7.2. CONNECTING WITH GENERATION X

If they don't have gray hair but still wear collared shirts, chances are they're members of Generation X. Our age doesn't smell like teen spirit anymore; it smells like mortgages, bald spots, and varicose veins—and we don't like it. Our grunge bands were the hardest rockers since the 70s, and it's hard to see that chip on the shoulder be buffed out by the sands of time.

However, we're starting to run the show. We're in our mid-30s on up, and every time a Baby Boomer retires, one of us gets a corner office. Though we're tech savvy, technology doesn't suffuse every part of our lives. In fact, many of us are trying to find a boundary between work and play; unlike Millennials, we expect a divide.

For the first time in American history we earn, on average, less money than our parents did, which we did before making less money than your parents was cool. There is some definite overlap between Xs and Millennials: The rise of technology more or less defines us; we are confident and idealistic; we're snooty about coffee. But Xs are in a markedly different place in life right now. We now have families, established careers, and retirement goals.

You'll notice that none of the above qualities are very "grungy." Generation X isn't joined at the hip with values and ideals. There's wiggle room here, and despite witnessing the flattening of the world, we still envision ourselves as individuals, whereas Millennials tend to feel like they are parts of various movements. ...

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