A Reflection on South By Southwest (and Life)

Aaron Bush is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and is a member of the Motley Fool Supernova team. Below is his on-the-ground account of his experience at the South By Southwest conference this week in Austin, Texas. It was originally published on the Supernova discussion boards and is being reprinted here.

Over the past five days, I had the privilege of attending South By Southwest (SXSW) – an annual world-class and cutting-edge technology conference that takes place in Austin, Texas (home of my school, The University of Texas at Austin). Serving as a volunteer in Startup Village, it was my responsibility to escort presenters/panelists to the correct rooms while ensuring that each session ran smoothly for attendees and speakers alike. Not only did I meet some impressive individuals (Guy Kawasaki and Kathy Savitt (CMO of Yahoo!) to name a couple), but I was able to observe some trends that I believe are changing the world as we know it.

Fellow Fools Lyons George and Rex Moore (whom it was a pleasure to briefly chat with) will likely be uploading some content covering specific SXSW events soon, so I'll take a different approach. Instead of detailing the specifics of what I encountered, I want to share with you seven undeniable, enormous trends that deeply resonated with me. Having spent the past six months weaving my way into the Austin start-up community as well, I've come to notice some patterns that have influenced both who I am as a thinker and how I perceive where the world is headed. Let's start with these seven:

1. Innovation is Accelerating
Did you know that today is the Internet's 25th birthday? As a 19-year-old, it is crazy to think that the way people do business, find information, seek entertainment, and more has radically transformed since the day I was born. In some ways that idea is downright mind blowing, but in another way it completely makes sense. As society has continuously found ways to pair new technologies to old routines, it has given all touched industries the ability to change at unprecedented rates. Sustaining innovations improve at arithmetic rates, but as soon as technology (especially microprocessors) finds its way into the equation, Moore's Law (the observation that technology becomes twice as capable (both smaller and powerful) at half the cost over the course of ~18 months) takes action and drives change at exponential rates. Very few industries remain untouched today, which means that for the first decade in forever all industries will likely witness radical improvements over the next few years. And to top it all off, there are more scientists working in the world today than there have been scientists in the rest of history combined. That number is only going to grow bigger too. Just think about the implications.

Of course, as the rate of innovation accelerates so does the rate of obsolescence. This little tidbit seems to be forgotten far too often – by businesspeople, consumers, and investors alike. It is no surprise that even the most successful giants fear what is known as the "garage factor" – the idea that kids out in a garage somewhere are creating the product/service that will render the present industry leaders irrelevant. Change can be swift and deadly. There is a plethora of examples of companies that have been blindsided by the garage factor. In fact, the average lifespan of S&P 500 companies has decreased by roughly 50 years in the past century. Some companies have proven to have better everlasting capabilities than others, but as a whole our country is churning through companies faster than ever before. As investors dealing specifically with technology companies (and more and more companies are turning technology based), the idea that disruption is happening at the fastest pace in history (and likely will get even faster) needs to be seared into everyone's minds. Having spent time within the start-up community, not only do you see what changes are coming before the rest of the world does, but you start to understand that there are thousands of unknown people out there fighting every single day to make a positive dent in the world – oftentimes at the expense of existing companies.

2. Entrepreneurism is Broadening its Reach
When I ask people what places they identify to be entrepreneurial hubs, the answer is typically, "Hmm let's see... Silicon Valley, Austin (note the bias), and sort of Seattle, New York, and Boston." Boy are things changing! Yes, those are all entrepreneurial hubs and are all growing at rapid rates, but that is only scratching the surface. In the US, entrepreneurial communities are sprouting up all over the place, from Kansas City to Detroit to Atlanta and more. The base is still small, so the trend has flown under the radar to most people, but the base is growing rapidly. Having identified the trend, I strongly expect to see a new golden age of entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, I think we are witnessing the beginnings of it right now. As Silicon Valley has displayed, success spawns additional success. Communities build and soon enough the successes start to pile up. From there, the process is little more than a positive feedback loop. When I look across the US, I see little, unique Silicon Valleys popping up. By the end of the decade, I think it'll be time to say, "Welcome to the new normal."

Even this perspective, however, is too shallow. The US is not alone in this endeavor. China's R&D spending is higher than ever before and we've seen certain Chinese companies snatch US executives to help scale their ventures. Dublin is booming. So is the Netherlands. Tel Aviv, London, Berlin, Toronto, Paris, Sydney, Sao Paulo, Santiago, Bangalore – the list goes on. Having witnessed several country based meet-ups over the past few days, I can confidently say that there are cutting edge companies in the works all over the world. Globalization becomes a more significant reality each day, which helps the barriers to innovation to fall, leading to more entrepreneurial participation. The new normal isn't going to be domestic; it is going to be international.

3. Women are Being Empowered
I'm sort of tired of hearing all of the statistics about how women are still nowhere close to being treated as equals to men in the workforce. Yes, I'll be the first one to admit it is an issue, but instead of focusing on and raging about the snapshot stats, I prefer to look at the trends. And when I look at the trends, things are changing and the momentum is building in favor of women. Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In, and campaign to "Ban Bossy" are the newest efforts to drive change, which is great, but part of the reason it is being so well accepted is because the change has already begun and there are women out there just like Sandberg succeeding in their own ways.

At SXSW, the trend was subtle but became increasingly obvious once I took notice. The conference is pretty guy heavy, although there were still plenty of women (if I had to guess, it was a 60-40 split – not sure). What was most interesting, however, was when I started breaking my observations down into age groups. There were men of all ages and the distribution seemed fairly even. When it came to women, though, there was definitely a younger bent toward the age range of 20s to 30s. This just showed to me that going forward women will be more equally dispersed as a percentage of the total attendee population (which represents leaders in participating companies too). This isn't only great for women, but it is great for all of us. Empowering women empowers the abilities of our overall workforce and allows us to tap into human capital never unleashed before. It's an exciting and powerful cultural shift.

4. Students are Evolving
Generation Y is very different from prior generations. Generation Y is the most educated, least religious, least political, most tech savvy, most daring (as in willing to take career-based risks), most environmental, most geared toward instant gratification (thanks Google), and least discriminatory generation to date – all backed by empirical evidence. These individuals grew up during the Internet boom, and the most nationally significant moments of their lives include 9/11 and the financial crisis of 2008-2009. They are the individuals weighed down by significant college debt among other issues.

These factors bundled together have brought about some interesting trends, many of which are still emerging. First of all, it is obvious to me that higher education is going to break at some point. After the health care debate is over, I predict that the next large debate will be in regards to education. We are seeing the rise of Khan Academy, Coursera, and other MOOCs, but this is just the beginning. Within the next decade it is very reasonable to expect significant disruption in higher education – from both a content and costs perspective. People have called me crazy, but I'll bet $1,000 that I'm right. The current model is unsustainable.

Going back to the entrepreneurial trend briefly, I have to note that students are a huge facet of the movement. Academic institutions are the perfect locations to work, find co-founders, access the community, and take risks that are hard to do in any other time period in life. At SXSW, some of the most impressive talks I heard were actually from college kids like myself. Being able to network with fellow student entrepreneurs from around the country was fantastic, and we all have taken note of the fact that we are just the forefront of the movement. Schools are starting to better serve student entrepreneurs by providing courses, local mentors, and even accelerators that help bring their companies to the next level. I'm living it myself here at UT. It's awesome – and only the inception of something greater. Entrepreneurs are being empowered and supported at younger ages than ever before. The word "start-up" has turned into a buzzword of sorts, but the implications behind this trend are powerful.

5. Companies are Becoming More "Conscious" 
I never heard the words "Conscious Capitalism" mentioned during my SXSW tenure, but certain elements were pointing in that direction. In almost all of the sessions I attended, the speakers were talking, in one way or another, about how improving the quality, authenticity, and purpose behind their products/services leads to better outcomes. From branding to social media to how to treat employees, panelists were passionate about becoming better companies – companies that truly do add value to customers' lives. I loved hearing this. Conscious Capitalism is gaining traction even if the name isn't catching on in every instance. At some point, I find it likely that the majority of companies will follow this path, and the ones that don't will likely fall into deep trouble down the road.

6. Everything is Getting Faster
"Real Time" is a phrase I heard being thrown around over and over again. Real time data. Real time marketing. Real time servicing. Real time *insert any word*. It has gotten to the point where if you aren't saving time, you aren't considered progress. I don't necessarily agree 100% with that statement, but that is the vibe I was getting over the past few days. All sessions involving "real time data" related to anything (marketing, attaining feedback, health care, bootstrapping, etc.) were sold out in a flash. The idea of "improving speed" is something that has seriously caught on. If you aren't fast enough you lose a competitive edge. Speed has always been a battleground for companies, but now that technology has infiltrated all parts of the value chain, it is a more critical factor than ever before (and now, in certain cases, a battle of milliseconds). As entrepreneurs and investors, I'd be thinking about what companies out there are improving our lives by saving us time, and what other opportunities are out there that can be grabbed to improve our lives by saving even more time. (PS – I hate lines of all types. If anyone can create a way for all lines to cease to exist, you will be my hero for life!)

7. The World is Changing. So Must We.
The market moves both forwards and backwards. The world, however, only moves forwards. And when you start to think from a birds-eye global perspective, you come to realize that at the end of the day/month/year the convoluted Wall Street perspective doesn't actually matter. It matters zero. By focusing on Point A (now) and Point B (later) and stop fretting about the roller coaster stuck in between, a new, transcendent thought process begins to emerge. The world gains a new clarity in your eyes, and the new perspective allows you to emotionlessly identify the trends and ideas others have yet to separate from the day-to-day noise.

The world is changing. Innovation is accelerating, but so is obsolescence. Women and students are being empowered like never before. Entrepreneurs are riding the wave of a new golden age and will be the leaders who define the future as we will learn to know it. Not only are companies starting to become consciously aware of their actions, but they are becoming more demanding in providing convenience and comfort to us as consumers. It's slowly turning into a world of win-wins.

As we stand here at Point A and try to identify and pinpoint Point B, we must realize that to do so it takes a new perspective. David Gardner has always touted the idea of thinking like a venture capitalist, and I personally believe that this perspective will be the champion perspective, so to speak, for investors over the next decades. It is crucial to stay up to speed on the world around us, and by pinpointing areas of growth before it hits the spotlight and others see it will provide the explosive returns that lead to megaoutperformance. It's far less about DCFs, multiples, and the traditionally dominating principles we are told to adore (Oops! Sorry business school!) as it is identifying the groundbreaking innovations and smart leaders who have big plans to seriously change the world for the better. The next Buffett is likely going to be the individual who can consistently pinpoint innovative explosiveness and ride the trends while allocating intelligently to account for accelerating obsolescence. 

As I come to understand this more clearly, I also come to realize how fortunate I have been to have learned from David all of these years. The more I read and open my eyes, the easier it is to see just how brilliant David and his investment principles are. So 1) thank you for bringing me in years ago and helping me up my game, and 2) I'm pumped for what the future holds. Being a businessman/investor over the years to come is going to be a complete blast.

SXSW was awesome and incredibly valuable. It's doubtful that I'll be missing it over the next several years. I look forward to giving another update next year (although it may be a little less philosophical :)).


Read/Post Comments (18) | Recommend This Article (52)

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  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2014, at 1:23 PM, TMFSpiffyPop wrote:

    One of my favorite articles of 2014. Outstanding, Aaron -- my hope is that your perspective reaches as many Fools as possible, because it will help them see the future and get invested in it, ahead of time. Fool on! --David

  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2014, at 4:33 PM, jaynew wrote:

    Amen to that, David...

    I've read these thoughts several times and shared them with many friends and family members.

    Thanks again, Aaron.

    Fool on!

    -Jason

  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2014, at 4:54 AM, GETRICHSLOW2 wrote:

    Great job Aaron!

    The fact that this article was written by a 19 year old is certainly proof that number 4 is true. What great vision and perspective. Geez, I was dumber than a fence post when I was 19.

    Your family must be proud and you are going to be a great asset to some company in the future.

    Keep up the great work. You've renewed my confidence in young Americans.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 12:08 PM, TMFBWItime wrote:

    Fantastic article Aaron. We (and our members) are lucky to call you a Fool.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 12:16 PM, remmdawg wrote:

    Great article and I appreciate your observations. I have two quibbles. I think you mean to "conscientious capitalism." Also, women are already "empowered." Women are overrepresented in higher education and have greater academic success than men. According to rigourous academic analysis, the compensation and career differences between men and women reflect inherent differences in career preferences and/or aptitudes. No matter how much social engineers try, we cannot make women and men the same. And it would be a miserable hell of a society if we try to make this happen, a 1984ish or Brave New World dystopia. But it's nice to hear that women are becoming more interested in the opportunities available to them today.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 12:52 PM, damilkman wrote:

    My mother spent her childhood in a Carnegie Mellon library. I completely disagree with observation 5. Companies are just better at puling the wool over your eyes then in the past. Companies are in the business of making money and destroying the competition while extracting as much profit from their products as possible. There are as many good & bad players out there as there was 100 years ago. Its just harder to cheat and be bad for those who wish to push the line. But it still happens.

    Mellon, Vanderbilt, the Fords, and the Rockerfellers all had their bad moments. But that did not prevent them from giving back to society. But it was always their money that they were giving away.

    What may be changing is a demand that companies do what is perhaps not the most efficient thing or the best at the expense of other peoples money. Of course that pressure will always go against a dropping stock price if returns suffer.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 2:57 PM, friendofbevo wrote:

    Very impressive article by this young man. Gives an old f@rt like me hope for the future. Keep up the excellent observations.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 6:21 PM, cooncreekcrawler wrote:

    Not bad for a T-sipper. Thanks for the article.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 6:45 PM, sgraham29 wrote:

    It is interesting that the living environment isn't mentioned. If we don't "innovate" how we use resources for our technology there won't be

    technology. This is the century of biology- let's be conscious of the planet and other people's

    working environments

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 7:09 PM, DanHazelwood wrote:

    Interesting. But I feel like this article could have been written every 15 years for the past many decades/centuries. It is true and well state, but it almost always is true except when you have major down turns like the fall of Rome.

    I'd also be cautious about the rate these changes penetrate mass society. Elite/opinion culture, which a conference always captures its own view and often overlooks the massive lag time in deploying new technologies and behavior.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 8:05 PM, mikedeason wrote:

    Exactly what companies, providing what goods or services, exemplify the principles this article expounded upon?

    This is all too vague and nebulous for my taste.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 9:02 PM, Gimmeabreak wrote:

    Wow, talk about learning nothing new and being bombarded by idiocy, i am blown away. For one, SXSW is and at least used to be a series of rock and metal and punk music before lame so called cutting edge technology and life sucking, destroying corporations destroyed it also, it was A WEEK LONG CELEBRATION OF ROCK MUSIC BY ACTUAL MUSICIANS NOT ALREADY FAMOUS TO THE IGNORANT, MADONNA WANNABES OR RAPPERS WHO TALK AND PLAY NO INSTRUMENTS AT ALL, AND IF THEIR MOUTH IS AN INSTRUMENT EVERYONE IS A MUSICIAN ALL DAY LONG, SO NO THEIR NOT MUSICIANS, OR CHILDREN LIKE A BEIBER WHO'S ACTUAL TALENT AT ALL ESCAPES ME AND MILLIONS OF OTHERS AND THAT SXSW USED TO BE MOSTLY WHERE NEW AND UNHEARD, AND TALENTED ACTUAL MUSICIANS USED TO PERFORM FOR THE CITIZENS OF AUSTIN AND MAYBE GET DISCOVERED AND GET A RECORD DEAL, BUT TODAY BECAUSE OF CORPORATE TAKEOVER AND THIS KID WHO JUST WROTE THIS BEYOND OBVIOUS AND BEYOND WRONG EXPLANATION OF WHAT SXSW TOTALLY IS NOT, IS ONE HUGE REASON SXSW HAS NOT MEANT ANYTHING IN MUSIC FOR OVER A DECADE, BESIDES THE IGNORANT AND WANNABE CHILDREN AND CORPORATIONS ALIKE(WHO ARE AS DUMB AS CHILDREN TODAY) WHO ONLY A BRAINWASHED CHILD WOULD FOLLOW CORPORATE POPS AND BUZZES AND FLASHES OF LIGHT, GREAT GENERATIONS ALWAYS HATED THE SLAVERY OF CORPORATE AMERICA, IDIOT CHILDREN LIKE YOU ACTUALLY NEED IT TO INSPIRE YOU, WHAT A PATHETIC JOKE AND ALSO THE ALREADY FAMOUS NON-MUSICIANS THAT CORPORATE GREED THEY JUST NEED TO WANT TO BE A PART OF THIS ONCE GREAT ACCESS TO A POSSIBLE CAREER, AND STEAL ALL THE MONEY AND REALITY FROM IT WHICH IS NOTHING MORE THAN A MASSIVE CORPORATE SHAM AND/OR WASTE TODAY.

    NOTICE JUST WHEN THE CHILD STARTED WRITING, THE INTERNET IS 25 YEARS OLD BUT RECONS IT TO HIS 19 YEARS OF LIFE, VERY IDIOTIC AND MEGLA-MANIACAL JUST LIKE A CORPORATION. IF YOU IDIOT CHILDREN DON'T STOP SUCKING THE CORPORATE TEAT, YOU'LL NOT ONLY BE EVEN MORE IGNORANT THAN YOU ALREADY ARE BUT TAKE DOWN THE WORLD WITH YOU BECAUSE OLDER ACTUALLY INTELLIGENT PEOPLE THAT INVENTED EVERYTHING YOU WORSHIP WILL BE GONE ONE DAY AND YOU WILL HAVE DESTROYED, BY IT BECOMING NOT EVEN TALENT BASED ANYMORE, LIKE NOW, BUT JUST ATTRIBUTE TO CORPORATE MONEY AND WE'LL NOT HOLD YOUR HAND OR INCLUDE YOU IN ANYTHING BECAUSE OF YOUR HORRIBLE ASSOCIATIONS THAT ARE ALL JUST SO YOU CAN THINK YOUR NEW, COOL, OR IN THE LEAST BIT EXCITING AND INTELLIGENT, BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT KID. SXSW HAS NEVER HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH CORPORATIONS OR TECHNOLOGY UNTIL RECENTLY BECAUSE OF SELL OUTS LIKE YOU. SO PLEASE SHUT UP AND GO TO SCHOOL AND TRY TO ACTUALLY LEARN HOW TO SPEAK AND WRITE KID. ALSO MORON, EVERYTHING YOU TALKED ABOUT HAS BEEN HAPPENING FOR AT LEAST THE LAST 140 YEARS. ALSO WOMEN ARE NOT MORE EMPOWERED THEY STILL GET PAID LESS THAN MEN AND NOT ALLOWED CONTROL OF THEIR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS. BY THE WAY, GENERATION-Y ARE YOU ALIVE, YOU HAVE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS MORE INFORMATION THAN IN HISTORY AND THE OLDER GENERATIONS THAT INVENTED EVERYTHING YOU WORSHIP ARE STILL LIGHT YEARS AHEAD OF YOU INTELLECTUALLY AND WE DEFINITELY CARE FOR HUMANITY AND OUR WELLBEING WHILE ALL YOU CARE ABOUT IS SUCKING UP TO EVIL CORPORATIONS TO MAKE YOURSELF AND FILL YOUR OWN IGNORANT GREED.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 9:08 PM, Magnaman80 wrote:

    A well written article by someone who is still a teenager. It is fantastic to see not only someone interested in finances when most people of that age are too busy playing Halo, but also on top of that his grammar was good and he didn't write like he was texting someone. God bless editors...

    On a sour note I disagree with the Generation Y statement about how great (and not so great) they are to an extent.

    First, For numbers and statistics and a breakdown of which generation we grew up in, my folks were born in '46 and I was born in '80.

    I do not think that the Generation Y youth are the most educated. There is more data to absorb as we grow and evolve but it's quite obvious that my education was dumbed down quite significantly compared to my parents. You have to make a genuine effort to fail in high school, standardized tests have been dumbed down and for sure my folks were NEVER offered "extra credit" assignments. If their education is "higher" I can tell you the effort to want to learn and apply their knowledge versus simple rote memorization differs.

    In regards to the instant gratification factor I can see that the mindset forces someone to quickly solve a problem - but at what costs? How much effort was put into solving the problem? How good was the result? Impatient children don't create solid answers, just answers. Also, many of these Gen Y kids have never had any job experience, responsibilities or made any decisions that could affect them. Their expectations are high (because they have been given or lived a certain quality of life) but what they can bring to the table is mediocre at best.

    The final factor I feel is communication. Kids these days have so many wonderful ways to transfer data: voice, online phone services (skype, Whatsapp, etc), text, social networks, mail, etc. But they're absolutely horrible at human interaction! They're so far removed from person to person communications that their social skills are hampered. Doing business face to face with human emotions is affected.

    Every generation thinks they're the best: my grandparents lived through the Great Depression, multiple wars and so on. My parents' generation stood up to the government and fought for human rights (and turned out to be some of the worst politicians ever). My generation and Gen Y have been given everything on a platter. Let's see how the next generation handles life and their finances. I'm certainly curious!

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 11:19 PM, Kiffit wrote:

    Aaron, in all that enthusiasm, I didn't hear a single reference to the biological environment.

    We are living wildly beyond our ecological means. The World Wildlife Fund et al, in their biennial 'The Living Planet Report' estimate we are presently trying to live on one and a half earths; that if we all tried to live at the rate Americans do, we would need four earths; that there has been a 30% crash in a representative sample of living species since 1970.

    Check it out. There is a lot more dismal environmental news to be had.

    As things stand, we are very quickly innovating our way out of house and home. And yes, there are efficiencies and savings to be made out of more efficient technology, but that is being swamped by exponential growth in industrial turnover.

    You increase the fuel efficiency of planes and then expand the passenger market at a speed that quickly drowns the savings. And as you speed up the production system and make its product redundant sooner by new technology, the the faster you go through what is left of your biological inheritance.

    This is nuts Aaron; very exciting nuts, but stark raving nuts nonetheless. Magnificent entrepreneurs think that they are Napoleons fighting for a megalomaniac industrial gloire as the biological world sinks under their collective weight.

    And when events eventually wake the inmates in this collective asylum, it will be too late to do much but kiss their backsides goodbye.

    This isn't a brilliant progress so much as a final march of the lemmings.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 11:49 PM, Gimmeabreak wrote:

    I do believe Gen-Y is the most ignorant and coddled generation. Your generation has done nothing, nor invented or made anything better but far worse, awarded for being less than mediocre and greedy to boot. These inventions you worship are ALL from baby boomers, hippies and Gen-X. We take what we learn from others, always adults and NEVER STUPID CHILDREN, and create or improve. Your generation has done none of that. If anything all you do is try to take credit for things already done in the past. You are a sad little corporate kiss ass. You have massive amounts of growing up to do mentally and physically. It is pathetic how truly clueless you are young Bush. Figures your last name is Bush after the worst president in history. I am still beyond laughing and scared at the same time of your galactic ignorance. How you got into college i am sure is purely financial.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 4:59 AM, HovoFool wrote:

    Completely agree on the point of higher education's demise....content will be universal and schools will be ranked solely on brand value

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 1:28 PM, zorbathebull wrote:

    Excellent article. I can't believe it was written by a 19 year old. You have a bright future ahead of you!

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 6:07 PM, 48ozhalfgallons wrote:

    Mr. Bush's article notwithstanding, magnaman's comment made it worth tuning in here. I am gratified to see my children's generation so well represented by this no-longer-so-young man's thinking and expression.

    I am somewhat encouraged by the prospect of Ygens' destiny to change the conditions for educational access. I hope the change will be less about speed and more about quality and depth.

    I never liked my generation; its arrogance: in music, drug culture, political correctness, and especially leadership. My generation is a poor segment of humanity. It foolishly and selfishly believed slaving long work hours for the benefit of material, only to naively discover after being laid off, it got the boss ahead while sacrificing marriages and families. The new Cadillac commercial cinematically stages the American Boomer culture of arrogance, selling its own shallow image to itself. Yes, my generation stood up to the government, then proceeded to produce from its lot the most insidious, self centered leaders in American history.

    I like the Xgens. Rejecting Boomers' self centeredness, they recognize the value of work, not for themselves or the boss, but rather for a worthwhile outcome benefitting the many.

    The Xgens know the value of a good vacation, sharing fun with friends, and the rewards of love and sacrifice in a good marriage. I see these values in my sons and their marriages. Boomers have expendable marriages and friendships while Ygens have neither.

    The Xgens are remarkable in that they balance relating to outgoing self centered, accumulation centric, workaholic Boomers and incoming interpersonably crippled, self over rated Ygens. Xgens have honorably and quietly served in the misguided wars, and participate in this misguided economy, both steered by arrogant Boomer leadership. Yet, in their quiet struggle, I see a tempered optimism and practicality in Xgens reminiscent of the WWII generation, but I weep for them regarding their burden dealing with contemporary social structure. I look forward to the Xgens taking the helm from Boomers. Therein lies hope.

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