Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Book About me! Actually, About Baby Boomers

Generation Ageless

By J. Walker Smith and Ann Clurman

Generation Ageless: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Live Today...And They're Just Getting Started, by J. Walker Smith and Ann Clurman, is a book you must read. Why? Because people will be talking about it! And those in the know know to read this book!

Baby Boomers--you may have heard the phrase, this catchword many times; but did you know there are 78 million of them? After reading this book, I believe there are even more-for surely there are those, like me, who were born on the "cusp--9 months before 1946!" and see themselves more like boomers than any other group!

Yankelovich, Inc. began studying consumer values and lifestyles in 1958.  As I started reading Generation Ageless, I did not realize how the activities by a company, about which I knew nothing, could be writing about--me! It was at first exhilarating--then it got downright eerie! Yankelovich chose to begin studying Americans through the gathering and analysis of data by generations.  Certainly, they could not have projected at that time that the generation born during the years 1946 to 1964 would become the largest group of any during the last century! Due to the number of individuals, it is also perhaps one of the most influential groups of people in the past and for the foreseeable future.

Generation Ageless is extensive and covers many issues. In some ways, it is like reading a biography of 78 million people, in one book! In another way, it is pure demographics about Baby Boomers. At the same time, every marketing agent should be studying this as a textbook!  Put all together, it is one of the most interesting and informative books I have ever read! It is an interesting read with both narrative and charts; however, with excellent writing, the authors have made what could be very dry into something that comes across in a personal fashion and includes information for anybody of any age.

Before reading this book, some of us may have begun thinking about planning for retirement or considering what we might want to do "with the rest of our lives." Even if we didn't feel like our lives were over, we might have felt that society was seeing us that way.  Well, after reading Generation Ageless, we will find that we are all thinking the same thing--we are too young to retire...we want to continue doing the things we are now doing and we want to continue them for as long as we want to! So, we now have the key words to explain that! We are not going to ever get old; we are merely middle age-less! "How cool is that?" as one commercial declares.

Baby Boomers want to matter; they want to have a presence and an influence. "Or to put it in the way that best reflects the edge they give to it, it's a matter of immortality and morality." (p. xiv).

The book uses the terminology that has been coined in the past: the Matures, Baby Boomers, Xers, and Echo Boomers. I found it especially heartening that the Baby Boomers group has expressed many of my own thoughts, as I've grown older. We look back with some regret to that accomplished by the Matures. We worry about the Xers and Echo Boomers. But no matter what, Baby Boomers are going to stay in the game. And because there are so many, what Baby Boomers will continue to do for themselves will directly benefit others.

Baby Boomers, in turn, have been divided into the Straight Arrows, Due Diligents,  Maximizers, Sideliners, Diss/Contenteds, and Re-Activists, with the driving force being the Maximizers.  Readers may see themselves as having started out as one type of individual but changing, due to personal experiences, later in life. As the book says, "maximizers are the most enthusiastic Boomer segment. They want more of everything and they want more out of everything." (p. 188) While the book indicated that maximizers had something in common with every other segment, I thought perhaps another way of saying this was that we all had some part of us that were maximizers...at one time or another in our lives!

This book is fun to read! It is encouraging; it is disheartening...but it is about us! If we have an enemy, then the enemy is us. But if we also believe that our future will be bright, we also know that the Baby Boomers will be there, shining and basking in the light provided by that generation! 

You'll be placing this book on a nearby bookshelf. It is a great resource of information. It gives you much to ponder. And it's fun to read and talk about!  I highly recommend Generation Ageless.