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Sunday, March 1, 2009

I'm not trying to cause a big Sensation, just talked about the role of Generation X

My job involves trying to sell health insurance (Medicare) to the Baby Boomers or Generation Y (our individual plans). My blog reading and research of these generations has caused me to think more about my own Generation X.

With regards to generational differences, I don't think there's anything too unique about it. Each generation starts out idealistic and prone to running around naked completely wasted, then moves onto raising families and careers while smoking the occasional joint, before moving on retirement, grandchildren, great prescription drugs, and contemplation (fueled by those great prescription drugs). There are key events that shape each generation through various phases. Some generational writers have much more eloquent terms than I do to describe it but essentially we go from casual to monogamy to Viagra.

Website like the Brazen Careerist (where I am a prolific guest columnist) and GenXconnect (which I just joined and we'll see how it goes) give on-line opportunities for generational battles. This post by Jamie Varon entitled "Does Generation Y Need to Grow Up" was the latest brush fire. Gen Yers brashly talked about how they'll be the change that they see in the world while Gen Xers used all our cynicism that we have earned to douse the flames. This got me thinking about what role I want to play in the generational blogosphere.

To get this out of the way, Generation Yers can be really annoying. I mean really annoying in that way that the freshman talks about what kind of medical school he'll attend and what kind of doctor they will be while you're just trying to pass Organic Chemistry. Annoying in the way that new person at work asks why someone hasn't fixed that process issue already that you have spent the year trying to scope, build consensus, and solve. But that's okay because they can be really insightful with all the possibilities that they see.

Generation X can be really cynical. Not just cynical but as bitter as some of the darkest roast coffee that you'll ever fine. Bitterness that just oozes out of pores like a facial. But that's okay, too. I like being a Gen Xer as I feel like a survivor. I always have a Plan B and Plan C ready to go and will not be surprised by corporate america, parents, or my favorite rock star again. I won't get fooled again.

I figured out my role with the Generation Wars doesn't have anything to do with generational perspectives. As a member of the older generation, I want to be a mentor. I'll work on my mentoring skills and reach out to the younger generation. I'll encourage and let Generation Y learn for themselves and they will learn. I'll try to make sure they don't leave enough rope to hang themselves. For example, whenever I see a post about how social medid defies the conventional notion of an ROI, I'll remind them about solid business principles and following the money. I'll tell stories, too, just to share and relate. Everyone like stories. Finally and most importantly, I'll give respect. I think that's what any younger generation craves and is not always given. If I am to be a decent mentor, I need to give respect regardless of the response.

Another important aspect of mentorship is to have an ally against the Boomers. Now that's the real Generation War that needs to be waged.

1 comment:

Dave Sohigian said...

Great post. I think your attitude of trying to build a bridge between the generations is admirable. When it comes to Generation X, I totally agree, we are cynical but practical. But the clear-eyed view you have of the generations is very important right now. The anger I hear so often expressed between generations (especially online) is counter-productive. We each have our role to play in society, and should embrace that role.
I have been writing a lot about generations on my blog at http://www.thegenxfiles.com. I would love to hear your feedback.

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