Yesterday, I interviewed Dr. Margaret Neale, a business professor at Stanford, for my upcoming book about women and business. At some point she mentioned that her colleague Dr. Jeffrey Pfeffer had found that there is little evidence that Millennials are likely to change the world — ie they are basically conforming to existing social mores.
This excited me because some time ago, I stumbled across Strauss & Howe’s theory of generational turnings which states that each generation is a response to the one before. I totally buy into this idea. I told Dr. Neale that Strauss & Howe actually coined the terms “Baby Boomer” and “Millennial” though their ultra-prescient work seems to be basically outside the zeitgeist these days.
The gist of their Generational Turning theory is that there are four types of generations — Hero, Artist, Prophet and Nomad. Under this theory, like their grandparents, Millennials are another Hero Generation which historically has meant that they are community-oriented and are likely to advance new technologies and industry. There have been three American Hero generations, including that of the the founding fathers and the GI Generation.
This past summer I actually wanted to fly to the East Coast and interview Howe who is still alive because they don’t get enough coverage [and I feel like I have the platform necessary to get them to the recognition they deserve?]. Then, I discovered “Millennials Rising” which they published in 2000 and realized they are known but kind of side-lined by Millennial antagonists? You can read David Brook’s review here.
Honestly, I highly recommend checking out the Art of Manliness’ writing on Strauss & Howe’s generational theories. It is [almost] everything you might want to know about their work in a very digestible essay, including charts and photos. Just excellent!
Goldman Sachs has an interesting interactive infographic about Millennial trends that is worth checking out. It basically says they are the largest American generation in numbers, have tons of debt and are delaying major life decisions. It’s very interesting and I had to share.