There's a lot of talk about Millennials these days. And when it's not about Millennials, it's about Gen Z. Or Baby Boomers, the old standby.
There's one generation that is missing in most conversations: Generation X. We were born in the age of birth control and grew up believing it was quite possible that the U.S. and the Soviet Union were going to blow each other up with nukes.
Many of us graduated into the recession of the early 1990s, and we were called "slackers" because we went home to live in the basement or garage when we couldn't find jobs. We came of age in an era when employers no longer had any loyalty to us, and many lost jobs in the more recent recession, just as we were supporting families and settling down.
It's entirely possible we'll never see a Gen X president, but that's OK. We never really expected all this to work out anyway. We didn't invent the Internet, nor did we invent Facebook. We didn't create Star Wars (or Trek), but we have made 'em relevant again.
Nobody else is gonna toot our horn, so I'm going to do it. Here are 10 Americans who are leaders in their fields and were probably called slackers when they graduated from college (if they didn't drop out).
Sergey Brin & Larry Page - The founders of Google were born in 1973. This is the search engine that rules how the Internet is organized and searched. You know, no big whoop.
Joss Whedon - Among the oldest of Xers, Whedon was born in 1964. One could argue whether 1964 is Generation X or Boomer, but folks on the cusp of two generations can be claimed by either. Given that he's the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, two shows that are utterly Gen X in flavor, I'm claiming him. (Oh yeah, and he also directed the last Avengers movie and wrote the first Toy Story movie.)
Marissa Mayer - Born in 1975, Mayer's the highest-profile female CEO of a tech company at the moment. Argue if she's done a good job or not, but she's Gen X through and through in her laser focus on career, starting out as Employee 20 at Google - their first female engineer.
Jay Z - Mr. Beyonce himself was born in 1969. Besides being married to one of the fiercest feminists of the 21st Century, he's one of the most successful musicians and businessmen alive today. He's sold more than 100 million albums and won 21 Grammys. Whatever.
Tyra Banks - Born in 1973, Ms. Banks was the first black model to appear on the cover of GQ and Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, among other magazines. Creator and host of America's Next Top Model, Banks also was one of the original Victoria's Secret "angels". She's kind of a big deal.
Julian Assange - Yep, the WikiLeaks founder was born in 1971. Has that Gen X "stick it to the man" attitude, no doubt.
Amy Poehler - This lady's just hitting her stride. Born in 1971, Poehler had a career on Saturday Night Live (which she probably grew up watching surreptitiously while her parents were asleep) and has written a book, hosted the Golden Globes (with fellow Xer Tina Fey) and created the Smart Girls project.
Mindy Kaling - Almost a Millennial, Kaling was born in 1979. She's won a zillion awards for her work as writer, director and actress on The Office and as creator of The Mindy Project, which was picked up by Hulu after NBC dropped it.
Susan Wojcicki - The CEO of YouTube was born in 1968. She's been with Google for quite some time, as Brin and Page set up shop in her garage. She also created AdSense. She's kind of a big deal.
Kathryn Finney - OK, I couldn't find out exactly when the founder of DigitalUndivided was born, but she grew up in the 1980s, so she's an Xer. She got a degree in epidemiology from Yale, worked as a research scientist, founded and sold an early fashion blog, The Budget Fashionista and is an all-around badass in the tech and media scenes in New York and San Francisco. Gen X through and through.
OK. That was 11, but I kinda squished Brin & Page together, so I figured I'd give you an extra. There's more where these folks came from.