Geeks & geezers : how era, values, and defining moments by Warren G Bennis; Robert J Thomas

By Warren G Bennis; Robert J Thomas

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And I don’t see the world coming to no good end or anything of that sort. But I certainly don’t see the work ethic and so forth that at least my generation had. In a later conversation, following the precipitous fall of e-commerce stocks in 2001, Porter was bit more optimistic: “The young people who come out of this with their heads held high and anxious to try again are the ones I’d say you should hire. They’ll have failed big, sure. ” Bennis 023-050 c2 3rd 40 6/16/02 2:15 PM Page 40 Geeks & Geezers TE AM FL Y During the interviews, for example, 71-year-old judge Nathaniel Jones, whose father had been a steelworker and his mother a domestic, and 91-year-old coach John Wooden, whose father had been a farmer and school teacher, both underscored the great sense of self-satisfaction they received from recognition of a job well done, even as young children.

These geeks and geezers are also alike in that they forever strain to transcend limits, whether those limits are individual, like strength or learning ability, or institutional, like racial and/or sexual discrimination. However, the most dramatic tie connecting the men and women we interviewed was their common experience of events that transformed their behavior and self-understanding. The discovery of Bennis 001-022 c1 3rd 14 6/16/02 2:14 PM Page 14 Geeks & Geezers this common tie propelled us from a simple, albeit very interesting, comparison of geeks and geezers to a much deeper investigation of how people become leaders.

There was no Social Security. There was no pension. And for the next few years it was a real struggle. I mean, he did jobs like loading booze, illicit booze on trucks. He ran summonses for lawyers. He distributed flyers for the Republican Party to earn a buck, or earn a quarter I mean, not a buck. And when he came home and told my mother he’d lost his job, she broke into tears and I felt, ‘I’m never going to let that happen to me. I’m never going to be at the effect of other people who are going to be able to do that to me.

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