Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gen Xers - Take my poll!

My last blog post was about whether things are really so dire for Gen Xers. We hear a lot in the media about the poor Gen Xers who are stuck and the Millennials are nipping at our tails. I'm just not buying it.

This is not a slam on Millennials. It has nothing to do with them, really. But I just don't think they are going to pass us up - and I really don't think they're doing it right now. The reason is - I don't know and haven't met a single Xer who this has happened to. I hear Xers say it's happening - but they have no personal experience of it. It reminds me of the urban myth of the woman who fell asleep in the tanning bed and fried her internal organs. It's always someone's aunt who knows someone this happened to.

In the past they said Xers would not ever own their own homes. Yet we do. They said we'd never make more money that their parents. Everyone I know does. They said lots of bad stuff that never ended up happening.

Penelope Trunk, who loves Millennials more than any Xer in the world, said that history will mark Gen Xers the real revolutionaries of this era. She also says nobody wants to read about Gen X. I would add - people like to read about the doom and gloom of the Gen X experience - they just don't want to hear a lot of good stuff.

So I thought I'd take a poll. If you are an Xer, please answer honestly. If you answer yes, please tell us about it in the comment section. If you're not an Xer, please feel free to leave a comment, but please don't take the poll.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Are Xers being sold a bill of goods?

There's a lot of negative stuff about Gen X on the web. It says we're small. It says we're sandwiched between the Boomers and the Millennials. It says we're the Jan Brady of Generations.

My question is - is it really true?

I've had my share of tough times. However, at 38 (almost 39), I have a great job, a great family, a great house, and I live in a great small town. It got me thinking - is the media out to "get" us?

It's true that our generation is smaller. However, although we're only 20% of the population, we're 42% of the workforce (see chart above). That's the largest chunk of any generation working today.

Also, the median age of CEOs in this country is getting lower. Today it's 48.8 years old (45.7 years old for those working for IT companies). The oldest Xers (if you don't count Generation Jones, which I do, but I'm not counting them here) is 44. Well, if half the CEOs are under 48.8 - most of that half are Xers.

It's true, we had it rough starting out. But is it really that dismal for us? Does the data back it up?

I'm curious what you all think.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Why does Hollywood skank up the Millennials?

Like a lot of people, I watched the AMAs recently. And like many, many, many people, I thought Adam Lambert's performance was inappropriate and vulgar. As someone who is quite liberal in her views and someone who went to journalism school, I think Lambert should be allowed to express himself - but he seems like a smart guy and I think he should know better.

Lambert says that people are upset about his performance because he's gay. I would say it's because he simulated oral sex on stage. I don't care whose head he put to his crotch - I don't need to see it. Some people argue that kids may be watching. I argue that I AM WATCHING.

I also think that Lambert saying this is a gay issue is extremely demeaning to gays. Is he REALLY trying to tell us that this is the gay experience - orgies with whips, chains, and a lot of aggression?

Earlier in the AMA show, Carrie Underwood came out all skanked up, too. Granted, she wasn't engaging in simulated group sex, but she wore an outfit that looked like her panties were showing.

I guess I'm just not getting it. These are two really talented people. We're tuning in to hear your voice - not see your privates.

Now bear with me on this. I know I'm writing a little long today, but sometimes that's just how my brain works.

Last night my husband and I watched Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which starred Gen X poster boy John Cusack. That got me thinking about our own X entertainment icons. Cusack, Garofolo, Ringwald, Dr. Dre, 2Pac, Fey, Elliott, Wahlberg, Wilson, Diaz. It's not that they're squeeky clean - but getting (or giving) a BJ on stage?

I guess I'm having a hard time getting my head around this idea. Seems like if you're a talented Millennial in entertainment who's starting to get some attention then it's time to show your panties. Or your boobies. Or to gyrate the franks and beans in some one's face.

Maybe that's the 21st Century version of getting old - you don't understand why talent can't just stand its own.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Muppets cover "Queen" song - should I be upset?

Several weeks I wrote about how upset I was that Where the Wild Things was made into a movie. There was quite the debate from readers.

Today, I came across the Muppets "cover" of Bohemian Rhapsody - and I don't have the same feelings of indignation. Should I?

You got to love Animal :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Will Gen X men lead the way to family-friendly workplaces?

I had a really cool experience recently. I got to sit down with a group of Gen X professionals and talk about the issues that are affecting our careers – and our lives.

One issue that came up was regarding Gen X men and fatherhood and work. One guy in the group said, “I can’t stay late. Maybe 30 years ago I could work 15 hours a day, because maybe my wife would stay home. But we have kids and my wife has a job and we have stuff to do.”

And the other guys in the audience nodded. And the gals, too.

In the last century, we were rewarded for taking longer to do our work. You must have worked really hard on that project if it took you 8 hours to complete rather than 4. Today, it just sounds ridiculous.

I wonder if in this century it will be Gen X men who will be fighting for family-friendly workplaces. It makes sense. There’s probably even more pressure on them from older guys to give it all to the company (in some ways, I think it’s a lot easier for a woman to get a pass when it comes to these issues.) If I were a guy, I would think it’s ridiculous that I was expected to spend more time away from family because of my gender.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why I'm thankful for my crappy old job

A few years ago, I fell into what I would call a clinical depression over things that were going on at my old job. I wasn't diagnosed and they didn't have to lock me up somewhere, but it was pretty bad.

Two things happened that really got me over that hump - my despair turned to anger and then strength. And I got a new job - which turned out to be my dream job (and I don't say that lightly, because I've been working since I was 15 years old and up until getting my current job, the job I was most happy at was being a lifeguard when I was 17).

The thing I'm really thankful for is that from working in a toxic environment (with a group of people I like to call "the monkeys,") is an great appreciation for the people I work with now. My job is cool. I like what I do. But what makes it the dream job is working with a group I now refer to as "my peeps."

You know when your at a crappy job and think, why don't they just (fill in the blank - i.e. treat people well, have some trust, not treat me like I'm a monkey, too, etc.)? The people I work with do the smart things.

However, I can't imagine if I had to go through a toxic work environment in this job market, because I truly believe the only thing to do is to move on and it's really tough to find a new job right now. As Ron White says, you can't fix stupid - and the people usually responsible for these situations aren't bad, evil people. They're just a little on the stupid side. I say that (and I know from having elementary school-age children, "stupid" is the newest swear word), because these situations are usually created from your boss taking a dump on your head - and if you're a boss and you're doing this you must be stupid for not realizing that taking a dump on some one's head will piss them off and they will not want to do good work.

I've had a lot of friends go through this, too, and what we all feel is this lightness now that we're out of those situations. For me that lightness is not just from getting out of a crappy job, but also from truly believing that I will be taken care of (by God, the universe, whatever you believe in). And now I'm grateful every day for my work and I have compassion for the people I work with.

So I'm writing this for anyone who's going through this right now. It'll be okay. Use your current situation to learn something - even if it's how NOT to treat people.

What happens in the end is that you get really strong and you learn how to be good to the people around you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who delegates the best?

So I came across this blog that was discussing delegating - and said that the Boomers are the "masters" of delegating. This has not been my experience, but then again, it is possible that my experience is unique. A lot of the Boomers I've worked with have had a hard time letting go of things, because they want the process to be a certain way and - even if you come to desired result.

While I'm writing this, the blogger in question has not yet chimed in on how Xers and Millennials delegate, but I'm assuming she will say that we're not as good as the Boomers (which is fine for her to say, because blogs are about our opinions).

My experience, however, has been that Xers are willing to let go of tasks, but don't always give enough direction to those they're delegating to (unless it's another Xer). That's because, as my husband would say, the Xer mantra is "f*$#ing figure it out." My experience with Millennials (which has been mostly in the classroom as an instructor) is that they're great at delegating and dividing up the work, because they've spent so much of their youth working in teams.

But, again, I don't have any empirical data on any of this. So I figured that I ask you all. Below is a poll. Feel free to comment, too, if you like.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why I won't be seing Where the Wild Things Are

So I guess you could say I'm more than a little pissed off that they've turned the children's book Where The Wild Things Are into a movie. I posted something to my Facebook page about it this morning - and I got nine comments. I was really surprised that of those comments only my husband and my friend Kathy agreed with me.

There were two main reasons my Facebook friends thought making the movie is okay - 1) Maurice Sendak approved of the project and 2) We should embrace other people's interpretations of books through the medium of film.

Those are legitimate reasons. However, nobody will ever change my mind. Here's why: I am sick of everything being over-exposed, over-commercialized, and made into toys for Happy Meals. In a world where it's perfectly okay to market your products to children, Where The Wild Things Are was a gem that stood the test of time and hadn't been feed to the marketing machine - until now.

Remember when The Beatles song Revolution was used to sell Nikes? (That one's for you Boomer readers, because I really don't care about The Beatles).

Remember when Preparation H tried to buy the rights to Johnny Cash's Burning Ring of Fire?

Remember when JC Penney bastardized The Breakfast Club in a commercial last year?

I could go on and on about this - and I encourage you to add examples in the comments section. But my point is that everything doesn't need a Hollywood slant. Everything doesn't need to be made into a movie. And I don't give a shit about Spike Jonze's interpretation of Where The Wild Things Are.

I know some of my readers will think I'm the one who's full of shit, to which my response is "Let the wild rumpus start!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How being like Hannibal Lector can help your career

I’ve been thinking a lot about career issues lately. Mostly because someone very close to me is having career issues – and they aren’t really issues you think you’re going to have mid-career.

A lot of Gen Xers are struggling with this. It’s the square-peg effect. I thought it was just me for a lot a years, but when I talked to other Gen Xers it seems there’s a whole bunch of us who feel like we don’t fit the mold.

What I’ve come up with (through the studies and other writings I’ve found along with my own observations) is that Gen X is simply doing it differently than those who came before us.

Here’s how:
1. We have redefined success. Making money is good, but we’re willing to sacrifice some of that for control over our time.

2. A lot of us a true knowledge workers. Management is a trap. We’d rather write, than watch people write or solve engineering problems rather than watch people solve engineering problems. For a whole bunch of Xers, management is about watching others do the job you love.
As someone who for the last two years has had the career experience she’s always wanted, I thought I’d give a shot at some suggestions for getting the job that’s best for you.

You really do need to figure out what you want. For me, I’m happiest when I get to help others through my job. But I don’t have a job like social worker or doctor or rescue worker. I’m in marketing. I used to ask myself – how does that help other people? Well, it turns out that all those bad experiences I’ve had were useful. A big part of my job right now is helping other marketers with their work (and with dealing with what we will call the “difficult” people at work.)

Find the right boss. A lot of people think it’s all about the work. For me, it’s all about the boss. When I’ve had bosses who understand me, I was happy. When I had bosses who didn’t, I was miserable. The right boss for me may not be the right boss for you. What do you need? A mentor? Someone who’s hands off? A drill sergeant?

Be like Hannibal Lector. No, not a cannibal. Patient. Hannibal Lector was very patient in stalking his prey. Patience at work was one of the hardest things for me to learn. But if you want to accomplish your goals, you need other people to do it. And most of the time it takes time to get them to see your way.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Have Woodstock stories just become background noise?

Chez Pazienza wrote what I would call an amusing attack on the Babyboomers recently that ran in The Huffington Post.

I say amusing, because it did make me laugh. It is fun to make fun of the hippies rolling around in the mud at Woodstock. But it also got me thinking about the attacks on Boomers that the anniversary of Woodstock has brought on, why they are really being written, and do Gen Xers really care about that anymore?

What I mean is that we have heard about Woodstock, Studio 54, whatever, blah blah blah, for our whole lives. By now, doesn't it go in one ear and out the other? Like when your grandma tells you stories about the depression - they were probably poignant at one time, but after the billionth time they become background noise.

What do you think? Do we care enough to write our pithy retorts?

Photo: Two hippies make a difference at Woodstock

Friday, August 21, 2009

Check out MomCrusades!

My friend has started her own blog and I want to give it an enthusiastic endorsement. Check it out here!

Monday, August 17, 2009

I was a teenage bully-victim

I just read an interesting article in which the author argues that the books for teenage girls written in the late 1960s through the 1980s (books that were read by trailing edge Boomer girls and Gen X girls) are far superior to those being published today. And I couldn’t help but think about my own experience as a girl in the 1980s and the impact these books had on me.

Blogger JenX67 often talks about the ground-breaking book “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” – in fact she’s named her own blog after that title. I, of course, read that and many other Judy Blume titles. But it wasn’t just the “classics” that got me through my rough junior high years.

There was a girl in junior high school that stalked and harassed me for about three years. She used to follow me home from school every day and yell “bitch.” It was pretty bad. In fact, when I got to the first corner turn, I’d run as fast as I could to get to the next block to escape the harassment. There's a whole bunch of other stuff, but I don't talk about it anymore. It's just over.

Like many girls my age, I was told to ignore it. THIS NEVER WORKS. Therefore, I was a really easy target – hey, why not bully Suzanne? She’s not going to do anything about it. I look back now and realize if I would have just gotten in this girl’s face and told her to go fuck herself, it would have stopped. I may have gotten punched (which was really unlikely, because looking back at this person, she was far more insecure than me), but I would have saved myself a lot of heartache. I was well into my 30s when I learned to stand up to bullies at work.

In 7th grade, specifically, I didn’t have a lot of friends. I’m sure the other girls didn’t want to risk the same thing happening to them. But I did have my books.
I used to love to read what I would call teen “pulp fiction.” Books about high school girls living there lives and overcoming their teen issues. They gave me companionship. And they gave me some hope.
I don’t mean this to be my sob story. There are people who have much sadder stories than getting bullied in junior high school. I just think it’s interesting what kind of memories old books can bring back.
Special note: I was also inspired to write this post by my friend Kathy, who wrote a great article on the topic of bullying. Hopefully, she'll post her insights on the topic here, too.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Any kid who tells on another kid is a dead kid

In my last post I mentioned the movie Over The Edge. I'm not sure why, but I think it's one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Can you even imagine what the Boomers who made this film were thinking about Gen X at the time?

Take a look at the trailer and tell me you know what to make it your next NetFlix selection.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

John Hughes "got" Gen X

I've been meaning to write something about John Hughes. As a kid, he was my favorite director (and yes, I did have favorite directors as a kid - I had this thing about movies from the time I saw the movie Nine to Five.) His death is really the end of an era.

John Hughes wrote and directed movies about Gen X teenagers in which the kids were smart. The dialog was unique, because it really reflected the way Xers spoke at the time. We talked like adults - but we reasoned like teenagers. Before Hughes came along, most movies about my generation portrayed us as being possessed by the devil (either literally in movies like The Exorcist or figuratively in movies like Over the Edge - which is this awesomely hilarious movie with Matt Dillon where all the suburban teens are sent off to juvey.)
When I was in junior high school, my mom took me to see The Breakfast Club. People always are shocked that my mom had to take me, because everyone forgets that the movie was rated R. That film hit a nerve with me, because it was so spot on. I don't think you see teenagers portrayed that "real" anymore.

However, my favorite Hughes movie of all time was Sixteen Candles. I still quote from it (what's a-happening hot stuff?). I'd like to say that I identified with the Samantha character, but frankly, I was more like Farmer Ted.

Goodbye John Hughes. Thank you for being one of the first Boomers to "get" us. Thanks to you, there will be some proof to future generations that Gen Xers were not all "possessed" as teenagers.

Monday, August 3, 2009

More proof that Generation X should start in 1958

Typically, we say Generation X starts in 1965, because the Baby boom supposedly ended in 1964. However, I argue that since 1958 was the first year in an 11-year decline in birth rates in the U.S., then those born 1958-1964 are really more X than Boomer. (I could go on and on and on and on to the similarities, but it's still rather early here in Michigan).

Today I saw this video on http://www.punkrockhr.com/ and I thought, is Craig Ferguson an Xer? The answer: Well, kind of. He was born in 1962. So enjoy the video. And I'd love to hear your thoughts on when Xers started gracing this Earth - and why you picked that year.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The movies are at it again - are Gen Xers really possessed by the devil?

Okay, so when I do my presentations on Gen X, I usually like to include a part about how we've been dealing with an image problem since we were born. Basically, while the images of Boomers during their youth were wholesome, all-American kids like Gidget, Frankie, and Annette, Xers were portrayed as being possessed by the devil (Damien, Rosemary's Baby, Regan).

However, in 1984, a movie called Firestarter came out. It was the last of the child-as-demon genre. I argue it's because Gen Y was now around and therefore kids were "good" again.

Well, recently, I saw those trailers for that new movie called "The Orphan" and I thought, "OMG, they're going to do it to our kids - Gen Xers' kids also are going to be portrayed as demon-possessed."

But then I read the spoiler to this film. Here it is. I won't ruin it for you if you want to see the movie, but let's just say Generation X's demons apparently have not been exorcised yet.

Give us a break already, will you Hollywood?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The value of wisdom

There’s a lot being written these days by Millennials (born 1980-1999) about how they will revolutionize the workplace, mostly because they are 78 million strong and know how to work a Blackberry. However, with the risk of sounding like the glib Gen Xer that I am, I have to remind our young friends that a lot of their generation is still in elementary school and technology is always changing (therefore, your cohorts born in 1999 will kick your ass at technology when they enter the workforce in 2021).

I think what’s missing in these discussions is the value of wisdom. Learning from your mistakes. Learning because you’ve spent many many years dealing with assholes. Learning because you have to keep learning to succeed.

I could argue that Gen X is as tech-savvy as Gen Y, because we also grew up with fast-changing technology. Being tech-savvy is about being able to keep up with the technology. So then, it becomes a numbers game. The advantage is that Gen Y is a big generation. However, those middle school Millennials born in 1996 aren’t going to be entering the workplace for another 10 years.

In the meantime, the Boomers are still out there. They love to work. People keep saying they’ll retire, but I think they just like working too much. So for argument’s sake, let’s say they’re not as tech-savvy as the rest of us. Then how the heck did they get (and retain) so much control?
In the end, I think it comes down to relationship building and patience. And those things you learn from experience.

A couple years back I tried dying my hair red and it looked horrible. And I was in distress. And my 90-year-old Auntie Helen said, “Go to Sally Beauty Supply and buy this stuff and it will take the dye out. Sometimes you try things and they just don’t work.” I’m freaking out, but she told me to just go fix it.

We had to buy Auntie Helen a special remote control for her TV that is made for the developmentally disabled because she kept breaking the normal ones. So we can safely say that she is not tech savvy. But successful business people use Auntie Helen’s advice all the time. If it doesn’t work, fix it and move on.

What’s all this have to do with the Millennials? I would say most people, regardless of generation, have a harder time admitting their mistakes when they are in their 20s. I would also say that we’re a little more head strong at this age.

I think our successes in the workplace have less to do with numbers or technology than they do with wisdom.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I know I said I was going camping, but I had this one thought about Gen Y...

As I was lurking around the Brazen Careerist site today, I asked myself how come we Gen Xers haven't developed our own "blog community" like the Ys at Brazen. Then I realized the answer - it's about team work versus individual work.

A lot has been written about how Gen Y likes to work in teams, because they've been working in teams since elementary school - team book reports, team volunteering projects, field hockey team.

Xers, on the other hand, grew up with a different experience. In our school experience, your work was your work - nobody else's. You were on your own. There was one valedictorian, one winner, one capitan, one editor-in-chief.

I'm not debating which is better or worse. I'm just saying Ys blog as a group and Xers don't. That's why Xers won't have a blog community. Even though we say we want one, we really don't. If we did, it would be out there.

Then why do so many of lurk on the Brazen site? I think it's because we're self-study folks. We're interested in the Y perspective. So we're really not going there to be part of the group - we're going there for the blogs. It's an easy place to find a lot of Gen Y blogs at one.

Okay, this time I really am off to go camping.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gen Xer discovers relaxation and beer in the woods

I will be heading up north soon, however, I didn't want to leave my loyal readers hanging. If you follow my Twitter feed, you probably know I've recently seen White Snake in concert and I'm now in love with David Coverdale (sorry Jeff).

So I figured I'd do a poll. Who's your favorite front man?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Is the generational conversation over?

There's an interesting conversation going on over at RenegadeHR as to whether we should care about whether or not we have a multi-generational workforce. The writer, a Gen Y, says it's not generations but work preferences that matter.

Although I think he's got some valid points - and he's right that generalizations are dangerous - I disagree that your generational footprint doesn't matter.

I think there are a lot of Gen Xers specifically who can vouch for me. We entered a workforce in the 1990s that was dominated by Boomers. And Boomers like process. So there was always a "right way" and a "wrong way" to do things - and there was no handbook for the Xers. So we did what we always do - start "doing" and learn as we go. And that caused quite a bit of conflict.

The Boomers process orientation came from their formative cohort experiences - they read Dick and Jane (everyone has a role and nobody crosses into other's roles), they went to schools that were overcrowded (teachers needed strict order to avoid adolescent chaos), and they went to college when all the rules were changing (and yet there were still rules).

The Gen Xers "learn as we go" orientation came from their formative cohort experiences - watching Sesame Street (learn by playing), playing video games (who ever read the directions to Pac Man?), and going to school during a time when things weren't so strict (my Boomer mom took handwriting class - during my high school experience, content was important - not penmanship.)

I can see why Gen Ys would be annoyed with new labels being applied to them. Xers hated it too. And Ys aren't as different from Xers as Xers were than Boomers in the 90s. It's all about living through technological change as a kid. The Boomers were grown up by the time technological change started really revving up. But although the technology may have been different between the X and Y youth - the change was the same.

So the Y's are entering a workforce that's not all that foreign to them - yet they're being treated like foreigners. But that doesn't mean their helicopter parents, over-scheduled childhoods, and living through 9/11 as children doesn't impact their adult behaviors.
So what do you think?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sometimes I want to be a reality TV star

Last night I watched the finale of my new favorite show.

I've developed a small obsession with The Real Housewives of New Jersey. In fact, I kind of want to be a real housewife of New Jersey.

I find this fetish of my a little odd considering I am a feminist of the Susan Faludi variety, I am conflict-avoidant, and I typically don't like reality TV (the last reality TV show I had an interest in was the Real World season 3. Poor Pedro.)

So why the obssession with TRHJN? I think it's the over-the-top Gen X drama. Most Gen Y reality TV consists of young honeys running around with their chi chis hanging out and fighting over some guy. But this show was part family loyalty, part standing up to the mean girl, part wearing some obnoxiously large bling bling, and part big hair.

In a way, it's bizarro Gen X world.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Do Xers seem younger than they are?

I had a discussion recently in which the Boomers I was talking with didn’t see Xers as being “old enough” to be in executive management positions. Yet the oldest Xers turn 44 this year – and the youngest are turning 30.

Do you think there is an assumption that Xers are younger than we really are? Or do we act – or look – younger than we are? I’m interested in your opinions on this one.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Boomers, legacies and bad headlines

Recently a comment on this blog by JenX67 got me thinking about the Boomer-Xer riff that’s been going on forever. You see, I’ve really lightened up on the Boomers over the last year, mostly because I work with a bunch of them that have been really cool to me. And they do the things I think most Xers want from their Boomer colleagues like teach you stuff and then encourage you to take things to the next level and then don’t get in your way.

I think there are some Boomers who have this idea that Xers are waiting for them to die so that the Xers can take over. Literally, that’s the phrase I’ve heard used - “waiting for us to die.” But the thing is, I don’t think most Xers want what Boomers have. I think Xers would like to keep what Boomers got right (like making it okay for professional women to do something other than be a teacher, secretary, or nurse) – but then dump the stuff they screwed up.

I read this article about writer Matt Bai who decided not to write a book about President Obama so that he could write a book about what the Boomers didn’t get right in politics. In the interview, Bai talks about Gary Hart and how he was a creative thinker, but he was flawed and therefore rejected by the Boomer establishment (we also saw this with Bill Clinton). Bai also said he wanted to write this book for Xers and future generations so that these problems could be addressed.

But the article was obviously edited by a Boomer with the “waiting for us to die” philosophy. The headline was “Bai to Boo Boomers in New Book.” I’m assuming that’s because if a Gen X writes a critical analysis of the Boomer legacy, it would mean he’s booing the Boomers. Whatever.

So it makes sense to me that a lot of my fellow Xers are fed up with this kind of thing. But I ask you to look for that Boomer in your life who doesn’t fall into the Boomer stereotype – because it will be those people who build the bridges to younger generations. It’s those people who realize that although we are not waiting around for them to die, they will eventually die. And the impact they have on the future begins with the impact they have on the Xers.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mom & me...

Last night my mom was over and a we were watching television. A commercial came on. As I watched it, I started laughing uncontrollably.

Mom didn't get it.

Since I have DVR going, I rewinded it.

Mom still didn't get it.

After the third time, I had to just explain it to her.

Generational issue? Probably not. But since she told me not to write about it on my blog...

Monday, May 11, 2009

It's not the kids who are rude

I got an email from Joel H. about an MSNBC article that name calls the children of Gen X. It got my attention, because the subject line was "You are a bad parent." Here's what he wrote:

" http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30585984/

And apparently, so am I. But besides that, I still enjoy your blog, even if we do have rude children. I think you should shred this woman for being
the piece of boomer trash that she is. To be fair, she does give GenY a little of the business towards the end of the article. Is it me, or are the boomers
more and more becoming the cranky old timer yelling at us to stay off their lawn? And this is one more example of them shaking their fist at us "darn
kids"? I look forward to your comments. Thanks! Joel"

So I decided I would chime in on this one, even if it's a little late. I think the article is full of crap, basically. And not only does it take a swipe at Xers as parents, but it also makes Boomers look like a bunch of douche bags.
And they're not.

Sure, my worst boss ever is a Boomer. But so is my best boss. And my second
best. And my third.The real conflict between Boomers and Xers is simply a difference in communications styles. Over the past 15 years or so, both groups have made a lot of strides in understanding each other better and working through those differences. But just when you think things are smoothing out, some idiot has to write an article like the one Joel refers to. And then those feelings from 15 years ago come back.

Most normal people, regardless of how old they are, know better than to verbially attack someone's kids. And anyone who was a kid in the 70s or 80s or 90s knows that old grouches always point the finger at kids and how the new generation just isn't as good as previous ones (I'm sure this is also true of kids in the 40s, 50s, 60s, etc - I just wasn't around to witness it.)

I'm sure the next article by Susan Gregory Thomas, the woman who wrote the scathing piece on today's kids, will be on how Xers are slackers, Millennials are willfully entitled, and that darn G.I. Generation won't just go to the "home" where they belong.

And in response, all I have to say to Ms. Thomas is - "Get of my lawn!"

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Yada yada yada - Do Xers have a secret language?

A lot of Gen Xers don't engage in discussions where the other person has the polar opposite opinion. They roll their eyes because they're pretty sure the conversation would be a waste of energy. And that in itself is a uniquely Xer thing to do. It's not read the same way by Boomers or Millennials who read it as 1) you agree with me or 2) you're totally disrespecting me. Neither which is true.

At the same time, I've noticed that Xers use a lot of slang that isn't really used by Boomers (who dropped their teenage slang when they hit adulthood) or Millennials (who have a whole new slang). Again, uniquely Xer.

So I thought it may be fun to figure out what those phrases are. I'm looking for the words that when you say them to another Xer, they know EXACTLY what you're talking about. So I'm starting the list and I'm hoping you all will make additions this weekend.

What we say: Get off my lawn
What we mean: 1) I’m old or 2) You’re old and a grouch
What we say: Dude
What we mean: Excuse me, I have something to tell you
What we say: Dude!
What we mean: Watch out!
What we say: Dude
What we mean: That was not cool
What we say: Hey dude
What we mean: Hello
What we say: You're a doofus
What we mean: You're an idiot
What we say: Whatever
What we mean: I think you’re an idiot
What we say: Don’t put baby in a corner
What we mean: You better not mess with me or my friend
What we say: Okay, Corky
What we mean: You’re acting stupid
Okay, your turn. Look forward to your responses!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Get off my lawn: Will Gen Xers make good old people?

Getting old has been on my mind lately. Not so much that I'm worried about it, but I've been curious if I look my age, or older, or younger. I really have no idea. I've also noticed that my husband and I trade a lot of self-deprecating wise-cracks about how we're aging (i.e. gray hairs popping through, etc.) So it got me wondering if my lack of anxiety over aging is actually just a sign of my denial.

We all know by now that the Boomers refuse to age - even if they're bodies are fighting them on this one. But I've had this theory for a long time that Xers don't really care about getting old - they just don't want to lose their "coolness." And if you are an Xer like me who has lost her coolness, you convince yourself that knowing you're not cool is actually cool. Gen Xers like to think they're irreverent.

So I wonder what kind of old person I will be. I like to think my husband and I will be jamming to Motley Crue with our buddies in some senior complex that includes "Vista" in the title. But that doesn't mean I won't be yelling at you to get off my lawn, either.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It's all about control

Yesterday I posted a poll about what makes you happy at work. And then le@ Third On The Right posted a brilliant comment. She said that her happiness at work is centered on control. Then I realized: So is mine.

I thought the biggest factor for me in work happiness is the people I work with. I realized that's important, but they reason I'm so happy now is the amount of control I have over my own time. As a telecommuter, I work when I want to work. It doesn't have to be between 8 and 5. As long as I get my stuff done on time in a high quality manner, my boss is cool.

I have to wonder if control is a bigger issue with Gen Xers than with other generations. We've struggled with controlling, process-oriented Babyboomers for many years. For Boomers there is one right way, one solution, one track. For Xers, there is one right result, but many roads to get there.

I know when I say Boomers are controlling, it may upset some of my Boomer readers, because they don't think they're controlling. However, there are many many of us Xers who have been slapped in the hand because although the result was correct, we did not do it the "right way." We've been dressed down for not following the appropriate "steps." I'm not a "down with Boomers" gal - but this issue is something both our generations have struggled with.

I still invite you to take my poll. If control is your happiness factor, go ahead and post it in comments.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Weekend Poll

I have not been blogging as much as usual for two reasons:
1) My job has been crazy buzy
2) I'm incredibly happy with my work and my life, I haven't had much to bitch about.

So I decided to do another poll. I know I'm in the minority when I say I love my job. My question is - what does it take to make you happy at your job?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why I'm soooo glad there were no blogs when I was 25

I'm a big fan of the Brazen Careerist web community. I like to go there to get to know Gen Y better. Since I'm not hanging out with a lot of Ys as of yet, the intelligent blogs being posted there give real insight.

But occasionally I read a post that makes my skin crawl. Because I was that kid, full of bravado, that would have written an entire sonnet devoted to the positive attributes of my generation. I'm not going to link to any of the actual posts that made me feel this way, because then the Ys tend to come out and crash my blog and go on and on about how I don't know what I'm talking about.

It's not that I don't like the Ys, I do. And it's not that I don't want them to comment here, I do. It's just that I'm not in the mood to finger point today.

There are times when I do wish there were blogs in the 90s. I have found great joy writing this blog and it really brought me back to writing for the sake of writing.

But although I miss my 25-year-old body, I do not miss my 25-year-old brain.

There are great Gen Y bloggers like Rebbeca Thorman whose blog is called Modite. There were times in my 20s when I was like Rebbeca, who is introspective and looks at issues from a standpoint far more mature than her years. But then there were times I was more like Janeane Garafolo with a really bad hangover.

Gen Xers - let's all be thankful that the only real record of our youthful angst is grunge music - and a few Time Magazine articles calling us slackers.

The photo is me at age 25

Monday, April 13, 2009

Unfairness - it's not just for breakfast anymore

I've had a funny couple of weeks. My job is going really well - I just got back from a workshop I did in Alberta, Canada, and I met the most interesting people in my field. But at the same time, I have so many people around me who are dealing with crap in their careers - layoffs, wage cuts, the overall rewarding of mediocrity. I was where they are just two years ago. And these people are so smart, talented, and genuinely good. It just breaks my heart.

So all of this has gotten me thinking about the concept of "unfairness" - and how we deal with it from a generational perspective. It seems to me that Boomers think that they can fix it, Xers think it's a given, and Millennials are just realizing how much it happens in the workforce. Personally, I'm getting a little sick of it already - and it's a lot worse when it's happening to your friends and family. I know I feel guilty a lot lately, knowing that I found "my peeps" at work and so many others haven't. But such is life.

I've decided to do a poll. Please take it and feel free to comment on this post. What do you think about "unfairness"? Does it eat you up - or do you eat it for breakfast?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Networking - Gen X/Y style

I just got back from a new event in my town called "Business After 6." All the attendees were Gen Xers and Ys. Probably because the local business owner, Shawn MacDonald, who came up with the idea worked with his entrepreneurial friends and promoted it on Twitter and Facebook.
Shawn told me that he wanted something more relaxed. He also said he couldn't imagine going to a chamber event for young professionals that had assigned seating and taught business etiquette.

Most of the people I met where younger than me and owned their own businesses - fixing computers, doing embroidery on promotional items, leadership coaching. In fact, the leadership coach gave me and my husband some free coaching on the spot.

What struck me as interesting was thinking about older workers thinking business etiquette instruction was needed - while these younger workers are so good at networking. I think the networking skills come from less dichotomy in personalities. Your "professional self" and your "personal self" are products of the Industrial Age. Seriously, can you imagine a farmer in the Agrarian Age telling one of his hands to be "more professional"?

I think Xers and Ys are more likely to act the same way at work and at home. We call it "keeping it real." And that's why we're good at networking.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New book tackles managing Gen Y

I'm reading a book right now called "Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y" that I wanted to tell you all about. Written by Gen Xer Bruce Tulgan, it discusses some of the misconceptions we may have about those people just entering the workforce and what we can do to help get "Gen Yers on board and up-to-speed - giving them the context they lack, teaching them how to manage themselves" and a whole bunch of other stuff.

As a Gen Xer myself, I've often written that we need to stop complaining about Gen Y and start helping them. I think older generations did us a disservice early in our careers that we should not repeat.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

If you don't read anything else, read this...

As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of the Green Mullet. He's probably the most prolific environmental journalist of our time. He also fathered my children.

He wrote something today that's probably one of my favorite blog posts of all time. It's called Last night Eddie Vedder offered me a green job. Trust me, if you read it, you'll be hooked.

Friday, March 20, 2009

An open letter to parents who send their kids to daycare

Dear moms and dads:

I’m a working mom of two well-adjusted kids who went to daycare from the time they were babies. I have never regretted sending them and I want to share some things I’ve learned.

Most people I know took grief from their own parents for sending their kids to daycare. They will tell you that your kid will love the babysitter more than you and think she’s her mother (this never happens.) They may act as if they are embarrassed to tell their friends their grandchild goes to daycare. They will question every aspect of the care your kid is receiving – from the frequency of diaper changing to the quality of food.

You need to blow off grandma and grandpa on this one. There’s a new sheriff in town. YOU are the parent. If having a career is something will make you feel fulfilled, then you will be a better parent by having a career – oh, and kids have fun at daycare, by the way.

And if you choose to stay home – do it without apologies. You’re not lazy. You don’t lack ambition. You made a choice. Own it.

There’s a lot of pressure on parents these days to be perfect. There’s a lot of guilt trips being flung around. Let your kid ride his bike around the block alone? You’re putting him at risk of being abducted and raped. Don’t want to watch soccer practice (not the game, the practice), because it bores you out of your skull? How could you? They’re only young once. Make your daughter buy her lunch every day because you’re sick of making PB&J? You scoundrel!

Just remember some advice I read in a book by Vicki Iovine – you don’t have to be perfect, just good enough.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why you may be acting like a Boomer

I’ve been out of the blogosphere for a while due to 1) a vacation (awesome, by the way) and 2) taking on a new project at my “day job” in which my learning curve has been a little steeper than usual.

One thing I’ve been thinking about is how it’s important to not only take advantage of your generationally-typical qualities (i.e., I’m an Xer and I usually don’t have a hard time learning new software, because that’s what I grew up with) but also the qualities you have that may be typical of another generation.

For instance, although I grew up in the 80s with computers, technology, acid washed jeans, I’m also an Xer who was raised by a leading-edge Boomer and trailing-edge silent. Sometimes I use some really out-dated slang (thanks, mom), which throws people off. On more than one occasion I’ve had my Boomer colleagues at work do a double take because I was talking their talk. I also know most of the Peter, Paul, and Mary catalog, because that’s what records my dad had when I was a kid. So enjoying a little beatnik folk music has endeared me to some, too.

I’ve been a long-time believer that the single most important indicator of success is your ability to get along and work with others. And most people like people with whom they have something in common. Often, it doesn’t have to be a major thing. Finding those similarities may benefit you a lot more than sticking to your generationally-specific uniqueness.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A much needed vacation

I won't be posting for a few days, because I'm going on a trip with my husband. No cell phones. No computers. Nada. See you next week!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Enjoy the weekend

The weather here is warm and I'm enjoying it! Also makes me think of being a kid in the spring.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Generational differences - and light bulbs

Thought I'd try out some new jokes on you and see your reaction.

Q: How many Babyboomers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Not really sure, but they're going to have a day-long retreat to brainstorm on the issue and will report back their recommendations.

Q: How many Gen Xers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Just one - the slacker who blew off the brainstorming session.

Q: How many Babyboomers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: The light bulb committee has determined it will take two - one to screw it in and one to supervise.

Q: How many Millennials does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: All of them. And the worked as a team! And it was the best light bulb screwing any generation ever did - so I gave them all a trophy!

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Day After

How many of you watched this movie with your family as a kid? Might explain a lot about the Gen X psyche in adulthood.


I wanted to share a Gen X blogging network I came across. It's called GenXconnect and I've set up my page. Check it out!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Facebook is for Xers - but not for the reason you think

It turns out that Gen Xers are using Facebook - A LOT. But it's not because we're cool, it's because we're getting old (don't worry, we're still cool).

My college friend, Jen, sent me this article (on my Facebook page, no less, talk about irony). It's basic premise is that Facebook appeals to my demographic because we want to find our old friends and we're not worried about being cool (because, again, we ARE cool).

The only part I don't agree with is that we don't understand Twitter (yes we do) and that we can't remember email addresses (you don't need to, duh).

Another thing about the article - it's obvious an Xer wrote it. Here's why: Xers aren't so much worried about getting old as losing our coolness. And a lot of us like sardonic humor - and think it makes us cool. That's why I call my most productive colleague "slacker" (it's okay, he's Gen X and he thinks it's funny.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gratitude and giggles

I just wanted to thank everyone who commented on my last post. That's a new record for me. To the Xers that posted: Since we are a smaller cohort, it's great to connect with you all (I know a lot of us do the smile-and-nod when these discussions come at work because there often is only a handful of Xers around).

I also wanted to share this cartoon with you that Kathy sent to me. I'm sure it may annoy some - but that's what makes blogging so fun.

“The Children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for adults, and love to talk rather than work or exercise. They no longer rise when adults enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter in front of company, gobble down food at the table and intimidate their teachers.”
-Socrates (469-399 B.C.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gen Xers and Boomers - I'd like your opinion

I'm a regular reader of the Brazen Careerist blog community. Today I read an entry that amused me. I'd like to see what you think. Take a look and report back.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Jeff Gordinier is way cool

I am a huge fan of Jeff Gordinier, author of X Saves The World. We're even friends on Facebook and I got an email from him once. I love to show this YouTube clip of him talking about his book where he drops the F-bomb while talking about The Beatles when I'm doing presentations about Gen X. If I had more time, I'd probably be his cyber stalker.

He recently wrote this blog post where he second guesses himself for writing about Nirvana in his book. To this I say, you were not wrong, Jeff. I've read your book. In fact, I would even argue that it's extremely Gen X to deny that Nirvana was a Gen X band. We LOVED Nirvana when they first hit the college airwaves. They were cool. They were indie. If you knew about them, you were in on a secret. You were part of the cool dudes.
We stopped liking them when "the man" got a hold of them and started putting their faces on lunchboxes (even if it was only figuratively speaking).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Work and play

A couple nights ago, all my friends seemed to be posting to Facebook about their kids’ homework. One was working with their 3rd grader, another with their 1st grader, and another commenting that those two should “just wait until you get to 5th grade math.”

And I thought to myself: This is ridiculous.

Despite the fact that there are NO CONCLUSIVE STUDIES that homework in elementary school has any impact on academic achievement later on, teachers continue to pile it on. They say it’s teaching children discipline (which all know is a crock – it’s teaching the parents discipline. How many 2nd graders do you know that would do their homework without being harped on?)

I think in some ways things have just flip-flopped. From the 1930s to the 1970s children used the Dick and Jane books to learn to read. In those books, adults worked and children played. Today, children work and adults play.

Seriously, in addition to the pressure to make sure kids are toiling away at their homework every night, there seems to be more and more pressure on parents to keep their children entertained (when they're not doing homework), which results in adults having to play games, Barbies, Wii, etc. I love spending time with my kids – but does it really have to be playing playdough? Isn’t that something they can do independently?

I found a blog called Free Range Kids that is great. It discusses giving our kids childhoods like the ones we had. I wish more people held this opinion.

Do you ever...
..let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk alone to
school? Take a bus, solo? Or are you thinking about it? If so, you are raising a
Free Range Kid! At Free Range, we believe in safe kids. We believe in helmets,
car seats and safety belts. We do NOT believe that every time school age
children go outside, they need a security detail. Most of us grew up Free Range
and lived to tell the tale. Our kids deserve no less. This site dedicated to
sane parenting. Share your stories, tell your tips and maybe one day I will try
to collect them in a book. Meantime, let's try to help our kids embrace life!
(And maybe even clear the table.)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

So easy a monkey can do it

I’m going to tell you a secret how to be successful in business during a recession: Stop doing what’s not working.

I realize that this seems like a simple premise, and yet there are a lot – and I mean A LOT – of employers who don’t follow that rule. And when times are good, you can get by. But not now.
I spent nine years of life (nine years I’ll never get back) working in a lumbering, stubborn bureaucracy. A college, actually. The people there were very interested in hierarchy, power, and being right. Therefore, if someone with more power than you wanted you to do something, it didn’t matter if it didn’t work. That just meant you need to do more of it (I know a lot of you reading this can relate.)

Now I work for an organization that would compare to a cheetah. It’s limber, easy to get this done, easy to change things, really fast, and extremely successful.

So the big secret of “stop doing what’s not working” became crystal clear to me over the last few weeks. I am working with a team on a project. We collected our data last November and based on that put together the project. But it didn’t come together like we thought it would.

At the college, the next thing that would happen would be finger-pointing, blaming subordinates, and trying to just push that project through. At my current job, the most amazing thing happened. We stopped. Quickly recollected data. Found out the data had indeed changed in just a couple months. Repackaged. And we’re ready to roll. That's how I know we're going to be just fine during the recession, because egos are checked at the door.

I know a lot of people feel that they can’t control a lot at their jobs. And that is true. You work where you work with the people you work with. However, you can use GenerationXpert’s secret to success even if it’s only in what you do. How you react.

Just because you work with a group of monkeys, doesn't mean you have to become one of them.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Who makes the best boss?

My seven-year-old daughter was really surprised to learn that my boss is a man. Her assumption was that my boss was a woman - and that most bosses are women. I think that's a very different assumption then I would have had at her age. So it got me thinking - who do I prefer to work for?

The argument of who is better female bosses or male bosses can be argued to death. What I'm wondering is when you think about the best boss you ever had - was that person a woman or a man? Please take the poll below - and feel free to make comments, too.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Have you hugged a Boomer lately?

I just read Boomer Hilary Kaye’s blog post in OC Metro.com regarding how she’s planning to read the new book “Grown Up Digital.” The post wasn’t Earth shattering, but I got a really good Boomer-vibe off it. Which got me thinking: I’ve been having some really good Boomer interactions lately. Could it be the X-Boomer conflict is finally over? Probably not. However, I decided in the spirit of all these positive feelings to write my Top 5 Boomer Qualities list:
  1. No matter how old you get, if you come from a post-Boomer generation, the Boomers will call you “kid.”When I was 27, it kind of bugged me. Now that I’m 37, I’m kind of digging it.
  2. They will never give up the notion that The Beatles were the best band of all time. I disagree, of course. But you have to admire that kind of dedication.
  3. They are in total denial that they’re getting old. I don’t know why, but this one just amuses me.
  4. They are the masters of generational spin. As a marketer, I can appreciate people who can always find a way to present themselves in the best possible light.
  5. It took some time, but they’ve really lightened up since the ‘90s and learned to laugh at themselves.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Karaoke - Is it generational?

I recently got a shout out from Kristina at The Debutante Ball for my past experience as a Karaoke queen (B.K. - before kids). It got me thinking about whether or not singing Karaoke is a generational thing - or at least the way we sing Karaoke.

My husband's siblings range in age from late 30s to early 50s - which means his nieces and nephews range in age from early 20s to mid 30s. When we get together - we Karaoke. What I find interesting is that the Boomers among us sing - but only those who have great voices. The Xers will sing regardless of talent. And the Ys are not all that interested, because not having turned 30 yet, they are still cool and do not sing Karaoke (unless they've had one too many Coors lights.

It's been my experience that Boomers don't like to do things unless they are sure they are "doing it right." They have a much bigger fear of screwing up than the rest of us. As an educator, I've seen it time and time again among this cohort. Xers don't like to fail, but they are much more comfortable at figuring things out as they go (they are the original gamer generation). An Ys, well, they don't fear failure because in their cohort, everyone's a winner and everyone gets a trophy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sometimes being a Gen X mom sucks

I think one of the hardest part about being a Gen X mom is the homework. Sure, I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. However, I don't think I was prepared for my 4-year-old preschooler to bring home homework - which since she is FOUR, I pretty much have to do.

Sure, the experts say homework for youngsters is a waste of time - but what's more important is to make us guilt-ridden Gen X moms do some coloring.

What do you think?