Gen X Needs a Rebranding – It’s Your Time to Lead

Gen X Needs a Rebranding – It’s Time for  Generation X to Lead

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.

Gen X is the Bridge between the Boomers and the Y’s

Generation X (those born 1965-1979) were raised to  operate independently. Women were leaving the homemaker role behind, and heading off to work. The working mom in the 70’s  had no daycare or nannies to watch over her children.  Many Gen X preteens/teens  were now in charge! Boomers dubbed them the “latch key kids”-  with no parents hovering over them Gen X became independent. They developed traits of  resilience , creativity, and adaptability. So, they don’t want you or anyone micromanaging them. They were raised to operate independently.

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Bossypants-Who’s the boss? Gen X Tina Fey says she is!

I love Tina Fey and 30 Rock is my favorite show on TV so of course reading Bossypants was a no-brainer.   And if you like a little Gen X humor with a tiny sting, introspection and Girl Power you are going to love this book…like I did.

It’s  memoir where  the funny, nerdy, not so pretty, raised in the 70’s Gen X girl from Pennsylvania, takes us on a journey-  her childhood, college years, her crummy first job, her days as an improve comic in Chicago, her nine years at Saturday Night Live to the fabulous 30 Rock!
Right off the bat in the introduction, Tina tells us that the book is meant to satisfy all reading needs, whether you are a woman trying to make it in a male-dominated workplace, a parent wanting to raise an achievement oriented drug-free child, a Sarah Palin-lover, or just someone looking for a laugh, and I laughed out loud so many times…it’s hilarious.

What I love the most about the book is Tina’s career advice which I found  great for professional speakers and performers, like  anytime you perform  for an audience that isn’t there voluntarily it’s hard. She gives women a ton of advice which I loved, especially telling women to trust their instincts and just do your jobs the best way you know how not caring what others think! And if Gen Y reads this book they are going to discover that getting to 30 Rock included and still includes hard work, perseverance, and at times having to be the bossypants.


Oh…the cover may upset you! Get over it…and remember Tina says that you can’t boss people around if they really don’t care!

A Little Gen X History-Making Tapes and Sharing Their Mix!

For the past five years I have either done the opening keynote or a presented a general session  at   the January THLA Short Course Conference for the  held here in Houston.  Each year I poll the audience to see how many Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y’ers are attending the session.And for the past few years the Baby Boomers won with the highest participants.

This year there were only 4 Boomers in the room! Gen X and Gen Y are int majority of my audiences!

Learn about Gen X in this Video Clip

Baby Boomers Discover Social Media! Not Just for Gen X and Gen Y

When My Space came on the scene in 2002 most adults thought that is was a way for the “kids” to flaunt their stuff. Back then, social media was considered a teen-age fad. Well, today those “kids” make up over 60% of our population and every day that number is growing.  I just read the by 2010 Gen Y will outnumber the baby boomers and 96% of them are on a social network. If you haven’t noticed, social media is growing at warped speed.

To put things into prospective, it took the telephone 75 years to reach 50 million users-the radio 38 years, TV 13 years, the internet 4 years, and the iPod 3 years. Today Facebook reached 100 million uses in less than 9 months! And it isn’t the just kids that are joining Facebook. The largest segment of the population joining Facebook today is comprised of women between the ages of 55 and 65.

Linkedin is the business-oriented social media site that is mainly used for  professional networking. People that know how to use Linkedin use it to gain an introduction to someone they wish to know through a mutual, trusted contact. 80% of companies are now using Linked in as their primary tool to find and research new hires.

Not only are we using Twitter to share ideas, follow thought leaders, and connect with friends, today we are also sharing our customer experiences on Twitter. 80% of all tweets come from mobile devices.  That means that people are using twitter all the time, wherever they happen to be.  If you are upset with Comcast because your internet and phone have been down for hours, you can tweet about it!  If your bed at the Westin was lumpy just tweet away, and if your service was simply remarkable at your Toyota dealer remark about it on Twitter. Twitter is allowing the consumer to take control and share their good and their not so good experiences. Marketing and traditional advertising is changing!

There are over 200,000,000 blogs out there and bloggers are posting their opinions about everything from government healthcare debates to that delicious pizza they just ate and over half of them post their blogs on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

It is clear that social media isn’t a trendy youthful fad.  It is becoming  a fundamental way we communicate and spread the word. Even my older sister Patty has come on board.  Last week she created her Facebook page.  She said it’s the only way she can communicate with her 13 grandchildren.  Now if I could only convince her to stop writing in all caps.  She says it’s the only way she can see the type…

Hello Generation Interruption- Generations in the Workplace

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Photo by rmfoto.com

Many of you know I speak around the country on the subjects of Generations in the Workplace, Change and Rebranding, and Generational Opportunities. A few weeks ago I returned home from an event where the team who booked me was under the impression that my 45-minute presentation would give them the quick and easy steps in “How to Manage Your Millennial.” The director said that these young kids are a huge interruption in his day… and that got me thinking!

Interruption- an abrupt occurrence that interrupts an ongoing activity

Are they an interruption or a wake-up call to the future?

There is no silver bullet when it comes to  managing Millennials. AKA Generation Y. It’s a bit more complicated than that. The key to successfully managing this generation begins with understanding them.  They view the world, lifestyles, and work very differently than the generations preceding them. The unpopular news to previous generations is that you have to meet Millennials (Gen Y)  where they are—and, yes, it will take more energy, but if you invest the extra time, you are more likely to keep them and their talents in your organization. Forcing them to conform to your way will only push them out, and they will be quick to leave.

Here Are Some Gen Y  Expectations that are changing the world of work: 

• Work with positive people, to be treated with respect , and to be asked for their input—it’s  called inclusion.

• Work on challenging projects with an engaged team that cares about outcomes.

• Gain knowledge from a variety of tasks, so they can grow their career faster.

• See the route to their future and their career path in your organization.

• Ability to leverage technology work—any time/any place.

• Evaluation on work product—not how, when or where the work is done.

• Need transparency about compensation and what it takes to get ahead.

Hey…I want these things too~

Relationships Matter

Millennials are known for their love of technology, texting, and connecting online. But did you know that they also value clear communication and authentic relationships, along with a need to have an understanding of expectations? Millennials wants to interact directly and often with their managers and coworkers.

In addition, they want to work in a friendly place where they feel a sense of acceptance and enjoyment in the workplace environment.  They want to identify with the company core values and work with people who share their priorities. They are very willing to leave if the company purpose does not align with their own values. Anything less would mean they are not being individually authentic, and therefore cannot relate to managers and fellow team members in an authentic way.

Isn’t That Special!

Millennials were told by their parents that they were special, and they believed it!  It is important for this generation to stand out and celebrate their uniqueness. They are proud of their individuality and look for ways to express themselves, which previous generations see expressed as tattoos, piercings, hair color, and dress. An astute manager will help Millennials  balance their need to be unique and, yet, still be in sync with the organization’s needs and brand.  This may take some creative thinking.

Show Me My Career Path

Let’s be realistic. Not all Millennials look at their first job as their final career. Many younger employees consider their work “something to do between weekends,” and are not thinking about climbing the corporate ladder.

But, the more focused Millennials (high potentials) have a self-centered work ethic and are in search of a career path. If you are working with the “High Potentials,” show them where they fit into your organization. Take the time to show them a career path and open their eyes to the opportunities available in your organization in all departments.

“This Millennial generation is not just looking for a job, they’re not just looking for salary and financial benefits, they’re looking for skill development, they’re looking for mobility, they’re looking for opportunities to acquire different skills and to move quickly from one part of an organization to another. How you manage that sort of talent and how you deal with their expectations is very different from what’s been done in the past.”

—Dennis Nally, PricewaterhouseCoopers HR Director

Managers Need a Big Dose of Self-Awareness

I am listening to my audiences and what I am hearing is that managers are frustrated.  They don’t want to spend time training the new hires and feel that they are a huge interruption in their day.  They just expect them to know.  In fact, one person said if they have to train someone, they aren’t worth hiring.

The biggest challenge for organizations is to ask themselves are they open and willing to make a shift.  If so, they must bend to accommodate the millennial mindset or lose their talents, which are considerable.

That said, the need for young talent is enormous.  Competition is fierce to recruit and retain the best talent.  Organizations unable or unwilling to make the shift will pay dearly for their inflexibility.

Millennials ( I am now calling  them Generation Interruption) have the ability to transform disruption of the workplace into profit for your company.  But first, your managers must be willing to adapt and change to fit their needs. Are you up for the challenge?

Then you need to decide if your company culture can adapt and move ahead. Can your organization get out of the default mode and try new things to meet the needs of this new talented generation of Millennials who are going to carry us into the future?

When You Snooze, Do You Lose? Is waking up early a generational thing?

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Maybe it’s a generational thing, but my internal clock gets me up and out of bed each day on or before 5:30 AM.  I am up, with coffee in hand, and at my computer creating and writing long before the sun comes up.  I guess it’s my boomer generation’s work ethic showing. Although I have read many stories that correlate waking up early with success, I do it because it’s the only time in my day when I can carve out precious time to write and be productive.  In addition, I have discovered that my early morning “creative time” starts my day with a positive and even inspirational tone …I get more stuff done and I feel happy about myself.

So before you hit that snooze button remember this…

 

Freaked-Out about Technology? Lesson I learned from a Gen Y

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I remember when I first started putting Power Point into my keynotes. I freaked out  when projector couldn’t find my my Mac and I had to go it alone …Then I added music and I freaked out when the sound was so soft the audience strained to hear Ice Ice Baby …Then I added video to the Power Points and I freaked out about the quality of the movie…

I guess I am a technology freak.

Then, last year I started working with Crystal Washington, a Gen Y social media and marketing guru creating Socialtunities workshops, and I learned that at times technology fails…get use to it! If you don’t try new ways of doing your presentations and keynotes you are not growing. Today the audience is forgiving when it comes to technology. Everyone knows that at times technology will fail. – Just keep on learning, growing, and trying new technology! Thanks Crystal…

BTW Crystal is offering an advanced Social Media Webinar for business owners, sales manages and professionals who  want to learn  how you can better leverage social media to connect with powerful influencers, attract clients, and get sales. Read all about is here – just click on classes…Crystal has helped so many grow their business with social media that she now has her own segment on Fox. She is the real deal!

Tips I Gained after a Gen Y Night- or #IStillGotIt

No one wants to look or feel old and outdated, but let’s be honest, it can happen even to the most hip among us. I know this firsthand because it just happened to me. Last week I attended a huge after-work networking event where it was specified on the invitation to wear business attire. I walked in armed with my black suit and my Boomer self-confidence, but as soon as I entered the ballroom and saw it filled with mostly people under 30 (yup, the Gen Yers), I started to feel old.

Then I heard that, critical little inner voice whisper in my ear: “whoa, you’re outdated!” Over the years I have learned that the key to avoiding this feeling and silencing the voice in the future is to learn from the experience … So, I decided to jot down a few tips I acquired that night while taking in the behaviors of the mostly Gen Y attendees.

Here we go:

  • Forget the explicitly stated dress code, ladies … always wear a one-shoulder or strapless little black cocktail dress.
  • Talk fast and laugh often.
  • Have a really cool and totally unique business card.
  • Take a ton of photos of yourself – that is, you with everyone possible. You can do this by asking a (preferably old and outdated) passer-by (Me) to snap the photo and share it on Instagram. Better yet, just take a #selfie (for anybody over the age of 40, a #selfie is the kind of photo you take your yourself with your iPhone). Or for a little fun, why not photobomb ( That’s where you hop into a picture before it is taken like President Clinton is doing to Kelly Clarkson…Hey isn’t he a boomer and she’s a Y?). But whatever your tactic, above all, do not forget to add the hash tag when posting it on twitter.
  • Skip the dinner. Just come for the cocktails.
  • But if you stay for the dinner make sure you snap a photo of your food. (#whatiate, #foodporn, #yummy)
  • Eat gluten free
  • While the speaker is presenting keep your eyes on your phone and tweet as often as possible.

 

 

Seriously, the #1 thing I got out of the night was that they showed up and they showed up with confidence- they smiled, they laugh and they were not afraid to show their star-power! They were there, connecting with each other, laughing and networking. They showed up and they showed up happy!

Sure it might be easier to just poke fun at this generation. But that behavior will hold you back. The world is changing. And it’s fast becoming their world. So, it may be time to rethink a few things. Sometimes we have to open our eyes to Listen-Up.

Gen Y is writing the script for their generation and it’s different from mine, as mine differed from my parents. They text, they photo-journal their adventures, they tweet and share their experience with those who couldn’t make it. They care about their health and what  they eat, and… they dress up!
Hey…I get it!
Some of us may not be under 30, but no need to feel old and outdated. If we are open to new ways of doing things, if we bend a little, and are open to change, if we can be more interested and more engaged- we too will say- #IStillGotIt!

Attracting and Keeping the Talented Gen Y Employee…Are You Open to Change?

 

Most of us are aware that Gen Y employees, and even some Gen Xers, are not “Lifers” when it comes to staying put at their jobs. They have been known to jump ship! A study published this summer in the Harvard Business Review confirmed that young top performers—the workers that organizations would most like to stick around—are leaving in droves.

Researchers found that high-achieving older Gen Y’s (30ish) with great school and work credentials, are leaving their employers after around 28 months in the job. In addition, over two thirds of them admit to sending out resumes, contacting search firms, and interviewing for jobs at least once a year during their first employment opportunity. 95% said they regularly watch for potential new employers.

Employer…What changes are you willing to make to keep the talent?

Learning new skills, growing expertise, and feeling valued are key to what people want and expect from work these days. Heads up employers who would like to hire and retain the best talent…it  would be wise to create an environment in which learning and collaboration are fostered.