Category Archives: Generations

Generational Quotes

“We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country.”
-Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father

“It is fortunate that each generation does not comprehend its own ignorance. We are thus enabled to call our ancestors barbarous.”
-Charles Dudley Warner, Author

“Coming generations will learn equality from poverty, and love from woes.”
-Khalil Gibran, Poet and Writer

“Back, you know, a few generations ago, people didn’t have a way to share information and express their opinions efficiently to a lot of people. But now they do. Right now, with social networks and other tools on the Internet, all of these 500 million people have a way to say what they’re thinking and have their voice be heard.”
-Mark Zuckerberg ,
Founder and CEO Facebook

“I think we may be seeing the beginnings of a resurgence of civic-mindedness in this country. Hopefully the younger generations, which came out in record numbers during the last presidential election, will pass their enthusiasm on to their children.”
-Sandra Day O’Connor,
Supreme Court Justice

Significant Events of a Generation: Million Man March

“We are standing in the place of those who couldn’t make it here today. We are standing on the blood of our ancestors.” –Louis Farrakhan

February is African American History month and so this month we are focusing on an event in history that has both a generational and African American connection.  On October 16, 1995 the Million Man March took place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  The event was intended to be a call for African American men from across the nation to gather together and draw attention to significant economic and political issues disproportionately affecting African Americans across the United States.  Organizers of the march were also hoping to redefine the public image of the African American male.  The march was the brainchild of Louis Farrakhan and was organized by the National African American Leadership Summit and the Nation of Islam as well as local chapters of the NAACP.

The march itself is an interesting event to examine from a generational perspective.  Louis Farrakhan, the main organizer, was born in 1933 and is a member of the Traditionalist generation, as were many of the other organizers.  Participants spanned all generations from Traditionalists to Gen Y.  The children that were brought along to the event were all members of Gen Y, as in 1995 the oldest members of Gen Y (1980 – 2000) were 15 years old and any child younger than that would have fallen within the Gen Y category.  Gen X (1965 – 1979) was solidly in their teens and 20s when the march took place – members of both generations no doubt both paid attention to news reports and participated in the march itself.  Older Gen X and Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964) were the adults and parents of the march, showing up in large numbers to support a cause they viewed as significant to both themselves and future generations.

The march began at 6 a.m., with busloads of attendees coming from all over the country. Community leaders, pastors, elected officials, and other public figures made up a long list of speakers who spoke powerful words to the crowd on the National Mall.  The agenda for the day included: voter registration, adoption, unemployment, poverty rates, law enforcement, education and health issues. The number of marchers was a topic of dispute, as organizers of the march claimed upwards of 800,000 and representatives of the National Parks Service claimed only 400,000 people showed up.  Regardless, even at its lowest estimate, the event was one of the top five largest events in terms of participants, to ever be held on the National Mall.

Certainly the Million Man March was a significant event in African American history and one that shaped the younger generations, Gen X and Y.  The year after the march took place there was an increase in black male voters in the 1996 presidential election, by over 1.7 million.  In addition, the march has inspired countless other “Million” marches such as: Million Worker March, Million Letter March, Million Mom Challenge and Million Hoodie March – to name a few.

Generational Quick Tip: Loyalty

Whether employees are loyal to the company, to leadership, to managers, or to colleagues is an attribute of their generational cultural filter and varies from generation to generation. In the workplace, employee loyalty can have a great impact on the overall company culture. Baby-boomers tend to be more loyal to their career and employers. Though they tend to challenge authority when it confronts their sense of morality, they will loyally dedicate very long business hours to the company in order to climb the corporate ladder. Generation X is loyal to their managers. Highly independent workers, Gen X appeal to managers for independent projects and assignments, as well as opportunities for flexibility, self-sufficiency, and entrepreneurship. On the other hand, Generation Y is loyal to their colleagues, particularly their Gen Y peers. They are very sociable, making many diverse workplace friends, and use their camaraderie as a support system while treading the daunting new world of corporate life. Having a better understanding about loyalty in the workplace may lend interesting and helpful insight into why a colleague of a certain generation is motivated to respond in a particular way.

Action Step:
Keep in mind generational differences about loyalty when working with colleagues on teams or across departments.

Cultural Statistics

Top Five Countries That Like American Ways of Doing Business:

  • Kenya
  • Senegal
  • Ghana
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa

Source: Pew Research Forum (http://www.pewforum.org)

Women and Statistics in the US

30.7 Million: Number of women aged 25 or older with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2010. Men were 29.2 million. 8.6 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 7.8 million people, and generating $1.3 trillion in sales as of 2013. Women-owned firms (50% or more) account for 30% of all privately held firms and contribute 14% of employment and 11% of revenues.

Source: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2010, US Census National Association of Women
Business Owners

April is Minority Health Month

Healthcare disparities impact millions of Americans. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality:

* About 30 percent of Hispanic and 20 percent of black Americans lack a usual source of health care compared with less than 16 percent of whites

* Hispanic children are nearly three times as likely as non-Hispanic white children to have no usual source of health care

* African Americans and Hispanic Americans are far more likely to rely on hospitals or clinics for their usual source of care than are white Americans (16% and 13%, respectively, v. 8%)

Find out more about healthcare disparities and how you can help to address this issue please visit:
•  National Minority Quality Forum –  www.nmqf.org

•  Office of Minority Health – http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov

•  Healthy People 2020 – www.healthypeople.gov

Whats Currently Trending with Gen Y

Study: Millennials and Employers Disagree on Path to Success
This study looks at the gap between recent college graduates perceived preparedness for the workplace and the actual preparedness/expectations of hiring companies. According to the article, there is a gap between what Gen Y is learning in college and what actually makes them ready to join the workforce.

Bloomberg Business Article “George Zimmer Isn’t the Only Reason Young People Don’t Shop at Men’s Wearhouse”
On June 19, 2013, The Men’s Wearhouse made waves when they fired their founder and spokesperson, George Zimmer, for differences in the company’s vision. Part of the “vision” issue was George Zimmer’s appearance itself, as well his well-known tagline “You’re gonna like the way you look; I guarantee it!”  According to the article, the company claimed that his “EveryDad” look and slogan are unmarketable to the younger generation.  However, the article also addresses that the downward trend noticed by suit manufacturers across the industry is due to the fact that Millennials will not “cotton to business suits the way older generations did.” For the Gen Y generation, there is a marked push in making casual Friday every day.

Matt Bors Gen Y Cartoon “Can We Stop Worrying About Millienials Yet?
This creative and humorous cartoon, written by Pulitzer prize finalist and Gen Y member Matt Bors, addresses the age old issue of society blaming the youngest generation for their problems.  It is a succinct and witty counter to the many articles written accusing Generation Y of a range of problems, including extreme narcissism, laziness, inability to socialize, tattoos, etc., which according to Bors, have been complaints launched against the youngest generation in society throughout human history.

Significant Events of a Generation: The 1986 Chernobyl Disaster

“For the first time ever, we have confronted in reality the sinister power of uncontrolled nuclear energy.”
-Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986

Today as we face the challenge of finding alternative energy resources, increasing reliance on nuclear power remains a viable, though controversial, option. People spanning all generations have a vested interest in the question of nuclear power because nuclear power has immediate benefits, while nuclear disaster can cause long-term and persistent contamination for generations to come. Gen Xers, who were young adults during the 1970s and 1980s, witnessed several major nuclear power events that greatly impacted their views on nuclear power.

The most significant of these events was the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant meltdown in the Ukraine. It is considered (along with the latest 2011 Fukushima disaster) to be the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Power Plant, which was under the jurisdiction of the U.S.S.R., experienced a sudden unexpected power surge, leading the reactor vessel to rupture and a fire to break out. The fire sent a huge cloud into the atmosphere, which spread highly radioactive material across the Ukraine, Belarus, the U.S.S.R. and most of Western Europe. 30 workers at the power plant were killed and over 130 others in the immediate area were diagnosed with acute radiation poisoning over the next couple of weeks. Over 115,000 people were immediately evacuated from the nearby area and in the following year, another 220,000 people were relocated from the surrounding areas of the Ukraine, Belarus, and the U.S.S.R.

In the immediate aftermath, the U.S.S.R. concealed the seriousness of the disaster. It was not until April 28, 4 days after the incident, that nuclear power plant workers in Sweden discovered radioactive particles on their clothing. They deduced that the radioactive material did not come from a leak in their own plant and alerted the rest of Europe and the world to the grave impact of the accident. The accident released 400 times more radioactive fallout than Hiroshima, and covered an area of almost 3,930,000 sq. miles with varying degrees of radioactive fallout in each European country, depending on the weather.

The entirety of the long-term environmental and health consequences of the disaster still is not known.  Due to the radioactive cloud, hazardous material was spread into surrounding water systems, soil, and air. The city of Gomel in Belarus, relatively close to the site of the accident, was reported to have heavy, black rain fall from the radioactive cloud.  Many plants and animals in the surrounding areas either died, became infertile, or produced grossly malformed offspring. To this day, wild boar in Bavaria , Germany, that eat the contaminated topsoil mushrooms, show highly increased levels of radioactivity, so much so that Germany refuses the meat of thousands of hunted boars per year due to radiation levels unsafe for human consumption.

Likewise, scientists are still discovering the long-term health effects in humans. According to UNSCEAR, up to the year 2005 more than 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer were reported in children and adolescents exposed at the time of the accident, a number that is expected to increase. Studies suggest that even low doses of the ionized radiation produced at Chernobyl may have lead to increased cases of cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and varying forms of cancer, particularly leukemia. However, determining finite statistics is difficult because results must be estimated over a very long period of time and must use information and projections from the studies of atomic bomb survivors and other highly exposed populations, which is not the same as long-term exposure.

The lasting environmental and health effects of Chernobyl remain to be seen and probably will continue to impact generations to come. The impact on society, particularly on young Generation X, has resulted in widespread distrust and disillusionment of nuclear power. Only now, as global warming comes to the forefront of environmental concerns, is nuclear energy being re-considered by environmentalists and scientists as a viable economic option for a clean energy source. However, for those victims directly impacted by Chernobyl, those whose environment is still impacted by lingering radioactive waste, and those were alive to witness Chernobyl, the negative stigma and memory will not be easily eradicated.

Significant People of a Generation: Baby Boomers – Meryl Streep

   “Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.” – Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep is considered to be one of the most talented and beloved actresses in the world. A member of the Baby-Boomer generation, she has been the quintessential Hollywood dame for nearly 35 years since she first gained prominence in 1978.  She is known for her incredible versatility, ability to immerse herself into roles, and great mastery of difficult accents.  Many of her iconic roles, such as Linda in the Vietnam War movie The Deer Hunter, express the attitudes and trials of her Boomer generation, who matured into adulthood watching her films.

On June 22, 1949, Meryl Streep (née Mary Louise Streep) was born in Summit, New Jersey. Her mother was a commercial artist and her father was a pharmaceutical executive. Streep was raised in Bernardsville, NJ, along with her two brothers. She attended Bernards High School, where she was a cheerleader, choir and drama club member, and was even voted Homecoming Queen senior year.  Streep went on to receive her B.A. in Drama from Vassar College in 1971 and her M.F.A. at the Yale School of Drama.

During the early 1970s, Meryl Streep acted predominantly in theater, performing standard Shakespearean repertory and starring on Broadway. Her first film debut was in the movie Julia (1977), which she played a small, but important role. In 1978, she landed a supporting role in The Deer Hunter and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. During this time, she also met and married sculptor Don Gummer. They are still married and have four children together.

In 1979, Streep won her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the movie Kramer vs. Kramer, where she played opposite Dustin Hoffman.  Streep was again nominated for an Oscar for her role opposite Jeremy Irons in the French Lieutenant’s Woman in 1981. The following year, she wins another Oscar, this time for Best Actress, for her emotional role in the holocaust movie Sophie’s Choice, a movie that required Streep to speak in German, Polish, and also perfect a Polish-American accent.  Continuing steadily in her work, Streep has had a very prolific career starring in such iconic films as: Out of Africa (1985), The River Wild  (1994), The Bridges of Madison County (1995), One True Thing (1998), Adaptation (2002), Angels in America (2003), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Doubt (2008), Julie & Julia (2009), and The Iron Lady (2011).

Streep won her 3rd Oscar in 2011 for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, making her one of only six actors in film history to win three Oscars. Over the course of her career, Streep has been nominated for 17 Academy Awards and holds the record for the highest number of nominations for any actor.  Including other awards, such as BAFTA, Emmy, and Tony Awards, Streep has won 112 total and been nominated 215 times. She has honorary Doctorate degrees  from Yale, Harvard, Princeton,  and won the Life Achievement Award in 2004 from the American Film Institute. In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded her the National Medal for the Arts.  At age 64, Streep still has very active career, which is unique for women over 60. She is set to appear in two films in 2013 and a production of Into the Woods in 2014.

Significant People of a Generation: Joesph McCarthy and The McCarthy Era

“The junior senator from Wisconsin, by his reckless charges, has so preyed upon the fears and hatreds and prejudices of the American people that he has started a prairie fire which neither he nor anyone else may be able to control.”
-Senator J. William. Fullbright

When most people today remember the Cold War, they think of the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  However, the Cold War had a presence in the United States well before these events. Though it may come as a surprise, the majority of Baby-Boomers (born 1946-1964) were born into a world where the Cold War was already in full engagement, starting with events such as the 1948 Berlin Blockade and the 1950 Korean War. The “Red Scare,” a fear that was reflected in the McCarthy Investigations and Hearings during the early 1950s, surrounded their young lives.

Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin was elected into office in 1946 and had a relatively uncontroversial tenure, until his 1950 Wheeler speech. During the Wheeler speech, which gained McCarthy notoriety and fame, McCarthy claimed to possess a confirmed list of known Communist spies working at the State Department. McCarthy was called to the Tydings Committee hearing later the same month to give supportive evidence to his claim. During the hearings, McCarthy gave little to no evidence and made many slanderous and vicious verbal attacks against several supposed Communists on the list. Though the committee concluded that McCarthy’s list was fraudulent, his outrageous demagoguery had ruined the careers of several people. He had also garnered a strong national support, typically along partisan lines, driven by the fear of Communism.

After the committee, McCarthy continued his attack campaign with full fervor, claiming that the Truman administration was failing to deal with subversive Communists in its ranks. His national support continued to grow, particularly within the Republican Party. McCarthy campaigned for several Republican Senators during this time, and successfully helped them to win their campaigns by making false accusations that their opponents were “Communist sympathizers.” It was clear that underhanded campaign tactics and the fear of Communism made successful political allies for McCarthy, and amongst his fellow Senators, he began to be treated with deference and fear.

In 1952, McCarthy was re-elected to the Senate and was made chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He commissioned Roy Cohn and Robert F. Kennedy as counsels, and used the committee to investigate communists in the government. He investigated the Voices of America, a United States Information agency, making wild accusations on television in front of the press that destroyed the careers of many innocent people. One engineer even committed suicide. McCarthy then turned the International Information Angency international library program, demanding the removal of inappropriate Communist reading material (those books on the subject of Communism or authored by known and supposed Communists). The State Department complied with these requests and some of the libraries even had book burnings for the forbidden material. In response to these book burnings and in defiance of McCarthy, President Eisenhower implored Americans: “Don’t join the book burners … Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book.”

In 1953, McCarthy turned his investigation on the United States Army. In an ill-fated move, McCarthy summoned General Zwicker to a hearing for promoting supposed Communist sympathizer Irvin Pressing to the rank of General. During the hearing McCarthy verbal assaulted Zwicker, a decorated hero of World War II, resulting in an angry response of the Army, newspapers, and civilians. In retaliation, the U.S. Army accused McCarthy and Roy Cohn of using their political power to pressure the Army into give a personal friend, Private G. David Schine, preferential treatment.

The Army-McCarthy hearings began on April 22, 1954. They were led by McCarthy’s very own Subcommittee on Investigations, with Karl Mundt appointed as temporary chair of the committee. The hearings lasted for 36 days and were broadcasted on live T.V. While the hearings provided no evidence that McCarthy was guilty of coercion, they did change the opinion of many of the American audience that McCarthy was an aggressive, dishonest bully. According to a public opinion gallop pole, national support for McCarthy in March 1954 before the hearings had a Net Favorable Score of +10, where after April 1954 his Net score had dropped to -8. Many Democratic and Republican politicians, who had feared to speak up before, outwardly disapproved of McCarthy.

In December 1954, Senate hearings to “censure” and “condemn” McCarthy were held and passed by a significant majority vote.  Though McCarthy remained in office of the next 2.5 years, he was completely ignored by colleagues and the press; his outside speaking engagements were nearly empty. Essentially, his career was destroyed. He died May 2, 1957 of hepatitis that was believed to be the cause of heavy drinking. However, his legacy lives on in the term “McCarthyism, ”in the memories of those people adversely impacted by his witch-hunt, and in the young Baby-Boomer generation who learned from an early age to distrust the claims of dishonest politicians.

Cultural Quick Tip: Adapt to Encourage Growth

Humpback whales sing songs that can be up to 20 minutes long. While humans have not yet decoded what they are communicating with these songs, scientists have learned that the songs travel around the world from whale to whale. While the songs are distinctly recognizable, each whale adds its own interpretation to the song, essentially doing a cover version of the humpback Top 40 hits. Whales possess the ability to adapt what they hear and then make it their own. Adaptive communication is a skill that is also critical to organizational growth. Keeping something the same just “because this is the way we have always done it” hinders an organization from innovating and progressing. Adaptation taps into employee skill sets and allows people to utilize their diversity to improve upon old ‘songs’, making a new version that supports growth.

Action Step:
Replace the phrase, “that’s not the way we do it” with “lets explore that idea” so that you can benefit from another point of view.

Generational Quick Tip: Skill Building

Each of the three generations has a different view on how important skill building is in developing a successful career. Baby-Boomers believe that amassing skills is important to success, but they feel that “face time” (time in the office building personal connections and networking) is way more important for establishing a secure career. Gen X is very interested in building their skills by taking on independent, challenging projects. They feel that skill building, more than work ethic, is important for advancement opportunities. For the youngest Gen Y generations, skill building in the form of training and various learning opportunities is a very welcome. Many Gen Yers feel most comfortable taking the role of student, as, for the most part, they are recently coming from being in school. They feel that skill building will help them to feel more confident in a workplace where they have the least experience.

Action Step:
With more and more experienced Baby-Boomers leaving the workforce for retirement, give opportunities for them to showcase specific skills and pass on their expertise by allowing them to run “What I’ve Learned” educational sessions where they offer advice and specific skill building knowledge to younger employees.

Generational Quick Tip: Leverage Innovation

Millenials or Gen Y employees have often been described as highly innovative and this is a trait that many companies are looking for when hiring this young group into the workforce. However, Gen Ys do not “have the market cornered” on innovation and it is important to understand that the entrepreneurial Gen Xers and the experienced, confident Baby-Boomers are also very important in driving innovative solutions. Multi-generational teams leverage the unique strengths and perspectives of each generation in a collaborative setting. They are an ideal way to get employees from different generations to get to know each other and to utilize the youthful creativity of Gen Y, the entrepreneurial spirit of Gen X, and the experience and big-picture understanding of Baby-Boomers to spark innovative ideas that are truly applicable to your business. When employees of different generations come together to brainstorm, the results can surpass the possibilities of any monotonous group of employees, as long as mutual respect is at the foundation of the interactions.

Action Step:
When working to spark innovative contributions from all of your employees, first assemble multi-generational teams to brain storm and then make sure that employees from all generations are asked to speak up and contribute their innovative ideas.

Important People/Significant Event of a Generation: Baby-Boomer

DNA Discovery – 1953

In April 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick published a scientific paper that presented for the first time the structure of DNA as a double-helix. The discovery was monumental in our understanding of the function of DNA and RNA and led to their receiving the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962.  For the young Baby-Boomers of the era, this information gave rise to a whole new era of molecular biology and genetics in which scientists could begin to manipulate genes for gene therapy, cloning, genetic modification, mapping the Human Genome Project, and many other discoveries that have come from the better understanding of DNA.

There were many discoveries prior to the discovery of the DNA double-helix structure that made this discovery possible. In 1866, Gregor Mendel became famous for his experiments with pea plants that proved that certain traits were inherited in particular patterns. This study of inherited traits was the foundation of genetics, though the significance of his work was not regarded until the 20th century.    In 1868, a Swiss phyisician named Friedrich Miescher isolated nucleic acid from the nuclei of cells. What he called “nuclein” turned out to be the “NA” (nucleic acid) portion of “DNA” (deoxyribo-nucleic-acid).

For a long time the connection between genes and DNA was not known, until American scientist Oswald Avery passed the nucleic acid from one harmful type of bacteria to a benign bacteria. The result was the benign bacteria not only became harmful, but also was able to pass down the trait of harmfulness. Therefore, the link between genes and nucleic acid was established!

Throughout the 1940s scientists were beginning to believe that this nucleic acid contained the building blocks of life and they even knew that it was comprised of the four A,T,G,C bases (adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine). What they did not know is how the molecule was actually structured and that the bases formed a pairing system.  Again, the full discovery was contributed to by many scientists, including Rosalind Franklins and Maurice Wilkins, who used X-ray diffraction to better see the molecules structure. Using these images and the 1949 discovery by Erwin Chargoff that the bases are organized in pairs, Watson and Crick were able to determine that the lengths of the bonded base pairs were exactly the same for A-T as for C-G. Therefore, they must be shaped like rungs on a ladder, where even if the helix was twisted, the phosphate backbone would remain smooth.

The structural discovery of Watson and Cricks was a breakthrough in showing how genetic material is copied and therefore passes from one generation to the next.  It showed that DNA could be “unzipped” up the center of the helix, copied, and closed again, to create  a completely new and identical sequence of DNA. The ability to copy and sequence DNA has given us much information on the traits for certain diseases and possible cures, and how we relate to other species on the most fundamental level.

Whats Currently Trending with Gen Y

TigerText
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.

Photobombing
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: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/10/a-few-words-about-the-stingray-photobomb.html

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.

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.