Podcast – Episode 0131 – Generational Theory with Jessie Newburn

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk with Jessie Newburn about generational theory and how to apply the understanding of Boomer, Generation X, and Millennials to your life.



In this podcast you’ll find:

Jessie Newburn

Generational Theory – The predictable cyclical pattern around how groups of people evolve in time and impact and influence each other.

Generations are a huge node in the system.

Millennials Rising by Howe and Strauss

Four generational archetypes, lasting about 20 years and repeating in a predictable method.

Generations form history and history forms generations.

We are midway thru one of the 20-year cycles.

The Greatest Generation (GIs) are the same archetype as today’s Millennials.

The Four generational archetypes are characterized as four seasons or turnings:

  1. Spring – First turning. After winter. Renewal. Possibility. Fecundity. Spring is when the Boomers were born after the wake of WWII.
  2. Summer – Second turning. Generations X was born during summer. Cultural revolution. Everyone out of the dark.  Time to relax while things grow. Look at music in 1963 and again in 1965 and you will see a clear distinction.  
  3. Autumn – Third Turning. Millennials born in autumn. Harvest time. Wall Street. Materialism.  Entitled. Expectation. A time of abundance and plenty.
  4. Winter – fourth turning – Homelanders. Winter represents the time when that which isn’t strong dies. You can’t go outside and play until 9 pm in winter. Scarcity. Fear of loss. Crisis. Underlying feeling around the world is of crisis which begets a different type of thinking. In every fourth turning, there has always been a total war.

We are in winter. It extends from 2004-2024 roughly.

As children we receive info. Not much ability to discern, just absorb.

Generations are formed by where they are per their life phase:

  • Boomers born in spring. Everything is wonderful. Their young adulthood was characterized by peace, love, and rock-n-roll during summer.  Prime money earning years were in fall. Elderhood is in winter, a time of crisis.
  • Gen. Xers are born in summer during a time when everyone is free to do whatever. Who needs seat belts and bicycle helmets? Their young adulthood is in fall which is the wild west of economics. Prime earning years is in winter. Elder years are in Spring.
  • Millennials are born in fall. Plenty. Abundance. Young adulthood is in winter. Not enough money. No jobs. What they don’t understand is this is cyclical for them. They get to be the heroes of this era. Their midlife will be in spring. When things are fresh and new again and society is coming out of its darkness. Elder years in summer when the cultural revolution decides everything they have built is garbage.

Millennials will give birth to the next generation of Boomers who will call everything created by “The Man” or their parents crap, and demand a cultural revolution.

Millennials were the beloved special children. Everything was done for them in the young adult years (“Make college more affordable,” “Make the workplace safe.”).

In midlife, they suck money out of the system in the form of government that they direct to their generation.  

Homeland generation (aka Silent Generation) are born in winter when adults are very scared about the outer world.

The Primary generation raising Homelanders are Gen Xers, who grew up in an unprotected world, so they flip the energy as generations do and end up overprotecting and suffocating their children.

Homelanders have their young adulthood in spring when there is massive opportunity.  

Homelanders hit every phase of life right for economic prosperity and every phase of life wrong for experiential bonuses. They miss out on a lot but tend to be a very wealthy generation that is well liked and respected.

If you live an average 80-year life span, you will experience every generation. But every generation will be slightly different than every other.

Race is a non-issue to Millennials. Same with alternate sexuality.  

Silent Generation still wants to have a conversation around race. They are 70s-80s.

Boomers still want it to be at the forefront of the conversation with pickets and signs.

Gen Xers carried immigration on their shoulders. They’ve been called the smallest generation which is inaccurate. They are the largest generation because of massive immigration.

Millennials enjoyed a time of abundance, so they think there is always enough resources for everybody.

It’s only when there is a scarcity of resources that scarcity mentality rules everything.

Millennials aren’t prepared for the winter. They have a mindset of abundance and then encounter scarcity.

An understanding of generations helps us understand our parents and our children better.

We are halfway through Winter. There’s no speeding it up. Things aren’t going to get better for another decade. We will likely see a total war. So, how are you choosing to live your life? Do you want to keep expenses minimal? Do you want to buy property? Do you want to maintain some flexibility in life? Do you want to have children?

Everyone’s decisions will be more informed if they take generational theory into consideration.

Each generation wants to be different. Generations are not linear. They make sharp turns from generation to generation.

Millennials rebel against the Gen X definition of youth.

Gen X rebelled against the Boomers definition of youth.

Gen Xers were very scattered. So Millennials see that and decide they don’t want to be scattered they want to work together for change.

Part of what makes America great is because it is one of the most predominant cultures that experiences Generational Theory. Cultures that allow their children expression and choice experience Generational Theory because they experience this ability to hit reset and change ideals from one generation to the next. 

Gen X creed is: “I just want the world to suck less after I’m gone.”

Boomer creed is: “Values! We have to stand for something!”

Every generation looks down on every other generation

Millennial optimism is tremendous. A nice contrast to the cynical Generation X.

Millennials bring a sense of togetherness. Part of what makes them the hero generation is their persistent optimism in the midst of winter. Even in the darkness, there is light.

They’ve transformed the heavy work focus of the previous generations.

Every generation has different technology:

  • Silent Generation – credentialed expert. Believed in PHDs, job titles, authority. If info doesn’t come from a credentialed expert, it’s not valid.
  • Boomers – Prophet Generation. Focused on the guru that can speak to something from the most fundamental value driven perspective. Who has the most book sales and biggest audience? Kings and Queens of broadcast.
  • Gen Xers – Panache and brand. Create status. Affiliate links. Monetize. They break the stronghold of the credentialed experts. Scatter. Move away from the center.
  • Millennials – Crowdsourcing. Sharing info. Move toward the center.

Prediction is that when millennials hit midlife, we will see a quelling of minority voices and dissent.

Nobody cared about Gen Xers. The focus is always on Millennials.

Generations are either recessive or dominant. Boomers and Millennials are dominant, and Gen Xers and Homelanders are recessive.

Gen Xers tend to independence and lean Republican

Millennials tend to be more involved in govt and lean Democrat. Millennials believe in govt because govt took care of them.

Gen Xers world view is that the govt doesn’t care. There is no net. The system doesn’t have my back.  Gen Xers are the gamblers, the risk takers, and they put their time and energy into where things will work. If politics doesn’t work, it’s not worth the effort.

Talk with Millennials in positive future paced language that supports their success and growth.

Talk with Gen Xers with radical honesty. Function and getting things done.

Boomers want to mentor Millennials. Tired of cynical Gen Xers.

Generational theory can help frame self in time and understand the world. We have a tendency to be less panicked about world issues if we realize its cyclical nature.

Jessie Newburn’s Twitter Feed

In this episode Joel and Antonia talk with Jessie Newburn about generational theory and how to apply the understanding of Boomer, Generation X, and Millennials to your life. #generationaltheory #millennials #Generationx #BabyBoomers

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Showing 46 comments
  • Ashe

    I love this idea! I’m a ‘homelander’ who’s mother is a baby boomer, I have one younger brother, but my older siblings are a millennial and a gen X spread out. Everything kind and makes sense as to how we had our hardships and Miscommunications could have come about! I’m glad you guys talked about this 🙂


    I just did some research on generational theory. This was originally developed by Strauss and Howe and the book was published in 2000. They based their theory on survey data from an online survey . That’s a serious issue because that means the data this theory is based on is from a non-random sample which is not representative of the full population. The respondents of the survey were all young people from middle and upper-middle upper socioeconomic background. That is not the average American. That is another issue with the data they used. Most of the data from other books that deal with this formation of generational theory is based off of similar data from college students which is again not representative of the average millennial. . This explains the issues I have with what you have described in this podcast. It’s based on a model which was built from seriously flawed data. We should not use Strauss and Howe’s version of generational theory for informing our decisions it’s not empirically supported. In fact, research in the field of sociology shows that generational differences are distinctive only in the statistical sense generally usually only percentage points one way or the other.

    • Antonia Dodge

      We offer models that make sense to us and from which we’ve benefited. None of them are empirically true. Most rest comfortably in philosophy at this time, not science. They’re maps of how reality works, not reality itself. If you don’t like a model, that’s cool. There are plenty to choose from.



    This is just wrong. There might be something to generational theory, but this entire episode completely fails when it comes to understanding millennials. It’s utterly tone deaf on issues of classism, racism, and sexism. There is so much that is wrong with the way this presents modern history that there just isn’t space in a single comment to cover it all. How much time have you guys actually spent talking to millennials ? Especially, less privileged millennials.

    • Antonia Dodge

      “How much time have you guys actually spent talking to millennials ? Especially, less privileged millennials.”

      An exorbitant amount.


  • James Matley

    Not sure if I’m a millennial or a Gen X. I’m definitely into politics and I moan allot about it, I felt that school and child hood sucked at times and wan’t to have an impact on the world rather than making stuff work, although both are true to some degree. Born in 1980, started my own company. Probably gen X.

  • Kim

    This was interesting…we have quite a generational spread in our family. I’m Gen X, my husband is a Millennial, and our kids are Homeland . I can see now how some of the issues we have to work on as a family are quite generational. Also, it makes for some really fun times though! For example, I love showing my husband 80’s music videos and watching his mouth hang open in wonder…or every time I strap my son into his 4 point, carbon fiber, Ft. Knox car seat I think about how mine as a child in the 70’s looked like a baby’s wash tub with a single strap across the front! And my kids know if they hear Van Halen, they better stay out of the kitchen…mom’s in the zone. To me Van Halen’s music reminds me of “simpler times”…if that makes sense.

    On another note, this also clarified why my mom, Silent Gen, may she rest in peace, would not take health advice from me since we I’d “only” learned it from a podcast or a blog. She trusted white coats with credentials, or Dr. Oz?! (Maybe because he is on TV, which also meant “truth” to her?) I could say, “Take DHA”…she’d ignore it then call me months later to say “Dr. Oz says to take DHA! Can I get that at Walgreen’s?” *face palm* I’d just chalked it up to my INTJ female “Cassandra” syndrome. But, it would be a lot nicer to believe it was more of a generation thing! Thanks for the great episode.

    • Charis Branson

      Hey Kim, thanks for the comment! I really enjoyed reading it, being a Gen Xer myself. My parents were also Silent Generation. However, my parents were both distrustful of the white lab coats. They preferred more natural solutions. So, I can see how older generations would distrust ‘modern day mumbo jumbo’ but that is also a sign of an Introverted Sensor. They prefer their info comes from reliable sources. Do you think your mom used introverted sensing, or Memory?

  • Sonya

    I was confused by the timeline given in this podcast for when Boomers end. Y’all referenced the end date for Boomers to be 1961 but everything I’ve ever read or heard says that Boomers end in 1964. I was born in 1964 so have spent my life believing I was at the tail end of the Boomer generation. I returned to the internet and my search still shows Boomers being 1946-1964. Why does Jessie Newburn use a different end date?

  • Andrew Paul

    I don’t like Generation Theory, because it is a seminal theory that seeks to mold a society, or at least create a manufactured form of consent due to the amount of time and energy that is spent developing the prison. I look at my good Gen X friends and they don’t bear the shame that has been foisted onto my generation from our grandparents.


  • Andrew Paul

    This woman is partly right in her estimation that people will solidify more and more, and less minority opinions will be available. But I think it has more to do with the competition of ideas and consensus due to demographic shift and/or drift.

    Gen X was a shift, and Gen Y is a drift from the dominant political concensus. The economic shift engeandered by Gen X thru immigration and so on has rigged the system to gobble up the G.I and their children.

    What was that refrain I heard often as a child from Gen X folk? Eat your parents. And now in order to survive I find myself doing just that, and I don’t feel right about it.

  • Andrew Paul

    I’ve been most impacted by the children of the Silent Generation, economically, and their children Gen X respectfully, and most impacted by the children of the GI gen politically, and their Boomer children respectfully.

    Gen Xers are typified what I would call a “player” in a “game”. We’re seeing the politic Boomer generation either adapting to this Gen X concept and succeeding, or we see them falling out of favor. What we did see was the response from younger people towards Bernie Sander’s platform, and most of them happen to be Gen Y who have a lot in common with G.I and the Silent Gen.

    When you talk about recessive and dominant generations with this foil in mind it shades things for me as a Gen Y (1986), someone who was heavily influenced by Generation X and my older Boomer parents 1952/49.

    Friends and family are very important to me. More than anything. I’m strictly values based, and am amazed how much it shoots me in the foot in society run economically by Gen X.

  • Rowena Eureka

    Long time listener, first time poster- fascinating podcast on generation theory. My thoughts on the war we’re going to “fight” this winter cycle: climate change/ peak oil. Seems to me the attacks on 9/11 were the kick off for the US.

    Here’s a link to Bill McKibben’s interesting article on how we should be moblizling for climate change the way we moblized for WWII.


  • Dana Vigoren

    This was fascinating and thought provoking -thank you.

    One thing I would love to hear you guys explore in depth is how being born in the transitional period between two generations can affect people. I was born in 1981 and I’m 35. Since there’s no “official” definitive line on when Gen X ended and the Millenial generation began, I’ve been lumped into both, depending on the source.

    I don’t identify with either generation. I identify with certain aspects of each, but don’t feel that I belong to either. In researching this, I discovered that this is a common phenomenon with many people born between approximately 1978-1982. I’ve heard it described as a micro generation.

    I’ve read a few great articles on it and it even has a Wikipedia page.




    • Dana Vigoren

      I should also add that my dad is a baby boomer born in 1957. He is the youngest of a big family and my grandma was 45 when he was born. His parents were from an earlier generation than that of his peers and I’m sure that influenced his upbringing and, subsequently, his parenting.

  • Bex

    What year did genX end and millenials start?

  • Sarah

    This podcast blew my mind! I’m definitely going to go deeper down this rabbit hole. I just want to share a thought here. When you said millenials bring an optimism into winter, my first thought was, “So millenials are like the holiday season of winter!” That sounds kinda corny but my Ne is imploding right now. Thank you for such a thought provoking podcast. Can you guys do another one on generational theory???

    • Joel Mark Witt

      Keep this just between us Sarah… we are looking into developing an entire personal development course around generation theory with Jessie. Stay tuned. Shhhhh. 🙂

  • Cheryl

    Very interesting theory – will definitely be reading more. Thanks Jessie!

    Just a couple of comments (from the 60k thoughts that are now flying around in my head!)
    I’m from Australia, and although our cultures have many similarities, there are distinct differences that come into play. For example, although our cultures are both high in ‘individualism’ (per Hofstede’s cultural perspectives) it shows up quite differently; in Australia, we have what we call the Tall Poppy Syndrome which means that we don’t revere people who are successful, we tend to want to ‘cut them down’, whereas the American culture is quite the opposite. So I’ll be interested to read generational theory through the lens of our culture too.

    In regard to the ‘world war’ for this season, I’m wondering if we aren’t already experiencing it now in the form of global terrorism; the difference is that the enemy isn’t a nation state/s but rather a ‘faceless army’ of extremists who operate beyond static ‘battle grounds’.

    Thanks again for a very thought provoking podcast!

  • Rod

    WOW, very interesting, great topic, want more. Being a late Boomer ’58’, I have to say that I’ve always been frustrated with how boomers perceive, discuss and digest the world. For example our current political setting, they just sound like narrow-minded old farts! Please turn off the damn television and engage the world around you. Also, personally I’ve never had an issue with Millennials, I have 3 myself, but I can see what they see so I get it.

    Great topic!

  • Matthew Loomis

    Hi, love this episode! I’m now interested in generational theory!

    One thing about this episode that I wish was covered or at least touched on is how this seasonal theory can be applied before the 20th century, which wasn’t discussed. That would help convince me that this theory works if I could see it working in earlier generations. I’m also curious what happens going backwards as far as the U.S. Is concerned. The guest seems very America focused and since the US is only 240 years old, how do you apply this theory before 1776? 🙂

    For the record I’m a Gen X INTJ

  • Debbie Michelle

    I found this to be fascinating. Listened to it three times. I have read The Fourth Turning as well. I am so excited to discover your podcasts and can’t wait for the subsequent one to be posted. Keep up the good work!

  • Pontus Resin

    Fascinating subject! This struck a cord with me and now I understand why I percieved the world to be in what would be described as “Winter Time”. Much conflict and overall strife seems to be present in our current world but as a millennial I am optimistic that we’ll get through this haha!

    Finally I can tell my mom that I am a hero and she should not be too concerned with me slacking 😛

    I couldn’t help but to think of 2 appropriate songs to listen through while also listening to this:

    – Bob Dylan – Times They Are A-Changin’
    – Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On

    • Jessie Newburn

      Hi Pontus, Correct. Yes, generally speaking, early-wave Millennials give birth to the latter half of a generation. E.g. The first half of GenXers mostly had Silent gen parents, while the latter half had Boomer parents. The first half of the Millennial gen had mostly Boomer parents, while the latter half had GenX parents. And, as you can see, the first half of Homelanders are born mostly to GenX parents, with the latter half to Millennial parents.

      It’s the generation in MIDLIFE that sets the tone for how the generation in childhood is raised. They are the PTA presidents, the school administrators, the daycare owners, the experienced teacher and team leaders and in their worldview they create the world that children grow up in.

      With all generations, the first wave, mid point and latter half have different experiences, but they are still all the same generation, and grow up in an era influenced mostly by the tenor of the generation in midlife and their attitude toward child-rearing.

    • Jessie Newburn

      Oops. I meant to reply to you. Read my comment in the message below yours.

    • Matthew Loomis

      Your taste in music screams “Boomer!”

  • Daniel

    Loved this episode! Just a quick question to clarify, many Millennials, myself included are coming into their late 20s and early 30s and are having kids now, therefore aren’t we giving birth to the Homelanders also? Above mentions the Millennials will give birth to the next Silent gen.

    • Jessie Newburn

      I’m having challenges navigating the UX of this commenting section. My bad. Daniel, I replied to your comment below Pontus’s comment. Please read that.

      • Daniel

        Hi Jessie, thank you for the reply below, that clarifies. Cheers, Daniel

  • Jaime Abruzzese

    This was a great listen, especially for the long drive I had last night. I have a lot of thoughts about it, but one of the things I’m wondering is how this theory applies culturally throughout the world. I definitely can see it in the US, but I am wondering if other parts of the world are experiencing these different seasons in a different time frame, i.e. Europe in Summer while US is in winter. I’m thinking most likely other parts of the world ARE experiencing a different season and it definitely affects how we react to each other on an international level. Now that I’m thinking about it, the US as a melting pot, mixing all different kinds of people from around the world (and born in different seasons, but the same “generation”)…interesting.


    • Jessie Newburn

      Hi Jaime, I’m the gal who was interviewed in the podcast. From what I understand, cultures align to the current constellation of generations in the US as much as they align with the US economy, most notably its post WWII recovery time. So Europe tends to be about 5-10 years behind, in terms of the emergence of generations. Other cultures more. Generations don’t align the calendrical years but to the life conditions into which they were born and in which they are raised and then, eventually, live their lives as young adults, midlifers and elders.

      • Jaime Abruzzese

        Hi Jessie – thank you for your reply! I had no idea you had responded and am not sure you will see this one, but I had a comment/question. What you said makes a lot of sense. Interesting that if Europe is 5-10 years behind, they must be in the beginning of winter, correct?

  • Tanya Krushen

    Very interesting podcast. A good distraction for my brain to chew on this afternoon. I will be exploring it some more.

    • Jessie Newburn

      Thanks, Tanya. I definitely recommend reading The Fourth Turning, by Strauss and Howe. Or, if you’re more into videos, you can google their names and find plenty of interviews and videotaped presentations.

  • Charo Pinilla

    Fascinating subject!
    Thanks for bringing it here. It has clarified so many things.
    I was doubting if I was an Gen X since I’m not from the States, but the mindset, that thing about: “let’s try to see if I can make it sucky less” was very revealing.
    As Joel said, my mind is spinning with ideas now. ?

    • Jessie Newburn

      Yep, on every GenXers’ epitaph, if it simply said, “The world sucks less for my existence,” that would probably be sufficient!

  • Shahin Gooneh

    Probably one of the best podcast that I have heard in a while. Great work.

  • Jenny

    I’m wondering if you guys have ever looked into integral theory? I feel like it suits the way you pull different ideas and theories together for self-development.

    • Joel Mark Witt

      Hey Jenny. We have friends who work with Ken Wilber at Integral Life. Have you studied anything Integral related?

  • James

    Long time Gen-X adherent of Generational Theory. This was a decent introduction. Another model that can clarify current conflicts present in the generations is the work on moral psychology from social psychologist Jonathan Haidt. The conflicts of the 4th Turning between Left and Right are based on overemphasis on six particular values. Most people start with Haidt’s TED talk.
    Gen Theory/Spiral Dynamics/Haidt’s Moral Values work are a great trifecta to understand macro patterns

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the referral, James! I will definitely check that out. 🙂

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