GenX Women Founders - A Generation of Leaders that is Changing the World

Nov 27, 2023



Welcome to the first episode of the Gen-X Women Founders mini-series. In this episode of "Leadership is Feminine," host Kris Plachy delves into the distinct struggles and triumphs of the Gen-X generation. As a Gen-Xer herself, Kris identifies with the unique challenges posed by the background many people in this generation faced, which has shaped them into the resilient leaders they are today.

Through personal anecdotes and keen observations, Kris reflects on her realization that a significant portion of her clients are fellow Gen-Xers, sparking an exploration into the reasons behind this commonality, and what makes Gen-Xers such powerful leaders.

This generation, often dubbed the "lost generation," is characterized by a smaller demographic and a distinctive upbringing marked by independence, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Kris draws parallels between her formative years, and those of other members of this generation—being the first latchkey kids, navigating divorce at an early age, and experiencing a unique blend of independence and responsibility.

As Gen-Xers lead in various capacities today, Kris explores how their upbringing influences their leadership styles. She suggests that they were parented to be independent and resilient and that this has played a role in how they have shown up in their lives, including, in their professional lives, creating a new generational shift.

Be sure to stay tuned for future episodes dedicated to addressing the complexities of Gen-X women in business.

Let's not blame. Let's not isolate whose fault it is. Let's just ask, why is that? I want to look at what are the unique challenges that we may all have. What are the unique skill sets and attributes that we may all share in different ways? And then what's happening right now? What's the current circumstance, and what do we do about it?

Key Takeaways from this Episode:

  1. Gen-X Women Dominate Entrepreneurship: Exploring the reasons behind why a significant portion of female entrepreneurs are from the Gen-X generation.

  2. Entrepreneurial Growth Over the Years: Looking at the growth of women-owned businesses over the past 40 years

  3. The Gen-X Approach to Entrepreneurship: Reflections on the unique challenges, strengths, and attributes of Gen-X women, and understanding the collective story and current circumstances of Gen-X female entrepreneurs in 2023.

  4. Parenting and Independence: Discussion based on the “get it done” attitude Gen-X was parented with, and connecting this upbringing to critical thinking and problem-solving skills that may influence Gen-X women in their roles as entrepreneurs.

  5. "Having It All" and its Impact: Questioning the "having it all" narrative that Gen-X women are often associated with. Looking at why, despite achieving success in careers and family life, many Gen-X women feel unhappy or face challenges, sparking curiosity about the deeper meaning of "having it all."

Why Gen X Female Founders Must Listen:

A Gen-X female founder should listen to this episode because it delves into the unique experiences, challenges, and strengths of being a Gen-X woman entrepreneur. The episode also raises thought-provoking questions about the societal shifts and cultural changes that have influenced the entrepreneurial journey of Gen-X women, providing valuable insights and prompting reflection on the collective story that has brought them to where they are today.

Contact Info and Recommended Resources

Connect with Kris Plachy

  • LEAD FOR WOMEN: LEAD FOR WOMEN is THE curated Leadership Development, Training AND Advisement program for Elite Visionary Women, including C-Suite Women, seeking to upgrade their skills leading, managing, communicating with, and inspiring the people you pay to achieve results in your business. 
  • Private Subscriber List: Get on the list today!

Work with Kris and Her Team: 

Email: [email protected]






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Well, hello, hello. So this is going to be the first episode of a series. I have been working on this now for a while and all sorts of different ways and shapes and forms and sizes. And I'm super excited to have this conversation with you, for a lot of reasons, about being a woman, being a Gen-X woman, and being an entrepreneur. And why we are our own special cocktail of secret sauce and superpowers, and with a little bit of poison. No pun intended. Let's get started.

All right. So first of all, I need you to all to know that I wrote an entire email using all 80s songs titles. I can't wait to share with you. I have been having so much fun, and also finding so much validation in doing this research and sort of exploration of what I do. You know, I don't consider myself any form of scientist or expert in research ideologies and practices.

I consider myself more a social intuitive. I notice things. I watch and observe the words, and the language, and the behaviors of the women that I work with. And I draw some conclusions that, listen, may not be true, and certainly may not be true for you and that's okay. But I love sharing them and just kind of letting you guys wrap your head around some ideas.

So, I had a realization not very long ago, which seems a little dumb, but just go with me, that the majority of my clients are Gen-X women. They, you know, so what is the Gen X? I think it's born in 1962 ish to, let's see, you're 42 to 65 right now. So whatever that wherever that puts us in our little world of ages ish 63. There's cuspers. We're just going to let- if you feel like you're a Gen-Xer, I'm not kicking you out.

Like, that's how we are. Gen-Xers don't care. But I started to really wonder, like, why is it that- there's a few things. Why is it that most of my clients are Gen-Xers? Then likely it's because I am. And I talk about the things that we all are experiencing, but why are we experiencing them? And what's unique about us? And what are our opportunities? What are the unique challenges that we have? What are the unique strengths that we have? And what is our collective story that has brought us to where we are today?

And so what I thought I would do is break this into several episodes. So this episode, I just want to talk to you about the facts. Like I just want to look at the groundwork a little bit of what we know about entrepreneurialism, and women, and Gen-Xing, right? Gen X generation. And let's see where that takes us.

So I did try and actually did do some actual research on understanding sort of the trajectory of entrepreneurial growth for women over the past 40 years. It certainly won't surprise you that we have seen an incredible increase in women over the past 40 years who have their own businesses. And in fact, the first little tidbit that I got.

So this is just for your own edification. In 1972, women owned businesses accounted for 4.6 percent of all U. S. businesses, translating to about 1. 5 million self employed women. In 1979, that had increased to 2.1 million and to 3.5 million in 1984. By 1997, so 13 years later, it was 5. 4 million of women owned businesses in the U. S. So that's a really significant increase, if we go from 1.5 million to 5.4 million, just over what - just under 20 years, just a little over 20 years.

But then if we look at, we go all the way up to now, 2023, 42 percent of US businesses are women owned. 12.9 Million businesses are women owned. That's a 21 percent increase just from 2014 to 2019. So it's rapidly increasing.

Now why? With a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with Gen-X, right? Like social media, one of them. Although, who created created social media? The Gen-X population. We've also seen a huge increase, in general, in minority women, self owned businesses, which is also incredibly interesting and encouraging.

The average age of a female entrepreneur is 44.5 years old, and 62 percent of all female entrepreneurs are age 45 to 55. So, over half of the women who are currently running their own businesses are Gen-X. So that illuminated what I thought I knew, which is good news, right? That's sort of, I felt like that was true, like just through general observation, but it is true.

So the majority of us that are out there right now running our own companies are from the Gen-X generation. Okay. And so what? So, the thing that's really interesting, you can do a lot of research on Gen Xers, like, not as much as I think we should be able to do given who we are and our impact on the world.

And there's actually a lot of common phraseology around Gen-X that we're the lost generation. We're called the lost generation because we are the smallest of all of the current generations, sort of roaming the planet. The great generation was very large. The boomers was the biggest. Then us, we were like this little one. And then the millennials were the next, were huge, right? And I don't know what the numbers are on Zs yet, but Zs and millennials blend in a little bit.

Now, if you're not a Gen X woman, I don't want you to feel like this isn't for you, because I actually think if you're younger, if you're like, 32, 34, 29, all of- listen, I'm not trying to exclude you from this conversation. But I actually think, I hope anyway, this gives you really good insight into some of the journey of the women who came before you.

Because of course, we were taught the journey of the women who came before us, but I don't actually think you're taught about us Gen-Xers. I think you're taught about the women's movement of the seventies. That was my mother. That wasn't me. And we're the ones, Gen-Xers, who are navigating now, a world that was created by that movement.

My mom got divorced in 1976 and she couldn't get a credit card in her own name. Women couldn't get mortgages. They couldn't get business loans without a man signing for it. That was not very long ago. Right? So the women who cut through that, that was a whole other thing they had to cut through. So here we are, this generation of women, we have "had it all."

We've been able to have the career. We've been able to make the money. We've been able to have the family. We've been able to have the house. We've done it all. Why are we all so unhappy? Why are so many middle aged women on medication? Why are so many female entrepreneurs trapped in a company they created? Why, despite our wealth, are we still unable to savor and love our lives? These are the things I wonder. And I think, why is that?

To use the question from my very astute and brilliant friend, Dr. Camille Wise, she's always taught us that's the question we should always be asking. Like, why is that? Let's just explore it. Let's not blame. Let's not isolate whose fault it is. Let's just ask, why is that?

In the next series of episodes, I'm going to illustrate that. I want to look at what are the unique challenges that we may all have? What are the unique skill sets and attributes that we may all share in different ways? And then, what's happening right now? Like, what's the current circumstance 2023? If you're a 45 48 50 55 year old woman running a company, what is our current state? And what do we do about it?

But we know that, I am realizing, of course, now, as we've all aged, those of us who share this generation, we're all sort of punching through the same hole. Some of us did it a little sooner than others, but the mass of us are starting to kind of punch through these same issues.

Why do you think, if you're a Gen Xer, you see so many things in your social media feed, for menopause? Is it just me? I don't- I know it isn't. Why do you see so many wellness centers, day spas , aesthetic businesses, med spa? Why is this happening? Why do we see so many luxurious trips everywhere? Why are there so many women joining women's groups? Why are there so many younger women not wanting children? Not that it's bad if you don't want children, but why?

Listen, there were no med spas when I was 18. And if it was, it was for a nose job, and you went away in the summer, and then you came back as a sophomore, and you had a new nose. Like, let's be honest, right? There were no wellness centers. There was fat camp. Listen, I'm overweight, so do not take that as an insult. That's what people called it in the 80s. Do not tell me I'm being discriminatory, right? But that's what they called it. And people went away and got skinny. It wasn't like you talked about it.

I mean, shit, why are there so many weight loss programs and coaches? And why? Why is life coaching a profession? That did not exist in 1972. What is happening? It's such a good question, right? And so that's what I want to unfold for you in the next few episodes. So I'm going to give you little teasers. Just a little bit more so that you'll tune into the others. But you don't have a choice because it's gonna be on a podcast.

So here's what's fascinating, right? There's this sort of stereotypical Gen-X experience. I have two favorites that I follow on Instagram. There's one that's the real Sherry, real, real slim Sherry. Sherry, I'm terrible. I'll make sure that we get this right. And then there's another woman who now I can't even think of, but they really embody sort of the stereotypical Gen-Xer who got kicked out of the house on Saturdays. Like, this was legitimately happened to me.

My dad and step mom kicked us out every Saturday. We had to sit on the stoop, figure out what we were going to do. We would come back at lunch and they would put sandwiches out. And I remember my dad would try and make like a cheeseburger and tell me it wasn't like McDonald's and he made special sauce and it was disgusting. And it was not like a McDonald's cheeseburger or Big Mac.

And we were gone all day weekends. We were gone all day. We were up in trees. We were out far away. We were in the woods. We were everywhere. Nobody knew where we were. We had no cell phone. We have no beepers. We did not have trackers. There was no life ID, or whatever that thing is called, or find my iPhone. Nobody knew where we were and no one cared.

Let's be honest. Our parents didn't sit around all day worrying. "Oh, I wonder where they are." They didn't. They're busy running their own lives. I don't know. I honestly don't know what they did because I couldn't get in the house, right? My parents got divorced when I was seven. I had a grow-grain Kelly green ribbon around my neck with my key. I was a latchkey kid.

I walked to and from school by myself until my mom got a nanny. I was one of the only kids in my school whose parents were divorced. I was alone for hours at a time. And I know so many of you were too. I fed myself. I got myself ready. I did my own homework. I know for sure my mother never, ever, ever asked me like about applying to colleges. She never offered to help. Not because she didn't care. That wasn't what they did. That's not what we do.

Now, parents, holy smokes. Stop writing your kids essays. I'm kidding, only for some of you. Right? This is who we were. We had the best music on the planet and we still do. That's why every generation after us still loves 80s music. Why? It was happy. 80s music is the most delightful music ever. Except for maybe like, Depeche Mode and a few others. But you know, happy.

So we share this story, which means that as Gen-X women, we could argue that we're relatively independent. We didn't have a lot of feeling, coddling. "Too bad." "Get over it." "Suck it up." "Move along."

We made a lot of decisions without a lot of influence. So we had to develop some critical thinking and problem solving skills, made a lot of mistakes. We're also the generation that sort of was the ski bums, right? We were the first generation that would graduate college partially because there was a recession and we didn't know what we wanted to do. So we just went to work at club med, or went and worked at the beach somewhere for a couple of years. We're the first generation to get married a little later and have kids a little later and math.

So what does all this have to do with being an entrepreneur? Because here's the teaser. I think a lot of us were parented to be independent, problem solving, feeling tolerant, meaning, really indulge a lot of these feeling things. We just had to get it done. We were parented that way, but we don't lead that way. We didn't parent that way. And that is fascinating.

And the second thing is we "had it all", but we're the first generation to really be able to say that. And we are the ones who are learning what that really means. And I also think that the next generation is challenging us just like we were challenging them, as we were growing up. And I don't see people, Gen-Xers handling the challenge in a way that I think is necessarily going to serve us. And I'm going to talk to you about that, in a future episode.

Hey, if you are a female founder, business owner running a company and you are, you know, you've achieved some success, right? You're running over seven figures. You grow a little bit every year. Your team is growing. I know a lot about you. And one of the things I know about you for sure, is that you don't have a lot of time. And you also might be a little tired of everybody who wants to talk at you, and not listen to you.

So, I want to encourage you to join

We're going to be putting together a pretty powerful opportunity for you to work with me exclusively in some private coaching while also getting all of the tools and resources that you need to be better at leading your team, so your business can continue to grow. But you don't have to continue to literally expand how much you're doing all the time.

So I hope you'll check it out. Add your name. More information will be available soon.

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