In episode 89 of Mission: Impact, Carol Hamilton and Miguel Guadalupe discuss
issues of generational engagement in leadership, highlighting the frequent oversight of Generation X and stressing the unique adaptability and valuable perspective that this generation brings to the table. Miguel emphasizes the necessity for Generation X to advocate for recognition in leadership roles, reflecting on a LinkedIn post that sparked a broader conversation about the career stagnation felt by many in his generation.
Don’t Forget GenX: underrepresentation and unique contributions of Generation X in leadership and decision-making processes.
Adapting to change: how Generation X's experience with the evolution of technology equips and other big changes over their career equips them with adaptability, a valuable skill set for leadership.
Perpetual Utility player: Many of the Gen Xers who commented on Miguel’s LinkedIn post shared the feeling of being overlooked in their professional lives.
Visibility and Advocacy: Miguel suggests that Generation X should take a lesson from Millenials and Gen Z and take a more assertive stance in advocating for their visibility and leadership opportunities.
Miguel Guadalupe is Vice President of Donor and Community Relations at The Bowery Residents' Committee, or BRC in NYC. BRC helps over 10,000 individuals a year suffering from homelessness, mental illness, and addiction with the dignity and compassion they deserve. Miguel manages donor engagement, fundraising, and event planning, as well on service as BRC liaison to local elected officials, community organizations and businesses wherever a BRC program is located. He is also Vice Chair of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, and helps to produce America's largest cultural celebration, in NYC, while helping to raise and distribute over $200K annually to students attending higher education.
Important Links and Resources:
Miguel’s viral LinkedIn post: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:7036817928465350656?updateEntityUrn=urn%3Ali%3Afs_feedUpdate%3A%28V2%2Curn%3Ali%3Aactivity%3A7036817928465350656%29
Miguel Guadalupe on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/miguelguadalupe/
The Bowery Residents' Committee https://www.brc.org/
Click "Read More" for Transcript
Carol Hamilton: Welcome Miguel. Welcome to Mission Impact.
Miguel Guadalupe: Well, thank you. Thanks for having me.
Carol: I'd like to start out each conversation with what, what drew you to the work that you do? What motivates you and what would you describe as your why?
Miguel: I work for the Bowery Residents' Committee, Inc or, or BRC. We're a major nonprofit social services provider in the New York City area.
And what we do is we help those suffering from homelessness mental illness and addiction in, in the city. We have about 35 programs where we run the gamut from homeless outreach to addiction services and workforce training shelters, safe havens, permanent housing, transitional housing, the likes, all the way to permanent.
Affordable housing, which we're actually constructing and building for for formerly homeless as well as low income providers. And I guess what motivates me in terms of this work is, I've, I grew up in, in the city, I've seen, from the seventies , and I've seen its highs, I've seen its lows.
My family has been in the city for generations and I've seen how sometimes the institutions fail the community. I've seen folks who have been homeless. I've seen folks who have been lost to addiction. And while the beginning of my career was mostly in the corporate world, in finance and, and technology and consulting, I always had an affinity toward trying to figure out how I could potentially give back to those who nobody looks after, who nobody cares really about people, people who other people just wanna disappear, if you will. And I got an opportunity at BRC. To sort of merge my skill sets in terms of relationship management and marketing and sales and stuff like that into helping provide the development work, helping the organization help others.
Helping to fund our programs, helping to do the needful in terms of innovating and trying to solve the real problems that is homelessness because homelessness is the symptom. It's not the actual disease. The disease is a series of failures from our systems, from our institutions that allow people to fall through the cracks.
And that's what BRC is trying to help is, to uplift and lift those people up and provide them with the hope and dignity and empathy that they deserve as they try to put their lives back together.
Carol: That's awesome. Thank you. I relate with being kind of several layers away from the direct work of folks in the consulting that I do, but we connected actually through LinkedIn and you posted about an experience that you had had on a panel where you'd been invited to. A panel discussing millennial recruitment onto boards of nonprofits and your post that went viral by LinkedIn standards.
You pointed out that the conversations about generations and engagement, whether on boards or in leadership development more generally, often leaves out Generation X and as a fellow Generation Xer, your post definitely caught my eyes, so I'm curious if you could tell me just a little bit more about the panel that, that originally sparked the post.
Miguel: I was at a conference and I was actually speaking at a panel. And the panel had originally started with the topic of a sort of generational engagement. I was all about that because part of my job is in donor relations, managing different donor boards which include what others would call junior board.
We call it a leadership council. And that board, I manage, and that is mid beginning to mid-tier level career professionals which include multiple generations. And I also manage a couple of other donor cohorts. One that's a little more senior, and then there's our team cohort, which includes folks who run the marathons for us and stuff like that. So, I manage a couple of these donor cohorts and they are very diverse in terms of generations. Recent graduates all the way up to mid-career professionals, et cetera. And so I have a lot of experience with that.
My initial intention was to be part of that panel to discuss how we engage all these different engagements and as panels do they often evolve. And then it evolved into millennial recruitment and engagement and et cetera. This was the second time that this had happened with this particular panel, because I think the idea was that more people would be interested in this topic than just plain generational involvement. So, rather than say Just my personality rather than be like, okay, great, I was like, well, no, I, I came here to talk about multiple generations and so that's what I'm gonna do. I made the point to point out that when we talk about generational engagement, we always seem to leave out Generation X.
We talk about the boomers, we talk about the leadership. We talk in terms of, what are they doing now? Where will they be going next? What vacuum will be left? How do we fill that vacuum? We talk about that a lot. And then we talk about emerging leadership, and we talk about young leaders.
We talk about youth to many people who are in their thirties and under. But there's millions of people that fall in between those two. And, we are very much present and we're very much involved. But it doesn't seem that, that anyone seems to want to speak specifically to that generation X, gen X, and, and there's all these jokes about how we're used to it. We're the latchkey kids. We know how to do our peanut butter jelly sandwiches and our Chef Boyardee for lunch. I get that. But I think it's important because when you're absent from the conversation, decisions are made without you.
And when decisions are made without you, then you don't have the input and those decisions affect you. So if decisions in leadership, whether the next C level or the next VP or the next director is being decided in a room where Generation X is not being considered as the future.
Then guess what? Then they won't be part of that future. And so you'll have an entire generation of people who are kind of stuck in middle management. And who don't move forward and just see people sort of leapfrog them into places of leadership. And I just wanted to make a point to say that there's a lot of skill in this generation, that there's a lot of energy and youthful, quite unquote, youthful energy in this generation still.
that we have a particular Skill Set because we've always straddled these two eras of sort of pre and post whatever, pre and post y2k, pre and post computers, pre and post emails, pre and post like the technology elevation that has been exponentially faster. In terms of iterations over the years, we remember before it, and we have been riding this wave consistently through it.
I don't know a Gen X or who doesn't remember having to start learning a particular technology as opposed to just simply uploading the latest version. That's a skillset that that many of us have and, and that I think is, is important for companies to understand as a benefit, as an asset as opposed to something to, to just kind of ignore or take for granted.
Carol: I really appreciated that, the perspective of the particular skills and perspective also that having gone through that shift. I literally remember going to college with a typewriter. And then after a semester, someone in my class said, have you been to the computer lab and taken me there?
The typewriter got put in the closet and eventually went home, but I never looked at it again. I remember the day that somebody called me into their office and said, there's this new thing called the Worldwide Web. Have you seen it? Let me show you a webpage.
, and all of those things. So we do have those memories and, and have experience, . As you said, having to learn each of these things as they come. I was thinking about as you were talking, I was thinking about when the pandemic started and, everything shut down and. Folks who do the kind of work that I do.
We're used to doing everything in a room with people facilitating , analog, using post-it notes and flip charts and all of that and, and markers. And I love all of those. I've got stacks of them in my office. But , having kind of always jumped into new technologies, I was able to help people out to say, you can do this online too.
And you, there are lots of tools that are built to kind of replicate that kind of experience in the room and teach people how to do that. So that ability and it was an interesting combination of boomers and, and millennials who were in those classes that I was teaching. But it was, it was fun to kind of be in the middle.
What are some of the other skills and talents that you think that Gen X particularly brings to leadership at this point?
Carol: Well, thank you Miguel, for bearing with us our technical difficulties and coming back onto the podcast to continue the conversation. I appreciate it. So what do you feel like is lost when conversations jp from boomers to millennials and Gen Z forgetting Gen X?
Miguel: I think the biggest thing that's lost is the ability to talk about transition, ? So everything is in a constant state of transition, and that's not a bad thing. What I believe Gen X brings to the table. Is that we grew up in transition. We grew up through multiple iterations of various different technologies.
We know, and, when we were going to school, when we weren't going to college, when we were going to grad school, when we were starting our careers, this time in our lives was constantly full of transition. So, if anything, we are best at adjusting to new things. And that's, and that's a unique status, I believe because the generation above us, had their certain technologies were relatively status quo until we came about.
And I believe the younger generations. While they have newer iterations of these technologies, they're not brand new technologies, they're just better, faster, quicker, et cetera. ? So we were the ones who most had to adjust our work models, our, our, our ways of interacting, our, our ways of doing business in fundamental ways that the previous generation did not have to experience and that the younger generations now already take for granted. And when you have that skill set, when you, when you are used to those things, you can take a business, you can take a board, you can take a nonprofit, and really handle what for the last X amount of years have been.
Nonstop transitional periods. and what I feel is, is that we're in another wave of transition, not necessarily in terms of technology, but definitely in terms of how we're interacting and how we're modeling ourselves and how we're modeling work and how we're modeling, the environment and society.
And Gen X is best equipped to handle these types of transitions because we're not very possessive of the way things used to be because we know the way things used to be will eventually change and we're not sort of, and we're also sort of, not also, easily impressed with the new new.
. So, we'll take something that's coming through the pipe and we'll rest on it. We'll take a look at it, we'll make sure that it's feasible. We'll make sure that it's something that is, that can be taken to scale, et cetera, because we understand that for every new technology, for every new way of doing things that, there's a hundred other things that failed or that turned obsolete within a few years. so, so we're, we're very much used to that. And I think what's lost is when you skip from boomers to millennials, is that perspective, And I think you see it sometimes when you're, when you're, when, when folks rush from going from 70 year olds, 60 year olds to 30 year olds, is you lose that perspective.
You, you lose that balance that I believe Gen X brings to the table.
Carol: I really appreciate that perspective of having had to learn, Many of these technologies along the way and going through multiple iterations of transitions. and certainly boomers have had to do that too, but it, but in a different way and at a different stage in their career.
So I think, shifting from analog, to computers and digital, and I, at first, at least for me, and I think I'm at the very. First year that they even labeled Gen X. I literally made that transition in college. Then, bringing the typewriter and then finding the computer, the computer lab and starting to use it.
And then, being able to remember when you had to, use DOS, moving to the more visual, the WYSIWYG, set up and graphic, all of those transitions. And I think the big difference that I see just from a technology point of view, Is kind of the ease of like, I'll jump in and just play with stuff.
I'm not afraid of it. and others who are a little bit older, wanna read the manual, wanna know all the, and are afraid of breaking things, which I've never been afraid of. But I love that. I love that perspective of the number of transitions that we've had to go through and, and the adaptability that we've learned along the way.
And, and, and change is only happening faster. and so that adaptability and that perspective of being able to manage and work through those rapid changes is really a gift. That I, that I think is a great point that you make that our generation brings to leadership.
Are there other gifts that you would say are unique, in our kind of generational cohort that we bring to leadership?
Miguel: When you look at how we interact with each other, I think there's a, there's definitely a different vibe. I think, we, we, gen Xers tend to look for commonality where we can, where we can sort of, Bring in our cohorts and, and I guess society has a, it's different for different people, but for the most part, my experience has been that, I find Gen Xers to want to find things that we have in common.
What, where can we bond? Where can we, even if we come from two different places, come from different upbringings, let's find something where we can agree. and as a, I feel like the idea of silos, of niche, groups of, us and them. It is a relatively new way of approaching society. I think Gen Xers are naturally uncomfortable with that. and they push back a lot. Sometimes it comes across as being intransigent in terms of the new ways. But I also feel like some of it comes from a society of, Hey listen, we get that everybody's different. Well, we're all trying to find how we can get along. We're all trying to find where we agree and that's, there's some value in that, whereas looking for differences, for differences sake , tends to be unproductive. in the grander scheme of things. And, I find Gen Xers when we joke, especially when we joke around.
New language and new stuff like that. Some of it is a little, depending on who you are and there's definitely folks that take it too far, but I, I do feel like the, it's, it's an inherent pushback to, continued divisiveness among when we can be working together towards solving some real issues and some real problems. Carol: Yeah, I think for any, any group, any, trying to find those commonalities and those that have common ground, and, and where we agree , that can be a real, a real gift. You prompted quite the conversation on your, on your LinkedIn page with the prompt that you made, or the post that, that you, that you put up. And I'm curious if there's some things that you took away from the conversation that was generated from it.
Miguel: Yeah, I mean, I found it was interesting to know. That a lot of people felt that they were alone. and that the conversation sparked a lot of people to really understand that the way they felt of where their career was or whether they were feeling overlooked or whether they were feeling like, they were not being, like, like their best self wasn't being brought out by their company or their organization was not unique.
That to me was surprising. I, a lot of people were, were, were giving, I guess, testimonials, to just kind of feeling stuck and, stuck in mental management, stuck in feeling overlooked in terms of raises, in terms of promotions, in terms of simply attention, where they were, labeled as a, a utility player, but not someone who could potentially lead.
There was this wrong way of looking at things that youth, that chase for youthful engagement, somehow skipped this generation. There's a lot of youth, there's a lot of vigor, there's a lot of energy coming out of Gen X. And , to not tap into that is, is, to the company, the organization's, detriment.
Because the network that's been built, the expertise that's been built, the gravitas that's been built by Gen Xers, is something that every company should be looking for first before they start thinking about, what, what the next step is gonna be. So, my biggest surprise was how many people said, wow, that's incredible.
I've been feeling this in my career, in my organization, and it's comforting to know that I'm not alone.
Carol: Yeah, that struck me as well. The number of people who said, they kind of felt like they've been overlooked. And it made me think of an experience that I had, a while back, probably 10 years ago now, with a boss, who was a baby boomer and he was kind of musing of like, well, where's the next generation of leadership gonna come from?
And I just don't see the pipeline. And I'm like, I am standing in front of you having this conversation with you. Like apparently you can't see me.
Miguel: That feeling of invisibleness is, if it was definitely, of being invisible was definitely something that, that came out a lot. What's interesting though, Is that Gen Xers, at least the ones who were talking, you know, their immediate response was, yeah, but we're used to it.
? And that's to our detriment. Like to be so accepting of that role is not something that we should be doing. Like two millennials credit and to Gen Z's credit, they are not. Just laying down, and accepting the status quo. They're, there's, they're screaming bloody murder and they're saying, it's my turn.
? And perhaps what Gen X needs to do is learn from them and, and, and, maybe, maybe not say it in the same way, but also be better advocates for themselves, into, I think that that's, that's something to be said, a about that.
Carol: You were talking about, we might take a page from the millennials and Gen Z, and, and get out from, not be just the understudy.
Miguel: Just advocate for ourselves like we. Yeah. Not be on the, not under study, be, Yeah. A lot of us are like, okay, well, I can be the utility player and as long as it continues to give me a job, I'm okay.
And, and I think millennials and, and Gen Zers are like, I'm not satisfied with just having a job. I wanna be the leader. I wanna be the manager. I wanna be the CEO, I wanna be the CFO. And maybe they're not, I mean, of course there's a bell curve, but maybe they're not ready, but at least they want it and they're showing that they're hungry.
And I think Gen Xers can, can, can take a play, can take a page from that playbook and show that they're hungry too.
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