It’s my pleasure to introduce two gentlemen that come from diametrically opposed visions of their life work. In essence, they are prime examples of what can be achieved by Reciprocal Mentorship. Is there room to explore in the gap between a rock and a hard place?!
David Harry Stewart, founding partner of the company AGEIST, truly brings life to the saying “a picture is worth one thousand words”. I met David through Millennial View’s partnership with Catherine Grace O’Connell to bring together people from all walks of life with a hyper-focus on age. David and I were paired together for this campaign. I was interested and puzzled when I found out that I would be talking with a photographer. Not only do I know nothing about photography but I struggle to keep my finger out of the way when taking a picture on my iPhone. After getting to know David, I learned that he is more than just a talented photographer. He is also a talented listener, speaker, and storyteller who cares deeply about people and his generation.
Before David and I spoke, I discovered that he recently did a feature on Maye Musk, mother of one of my favorite influencers – Elon Musk. I was hooked. The initial peek into the profile, led to me perusing through nearly all his previous work. His work was fascinating, and I became more eager to chat with him.
Our call started off rather confusing. Neither one of us knew completely the goal of the campaign and how we fit, but we knew that for Catherine, it would be important to develop content that could provide value. After the initial and awkward, “hi, nice to meet you,” the conversation began to flow with powerful chatter about the changing world around us, and I learned about the immense value David adds in his work and how his success catapulted him into his current position.
AGEIST’s tagline is in tiny print under its main logo on its website: “live fast die old”. However, as a young millennial in my twenties, I struggle to relate to this message, and David filled me into why. He told me there are many things that you just can’t know until you reached my age. Though reluctant at first, I must admit, he is right. Our outlooks on the world change over the course of our lives. At any given age, there are different things we deem as important, meaningful or stressful. When I look back on my life in high school and college, things that seemed paramount at the time are only a small fraction of things that truly matter to me now.
Experiences, inarguably, shape the way we see the world. David is extremely talented at providing a platform for individuals to tell their stories in a powerful way and share how they arrived at their outlook on life today. I remember going through his profiles and wondering how he could get that sort of insightful information out of people. His answer was simple: provide a comfortable environment and just ask questions they have probably never been asked before. He recalled multiple instances when he was interviewing someone and they remarked, “Wow, I have no idea. No one has ever asked me that before.”
After my conversation with David, I had many key takeaways. Below are just a couple.
1. Ask good, thoughtful questions.
2. Listen intensely.
Both points above are qualities many people struggle with today. It seems in the rush of life, it can be difficult to take the time to genuinely get to know someone. However, meaningful relationships and valuable insight to life begin with these two important aspects – asking and listening.
This campaign, Bridging the Gap, is more powerful than meets the eye. People like David create content and information valuable to people from all walks of life – young and old. Furthermore, he doesn’t pretend to be an all-knowing man that has a solution to fix everyone’s problems. Rather, he approaches a problem logically and provides guidance to an answer based on that person’s thoughts. David creates the “ask” that allows information to come organically from the heart. What he and his team are doing truly bridges the gap around age and I am excited to continue to build a relationship around this mission!
David Harry Stewart:
As we considering breaking the age silos that naturally occur in a workplace, the goal is to be able to separate out the particulars of age and identify with the commonality of feeling that we all share as human beings.
The step before empathy is understanding. This is where Trevor and Millennial View consultancy come in. Helping the more established workers and supervisors understand the differences in cultures and values that are unique to millennials. Cultures have differences, we have not all had the same commonality of experience, however, we all share the same DNA, the same emotional chemistry that reacts the same way as our furthest ancestors did. It is what makes us human.
The desire to see differences between ourselves and others is hard-wired into us, going back to tribal societies. The world today is global, and these ancient familial defenders are impediments. Whereas in decades past it was expected to separate and stratify the generations, today in an environment of global competition, there is a necessity for an integrated workplace, with fluid communication up and down the age column to get the most value out of all the contributors.
The young need the field of vision that years of experience give, while the more seasoned need the bold openness of the younger contributors. The responsibility of actuating this communication falls upon the more senior contributors, as not only are they most likely the decision makers, they have had the experience of having been young once themselves. To reach out and bridge the gap, they may need to become informed of the needs and semiotics of the younger people.
It is hard to empathize without at a minimum having the most basic form of communication, and although we all allegedly speak English, language, with its inherent value imbeds, may not be as clear as one would hope. We sometimes need a guide, a generational translator, and this is where Trevor comes in. He steps across the divide and to help businesses and organizations with their workforces by facilitating cross-generational communications.
It has been great speaking with Trevor, and learning about his business, and how he helps Bridge the Gap and help us all to understand that we all share the same human values.
Catherine Grace O'Connell
David and Trevor, I’m blown away by the connection and your honesty. Sometimes, we can be far apart in our viewpoints yet we must leave space to hear the other side and listen with respect. You are two fabulous men whom I’m honored to know.