The Slack Blog has been on hiatus. (Lelia Colette was born Nov. 22 — a month after I turned 40 years old. Very Gen X, that. But I digress.) It’s a new year and shit is still sucking big time! But don’t despair, because Gen X is all about resilience. For a primer on what Slackonomics is all about, check out an article in the Times titled:
MICHAEL TERRY led a double life for many years.
“During the day I worked at Morgan Stanley as an executive director, overseeing a group that raised money for hedge funds,” he said, “and at night I performed in comedy shows.”
Then, last February, his company announced a round of layoffs. Mr. Terry, motivated to pursue his goal of becoming a “Daily Show” correspondent, raised his hand.
“At the time, I figured the severance package would give me a couple of years to try comedy, something that was getting increasingly hard to balance with my day job.”
Since leaving Morgan Stanley, Mr. Terry, 37, has shot two pieces as an on-the-scene reporter for the Onion News Network, and his sketch comedy group, Party Central USA, has been given a prime spot at the coming Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival.
With Wall Street hemorrhaging jobs, bonuses disappearing and the financial sector going through a seismic shift, some bankers and lawyers are switching lanes to more creative career paths. They are putting down their Wall Street Journals and picking up Variety as they try their hands at comedy, filmmaking and writing. …
There you have it.
And here is my perfect little girl, Lelia (pronounced LELL-ee-uh).
The 10th Anniversary edition of the surprise bestseller, The Not So Big House, will be published in the coming weeks. The book struck a nerve with Generation X, which embraced its emphasis of quality over quantity, Dwell-magazine practicality over McMansion bling. But I doubt Sarah Susanka (the architect and author) could have guessed just how far Gen X would take this trend.
In yesterday’s Home section of The New York Times is a story about the tiny house trend, featuring Michael Janzen. He is the epitome of an Xer who has learned how to deal with being whiplashed by the economy. In his twenties he lived in a space about the size of a two-car garage. At the age of 40, after getting married and making money as a Web designer for a bank, he has an in-ground pool, maid service, a yard landscaped with Japanese black pine bonsai trees, notes the Times. But Janzen has spent the summer building an 80-square-foot house out of free stuff he found on Craigslist. Why?
According to Mr. Janzen, he came to the realization that “I don’t want this life — the life of someone who’s working too hard to pay a large mortgage to live in this house.” The catalyst, he said, was watching the value of his home plummet with the rest of the real estate market, while the time and money required to maintain the property only increased. “The energy cost is enormous,” he said, “and the bigger your property gets, the more there is to do.”
That is Slackonomics, folks, pure and simple. Check out the article and audio slideshow below.
The Slacker Generation may be more charitable than the Greatest Generation.
According to a fresh survey from Northern Trust, which polled 1,000 households with investible assets of at least $1 million, Generation X millionaire households (those ages 28 to 42) gave away more money than Baby Boomers (43 to 61) or Silent Generationers (62 to 77). GenXers gave an average of $20,000 in 2006, compared with $10,000 for the older millionaire households. [DOUBLE!]
The GenXers also are more charitable in their plans for the afterlife. They expect to leave 22% of their estates to charity, compared with 16% for Boomers and 14% for Silent Generation millionaires.
The charitable goals for GenXers, however, are a little more self-centered. Fully 15% of Gen X millionaires stated that creating a lasting legacy for themselves or their family was their main goal–compared with 4% of older millionaires.
GenXers, not surprisingly, do give a bit more to global causes. Roughly 14% of the organizations receiving donations from Gen X households operate internationally, compared with 8% for Baby Boomers and 5% for Silent Generation millionaires.
Perhaps the slacker set has been misjudged. Maybe those children raised in the 1970s, amid social turmoil and growing globalism, now place greater importance on trying to solve the world’s problems. Maybe, after watching the boomers preach idealism in the 1960s and then define the “greed is good” generation of the 1980s and 1990s, the GenXers are charting their own course.
Salon has a new series of essays (two so far) called Pinched, and the first one was written by Heather Havrilesky, whose pioneering work for suck.com I featured in my book Slackonomics. Her essay is titled, “Perspire to Retire,” with the subtitle, “I was all fired up to save for the future. Then I found out I was a day late and about, um, $90,000 short.”
It is, of course, smart, witty and oh-so-Gen-Xerish. Here is just a blurb:
Toying with retirement calculators was so exquisitely painful (and such a profound waste of time) that by the next day, I had upped the stakes with college savings calculators. How much should we be saving each year to send my 12-year-old stepson and 2-year-old daughter to public, in-state universities? One thousand dollars a month, of course. (Private schools would mean saving 2K a month.) Now let’s see, let’s throw that 12K-a-year minimum in with the 93K a year we’re supposed to be saving for retirement, and what do we have? One hundred five thousand dollars a year in savings. Now tell me, who has an extra 100 G’s lying around each year, aside from some of your more enterprising rappers?
But here’s a contrarian view on the whole savings issues, as reported in The New York Times:
[Some contrarian] economists answer that people would get more out of their money by using it when they are younger. “There is risk in saving too much,” Mr. Kotlikoff said. “You could end up squandering your youth rather than your money.”
Mr. Scholz said he and his co-authors of a study, “Are Americans Saving ‘Optimally’ for Retirement?” found oversaving across all economic and education levels and most ethnic or racial groups as well. …Those who were not saving enough were usually missing their target by only a small amount.
- Perspire to Retire [Salon]
In researching my post about cubicles (see below), I came across a piece published by BusinessWeek titled Ten Reasons Gen Xers Are Unhappy at Work. It’s written by Tammy Erickson who is writing a book about the Gen X corporate experience and our “career options.” You see, she is “worried” about Generation X and corporations — more so about corporations than Xers because now they need us (!) to fill the leadership vacuum that is about to open up. But guess what? We’re not so keen on leading Corporate America. This is of course no surprise (especially to anyone who has read my book Slackonomics), given the current state of Corporate America, which has not exactly been the best place to work since Gen X began entering the workforce, as Erickson’s Top Ten Reasons indicate:
1. X’ers’ corporate careers got off to a slow start;
2. When you were teens, X’ers witnessed adults in your lives being laid off from large corporations;
3. Most corporate career paths “narrow” at the top;
4. Just your luck—the economy was slow when you entered the workforce …
I could go on, but let’s just say I cover 8 of her 10 reasons in my book Slackonomics. And since she is a “McKinsey-award winning” writer and author of “four Harvard Business Review articles,” Slackonomics is probably more fun to read. Just a guess.