The Romney Ryan ticket is a textbook case in cross-generational management, especially Boomer Gen X attitudes. We’re used to reading about Boomer Millennial conflict but consider the first public display of Boomer Gen X differences. When heckled, Boomers Rise Above It. Gen Xers fight back as Paul Ryan did suggesting the hecklers were from neither Wisconsin nor Iowa. That means they weren’t exhibiting their first amendment rights but behaving badly. Gen Xers are thin-skinned. They don’t like criticism.
Boomers tend to be pragmatic while Gen Xers are imbued with a cause: Compromise is bad, sticking to your original principle is good. Something is either right or not right. There are no shades of gray. Boomers pride themselves on being able to get along with anyone. That’s what their parents taught them. It’s a.k.a. people skills. Paul Ryan’s generation believes people who get along with everyone lack values.
Boomers value control — especially control over people. Romney is just about to find out that Gen Xers control themselves — and no one controls them. Not to belabor the point: Ask corporate executives how malleable their Gen Xers are. Could this be the reason so many of the latter are self-employed? Politics is another form of entrepreneurship but not the kind of Steve Jobs.
Gen Xers are pessimists. The glass is always half empty, not half full. They remember their parents being “right sized in the 1980’s — a term which mercifully is rarely used now. Who do they blame for economic uncertainty in their childhoods? My research indicates Gen Xers blame everyone: unions as well as management! How will that play with blue-collar folks in swing states?
Is Paul Ryan a “perfect” Gen X representative? Absolutely not! However, expect him to display, despite meticulous scripting, characteristics of his generation. Some of these will alarm his handlers but they will sound authentic to his generation. Email to Romney: You can’t expect Ryan to act or think like a Boomer as any corporate type, or demographer, would tell you if asked.
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