From the Internet revolution to the real estate boom, John Donahoe and Donald Trump have witnessed eras of great innovation and prosperity, as well as economic downturns.
Yet, despite the differences in their businesses, their backgrounds, and their leadership styles, these chief executives have one very significant thing in common: They are both Baby Boomers—part of a generation that symbolizes change, rule breaking and boundary busting.
Donahoe, of eBayand Trump, of the company that bears his name, agreed to participate in CNBC.com's in-depth look at Boomers. They candidly answered three questions about the professional and personal aspects of being a Boomer. And they shared advice that is valuable to all generations.
1. What have baby boomers meant to your business?
Trump - As they are part of my generation, they’ve meant a lot as colleagues, partners and friends. I’ve had and continue to have interactions with people of all ages, but this group has been an integral part of my life. It’s a shared background in time and that creates a bond, but my personal and business relationships span a large age range, which I enjoy.
Donahoe - As an economic force, Boomers have had a huge impact on eBay over its 15 year history. We've seen millions of people, particularly in this generation, turn to eBay and PayPal to start a business online — the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well among Boomers. And because of our sheer numbers, Boomers' spending patterns and behavior are reflected within the eBay marketplace. Given the economy and the fact that so many Boomers are entering or are already in retirement, it's not surprising that trust, value and selection matter a great deal to this generation today. That's what eBay is all about.
2. What does being a boomer mean to you?
Trump - It means I’m part of a generation that had and continues to have great energy with great opportunities available to them. There was a sense of renewal in the world at that time and as child I didn’t know the time frame of history, but I had a great sense of curiosity and was industrious in my pursuits. So as a boomer, I’d say I’m still full of energy and optimism, although that is how I am by nature.
Donahoe - I'm proud to be part of a generation that has helped fuel the growth of the Internet and of e-commerce … the web is one of the biggest social and technological innovations ever created, and we're only just getting warmed up in terms of what we can do with it. eBay is at the forefront of great things still to come online.
3. What is your biggest worry about the baby boomer generation?
Trump - Some of them may not have been prepared for the economic downturn. It’s been a difficult time for a lot of people. But I know this generation is resilient and things will work out over time. It’s important to keep moving forward and remain positive.
Donahoe - I'm not so worried as I am hopeful. I hope that this generation will continue to embrace innovation and have a strong voice in how the world is governed. We as a generation have already made our presence felt through the decades and have seen both ups and downs. I hope that our collective experience will continue to benefit generations that follow
Watch "Tom Brokaw Reports: Boomer$!", Thursday, March 4 at 9pm ET on CNBC. The program will also air Saturday, March 6 at 7pm ET; Sunday, March 7th at 9pm ET; and Monday, March 8th at 8pm ET.