“Crash Course for Understanding Gen Y” — Still Relevant

In such a fast paced society, there are few things that still stand the test of time, albeit less than two years.  Take a look at this and see if you agree.

  1. Hear me out.  Young adults have had a say in how things go since they were five.  They expect to express themselves, to upload, vote, blog, or update and they believe they will be heard.
  2. Keep it real.  The only thing worse than being uncool is being unreal.  They demand authenticity.  Anything that smells “plastic” is a turn-off.  They value genuine people and leaders.
  3. Let’s have fun.  They believe work and fun can be combined; they don’t want to separate the two.  In fact, they may stop working midday to have fun and work again at midnight.  It’s a continuum.
  4. My way now.  They have not heard the word “no” very often growing up.  As a student or new employee, they expect to get their way and don’t see why adults can’t understand their perspective.
  5. Make it count.  They want to do things that matter.  Meaning is a important as money at work.  They don’t think small.  They like projects that are very important almost impossible.
  6. Let me know.  They are used to constant feedback.  They got trophies on teams just for showing up.  They got lots of kudos from parents for years, and today want it instantly from their leaders.
  7. Plug me in.  You already know this.  They are a connected generation.  They can’t imagine a day without constant connection with friends.  Technology is an appendage of their bodies.
  8. Just do it.  Words that describe their world are immediacy and convenience.  They’re not prone to waste a lot of time with committee red tape or protocol.  Stuff should just happen fast.

– Adapted from Elmore, T. (2011, February 2).  A Crash Course in Understanding Generation Y  http://www.growingleaders.com

Withdrawl from Wireless Service — or not

While out of wireless coverage (via a cruise) for the past week, I suffered typical withdrawl from wireless service.  Once I got used to not having that “thing” go off all the time, it was kind of nice.  It took a few days, but it was nice nonetheless.

For those younger than 25, it was another story altogether.  I saw phones being carried around, shoved into pockets that are too small for a paper clip, and hanging around other body parts.  You might think that these devices were being used as music players but, alas, they were not.  They were simply there, filling a void that has become as essential as gasoline is to a car.  I can only guess the following scenarios played out:

  1. They paid for an international roaming plan.  Texting, voice calls, whatever…all in an effort to convey to their friends that wonderful conversation starter word of “Wasssuppp?”  I wish I could see their faces (or the faces of their parents) when they get the bill.
  2. They think they are THAT important that no call could be missed.  Legends in their own minds, so to speak.  Here’s a tip:  You’re not.
  3. They have never experienced NOT having wireless coverage.

Wireless services are good things and, used effectively, can make life more enjoyable.  But, to see how it impacted some individuals simply screamed out to me of a psychological study waiting to happen.  I can just imagine the title now:  “No wireless service:  An increased concern for people jumping overboard.”

Take a break from it.  Your family will thank you.

New York Time’s Paul Krugman: Wasting Our Minds

Thanks to my daughter, a 2009 Mizzou graduate, for forwarding this article.

April 29, 2012


In Spain, the unemployment rate among workers under 25 is more than 50 percent. In Ireland almost a third of the young are unemployed. Here in America, youth unemployment is “only” 16.5 percent, which is still terrible — but things could be worse.

And sure enough, many politicians are doing all they can to guarantee that things will, in fact, get worse. We’ve been hearing a lot about the war on women, which is real enough. But there’s also a war on the young, which is just as real even if it’s better disguised. And it’s doing immense harm, not just to the young, but to the nation’s future.

Let’s start with some advice Mitt Romney gave to college students during an appearance last week. After denouncing President Obama’s “divisiveness,” the candidate told his audience, “Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.”

The first thing you notice here is, of course, the Romney touch — the distinctive lack of empathy for those who weren’t born into affluent families, who can’t rely on the Bank of Mom and Dad to finance their ambitions. But the rest of the remark is just as bad in its own way.

I mean, “get the education”? And pay for it how? Tuition at public colleges and universities has soared, in part thanks to sharp reductions in state aid. Mr. Romney isn’t proposing anything that would fix that; he is, however, a strong supporter of the Ryan budget plan, which would drastically cut federal student aid, causing roughly a million students to lose their Pell grants.

So how, exactly, are young people from cash-strapped families supposed to “get the education”? Back in March Mr. Romney had the answer: Find the college “that has a little lower price where you can get a good education.” Good luck with that. But I guess it’s divisive to point out that Mr. Romney’s prescriptions are useless for Americans who weren’t born with his advantages.

There is, however, a larger issue: even if students do manage, somehow, to “get the education,” which they do all too often by incurring a lot of debt, they’ll be graduating into an economy that doesn’t seem to want them.

You’ve probably heard lots about how workers with college degrees are faring better in this slump than those with only a high school education, which is true. But the story is far less encouraging if you focus not on middle-aged Americans with degrees but on recent graduates. Unemployment among recent graduates has soared; so has part-time work, presumably reflecting the inability of graduates to find full-time jobs. Perhaps most telling, earnings have plunged even among those graduates working full time — a sign that many have been forced to take jobs that make no use of their education.

College graduates, then, are taking it on the chin thanks to the weak economy. And research tells us that the price isn’t temporary: students who graduate into a bad economy never recover the lost ground. Instead, their earnings are depressed for life.

What the young need most of all, then, is a better job market. People like Mr. Romney claim that they have the recipe for job creation: slash taxes on corporations and the rich, slash spending on public services and the poor. But we now have plenty of evidence on how these policies actually work in a depressed economy — and they clearly destroy jobs rather than create them.

For as you look at the economic devastation in Europe, you should bear in mind that some of the countries experiencing the worst devastation have been doing everything American conservatives say we should do here. Not long ago, conservatives gushed over Ireland’s economic policies, especially its low corporate tax rate; the Heritage Foundation used to give it higher marks for “economic freedom” than any other Western nation. When things went bad, Ireland once again received lavish praise, this time for its harsh spending cuts, which were supposed to inspire confidence and lead to quick recovery.

And now, as I said, almost a third of Ireland’s young can’t find jobs.

What should we do to help America’s young? Basically, the opposite of what Mr. Romney and his friends want. We should be expanding student aid, not slashing it. And we should reverse the de facto austerity policies that are holding back the U.S. economy — the unprecedented cutbacks at the state and local level, which have been hitting education especially hard.

Yes, such a policy reversal would cost money. But refusing to spend that money is foolish and shortsighted even in purely fiscal terms. Remember, the young aren’t just America’s future; they’re the future of the tax base, too.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste; wasting the minds of a whole generation is even more terrible. Let’s stop doing it.

Risks Worth Taking

I’ve been at this social thing for about two years and, during that time, I’ve picked up on a few things.  One of them is to take some risks.  Here are a few of them:

  1. I put myself out there.  Personally on Facebook, professionally on Twitter.  LinkedIn, well, not so much but it just follows Twitter.  So far, I haven’t been sued, slandered upon, or embarrassed.  Still, I’ve only been at this for two years.
  2. I’ve found some real interesting people who know what they’re talking about.  And, even if I don’t agree with them, it opens up a discourse in the name of a shared interest.  No back and forth emails between just the two of us but, rather, a global conversation.  I like it.
  3. There are some odd folks out there.  Those with tens of thousands of tweets, following lots of people but zero followers.  You’ve got to keep your guard up.
  4. I would classify myself as an “early adopter” but, with respect to social networking, I’ve got some catching up to do.  Technology is not the issue but, rather, consistently challenging the creative person within.
  5. Finally, I am pushing the envelope with those with whom I work.  Yeah, there are risks but failure to at least try would be disadvantageous to all.

What social networking risks have you taken? Respond in the comments section!

Internet Time Alliance: Working Smarter (March 2012)

Thanks to the Internet Time Alliance for this content.

The Internet Time Alliance helps its clients understand and embrace complexity and adopt new ways of working and learning.

“When I Grow Up — Work Version”

From the Kevin Jones series of videos — which does videos to explain complex ideas more simply.  This one, however, seems pretty straightforward.

When we were young we would never have thought these things. Now, too many of us live it. When we take a step back and do a sanity check, we realize that there has to be a better way. And, of course, there is — but too often we don’t feel there is a way to make improvements. But I believe we can.

This was inspired by the Monster.com ad of 1999.

Here’s the original: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJB0CzlzSwY

Training, social media books worth a read

Here are some good, industry-related books that have recently been published that I thought I would share.


  1. Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance by Jay Cross
  2. A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change by John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas
  3. The New Learning Architect by Clive Shepherd
  4. The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today by Karie Wilyard and Jeanne Meister
  5. Waiting for “Superman”: How We Can Save America’s Failing Public Schools by Carl Weber
  6. Working Smarter Fieldbook, September 2010 edition by Jay Cross

Social Media

  1. The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media by Marcia Conner and Tony Bingham
  2. Social Media for Trainers: Techniques for Enhancing and Extending Learning by Jane Bozarth
  3. Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business by Erik Qualman
  4. The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World by David Kirkpatrick
  5. Social Learning Handbook by Jane Hart

Some thoughts on my turning 55

I need to keep it simple for 2012 and, for those within a generation of my age, some thoughts:

  1. Let technology enable you, not disable you.  However, technology cannot (and should not) do it all.
  2. Dogs get trained, people learn.  But, you can’t learn without others so collaboration is critical.  Remember the 70/20/10 balance.
  3. Read the Steve Jobs book (I did).  You’ll gain some perspective (I did).  Work on your legacy.

So, let’s meet at the crossroads of technology and learning and continue the journey.

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains.” — Steve Jobs, in an interview to BusinesWeek in 1998

Is it progress or just a process?

I’ve been blogging for a while and have accumulated several followers and follow even more.  What have I gained?  I’ve made inroads on learning who knows stuff and who doesn’t.  Most of the time, those that know stuff know more than me and, in that regard, that is progress. It’s helped me and, hopefully, those who follow me.

It would be more of a process if I simply relied on others to provide content.  In that respect, I need to do more.  Contribute, collaborate, and enter into the discourse.  That is the hill before me in 2012.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Who Should Lead a Learning Organization?

Why are organizational leaders so stuck in the notion that leading a learning organization requires no knowledge of learning?  Either the individual can’t lead and can’t be terminated (“those who can, do…those who can’t, teach” mentality) or they believe that the individual is so good that a short stint in the training department will propel them to greatness.  Then someone else comes in, then someone else…each time starting from scratch because, of course, the new guy knows better.  Look, there goes the competition passing us by as we re-do stuff.

Or, is the right strategy to place a leader in the organization who knows the business AND knows learning.  What an opportunity to separate your business from the competition!!!

So, if it’s so clear, why has this scenario not been made into reality more often?