"The Fourth Turning is the crisis . . . which is when we have to find community again. "
This year, we had the privilege of hosting renowned historian and demographer Neil Howe on the CONNECTS stage with our CEO Sharon Watkins.
Set against the historic backdrop of The GRAND — a cultural cornerstone in Calgary, where art, entertainment, and community converge — the evening was filled with thought-provoking conversations, excellent company, and delightful cuisine. But extending far beyond the four walls of the theatre, this year's CONNECTS made us ponder our own roles in unfolding current events, and how the next decade of "Crisis", as Neil coins it, calls us to reassess our collective course of action.
"Community breaking up, everyone feeling lonelier and more disconnected, rich getting richer, poor getting poorer . . . When you consider where we're going, what could be worse than any definite continuation of that? So, a decisive change, which we argue is coming, is actually not such a bad thing."
As the godfather of the term "Millennials", Neil's insight into generational theory and its profound impact on our society has never been more pertinent. In fact, he has spent the past three decades honing his research on why generations assume such different personas and how certain types always follow others in sequence.
For anyone contemplating how to surf these sands of time, Neil's talk offered a historic forecast of the future, sprinkled with a healthy dose of "pessimistic optimism". As the old adage goes: History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes. May we learn from its cadence.
“Congratulations on a great CONNECTS event! The conversation was fascinating and I'm looking forward to reading "The Fourth Turning is Here" over the next few weeks.”
~ Long-time Client
ABOUT NEIL HOWE
Neil Howe, a prominent American figure, boasts a multifaceted career as an author, economist, historian, demographer, and consultant. He is best known for his collaborative works with William Strauss, which include influential publications such as Generations (1991), The Fourth Turning (1997), and Millennials Rising (2000). Neil is the Managing Director of Demography at Hedgeye Risk Management, and the Founder and President of Saeculum Research and LifeCourse Associates, consulting firms that he co-established with William to apply their pioneering Strauss-Howe generational theory.
Beyond his corporate engagements, Neil Howe contributes significantly to the field of demographic research and global affairs. He is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Global Aging Initiative and serves as a senior advisor to the Concord Coalition. His diverse skillset and expertise come into play as he advises clients on engaging and mobilizing Millennials and older generations in their capacities as both employees and consumers of various products, services, and media. Neil remains an avid researcher, consistently exploring innovative tools and strategies to aid government and business leaders in navigating the complex economic, political, and foreign policy challenges that the United States will confront in the coming decade.
ABOUT THE FOURTH TURNING IS HERE
In a riveting follow-up to Neil Howe and William Strauss' almost-prophetic phenomenon The Fourth Turning, published in 1997, Neil revisits some of his projections in his new book titled The Fourth Turning Is Here (Simon and Schuster, 2023).
The book explores the cyclical nature of history and generational dynamics, proposing a theory that identifies four distinct generational archetypes (Prophet, Nomad, Hero, and Artist) stretching back to the 15th century — each playing a crucial role in shaping the course of history.
The central thesis of the book is that history unfolds in a series of repeating saecula or "turnings," each lasting approximately 20-25 years, which are divided into four distinct generational phases.
The First Turning (High): This is a period of social cohesion, strong institutions, and a sense of stability. It's often marked by a focus on community and conformity.
The Second Turning (Awakening): During this phase, society experiences a period of cultural and spiritual upheaval. It is characterized by a rebellion against the established order and a focus on individualism and personal expression.
The Third Turning (Unraveling): This phase is marked by societal decay and a decline in institutions. Individualism and personal freedoms are highly valued, but social cohesion and trust erode.
The Fourth Turning (Crisis): The Fourth Turning is a period of crisis and major upheaval. Institutions and norms break down, and society faces significant challenges that demand collective action. It often leads to the emergence of a new social order, with reinvigorated national institutions, social solidarity, prosperity, and technological marvels.
Neil asserts that this cycle repeats approximately every 80-100 years, with each new "Fourth Turning" leading to significant events and changes, such as wars, revolutions, economic crashes, and major societal shifts. The most recent "Fourth Turning" began in the 2000s, Neil contends, and may climax in the early 2030s. Publishers Weekly ties these "turnings" to our current generations: "The Baby Boomers are a prophet generation that will offer visionary leadership in the crisis, Generation X a nomad generation that will seek to provide pragmatic management and stability after suffering childhood abandonment, millennials a public-spirited hero generation that will build the new order, and Generation Z an overly sensitive artist generation."
In The Fourth Turning Is Here, Neil not only provides a captivating lens through which to examine the ebb and flow of history but also a prescient warning that, by recognizing the patterns of the past, we may be better equipped to navigate the turbulent waters of our collective future together.
If you are interested in learning more about Neil's theory, you can watch this video recommended by one of our clients.
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO CONNECT
CONNECTS is one of our signature yearly events aimed at bringing people together to engage in meaningful conversation. We were thrilled to have Neil join us this year and hope that the themes explored have left you with the necessary food for thought to seek out community again. Until next year!