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.
I’ve been writing books since I was five years old. My first book was about a rabbit. I even illustrated it with my own drawings…then sold it to my grandma for a quarter. She said it was pretty good!
While at university, I wrote three self-published books that covered my rent and paid my groceries. It also gave me an opportunity to speak. These paper books only cost a buck to print but I re-sold them for as much as ten times that amount. I didn’t get rich, but that’s never been my goal. I wrote my first nationally published book at the tender age of 25. It was a best-seller in its field. In fact, it’s still selling thirty years later. To date, I’ve penned five published books and over a dozen digital works. I’m proud of each one.
But I’ve never penned a book like GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change and Who We Really Are. It’s a book like none of the rest. It’s in a different field of study (history, sociology, generational analysis). It’s penned for a different market. And it’s a book I’ve waited a lifetime to write.
Some books are like that
As I mention in the book’s credits, some books you write, and some books write you. GenTech is the latter. For decades I’ve written on generations, spoke about generations, interviewed people from different generations, studied generations and observed how generations, particularly my own, moved through history. After five and a half decades on the planet, I finally got the chance to share my ideas and insights. Someone finally believed in this work as much as I did (thank you, Morgan James Publishing).
It’s a book that emerges at just the right time
GenTech will be released in May 2020 and that’s a significant year. It’s the first of a new decade. It’s a year that mirrors perfect “20-20” vision. I also believe it will prove a year of unbelievable new technologies that will begin to reimagine, once again, how we work, play, worship, interact and live. These “hairy” technologies—holograms, artificial intelligence, robotics—will further transform our lives and take us down a new road to a place we can only imagine, but our children and grandchildren will inherit comfortably.
Consequently, GenTech is a book about Americans, our story and our times (and the technologies that influenced us since 1900). It’s a work that challenges assumptions and corrects ideas about generations. If you’ve grown weary, as I have, of generational boxes like “boomers,” “Xers,” “Millennials” and “Gen Z,” then you’ll appreciate GenTech. We are not generations that can be crammed into a box and labeled. We are not alphabet soup. In reality, we are generations wired by unique technologies that guided us in youth (between the ages of 10-25).
We are generations of technology. We are GenTech.
And that’s why I wrote this book.
It’s a story that needed to be told.
THE SPACE GENERATION (b. 1950-1970): The race for “space” (between the U.S.S.R. and U.S.) occurred in the late 1950s and 1960s.
The Soviets put the first satellite, man and woman in space. They performed the first space walk. America, however, quickly caught up and eventually claimed the biggest prize: putting a man on the moon (July 20, 1969).
Those born between 1950 and 1970 are known as the Space Generation. They have two waves: Star Trek (1950-1960) and Star Wars (1960-1970). They’re coming of age years are framed by tragedy: Apollo 1 explosion (February 21, 1967) and The Challenger tragedy (January 28, 1986).