Lady Gaga and the Heroes of Normandy Beach

What do Lady Gaga and the soldiers that stormed Normandy Beach have in common?  It’s something that will change the way you look at your workforce.

Twelve years ago, the book  ‘The Fourth Turning,’ by William Strauss and Neil Howe hit the streets.  Written by two generational analysts – ‘The Fourth Turning’ will change the way you look at the future.

The vast majority of people view time as kind of marching on with no rhyme or reason, just at the whims of random events.  This may not be the case.

The premise of the Fourth Turning is that time moves in a circular fashion … in other words, “it repeats itself.”

Strauss and Howe, after studying history back to the 1500’s, developed an algorithm featuring four generational archetypes each lasting between twenty and twenty-five years.  These archetypes also repeat in order each time and have different characteristics.  The archetypes in order are as follows with birth date range and cycle nickname:

Hero (1901-1924) – soldiers of World War 2 (G.I)

Artist (1925-1942) – country re-constructionists (Silent)

Profit (1943-1960) – protesters of Vietnam War (Boomers)

Nomad (1961-1981) – the outcasts (Generation X)

Hero (1982-2004) – the internet generation (Millennials)

I repeated the Hero generation for a reason.  The boys of Normandy Beach were born around 1922 making them Heroes.  Their generational archetypes is all about cooperation and teamwork.  Being a rogue, like their predecessors, the Nomads, is not their mindset.  That’s why we won the war.  The Vietnam War featured the Boomers (the Profit Generation).  Their generational archetype is known for their … well you know.  Can you say high divorce rate, the self-reflection movement, excessive consumption, etc.  This doesn’t work well in a battlefield.

Now to Lady Gaga, her birthdate is 1986 … thus making her a HERO.

Now to my point.  I cut my teeth in business promoting music, in the ’70s and ’80s.  The industry is wildly different today then back then.  Did you ever see Led Zeppelin collaborate with the Who?  Or the Stones and the Kinks record together?  No, they didn’t.  Examples of professional collaboration in the music industry were few and far in between.

Now let’s look at the music industry today.  The Number One viewed music video ever, “Telephone,” was a collaboration between Lady Gaga and Beyoncé.  We’re talking the top two divas in the entertainment world.  Working together … and loving it.  Jay Z, Beyoncé’s husband topped the charts with Alicia Keyes, and the rumour mill is riddled with who will be collaborating with who.  And look at the rappers – everybody is in bed with everybody else (figuratively speaking).  Approximately, 50% of the top songs on Billboard’s Top 50 are collaborations.

Thirty years ago Rush and Journey –  I don’t think so.


The Millenials, the Heroes, are about collaboration.  I even seen a rash co-working sites pop up.  Now what can we do  to take advantage of this predisposition of working together?

As employers what can we take from this.

Traditional thinking … at least from our immediate perspective is that everybody is competitive – and that competition motivates us.  That might be right for us fifty year-olds.  But remember, we are from the Profit generation (Baby Boomers).

But for our employee base, the foundation, the future of our future, the twenty some year olds … don’t think like us.  Don’t get me wrong, competition will always exist – but for that generation, the Heroes, it’s not the prime motivating factor – teamwork is.  To structure a work environment that focuses around pitting one against another may in fact be counter productive.

And on top of it Generation Y (the Heroes) is more interested than any other generation in development and feedback in the work place.  We saw that in the compliance amongst the troops in World War 2.  It’s a characteristic you as employers can use in your business … one you probably couldn’t have used ten years ago.

The Heroes want to excel, but excel together.  It worked at Normandy.  And it’ll probably work now. 

You just have look past the iPods, texting and tattoos.

To learn how to create The Ultimate Customer Experience check out the bleedingEDGE web site.  And for more of my musings I’m on Twitter @clayforsberg.


~ by Clay Forsberg on November 14, 2010.

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