William Strauss, Founding Partner

Last Updated: Sep. 27, 2010

William Strauss (1947–2007) was a renowned speaker, writer, historian, playwright, theater director and performer, and an authority on generational change in American history. He passed away December 18, 2007 after a nine-year battle with pancreatic cancer, leaving behind four grown children and his wife Janie. Family, friends, and colleagues honored his life at a public memorial, “A Life Made Full” on March 2, 2008.

Strauss was a founding partner of the consulting firm LifeCourse Associates. He worked as a marketing, personnel, and government affairs consultant to numerous corporate and nonprofit clients, and spoke and wrote extensively on the collective personalities of today’s generations—who they are, what motivates them, and how they will shape America’s future.

Strauss coauthored several books on generations with Neil Howe, all best sellers widely used by businesses, colleges, government agencies, and political leaders of both parties. Their first book, Generations (1991), is a history of America told as a sequence of generational biographies. Generations, said Newsweek, is “a provocative, erudite, and engaging analysis of the rhythms of American life.” Vice President Al Gore called it “the most simulating book on American history that I have ever read” and sent a copy to every member of Congress. Newt Gingrich called it “an intellectual tour de force.” Their second book, 13th Gen (1993) remains the best-selling nonfiction book ever written about Generation X. Of Howe and Strauss’s third book, The Fourth Turning (1997) Dan Yankelovich said, “Immensely stimulating…. We will never be able to think about history in the same way.” The Boston Globe wrote, “If Howe and Strauss are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets.”

Strauss and Howe’s fourth book on generations, Millennials Rising (2000), has been widely quoted in the media for its insistence that today's new crop of teens and kids are very different from Generation X, and, on the whole, doing much better than most adults think. “Forget Generation X-and Y, for that matter,” says The Washington Post, “The authors make short work of most media myths that shape our perceptions of kids these days.” LifeCourse Associates has since released several application books on Millennials—including Recruiting Millennials Handbook for the United States Army (2001), Millennials Go To College (2003) and Millennials and the Pop Culture (2005). A Second Edition of Millennials Go To College  was recently released and Millennials in the Workplace, a study of the newest generation as they enter the workforce, will be released soon.

Previously, Strauss coauthored two books with Lawrence Baskir about the Vietnam War: Chance and Circumstance: The Draft, The War, and the Vietnam Generation (1978), and Reconciliation After Vietnam (1978). Around that time, he served on the staff of the U.S. Senate and President Ford’s White House. Strauss also wrote two satirical books with Elaina Newport: Fools on the Hill (1992) and Sixteen Scandals (2002).

In addition to his career as a writer and historian, Strauss was a noted playwright, theater director, and performer. He was co-founder and director of the Capitol Steps, a professional satirical troupe that has performed over 7,000 shows, three PBS specials, and fifty radio shows for NPR stations. The Steps have released 28 albums (most recently, Campaign and Suffering) and two books (most recently, Sixteen Scandals), and have performed numerous times off-Broadway, often with Strauss in the cast. Strauss wrote three musicals (MaKiddo, Free-the-Music.com, and Anasazi) and two plays (Gray Champions and The Big Bump) about various themes in the books he has co-authored with Howe.

In the summer of 1999, Strauss co-founded the Cappies (www.cappies.com), a high school “Critics and Awards” program. Now an international program, Cappies allows high school students to train to become theater critics, attend and review each others’ plays and musicals, publish reviews in major newspapers, and hold Tonys-style Cappies award Galas. Top Cappies winners from across the U.S. and Canada become part of the Cappies International Theater, a program in which they perform plays and musicals written by teenagers. Strauss advised creative teams of students who wrote two new musicals, Edit:Undo (www.editundo.org) in 2006 and Senioritis (www.senioritismusical.com) in 2007

A native of San Francisco, Strauss graduated from Harvard College (1969), Harvard Law School (1973), and the Kennedy School of Government (1973). His wife Janie serves on the Fairfax County School Board and lives in McLean, Virginia.