"An organization really profits from diverse experiences," says Miller. "The more we can get different ages and different perspectives into a company, the more successful it's likely to be."
Andy Poticha, 33, and Michael Menn, 48, couldn't agree more. The two Northbrook, Illinois, architects run Design Construction Concepts. Their work has been photographed for publications like Better Homes and Gardens Bedroom and Bath, and the two men, who have been working together for 12 years and have seen each other through marriages, births and other life-changing events, see the age difference as something to be celebrated not conquered.
Poticha explains: "I was always searching to learn what I could from Michael's experience. He happens to be a very good teacher, and the way he presented things didn't make [me] feel like an idiot for not knowing something."
Menn completes the other half of the mutual-admiration society: "Andy provided the energy and enthusiasm that I didn't have in my mid-30s," he says. "At [my] age, you're starting to become set in your ways and in the bad habits you've picked up from past partnerships. I think his clearheadedness, his clear view, was what broke me from the bad habits I was in."
So if you're thinking of shopping around for some younger blood, actually shop. Squeeze the grapefruit and make sure it's fresh. Test-drive the car. Try on the jacket before you leave the store. Talk to your potential younger partner about your hopes and dreams-the kind that relate to your company, and the company you keep. And ask about his or her expectations and aspirations. Search for common ground. Then talk about your favorite Gunsmoke episode and look for a grimace.
To get another perspective on the generation gap, see "Bridging The Gap" in September's Entrepreneur's Start-Ups.
- Boutique Y3K Inc., www.boutiquey3k.com
- Design Construction Concepts, (847) 498-1676, www.dcc-ltd.com
- Nina Kaufman, 230 Park Ave., #1000, New York, NY 10169, www.virtualcounsellors.com
- Ron Zemke, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.socksoff.com
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.