It’s likely you hear some form of this sentence once or twice a day where you work: “We have to attract Millennials.” Or maybe “The best to manage Baby Boomers is to show them you paid your dues to get where you are.” Or “Why is that Gen Xer always giving me the stink eye?”
If you wonder why your co-workers are making such blanket statements – or maybe wonder what the heck a Millennial is anyway, well, you’re in luck. This lovely little article will provide you with a snapshot of each generation still making waves in the workforce through the talk show hosts that best emulate that generation.
1. Traditionalists: Regis Philbin, guest host, ‘Rachael Ray’
You probably know the Traditionalist generation by its other name, “The Greatest Generation.” Born between 1922 and 1945, Traditionalists are seen as disciplined and detail-oriented. The dislike conflict, even though many of them immediately signed up to fight in World War II after Pearl Harbor. They tend to believe in following the rules. They’re loyal and have a respect for authority. They often prefer an hierarchical organizational structure – boss, manager, worker – over more peer-oriented work.
Our poster host for the Traditionalist list is Regis Philbin. Philbin was born in 1931 in New York City. His father was a military man and Philbin followed in his footsteps, serving in the Navy after graduating college.
Philbin is quoted as saying, “You know, I never knew if I had any talent when I started in this business. My first job was being a page at The Tonight Show. I saw Jack Paar come out one night and sit on the edge of his desk and talk about what he’d done the night before. I thought, ‘I can do that!’ I used to do that on a street corner in the Bronx with all my buddies.”
The quote captures the Traditionalist generation’s view of hard work leads to success.
2. Baby Boomers: David Letterman, host, ‘Late Late Show’
Baby Boomers are so named because the generation, born between 1946 and 1964, are part of an explosion in the birth population following World War II. The generation also houses the largest population in America – about 80 million – followed closely by the Millennials, at 75 million. Boomers are often known as the first generation to enjoy true middle class economic prosperity, with more young men and women attending college than ever before. The generation also went through one of the most tumultuous times in U.S. history, surviving the Vietnam War, social change and fights for racial and gender equality. On the flip side, the generation is known as the Me Generation, often portrayed as greedy and opportunistic because they were promised “The American Dream.”
David Letterman, the king of late night talk, is our Baby Boomer. Letterman was born in 1947 in Indiana, gaining fame after debuting his NBC talk show Late Night. One could say Letterman’s comedic style and penchant for comedic excess – dropping things from a 10-story building, spotlighting stupid pet and human tricks – helps define the counter culture and scatalogical humor popular in the 1960s and early 1970s.
“Anything worth doing is worth overdoing,” is a joke Letterman is quoted as telling. Though in jest, the quote captures the excessive spirit many believe holds true for the Boomer generation.
3. Generation X: Jimmy Fallon, host, ‘The Tonight Show’
Born between 1965 and 1980, Generation X – or Gen Xers, as they’re usually called – make up the smallest generational population at 51 million. Xers are usually seen as independent skeptics who question authority at every turn and are more likely to slack off than truly apply themselves. Most were products of dual income families and had to learn to take care of themselves. They’re also familiar with government scandal – Watergate, Monica Lewinsky, WMDs. They’re also known as more interested in teamwork and supporting the team or community, being involved in social services and community projects, and truly separating business and life.
Our model Gen Xer? None other than The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon. Fallon was born in 1974. You can see how Fallon portrays Xer traits on Tonight through the way he involves his guests and the audience in the show. He’s more interested in the community of the show than in his individual performance.
Fallon says, “There’s always going to be someone out there… who doesn’t believe in you or who thinks your head is too big or you’re not smart enough. But those are the people you need to ignore, and those are the times you need to just keep doing what you love doing.” The quote points to that Xer skepticism and overriding desire to be yourself.
4. Millennial: Jeannie Mai, co-host, ‘The Real’
Born between 1981 and 2000, Millennials are the up and coming workforce. The true digital generation, whose lives are played out in social media and online. While they’re portrayed as the “Look at me!” generation, they are a generation that saw tremendous tragedy as well, including 9/11 and a host of school shootings while they were school aged. They’re often called “Chief Friendship Officers” and look to build relationships in and outside of work – two environments they try to meld together into one.
The Real’s Jeannie Mai is our talk show Millennial. Mai was born in San Jose, Calif., on January 4, 1980. Mai attended De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif., for a year before dropping out and pursuing her passion: communications, motivation and inspiration.
The following story captures the essence of her Millennial roots.
Mai took $268 and moved to L.A. hoping to break into show business. She brought a few headshots, a homemade demo reel, and the results of her research of the top agencies in Hollywood. She pulled up in front of the William Morris Agency, the top agency on the list.
Sauntering in, she asked the receptionist to connect her with an agent who handled television and talk show hosts. The receptionist told her no one would see her without an appointment, so Mai said she’d sit in the lobby until someone cancelled. No one cancelled. But former talk show host and comedian Wanda Sykes did see her headshot, struck up a conversation with Mai and, in less than 30 minutes, Mai was meeting with Sykes and her agent.