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Ducks in a Row: The Cult Of Me

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017


The “cult of me” isn’t new.

Through time, all generations were self-absorbed, but due to sheer size, the Boomers are the original me generation.

Gen X wasn’t much better and in 1982 Steve Wozniak financed The US Festival. According to Glenn Aveni, director of a recently released documentary about the festival,

“Woz felt the 1970’s were The ‘Me’ Generation and that it was time for the world to embrace a less selfish credo, one of unity and togetherness.”

Great music, but little effect.

Millennials come next, slightly more of them (75.4 M to 74.9) and most happily carry on the focus on me.

Tech has driven that focus across all generations via selfies and social media to the point that for millions their experiences, meals and even their lives exist only if they constantly post them online and they are liked, shared, and retweeted.

There was a time when I allowed myself to be more than what could fit onto a 2-by-4-inch screen. When I wasn’t so self-conscious about how I was seen. When I embraced my contradictions and desires with less fear of embarrassment or rejection.

The focus on me has led to a focus on being happy — polls and articles measuring happiness, and comparing happiness.

Back in the day, the Boomers considered everything a challenge that must be overcome. Fast forward to now and Millennials, especially those in Silicon Valley, see the world as a series of problems to be “hacked” (modern times call for modern words).

Which, to put it politely, is a crock.

Andrew Taggart thinks most of this is nonsense. A PhD in philosophy, Taggart practices the art of gadfly-for-hire. He disabuses founders, executives, and others in Silicon Valley of the notion that life is a problem to be solved, and happiness awaits those who do it. Indeed, Taggart argues that optimizing one’s life and business is actually a formula for misery.

This is important, because, in many ways, it’s Silicon Valley that is shaping much of our world — even for those of us who choose not to actively participate.

But I doubt Taggart and his ilk will change that attitude or the obsessive focus on “my world.”

Scott Berkun, a former Microsoft manager and philosophy major who has written multiple business books on the subject, says philosophy’s lessons are lost on most in Silicon Valley. Many focus on aggrandizing the self, rather than pursuing a well-examined purpose. “If you put Socrates in a room during a pitch session, I think he’d be dismayed at so many young people investing their time in ways that do not make the world or themselves any better,” he said.

I never saw life as a challenge or a problem. I prefer a different mantra.

Life is a mystery to be lived — not a challenge/problem to be overcome.

It’s a happy way to live.

Image credit: Joanna Lee Osborn

Ducks in a Row: the Stupidity of Stereotyping

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016


Stereotyping is stupid.

It’s stupid because you can’t generalize out the traits of a few to an entire group.

And the larger the group, the stupider the results of stereotyping.

However, the lure of lumping together a large, demographic group for selling purposes is catnip to marketers and also the media.

The problem was well illustrated over the last few years in the depiction of Generation Y — those worthless, entitled Millennials.

80 million of them.

That thinking will go a long way to screwing up your efforts to sell to, hire and manage them.

So think about it.

Don’t you find it a bit ridiculous that 80 million people all think and act identically?

People who come from totally different backgrounds.

Not to mention totally different states; what are the chances of people from California/Maine/Texas/Florida raising their kids so identically that they would think alike?

All 80 million, if you listen to the media.

Jessica Kriegel provides great insight and an in-depth look at the stupidity in her new book, Unfairly Labeled: How Your Workplace Can Benefit from Ditching Generational Stereotypes.

The more you look at generational stereotypes the stupider they become.

The more you buy into them the more money it costs you and your company.

Flickr image credit: Umberto Salvagnin

Golden Oldies: Corporate Culture: They Will Become Their Parents

Monday, March 14th, 2016

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over the last decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.  

Eight years have passed since I wrote this, but it still holds true. Gen Y is eight years older and its leading edge are already producing Gen Z, which will continue the disruption, make unimaginable demands on the workplace and eventually become the status quo. That’s just the nature of the beast. Read other Golden Oldies here

I love it. Another article focusing on what companies need to do to hire Gen X and Y—of course they’re a big chunk of the workforce and getting bigger—Gen Y alone is 80 million strong and will compose 44% of workers by 2020.

Not that I disagree with the comments, but that the focus is strictly on doing these things in order to lure younger employees because they demand it, when the same perks [listed at this link–Ed] will attract works of any age.

‘The move often is aimed at attracting the youngest members of the work force — Generations X and Y — who are more outspoken than their baby boomer predecessors about demanding a life outside the office, said Lynne Lancaster, co-author of When Generations Collide.’

generationsWhat people seem to forget is that the Boomers were plenty disrupting and more demanding than their parents—in fact, historically each generation has disrupted the status quo and demanded more than its predecessor in one way or another.

Just as every generation has focused on various traits of the upcoming generation and deemed them the end of civilization—if not the world.

I’m sure our hunter ancestors looked with horror at their gatherer children and predicted starvation if the herds weren’t followed.

I have no problem when Gen X and Y talk their demands and walk when they aren’t met because most of those demands will improve the workplace for all ages, but they would do well to remember that eventually they will become their parents—maybe not to themselves, but to the newer generations agitating for change.

Ducks in a Row: Rigidity — Sources And Cures

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015


Is your boss rigid? Or maybe it’s your colleagues — or even you?

Rigid in action, thought or imagination?

Rigidity is a mental habit and, although often grounded in ego, often has as much to do with the corporate culture as with the individuals involved.

Openness is based on trust and if the people or the culture don’t foster trust then you should expect them to be ultra turf conscious, not interested in sharing, and prone to spending large amounts of energy fighting every new thing that comes along.

Twenty-somethings often regard rigidity as synonymous with age, but that’s a wildly inaccurate assumption and not born out by the facts.

While the age thing may play on the surface, it should be recognized that rigidity is present in all ages.

There are a lot of pretty rigid twenty- and thirty-somethings and no one in their right mind ever called a teenager flexible

If you have any doubts about this, try getting your twenty-something co-workers to approach a subject from any position other than the one they advocate.

Rigidity is not so much about doing it differently as it is about doing it ‘my/our way’ and that attitude has substantially worsened.

It seems that everybody has a group and while their group is OK, other groups, i.e., any that don’t agree with theirs, are rigid, inflexible and standing in the way of progress.

In many ways rigidity is a form myopia.

The cure is simple to state, but difficult to implement, because it requires truly honest self-appraisal, which is not something with which most people are comfortable.

The thing to remember is that there’s value to be found in most approaches and when that value is tweaked and/or merged with other methods the result is usually worth far more than the original.


For additional input and insights to being a boss, be sure to check out the March Leadership Development Carnival.

Flickr image credit: trombone65

Entrepreneurs: a Basic Truth about Age

Thursday, April 10th, 2014


KG wrote a great post about ageism that started an interesting conversation regarding what needs to happen on both sides of the age line-in-the-sand for things to change.

But what people seem to forget is that, at the time, the Boomers were plenty disrupting and more demanding than their parents.

In fact, historically each generation has disrupted the status quo and demanded both more and different than its predecessor in one way or another.

Every generation has focused on various traits of the upcoming generation and deemed them the end of civilization—if not the world.

I’m sure our hunter ancestors looked with horror at their gatherer children and predicted starvation if the herds weren’t followed.

It’s a given that what’s currently happening always seems more difficult, and even brutal, than what happened in the past when viewed from a distance.

I have no problem when Gen Y demands and walks when those demands aren’t met for two reasons.

  1. Most of their demands are of universal interest (ability to make a difference, respect, challenge, opportunity to grow, etc.) and will improve the workplace for all ages; and
  2. walking is the privilege of the un’s—unmarried, unparenting, unmortaged, unencumbered.

One of the few constants is that we will always have a multigenerational workforce.

So everyone would do well to remember that eventually we all become our parents—maybe not in our own minds, but definitely in the minds of the newest generation agitating for change.

Flickr image credit: Eric Danley

mY generation: Cool, Dawg!

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

See all mY generation posts here.

mY generation: Lesson Learned

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

See all mY generation posts here.

Speaking of Jobs…

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

Image credit: candrews and Sarah and Nic

Does the economic slowdown or whatever you want to call it really translate to a shortage of jobs or is something else going on?

In the Northwest it seems that the problem isn’t jobs, it’s what people are willing to do.

“Steve Klein [general manager of Snohomish County PUD faces the stubborn problem getting young people to accept a job that starts at $55,000 a year… and journeyman’s wages of $72,000 a year. Last year 20 percent of the 15,000 or so workers in the utility industry were between the ages of 50 and 65, according to Employment Security.”

And it’s not just lineman,

“There’s so much work out there, we can’t get enough guys,” said ironworker John Lake. The prevailing wage in Snohomish County for journeyman ironworkers is $47.92 an hour nearly $100,000 a year although the work is seasonal.”

John Mohr, who runs the Port of Everett, “thinks the reason unions are struggling is a shift in the Northwest’s strong cultural tradition of organized labor. “A lot of people believe if you’re not working for Microsoft, you’re not part of the American success story.”

In the Midwest it’s more a case of jobs one place and people another.

“A survey of companies by Iowa Workforce Development, a state agency, found as many as 48,000 job vacancies, in industries including financial services… One estimate projects the job surplus to reach 198,000 by 2014, with vacancies increasingly in professional positions…”

“Iowa’s surplus arises from colliding trends: the exodus of young college graduates, a state economy that adds 2,000 jobs a month, low immigration and birth rates, and an image problem that makes it difficult to recruit workers from out of state.”

Is it really that the trades are “beneath” the Millennials? Does an un-hip location have to lead to a lack of skilled workers?

Does what’s happening in Iowa and Washington provide a look into the future as Boomers retire over the next ten years?

“Estimates of the national shortage run as high as 14 million skilled workers by 2020, according to widely cited projections by the labor economists Anthony P. Carnevale and Donna M. Desrochers.”

What do you think?

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