Apologies from My Generation

By: Guest | October 11, 2011 | 
Today’s guest post is written by Pamela Wright.

I want to issue a sincere apology from the Baby Boomer generation to the younger generations.

We have failed you profoundly.

With a quick look at headlines, no one can escape the conclusion that some of you were raised without an ethical foundation.

Had we done our job, we would have taught you the following lessons, and they would have better prepared you for the world today.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

The story: A young boy is tending a flock of sheep and becomes bored. He runs into the village yelling that a wolf is loose among the flock. The villagers grab rakes, hoes and clubs to beat off the wolf only to find that there is no wolf. The boy decides this is great fun. The next day just as he is about to get bored, a real wolf appears. The boy begins screaming “Wolf” but the villagers ignore him as they believe it is another prank. The boy gets eaten by the wolf.

Moral to the story: Lose the prototype iPhone in a bar a second time and everyone will believe that it is a PR stunt.

All Baby Boomers grew up with the movie Bambi and fell in love with the character Thumper

The story: Bambi’s parents are introducing him to the forest creatures. Thumper comments that Bambi is “kind of wobbly” to which Thumper’s mother creates the Thumperian principle by responding, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Moral to the story: Hire an expensive PR agency, pay them enough that they forget their ethics and start fabricating bad rumors about your competition, and see what how long it takes for the word to get out. Facebook and Burson-Marsteller attempted this one only to have to fall on their sword.

A favorite story, the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg

The story: A farmer and his wife discovered that their goose laid a golden egg every morning. They would take the egg to the market and trade it for food and clothes. One day, they talked it over and decided that if the goose could lay a golden egg every morning, it must be full of gold. They proceeded to kill the goose only to find there wasn’t any gold inside.

Moral to the story: Even though you have one of the very few Geese that lay Golden Eggs, you can’t kill your Golden Goose by choosing to ignore the SEC and continuing on your merry way. We’re talking to you, Groupon.

Do you have any morals to add?

I would like to sincerely thank Danny Brown for allowing me to hitchhike on his ebook, Parables of Business, to write this post. Obviously Danny’s parents went against the crowd.

Pamela Wright and her company, FocusedWords, are dedicated to helping promote and market RV Parks/Resorts/Campgrounds to RVer’s everywhere.  If you haven’t been to an RV resort lately, you need to check it out!

  • FocusedWords

    I hope everyone enjoys reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

  • What a fun post! Love the use of parables and the analogies to today’s PR and business messes. However, you owe me (the child of a baby boomer) no apology. You did your best; we left the nest and apparently thought we should have all that you have instantaneously, without working hard for it. The lies, the wolf cries, and the avoidance of rules are all an attempt to have it all without working hard. Spoiled behavior if you ask me. Blame your parents – the grandparents are the ones that always do the spoiling, remember? 🙂

  • FocusedWords

    @EricaAllison Well, thank you Erica for letting me off the hook. It is definitely spoiled behavior and unfortunately it sprouts its ugly head everywhere…politics, religion, business… It’s kind of scary how the same post could be applied to what is currently going on in Washington.

  • ginidietrich

    As you know, I LOVED this post (in the past tense because I read it eons ago). But I’m not sure anyone owes the younger generation an apology. Isn’t there something wrong with every generation? My generation is all about instant gratification because of the tech and dot com bubbles. Do I feel like I owe anyone an apology because of it? No freaking way. But then, our kids aren’t adults yet either.

    That said, I love, love, love the way you bring classics to light in real life. Love.

  • I concur with Erica – this is a pretty cute, and savvy post. I think my generation is owed an apology, but not necessarily for the reasons detailed above. (But let’s not get too political here, haha.)

    I guess I’d also add the tale of the Princess and the Frog. Sometimes, even though a prospect might look ugly, it would behoove you and your business to pucker up.

  • FocusedWords

    @ginidietrich Thank you so much Gini. Yep, just wait till your kids are adults (which happens somewhere around 35) and you will look back and shake your head. Every generation owes the next apologies because no matter how hard we try we can’t control the future and how our children deal with it.

  • ginidietrich

    @FocusedWords I wonder if my mom shakes her head at me? (yes, every day)

  • FocusedWords

    @EmmaofCEM Good one Emma. I have to agree with the Princess and the Frog. There have been a couple of mergers that I said WTH only to discover that it was a good fit.

  • FocusedWords

    @ginidietrich You betcha!!

  • scribblinghappy

    Let’s add Cinderella – a little kindness (and some help from mentors!) will help you go far in the world.

  • FocusedWords

    @scribblinghappy And not letting the evil stepmother and stepsisters get into your head.

  • I’m getting trolls, gruffy billy goats and ‘answer me these questions three’ all mixed up in my head but I’m sure there is a lesson in there for us ladies about not listening to the ogres and plowing ahead!

  • FocusedWords

    @BethKSchmitz Taking that first step out onto the bridge is the scariest.

  • Nagleblend

    GREAT post – and no apologies required.

    How about “The Emperor’s New Clothes” – have the courage to tell the boss like it is.

  • FocusedWords

    @Nagleblend There have been some bosses that I would have loved to tell that to. The trick is to not say it the way you hear it in your head.

  • @FocusedWords Stick to the plan — with the ability to rapidly recalculate as needed. 😉

  • I want someone to apologize for the clothes we were forced to wear in the seventies- simply awful. And Free To Be You And Me-that record haunts me…to this very day.

    Loved the post, thank you.

  • FocusedWords

    @TheJackB Thx. Oh and you think the clothes from the seventies were bad?? How about the 50’s and 60’s?? Trust me, it wasn’t pretty.

  • @FocusedWords My folks tell me that I watched the moon landing but I don’t remember. Can’t speak for the clothes in the 50s and 60s, but the 70s…. 🙂

  • FocusedWords

    @TheJackB Poodle skirts made out of felt, can-can slips that made your skirt stick out 3 feet around you, lots of plaids, fringe, headbands….I’ve got to quit here, I’m starting to make myself ill.

  • FocusedWords

    @TheJackB BTW, I think I still have an old leisure suit of my Dad’s if you would like to borrow it for old times sake. 😉

  • FocusedWords

    @TheJackB BTW, I think I still have an old leisure suit of my Dad’s if you would like to borrow it for old times sake. 😉

  • FocusedWords

    @BethKSchmitz And dodge the trolls, billy goats, etc.

  • @FocusedWords@TheJackB nononononononono, all those decades, the style keeps coming back; the Mad Men era, the bell bottoms/boot cut – those styles come back. the 80’s? the 80’s were a travesty in terms of fashion.

  • FocusedWords

    @Lisa Gerber@TheJackB Lets see…big hair bands, big hair styles, big hair….

  • thewhalehunters

    Baby boomers are not responsible for the parables–they are old–but we had a role in bringing them in animated versions to the big screen!

    My favorite, re: the princess and the frog–the frog appears to an elderly farmer (baby boomer?) and promises to turn into a beautiful princess with one kiss. Farmer replies, “At my age, I’d rather have a frog that talks!”

    Thanks Pamela–good stuff!

  • Brigitte

    I love the construct of this post and mostly agree with it, but I can’t get past the generation wars.

    Have we all forgotten about the Tylenol mess or Enron? I tire of hearing that greed and vanity are only vices of the younger generations.

  • FocusedWords

    @thewhalehunters You are more than welcome. Remember Fractured Fairy Tales on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show?

  • FocusedWords

    @Brigitte You are absolutely right Brigitte. There are more than enough examples of greed and vanity throughout the decades that no one can escape. It still amazes me, though, how dumb supposedly smart business people can be.

  • FocusedWords

    @thewhalehunters And who could forget Aesop and son? Little did they know that I would use the fables in a blog post way, way, way in the future! 😉

  • @FocusedWords@Lisa Gerber Neon. lots of neon.

  • Raj-PB

    I like the second one. The PR agencies would promote anything and everything as long as clients pay them well. Aren’t there any ethical standards / business ethics? These agencies don’t see how much their own reputation is damaged by working with a client that promotes bad-quality products. ON the long run, they pretty much get back their own medicine.

  • FocusedWords

    @Raj-PB Actually I think there are far more agencies out there that do have ethical standards and practice solid business. It’s just that when an agency buys into doing the sleazy kinds of things, the word eventually gets out and then everyone gets painted with the same brush.

  • Not to sound ‘immoral’ but are we supposed to learn ethics from the marketers of the world? I’m of the younger generation and I was raised with good values, but I didn’t learn them from marketers. I learned how to be ethical from my family, my teachers, my community, etc.

    So how is knowing that Groupon is not aligned with the SEC help us in a time when oh say, about 99% of our leaders are throwing their babies out with the bath water to cover up their own messes.

    We’re so far beyond story time. We know those stories. Mr. Rogers taught us that. We’re just starting to realize who all of those villains are and we are just starting to do something right about it.

    And I think that’s pretty ethical if I do say so myself. There is a lot that the Boomer Generation could apologize for to the younger generation but apologizing for not telling enough fairy tales is not one of them.

  • FocusedWords

    @JNewellMedia No we can’t learn ethics from marketers but we can use age old wisdom to recognize unethical behavior. Aesop’s fables aren’t fairy tales but rather stories with morals to them. If we know the stories, then why do we allow others to keep repeating the same unethical behavior?

  • @FocusedWords Unfortunately, we cannot prevent others from repeating unethical behaviors. We can only chose to act justly ourselves or not. All of us have allowed ourselves to act unethically at one point or another.

    After all the stories are spoken and shared, its up to the decide whether to listen to that wisdom or act in ways that only benefit themselves.

    Thank you for your positive to my argument. Much appreciated. You are actually the first blogger that I’ve said a statement of disagreement with that didn’t either ignore me or berate me for having a different opinion.

    So thank you for your apology and more than that – thank your for being genuine in your response.

    (I think many of us could learn how to make arguments that didn’t turn into a vicious mess. You were right about that boy who cried wolf 😉

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  • FocusedWords

    @JNewellMedia You are quite welcome. Responding in a positive way to an discussion is another one of those things that I learned early and find that it helps me understand what the other person is thinking.

    I do have to disagree with you once again. I believe that we can start preventing others from repeating unethical behaviors by “peer pressure.” If the culture at large expects the best from everyone, then we limit the bad behaviors. If, on the other hand, we say that behavior is unethical and I don’t approve but I can’t have any impact on how things are done, we end up where we are.

    As I said in an earlier post, this seems to happen in every decade at a minimum. In the seventies it was Watergate, in the 80’s it was the Savings and Loan debacle, in the 90’s the dot com bubble, etc. We seem to need these kinds of screw ups in order to bring us back to the middle.

    The problem of being attacked and/or berated for a differing opinion is part of the same problem. The culture has said that it is OK and as long as we (the culture) says it is OK it will continue. Hopefully, we are getting our fill of it through politics, bloggers, talk show hosts, etc and will soon say enough.

  • JessiEllerbe

    I really enjoyed this! Fortunately for the generation of baby boomers, it’s not just the fact that ethical foundations have been lessened over the years. Times change. Even if you tried to teach us younger generations the ways to thrive ethically through marketing and other outlets, that doesn’t mean we’re going to take your advice. However, I think what you’re saying rings true. It seems like the younger generations find a PR scandal in everything. If a cluster of people’s iPads stopped working for five minutes, Apple’s got a PR stunt on its hands. We’re too skiddish. And we need to learn to stay calm!

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  • FocusedWords

    @JessiEllerbe It’s not just the younger generation that finds a PR scandal in everything. Take a look at politics as far back as you can and you will see PR scandals about the smallest things. Staying calm would help and so would using your brain to think things through before you jump to conclusions.

  • Damien_1870

    @MichaelBesson No my generation owes apologies

    • MichaelBesson

      @Damien_1870 Haha! Well the fact that you can recognize something like that means you probably don’t owe any! How are you today?

  • missmims1

    This blog post was awesome! It’s about time that someone has realized that Generation X and Y are not the only ones to makes mistakes in this day and age. And that, yes, even those in the baby boomer generation are guilty of ethical mistakes.

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