Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Quote of the Week - 12/19/2007

"Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."

-- William Shakespeare

Monday, November 26, 2007

Retirement... Is It A Reality For Generation X?








According to a recent survey conducted by the Oppenheimer Funds, the following eye-opening findings were discovered about the American worker:

  • 62% say they live paycheck to paycheck.

  • 56% have an outstanding credit-card balance of $3,000 or more.

  • 62% of women say they have not bought any investment products ever.

  • 45% of women would buy 30 pairs of shoes before saving $30,000 in retirement assets.

  • 65% of women and 48% of men said they do not know how a mutual fund works.

  • Nearly 65% did not know that when interest rates go up bond prices typically go down.

  • 38% of women have not started saving for retirement.


Such statistics may seem appalling, but they are a reality for most, especially the student loan debt laden members of Generation X. Add to the equation regular credit card debt, the cost of home ownership, the ever increasing cost of health care, and all of the other financial surprises life tends to send our way, it is easy to see how the findings noted above are truly reality.

How can we improve our outlook for a secure financial future? I believe the process begins with education and the willingness to begin taking action now. While it is true that there are no guarantees in life, I do believe we have the ability to determine our own financial destinies. The key is to just begin. Start today by enrolling in your company's retirement plan or by opening a savings account.

Even the greatest journey begins with one step. Take that step today, so we can make positive change for our financial futures.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Real Men of Genius -- Philadelphia Sports Fan

Yet another great Philadelphia Sports Fan video...




Truthfully... haven't we earned the right to boo everything? I mean really, if our sports teams gave us something to cheer about, we would... but we get the 1-3 Philadelphia Eagles, the swept in the NLDS Philadelphia Phillies, the worst team in the NHL in 2006-2007 season Philadelphia Flyers, and the "let's trade away our best player (Allen Iverson)" and still suck Philadelphia 76'ers. Madness! This is why we boo everything, including Santa Claus.

The Life of a Philadelphia Sports Fan

This video tells the story perfectly...

The World In Only 7 Pictures




Have you ever wanted to try to sum up the world in a few photos? Think you could do it in only seven (7) pictures? Well someone has tried... and I think they did a great job. Check out this "The World In Only 7 Photos" site and let me know what you think.

Health Update For Philadelphia Eagles Fans

I am a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan... and I was one of the fans who truly thought that the Eagles would win the NFC East and was a lock to make the play-offs this year. Unfortunately at the week 5 bye week, my beloved birds are a unspectacular 1-3 (0-2 in the division with losses to both the Washington Redskins and the NY Giants). Brutal to say the least.

Now I am not one to hit someone when they are down (or on a bye week for that matter), but I think this particular news release is serious enough to warrant publication.

Important Safety Bulletin

The American Medical Association has announced a new national symbol for choking. Please inform all of the people in your safety department.


OLD SYMBOL



NEW SYMBOL


Sunday, September 16, 2007

My "3:10 to Yuma" Movie Review


As many of my close friends and family know, I am a huge movie buff. That's why when I was offered an opportunity to write a movie review for my local newspaper (The Reporter), I jumped at the chance.

The movie I recently reviewed was "3:10 to Yuma," starring Russell Crowe & Christian Bale. You can see my complete review here.

If you like my review, please let me know. Also, if you saw the movie, let me know what you thought about the film.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The State of Pennsylvania Bridges



Since the deadly Minnesota bridge collapse of I-35W back on August 1, 2007, which I wrote about here on my blog, I have been on a mission to find more information on the condition of the 25,000 state-owned bridges in Pennsylvania. What I have found out is disturbing and scary to say the least.

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) report on PA Bridges, Pennsylvania has the largest number of structurally deficient bridges in the nation – nearly 6,000 statewide. A structurally deficient bridge is defined as being safe, but in need of costly repairs or replacement to bring it up to current standards.

PennDOT does have in place what is calls an “aggressive” bridge inspection program that calls for regular inspections of all Pennsylvania bridges at least once every two years, with structurally deficient bridges being inspected more frequently if their condition warrants.

Does this inspection program make you feel safe while driving over a local bridge? I know that I personally say a prayer every time I cross a bridge in Pennsylvania now. Maybe it is because of the horrifying images I saw from the Minnesota bridge collapse that is causing my fear. However, when you look at the numbers, my fear may be justified.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bridge inspectors give each bridge a “sufficiency rating” rating on a 0-to-100 scale, using a formula that evaluates safety, serviceability, and how essential the bridge is. And they assign a condition rating for each of its three primary components (deck, superstructure and substructure) on a 0-to-9 scale (0 = failed [out of service and beyond corrective action], 1 = closed, 2 = critical, 3 = serious, 4 = poor, 5 = fair, 6 = satisfactory, and 7, 8, or 9 = good). A structurally deficient bridge is one for which the deck, superstructure or the substructures are rated in condition of 4 or less.

Minnesota’s I-35W bridge had a sufficiency rating of 50, a deck score of 5 (‘fair”), a superstructure score of 4 (“poor”), and a substructure score of 6 (“satisfactory”), as of the last Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) Bridge Inspection Report dated 06-15-2006. To date, the cause of this bridge collapse is still unknown.

According to the research conducted by Paul Nussbaum, Transportation Reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the eight-county Philadelphia region has 57 bridges that carry at least 25,000 vehicles daily and have ratings at least as low as the Minnesota I-35W bridge. Additional disturbing, yet eye-opening findings from Paul’s research include:


  • The worst local bridge, according to sufficiency and condition ratings, is the DeKalb Pike Bridge located in Bridgeport, PA. This bridge scores a sufficiency rating of 3 out of 100, a substructure rating of 2 (critical), and a superstructure and deck rating of 4 (poor) respectively. This bridge carries U.S. 202 over the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and remains open without weight limitations.


  • I-95 has more deficient bridges than any other highway in the region at 15. The Pennsylvania Turnpike has 7 bridges rated deficient and the Schuylkill Expressway has one bridge rated deficient.


  • Of the major Delaware River bridges in the region, only the Burlington-Bristol Bridge is rated structurally deficient.



For an interactive map of the bridges in the worst condition in the Philadelphia region, check out this tool provided by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Despite the engineering reports and the independent research that highlights the dire condition of Pennsylvania bridges, state officials continue to assert that the bridges remain safe. But Minnesota officials thought the same thing about the I-35W Bridge before it collapsed into the murky Mississippi River. And that bridge was rated significantly higher across the board that most of Pennsylvania’s bridges.

Pennsylvania has at least acknowledged the troubled state of its transportation infrastructure. According to PennDOT, Pennsylvania has made significant investments to improve bridge and highway infrastructure in the state. Last year alone, PennDOT invested $558 million in 894 bridge projects statewide, with $425 million of this budget being devoted to the rehabilitation and replacement of structurally deficient bridges.

Clearly, Pennsylvania has taken a step in the right direction, to ensure the safety of our bridges. But because the state currently has such a large amount of structurally deficient bridges, it will take decades to complete them all. This means that, in the interim, we must take our chances driving over the nation’s worst bridges daily. Comforting isn’t it?

Let me know what you think of the state of Pennsylvania’s bridges by leaving me a comment.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Vacation at Ocean City, Maryland


My family and I are off to Ocean City, Maryland for a week of sun and fun. We have been going down to O.C. MD for several years now and we love it. If you haven’t ever been there, I highly suggest taking a trip down to check it out.

The island and the surrounding communities offer so much to do that you could never fit it all into just one week of vacation (believe me… my family and I have tried). But you definitely would have fun trying.

Here is a list of some of my favorite things to do while at Ocean City, MD:


  • Enjoying some fun in the sun on the beautiful beaches.


  • Hitting the spectacular boardwalk to enjoy the amusements, games and awesome food.


  • Doing some salt water fishing and crabbing.


  • Playing golf on one of the wide variety of challenging courses available to play.

  • My two favorite courses are: The Links at Lighthouse Sound and Rum Pointe Seaside Golf Links.

  • Exploring Assateague Island (just outside of Ocean City, Maryland), where you can enjoy hiking nature trails, crabbing and clamming on the bay, camping on the beach, hunting for sea shells, or just watching the wild ponies and other wildlife that roam free on the island.


  • Have fun and make memories that will last a lifetime.


  • As you can see, Ocean City, Maryland has a lot to offer. For a more detailed list of things to do at O.C. MD click here.

If you have ever been to Ocean City, Maryland, let me know what you thought about it by leaving me a comment.

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME PSU FOOTBALL?

As many of you already know, I am a huge Penn State Nittany Lions football fan. And as fate would have it, the 2007 seasons is upon us, with the Lions opening their season at home against Florida International on 9/1/07. Click here for the Nittany Lion’s complete 2007 schedule.

This season features some incredible match ups with highly ranked Big Ten divisional opponents (Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State) and of course the big game against Notre Dame. It should be another exciting season ahead. GO STATE!

In order to get even more pumped up for the start of the 2007 season, check out the Prelude video attached below:

Monday, August 13, 2007

Generation X Office Lingo

This is an "oldie but goodie" that I thought I'd bring back. Enjoy!

Blamestorming - sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed and who was responsible.

Body Nazis - hard-core exercises and weight-lifting fanatics who look down on anyone who doesn't work out obsessively.

Chainsaw Consultant - an outside expert brought in to reduce the employee headcount, leaving the top brass with clean hands.

Cube Farm - an office filled with cubicles.

Ego Surfing - scanning the Net, databases, print media, and so on, looking for references to one's own name.

Elvis Year - the peak year of somethings popularity.

404 - someone who is clueless (from the World Wide Web error message "404 Not Found," meaning the requested document couldn't be located).

Idea Hamsters - people who always seem to have their idea
generators running.

Mouse Potato - the on-line generation's answer to the couch potato.

Ohnosecond - that minuscule fraction of time in which you realize you've just made a big mistake.

Prairie Dogging - something loud happens in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.

SITCOM - stands for Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage.

Stress Puppy - a person who thrives on being stressed-out and whiny.

Tourists - those who take training classes just to take a vacation from their jobs.

Uninstalled - euphemism for being fired.

Xerox Subsidy - euphemism for swiping free photocopies from the workplace.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The State of US Infrastructure


The horrific bridge collapse that occurred in Minnesota this week is one of those unexplainable events that will change so many lives forever. My hopes and prayers go out to everyone affected by this accident, especially the friends and family of those killed. Words cannot describe the pain being felt today - Pain that will take a very long time to fade away.

The important question now being asked across America is “Are our nation’s bridges safe?” And the answer to that question is unsettling and down right scary. According to the most recent Infrastructure Report Card issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), our nation’s public infrastructure is in a crisis situation. For example, as of 2003, 27.1% of our nation’s bridges (160,570 in total) were classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete (ASCE, 2005).

A structurally deficient bridge is defined as a bridge that is closed or restricted to light vehicles because of its deteriorated structural components. While not necessarily unsafe, these bridges must have limits for both speed and weight (ASCE, 2005). A functionally obsolete bridge is defined as a bridge that has older design features and, while it is not unsafe for all vehicles, it cannot safely accommodate current traffic volumes, and vehicle sizes and weights (ASCE, 2005).

Bridges in our country are critical elements of our highway transportation system. Everyday, our nation’s vehicles cross bridges close to 4 billion times (Purdy, 2005). But it is now unfortunately clear that the infrastructure of our country is deteriorating – and at an alarming rate.

Up until the bridge collapse in Minnesota, most Americans were unaware of the extent of the problem. Even worse, it is currently impossible to get information about the structural rating of a specific bridge. In Pennsylvania, The Beaver County Times & Allegheny Times newspaper formally requested specific rankings of structurally deficient bridges on the area under the State’s Right to Know Law. However, this request was formally denied by the PA State Department of Transportation (PennDOT), saying the information requested was not a public record as defined by law.

I find it extremely unsettling that our government knows this information and yet still refuses to make it public. How many of the victims from Thursday’s horrific accident in Minnesota would have chosen a different route across the mighty Mississippi River had they know the 35W bridge was deemed structurally deficient? I find it almost criminal to not disclose this information.

Clearly, the way our government is running our great country (literally into the ground) needs to change. Increased funding is now an absolute necessity to improve our nation’s infrastructure. However, these improvements will not be cheap. According to the National Bridge Investment Analysis System (NBIAS), an investment of $54.7 billion will be needed to improve just the bridge deficiencies based on the year 2000 data. The annual cost to eliminate deficiencies is estimated to be $9.4 billion per year over the next 20 years. And this amount would only address current bridge deficiencies.

Now is the time for our country to band together and demand that our government stop wasting tax payer money on pork barrel items (like the bridge to know where in Alaska) and start truly focusing on our nation’s critical problems. American’s should not be subject to fear and anxiety when they have to cross a bridge in their own country. But unfortunately, the tragic events of August 2, 2007 have changed that state of mind forever. The time is now to make things right, so future generations of hard working Americans will not have to experience the paid of another infrastructure tragedy that could have been avoided.

Sources:

The ASCE Infrastructure Report Card 2005. http://www.asce.org/reportcard/2005.

Purdy, Diane, 2005. The Pennsylvania Local Roads Program: Condition of Bridges. Technical Information Sheet #119. University Park, PA.

Is Gen X Losing The American Dream?

The stock market continues to reach new highs almost daily. Unemployment rates are at or near their historic lows. The global economy continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down. Times are good right? Well maybe not.

For many in Generation X and now Generation Y (the Millennial Generation), this is a time of insecurity and anxiousness. Yes, economically speaking, times are good. But the economic boom has not benefited everyone in our country equally.

Generation X and Y are coming of age and growing up in a unique and unenviable position in America today:


  • Wages and wage growth have stagnated. According to many studies, wages aren’t even keeping up with inflation, let alone the skyrocketing costs of real estate, energy, child-care and healthcare. According to some experts, Generation X is now almost guaranteed to become the first generation in the history of our great country to be less well off than our parents.


  • Job security no longer exists. It used to be that you would graduate from college, go to work for a company for 30+ years and then retire with a defined pension and a gold watch. But those days are gone. Security no longer exists in the fast-paced global economy of today. The new economy requires constantly reinventing yourself and the never ending race for new opportunities. Not that having to constantly reinvent your self is a bad thing. I tend to like the idea of learning and doing something new. But the risks associated with this type of economy significantly outweigh the awards. We are being told to embrace the entrepreneurial risks of the new economy, but we do not experience the rewards usually associated with such risks. Unless you consider a 2%-4% annual pay raise a good risk/reward benefit.


  • We are burdened with staggering levels of personal debt. We are the first generation to start our “adult” lives with significant amounts of personal debt. According to Tamara Draut in her book “Strapped: Why America’s 20-and-30-somethings can’t get ahead,” college students today are graduating on average with close to $20,000 in student loan debt for a bachelors degree, $45,000 for a graduate degree, and $100,000 or more for a professional degree. In addition to student loan debt, the typical young American has an average credit card balance outstanding of $2,000-$3,000. Servicing such a large debt load, given the stagnant wage growth has become a nightmare.



Even with the deck stacked against us, we continue to work hard every day to achieve the American dream. Although the media has labeled us as “slackers” and “entitled,” we continue to shoot for the ever elusive American dream. It is a struggle to have to fight and claw your way to stay on track, especially when most of us are living paycheck to paycheck and are only one job loss or illness away from financial disaster. But that is the hand that we were dealt. So play the hand the best way you know how. You might surprise yourself and go “all-in” and end up a winner.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Gen X and Motivation

Here is a humorous look at Generation X's view of motivation at work:


Some Gen X Humor

Video: How Gen X Thinks About Work:


You Might Be A Gen X-er If...

I received an e-mail the other day with a great list for Gen X’ers. There was not an author listed, so I do not know who to give credit to for the list. But whoever it was, CUDOS! The list is awesome!

The list is a take off of the old “You Might Be a Redneck If…” tag line, but the “You Might Be a Redneck” has been replaced with “You Might Be a Generation X-er If…” tag line. I personally found the list to be extremely funny and it definitely brought back some wonderful childhood memories.

So take a look at the list below and let me know your thoughts. Also, if anyone has anything to add to the list, leave it as a comment so we can continue to build on the preexisting list.

YOU MIGHT BE A GENERATION X-ER IF…



  • You remember when Jordache jeans were cool.


  • In your fifth grade class picture, you’re wearing an Izod shirt with the collar up.


  • You’ve ever conversationally used the phrase “Jane, you ignorant slut.”


  • You know by heart, the words to any Weird Al Yankovic song.


  • You ever rang someone’s doorbell and said “Land shark.”


  • The words: “Atari,” “IntelliVision,” and “Coleco,” all sound familiar.


  • You remember the days when “safe sex” meant your parents are gone for the weekend.


  • You remember “Friday Night Videos” before the days of MTV.


  • You remember when MTV was really a music television station.


  • A predominant color in your childhood photos is “plaid.”


  • While in high school, you and all of your friends discussed elaborate plans to get together again at the end of the century and play “1999” by Prince over and over again.


  • On family trips, before the invention of the minivan, you rode in the back of the station wagon and you faced the cars behind you.


  • You watched HR Puffenstuff as a child, but now that you’re older, you really understand that it would have been much better had you known about drugs at the time.


  • Schoolhouse Rock played a HUGE part in how you actually learned the English language.


  • You ever dressed and/or had a hairstyle to emulate a person you saw in a Duran Duran, Madonna, or Cyndi Lauper video.


  • You remember when Hooters was a rock band, not a restaurant.


  • The first time you ever kissed someone at a dance came during “Crazy for You” by Madonna.


  • You remember the paid the sad day when the Green Machine hit the streets and instantly made your Big Wheel obsolete.


  • Honestly remember when film critics raved that no movie could ever possibly get better special effects than those in the movie TRON.


  • (For Girls) You thought Shaun Cassidy was “dreamy” and you lusted after “Gopher, your ship’s purser” on the Love Boat.


  • You freaked out when you found that you now fall into the “26 – 50” age category on most surveys and questionnaires.


  • Your hair, at some point in time during the 80’s, became something that can only be described by the phrase “I was experimenting.”


  • When Star Wars opens, you were still in single digit ages, and you thought the creatures in the movie were way cool.


  • When The Empire Strikes Back opened, you were now in early double digit ages, and you were convinced that the special effects in the movie were much better than Star Wars, that the characters were cool, and you wanted one of every collectible out there.


  • When Return of the Jedi hits the theaters… you were a teenager, and you could not get our eyes off of Princess Leia’s breasts or Han Solo’s butt.


  • You’re doing absolutely nothing pertaining to your major in college.


  • U2 is too “popular” and “mainstream” for you now.


  • You spent endless nights growing up dreaming about being the Bionic Woman or Wonder Woman or the Six Million Dollar Man.


  • You know entire introduction to the A-Team by heart.


  • You had ringside seats for Luke and Laura’s wedding on General Hospital.


  • You remember “Hey, let’s be careful out there.”


  • You know who shot J.R.


  • You ever wanted to learn to play “Stairway to Heaven” on the guitar.


  • You were unsure is Diet Coke would ever catch on because of TAB.


  • You know all the words to the double album set of Grease.


  • You ever had a Dorothy Hammill haircut.


  • You sat with your friends on a Friday night and dialed “8-6-7-5-3-0-9” to see if Jenny would answer.


  • “All-skate, change directions” means something to you.


  • You ever owned a pair of Rainbow suspenders just like Mork used to wear.


  • You bought a pair of Vanns and wanted to order pizza in history class so you could be just like Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.


  • You were too young to see the Blue Lagoon, so you had to settle for second hand reports.


  • You remember when there was only “G, PG and R” rated movies in the mainstream movie theaters.


  • You learned to swim about the same time Jaws came out and still carry emotional scars to this day.


  • Your jaw would ache by the time you finished those brick-sized packages of Bazooka gum.


  • You remember Bo, Luke, Daisy and Uncle Jesse.


  • You remember when VCR’s cost $1,000 and were Betamax.


  • No one questioned why Burt and Ernie were living together.


  • You remember rotary dial telephones.


  • You anxiously awaited “That’s Incredible” with Fran Tarkenton and John Davidson on Wednesday nights.


  • You actually believed that Mikey (famed for his “life” cereal commercials) died after eating a packet of pop rocks and drinking a Coke.


  • The theme song to “Greatest American Hero” still comes back to you on occasion.





Is Homeownership Becoming Out of Reach for Young American Workers?

America is in the middle of an affordable housing crisis, with only people in the highest income brackets now easily able to afford home ownership. For middle class America, especially those earning mid-level incomes, home ownership is simply out of reach. Working men and woman who are the back bone of our economy are being squeezed by the housing-income imbalance that currently permeates in America.

For a local example, according to the Center for Housing Policy, most working people earning between $20,000 and $50,000 a year in metropolitan Philadelphia can’t afford to buy a median-priced house (currently a median-priced house in metropolitan Philadelphia is $294,000). The study goes on to state that in order to be in a position to afford a median-priced home in the metropolitan Philadelphia market, you need to earn an annual median income of $100,715.

Keep in mind, this annual median income level is just to be able to afford a median-price house. This issue is even more extreme if you have other debts and obligations to fulfill. For example, most young college educated Americans now enter the work force with a significant amount of student loan and credit card debt. On average, a recent college graduate entering the work force will have between $10,000 and $20,000 of student loan debt alone. Additionally, incomes in corporate America are shrinking and barely keeping up with inflation (even for the star performers in most organizations).

So how are young American workers “buying” their piece of the American dream today? If they can at all, most are being forced to purchase homes far from the places they work. For example, according to Bob Hay, a real estate broker in the Pocono region of Pennsylvania, there has been a huge influx of people from northern New Jersey and New York City buying homes in the Pocono Mountains because of significantly lower housing prices.

The problems associated with living so far away from your place of employment are significant. There are now people who live so far away from where they work that they must leave their homes at 4:30 a.m. and usually do not get home until 9 or 10 p.m. at night. This type of work schedule is hard on both the employee and his or her family. Eventually, something will have to give. Such a demanding schedule cannot be continued indefinitely. Usually, that something is a divorce or an employee so disengaged with his job that they end up leaving the work force.

From a personal standpoint, I have been affected by the housing affordability crisis as well. I am highly educated, having completed both an undergraduate degree in Accounting at Temple University and my MBA at Penn State University. Additionally, I am employed as a professional in the financial services industry, now having over 10 years experience. However, due to the housing affordability crisis, I have a commute to work that is over 1 hour long. On top of this, the home that my family and I own is only a townhouse unit, not even a single family house. Don’t get me wrong, I love my current home and the area that my family and I currently reside. But I do truly despise my daily commute to and from my office.

So what can be done to provide affordable housing located close to the major areas of commerce? Although there are not any easy answers to this question, I do believe there are things that can be done to ratify this problem. First, local communities need to become aware of the housing affordability crisis that is currently griping working class America. They need to become educated about the issues associated with the crisis, through which there can be an open dialogue for finding real solutions to the problem. Second, State and Local Housing Agency’s need to begin to explore programs that provide housing assistance to the middle-class working American as well. This can be done through requiring affordable housing for all classes of American’s become a mandatory part of any planning and development ordinances in the future.

Affordable housing, especially close to the major areas of commerce, should be an important aspect of every community in America. Providing housing options for all members of the community, regardless of income, should provide for a highly diverse and truly sustainable community. And it sure would be great to not have a 1 hour commute to and from work every day.


Monday, July 2, 2007

Can You Be Part of A Generation You Wern't Born Into?

Do you ever feel like you don't fit into or identify with the generation you were born into? Or do you ever feel like you have characteristics of more than one generation? I personally often feel like I should be considered a member of both Gen X and Gen Y. Born in 1972, I am a late Generation X member, with Generation X consisting of those born between the years 1965-1976. This might explain my feelings about being part of both generations.

This issue continued to bug me until the other day, when I had the opportunity to read Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist blog entry
What Generation Are You Part Of Really? Penelope presents a great test to determine what generation you really belong to, based upon your use of media, rather than your age. I recommend you take the test to see what generation your score places you in. In the end, I scored a 12, placing me at the high end of Generation X.

I love being a part of Generation X. But it is nice to see that I can still connect with the younger generation as well (at least through my use of technology and media outlets).



Generation X -- What is next? How About The Gray Ceiling?

It is true that every generation in America has come of age at distinct moments in our country's history. Generations X (those born between the years 1965-1976) were the first technology driven generation in America. We experienced Pac-Man and Frogger as hit games at the arcade. We grew up watching MTV, when it actually played music videos. TV shows like The Cosby Show, Seinfeld and Friends helped define our generational values.

But as we now come of age and dare I say become adults, what is next for our Generation? Most of my fellow Gen X colleagues answer this question with a shoulder shrug and a quick "I don't know!" It seems that once again, Generation X is stuck. We graduated college when the economy was poor, taking our expensive, heavily debt financed degrees to work at places like Starbucks serving coffee for minimum wage (by the way, nothing against Starbucks... I love their Lattes). Now, after working hard to advance in our careers, with the promise of better things to come, we are once again stuck in the middle.

After working hard to become the most productive generation the American workforce has ever seen, Generation X is ready to move up to the next level of organizational challenge. The problem is, we have no where to go. As was highlighted in the Fortune article titled "Are You Stuck in Middle Management Hell," by Anne Fisher, it now appears that a whole generation of workers now cannot get ahead, because the aging Baby Boomers above them won't budge. In essence, they have created what is now known as "The Gray Ceiling."

No matter how manner hours we work or weekends we give up to create value for our organizations, advancement is still almost non-existent. We are stuck. In addition to being stuck behind the Baby Boomers who won't let go and move on in their careers, we now have the next great generation, Generation Y, moving into the work force. This generation is just as technology driven as Gen X, but not as interested in corporate politics and games. Gen Y is willing to come into an organization and work hard to complete a specific task or job. Once the task at hand has been resolved, this Generation will most likely look to move on to a new challenge or experience. The problem for Generation X is that organizations know that they can get the same technologically savvy employee in a Gen Y'er that they could get with a Gen X'er, but for significantly less cost. After all, experience and knowledge costs more in the workplace.

So what can Generation X do the break through this "Gray Ceiling?" For many, the answer is to start their own business. Generation X is known as the most entrepreneurial generation in the history of America (remember the internet boom of the late 1990's). As large, well established organizations continue to inadvertently advertise that younger workers will never get promoted if they come to work under their Baby Boomer managers, the "latch-key" generation will continue to evolve and move forward in its own special way. Whether it is starting a new business, making a lateral move internally, or jumping to a new industry all together, the "slacker" generation will find a way to break through the "Gray Ceiling."