Generational Quotes

“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”
-Thomas Jefferson

“We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or to make it the last.”
-John F. Kennedy

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”
-George Orwell

“The generations of men run on in the tide of time, but leave their destined lineaments permanent for ever and ever.”
-William Blake, Poet

“The dead might as well try to speak to the living as the old to the young.”
-Willa Cather, Author

December 13: St. Lucia Day

St Lucia Day is a festival on December 13 celebrating light that is celebrated in the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Swedish speaking parts of Finland.  The holiday honors St. Lucia who was an early Christian martyr and saint.  In early centuries, the Scandinavian countries celebrated the winter solstice and after converting to Christianity, they blended the solstice celebration of light with Christian traditions in the form of St. Lucia Day.

According to a common legend, Lucia was from Sicily around 300 AD and while she was from a wealthy family, after seeing an angel, she became a Christian, turned against marriage and her wealth and instead took a vow to remain a virgin after the St. Agatha tradition.  The Roman authorities ordered her to be forced into prostitution at a brothel, but the order could not be carried out when she became immovable and could not be removed.  They tried to kill her by fire, but she would not burn. She was killed by a sword blow to the neck. While there are no historical records recording her story, there are references to her in Roman documents and two churches were dedicated to her in the 8th century.

St. Lucia day is particularly important in Sweden when her day marks the beginning of the Christmas season. On this day virtually every home and community chooses a Lucia (traditionally the oldest girl in the family) who dresses in a white gown and wears a crown of candles in her hair while bringing coffee and traditional sweets to family members. She is accompanied by boys as attendants who also wear white and tall white paper cones on their heads.  Many communities have a church service on this day and children from the community participate in the ceremony.

Whats Currently Trending with Gen Y

TigerText is a smartphone application that allows the sender to set the time limit on a text, so that after the given amount of time the text will delete from the sender’s phone, the recipient’s phone, and the server. The purpose of the application is to remove all records of a text message you don’t want others to read; the messages also cannot be forwarded or copied. It is a popular application among teenagers for obvious gossiping purposes. However, it is also a great tool for business people needing to quickly and privately share confidential information.

Over the last couple of years, photobombing has become so widespread, that all generations, young and old, and even celebrities, politicians, and animals, are joining in the fun. Photobombing even has an entry in the Oxford Online dictionary and its own Wikipedia article! According to Wikipedia photobombing is “the act of inserting oneself into the field of view of a photograph, often in order to play a practical joke on the photographer or the subjects.” It has been growing in popularity since 2009, but has skyrocketd in popularity with the emergence of the infamous “Stingray photobomb” picture. Here is an interesting article written in The New Yorker about the infamous stingray picture and the emergence of the photobomb as widespread popular culture:

Time Magazine Cover Article The Me Me Me Generation: Millenials are lazy, entitles narcissists who still live with their parents: Why they’ll save us all”
The cover story for the May 20, 2013 issue of Time Magazine highlighted important mixed attitudes towards the Millennial (or Gen Y) generation.  The article claims through scientific data that Gen Y is the most narcissistic generation to have ever lived, and concludes by saying that their narcissism has led them to be optimistic, accepting of differences, and entrepreneurial individuals with much to offer with the right guidance.  As one would expect, Gen Y has turned to social media and blogging to counter the article with sites such as:

Generational Quick Tip: Being Marketable

Each generation has different ideas about what makes them marketable and how to keep themselves competitive in an ever-changing workforce. As the youngest generation, Gen Y leverages their knowledge of current and cutting edge technology, their innovative spirit, and utilizes opportunities for training and mentoring as a way to gain workplace skills that may compensate for their lack of experience.  Generation X relies on their technological acuity and business savvy to stay marketable. They also believe that their self-sufficiency and success in completing important assignments independently is a testament to their experience and value in the workplace. Baby Boomers may not have the same technological savvy as the other two generations, but they have experience and seniority. Along with establishing themselves in mentoring and leadership roles, they believe that maintaining a network of important and valuable business connections will help them to stay marketable in their field of work.

Action Step:
Stay marketable by exchanging knowledge with colleagues from different generations and learning from their skill sets and unique expertise.

Cultural Quick Tip: Cross-Pollinate to Spark Innovation

Flowers are part of a  delicate and intricately balanced ecosystem and they rely upon symbiotic relationships with pollinator animals to survive and evolve. Only a small amount of pollination occurs through self-pollination. Most flowers rely on animals, such as hummingbirds, bees, and bats, to communicate between the flowers, facilitate growth, share genetics and create new variations. These pollinators have the essential role of helping different plants, plant strains, and even plant species to interact successfully. Similarly, within companies and teams, employees have the important role of sharing ideas between groups, departments and teams. This ‘cross-pollination’ of ideas helps to unlock the inherent creativity and innovation that lies within a company, but may need a spark from another source to bring it to life.

Action Step:
Help spark the cross-pollination of ideas in your company by inviting a colleague from a different department to lunch.

Significant People of a Generation: Gen Y – Jackie Joyner-Kersee

“Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.”-Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Most Millennials, Gen X, and Baby-Boomers remember watching the amazing career of track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee as she excelled in the Summer Olympics of 1984, 1988, 1992, and 1996. A striking 5’ 10” and pure muscle, she was a vision of athletic prestige and power. She became an icon to the young women and men of the Millennial generation, who grew up watching as her astounding accomplishments unfolded and she broke the barrier for women and African Americans the world over.

Jacqueline Joyner was born March 3, 1962, in East St. Louis, Illinois.  As a high-school student, Joyner-Kersee was very talented at track, basketball, and volleyball. However, she excelled in track and field and in her junior year, set the Illinois high-school record for long jump. She attended UCLA on a full scholarship and began serious training for the Olympic heptathlon at the age of 19. The women’s heptathlon consists of seven track and field events: 100 meter hurdles; high jump; shot put; 200 meter run; long jump; javelin; and 800 meter run. At her Olympic debut in 1984, she won the silver medal in this event. In 1986, Jackie Joyner married her long-time track coach Bob Kersee.

At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea, Joyner-Kersee won gold for the heptathlon and successfully set the world record for the women’s heptathlon. Her score of 7, 219 points still holds as the world and Olympic record today. The same year, she also won a gold medal in long jump. During the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, she again won the gold medal for the women’s heptathlon. During her whole career, she won a total of: 3 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze Olympic medals, as well as 5 gold World Championship medals and 1 gold Pan American Games medal.  She has been named the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated for Women.

After pulling a hamstring in the 1996 Summer Olympics, Joyner-Kersee’s career as an Olympic athlete was over. However, at the 1998 Goodwill Games, she had a brief comeback and won the heptathlon. In 2000, after placing 6th on the women’s Olympic long jump trials, she declared her retirement from track and field.  In 2007, Jackie Joyner-Kersee founded the philanthropic Athletes for Hope Foundation, along with other famous athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, and Andre Agassi. The foundation encourages and aids professional athletes in being active in charitable work, as well as inspiring non-athlete members of the community to support and volunteer for sports.

Generational Quick Tip: Defining Diversity in the Workplace

Each generation in the workforce has different ideas about what diversity means to them. These definitions are influenced by: 1) the context in which each individual person was raised and 2) their experience with the field of diversity as it has developed overtime in the workplace. For older generations working in the 1960s -1970s, such as traditionalists and baby-boomers, diversity in the workplace began predominantly with affirmative action and equal opportunity programs that dealt with discrimination complaints and lawsuits after the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As Generation X was entering the workforce in the 1980s and 1990s, equal opportunity initiatives were expanded into diversity departments.  This focus on diversity was driven by the increasing number of number of African-Americans, Asians, Latinos, Women, and Asians in the workforce and employer’s desire to create a workforce that reflected the changes the demographics of the US.  Today, Generation Y is being introduced to a highly diverse and global workforce that focuses on increasing diversity, as well as leveraging diversity to create inclusive work environments.

Action Step:
Be very clear about how you define diversity at your company because each generation may have a different experience of what diversity in the workplace means to them.

Significant People of a Generation: Muhammad Ali

During the height of his career through the 1960s and 1970s, Muhammad Ali was (and remains) an iconic figure and sports legend.  For the Baby-Boomers coming of age at this time, Muhammad Ali was both a hero and a controversial figure, whose actions and fearless bravado voiced the opinions of many of their generation.

Ali was born to the name Cassius Clay on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, KY.  At the age of 12, he started boxing after thieves stole his bicycle and he wanted to learn the skills to “whoop” them.  At only 18 years old, he won the Light Heavyweight Gold Medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. In his 1975 biography, Ali claims that shortly after receiving the medal, he threw it into the Ohio River after he was refused service at a “whites-only” restaurant.  In 1964, Clay fought Sonny Liston to earn the title of Heavyweight Champion, as the youngest boxer to claim the title. In the same year, Clay converted to Nation of Islam, a religious and political movement aimed to improve the condition of African Americans, and was renamed Muhammad Ali.  For many in the mainstream community, the change made Ali a controversial figure, as Nation of Islam was associated with Malcolm X and the Black Power movements and was often looked at with suspicion and hostility. Ali was very vocal about his beliefs, at times promoting separatist ideas that were considered to be radical.

In 1966, Ali was informed that he was eligible to be drafted for the Vietnam War. Famously, Ali declared that he would refuse to serve, saying he was a conscientious objector because it was against his religion to fight a war that was not in the name of Allah. Muhammad Ali faced criticism from many for being unpatriotic and was charged with draft eviction. However, he also had support from many as a figure for the peace movement that had been growing in the US since 1964. While on trial for draft eviction, Ali famously explained his reason for opposing the war: “Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong.” It was a reason that resonated with many Baby-Boomers who felt that the war was an abuse of government authority. He was stripped of his heavyweight title and exiled from the boxing community for 5 years. During this time, he spoke at peace rallies at colleges and schools in favor of ending the Vietnam War.

With his return to boxing in 1970, Muhammad Ali came back with increased swagger and boasting to reclaim his title. In 1974, Ali fought George Foreman in the epic  “Rumble in the Jungle Fight” where Ali, projected as the underdog, reclaimed the heavyweight title. He used his “Rope-a-Dope” technique to tire Foreman out before finishing him with a heavy rain of blows. This fight was followed by the famous 1975 “Thrilla in Manila” fight against Joe Frazier, where Ali, after 14 grueling rounds of fighting, was again victorious. This time the fight was a close call and both fighters were in very poor shape by the end of the fight. The fight has been marked as one of the Top 5 Sporting Events of the 20th Century and was viewed by 700 million people worldwide.

During the height of his career, Muhammad Ali was also prevalent in the mainstream media. He appeared in commercials and did many interviews, offering his opinions loudly and without shame, claiming he was “the greatest.” Although he was a controversial figure, many Baby-Boomers of very different backgrounds could agree that he was a hero and a champion.  He was supported and revered by the peace movement; by African-Americans who aligned with his beliefs or those who were proud of his example; by the white population that shared his beliefs or valued him greatly as a sports hero and public personality. Many of his ideas challenged the ideas of the mainstream, which resonated with many Baby-Boomers who were seeking to overturn and progress government institutions and laws.

Muhammad Ali officially retired from boxing in 1981. In 1984, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He would go on to open the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. He has continued to engage in many philanthropic pursuits, such as in 1991 when he met with Saddam Hussein to negotiate the release of American hostages and his 2001 peace talks in Afghanistan. In 1996 Ali famously lit the giant Olympic torch in Atlanta to kick off the start of the Summer Olympic Games.  He currently resides with his family in Arizona.

Cultural Statistics

Limited English Proficient Population of the USA:

  • In 2011, there were 25.3 million Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals, both foreign-born and US-born, residing in the United States
  • Over the past 20 years, the LEP share of the total US population has grown from close to 6 percent in 1990 to about 9 percent in 2011
  • The total number of LEP individuals has grown by 81 percent since 1990
  • Although most LEP individuals are foreign born, a sizable share (about 19 percent, or 4.8 million) of this population is native born

Source: Migration Policy Institute (

African Immigrants in the United States:

  • Almost half of the African foreign born in the United States have arrived since 2000.
  • The top countries of origin for African immigrants are Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, and Kenya.
  • From 2001 to 2010, African nationals accounted for 28.4 percent of refugee arrivals and 21.2 percent of persons granted asylum.
  • Over one-third of all African immigrants reside in New York, California, Texas, and Maryland.

Source: Migration Policy Institute (

Gay Marriage Around the World
Countries that allow gay marriage: Argentina (2010), Belgium (2003), Brazil (2013), Canada (2005), Denmark (2012), England/Wales (2013), France (2013), Iceland (2010), The Netherlands (2000), New Zealand (2013), Norway (2009), Portugal (2010), South Africa (2006), Spain (2005), Sweden (2009), Uruguay (2013)

Countries where some jurisdictions allow gay marriage: Mexico (2009), USA (2003)

Source: Pew Research Forum (

Generational Quick Tip: Work Environment

Each generation brings a unique cultural background to the workplace that impacts the type of work environment they prefer. These preferences may be impacted by their views on authority, informality/formality, leadership, etc. The Baby-Boomers desire a “flat” organizational hierarchy where a democratic approach to feedback and opportunity is desired, which is different from their Traditionalist predecessors, who preferred hierarchical organizations and chain-of-command. Baby-Boomers also want to create a warm and friendly atmosphere, though do not confuse the  Boomers friendliness with informality, as they stick to more traditional views on formality in communication and dress. Both Gen X and Gen Y agree that the workplace should be a positive, fun, and informal environment. Gen X greatly values efficient and fast-paced environments, where there is easy access to information and ability to work independently. Gen Y enjoys diverse and highly creative work environments that provide many opportunities for collaboration and advancement through training and learning.

Action Step:
Ask a colleague what aspect of their current work environment is most important to them in regard to getting their work done quickly and efficiently.

Significant Events of a Generation: Baby Boomer – The Vietnam War and Draft

“Hell no, we won’t go!”: a common slogan for the anti-Vietnam War movement

The Vietnam War occurred from November 1, 1955 – April 30, 1975 and took place in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. On one side of the war was the Vietnam People’s Army (Viet Minh) of North Vietnam backed by communist China and supported in South Vietnam by the guerrilla efforts of the communist Viet Cong. The opposing allies of the war were composed of the Republic of Vietnam (the democratic government of Southern Vietnam) France and the United States. The United States joined the war to prevent communist takeover in South Vietnam because they believed it would lead to the communism throughout the region, a strategy known as containment.

In 1955, President Eisenhower deployed the first American troops for military assistance to South Vietnam. The deployment was in response to North Vietnam ignoring the 1954 Geneva Conference decision to hold national elections in 1956 for the reunification of Vietnam. Instead the Viet Minh began training and mobilizing troops to overtake Southern Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Over the course of 20 years, the war would claim the lives of almost 2 million Vietnamese on both sides of the war including heavy civilian losses.

During the war, over 58,209 American soldiers were killed and 303,704 were wounded. At the time, the Baby-Boomer generation was entering young adulthood and many of the young men born between 1944-1956 faced the threat of being drafted into the war. Officially, the draft of the Vietnam era lasted from 1969-1973 and was from a pool of approximately 27 million young men. The draft raised 2,215,000 men for military service (in the U.S., Vietnam, West Germany, and elsewhere) during the Vietnam era.

The draft also raised widespread anti-war movements across the United States, particularly after people became aware of the failure of the 1968 Tet Offensive. College campuses and major cities such as New York, Washington D.C., Oakland, and Berkeley exploded with protest movements. Selective Services reported that a total of 206,000 persons were reported as conscientious objectors or delinquent for dodging the draft. The number of draft resisters was so great, that they eventually outnumbered the actual draftees, rendering the draft ineffectual.

During the early 1970s-1975, the Nixon administration sought means to end American involvement in the war due to the rising anti-war tension of Americans at home and at war. His administration adopted a policy of Vietnamization, the process of training Southern Vietnamese forces and aiding them with fire power, as well as beginning peace talks with North Korea.  Despite protests by South Korea, the last American troops pulled out of Vietnam by 1974 and on April 30, 1975, the capital of South Korea, Saigon, fell to North Korea. In 1977 after the war, President Carter granted general amnesty to all those men charged with dodging the draft.

Whats Currently Trending With Gen Y

MSN Now is a wonderful site that is real-time tracking of trends on the internet at they occur. The site, which acts like a super-search engine across all the major social media platforms and search engines, compiles a list of updates that automatically updates in real-time as trends occur. The Biggest Movers section gives up to the minute accounts of what the top ten search keywords that are trending. If you want to be in the know in real-time, MSN Now is a great site for tracking the internet’s activity.

Mary Kay Virtual Makeover App
Gen Y loves to be able to customize the looks of friends and celebrities (Beyonce is a favorite) with endless combinations of eye makeup, lip colors, hairstyles, hair colors, accessories and more. Users of this free app can choose a photo from their library, take a picture from their mobile device or select from a variety of models. Gen Y particularly loves sharing their new looks with friends on facebook and twitter.

Cultural Quick Tip: Tell Stories to Build Strong Communities

Across the globe, cave drawings thousands of years old have preserved the remnants of ancient civilizations. While the drawings may be scattered over great distances and originate from different cultures, they all have one aspect in common: they tell stories.  The drawings recount stories about successes, hunts, trials and daily life. Storytelling is at the heart of what makes us human and is a universal tool used by groups of people to explain who they are and the experiences that shaped their history. While we might not use cave drawings anymore, we still use storytelling to capture collective histories and lessons learned. On our work teams, we use stories of past successes and failures to improve our current and future work plans and also to strengthen our sense of community. As work teams become more diverse, the team’s stories will evolve to include new perspectives.

Action Step:
Share team and company stories with new employees to help them get adjusted more quickly and to feel like a welcome addition to the group.

Cultural Quick Tip: Assess Your Communication Style

The alphorn is a musical instrument that originated in the Alps and was used as a European communication system. It was developed in response to the natural geographic barriers that inhibited communication between the small villages scattered throughout the Alpine valleys and hillsides. Hundreds of years ago when it was created, the alphorn was a cutting edge innovation that fostered greater communication across longer distances. While outdated today, the Swiss still learn and play the alphorn for music and as a form of maintaining their cultural traditions. Just as technologies for communicating across distance have evolved, so have communication techniques between people. When communicating with others, particularly people from other countries, it is important to recognize when your communication style has become outdated and when it is time to upgrade to a new technique.

Action Step:
Assess which communication method would be the most effective for your intended audience before communicating.

Cultural Statistics

Percent of People Speaking Languages In Massachusetts in 2010

  • English – 78.9%
  • Spanish – 35.6%
  • Portuguese – 14.1%
  • French – 5.2%
  • Chinese – 5.2%
  • French Creole – 4.2%
  • Italian – 3.4%
  • Russian – 2.9%
  • Vietnamese – 2.7%
  • Greek – 1.9%

Source: American Community Survey

Marriage in the US:

  • In 2010 15% of all new marriages were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another
  • In 1980 6.7% of all new marriages were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another
  • Among all newlyweds in 2010, 9% of whites, 17% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics and 28% of Asians married outside their race or ethnicity
  • Between 2008 and 2010 22% of all newlyweds in Western states married someone of a different race or ethnicity, compared with 14% in the South, 13% in the Northeast and 11% in the Midwest

Source: Pew Social Trends (

Immigration Trends Around the World in 2010:

  • There were an estimated 216 million immigrants – people who live outside their country of origin
  • Europe had the most immigrants with approximately 70 million
  • North America was second with approximately 45 million immigrants
  • The most popular destinations for immigrants were the US, followed  by Russia and then Germany
  • Mexico had the most people who migrated to another country, with almost 12 million people leaving Mexico

Source: International Organization
for Migration (