Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Are Gen Xers just cranky older siblings?

I just read a great post by David Fallarme. He has told his Millennial peers that the reason that Xers are confused by Millennials (and visa versa) is that they had different formative cohort experiences.
I'm used to Millennials saying things more along the lines of "those cranky Gen Xers with the bad attitudes just don't understand us!" As if we are the mean big brothers and sisters. It's not much different from when the Boomers see us as the bratty younger siblings. We're kind of like the Jan Brady of generations.

Anyway, David was very insightful. Compared to Millennials, Xers were more independent from their parents when they were in their 20s and more dependent on their friends. Also, kids were viewed differently when Xers where children (i.e. The Omen, The Exorcist, The Bad News Bears) then when the Millennials were kids (i.e. The Olsen Twins - the cute little ones, not the skanky adult ones). Adults just liked kids more when Millennials were little then when Xers were. I think that in early adulthood, that really impacted how 20-something Xers viewed their parents and other older adults (negatively) and how current 20-somethings do (positively).

One other thing is that Xers, in general, tend to be a little edgier than Millennials in the way they communicate and in their humor. I think Millennials are used to people older than them (particularly the Boomers) being really nice and encouraging. But the Xer facade is just a facade. It's what we think is cool. Toughness. (Kind of like the Millennials think low-rise jeans are cool. Or how the Boomers think The Beatles are cool.) However, Generation X is so devoted to its friends, if Millennials make friends with the Xers, they will find valuable mentors and advocates (really).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Telecommuting rocks - but there are a couple things...

I love telecommuting. Seriously, it's the best thing that has ever happened to me careerwise. I've never been happier, more productive, and did I mention happier? However, there are a couple things that can get to me.

The first thing is telecommuter's guilt. It's that part of you that says, "Hey, I'm not miserable enough. Not tired enough." And this guilt leads to the Sunday afternoon guilt that says, "I could do some work. I'm just relaxing. Beer - work - beer -work - what should I chose?

What's interesting about this is that I've never been one of those workaholic types. When I worked in a traditional office, I was like Fred Flintstone - the whistle blew and I went running for the door.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Best Friend's Wedding

There is a new movie out called Made of Honor in which Patrick Dempsey stars as a guy who realizes that he has fallen in love with his female best friend just after she gets engaged to someone else. Frankly, it sounds an awful lot like My Best Friend's Wedding with Julia Roberts. However, I believe both films depict something that really never existed before Generation X - best friends who are not of the same sex. This is another example of how Title IX has torn down the gender roles that existed prior to 1972.

My best friend in college was a guy. Unlike in the movies, though, we didn't secretly want to be together "that way." But we had good times.

Then about midway through junior year my best friend met the woman who would become his wife. And we couldn't be best friends anymore. Looking back I was probably pretty pouty about the whole thing. Today we are all friends, but not the way we were before we met our soulmates.

The thing is, although some gender roles have been removed, the husband and wife as best friends thing is still going strong. But having that best friend of the opposite sex is uniquely Gen X.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Generations Quiz

Here's a fun quiz to see if you share the same characteristics with the rest of the members of your cohort. I took it - and I am 100% Generation X. (Surprising, I know).

Another interesting fact I've discovered over the years: Babyboomers love quizzes! If you ever have to make a presentation that you are pretty sure will be dominated by boomers, give them a quiz. Not sure exactly why they love 'em, but they do.

By the way, if you know what this image is from, you're probably not a boomer, but an Xer!

Today is the day I realized I am old

Remember when you were in junior high school and you had some old aunt who just couldn't understand why you'd wear acid washed jeans? My aunt said, "It looks like you took Roman Cleanser to those jeans."

Well today, I've officially become that old woman. I have heard that newest craze in Hollywood is the "butt facial" - and I don't get it. At this point, I'm just worried about keeping the wrinkles off my face, let alone my rear end.

This may be a frivilous post, but it's relevant. How far will we go to stay young? Is having an old butt really that bad? It goes with my old face.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Happy Old People

A recent study showed that the happiest Americans are also the oldest Americans. The Associated Press called these results "eye-opening."

And yet, on Oprah yesterday, she had an expert on that said 3 out of 4 people hate their jobs.

So is it that hard to understand why the old people are happy? They don't have to work for the man.

(Disclaimer: Although I spent 15 tortured years working for "the man," I now work for a really wonderful man and have the most awesome job ever. No, really, I do. I can't believe it either. I'm the 1 in 4. Go figure.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Where do you work?

I write a lot about Title IX and its impact on Gen X men and women. One interesting impact is this generation of adult women has a need to have a work-defined title – just like men do.

For example, about a year ago I had decided to leave my job as a marketing manager because I was miserable. I had not found another job yet, but was planning on filling the income void by writing and adjunct teaching. However, I was really anxious about what I would tell people I do, because I didn’t have one “real” job. When I did get an actual “job” 1 week after I left the old one, a lot of the relief was that I would know what to tell people.

Another example is a friend of mine. She spent nearly 20 years as an accountant and had significantly worked her way up the corporate ladder. However, for the last two years she has made the decision to stay home with her kids. Recently, her 7-year-old daughter made a family picture at school and part of it read “This is my mom. She has no job.” It wasn’t a traumatic experience for my friend, but you could tell it stung.

I think our generation of women is the first to really have that need to define ourselves through our work, rather than by our marital status or children. It’s not that our families are not the top priority – they are – but there’s also this part of us who want to say “I’m a professor” or “I’m a doctor” or whatever. It’s always been like this for men.

I find this interesting because when I was growing up I had friends whose mothers worked, but I don’t know what any of them did. But I always knew what all the dads did.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gen X women: We need to mentor our Millennial sisters

Last week I was talking to a colleague my age about experiences we had early in our career with Babyboomer women. Let's just say for a lot of Gen X women, dealing with the generation of women who broke through the glass ceiling could be quite difficult.

Gen Xers grew up with very different gender roles than Boomers. In fact, Title IX really tore down the previous gender roles that existed and it never occurred to Xer women that they couldn't be doctors, lawyers, or professional atheletes just because they were female. Boomer women, however, had a lot more sexism to deal with - as children and as adults.

So it kind of makes sense that a lot of Boomer women in the first wave of groundbreakers would have this unconscious attitude that there is only room for one girl in the board room and all other women should be seen as competition.

My husband and I are the same age. When we got out of college in the early 1990s, he always had older guys at work taking him under their wings. Never happened for me. Not at that time. It happens now - but not then.

I do have female Babyboomer mentors now. In fact, one of them explained to me how a lot of Boomer women have a hard time mentoring young women.

Therefore, I believe as Xer women, we need to mentor Millennial women. Yes, they drive us nuts just like we drove the Boomers nuts when we were getting started. However, as women in our 30s and 40s we are in a unique position to offer Millennials a hand up.

We can discuss issues that our male colleagues cannot - including appropriate dress in the workplace. We can give them a heads up on a lot of the challenges that are specific to women in the workplace. We can make a difference.

Often Gen Xers are portrayed in the media as the generation that is being stepped over. I couldn't disagree more. We are the bridge.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Happy Monday!

I can't help myself. I found this on Team Building is for Suckers.
Thank goodness I telecommute and no longer have to deal with the
Monday Morning Staff Jubilee!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Do Boomers make bad old people?

Daniel Halloway writes on MetroBlog that "all our awesome old people — you know, the ones who fought in World War II and invented Bingo — are being replaced by newer, suckier old people called Babyboomers."

Kind of made me chuckle.

I imagine that although the Boomers are refusing to actually get old, they would be really annoyed that Dan thinks they make bad old people. What do you think?

Friday, April 11, 2008

The origins of Gen Y discovered

Okay, so I'm traveling for work and have not had the energy to blog. But I wanted to give you all something to consider. I have received this picture from no less than 5 people (including my mom), so I figured it should be posted. So, if you want to take a minute from thinking about taxes and the IRS, think about this picture!

P.S. OHare airport really sucks. I've been stuck here for hours and hours so I can get on a 45-minute flight. I should have just driven.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Optimistic Millennials

The next time you feel frustrated with a Millennial, just remember that my sweet David Archuletta from American Idol is a member of that cohort and all your negative feelings will just melt away.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Don't Call Them Matures

Recently, my dad asked me what generation he is in. He thought he was an Xer, because he preferred fat, karate-chopping Elvis to young skinny Elvis. I said, no, dad, you are a "mature," because you were born in 1938.

So I decided I would do a post on this cohort. The Yankelovich Group calls them "matures," so that's what I've always called them. I will now call them The Silent Generation. Here's why: If you do a newsgator search for "matures," you do not get a bunch of listings for people born 1925-1944. You get photos of a nude older women with nude younger men standing behind them (I will let you fill in the blanks as to what they are doing).

So here's a bit of information on the clothed "Silents." They brought you civil rights, an unparalleled national wealth in the arts and commerce, and unimaginable advances in science and technology. You can find out a lot more from retired professor Jim Brett at

Friday, April 4, 2008

Will Ferrell: He's a crusader for Gen Xers

Gen Xers love Will Ferrell. Other generations like him, too. But Xers like him the most.

It could be his wit, his intelligence, his funny characters. However, the reason that Ferrell is so popular among the cynical Gen Xers is that he makes fun of Boomers - and the Boomers don't event know he's doing it.

The thing about Xers is that we're done arguing with the Boomers. Whether it's recognized or not, that's what's going on. The Boomers are supposedly changing retirement, the Millennials think they are changing the political system (oh, and nobody seems to remember that already happened in the 1992 election, but that's a blog for another day), and the Xers are plugging along making the real changes like making it okay for guys to be stay-at-home dads and active participants in their children's lives and making it okay for women to define success in other ways than a single focus on child rearing or take-no-prisoners careerists.

Xers have established a new paradigm for adult living. We've found a way to reach the Boomers goal of "having it all" and the Millennials goal of "work/life balance." And the way we did it is to just start ignoring the criticism - and having our own laughs. Thank you, Will.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Will Miss Piggy drop the "Miss"?

I had an interesting experience yesterday with my 3-year-old daughter. We were at my folks' house and she was playing with my old Miss Piggy puppet. However, I could not get my daughter to call the puppet Miss Piggy. Instead, she kept calling her Mrs. Piggy. Which got me thinking - will her generation eliminate the title "Miss" from our language?

Americans are increasingly becoming less formal in their speech. Generation Xers and Millennials don't use formal titles very often - especially for women - unless that person is a teacher or someone's mom. I have a hard time remembering the last time I heard someone call a woman "Miss" anything (except Miss America).

I did a little digging on the title Miss and it is a shortened version of Mistress that was used in the 17th Century. In the 21st Century, Mistress means something a lot different than "single woman."

In the 70s, a lot of women stopped using both Miss and Mrs in favor of Ms. Then it was a political statement. I think we can thank the Boomers for doing this. I believe a woman's marital status is no longer her defining quality.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Are you a Boomer or Xer?

  1. If you prefer fat, Karate chopping, jumpsuit wearing, peanut butter and banana sandwich eating Elvis to the slim, cute Elvis in Viva Las Vegas, you are an Xer.
  2. If you think the Beatles did great work writing songs for sneaker commercials, you are an Xer.

  3. If you know how to use Aqua Net and a blow dryer to create mall hair, you are an Xer.

  4. If you have taught your 5-year-old child how to Head Bang, you are an Xer.

  5. If you are willing to pay a babysitter any rate she demands so you can make opening weekend anytime a Will Ferrell movie opens, you are an Xer.

  6. If you think 60 is the new 30, you are a Boomer.

  7. If you really think the Beatles are the best rock group of all time, you are a Boomer.

  8. If you think Mick Jagger looks pretty good for his age, you are a Boomer.

  9. If you plan, schedule, or suggest a meeting be held, you are a Boomer.

  10. If you like office pot lucks, cookie exchanges, Secret Santas, team building retreats, or any “icebreaker” game that requires you to work with your colleagues for 45 minutes to create a star or other shape out of rope, you are a Boomer.