How to leverage 3 Boomer mindsets with your packaging team

By Matthew Dingee in Optimization on July 08, 2016

Millennials and other generations can learn a lot from Baby Boomers.

Consider this…The School of Packaging was established at Michigan State University in 1952. The Boomers and the packaging industry grew up together, and many are first-generation packaging professionals.

Over the course of my nearly 9-year career, I have worked with many Boomers in the packaging industry. As in my earlier article “How to leverage 3 Millennial mindsets with your packaging team,” I’ll explore three Baby Boomer mindsets I have learned to leverage and show how you can put them into action too.

 

1. “Deep Work” and sweat equity

In his book “Deep Work,” Cal Newport declares the necessity of deep mental focus in achieving meaningful outcomes. The Boomers experienced generational formation in the pre-digital years, which naturally inclines them to focus and persistent effort. The HGTV and “Do it yourself-DIY” mindsets have also trained Boomers to shed blood, sweat and tears for achievement—sweat equity.

Both skills—the ability to focus and the thirst for accomplishments—are extremely valuable in an increasingly distracted world.  

Action: Ditch digital distraction and dedicate focused time to thinking about how to solve a hard problem. Read up on Pomodoro technique at http://pdlinks.com/Pomodoro for one way to train your attention like a Boomer.

 

2. Founder’s mentality

Baby Boomers are deeply networked with the people, projects and places they work. Boomers define meaning in their connections, rather than in their occupation. As a result, many Boomers often utter, “If it is my business, I would do x…” This demonstrates their deep accountability and ownership, akin to a company founder who makes every decision knowing exactly how it affects the business. In every decision or outcome, Boomers weigh the impact, and act with personal accountability.

Action: Own an accountability mindset and make decisions with full clarity of impact!

 

3. Cloaked creatives

As a result of these first two notable Boomer attributes, the creative Boomer spirit can be overlooked. For example, take Boomer Steve Jobs and his essential behind the scenes role in Pixar’s growth from Lucas castoff to delighted Disney acquisition.

Similarly, Boomers harbor a cloaked creativity that can be hard to spot. I have spotted it when working within a problem with hard constraints or within existing packaging assets. One example is the Oreo Snack ’n Seal, transformed by a cadre of creative Boomers, from a throw-away “wrapper” to a revered snack package.

Action: Identify the constraint(s) in your problem and leverage Boomer creativity to deliver an innovative solution.

 

Baby Boomers have grown along with the packaging industry and offer unique mindsets that we can all leverage in our packaging groups for further success and fulfillment in our work.

 

Matt Dingee is an American ex-pat currently packaging manager across the Campbell Soup’s packaging in the Canadian market for brands that include V8, Campbell’s Soup and Broth, Goldfish, Pepperidge Farm, Plum Organics and innovation platforms. He previously worked in various packaging roles across Pepperidge Farm and Campbell’s, and has a BS from the School of Packaging, Michigan State University. Additionally, Dingee is a recipient of the prestigious DuPont Award in 2013 for initiating and commercializing a new to market reclose feature. You can likely find him reading, serving his church or brewing coffee on his Aeropress-inverted method.

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Great insight, Matthew! As a Boomer born in 1954 and connected to the printing & packaging industry since 1979, you nailed it on all 3 points. Deeply networked? I still talk with some of my first clients from right out of college. Deep work & sweat equity? There have been many instances of late nights to fine tune a design flaw that the client hadn't even noticed. And Cloaked Creatives? Some designs that I either helped create or developed on my own in the early 80's are still drawing raves.