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Junior Boomers

Comparatively Speaking

Taking X-ception to stereotypes

By Debra Phillips

Nothing is certain in this world but death and taxes . . . and generational stereotypes. If you're a baby boomer, for instance, you're prosperous, idealistic and nostalgic for the 1960s--or, at least, you would be if you could remember them. If you're a member of so-called Generation X, you're underpaid, unambitious and--surprise!--unhappy. If you belong to the Net Generation, you're apparently lost in cyberspace. And so it goes.

But what do any of these labels ultimately mean? Are we really just generationalizing? Speaking as one of those "unambitious" Xers, I certainly hope to be more than the sum of my demographically assigned characteristics. (Heck, my favorite rock group is The Beatles, not Pearl Jam.) And, as far as the N-Geners go, is it inconceivable that some of these digital babies will stray from the technological fold?

This isn't meant as a slap against the study of demographics; it's merely a reminder that groups are made up of individuals, not the other way around. It's way too simple to stick a tag on somebody saying, "Hi, my name is (fill in generation here)." The trick is for business owners to factor in both the generation and the individual. Too much figuring? Get a bigger database.

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This article was originally published in the November 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Junior Boomers.

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