Tag Archives: Baby Boomers

So What If I Want “IT” NOW… Life is STILL a Marathon (The Monday Fits)

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“…The Millennial generation is accustomed to having questions answered quickly, acting on that knowledge immediately and receiving feedback on demand…” (source) 

“..The demand for instant results is seeping into every corner of our lives… The need for instant gratification is not new, but our expectation of ‘instant’ has become faster, and as a result, our patience is thinner..” (source)

“What’s really driving this is the need for instant gratification……Even when ordering online “they” crave immediacy …. the desire for convenience – and within that the desire for immediacy in a multichannel world.” (source)

One thing I have heard for the last 10 years, is that my generation, the millennial generation, loves instant gratification. With our current technology, and information at our fingertips at every minute of the day, our minds want everything faster from retail, answers to questions, and any service that you can think of.  Well, I have news for everybody, DID I ASK FOR THIS LIFE? NOOOOOOO

Yes, I do expect my computer to boot up quickly, I hate when Netflix or Hulu takes longer than 10 seconds to load , and I definitely enjoyed Youtube way better when I did not have to watch a 15 second advertisement prior to the showing of my video. Well, I have news for everyone, sometimes I don’t want this life, the need to be instantly gratified, YOU KNOW WHY?

Life is a freaking marathon. Most events feel like a marathon. AND the most IMPORTANT things that are done of any substance or quality happen over a period of time.

So the personal desire to see results tomorrow sucks sometimes. I wish I was more comfortable with waiting and not bothered when certain things take time. In fact, it would be awesome if things happened instantly only every once and a while so it would be like a surprise. I could say, “Oh, this a nice change, things are happening quickly for one.”

Why am I ranting about this? Because it’s summer, and as always there is always someone that I know preparing for the bar exam. Yeah, I had to study for that once. And my advice is  always remember studying for the bar exam is like a marathon. Training, studying hard is long, and it sucks, but you have to prepare every day or you will get behind and you won’t have all the knowledge needed to knock out the bar exam. You HAVE to do a little something each day, even when there are no results, no progress. As millennial, I had to learn this too. WHY?

As much as we want or love instant gratification, it doesn’t really mean everything in this thing called life happens instantaneously. And I repeat, Life is a freaking marathon.

Marriage. Kids. Buying a House. Running a Business. Paying Down Debt. Building Savings. Staying Healthy.Taking care of a pet. Do I need to keep going?

Now, don’t get me wrong, we look for shortcuts. Technology has provided this desire.  It doesn’t not however make us lazy. It’s time to change story that is being told about us. I WANT to change the story. This is the story that I am trying to tell:

  1. We are results-orientated.  – We may take shortcuts, or change course several times trying new things over and over instead of trying one tried and true thing, but  we want the best results. Does it matter that we’ve learned to cut corners and be effective. Got it?
  2. We don’t want to waste time. – Why keep unnecessary information in your brain, that’s what google is for. Or why do something when there is a quicker way to do it. Tradition is important. Unnecessary tasks are not. We grew up with recycle, reduce, reuse. We want to emphasize the REDUCE part. Cool?
  3. We can work hardThe way we want to work just looks different. I don’t want to work from 8-5, sometimes I want to sleep in, start at 10 AM, but I am willing to work at 7 PM and I don’t need a baby sitter (i.e. my boss) to be productive. We just want freedom in how we get to solutions, because we know there are so many ways to get there. Make sense?

Bill Gates is quoted as saying, “I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job, because, he will find an easy way to do it”  and if it makes sense to him, maybe the older generations need to walk into the light. And we’re not trying to be lazy, we’re just different. Just like every generation before us. The reality is that, “People fear what they don’t understand”  (source: Andrew Smith)

Call us the “Trophy Generation” if you want to, but as one person pits  it, Jeff Avallon, the vice president of business development at IdeaPaint, a workplace technology firm in Boston says, “Millennials’ behavior is totally functional for the world they inherited. They don’t respond to traditional” [enter any word here] … Sorry, there’s no longer enough time for that. The economy demands constant innovation, and the ruling-by-iron-fist model is not nimble enough for reacting quickly. Millennials are simply trying to do better.” (source)

Look at Amazon.  The way they complain about how Millennials wants things fast, its as if they would have preferred Amazon not figure out how to get our orders to us faster. Would everyone prefer to go back to week long shipments?  Because you remember the time when it took a long time? Now that’s silly. If we choose to create other opportunities that are quicker and easier that is good, even if we spend a lot of time figuring out how to get there. Because there are so many things in life that are like a marathon, that take time and are challenging and there’s nothing humans can do about it, not even Millennials. And if we fail at events in life that are like marathons, because we are in love with instant gratification, well then, so be it. We will have to ADAPT to those things. So maybe it’s time everyone ADAPT to us.

M/P

Appreciate Failure or Else… You Fail? (The Monday Fits)

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“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Taking risks, or pursuing your goals is something that is so important. I have touched on this several times in my blog, especially directed at my generation, millennials, and for young women. I find that success is often deliberate, regardless if luck, faith, or a blessing, had a lot to do with it, no one is successful from just sitting around doing nothing. But it’s long over due to talk about the challenges that you will face as you take risks in different areas of your life. And sometimes these challenges are small like hiccups, but let us not forget that life’s biggest challenges are also known as failures. These challenges are on a whole different level; more like a combo of swine flu and pneumonia.  That’s right, completely and utterly debilitating.

There is no denying that we will all experience failure, some are more familiar than others. I remember this idea in church, that if you’re not living right, the devil isn’t really trying to mess with you. When you’re walking down the path of righteousness it’s not going to be paved in gold and the path is filled with bumps and jagged edges because the devil is trying to throw you off track. I believe this is true in our lives as leaders, followers, employees, managers, friends, lovers, mothers, and fathers. Failure hits every part of our life, and how we deal with failure makes all the difference. Well, apparently, our generation is avoiding it like the plague, unlike generation X. “They” are saying that we need to fail a little more, and love it.

The millennial generation is taking a page out of the early baby boomer generation’s book: Don’t fail. A mantra of the older generation was to  “follow the rules, avoid taking risks, and don’t fail”.  “In fact, managers were once expected to be infallible, deflecting the blame when problems arose’… “young Boomers famously rebelled and adopted a risk-taking spirit—which their business leaders began applying on the job when they took over.” (source) These actions had an effect on the generation Xers that created cyber boom tycoons like Mark Cuban.

So as generation Xers are aging, and millennials are graduating, moving into new roles, and dominating the workforce, many would say that we need to take more risks, and go a step further and fail while we’re at it. However, based on the state of the economy, we’re kind of listening…. but not really.  “More millennials are unemployed than any other generation. Despite the national unemployment rate dropping below 6 percent, the unemployment rate for millennials remains stubbornly high at nearly 12 percent”. (source)  Can you blame of us for looking for security? I don’t even need to list the stats on education loans, millennials have more than any other generation, ever.

The economic downturn happened within the last 7 years, but there has been an overall push for “embracing failure” since the turn of the century  from commencement speeches to conferences that endorse failure as a part of the career process.“An NPR analysis of popular speeches going back to 1774 identified “embrace failure” as the sixth-most popular theme (outranking platitudes like “be kind” and “dream big”). Of the 38 speeches with this theme, all but three were delivered after 2000—by the likes of J.K. Rowling, Oprah, and Ben Bernanke”. (source) And based on the “startup failure’, there was a conference started in 2009 called FailCon.  Last year, FailCon’s founder cancelled the conference “out of the belief that failure is now so ingrained in Silicon Valley culture that a conference is unnecessary”. (source)

So there are a lot of people telling us that it is okay to fail, and that the more you fail, the better you will become and your future is a little brighter… blah, blah, blah. It is easy to become skeptical listening to Bill Gates, Oprah, and Mark Zuckerberg go on and on about how failure made a difference, because what good does that really do for you? Many stories of success come from people who failed and THEN were successful. Wouldn’t you love to hear stories in the midst of the struggle? That would be the realist stuff you ever heard.  Raw, blunt, and oh, so matter of fact. But the reality is nobody really hears the stories of those who are failing while they’re falling except themselves. Sometimes we have to learn to listen to our own stories in the midst of the struggle, and only from that place do we find the inner fight to move forward.

This is what I call appreciating failure, and learning the benefits it can provide. We can’t appreciate someone else’s failure. Appreciate means more than being grateful and understanding. After a mistake, whether it’s a week, or a year, or years later, we learn from our past mistakes. But appreciate also means to, “recognize the full worth of”. (Source). This idea is more than just learning what we did the wrong , where we took the wrong path, or maybe the goal was really out of our reach. But that there is actually something to learn from failing. To be resourceful, to be able to fall down and get back up, and we can’t learn that from anyone else: we have to learn for ourselves. But we must also recognize that failure happens even with the most well-drawn, organized, and laid out plans. That’s why I would say to some extent, we do have to accept failure , and recognize that it is not the end of the world. You may not be taking that risk, because you’re a afraid of failing, or your thinking that failure is the end of the road. It could be just the beginning.

We can put too much pressure on ourselves to not fail.  Let’s think about our kids who go crazy to the point of sickness over their grades or maybe cheat to get into that prestigious school or the young adult who becomes anorexic for the next dance performance, or the athlete who uses performance enhancing drugs. We always want to bash that they took it too far because they did x, y or z to get their end result, but are they not just trying to avoid failure at all costs?

Lately, my favorite comeback stories are baby boomers, who were close to retirement when the recession hit,  and had to pick up their life, pursue a new career at a point when they thought their careers were almost over.  Whether it’s because they still had kids in school they had to support or were foster parents, their resilience is humbling and refreshing, and reminds me that failure can happen to the most secure of us all. So I have learned to appreciate more and more failure in my life, regardless, if I want to or not, we have become familiar foes, friends, and sometimes best buddies. Failure isn’t always around, there are definitely times when I don’t want him around, but there are times when I need him, because that’s the only way I learn the tough lessons (because I can be hard-headed). Don’t be afraid of failure, you need it to thrive.

When It’s Over, Is It Over? (The Monday Fits)

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The ultimate test of a man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard. – Gaylord Nelson-


The life of a hero, idol, or even a dreamer are often legendary. The further from the bottom they climb, the better the story there is to tell. There are successful people who are chameleons who continue to mold their career, or have different stages in their life where it seems like there isn’t an end. But the average person is planning for their retirement. Some times that retirement doesn’t happen as early as they want to, or they cannot financially leave the workplace. Whether it is financial or they are not able to let go, when is it time to walk away? This subject is kind of a continuation of  last weeks Monday Fit. Every millennial or generation X’er works or has worked for a boss (or knows someone) who works where the person in charge has no plans to retire, and that should be the number one thing that they should be thinking about. Unfortunately, it has plagued our two generations with the reputation of being too aggressive and trying to push baby boomers out faster than we should or before it’s time. Now as a disclaimer, I am not SAYING every person who is older needs to retire, there are people who retire too early, or there are people capable until they are 90, because they have the capacity…. but that ain’t everybody .

But how do you know when it’s time to go? Better yet, as Millennials, how do we learn from inadequate leadership or managers? It may seem like we are a generation wanting to get paid more sooner, and be in charge sooner, but I promise a decent salary and a good manager, most millennials would be happy, just as much as any other generation.  More times than not, it’s about feeling appreciated and recognized for your contribution, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Part of the problem is the work culture baby boomers grew up in was harsher on their employees, and provided for less freedom, autonomy, so that when they get to a certain level in the career, that is the first time they may be really leading or feeling appreciated, why would they want to let go?

Being in Austin, I talk to a lot of millennials in start-ups or tech companies, and the reason they are less likely to feel frustrated is because they are given autonomy, freedom, and the ability to make decisions in the business structure, but understand that they are not in charge, but feel appreciated. That is the kind of environment that we should be striving for. But is the answer that simple? Probably not.

So let’s take a look at an industry where when it’s time to go, you don’t really have many options, and yet, time and time again, the aging workforce STILL takes forever to walk away, and it ain’t about the money. I think of my favorite football player, Peyton Manning, who could ( some would say should) retire today. He is going to the Hall of Fame one day, he already has a great legacy, AND he has a championship. But of course, he wants more, just like my least favorite player, Tom Brady, who know has 4 championships. But with Peyton Manning, I would hate to admit, his performance is declining and it was noticeable in the playoffs. Now Peyton’s decline is still better than half of the quarterbacks out there, but just like other quarterbacks who could hang it up, he plans to play next year.

Now his profession is the kind when your performance is declining you have to close up shop. Not because you are no longer going to be paid, but he’s own health and safety would be better served if he wasn’t out on the field with men half of his age. I wonder, how many tough games ahead I will have to watch and how painful will it be for me. But the question remains, why is it so hard to let go, when we aren’t the best at something anymore? How do we pass the torch in our industries, when the older population can contribute, but maybe not at the same level, and the younger generation is hungry?

If you look at most professional development advice for millennials, in most people’s top five things to do, is get a mentor. That’s right, if you’re under the age of 40 and you want to develop your skills and continue to improve, mentorship is key. Most people I admire professionally all had mentors who lead them and taught them along the way. That one person showed them the ropes, told them where the traps are, and how to avoid them. For some, they never had a mentor, they learned from trial and error, and you know these people, because they emphasize, that they made a lot of mistakes, but that they made it through; either path works.

But my charge is if you’re in a leadership or managerial role with millennials or generation X’ers under you that are eager to learn and you’re not mentoring, that is one sign it is time for you to go. If you’re more worried about the younger generation taking your spot, and making life hard for them in the bad way (not being hard on them to make them stronger way) then it’s time for you to go. Why do I say this? Because it is just as important to excel in a position and it is to bring in the best generation who can be vital assets.

Look at the benefits of reverse mentoring popularized by former GE Chairman Jack Welch. Now the idea is still a little crazy to me, because I have never seen it in practice, but I wish there was more of it in my industry. Reverse mentoring is described as “a situation where the old fogies in an organization realize that by the time you’re in your forties and fifties, you’re not in touch with the future the same way the young twenty-something’s. They come with fresh eyes, open minds, and instant links to the technology of our future”.  (source) This method is so key to the workplace, especially for millennials but also for baby boomers. And as baby boomers are retiring later and later, it will be important to accept this change.

According to a Gallup poll, the average age Americans reported retiring has increased over the last 14 years since the poll started to be collected. Although the difference is small, in 1991, Americans, on average, reported retiring at 57. In 2014, the average age at which Americans report retiring has increased to 62. (source) The polls cities that  “retirement age may be increasing because many baby boomers are reluctant to retire. Older Americans may also be delaying retirement because of lost savings during the Great Recession or because of insufficient savings even before the economic downturn”(source)

The reality is that the financial state of the country may require baby boomers to continue to retire later and later, so we have to be deliberate and intentional about the work environment in which we develop. It is important how we nurture and grow new and raw talent. Although our generation may seem whiny, demanding, and impatient, but as I’ve mentioned before, “Attitude reflects leadership”. We are a product of our environment, let’s make it an even better one.

Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done – Ronald Reagan

The Monday Fits: Episode 4

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, damned if you don’t” – Eleanor Roosevelt


 

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The art of critiquing and judgement can be mastered by a skillful commentator who can provide insightful instruction that provides positive change in a person, group or an ideal.  However, a critique can be weak and distract the listener if the critique is formed out of jealousy due to one’s personal agenda or insecurity. With that being said, there are a number of concerns going in the world today that are being critiqued, yet if you google news articles about millennials, there are a lot of people with misplaced critiques. I am honestly tired of baby boomers and generation Y’ers making predictions about the millennial generation, MY generation. Many of the things that are being said about Millennials are just wrong. Where to start? Most news articles say that millennials are lazy, soft, self-centered, narcissistic, dumb (er), technology-obsessed, selfie-obsessed, and the me, me, me, me generation. As if we are the only generation with those issues. Now I understand the implication is that we have those issues at a more alarming rate than any generation before us. Let me ask this, a generation that experienced one of the highest unemployment rates ever, is it fair to imply that laziness is one of the main reason our generation is struggling to have jobs?

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And jobs are not the only critique. Since 2012, and as recent as a couple of weeks ago, studies are showing journalists continue to write that millennials are not buying cars, homes, or using credit cards; Millennials are also living at home with her their parents and using public transportation. The articles stem from legitimate concerns that it may be hurting the economy, but, uh, every one of those industries either failed, needed a bailout, or were practicing such shifty behavior that more regulations were created to force them to act fairly; so EXCUSE US for not wanting to purchase or depend on those items as much as our parents. (Because we can all agree that using cash and public transportation, and less credit is really better for so many reasons we will not go into today.)

And the notion that people see millennials living with their parents as a bad thing is just ludicrous. It is true, if you are doing absolutely nothing with your life and living with your parents, that is bad, but a number of millennials, I would go further and say, there are young PROFESSIONALS who live with their family members while saving for a house or getting to the point where they can live on their own. I mean, have these people had a roommate lately? It is not a cakewalk. I would rather live with my  family, before a roommate, and I have never had a bad roommate experience. But if their parents do not care, why should we?

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Luckily, there are a few articles out there, highlighting our better qualities, that we are volunteering more, more involved with civic engagement and voting in elections better than our parents at our age. (Source). Yet, it doesn’t keep the perpetual critique of our generation. In a recent article in the Washingto Post, Catherine Rampell wrote an opinion piece about how millennials cannot afford life milestones that have been established in the past. She states, “We want to move out. We want to own our home. We want to marry. We want to work. The problem is, many of us can’t.” (source). But I would argue that this is okay. One of the number reasons Americans are in too much debt is because they are trying to keep up with Joneses, so why is it a problem that millennials view their current financial status realistically and are not interested in the joneses. Rampbell goes on to say, “America’s young adults have gotten a lot of flak for missing many of the milestones that earlier generations checked off with ease. Perhaps preferences for these kinds of life milestones will eventually change, too, as norms evolve out of economic necessity. But in the meantime, don’t malign millennials for “rejecting” milestones that remain out of their reach.” (source)So the question is, if we are changing the social norms due to economic necessities, are we really afraid of risk, or actually being smart about our current decisions?

Millennials are called lazy and a me, me, me generation partly due to the fact that we were the first wave, of the “reward everyone epidemic”. You know, everyone is special and gets a trophy on awards day, even though some students have done absolutely nothing and may be mediocre in some areas. This ideology does hurt growth in kids, because they are not facing reality and living life slightly sugar coated. According to critics, it is preparing our generation to be less likely to take a risk. Yet, when we decide to do something outside the norm, it is wrong. Did I miss something? Is it not a risk to disagree with the status quo, and reject the path of our parents before us? To not follow the direction of the “wisdom” that contributed to the blunders of 2008?!? By no means, do I believe the previous generations did not accomplish many things, and provide a pathway for us to follow, but the critiques are surrounding cars, houses and credit cards!

Because of 2008, there should be excitement that this current generation is thinking and creating our own solutions, options, and situations differently. The gift that technology has given us, is that we can research and have access to information to fully understand something without necessarily personally experiencing it. This gives us the ability to innovate  and make judgements regarding the things that have happened before us, and that is a good thing, but baby boomers have a big problem with this. Being somewhat of traditionalist, I think the best combination is a mix of tradition and innovation. You cannot live on tradition alone, nor can you live blindly with no acknowledgment of history either.

Malcolm X says, “If you have no critics, you’ll likely have no success”. So to some degree, we are doing something right, to receive such staunch criticism. But if we just look to our political system, on both sides of the aisle, the top leadership that was voted after the mid-term elections have all be in office for over 30 years and refuse to step down and let the younger generations change the world, and that’s where the critique should be fully, but only a few speak up. So I guess Malcolm was right.

M/P