Four Things 40 Year Olds Don’t Get

4 Things 40 year olds don't get

This is a response post. To read the original Forbes post by Jason Nazar, click here.

Look, I love working hard. I do. I got that from my dad. And I’ve had both good and terrible bosses. At the same time I’ve been a great employee and perfect employee. Ok, I’ve been a bad worker too. Especially at the grocery store that employed me during my high school years. I think I owe them about 23 doughnuts.

And Ok, Jason Nazar, I’ve looked at twitter instead of reading a book. Guilty.

But when the older generation keeps attacking mine for the very characteristics that make us who we are, something tells me they really just want to keep us 100% aligned with their culture instead of learning about ours. Here are four things 40 year olds don’t seem to be absorbing:

1) Your version of professional worked great for your generation. It sucks for ours. We’ve watched your generation sweat for your companies. We watched wide-eyed as you broke your back for a boss who couldn’t care less for you. And we saw you cry and bleed over a job that always promised to go somewhere but never did. For many of us, you were a father who was never home. Or when you were home, you were far too tired from work to be worth anything. You certainly have our respect- YOU, not your opinion on how to succeed. So if an organization is piling on too much BS and not enough benefits, we’re gone.

2) We measure success differently. And that’s not going to change. All those moments and relationships your generation missed out on, we’re going to live in. So forgive us if we’re just not that into the 40-year hazing you keep trying to coax us into. Be real with us though- how can you tell us with one breath that time isn’t a limitless commodity and then tell us to be the first in/last to leave with the next? We get the first piece of advice. So we’ll do a great job when we’re there and get out the door to spend quality time with the activities and people we love. So if you could go ahead and keep the second part of that advice to yourself, that would be great.

3) We know we need mentors. Seriously, we do. And hey, would you be willing to invest some time into us? Oh, you would but you have to stay late at work? OK. Nevermind. Thanks though. I guess I’ll go back to that other mentor who really only wants to turn me into Alex P Keaton.

4) If you want an effective employee/partner/co-worker, then PROVE it. Don’t pay us a garbage rate. Don’t try to turn us into someone we’re not. Look, I really believe in my generation and the one following it. I’ve seen us do incredibly difficult things already. So I know we are capable of hard work. And as I demonstrated in the first point, we’re not going to wait around for some reward that we now know will never come. If you like our work, celebrate it now. Reward it now. Then, and only then, will you continue getting great work out of us for a long time. Otherwise, we’ll find some other organization that will appreciate us.

Now, twenty-somethings. If you really would like a helpful article on getting ahead and working hard, I recommend this article by Carey Nieuwhof on how to overcome the Slacker Generation label.


  1. Yes!

    I had my transformation at 26. It was the year after my dad died at age 56. I knew I would not live the traditional life, even though I pretty much had until that point with being in the military and working 60 hour weeks. I quit. Checked out. And decided I was going to live on my terms and not anyone else’s. I started a web business (1996) and I’ve not looked back.

    It is wonderful that many twenty-somethings now have the expectation of a different quality of life and are confident to stand their ground. In many ways that strength has come from the security provided by our parents and their generation. That strength and confidence outcome is a validation of our parent’s results if not the method.

    I’ll be 45 this year. My daughter will soon be 12. I’m fascinated with how this generation lives and I hope it is sustainable. My biggest concern is that perhaps there is some redemption of past investment going on and that we aren’t aware of that drainage. Hopefully it will be offset with the new value created.

    Nice post. Great woodworking (I follow you on Instagram)

      • IMO the difference in points #1 and #2 is not so much generational as industrial. “Business types” often invest more of themselves in the hopes of attaining the golden parachute, while many “tech types” are more invested in the project / craft.

        I think the measures of success are determined by the personalities that gravitate to one industry type or another, however the current startup trend alters this comparison somewhat.

        I am also aware I am trading one stereotype for another ;)

        • Fair enough. I’m coming at it from a church leadership position. I cannot tell you how many over 40 year old bosses have preached that I need to take my days off, spend plenty of time with my family, and not to overwork myself only to follow it up by scheduling me 7 days a week, all dang day.

    • Welp, I didn’t know that. It’s Carey’s title though. Thanks for the info.

      And how did your generation get such a cool name? I keep expecting you to have mutant powers because of it.

  2. Wow, seriously, wow. I guess i’m old…39. I tried to be “that” guy. I worked hard,picked up my b.s. from the university, did the corporate thing longer than I wish. I won’t get a couple precious years with my kids, but unlike the steriotype you laid out, I have frustratingly agreed with all your points. I have said the same about the boomer generation. (Except I worked my azz off) My success is my wife who is lifted up, my kids, (my faith reflected through them…not 20, 50, 1000 others, them), lastly me. Being “professional”, and working hard aren’t cultural…they are behavioral, learned truths. Timeless. I was told once when I was looking For a mentor, to be one…pissed me off at the time, well, now I get to buck up every day and do just that. Change your next generation.

    • Bro. You get it. That’s great.

      And thank you for the advice- that’s actually what I love to do. Lead and love on my generation and the next.

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