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‘The Intern’ on Workplace Trends & Old World Values

I adore Robert De Niro and he’s made another hit with The Intern. In this movie, Anne Hathaway stars as a workaholic dotcom founder that is assigned a 70-year old intern (De Niro). The plot explores many of the trends shaping our industry: Ageism, working mothers, stay-at-home dads, even whether to bring in more seasoned leadership to an inexperienced start-up.

Sitting between the Baby Boomers and Millenials, I can relate to De Niro unpacking a calculator and old-school cell phone on his first day, because these are the things I had on my desk when I was interning. And I identified with the shame and bewilderment Hathaway felt every time she struggled to relate to the moms at her daughter’s school.

But my favorite — and the reason I needed to write this post — were the poignant moments when De Niro introduced some vestige of old world values, such as:

Can’t leave before the boss leaves.

You’ll never go wrong doing the right thing.

And finally, refusing to engage in negative talk and coming to the boss’s defense.

These things have gone the way of the thank you note, which is why they’re even more prized when executed well. Integrity, honest effort, loyalty, taking ownership when no one else will. Leaders know this and instinctively do them, with little thought to whether things are fair or people like them.

If you haven’t seen the movie, check it out. It will make you realize how role models like De Niro and Hathaway can totally transform company culture, no matter what their age.

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