Don’t You (Forget About Me).

January 22, 2021

Don’t You (Forget About Me).

May 29, 2023

The title says it all. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" is a song by Simple Minds and played during the opening and closing credits of the John Hughes film The Breakfast Club. For many of us, that movie was the Pièce De Résistance of films defining our generation - Generation X.

But I am jumping ahead. Let me backup a bit...

I was born on November 28th, 1970. That's right, I just turned 50 a little over a month ago. And for that distinction, my wife gifted me four weeks in Baja. Three of those weeks were at MEA.

That experience was life-changing. It gave me space to understand areas of my life that needed improvement, it reconnected me with nature, and it introduced me to a fantastic community of like-minded people with whom I know I will be friends for life.

I did find one thing as an outlier to the whole experience. I was struck by how overlooked Generation X is in the midlife narrative at MEA. That's right, folks, we are middle-age now too. Hell, our generation started turning 50 five years ago. But hey, we are considered the "lost generation" for a reason.

Now, my intent is not to stoke up a generational debate. It is only to respond to the fact that I have read and heard many talk about midlife from the Boomer perspective. In a lot of that conversation, Gen X was either mentioned in the same breath or just ignored outright (primarily the latter). To that end, I wanted to point out three things where I believe our mid-life differs.

Many of us are tech-savvy.

We may not have been born with a smart device in our hands, but we indeed were delivered in time to leverage the first generation of console games and personal home computers. We also were the ones that programmed VCR clocks for you - something deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize.

Many of us are digital entrepreneurs.

The World Wide Web was introduced in 1989, and the internet became commercially available in 1991, around the time that we were graduating from high school or college. To that end, Gen X ushered in the first generation of Internet startups, and many of those founders are titans of industry today (e.g., Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, Sergey Brin & Larry Page, etc.) My twin brother and I started our first digital startup in 1995 and have never looked back.

Many of us feel no dramatic generational divide with Millennials.

In many ways, they have been like a fantastic improv partner, yes "and"-ing every move we have made digitally, entrepreneurially, professionally, societally, and politically. I am not saying we are the same. Not at all. I see less of a difference than I do when comparing Gen X to Boomers.

So what? Why does any of this matter? At a minimum, I think it is essential to recognize that we are entering mid-life with different physics than Boomers. We do not need the same level of coaching around technology, entrepreneurship, etc. And as Boomers look for ways to more meaningfully engage with Millennials, they can view Gen X as an estuary between both generations. Include us at the table, and I think you will find that we can provide a lot of connective tissue and a shared perspective.

And while we are on this topic, it would be refreshing to see Boomers make an effort to want to better connect with Gen X (and vice versa). To that end, maybe we can start talking about how we can enjoy midlife in each other's company.

Many of the tools and thought leadership coming out of MEA are still very relevant to Gen X. However, they also have an opportunity to customize some of the programming to appeal to this "lost middle-child" of generations. Said in another way, "Don't You (Forget About US)."

Jeremi Karnell is the CEO of Truelytics, a leading business intelligence SAAS platform in the Wealth Management sector. He lives in Austin, TX with his wife Cindy, his daughter, 9-year-old Aviana, his 8-year-old son Grayson, and his 5-year-old English Bulldog Mickey.

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