Category Archives: Education


“Tell me again how good we have it, Dad?”

If you feel like you’re making more but have less, you might be Generation X.

According to this report from Stony Brook assistant professor of finance Noah Smith, writing for Bloomberg View, the Pew Charitable Trusts tracked Generation X households like mine and found that we typically make about $12,000 more than our parents at the same age, adjusting for inflation and household size. That’s the good news.

Now for the bad: Less than half the Gen Xers in every income bracket are wealthier than their parents at the same age.

Part of that, of course, is that we’re spending more and saving less. We go on vacations when our parents stayed home. We buy gadgets that weren’t invented when our parents were our age, and in two years they’re outdated and we buy new ones.

But it’s not just wanton consumerism that’s to blame. Many of us also are saddled with paying back student loans that our parents didn’t have. The continued rise of college tuition likely means that we’ll be writing this same blog about millennials in a few years when compared to Generation X.

In fact, the Pew report found that Gen Xers decline in wealth compared to their parents is sharper for high earners than those who earn less. That’s because high-salary Gen Xers are more likely to have more student debt and to have started their careers later.

The market has also played a role, as the gains of the 1980s and ‘90s were reversed in later decades. Smith notes that the real annualized return of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped from 15.4 percent a year between 1985 and 2000 to 1.9 percent a year between 2000 and 2014.

While the Pew report only goes up to 2011, excluding stronger market returns from 2012 to 2014, Smith notes that unusually high stock valuations are likely to result in flatter returns over the next couple of decades.

So we’ve paid more – and are in many cases still paying more – for our educations and we’re getting smaller returns for our investments. Tell us again how good we’ve got it, Dad?

All of this means that we, the so-called Slacker generation, are going to have to be more aggressive, more disciplined and more creative in our saving than our parents were. But there’s still student debt to repay, the kids still want to go to Disney World, and the iphone 7 can’t be that far away.

Younger Generations Demand a New Experience at Events

While tradeshow and event managers pride themselves on creativity, the basic structure and components of special events have been somewhat tried and true.  A recent report by Amsterdam RAI demonstrates why savvy companies are smart to look at events and event marketing with a whole new light.  Changing demographics = changing demands, and the younger generations have explicit expectations for how they wish to be engaged.  According to the report, Millennials crave engagement and Generation X continues to be skeptical.

This corroborates the experiences of many professional association clients that have expressed frustration with younger generations not attending their flagship events, such as annual conferences, with the same consistency and enthusiasm as their Baby Boomer members have reliably demonstrated for years.  We’re seeing that the difference is directly related to generational values.

For example, Boomers value face time while Gen Xers value personal time.  It stands to reason then, that Boomers will place a priority on gathering with their peers for a week of education and networking while Gen Xers will need to be convinced of reasons to spend several days away from family and friends.

Similarly, while the Boomers place great trust in authority and therefore may be attracted to keynote speakers and marquee presenters, Millennials put more faith in their own experience and will be drawn to events where they can be part of the action.  Hands on learning labs and collaborative activities are likely to increase attendance.

Apply creativity to the event structure, not just the themes, and you may find a greater range of generations present and engaged.

Boomers Going Back to School

Boomers back to school imageWhether to retrain for a new career or to make the most of retirement, Baby Boomers are headed back to school, specifically local and community colleges, in large numbers.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, nearly 400,000 Boomers are enrolled in their member institutions nationwide. Those figures are up 6% from 2007 and 12% from 2005.

To accommodate the onslaught of Boomers, a number of colleges have joined the Plus 50 Initiative. The initiative is a collection of programs designed to make campus life more user friendly for an aging population. The programs also aim to shorten the timetable for completion.

“What we’re trying to offer them is accelerated programs that will not take them long periods of time to complete,” said a program coordinator at one of the Plus 50 schools, “We know there’s a need out there. And it’s conducive in that age category.”|head

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