The Spirit of the Early Adopters: Embracing Change as Generation X

By Doug Richens NP-CARC

June 17, 2024

As a proud member of Generation X, (born in 1972)  I find myself reflecting on our collective journey offered to me and my friends over the past 50 years as the ultimate early adopters of all that was new. Not that we were fully aware of it at the time, but as a group of Gen X dudes, we have always been at the forefront of embracing new trends, technologies, and cultural shifts. Our unique position between the analog past and the digital future has made us resilient, adaptive, and ever-curious about what’s next. In fact, without a doubt, we are the perfect group to lead the world into this new era of emerging AI technologies and all the change it will bring. 

Read on to discover a new word that is quickly becoming the key to emotional resilience amid this season of immense change. 

Early Adopter’s in Action

From the very beginning, our generation exhibited a remarkable willingness to dive into new experiences. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, we were not just content with riding skateboards; we were the first to shred and push the boundaries of what was possible on four wheels. Brands like Powell Peralta and Santa Cruz were our go-to’s, with their innovative deck designs and edgy graphics. These brands weren’t just selling skateboards; they were selling a culture, a lifestyle that we wholeheartedly embraced. We worked part-time jobs just to buy the latest new deck, and hitting the pavement was more than just a pastime—it was a lifestyle.

We didn’t just ride; we flew. As Tony Hawk and Stacy Peralta showed us what was possible, we followed suit, perfecting our tricks in empty pools and homemade ramps. Skateboarding was about more than just the sport; it was about the community and the constant pursuit of what was new and exciting. We coined words like “Rad” and “Awesome” to express our enthusiasm for this new subculture we were helping to create.

When snowboarding emerged as a new sport in the 1980s, with pioneers like Sims, Burton, and Winterstick leading the charge, we climbed the slopes before it became mainstream, eager to master a new way of navigating the mountains. These brands introduced us to the concept of carving down a mountain, a thrill previously reserved for skiers. We didn’t wait for permission or for the sport to become widely accepted. We bought our boards, often cobbling together the money from odd jobs, and headed to the hills. Our drive to be the first was unstoppable.

Our passion for being first extended beyond activities to fashion. In 1985, we proudly wore the first Nike Jordan Airs, making a statement not just about our style but about our readiness to embrace what was new and different. The Air Jordans were more than just shoes; they were a symbol of our era’s innovation and flair. Michael Jordan was more than a basketball player; he was an icon, and by wearing his shoes, we felt connected to his groundbreaking spirit.

Music, too, was an area where we led the charge. We collected music on LPs, then cassettes, and witnessed the transition to mp4 and wav formats. Whether it was buying the latest album from bands like The Clash or U2, or snagging concert tickets to see Prince live, we made sure we were part of the musical revolution. The advent of CDs in the 1980s and MP3 players in the 1990s transformed how we consumed music. Today, we seamlessly stream our favorite tunes through monthly subscriptions, adapting to the ever-evolving landscape of music consumption. Services like Napster, and later Spotify and Apple Music, became our primary sources for music, proving our willingness to adapt and embrace new ways to enjoy our favorite artists.

Navigating Technological Advancements

Our early adopter spirit was not limited to hobbies and fashion; it also defined how we navigated technological advancements. In the 1980s, we meticulously organized our lives with Franklin day planners, only to transition through a series of electronic organizers in the 1990s that promised to simplify our tasks. Brands like Psion and Palm introduced us to the world of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), which were groundbreaking at the time but often fell short of their potential due to limited functionality and battery life.

It wasn’t until 2007, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, that we truly experienced a revolution in personal technology. The iPhone changed everything, from how we communicate to how we manage our daily lives. It was a game-changer, and as early adopters, we were among the first to embrace this new era of connectivity. We stood in line for hours, sometimes days, to be the first to hold this piece of the future in our hands. The iPhone’s combination of phone, iPod, and internet communicator all in one device was nothing short of “Rad.”

Our journey did not stop there. In 2008, when Tesla introduced the Roadster, we were among the first to invest in electric vehicles, leading the charge towards a more sustainable future. The shift from traditional gas-powered cars to electric vehicles was a significant leap, one that we eagerly took to contribute to environmental preservation. Tesla wasn’t just a car company; it was a symbol of innovation and progress, resonating deeply with our early adopter ethos. We saw the Tesla Roadster not just as a mode of transportation but as a statement of our commitment to a cleaner, better world.

Cultural and Lifestyle Changes

Beyond technology, our generation has always been eager to explore new cultural and lifestyle trends. We returned to Disney to experience the magic of Harry Potter and Star Wars rides, blending our nostalgic love for these franchises with the latest in theme park innovation. The opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010 and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in 2019 were milestones we wouldn’t miss. These experiences were more than just rides; they were immersive adventures that allowed us to step into the worlds we had always dreamed of.

Self-help seminars became a cornerstone of our personal development journeys in the 1990s and 2000s. We attended these events not just to improve ourselves but to launch an industry of gurus and legends who would guide us through life’s challenges. Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and other motivational speakers became our mentors, helping us navigate the complexities of modern life. We flocked to their seminars, hungry for wisdom and strategies to better ourselves. This commitment to growth and learning has been a defining characteristic of Generation X.

We were driven and inspired by whatever was new. Working part-time jobs was the norm, not just to make ends meet, but to afford the latest skateboard deck, album, or concert ticket. We were relentless in our pursuit of the new and exciting, and our lexicon expanded with words like “Rad,” “Awesome,” and “Shed,” which became our rallying cries for everything cutting-edge and cool. These words weren’t just slang; they were badges of honor that signaled our readiness to embrace the future.


Embracing the Future

Now, as we stand on the cusp of another technological revolution with the emergence of generative AI, our early adopter spirit is more relevant than ever. This new wave of change presents us with unprecedented opportunities to shape the future. We know how to jump in, shed old paradigms, learn new skills, and craft a future that aligns with our values and aspirations.

The key to staying ahead in this rapidly changing world lies in our willingness to embrace new technologies and integrate them into our lives. Whether it’s exploring AI applications in our professional fields or leveraging new tools to enhance our personal lives, we must continue to lead by example. Companies like OpenAI and innovations in machine learning are creating tools that can write, compose music, and even assist in medical diagnoses. These advancements are not just the future; they are happening right now, and as Generation X, we are more than ready to dive in and make the most of them.


Generation X has always been defined by its ability to adapt and thrive amidst change. Our journey as early adopters has prepared us for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Now, more than ever, we must harness our pioneering spirit to embrace the future and shape it for our children and grandchildren.

Let’s not hold back. As Generation X, we have the experience, knowledge, and drive to lead the way. The future is ours to craft, and with our unyielding spirit, we will continue to embrace and shape the changes that come our way. We know how to be early adopters, so let’s do it. Jump in, learn it, use it, and craft it into the future we want for our children and grandchildren. No holding back this time—we are Generation X, and we will embrace this future with open arms. (learn more at Link) 


About the Author: Doug Richens

Doug Richens is the owner and co-founder of Gray Space Experts, a pioneering modern neuro-wellness company dedicated to advancing brain, body, and behavioral health. As an expert in these fields, Doug has traveled the world, helping thousands overcome difficult setbacks, loss, and emotional challenges. His extensive experience and compassionate approach have made him a sought-after speaker, coach and consultant.

Doug’s passion for technology and wellness is deeply rooted in his own journey as an early adopter and advocate for the Gen X community. He is committed to empowering others to navigate the complexities of modern life, particularly the integration of AI and its profound impact on future generations.

Doug and his wife, Jeanine, are the proud parents of six children. They reside in Utah, where they cherish outdoor adventures and family time, embodying the balance of professional dedication and personal fulfillment.