Bridging the Gap: How Shared Learning Unites Generations in the Modern Workplace

In today’s rapidly evolving professional landscape, the workplace has transformed into a diverse tapestry of generations, each contributing unique perspectives and experiences. From the seasoned veterans with decades of knowledge to the fresh-eyed millennials and the tech-savvy Gen Z, the intermingling of different age groups has given rise to both challenges and opportunities. One of the most potent tools at our disposal to bridge the generational divide and foster a collaborative, thriving work environment is shared learning.

Embracing shared learning within the workplace is more than just a trendy buzzword; it’s a transformative approach that fosters a culture of inclusivity, mutual respect, and innovation. In this blog, we will delve into the power of shared learning and explore how it acts as a cohesive force, harmoniously connecting people from various generations. Together, we will discover the numerous ways in which shared learning closes the generational gap, breaking down barriers and nurturing a workplace where all employees can thrive and reach their full potential.

In his book “Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation”, NYT bestselling author Dan Schawbel provides the following insights for today’s workplaces:

“There’s a great cultural and technological divide between younger and older workers, but both can benefit from each other’s knowledge and skills in important ways.

What Younger Workers Can Teach Older Workers

• New technologies that will impact internal collaboration and their profession and industry and how to use them.
• The importance of diversity and how it can benefit the team, since younger employees are the most diverse in history.
• How change is inevitable, why the skills of today may not be as valuable in the future, and how to learn new skills.
• Why they shouldn’t give up on their dreams. Research shows that younger workers are more optimistic and can use that to inspire older workers.
• The collaborative mind-set that will help older workers best interact with them, brainstorm, and come up with new ideas.

What Older Workers Can Teach Younger Ones

• The struggles and setbacks of building a career and the importance of having years of experience.
• The soft skills that have helped them build the relationships that have made them successful.
• The loyalty that makes others on your team want to invest in your learning and development.
• The regrets they might have had in their career and how to not make the same mistakes.
• How to manage corporate politics that naturally occur in any corporation, especially larger ones.
• The skill to handle conflicts in the workplace and the wisdom to use those conflicts to actually solve problems and form stronger relationships in the aftermath (p. 133-135).”

What are your experiences working with people from differing generations? Do these points ring true to you? Feel free to sound off in the comments below!

Re-Discover Joy at Work

Written by Julie Jones, Guest Career Coach

Recently, I was doing a bit of spring cleaning, going through boxes and getting rid of a few things we no longer need. As I sorted through the pictures from when my kids were small, I noticed their faces — when they lit up as they mastered their pogo stick, or celebrated July 4th watching fireworks. Their expressions showed pure joy, anticipation, and wonder. But I did notice some of the uninhibited joy faded from their faces in later photos.

Doesn’t the same thing happen at work? Do you remember the first day of a new job? You are so excited about the possibility, but stuff happens, and the luster fades. And over time, work may become an obligation instead of an opportunity. You wonder how others find joy or fulfillment in life and work.

If so, you’re not alone. Consider the career changes driven by the pandemic and the so-called Great Resignation when it was estimated that more than 40 million people quit their jobs. Of course, not everyone had a choice, but, during this time, people made decisions about how they work and what is important to them.

Richard Bolles, in his book, What Color is Your Parachute? Your Guide to a Lifetime of Meaningful Work and Career Success includes many planning exercises to guide career development or shifts. One of them includes developing your expertise and enthusiasm matrix. Enthusiasm is on the X axis, and expertise is on the Y axis yielding four quadrants:  high enthusiasm, high expertise; high enthusiasm, low expertise; low enthusiasm, low expertise; and low enthusiasm, high expertise.

When I completed the exercise, I found that some skills I honed over 25 years with high expertise weren’t necessarily ones I looked forward to using as much anymore. How many of your current job roles or activities fall into the lower enthusiasm quadrant?

Drill down and get specific with your current job roles and functions and consider these questions:

In your job (or other pursuits),

  • What activities do you love to do?
  • What gives you energy or sucks your energy?
  • When do you operate at your best?

When I considered the high enthusiasm quadrants, I identified skills and activities that gave me energy, fueled my work tank, or I made time for in my busy schedule. I was excited by the high enthusiasm and low expertise quadrant. Learning can jump-start curiosity, possibility, and joy. I participated in a few online and in-person learning activities as well. I WAS a beginner, and learning was sometimes challenging. But I had fun pivoting to a new interest. Change is good.

Are there skills you want to develop to grow your expertise in these high-enthusiasm activities?


Organizations hire for expertise in the role — the top half of the graph. But are there other high enthusiasm skills or activities you could add to your work functions, or would your leader be open to providing you the opportunity to develop?

Many skills complement other primary skills, such as visual design in learning or empathy in leadership. Leaders who learn more about each person’s expertise/enthusiasm matrix, strengths, motivations, and desires begin to craft a culture of meaning and joy at work. And, in the process, help others realize their potential.


Plan A:  Volunteer in an organization where you can use or develop these skills. Be selective in finding the right fit for you.

Plan B:  Explore additional career options or consider a career shift:

  • Complete job shadows and interview others who have these jobs.
  • Identify career planning priorities – there are a variety of books and tools to guide this process.
  • Online searches – job postings and job descriptions paying close attention to the roles and duties.
  • Take a side job in an area of interest to learn more and gain experience.
  • Join a new professional association you are interested in — Talk with others.
  • Create a personal advisory board of mentors or others who know you well. How might you use their skills to help you navigate a career shift?

The enthusiasm/expertise matrix helped me identify when I’m at my best — when I’m in the flow, and an activity consumes me. For me, joy and flow are connected. For over 35 years, I have kept a picture from my first job on my desk as a reminder of the excitement I felt for my first dietetics job.

What can you do today to help rediscover joy at work? Small steps and positive mind shifts can make a meaningful difference.

Three Tips for Uplifting the Women in Your (Work) Life This Month

Welcome to April – that time of year when the world is emerging from the dreary winter days and things begin coming alive once again. This month, we will “spring forward” with our clocks, launching into Daylight Savings Time. We’ve also just wrapped up another amazing Women’s History Month. While we spend time celebrating the amazing accomplishments of women throughout history, it is also a timely reminder that it is our job to help women “spring forward” in their careers as well, breaking through the many barriers that sometimes come before us and realizing their full potential.

If you’re looking for a few ideas for simple but impactful ways to uplift the women in your workplace this month, here are a few tips to consider:

1.      – Mentor or sponsor other women

Mentorship and sponsorship have long been seen as keys to success for many individuals, yet many women are left out of these circles. Because these relationships can be the catalysts for opening doors and elevating women to pursue new opportunities, it is important to intentionally seek them out.

Whether you are a new professional who is just getting started in your career, or a seasoned leader with years of experience to fall back on, your input is vital to inspiring the growth of those around you. Seek out opportunities to advocate for the women on your team, show up for them where you can, and offer your guidance and input as they navigate their paths forward.

2.      – Give women direct, constructive feedback

Often in the workplace, women receive less (or less helpful) feedback from those around them. This may be due to a desire to preserve their feelings or “handle” them with care. Whatever the reason, not receiving direct and specific constructive feedback can inhibit the growth of even the most promising individuals. We can’t address what we don’t know is wrong, right?

Make it a point to provide direct, constructive feedback to the women you are working with. Help them home in on where their weak spots are and congratulate them on the things that they do well. Having an understanding of where they can improve is the first step in getting better results for them (and for their teams).

3.      – Make sure women’s ideas are heard

Typically speaking, men get more “air time” in meetings and discussions than their female counterparts. This happens for a number of reasons, but the end result is the same: women stay quiet, and their status as a leader in the workplace tends to suffer as a result. To combat this, you can set an example by choosing to sit front and center for meetings in which you are present, and you can recognize when other women are speaking. Simply adding an encouraging, “Great idea!” comment to back up a colleague’s contribution or interjecting when you see that a female coworker is being spoken over not only emboldens the woman speaking, but also sets the tone that her voice is relevant and should be considered by the whole group.

For more information on ways that you can support the women in your workplace this month, please feel free to check out the wonderful article, “6 Ways that Women Can Champion Each Other at Work” from Lean In that served as a reference for this note.

Whether or not you identify as a woman, these insightful tips can provide actionable examples for how we can all be better advocates for making room at the table for the women in our work lives.

Beginning with the End in Mind – Advice for Non-Profit Professionals from Mindy Derr

One must begin with the end in mind.

This is my most consistent advice for professionals seeking to build a career in the non-profit space. Ask yourself: How do organizational leaders perceive their legacy in the role of leadership? What is the Executive’s  mission, vision and plan for perpetuity?

I founded Fore Hope, Inc. in 1989 for my father, Guy. Fore Hope was a small grassroots non-profit organization utilizing golf as an instrument for health recovery. My dad became ill shortly after retirement and his spirit was crushed. Dad was an avid and proficient golfer.

His aptitude and love of the game have carried over into our family heritage. The Derr family is known for golf!

After my service with the Boy Scouts of America in northern Ohio, I decided to start Fore Hope with a focus on therapeutic golf for those with chronic health conditions and disabilities.

Thousands have been served in the 32 + years since our founding and that continues today. Fore Hope was absorbed by the OhioHealth Healthcare System in Columbus, Ohio in 2017. Fore Hope was the first ever grassroots therapy golf program…originating on a card table, to travel among the ranks of a nationally recognized golf program. Fore Hope now resides within the OhioHealth Neuroscience Center for Wellness.

Giving up “my child” (Fore Hope) was not easy. However, as discussions ensued with OhioHealth, I felt the comfort of knowing that our organization would go on, serve more people and keep alive my dad’s legacy. Fore Hope had a niche and remained true to the mission of therapeutic golf. Fortunately, OhioHealth recognized the value of our services, unique offerings and that our organization was an appropriate fit for their wellness programs.

Fore Hope became a new family within OhioHealth and the “start over” within a healthcare system was daunting but exciting as well. Today, I remain an Advisor to OhioHealth Fore Hope.

Populations served throughout our Fore Hope history were those aging and with brain injury, cancer, MS, Parkinson’s, stroke and other injuries and illnesses. Golf is magic and improves balance, cognition, mobility, self-confidence, and fosters socialization. The joy that comes with hitting a little white ball is incredible as one focuses on the accomplishment and not the deficits in his/her life. Golf is a validated tool for Recreation Therapy and improves quality of life!

I know first-hand how illness can change one’s life. My recent diagnosis of MS was difficult to comprehend and yet, knowing that I could walk and play golf again gave me the much needed HOPE to move forward each day.

Over the years, Fore Hope provided services to adult day care and assisted living centers, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation settings, Recreation and Parks and schools. Fore Hope offered outdoor programs at local golf courses, golf ranges and putting areas. Our estimate is that 10,000 persons have been a part of Fore Hope programs along with care partners and families.

Lessons in Leadership from Originating a Non-Profit

I have learned so much over the years with Fore Hope and would like to share a little bit about the “secret sauce” of operations and delivery in a non-profit world. Leadership must be that…lead by example and have the ignited passion that excites those around you…your staff, board, investors and your clients. One must be a risk taker, and yet be a “quantified risker.”

Non-Profit leadership must have the ability to see the big picture and yet be effective in detail. Community trust arrives through exemplary services and brand recognition. Validation of the wonderful work of the organization is necessary and begets resources that encourage growth and wider community outreach. Funding for programs arrives in a myriad of ways, but the  best way in my opinion, is the awareness of mission need, connection to services provided, and the involvement of potential investors. Investors/donors want to realize their gifts make a difference in transforming lives, hence, the reason for being.

The view from 30,000 feet?

Fore Hope began with the end in mind and we reached for the stars. We shared the big picture and built consensus among the masses.  Fore Hope staff and board searched for those

like-minded partners to forward the mission and continue to serve. Mission perpetuity, like OhioHealth Fore Hope as a stellar example, transcends all the struggles and ultimately

“gives back” to those who invested over the years. Our organization wanted the public to see, feel and know, that this journey of non-profit impact prevails and continues to enhance community wellness.

Remember, without cause, there would be not effect. One’s legacy as a leader, is one withstanding.


Melinda “Mindy” Derr
Ohio State Alumna,  Class of 1981
Founder and Advisor – OhioHealth Fore Hope