I clearly remember the downfall of Arthur Anderson. I remember it so well because I was working with them when Enron went down (November 2011) and brought Anderson along for the ride. Then, in early 2002 Anderson Consulting was reborn as Accenture. In response to the negative publicity, they came out from under the rubble and they rebranded.
A successful rebranding effort demands a new vision that inspires others to see a person, company, product or service in a new light. But it doesn’t end there. Once clear on the message, the word must get out and spread out through savvy marketing.
Today there is a lot of hype in the media about baby boomers. We are constantly bombarded with news about the boomers retiring, boomers and social security, boomers downsizing and even boomers exercising. And when we are not reading about the boomers, we’re reading about the Millennials /Gen Y and how they are changing the world. What we are not reading about is our next generation of leaders … Gen X
Gen X. Remember Gen X? The generation born between 1965 -1979? The generation that has given us Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Jack Dorsey, Brene’Brown, Corey Booker, Paul Ryan, Cheryl Sandberg, Marrisa Mayer, Salman Kahn, and Robert Downey Junior (now that’s a brand make-over!)
Gen X, the generation that is sandwiched in between the boomers and millennials.
You might remember them as the “Slacker Generation.” When Gen X entered the workplace in late 80’s and early 90’s, the media (who were boomers) painted a very negative picture: they dubbed them the slackers. Other words used to describe Gen X were grungers, negative, cynical, apathetic, challengers of authority, latchkey-kids, and losers. wah waaah.
Back then, Time Magazine described them as “cautious” in this oft-cited article:
“They have trouble making decisions. They would rather hike in the Himalayas than climb a corporate ladder. They have few heroes, no anthems, no style to call their own. They crave entertainment, but their attention span is as short as one zap of a TV dial. They hate yuppies, hippies and druggies. They postpone marriage because they dread divorce. They sneer at Range Rovers, Rolexes and red suspenders. What they hold dear are family life, local activism, national parks, penny loafers and mountain bikes.” (Time, 1990)
As many of us know … Time Magazine was wrong! They took back some of the snarky remarks in 2000, But many still remember the Brand. So, Gen X, you need a rebranding plan.
As Gen X has aged and blossomed the negative sterotype have mellowed, but the brand is still a little dull and needs a little polish. My intention is to be part of a campaign to help them speak their truth and shine a more honest and more honestly positive light on the real Gen X. You are the generations that was raised with real-world experiences, you are comfortable with technology, you have the awareness of global issues, you are sensible, reasonable and logical, you have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, AND you are in the middle of your career and your life.
Here’s a little more that we have learned about you Gen X:
- Gen X brought work life balance into the forefront. The quote “Never confuse having a career with having a life” was printed on the Eddie Bauer shopping bags.
- The divorce rate in the U.S. is now the lowest it’s been in 40 years and many credit this change to Generation X. Since a large percentage of Gen Xers come from divorced families, many of them vowed they would not divorce when they were adults. Gen Xers are a family focused generation as they have moved into middle adulthood.
- Gen Xers are actively involved parents demonstrating that they are a generation who values education and encourage and support their children in attaining educational goals.
- Generation X is a generation of independence. Because parents left Gen X to themselves (the Latchkey-kids) they are a generation that learned how to be independent early in their lives.
- This creative generation defined the do-it-yourself DIY cultural ethos, and many turned entrepreneurial when they entered the job market in a down economy in the early 90s.
- A big thank you goes out to Gen X women for the ban panty hose!
- Gen X is highly productive and knows how to “Get Stuff Done.”
- Left alone (no hovering parents) and allowed to fail, this generation is the most innovative and creative of all the generations and have lead the way in technology and music. (Garage Technology/Garage Bands)
- Generation X’s sullenness has softened into a sensibility has been driving openness and transparency in business. Gen X has helped change cultures and policies of corporate America and they have done it from the inside out.
- Generation X members had the most casualties and were also the major heroes on September 11th. They were the police and firefighters. They were the passengers who crashed the plane rather than having it go on to Washington, DC. They were the workers in the World Trade Center Towers. Gen X members responded to the terrorist attacks with bursts of patriotism and national fervor that surprised even themselves.
Today we are facing a world with finite limits, a place where there are no easy answers, and the sobering realization that we are encountering significant, intractable problems on multiple fronts. Gen X, this is your time. It’s interesting that the most negative elements of your childhood and early adult life may well be those that will provide you with the strongest capabilities today. Your courage, guts, determination, pragmatism, and values are what we need in our politics, our businesses and our communities.
Gen X, it’s your time –
A time for a new generation of leadership.