What Gen Z and Gen X can learn from each other

Gen X can be a bit of a meme target for Gen Z – especially when attempting to navigate social media trends.

Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen X is often depicted as the parent attempting to figure out what TikTok means.

But this is the tribe that built the tech, learned it – and never stopped learning.
AUG 23, 2023
What Gen Z and Gen X can learn from each other

While Gen Z, born in the internet age, is regarded as digitally native, it needs to give more than a nod to the Baby Boomers who invented the foundations of the internet back in 1969.


And then fully appreciate the Gen Xers whose innovation led us all into the World Wide Web and made it part of daily life.


Gen X learned tech from the ground up and they’re still learning. Now in their late 40s and 50s, Gen X workers are running the show.




  1. Elon Musk - born in 1971. The co-founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors,
    founder of SpaceX (note the X!)
  2. Jack Dorsey - born in 1976. Co-founder of Twitter and Square.
  3. Michael Dell - born in 1965. Dell Computers. Yep - that Dell.
  4. Jeff Bezos - born in 1964 (Founder of Amazon - technically on the cusp
    between Boomer and Gen X)
  5. Jan Koum - born in 1976. Co-founder of WhatsApp


Gen X babies were born at the perfect time to become the analogue-to-digital pioneers.


Think Stranger Things the Netflix hit based in the 1980s, when kids rode around on bikes and hung out with each other on the streets after school. As well as being a time of great uncertainty and underlying dread (nuclear annihilation was the ever-present threat) the 70s and 80s were also very free – Gen X teens were untethered by mobile phones.


But the computer age was coming, and the youth more than ready. This article by ITPro outlines just how brilliantly Gen X kids led the way in learning and adapting to ground-breaking change.


Here are just some of the innovations Gen X grew up with:


1970: The pocket calculator – Canon, Sanyo and Sharp transform adding up


1973: First cell phone call – on the Motorola DynaTac 8000x

1975: First personal computer (PC) – the Altair 8800


1977: First home video recorder available in the UK


1979: First personal stereo – the Sony Walkman


1980: Precursor to the internet – Tim Berners-Lee’s ENQUIRE prototype


1985: The Nintendo Entertainment System – the gaming console to launch them all


It’s unsurprising, then, that Gen X is quite comfortable with adopting and adapting. 


These workers are also noted for their problem-solving strengths; something which, no doubt, dates to their childhood, where creative thinking led to better play and friendships – and the arrival of the Acorn BBC Micro and the ZX Spectrum would only reward a player once they’d solved the problem of programming them.


These qualities can be transmitted to younger generations – especially in workplaces where a culture of cross-generational respect is strongly fostered.


When it comes to mentoring, while Gen Z, with an instinctive grasp and fluency, can help with Gen X’s adaptation to new tech, this can and should be very much a two-way street.


Gen X workers’ analogue upbringing means they are comfortable with phone calls and face-to-face communication – tasks that often cause younger workers anxiety. Modelling these soft skills to younger workers is also incredibly useful.


Above all, Gen X employees epitomize lifelong learning – something that is gaining fresh traction in the digital revolution. They are the workplace definition of habituation to learning the new.


This is what makes them so valuable as the digital transition rolls on. Now, as members of the C-suite, their learning ethos can lead the way forward, demonstrating to the younger workplace community that learning isn’t just for the start of your career. It never ends.