I had the honor to provide content for Jeff Bullas on his world-renown website, www.jeffbullas.com. (https://www.jeffbullas.com/team-productivity-output/) On his site, over 25 million other readers have been educated and inspired to transform their life and business.
My guest post follows:
When it comes to team productivity, the problem we face is rooted in generational myths that narrate perceptions, practices, and team cohesion.
These false narratives are adventures in missing the point. They are prevalent in the workplace, schoolroom, and church house. They soak our social media streams.
- Millennials are self-absorbed, entitled, and disrespectful. This politically correct “baby on board” generation needs continual coddling, incentivizing, monitoring, and cheering.
- Gen Xers are independent, greedy, and nontraditional. This “black sheep” generation is packed with goonies, bad news bears, exorcist kids, and breakfast club delinquents.
- Boomers are arrogant, selfish, and authoritarian. This “leave it to Beaver” generation grew up economically, materially, parental, and culturally blessed.
These narratives create dangerous interactions, bad feelings, and faulty ideas. Much ink has been spilled to explain, defend, understand, and create working strategies for productivity for these generations.
But what if we’ve got it all wrong? It is time to blow up some myths and provide more realistic strategies for how we can be more productive at work in a mixed generational atmosphere.
Myth #1: Boom, Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z are good working labels
Truth: These popular generational nicknames say and mean little.
Generational analysis has operated for decades, but definitive labeling has been around roughly since 1980.
That’s the year Landon Y. Jones released his book Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation. In this watershed work, Jones definitively named a generation and their birth years (1946-1964).
Jones’ analysis unlocked a new fascination with generations. Suddenly every sociologist, historian and thought leader commenced to name (and frame) generations.
Kids born after the Boomers were quickly tapped as “Busters” and eventually Gen X (thanks to a 1991 Douglas Coupland novel). Initially, Millennials were labeled “Gen Y” (because they followed Gen X) but the generational theory of Neil Howe and William Strauss birthed a stickier moniker: “Millennials.” Howe and Strauss even named (and framed) American generations back to 1584 AD!
In the 2000s “Gen Z” came knocking (a.k.a. iGen, Centennials, Homelanders). Nobody knows why the unimaginative Gen Z nickname stuck. Just say, write and post anything enough and it’ll root. Some now tag the newest generation (born since 2010) as Alpha or Generation Alpha.
Unfortunately, none of these mean (or say) anything. Even the “Millennial” name is ambiguous. But what if we’ve incorrectly tagged, labeled, framed and defined all these generations? What if we really aren’t Boomers or Xers, Millennials or Gen Z?
How would this effect how we hire and grow within the workplace?
In my new book GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change, and Who We Really Are, I propose a fresh perspective for generations that argues within a technological frame. Approximately every 20 years a new generation emerges that’s defined by particular communication and/or transportation technology (telephone, radio, television, internet). A technology that reimagines how we interact with the world. It changes how we shop, learn, worship, and communicate. It reinvents cultural institutions from entertainment to education.
When we view certain cohorts through technology, we gain better insight and application for generational interaction (via their “coming of age” technology consumed between the ages of 10 to 25). It is why a Boomer raised on vinyl records, television, and space travel is vastly different than a Millennial who matured on personal computers, cellphones, and the internet. I explore this in-depth in my book GenTech.
|BORN: 1940s -1950s||BORN: 1960s – 1970s||BORN: 1980s – 1990s||BORN: 2000s – 2010s|
|Vinyl Record (late) Television Space (early)||Space (late) Gamer Cable Television (early)||Cable Television (late) Computer/Cell Phone Net (early)||Net (late) iTech Robo (early)|
|Snail Mail||Text||Social Media|
|Rotary Phone||Touch Tone Phone||Cordless/Flip Phone||Smartphone|
|Antenna Television||Cable Television||Satellite Television||Streamed Television|
|Spock kids, Disney “Mouseketeers,” Leave it to Beaver||Latchkey kids, Rosemary’s Baby, Bad News Bears||Baby on Board kids, Three Men and a Baby, Spy Kids||Reality TV kids, The Incredibles, Robo Child|
|Vietnam War||Gulf War||Iraq War||War on Terror|
|Civil rights||Women’s rights||Gay rights||Transgender rights|
|Sputnik, JKF assassination||Nixon resignation, Challenger explosion||Columbine shooting, September 11, 2001||Great Recession, Covid-19|
|Department store||Local mall||Supercenter||Online retail|
|Pizzeria||Pizza Hut||Chuck E. Cheese||Zume|
Myth #2: Generational differences are the problem
Truth: Generations have more in common than we realize.
We’ve been led to believe the generation gap is the problem, but it’s not. Most differences are rooted more to our place in life than cultural preferences. The Beatles and Johnny Cash remain popular among kids while older folk enjoy Facebook, Netflix, and Zoom. Our hairstyle, fashion, and tastes in music, movies, and art reflect a moment in time. It’s why nostalgia sells.
Every generation matures through three predictable phases:
- Inexperience (needs validation)
- Competence (needs empowerment)
- Expertise (needs respect).
This is why new, inexperienced “need to be heard” young employees spark fireworks when they interact with a tenured, skilled older worker or manager (wanting respect). One wants validation and the other desires respect.
How do you change the trajectory of this thought process for better work productivity?
Myth #3: Change isn’t welcomed by older people
Truth: All ages embrace change if it’s empowering and productive.
Change happens at any age. We spend our whole lives changing. Jobs. Careers. Marriages. Kids. Homes. Vehicles. Younger people can adapt and adopt because it’s less painful. They have less history (tradition) to battle. They have less to lose. Youthfulness blinds us to reality. It emboldens tendencies to risk, fight, or flee.
Younger people also have less input. We change… or leave. In fact, the longer a person ages with a company, the more “starting over” becomes less desirable, even in a world where being with a company for five or more years is considered a lengthy stay. It’s why older workers probably manage change better. They fight through feelings, recognize limits, and adapt.
Shared ownership becomes the key to how we can be more productive at work.
This is why leaders and managers must guide institutional innovation and corporate change through shared ownership. When employees and staff, of any age, sense some control and power in the change, they’ll move, reinvent, innovate and transform. They just want to know if this change is productive. Will it benefit, empower, or produce something for me?
Here are a few ways to begin the process
- Group people by consumed tech by asking questions about their coming of age years and learn what else they might bring to the table – categorize what you learn and then use that to develop gamification strategies to motivate your salespeople (for example).
- Become keenly aware of productivity killers, but take it a step further and learn from employees or team members about the kind of tech they like to use, and leverage it to bring people together – to drive them toward a common goal whether 35, 55 or 65 years of age.
- Leverage consumed technology at the office (no matter how big or small) through artificial intelligence – be the leader in using AI. I am not saying just bring in robots. Consider artificial intelligence in how it works within eCommerce to understand consumers. Remember that those consumers are also the people that make up your teams. So how will you look at AI in helping people work together more effectively?
Technology is how we view our world, understand our culture, enjoy our hobbies, and interact with our family and friends. It’s how we learn, shop, entertain, work and worship.
It is why a 60-something may sometimes appreciate snail mail while a thirty-something may prefer texting. It is why a 40-something learns via video on YouTube and a twenty-something embraces a Zoom conference. Our technology guides how we prefer to interact.
Begin to analyze how you want to move forward within your company and leverage the technology your teams consume for high engagement and performance.
In my book, I reveal how generations since 1900 have fluidly emerged through technology. We aren’t “Boomers.” We are the Television and Space Generations. We aren’t “Gen Xers.” We are Gamer and Cable Television Generations. We aren’t “Millennials.” We are Personal Computer-Cell Phone and Net Generations. And we aren’t “Gen Z.” We are emerging iTech and Robotic Generations.
We are generations of technology and if we look at the people in our workplace from that perspective, think of all the possibilities for growth!
Guest author: Dr. Rick Chromey is a cultural explorer, social historian, generational futurist and international keynote speaker. A best-selling author, he has written over a dozen books on leadership, natural motivation, creative communication, and classroom management. Rick has served as a professor, speaker/trainer, and consultant, working in the nonprofit sector. In 2017, he founded MANNA! Educational Services International to inspire and equip leaders, teachers, pastors, and parents. Rick holds a doctorate in leadership and emerging culture; and travels the U.S. and world speaking on culture, faith, history, education, and leadership topics including GenTech Workshops. Connect with Rick on LinkedIn, (and help us grow on) Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Visit www.MyGenTech.us.
Press received on #GenTech:
GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change, and Who We Really Are is a great read. It was well written and easy to read. I was intrigued by how much has changed with technology for the past one hundred and twenty years. I found it nostalgic to be reminded of some of the advances that happened during my childhood. It brought back some good memories. In addition to technology, the book tells about many other changes socially and culturally. I am amazed at how far of advancement there has been through the years in my country.
GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change and Who We Really Are made me think of my grandmother, who passed away at almost a hundred years old. It was fascinating to read in this book at all of the inventions and changes she lived throughout the 1900s and early 2000s. Some of which includes: radios to compact discs; airplanes to rockets; silent movies to watching movies at home; film cameras to phone cameras; televisions; three based television networks to cable; remote controls; credit cards; etc etc. That is not even including the wars, culture and social changes through the years she lived through.
I am giving GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change, and Who We Really Are a very well deserved 5+ stars. I recommend it for readers who enjoy learning about twentieth-century American history. I see Dr. Rick Chromey has other books he has written that I am looking forward to reading, as well.
I received this book from the publisher. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
What I mean is have you peered outside at the CULTURAL landscape? It is springtime in every way. This new cultural “spring” is blossoming everywhere as retailers, restaurants, schools, and churches try to survive in an online-only world…thanks to a little virus nobody saw coming six months ago. COVID-19 and its effect on culture. This will be written about in history books and will have an enormous impact on everything.
The biggest takeaway so far: SMALL is tall
Essentially, the smaller you are, the better and faster you’ve creatively navigated this COVID-19 economic shutdown. Everywhere you look there are smaller business models, educational strategies, entertainment options and church expressions. Are you buying stock in Zoom? It’s become a household word. Drive-thrus, take-outs and pick-ups are hot (smaller) frames for retailers. And the cloud and stream are the new worlds in which to camp and explore.
A successful dine-in restaurant here in Boise had to close all its doors for COVID-19 but quickly learned it had plenty of something they hadn’t sold before: toilet paper. They also had plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other grocery items. Since this restaurant had a different supplier than larger grocers and retailers, the owner was able to acquire the stuff people were desperately seeking. He’s now converted, quickly and successfully, his dine-in restaurant into a pick-up grocer. He could do it because he was a small local entity. The big chain restaurants don’t have that vision. They’re too large.
But something BIGGER is happening: the BOX is dying
Amazon debuted July 5, 1994, as a bookstore (eventually killing off demand for many brick and mortar bookstores). Now Amazon is the largest retailer, period. Walmart used to enjoy that title but was slow to the online retailing game. They waited until 2016 to get serious. That’s when Walmart bought Jet.com (a third-rate unknown online retailer) and spent $3.3 billion dollars to compete with Amazon. Until COVID-19 Walmart wasn’t competing. But that’s changed rather quickly as Amazon, Walmart and smaller, local retailers (who already had an online presence) are winning the day.
News, sports, and entertainment (and their talent) have also been rocked by COVID-19. Our news is not coming from a dedicated studio but from hillsides, sidewalks, and bedrooms. My weather forecaster delivers the weather from her daughter’s room with an ironing board as her desk. Jimmy Fallon produces the Tonight Show from home, with his kids as guests. Major entertainers are playing live on Facebook and YouTube without a concert hall or stadium. Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Roku and Amazon Prime and other live-streams are killing the cable and satellite stars. Cable is hanging on by a thread. Only competitive sports–which naturally have human contact–are not able to play. ESPN and other sports channels are running old games…and few are watching. We like our sports live.
And then there’s the church. No “box” has suffered more to move online that local churches. It has been in a box culture since the fourth century AD, thanks to the Roman emperor Constantine. He legalized Christianity and made it the Roman state religion. He then gave Christians all of the empire’s pagan temples to inhabit. And the church has lived in a box ever since…until two weekends ago. With large gatherings prohibited, churches (without any live-streamed services) scrambled to get their services online. Most used Facebook to host their services. Smaller churches and groups also gravitated to Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Facetime. With the Church’s biggest holiday (Easter) around the corner, there’s a general feeling of denial. Easter has always been a church’s biggest attendance day. But the reality is church attendance has been fading for the past 20 years. The box was already in trouble.
In general, the boxes (come inside to shop, learn, worship and be entertained) were already losing to online options. Shopping and entertainment were already there. Now the school and church must reinvent in this new cyberculture without boxes. Boxes, after all, have time and space stamps. You have to go to them during certain “open” times. In contrast, the online world is open 24/7/365. And when this COVID-19 crisis suddenly blew up the box it’s forced everyone to think differently–not just the seller but the buyer, not just the teacher but the student, not just the priest or pastor but the congregant. And we are all learning rather quickly we don’t really need these boxes (at least the bigger ones). We can shop, learn, commune, worship and be entertained without them.
Social media has never been hotter in an anti-social shelter-at-home world. As I talk about in my new book, GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change and Who We Really Are, we are products of our generational technology. COVID-19 will change everything going forward in ways that affect how we will experience everything.
Which begs one final thought: what will Walmart do when they realize it’s a better, cheaper business model to employ robotic pickers (rather than human shoppers) to fill online orders rather than let the general public pick their own groceries? Could Walmart eventually close their front doors to people and convert their stores into food and retail storage? If so, could robot and drone retrieval and delivery be far off too? Why drive to Walmart to pick up your groceries when they could be delivered?
The more expensive model for that idea is currently called “Hello Fresh”. It’s thriving like never before. Watch for more affordable options to blossom in the near future. It’s springtime in Boise. It’s also a new cultural spring, thanks to this virus.
Small is tall. The box is dying.
The flowers are blooming.
Everybody is talking about COVID-19. And right we should. This is our Great Depression-Pearl Harbor-WW2 all rolled into one. It has done what neither 9-11-01 or the Great Recession could do: shut down America.
Did you see that Vegas’ Caesar Palace is closed…for the first time in its long history? Only COVID-19 could do that. But historians know that COVID-19 isn’t the first time America has been shuttered into economic instability, panic, fear, and death.
Every technology generation has “killer” events between their 10th and 25th birthday that seeds their unique generational personality. The current COVID-19 crisis is the youngest generation’s first “killer” event.
These “killer” events often rearrange economic, scientific, social, educational, entertainment and religious institutions. They are usually war-or-terror related but can be anything that creates national fear and panic.
Generation break-out of killer events overlap
TRANSPORTATION-TELEPHONE GENERATION (b. 1900-1920): World War 1 (1914-1918), Spanish flu (1918) and Stock Crash/Great Depression (1929-1933).
MOTION PICTURE GENERATION (b. 1910-1930): World War 1 (1914-1918), Spanish Flu (1918), Great Depression (1929-1933) and Pearl Harbor/World War 2 (1939-1945).
RADIO GENERATION (b. 1920-1940): Great Depression (1929-1933), Pearl Harbor/World War 2 (1939-1945) and Korean War/Cold War (1950-1953).
VINYL RECORD GENERATION (b. 1930-1950): Pearl Harbor/World War 2 (1939-1945), Cold War (1950s)/Sputnik (1957), JFK’s assassination (1963).
TELEVISION GENERATION (b. 1940-1960): Cold War (1950s, 1960s), Sputnik (1957), JFK’s assassination (1963), Vietnam War (1960s), Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations (1968).
SPACE GENERATION (b. 1950-1970): JFK’s assassination (1963), Vietnam War (1960s-1974), Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations (1968).
GAMER GENERATION (1960-1980): Economic “stagflation” (1970s), Iran hostage crisis (1979-1981), AIDS (1981-), Challenger explosion (1986), stock market crash (1987), Gulf War (1990-1991).
CABLE TELEVISION GENERATION (1970-1990): Iran hostage crisis (1979-1981), AIDS (1981-), Challenger explosion (1986), stock market crash (1987), Gulf War (1990-1991), Oklahoma City bombing (1995), Columbine shooting (1999).
PERSONAL COMPUTER-CELL PHONE GENERATION (1980-2000): Gulf War (1990-1991), Oklahoma City bombing (1995), Columbine shooting (1999), Terrorist attacks (2001), SARS (2002), Great Recession (2007-2009).
NET GENERATION (1990-2010): Columbine shooting (1999), Terrorist attacks (2001), SARS (2002), Great Recession (2007-2009), Swine flu (2009-2010), Las Vegas shooting (2017), Parkland shooting (2018), COVID-19 (2020).
iTECH GENERATION (2000-2010): Great Recession (2007-2009), Swine flu (2009-2010), Las Vegas shooting (2017), Parkland shooting (2018), COVID-19 (2020).
ROBOTICS GENERATION (2010-2030): COVID-19 (2020)
Mega event every 80 years
Hidden among these “killer” events is also a MEGA EVENT that happens roughly every 80 years (4 generations). This mega event is usually a long period that changes America fundamentally. The last one was the Great Depression-Pearl Harbor-WW2 (1929-1945). The Civil War and Reconstruction (1860-1877) and the American Revolution (1765-1783) were previous “mega” events.
I believe that September 11, 2001, the Great Recession and COVID-19 will be eventually framed by historians as our MEGA EVENT. COVID-19 is going to transform how we learn, work, worship and shop. That is because it will likely not be our last coronavirus. What will we do NEXT YEAR or in two years when the next novel killer virus arrives? That’s right. We will do what we’re doing now…only better.
New hit eBook GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change and Who We REALLY Are, by Dr. Rick Chromey scheduled for bestseller campaign March 26th, 7-8pm EST – for 1 hour, the book will be free to download! We hope you will join our party.
Have you ever wondered why generations are out of whack? Why Millennials hate being called Millennials and why many Baby Boomers can’t relate? Let alone Gen Z and now the new Generation Alpha. How about not being labeled by when we are born using names that don’t mean anything? In the new book GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change, and Who We REALLY Are, by Dr. Rick Chromey, he starts a new conversation that changes everything. How about defining our generations with clearly defined language based on the technology we consume during our “coming of age” years, between 10 and 25? That makes a lot of sense, and the book takes us on a fun journey from 1900 looking at how technology has formed us. Dr. Chromey gives us insight into newly named generations and sees them as more fluid. He takes the reader on an exciting journey that presents generations that make sense for a modern world that will have everyone talking.
“It is my hope to start a new conversation about generations that will help all of us learn and grow in a way that takes away labels, brings us together, and engages us through technology that makes sense. We are excited to offer this eBook free for 1-hour, for a best-seller campaign and would love everyone’s help to get there! We hope many will download the book for free, read and learn, and spread the word about it,” said Dr. Rick Chromey. “I am really excited about this campaign to generate interest before the launch of the print edition, May 26, 2020.”
From the Introduction:
The Future is Rooted to the Past
It’s not the first time the world has changed. World history is filled with interesting patterns. One pattern is how massive cultural shifts happen roughly every 500 years. Several years ago, I formulated a concept called Cultural Language Theory. I theorized that technology—particularly certain “mega” tech” technologies—has the power to change cultural languages. These cultural languages are what societies use to guide learning, commerce, entertainment, and communication. Consequently, they influence all cultural institutions from the home to the church, from politics to business. When cultural language changes, a whole new world emerges. It’s why we need people to read the cultural tea leaves. It’s critical to understand the world and hold conversations about where we need to go. We need to make sense of what’s happening (that makes a generation)… The technology that influences our lives, particularly in youth and young adulthood, will mark us for life. In fact, technology has significantly tattooed every American generation since 1900. We are generations of technology. Transportation and the telephone. Motion pictures. Radio. Television. Space. Video games. Personal computers. Cellphones. Internet. Robotics… We are Americans and this is our technology. It’s become our unique, collective story. A story that needs to be told and it is why I wrote this book. We are GenTech.
About the Author:
Dr. Rick Chromey is a cultural explorer, social historian, generational futurist, and international keynote speaker, focusing on culture, faith, history, education, and leadership topics. He is the Founder and President of MANNA! Educational Services, which equips leaders to lead, trainers to train, and teachers to teach for over three decades. A notable author, he has written over a dozen books on leadership, natural motivation, creative communication, and classroom management including three best-selling titles. He holds a master’s in education, and a doctorate in Leadership and the Emerging Culture from George Fox University. Dr. Chromey has served full-time as well as an adjunct professor for several colleges and universities. He lives in Star, Idaho with his wife Linda.
They’re lazy, entitled, arrogant, non-committal, and disrespectful. That’s how many older people view the youth of today. In a 2019 survey of over 900 leaders, Carey Nieuwhof tapped into the frustration of many elders today. Today’s younger generations are glued to their smartphone, lack loyalty to the company line and want now what took other people years to earn. Their reliance on social, cyber and digital media has created a general ignorance and arrogance. As one elder smirked, “They are experts at nothing but have an opinion for everything.”
One nation under Google
But these sentiments are nothing new. Four hundred years before Christ walked the planet, Socrates penned: “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
Socrates sounds like the average Boomer today.
And a Boomer should know.
Back in their youth—the 1950s and 1960s—their G.I. Generation elders complained about their generation too. They were rebels without a cause. Beatniks and hippies. They were flower children and acid freaks. These Spock kids wore leather jackets, dungarees, and mini skirts. They greased their hair and listened to sexually charged music called “rock and roll.” They didn’t work as hard as their Depression-era elders, preferring to tune out, light up and drop in whenever they wanted. They were an opinionated anti-war generation raised on television (a.k.a the boob tube and idiot box).
In the 1980s and 1990s, Gen X became the new target.
The name “Gen X” says it all
Gen X carried negative monikers all their lives. They were Rosemary’s babies and Exorcist children. They were goonies, nerds, bad news bears and children of the corn. Later they were tagged the “dumb” generation, a nation at risk and slackers. Gen X listened to grunge, heavy metal and rap. They wore their baseball caps backward and their jeans (with holes) to their knees. They were tattooed and pierced. Gen X was raised on cable television, corporate rock and Sesame Street. They were an opinionated anti-institution generation.
Now it’s the Millennials turn to be dissed
And they don’t like it any more than we did.
Every generation matures to a point that it views youth (and youthfulness) with disdain. It’s natural and expected. Perhaps because, as we age, we pine for what was. We miss those days when we were carefree, irresponsible, reckless and impulsive. If we’re honest, we see ourselves in those kids…and cringe. And then we start sounding more like grandpas and grandmas…because we are.
What goes around, comes around.
It’s been that way since Adam and Eve lamented how Cain turned out.
 “5 Things Older Leaders Can’t Stand About Younger Leaders” by Carey Nieuwhof: https://careynieuwhof.com/5-things-older-leaders-cant-stand-about-younger-leaders/
Today’s workplace employs multiple generations, all working together.
The Millennial is creative but lazy and entitled. The Gen Xer is hardworking, but rude and disloyal. The Boomer is reliable but old and out of touch. It’s a generational cocktail that produces derision and indecision, doubt and depression.
So, let’s say you’re a 35-year old and you lead a diverse team of three different ages. You have a worker who’s 18, another is 56 and yet one more aged 65. Traditionally, you view them as Gen Z, Gen X and Boomer, but you could also see them from a different perspective.
Recast them through their generational technologies, to bring out the best performance.
Let me show you how.
The 18-year old
The 18-year old was born in 2001. She’s part of the Net (1990-2010) and iTech (2000-2020) generations. She’s been coming of age since 2011 and will reach full adult maturity in 2026. She’s known only a digital, cyberculture. The internet is like electricity. Her first technology was the smartphone and the iPad. She’s been baptized in social media. As a young employee, she is fluid in digital media, embraces diversity and is constantly connected. She doesn’t do email nor Facebook but enjoys Snapchat and Instagram. She wants to be a YouTube entrepreneur. The Gen Zer likes long breaks and often calls in sick.
The 56-year old
The 56-year old was born in 1963. He’s part of the Space (1950-1970) and Gamer (1960-1980) generations. He came of age between 1973 and 1988. His whole life has been like a video game and a rocket ride. He’s seen revolutions and recessions, a man landing on the moon and a teacher dying at takeoff. He remembers Nixon’s resignation, Reagan’s near assassination and Clinton’s impeachment. He grew up on rabbit ears, snowy channels, and black and white television. Consequently, he’s a bit jaded. He’s a realist. He struggles with newer tech. He still prefers old-school letters but has fully embraced email. He got hit hard by the Great Recession and has little saved for retirement. He’s working for every last penny. The Gen Xer has had five jobs in twenty years.
The 65-year old
The 65-year old was born in 1954. She’s part of the Television (1940-1960) and Space (1950-1960) generations. She came of age between 1964 and 1979. She watched JFK’s assassination, the Beatles and Walter Cronkite on television. She had an 8-Track in her car and a stack of records on her bedroom floor. She’s an idealist with a bit of hippie in her. She doesn’t mind the tech but thinks it’s over-rated. She prefers to talk face-to-face. She’s worked for the company for thirty years. She’s Ms. Reliable and she struggles with the team at times.
You – the 35-year old
And then there’s you. You were born in 1984. You’re part of the Cable Television (1970-1990) and Personal Computer-Cell Phone (1980-2000) generations. You came of age between 1994 and 2009. You grew up in a modem, flip phone, desktop culture. You watched the 9-11 terrorist attacks on CNN and suckled on an MTV cribs reality culture. You are computer literate and tech savvy. You’re confident, verbal and view the world differently than older workers. You don’t mind email but prefer texts.
Your team is a reflection of their “coming of age” technology. One travels life (and work) like a video game while another freely swims in social media. One prefers texts and another wants face-to-face. One is company-loyal and another works to play.
Now you have a good picture of who’s on your team. How will you now delegate workflow? What will change?
The people working for you are the products of their generation’s technology.
They are GenTech. Learn more by buying my book: GenTech – An American Story of Technology, Change and Who We REALLY Are. The eBook is now available here. The print edition will be available May 26, 2020 at your favorite bookstore and online, and is available for pre-order now.
When it comes to generations, fuzzy thinking abounds.
Just how long is a generation and what do we call it? For the past thirty years, we’ve cast the generations as Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-1980), Millennials (1981-1995) and Gen Z (1996-?). But those names and frames are highly disputed in the research. The U.S. Census Bureau confessed to one inquiring mind: “We do not define the different generations…the only generation we do define is Baby Boomers and that year bracket is from 1946 to 1964.”
Let the confusion begin
Let’s take Gen X (1965 to 1980). In recent years, this generational frame has shrunk to 1965 to 1977 to allow for a new micro-generation known as the “Xennials” (born somewhere between 1977 and 1985). Originally Gen X was tagged “Baby Busters” but that term stuck lost luster in the 1990s, thanks to Douglas Coupland’s generational novel of the same name. In 1991, William Strauss and Neil Howe resized Gen X (who they referred at the time as the 13er Generation) to a 1961-1981 frame in their socio-historical work Generations. These tweaks helped but the confusion remained.
Enter the millennials
This cohort carried monikers like Gen Y, Boomlets, Echo Boomers and Digital Natives. One writer noted they prefer no label at all. Strauss and Howe, who coined the term “Millennial,” framed their birth years as 1982-2004. Recently, the Pew Research Center settled on 1981-1996, while sociology professor Dr. Jean Twenge argues for 1980-1994.
It’s no wonder Gen Xers and Millennials are confused…and find these frames and names counterproductive. It doesn’t help that the term “Millennial” (like Gen X) now carries negative cultural baggage. In general, the Millennials are perceived as narcissistic, entitled and “snowflake.”
It’s why I think we need a national conversation on generational “frames and names.”
In GenTech, I proposed a traditional and historical view that a generation roughly matches a phase of the human life span (or twenty years). We do most of our “birthing” in the young adult phase (ages 20-40). By age 20 we are mostly adults. Approximately every twenty years we have cultural catastrophes (Hiroshima, JFK’s assassination. Challenger, 9-11) that define our generational cohort. In many ancient and modern civilizations, age twenty is when a child is recognized as an adult. And one more thing: we don’t have micro-generations, but we do have identifiable phases. What we often call Gen Y and Gen Z? Just two phases within the wider Millennial generation.
But the labels mean nothing if we have bad definitions
It’s why I also think generations are better defined through the emerging technologies in our coming of age years (ages 10-25). I think the technological edges are fluid and overlapping. Consequently, we are a radio or television generation. We are a space or gamer generation. We are a net or iTech generation.
That’s who we really are.
 “Here Is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to the Facts” (Atlantic Monthly, March 24, 2014): https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/here-is-when-each-generation-begins-and-ends-according-to-facts/359589/
 “What is a Millennial?” by Lindsey Pollack. February 14, 2018: https://www.lindseypollak.com/what-is-a-millennial/
The Pre-Launch Book Party for Dr. Rick Chromey, celebrating his new book officially coming out May 26, 2020, will be held on December 6, 2019 from 6 pm to 8:30 pm at Casa Mexico, 10332 W Fairview Ave # 104, Boise, ID 83704.
Rick will give a new TED-style talk, just for his new book, “GenTech: An American Story of Technology and Who We REALLY Are.” After the speech, Dr. Chromey will be holding a Q & A and a lively discussion about what his research has revealed and where we are headed with technology in the future. Great event for the whole family! There will be technology on display that your teenagers will wonder about, so don’t miss out on having them learn a thing or two!
A limited supply of pre-launch books will be available for purchase in print, just in time for the holidays. Dr. Chromey will also be signing them.
The official release will be May 26, 2020, by Morgan James Publishing. The book will be available at bookstores everywhere and online. Learn more on the book website: http://www.mygentech.us.
Light appetizers will be hosted, and attendees can enjoy beverages and a full menu for dinner (not hosted).
Be sure to grab your seat… the event is free, but we have limited space, so jump onto Eventbrite and claim your seat.