Conquering Generation Gaps With David and Jonah Stillman

I’ve been to my fair share of conferences and business seminars. While I won’t go so far as to invalidate them, I don’t usually find the level of value I expect or desire from the presentations by public speakers, panelists, and the like. One may be a bit too basic in its content for my current level of ability, while another will be a bit over my head and beyond the scope of my role. I always loathe discovering that I’ve locked myself into a blatant sales pitch, and who doesn’t dread the droning speaker with absolutely no aim, point, or effort in delivery? Truth be told, picking an education track or attending a keynote sometimes feels like a risky gamble with intimidating odds. Then, along came the Stillmans…

Best-selling author David Stillman has evolved his already successful formula on bridging generations by teaming up with his Gen Z son, Jonah – the first Gen Z speaker to hit the circuit – and it sincerely makes for an enlightening presentation.

“Gen Z has entered their 20s and is your future workforce. The time to get to know them is today! If you try to treat Gen Z like the Millennials, it will backfire”

The Stillmans’ approach goes far beyond a relevance to business, even if that is their primary audience. As a mother, and just a general person trying to function as an informed member of a blended global society, I personally gained tremendous insight and understanding from the information they shared, and the combined perspective they provided. Their data is garnered from diverse case studies and interviews with hundreds of CEOs and Gen Z’ers to provide a truly valuable comprehension of what makes the next generation tick. Gen Z is the incoming generation of adults. Born between 1995 and 2012, Gen Z accounts for more than 72 million people. In other words – they’re a force to be reckoned with, and being uninformed on their motivators and outlooks is simply not an option.

David and Jonah did a superior job of instantly connecting with the audience by presenting their topic with a brilliantly intriguing analogy. Using the concept of space travel and the shuttle program, they asked for a representative of the Baby Boomer generation to share their most prominent, summary memory. Of course, this was the lunar landing – an event that represented hope, optimism, and a flawlessly alluring future of endless possibilities. This was followed by the same topic being presented to a member of Generation X, resulting in a reference to the Challenger explosion – an event with much less positive connotations and sentiment. This illustrates a very different perspective of a widespread topic, as defined by timeframe and reference to life experiences. Imagine the countless other concepts we view so vastly opposite of those we interact with, work with, and market to, daily! If you can’t grasp diverse perspectives and outlooks, how can you actually bridge that gap to effectively integrate with generations beyond your own? If you cannot anticipate the methods, expectations, and even the lingo of the incoming generation, you are bound to fail in sending a message that will resonate with them.

David and Jonah have a masterful knack for volleying their viewpoints and norms in seamless fashion, like a mirror into a parallel mentality interwoven with powerfully surprising stats, witty terminology, honesty, and just the right amount of reality-driven humor. “40% of Gen Z said that working Wi-Fi was more important to them than working bathrooms”?? As much as this yields a chuckle and a head shake, insights like these really do send an important message that practically anyone can use in a multitude of scenarios – and many of their findings will surely shock you. I guarantee that you don’t know Gen Z like you think you do!

David Stillman offers customized presentations on generational insights in three distinct areas:

  1. Workplace: recruiting, retaining, communicating with 4 generations 

  2. Marketplace: customer service and sales for 4 generations 

  3. Giving: how to attract and retain 4 generations of donors and volunteers

He has co-authored the bestsellers When Generations Collide and The M-Factor: How the Millennials Are Rocking the Workplace, and now, along with son Jonah – Gen Z @ Work, featuring the first national studies of Gen Z’s workplace attitudes.

Personally, I would love to spend a full day just chatting with David and Jonah. One hour at this week’s Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism was not nearly long enough! While their presentations are surely rehearsed and fine-tuned to a point (as any speaker would do), their knowledge and passion are very obviously natural, and their personalities are beyond endearing. Without hesitation, I would strongly recommend binging on the Stillmans in any forum available to you. To learn more about the duo, or the book Gen Z @ Work, visit: Follow along on social media via Facebook, Twitter, and of course – YouTube, where you can find a treasure trove of Stillman video action! By all means, if you find yourself with the very fortunate opportunity to see David and Jonah live, drop absolutely everything and run! I would prioritize them over a Walking Dead fan convention, or a Sia concert… and if you follow along enough to really know me, you understand that this is one heck of a seal of approval. A gem of a find here – and they’re not even Orlandoans!

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