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Boomers Redux

(August 07, 2006) You may have no idea who David Bromberg is. The legendary string musician has stayed out of the bright lights of the mainstream for the past 20 years. Choosing family life and a violin business over the road and celebrity, Bromberg left the limelight for smaller and more important things. No fanfare, he just left.

Now that the kids are grown up and some important things need to be said, Bromberg has returned to the road. Fronting a tight band of stellar players, he slips in and out of roles. As the show opens, he is the foundation of the Angel Band, a group that features a trio of women singers (including his wife). Over the course of the evening he moves from band leader to individual troubadour with ease, cultivating the energy in the crowd.

Bromberg is out building an audience and communicating his politics. At 61, he's demonstrating that age is not a barrier to performance intensity, political vision or business development. The band delivers a high value experience. You can feel the quality of the work, the benefits of extreme rehearsal and the sheer love of the audience-performer interaction.

At the close of each show on the tour, Bromberg is revisiting an old chestnut from his early career. Kaatskill Serenade is his retelling of the Rip Van Winkle story. When he wrote it, it was a lament about life on the road (after six months away from home, he always felt like Rip Van Winkle.) These days, he's playing it as a lament for his country. The story is that he feels like he woke up in a country that isn't like the place he was born. There's something to his rant. It's going to be hard work to restore the civil rights that have been taken away in the name of National Security.

Equally important, though never said, Bromberg is demonstrating the vitality and viability of post-child rearing careers. With major life responsibilities attended to, it's possible to re-envision and restart.

Bromberg, like the best in the Boomer age bracket, believes that what you do is more important than what you say. It's a big difference in perspective that can only vaguely be captured in interview and screening processes. It's a quieter perspective that resembles the best attributes of the "Silent Generation".

These are the gems in the demographic shifts. While there will be  retirement related shortage of workers around the industrialized world. The 50s and 60s are a time of rebirth and refocus. Capturing and harnessing the energies of seasoned and effective people who are in the throes of personal blooming is what recruiting is becoming. Figuring out how to make the workspace attractive and flexible for these deep contributors will be the next steps.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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