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2008: The End Of The Boomer Reign

Since 2002, I have studied generational trends and I have long predicted the passage of the era when the Baby Boomers reigned supreme. In the course of my work, I’ve been accused of age discrimination, ignorance, arrogance, and simply being a Boomer-hater who just wants to push her elders out of the way.But as a former journalist, I’ve just been reporting the facts all the while and urging associations and businesses and non-profits to prepare for the exodus of our nation’s leaders.It’s just that people can get emotional about aging, and protective of tradition — all which is understandable.Nevertheless, I’ve been reading with great interest articles that predict 2008 will mark the final year of reign for the Baby Boomers, and it’s hard not to say ‘I told you so.’A CNN commentary by Marian Salzman, chief marketing officer and a partner at Porter Novelli Worldwide, states:

Since 2002, I have studied generational trends and I have long predicted the passage of the era when the Baby Boomers reigned supreme. In the course of my work, I’ve been accused of age discrimination, ignorance, arrogance, and simply being a Boomer-hater who just wants to push her elders out of the way.But as a former journalist, I’ve just been reporting the facts all the while and urging associations and businesses and non-profits to prepare for the exodus of our nation’s leaders.It’s just that people can get emotional about aging, and protective of tradition — all which is understandable.Nevertheless, I’ve been reading with great interest articles that predict 2008 will mark the final year of reign for the Baby Boomers, and it’s hard not to say ‘I told you so.’A CNN commentary by Marian Salzman, chief marketing officer and a partner at Porter Novelli Worldwide, states:

“Rarely has there been a year when so many things went out of style in such a short time: not just investment bankers, gas-guzzling vehicles, corporate jets, conspicuous consumption and political polarization, but also a whole generation. After strutting and tub-thumping and preening their way across the high ground of politics, media, culture and finance for 30 years, baby boomers have gone from top dogs to scapegoats in barely a year.”

Salzman says that ‘cuspers’ — those who straddle the divide between Boomers and Xers –have long lived in the shadow of the Boomers and will now be recognized as a generation in their own right because Obama’s election marks the rise of a new generation.An article in the Toronto Star points to the rise of the new generation in the White House, referring to it as a “new generational-tilt”. Michael Barone, senior writer for US News & World Report and principal co-author of The Almanac of American Politics, wrote:

“This is the third time in a century that we have seen such a generational change in the White House. … John Kennedy’s inauguration marked the departure of the World War II commanders who occupied the White House for 28 years; Bill Clinton’s the moving on of the GI generation after 32 years. Obama’s will mark the passing of the boomers after only 16.”

The Business Spectator reported in August 2008 that some of Australia’s biggest blue-chips responded to challenging circumstances by breaking with tradition and installing younger chief executives.The commentary states:

“Generation X has emerged in a far more volatile, dynamic and global environment than its predecessors. Those born in the mid-1960s and beyond take it for granted that their environment is both global and fluid. As a broad generalization, they appear more comfortable with uncertainty than those who grew up within far more regulated, stable and insular settings. …“Maybe that’s a generational thing. Or perhaps it is simply a coincidence that three major organizations, after considerable thought, chose to by-pass a generation and give massive responsibility to men might have been considered too young in other eras. …“Other boards developing succession plans will, however, look at the decisions taken by three blue-chip boards after highly structured and disciplined processes and ponder whether they, too, ought to expand their horizons and consider whether their younger talent might be more suited to the times.”

Like it or not, in 2009 a new generation will begin its ascent to power; a generation angered and battered by war, a plummeting economy, floundering government, and a polluted environment. A generation that has always lived in another’s shadow and is anxious to take the reigns and lead.And that’s not age discrimination — it’s reality.

Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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