Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tamara Erickson is a Boomer who "gets it"

I recently had the opportunity to review Tamara Erickson's latest work on generational issues - What's Next, Gen X? As a longtime fan of Erickson's, I was really excited to read this.

I know there are not a lot of people who want to read about Gen X anymore - unless it's something really negative like how we will die in squalor waiting for the Boomers to retire. However, Erickson - who is a Boomer - argues just the opposite. She writes that "the way businesses create value is changing, essentially in ways that are more closely aligned with X'er preferences and sensibilities."

These ways include Xer's putting less emphasis on being told what you should believe and more emphasis on transparency.

One way Erickson really keys in to the Gen X perspective is her discussion of the way Gen Xers form "tribes" - and how that is one of our defining strengths. We've always known that Xers are fiercely loyal to their friends - Erickson shows how that's impacting our adult professional lives, too.

I was also impressed that Erickson was not afraid to call us out for simply walking away from professional situations when we're pissed off - and not explaining why. I agree that there are times that if we did a little more talking - and less walking - we may able to resolve situations quicker.
As far as downsides, I think Erickson doesn't offer enough concrete new advice as to HOW Xers can take our strengths and make them work for us. I would have like to have seen more case studies and quotes from successful Xers who are making it work - and less from Xers who are complaining.

But overall - I loved this book and would recommend. Don't let Erickson's Boomer status scare you off - she "gets it."

10 comments:

jen said...

wow. smack me between the eyes. i'm a walker. every xer i know is. why is that???? why are we such a passive bunch? is it passivity or something worse? great to read a blog review. this is the first i've seen save for trunk's.

Anonymous said...

>>i'm a walker. every xer i know is. why is that????>>

My theory is that what's pissing us off is usually a Boomer or a Gen Y who *just* *won't* *get* *it* even if we did explain. Neither one listens; they're the "me, me, me" generations.

So, why bother wasting the breath? They won't hear it anyway.

J- said...

I don't know if I agree with the "walking" part, I think we just know to fight the fights worth trying to win.

Example: There's no point in arguing or getting upset at work when the Boomers on the task force to assign members to a committee, that's in charge of designing a process to select a team that will be awarding a prize to the group that forms the best process for forming committees, stare at you in disbelief when you say:

"Just draw some names from a hat."

But when they tell you, as a late 30-something, that you don't understand, and you need more experience, and when you're "seasoned" like they are (and we know which herb the average Boomer is seasoned with), you won't make silly recommendations. Of course, it makes the prudent X generally more angry when they think about the combined salaries being wasted on this kind of drivel.

No, there's no point in getting upset, just walk away from those.

Now, when it comes to technology, there is the absolute BEST place to have your revenge. Since 99.5% of Boomers in the workplace are technologically illiterate, it is imperative to calmly, and with as much excruciating technical detail, including all side processes and subroutines, how to print over a wireless connection. The more detail, and the more references you can include, and especially the more comparisons to Boomer stalwarts like IBM or Rolling Stone, the more they're force to begrudgingly agree to any proposal due to a lack of knowledge in their group think.

It's fun. Try it.

Kristina said...

I tend to be a walker, too, and I agree with Anonymous and J that we recognize futility and wasted effort when we see it coming. Before GenXpert enlightened me, I assumed it was just me.

This sounds like a GREAT book. Thanks, Suzanne.

GenXpert said...

@J - this is one of my favorite lines I've seen in a long time:

"But when they tell you, as a late 30-something, that you don't understand, and you need more experience, and when you're "seasoned" like they are (and we know which herb the average Boomer is seasoned with), you won't make silly recommendations."


It took me a second to get the herb part - lol - because I said no to drugs and yes to beer in my younger years.

But on a serious note, I have a similar experience. I'm in my late 30s and do often feel that older Boomers think I'm young - which I'm not. Then again, I've been told I look younger than I am (not sure if that's true, but I'll take it.) For me, this doesn't come from people I work with but from people at other organizations that I deal with. You know the way people talk to you when they don't realize you're in charge of something.

One of the things Erickson does write about is how longer life expectancies will result in longer careers - therefore there's plenty of time for us. I believe that.

As for those who do the talking down - no need to get angry. I find that EVENTUALLY they figure out things and look a little silly.

Sherri Thornhill said...

Hey, I enjoy your blog so I am adding you to my "Cool Gen X Related Websites" list on my page. I'm the National Generation X Examiner on Examiner.com..come by and say hello!

Vanessa said...

Walkers...interesting topic. I believe X'ers have higher standards of how we will be treated and more confidence about our skills and what we offer. Speaking for myself...I'm not going to stick around for years of work torture just for the sake of having a job and working for one organization. I've got places to go, people to see and mad skilz! :)

Nice blog! Glad I found you!

CPoole said...

Great post - and I’m glad I found your blog! I have watched Tamara Erickson evolve as a generational expert ever since enjoying her presentation at my company’s Leadership conference in 2005 (yes, another Xer stuck in a “Leadership development program”). I agree she is more balanced in her assessment of younger generations than her colleagues.

I’m with the folks who admitted to being walkers as well. Maybe it’s our deep cynicism of institutions (aka knowing that nothing we say will change Boomer’s perspective) that drives us to move on rather than even bother engaging in debate?

GenXpert said...

@CPoole - you have a good point. I think most Xers feel that you can't change a Boomer's mind. and @Vanessa - A lot of Boomers lack the mad skillz in terms of technology adaptation and change acceptance. I think these two things will really hurt them in this decade in terms of career.

There's a lot written about how they aren't retiring and how that supposedly hurts Gen Xers and yadayada. However, I don't think that will be a problem for us, because so many of them don't have these 21st Century skills. It'll be move up or move out - and they just won't have what it takes to move up.

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