The Power of Generational Study
In the 1980s, about a half-dozen of us in the U.S. – and we did not know each other at the time – accidentally stumbled upon the notion, just a “gut hunch”, that generation somehow meant something far more important than anyone recognized.
Years later, we would learn that a couple of individuals had lightly tinkered with the idea in the 1960s and ‘70s but nothing significant had come of it. No literature on the subject. As a field of study, it did not exist.
So we created it, beginning at zero, and building it over the course of the 1980s and ‘90s until, at last in the decade of the 2000s, Generational Study – and with it, Generational Strategies – reached full bloom.
And now today, generational training, knowledge, and strategies have become imperative for all of us in business, government, education, and religion…
… because we now understand the astonishing influence of generation-specific Core Values upon our minute-by-minute, month-by-month, and lifelong decision-making.
Here is the entire foundation of Generational Study: from birth to the end of our full time classroom years, we mold powerful core values, which – even though we will continue to evolve – we largely keep for life. And those core values are burned into us by the times we witness and the teachings we absorb during those oh-so-important Formative Years. And then in adulthood, those core values significantly influence our generation’s career decisions and on-the-job performance, consumer choices, lifestyle preferences, personal and professional relationships, and personal behavior.
For a pure-entertainment keynote speech that will intimately involve every single audience member, or for a training session in a long list of generational workforce, marketplace, and higher-education strategies, the topic is spellbinding and immediately beneficial to each of us in our personal and professional lives, and to our organizations’ bottom-line success.
Chuck Underwood: author of the most comprehensive book on generational dynamics and business strategies ever published, America’s Generations In The Workplace, Marketplace, And Living Room; creator and host of the first national-television series on the subject, America’s Generations With Chuck Underwood; and trainer, consultant, and keynote speaker who has presented generational dynamics to audiences throughout the U.S., Canada, and western Europe.
Interview with Chuck Underwood
What are some of the organizations you have recently worked with and what did you achieve?
My clients include such well-known American giants as Macy’s Department Stores, Hewlett-Packard, Coca Cola, U. S. Military, and hundreds of others in all industries. In all instances, my task was to introduce their organizations to either Generational Workforce Strategy, Generational Marketing Strategy, or Generational Leadership Strategy and begin the process of creating an organization-wide culture of generational understanding and strategy. Thankfully, in all instances – mission accomplished.
What type of audience benefits most from your keynotes?
Any audience whose goal is to better understand the five living generations of Americans and Canadians, either for business or personal – marriage, parenting, social – reasons. Everyone – everyone – will benefit by understanding the impact of generational dynamics upon their minute-by-minute, month-by-month lives: in the workplace, marketplace, and living room.
How do you work with clients when preparing for a keynote?
Homework, homework. I listen. I ask every question imaginable and request background information to better understand each client’s unique objectives and the specific audience for the keynote. Then, we discuss the best possible keynote content for their needs.
How does humor factor into your talks?
Prominently. And I have the luxury of presenting a topic – the life stories of generations – that is rich with humor. Also, I make use of high-profile national TV commercials that vividly present generational core values. And as it turns out, most of the commercials are humorous. This topic – generations – is hard-hitting, emotional, intimate, funny, sad, and most of all a ”celebration” of each generation’s life. When the keynote has ended, the audience will be talking – and laughing – about ”my generation” and ”your generation” for the rest of their lives. They won’t be able to get it out of their heads. And they won’t want to. The topic itself is spellbinding and creates unlimited conversation opportunities.
What are some unique experiences you have had as a keynote speaker?
In Italy, on an American military base, I had to periodically pause during my keynote while fighter jets took off on a runway about a hundred yards from our auditorium – the sound was deafening. Another presentation took place with the audience crammed into a tiny meeting room on a naval ship in the Mediterranean Sea. In Cleveland, a V.A. hospital’s conference room was under construction, so I had to speak in the Recreation Center and compete with the noise of patients playing ping pong about 50 feet behind the audience. But the most memorable experiences are always with audience members. They’ll come up to the podium afterwards and share their most intimate feelings, often with tears in their eyes. And I remember every comment.
A GenX gentleman in Kentucky: My Silent Generation father has tried for years to get my siblings and me to understand his life but never succeeded, but now, for the first time, I understand him. I can’t wait to get home and share this. A GenX female firefighter in California: When you started taking us through our GenX childhood, my parents’ divorce came back to me and I started to cry. I was embarrassed about crying in front of my macho fellow firefighters until I saw two GenX guys crying, too. Thank you for understanding our generation.
A Millennial audience member in Florida: I didn’t even check my mobile for messages during your speech! A Silent Generation African American woman in Ohio: Thank you for capturing what our generation of American blacks experienced in our formative years and for explaining the 1950’s were not ‘Happy Days’ for us. A Boomer audience member in Toronto, with tears in his eyes: You’re right. It’s our generation’s turn to lead our country, and I hope we don’t blow it.
But ultimately, my keynotes must deliver a high-impact, entertaining, important, and beneficial BUSINESS message. So I am very thankful that my work enjoys business-focused responses like this email from a Macy’s executive in New York City, after I had keynoted their annual internal awards banquet: Your presentation was outstanding! Everyone was talking about it all day!
The only disappointment they expressed was the biggest compliment of all, which was we wanted more, we wanted the full 4 hours! It doesn’t get any better than that! Thank you again. Your message will be invaluable to our organization!!