Tag Archives: Generation Y

The Gen-Y Thing is Nonsense

The title here (I love that title) is the magic of Dennis Howlett, author of This Y Generation thing is nonsense posted today on his blog. youthHis point in a nutshell:

I don’t know how many times I’ve read alarmist material that says Gen Y, millennials or whatever they’re now called are going to change the workplace beyond recognition. It’s nonsense. All of it.

I can’t argue with that. The Generation Y stereotypes, just like those other generational stereotypes – the Gen X, the Baby Boomers, the Echo Boomers – are fun to play with, but useless as soon as you take them out of the box. That recent college graduate you think of as Gen Y is as much a generation as a set of clothes, costume, or natural habitat. This is a lot what I was saying with the secret to Gen Y performers last May.

The point of that post was the power of “they care what I think” as a young person deals with the job world after graduation from college. And who doesn’t want “they care what I think” to matter? Didn’t you, when you were that age?

Everything I’ve read about dealing with Generation Y sounds to me like the same thing as dealing with people recently entering the workplace in a world of changing technology that has disrupted some of the age hierarchy structure. Everybody wants to matter. Dennis says:

The idea widely spread that Gen Y wants to collaborate and that peer recommendation is their normal way of engaging in consumption is again – nothing new. Professionals know that recommendation is the best way to grow their business.

Entitlement? And Dennis offers up a delightful paradox on that issue:

I worry that Gen Y is an entitlement generation where work is not a priority and where dependency upon state and family are genuine issues. On the other hand I also worry that work-life balance is becoming more difficult for those in employment, a theme not lost on Gen Y’ers.

Hmmm … I have to think about that.

And then, when I think, there’s that temptation to get into my old-guy mode and spout “when I was your age” clichés. But no, wait … when I was their age we were taking over the administration building and demanding global change, a new world order, instant power. So what’s this entitlement problem, again?

Go Gen Y.

As an aside, I have to thank Twitter and particularly Brian Solis for catching this one so I could find it today with my morning coffee. I hadn’t discovered Dennis’ AccMan blog until today. I’ve put it on my reading list.

(Image: Mandy Godhear/Shutterstock)

Is Gen Y the Most Pessimistic Generation Ever?

Global warming, the environment, energy crises, worldwide wars of religion, crumbling political systems, economic turmoil: today’s generation of the recently-grown up are the first generation ever to grow up expecting the world to get worse, not better, in the future.

My generation, by comparison, was arrogant: we really believed we could, and would, change the world for the better. That’s what the 1960s were about. We got into college, opposed the war, protested, demanded change. We were going to tear down the establishment and create a new world of greater love, greater justice, fairness for all.

Consider this comment, made by historian Tony Judt in a recent interview with Terry Gross on NPR Fresh Air:

I’m encountering the first generation of young people in colleges and schools who really do not believe in the future, who don’t think not just that things will get evidently and permanently better but who feel that something has gone very badly wrong that they can’t quite put their finger on, but that is going to spoil the world that they’re growing up into.

Whether it’s climate change or political cynicism or overreaction or lack of reaction, to external challenges, whether it’s terrorism or poverty, the sense that it’s all got out of control, that they, the politicians and so on, media people, are neither doing anything nor telling us the truth. That sense seems to have pervaded the younger generation in ways that were not true in my experience.

Maybe the last time that might have been true was in the 1920s, where you had the combination of shock and anger from World War I, the beginnings of economic depression and the terrifying realization that there might very well be a World War II. I don’t think we’re on the edge of World War III or IV. But I do think that we are on the edge of a terrifying world.

And then, this response:

GROSS: And you say back in the era of self-assured, radical dogma, young people were far from uncertain. The characteristic tone of the ’60s was that of overweening confidence. We knew just how to fix the world. It was this note of unmerited arrogance that partly accounts for the reactionary backlash that followed.

Do you feel that you shared in that sense of confidence and arrogance?

Mr. JUDT: Oh, absolutely.

This exchange, related to Judt’s last book, is just a detail in a much larger interview titled, sadly, A Historian’s Long View on Living with Lou Gehrig’s disease. The noise of the respirator accompanies the entire 39-minute interview.

I Don’t Have to Show You No Stinkin Labels

Labels, and labels. Two days ago I complained here about self-proclaimed “experts” and “gurus.” And today I realize that I do the same thing myself, calling myself an entrepreneur. I ran into this interesting thought:

I must admit that when I hear the word (which inundates conversation and — more interestingly– the personal summaries of seemingly everyone over the age of twenty on my two favorite social networks), a little voice in my head channels Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, and I say to myself in a nerdy accent to the entrepreneur in cyberspace, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Gulp. She — Colleen Dilenschneider, in The Mind-Numbing Evolution of the Term “Entrepreneur” — has a point. She goes on:

The title of entrepreneur– especially when said in description of oneself– is losing its meaning to me and I wonder how long it will be until the word has virtually no meaning at all.  Perhaps my scope is skewed, and this is an issue among all social network users, regardless of generation.  When I read entrepreneur in a person’s description, I think, “I need to learn more.”

Well said. And while Colleen links all the entrepreneurship to Gen Y traits …

by izzie whizzie on Flickr

With the rapid onset of social media, does the word entrepreneur mean less because we are all entrepreneurs? Is generation Y an entire generation of entrepreneurs? We certainly seem to be.

… I think it’s more than that. It’s most of our entire solopreneur-enamored, pushed entrepreneurs, baby boomer recession-survival Western world.

We love labels. Experts, gurus, entrepreneurs, nonconformists, bloggers, professionals, rock-star programmers, middle managers, and out-of-the-box thinkers all of us. We like working with labels and slogans because, as with the 30-second news byte, it makes life easier. We all need our labels. Sometimes it seems like the beginning of a board game, choosing your token to play monopoly.

And if everybody has the same label, the game doesn’t work.

(photo credit: izzie_whizzie on Flickr)

Branding as Soul, Karma, and a New World

The boom in social media, my happy association with some very smart Generation Y people, and a good book or two (Me 2.0, among them, and Dirty Little Secrets of Buzz) have me very intrigued with a broader application of branding.

I was taught to think of branding as a collection of visuals that should work together: logo, letterhead, signage, packaging, business cards, newsletters, websites.

More recently I’ve started to see it as something much deeper than look and feel; something as core to existence as identity.

  • With an individual, it’s the you that you and the world create together: not just your resume, not just you as you are for your family and friends, but you as you appear to others on the web, in your writing, the way you dress, your behavior at meetings, the way you speak, the way you deal with other people.
  • With a company, there too it’s what you and the world create together. Aside from the obvious trappings above, it’s your location, your space, the way you treat customers and employees, the decisions you make about pricing and service and product development, decisions you make about finance and investment and payments and receipts. It’s your accumulated integrity or (heaven forbid) lack of integrity.

Several religions incorporate a consciousness of a soul or something like it, that carries a person’s life deeds around on it like a permanent record. I was taught a Roman-Catholic-in-the-1950s version that had to do with sins as stains on the soul. I see it now as more of a Zen-Karma-like thing. But those two, and your idea of the same, don’t really contradict each other.

And I like that idea as it applies to companies, particularly your company and my company, small businesses, and personal businesses. Every small decision you make, every interaction with customers, every product detail, every financial transaction, is your brand. Cut corners, cheat people, stretch the truth, and it changes your identity as a company. Your accumulated brand, over time, isn’t what you say it is; it’s what you actually do that affects people and the world.

I am not just asserting as true something that I’d like to have be true. I’ve seen it in business over and over again. And I see it more than ever, these days, with the new business landscape making our businesses more transparent every day. Reviews, tweets, comments, it’s all something like word of mouth but magnified, like word of mouth cubed.

You want proof? Me too. All I’ve got so far is the increasing evidence that green environmentally and socially conscious companies do better on the stock market, in the long term, than the opposite. And lots of anecdotal evidence about companies that treated customers well, or badly, and were paid in kind.