Let’s talk about oxymorons for a moment. Jumbo shrimp. Bittersweet. Deafening silence. Millennial Baby Boomer? One of these is not like the others. That’s because Bob Fisch, former CEO of fast fashion retailer rue21, built an enterprise on being the Millennial Baby Boomer.
He’s a bonafide Baby Boomer and in many ways is also an honorary Millennial, as Fisch is often heard to say, regarding Millennials, “I teach them business. They teach me life.” In Fisch Tales: The Making of a Millennial Baby Boomer (Forbes Books), he shares this philosophy, as well as a number of lessons from being a mentor (and a mentee).
The thesis of Fisch Tales is, despite the two generations that, along with Gen X, dominate the workforce, seeming fundamentally opposed, Millennials and Baby Boomers are already equipped with the tools they need to transcend the generation divide. Through conversation and mutual mentoring, these two groups can reach a mutual understanding and respect for each other. Although Baby Boomers might have, in the past, considered Millennials to be overly ambitious or even entitled, Millennials might argue that they only feel entitled to things such as a living wage and a fair shot at climbing the corporate ladder.
Fisch, who has assembled a Millennial Advisory Board to coach him on the issues faced by those young and old alike, is cognizant of and aims to remedy the perceived generational rift.
Some of his strategies for achieving this, straight from the “School of Fisch Lessons,” include:
- “Weaponized listening,” a power listening strategy that ensures people feel heard
- Valuing “tribal knowledge,” or street smarts and work ethic, over pedigree or background
- Cultivating an office “persona” which highlights one’s assets while staying true to their character
- Establishing a family culture within a company to build trust and develop connections between employees and with their employer
Fisch urges readers to find what motivates them and use it as their driving force. “Everything we do in life and in work begins with the same word: Motivation,” he says. His motivation is defying the odds, pushing people to succeed and knowing he can make a difference.
Through hard work, calculated risks and a willingness to listen to what those working for him have to say, Bob Fisch rescued rue21 from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and carved out a niche within the competitive fast fashion market. Restructuring the company in the early 2000s proved fruitful and resulted in rue21 going toe-to-toe with such giants as Forever 21 and H&M.
Under Fisch’s leadership, rue21 had over twelve hundred stores and was valued at over one billion dollars, but the experience that Fisch has gained over the course of a long and illustrious career is priceless. Now he passes that experience on to his Millennial team and anybody who picks up a copy of Fisch Tales.
For self-starters, young movers and shakers or those simply young at heart, this book is packed to the brim with amusing anecdotes, thoughtful advice and insights into every nook and cranny of the world of business.
Fisch Tales is now available for purchase.
About Bob Fisch
Specialty apparel retailing pioneer Bob Fisch has spent over 30 years as a CEO. Most notably, Bob transformed retailer rue21 into an industry powerhouse, boasting eleven consecutive years of sales and profitability as a high-growth company by energizing and inspiring his team at unprecedented levels. A master motivator, Bob has developed management and leadership techniques that have led him to his transformational mutual mentoring approach. His generation splicing framework helps different generations in the workplace gain an understanding of and learn from one another. Bob’s passion for helping people reach their full potential has been a career-long guiding light, and he’s excited to share his wisdom with the world.