and need to reach out to other life forms, including our animal friends. Animals understand and things become known to them. They show hurt and affection as we do and I daresay that it is not only instinct that guides them.

 

Spiritual

Death – the Great Equalizer – does not discriminate, even though the tenets of religions include a promise of a better life beyond the present. We will eventually all “shuffle off this mortal coil” (to quote Shakespeare’s Hamlet) – some early and quickly, others older and in greater pain – however, spiritual preparedness will provide fortitude and ease the fear of those who are staring Death in the face, as well as the pain of those who remain behind.

Until then, we will do well to remind ourselves that “different” does not mean “lesser”.

 

Key Principles

  • We are all different from one another, even those who are identical twins.
  • We are all equal. Virtue should make the difference.
  • Some thoughts and people may entrap and enslave you by way of doing and thinking.
  • My next wish would be for discrimination to disappear.
  • Intellect is not the prerogative of only some.
  • We are all equal in the presence of Death.

Action Steps

  • Stop discrimination.
  • Strive for equal treatment.
  • Empower yourself by learning and introspection. Disregard and escape those who hold you back.
  • Don’t discriminate against what you don’t know or fear. Reach out and learn about it.
  • Exercise your mental ability that allows you to understand and know things.
  • Prepare spiritually for the End of Life Cycle you live in.

PERSPECTIVES: AGE – MOSTLY A NUMBER?

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“You are not old until regrets take the place of dreams” – Adapted from John Barrymore

 

We all get old – or die on the way getting there.

Age incorporates not only the chronology of your years, but also your wellbeing, including your mindset. Facelifts and body tucks may help external wrinkles, but as long as they are not written on your heart and mind, you are not old.

What is important is your “Ikigai” – the Japanese word that translates freely into meaning “the reason for which I wake up in the morning; my reason for being”.

Respect Time – which is of the essence and eventually becomes the variable centerpiece but constant reminder of life.

 

Physical

Linguistically we age people from birth: “How old is the baby?” I know “How young is the baby?” sounds strange – until we get used to it.

The physical evidence of age is more visible in some than in others and for multiple reasons. Stay young by way of physical workouts – but also mental engagement and intellectual stimulation. People still run marathons and write books into his late eighties. Vintage 65+ers cover all spectrums of society, from artists to inventors, queens to philosophers, nurses to writers and more.

I have lived in countries where the recording of births ranges from being problematic to almost impossible – due to ignorance, fear and corruption. Makes me think, the simple question to ask oneself is “If I were born in such a country, how ‘old’ would I be if I did not know my birth date and real age?

 

Social

Socially sensitive cultures envy, admire, even revere their aged. However, in most Western countries insensitive speeches by self-serving politicians often make Seniors feel they are a burden on the very same society which they helped build.

Ageism – through enforced retirement by certain age – falls in the same category as racism and sexism, and is equally offensive. Forcing a fit cadre of the workforce to retire is inexcusable and often dehumanizing. It drives many to despair – even though they may still have productive years left in which to contribute to their own and society’s welfare. It strains social security systems, severs them from social circles and friends and often sends them into oblivion – regardless of their knowledge and talents.

As counterpoint though – you should take responsibility to start building your “exit strategy” from the very first month of employment in terms of financial independence, weatherproof relationships with your partner and friends, long term personal health and wellbeing, creatively building your identity and a self-realization based on your vision and mission, your purpose and passions – not forgetting to develop hobbies and relaxation – and ultimately your legacy. Old age has no predetermined upper boundary – you could live to be a 100 or more. So, get moving!

 

Mental

Some reach mental maturity earlier than others – allowing them to think, act and speak within the bounds of respect and dignity. Others are slower to mature and may even stagnate at a point in life.

Counter this by becoming a life-long learner. We are a constant work-in-progress. Nothing happens automatically – except ageing. Everything else needs our participation. We cannot manage time. But we can manage what we do during the March of Time.

Take life seriously but not yourself. Live it and forget your age. The number of years do not make you old. People grow old because they forget their ideals and purpose – thus losing their enthusiasm for Life.

 

Emotional

To age is a privilege – not a sin, or anti-social. Character is what counts. Guard against your Inner Child growing old – even in the face of an uncertain world – and belong to yourself.

 

Intellectual

As we age, life shines with greater clarity. Knowing and understanding things become easier. Life’s puzzles are resolved with less effort. Reaching judgmental decisions seem to become easier.

Having said this, it is important that we also listen to the Young-at-Years amongst us. The “world is getting smarter earlier” and with it we see the younger generation putting remarkable stakes in the ground at increasingly younger ages – especially in the technical domain.

 

Spiritual

Ageing is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one – with challenges taking on different hues. Existing disabilities are added to – and must often be negotiated on a mental and physical front – sometimes with a looming fear of losing control over one’s life.

The aged turn more introspective – often resulting in contentment and peace or sorrow and despair – with the final outcome being one of wisdom.

Balance longevity with a meaningfulness in and of life – with peace and hope. Anchored spirituality becomes one of the cornerstones on which to build yourikigai.

  • So, is age mostly a number?

Well, your body and mind sometimes let you know the number. But punctuate Life with Spirit, Wit, Humor and Maturity.

 

Key Principles

  • How ‘old’ would you be if you didn’t know your birthdate and real age?
  • Ageism is another –ism, and is as offensive as racism and sexism.
  • Some reach mental maturity earlier, whilst others are slower, even stagnate.
  • To age is a privilege – not a sin. Character is what counts.
  • As we age, knowing and understanding things become easier.
  • Ageing is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one – with challenges taking on different hues.

 

Action Steps

  • Stay young by way of physical workouts – but also mental engagement and intellectual stimulation.
  • Take responsibility to start building your “exit strategy” from your very first month of employment.
  • Become a life-long learner. We are a work-in-progress. Live your life and forget your age.
  • Guard against your Inner Child growing old – and belong to yourself.
  • Remain young at heart and spirit. And listen and learn from both the mature and the young.
  • Balance longevity with meaningfulness. Let Spirit, Wit, Humor and Maturity punctuate your Life.

 

PERSPECTIVES: Transition OR Stagnate

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“Train your DNA to accept change”

 

Change – and how we handle it – reveals who we are.

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Steve Jobs.

Build your destiny one change at a time.

We are always in transition – a work in progress. And change brings with it uncertainty, fear – and an opportunity to learn and to grow. Uncertainty presents you with the opportunity to weigh things from different perspectives. As for fear, whilst it is good as a motivator, do not allow it to seep into your Soul and destroy you.

One of the sad myths is that Senior Workers do not adapt. A light needs to be shone on this fallacy. Fact Number One is that Senior Workers had been adapting all their lives – that is why many are still turning the wheels of industry. Fact Number Two is that the world keeps changing for all Generations of the alphabet – X, Y and Z’s – not only BB’s (read Baby Boomers), hence the challenge for all is to “Adapt – or Die”. Both old and young dinosaurs became extinct, not only the Senior Ones.

The secret is to learn how to adapt, how to handle and accept change. And Seniors may just have a slight edge here – having adapted through 60+ years of change, and still doing it.

 

Physical

In moving from birth through adolescence into maturity we transition though much physical change. There are those who would like to remain paused longer at some of the various points on the way but it makes more sense to enjoy each stage as you move through it – “to live in the moment”.

 

Social

Nowadays very few of us are born, live, and die in the same “village”. We are thus bound to experience change brought about by moving from one place to another – engaging in new positions of work, meeting new people who may become future friends – and new opportunities.

We develop social circles as part of growing up, going to school, college and eventually work. In the process those whom we meet are accorded a place in one of our three inner, middle and outer circles.

As we grow, we realize that our preferred relationships will become a valuable part of our support structure in later life, especially for women – who currently tend to live longer than men.

Good relationships make life worthwhile, and we should “water” those that we want to keep.

 

Mental

A multitude of changes impact on us throughout life, and oftentimes simultaneously. Some require more mental energy than others – and with more reward. It is notable that those who succeed in life, are themselves the change they want to see in this world, rather than expecting the world to change to fit in around them.

It, therefore, helps to spend your energy transitioning with change – whilst maintaining the core tenets of your life – rather than to spend your energy fighting it.

 

Emotional

You never stand on the banks of the same river twice. You never go back to your old hometown. Both change. Do not search for past joys to repeat themselves. Nurture the ones that present themselves now, and let them nurture you in return.

 

Intellectual

Life does not come with a manual. You have to work it out for yourself as you go along.

There is a difference between being a product of your past and being a prisoner of it. Destiny should not be by chance, but rather by choice.

And it may help to realize that the path of change follows a certain set of steps: Open yourself up > Step into the fire > Learn > Change > Grow. If you do not, Life will soon disappear in the rear-view mirror.

 

Spiritual

Respect the journey you have been given. There are pauses and stops on the way – some enjoyable, others less pleasant – and though you may seem to be able to wander off the trail from time to time, you will visit all your pauses and stops.

 

Key Principles

  • From cradle to grave we transition though much change.
  • As we move physical location we experience social change and meet new friends.
  • A multitude of changes impact on us throughout life.
  • We never stand on the banks of the same river twice.
  • Destiny should not be by chance, but rather by choice.
  • We will visit all the pauses and stops on our Journey.

Action Steps

  • Enjoy each stage of Life as you move through it.
  • Develop your preferred relationships as part of your support structure for later life.
  • Spend your energy transitioning with change rather than wasting energy fighting it.
  • Do not search for past joys to repeat themselves – nurture the present ones.
  • Open yourself up > Step into the fire > Learn > Change > Grow.
  • Respect the journey you have been privileged with.

 

Where Does The Greying Of The Workforce Lead?

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Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age ~Victor Hugo.

The ageist bias against seniors is rife, but how long can the workforce ignore them as part of a productive economy?

  • Shifting demographics and workforce movements point to resource shortages which may give seniors more bargaining power in time to come.

Following are welcome facts for those seeking to be “still in demand after 65”, albeit worrisome for countries / organizations, but:

  • 31% of employers worldwide have a challenge filling positions due to a shortage of experienced talent in their markets.
  • USA: One in 7.5 is 65 or older. Credible data is unavailable for the exit and entry numbers of the workforce, but using other countries as a reference, it should be almost 1 for 1.
  • Canada: One in 7 is a senior citizen. For every worker that exits, just over 1 enters.
  • Europe: One in 5.9 is a senior citizen. By 2030 it will be 1 in 4. More people are exiting than entering the workforce.
  • Japan: One in 4.4 is a senior citizen. More people are exiting than entering the workforce.
  • By 2020 in China, Russia, Canada and South Korea more people will reach retirement age than entering the workforce.

Shifting Demographics

  • The under-65 skilled workforce in the USA / rest of the Western world is shrinking.
  • Recruitment may thus soon be from both an aging and dwindling workforce.
  • Labor demographics are shifting and will present local/global employers with resourcing challenges – which will eventually favor both seniors and countries with a younger workforce.
  • The global workforce will be augmented from retirees and women in countries where woman traditionally do not enter the workforce.

Effects of Workforce Movements

  • The available global resource pool has become more mobile. This often leads to xenophobic backlashes in countries where an influx of foreigners is seen as taking jobs away from locals.
  • Loyalty in terms of remaining with a company for many years is largely a concept of the past – for both parties.
  • In some countries the replacement is almost 1 for 1, except that those who exit has more than 40 year of experience.
  • This will create unparalleled competition/polarization between young and old, skilled and semi-/non-skilled, knowledge/non-knowledge workers, possibly amongst different industries and countries.
  • Countries/companies must develop new policies and strategies to maintain/re-engage skilled workers who are leaving the workforce due to reaching retirement age, and put in place knowledge/skills transfer policies and programs.

Enter Generation U

Generation Unretired is the newest – if not youngest – segment of the workforce. They:

  • Represent 8 out of 10 baby boomers who will work past retirement age or return to work after retirement.
  • Have significant depths of knowledge, experience and interpersonal skills, developed over 40+ years.
  • Have a strong work ethic – comparable to, if not better than other “generations”.
  • Can overcome the technology learning curve in certain industries through training.
  • “Sees the big picture and have strategic thinking experience” or a zest for detail (retired accountants).

In summary Gen U is the critical mass that has reshaped all facets of life as they moved through it and will continue to do so.