Dear fellow Gen Xers,
Have you noticed? Philadelphia is having a Generation X moment. (Gen X is the tiny generation defined as those born between 1965 and 1980.) This is our time. Some of our peers are in the leadership seat, making the decisions, and creating the legacy. The message for the rest of us: let’s figure out where we fit into the story, and step up to make the world and city a better place — however each of us can.
I always thought that the powerful people, the ones calling the shots, were older. Maybe this is a result of the stream of U.S. Presidents and presidential candidates in our childhood being nothing but old White men? Even the one woman we saw run when we were kids — the late Rep. Geraldine Ferraro — seemed, somehow, very old when she was a Vice Presidential candidate in 1984. (In actuality, she was 49, one year older than Gen X Vice President Kamala Harris is now.)
In the words of our own Gen X super-tycoon Michael Rubin, LFG!!!
Imposter mentality pervades, and some of us might feel like we are not experienced enough, seasoned enough, confident enough or have enough value to step up … in our careers, our communities, our industry or even to pursue our passions. In our younger days, we were considered the “slacker” generation. More recently, we’ve been all but left out of the conversation that pits Boomers vs. Millennials. Now, we are the older, wiser people in charge!
Generation X is doing awesome things
The first important work presentation I had in my first job at Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (now Visit Philly), in 1998, was to convene the regional tourism industry for a presentation about economic impact. I worked closely with Angela Patterson Val to plan the event at the venue where she worked at the time. We spent hours making sure that the minute specifications from my boss, then President/CEO Meryl Levitz, would be met properly. She wanted the cheese served at the reception not to be cut in cubes, but rather in thin, triangle-shaped wedges that could be easily eaten in a few bites. (You get the idea.)
Angela has come a very long way since the cheese debacle — she is now running the whole damn thing as President/CEO of Visit Philly. And she is bringing to it a new excitement and civic energy that we need to draw visitors to our great city. Wow.
I spend most of my professional life as the leader of the Rittenhouse Row business community. It’s my job to market the consumer-facing businesses into being a successful, exciting and dynamic component of Philadelphia’s magic. For my entire career, the most important and visible mentor of how to “get shit done” downtown was Center District President/CEO Paul Levy. In my eyes, he is a superhero protecting our dysfunctional version of Gotham.
He announced his retirement last week and handed the reins to the wicked smart, pragmatic visionary and totally cool Prema Katari Gupta. I beamed with pride that another peer and friend was in the leader seat.
Liz Magill, the University of Pennsylvania’s new president, is a Gen Xer, as is Temple University President Jason Wingard.
Sunday, we all chanted as Howie Roseman, through his sharp management prowess, took the Eagles to another Super Bowl. Thank you Howie.
The Philly Mayor’s race brings us Rebecca Rhynhart, Helen Gym, Cherelle Parker, Maria Quiñones Sánchez, Jeff Brown and Derek Green. I am clapping for all of you, one of whom could be the first Gen X mayor of Philadelphia.
Earlier this month, I watched as Hip City Veg’s Nicole Marquis won an award at the Philadelphia Burger Brawl (started by restaurateurs Rob and Maggie Wasserman to raise money for schools and youth programs) for her social impact work in the hospitality industry. That was great, and I loved watching her shine. The more poignant moment was when a nice man came up to her and told her that she had changed his life. Her vision, that vegan food could be normal and delicious, changed his health. Wow, that’s power.
I was a counselor at Sesame Day Camp with Governor Josh Shapiro. Bradley Cooper was my lab partner in Chemistry 2. The best party I ever went to was arranged by Mike Jackson, with a young Stevie Wonder-like talent out of Penn named John Stephens who went on to become John Legend, who has partnered with Philly natives Jackson and Ty Stiklorious to disrupt the world of entertainment. CNN news anchor Jake Tapper went to school with many of my friends.
So if you were born between 1965 and 1980, and have the inclination to step up, to lead, to inspire and to make change, we need you. Yes you can.
Corie Moskow, the Citizen’s Director of Events and Partnerships, is the founder of Gloss PR, a local public relations firm that spearheads marketing and event-planning projects for local organizations and nonprofits.
The Citizen welcomes guest commentary from community members who stipulate to the best of their ability that it is fact-based and non-defamatory.
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Angela Val; Michael Rubin: Lorie Shaull via Flickr, Nicole Marquis; John Legend: Sachyn Mital, CC BY-SA 3.0