Generational Advantage

“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint” (Hesiod, 8th century BC)

Every generation worries/complains about the next.  Part of that is likely a result of the older generation having more experience and a different perspective when they view the younger group.  Maybe part of the compliant results from a natural trend toward social luxury and affluence.

But each generation has their characteristics and strengths.  We might even think that the general characteristics for each generation is influenced by the conditions during development, and so a result of our parents, whether intentional or accidental.

This graph from Wikipedia showing the birthrate in the USA per 1000 population, with the baby boomer births highlighted in red.  Although not the highest birthrate on the chart, earlier times in history experienced higher infant and child mortality rates.  So that the overall population impact was significant.  The size of the boomer generation created significant competition for that group, which greatly influenced their esperience.  The growing generation allowed for the Social Security plan based on a pyramid, where a continually increasing workforce can support the number of retirees.  They also demanded more homes, cares, good, and other goods to be produced brought which pumped up the economy.  If future generations diminish in size, and we need less stuff, that seems to have a significant drag on the economy these days.  We find the following generations face many challenges trying to achieve the same lifestyle and success as the baby boomer generations.


Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers combines the work of many researchers to show how success is highly influenced by our surrounding conditions.  One example given the is the phenomenon that many hockey players have birthdays in January and February because tryouts for kids in Canada have a 1 January cutoff, so the older kids have more development and strength to make the teams.   A second example discusses comparative success of Mort Janklow compared to his father;  given that both men were self motivated, entrepreneur type people, Gladwell attributes the son’s success to social conditions of his generation (being born in NYC in the 1930 during a birthrate drop).  The son had less competition in life, and fewer setbacks that the father experienced; such as the depression and participating in WWI.  This example shows how social context greatly influences the general experience for each generation.

Today’s Gen Xers and Gen Yers are struggling through the wake of the Baby Boomers success, and struggling to meet the expectations of previous generations in the workplace.

Generation Size in the USA (varies according to dates used):

These dates ranges listed below for these generations vary according to the source you check. 

  • Silent/Traditional Generation (20 yrs) – <50,000,000
  • Baby Boomers (18 yrs) – 76,000,000
  • Generation X (16 yrs) – 88,000,000
  • Generation Y (18 yrs) – <70,000,000


“The Silent Generation (Traditionalists) born 1925 through 1945, is the generation that includes those who were too young to join the service during World War II. Many had fathers who served in World War I. Generally recognized as the children of the Great Depression, this event during their formative years had a profound impact on them.” -Wikipedia

Common Characteristics:

  • Loyal
  • Hardworking
  • Submissive
  • Traditional

“A baby boomer is a person who was born during the demographic Post-World War II baby boom between the years 1946 and 1964, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The term “baby boomer” is sometimes used in a cultural context.” -Wikipedia

Common Characteristics:

  • Work-Centric
  • Independent
  • Goal-Oriented
  • Competitive

Generation X (also known as the 13th Generation and the Baby Busters) is the generation generally defined as those born after the baby boom ended, from 1965 to 1981″ -Wikipedia

Common Characteristics:

  • Individualistic
  • Tech Savvy
  • Flexible
  • Values Work/Life Balance

“Generation Y, the Millennial Generation (or Millennials), Generation Next, Net Generation, Echo Boomers, describes the generation following Generation X from probably 1981 to 1999. As there are no precise dates for when the Millennial generation starts and ends, commentators have used birth dates ranging somewhere from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s (decade).” -Wikipedia

Common Characteristics:

  • Tech Savvy
  • Family-Centric
  • Achievement Oriented
  • Team Oriented
  • Attention Craving

There are a lot of articles discussing workplace issues relating to generations X and Y, use your favorite search engine to find ones that helps you for your cooperation needs.

Education Fundamentals – My Personal Truth

A variety of experiences and knowledge are combining in my world to help me understand and define my personal truth.  And it relates to our socialization and education to create positive impact on humanity.

Books – The following have helped create this understanding of how to create a positive impact on education and humanity:

  • How We Decide, by Jonah Lehr:  The explanation of how the brain naturally works, and the stories of personality changes as they relate to areas of the brain being affected by disease helps me understand the physical control of the brain in the way people think and behave.
  • All of the books by Malcolm Gladwell: give great insight into social behavior and influence.  Especially the book Outliers which analyzes successful people and how they achieved that success.
  • Don’t Shoot ….., by David M. Kennedy:  A documentary style book of the very effective programs ending violent crime in the inner cities.  The story demonstrates how both “good” and “bad” people want the same thing – no violent crime and how the social behavior is significantly influenced by the group expectations.
  • The Neighborhood Project, by David Sloan Wilson:  I will update when I finish the book, but it suggests ideas on how to improve the social welfare of impoverished neighborhoods.
  • Studies of middle-class and working-class families which show the group of learned characteristics that factor into a person’s level of success, such as those in the book Unequal Childhoods by Annette Lareau.
  • Biographies of our Founding Fathers: At the start of the United States, many scholars and experts were self taught by reading and experimenting.  Using science to understand cause and effect, action and reaction, they developed theories on farming, the weather, electricity, etc.  It’s inspiring to read how Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and others developed knowledge about the world and society around them without a governing mandate of public policies.

Examples – I love the concept to “Lead by Example”.  There are groups developing and testing ideas for improved education and humanity.

  • Mission Hill School in Boston: Is implementing a revolutionary teaching concept which will result in students who are independent, interested and personally responsible for their education, and empathetic towards others.  Sounds like an unrealistic ideal right?  You should watch the video in the link to the Humane Connection blog.

Ideas – As Zoe Weil recently said, we all have great ideas for improvement, we just need more people acting on them.

  • I relate to a lot of what Zoe Weil says/writes in her work for Humane Education.

Personal Experience – I grew up in a lower-middle class family in the SF-bay area suburbs, went to a CA state university for my bachelor’s degree, interned with different companies every summer, then started working for a well respected company in the Boston area.  When I came to work, I “had a good education”, but knew very little.  Working beside a group who is so extremely conscientious of their actions and behaviors, and intentional of their impact on work and the world, I learned more in the first few years at work compared to the 17 years (12+5) at school.  How can that be?  What was I doing, why did I waste so much time?

I think we learn from the group around  us, trying to match up with the average knowledge of the group.  The standard of expectation is elevated, and the resources/support will also be elevated.

All Together they tell us that we can improve our society, and we’re learning just how to do that.  The most effective methods are implemented into the culture in the way we treat children.

What ideas do you have for your neighborhood?