That picture is from eight years ago. Me with my cofounders for Brazen Careerist. Here’s what that site looks like now. Hopefully the company will exit soon because I would really like to cash in my founder’s stock.
Until that day, I can cash in on how cute this picture is. People always used to come up to me and say about the cofounders, “Wow, those two are so cute.”
Now, as I look at the picture from eight years ago, I think, “Wow, I used to be cute, too.”
I should make that picture my headshot or something. I need more mileage from that picture.
When I first started writing this blog, Gen Y was just entering the workforce. Their parents had raised them to believe everything they did should have meaning and be fulfilling. So when Gen Y entered the workforce they thought work was a joke. Because, as we all know, entry-level jobs suck.
But unlike other generations, ones that paid their dues, Gen Y just quit. And it was elevated to some sort of national crisis that their generation was spoiled, entitled, lazy, immature.
I never set out to be the spokesperson for Gen Y. But their reaction made total sense to me. You do not have to be older to have a good idea. And of course you should not have to spend years getting people coffee before learning something interesting. So I wrote that in my syndicated column. And then I got fired from a few newspapers.
Then I wrote about how job-hoppers are the most engaged employees, and job-hoppers have the strongest careers, and job-hoppers have the best resumes. Yahoo fired me. Then I launched a startup with two Gen Yers who gave me street-cred as I became more and more vocal about how much we benefit from Generation Y.
The credibility worked: Companies paid me $15K a speech to talk about the Gen Y workforce and I used that money to fund the startup. My blog took off, the company took off, and, things came full circle when the Gen Yers got sick of working with me because I was old and had kids and couldn’t work as many hours as they did.
Or maybe they got sick of working with me because I kept arguing with the press instead of just giving a good soundbite and shutting up. “It’s bad for the company brand,” my partners would tell me over and over again.
Which may have been true, but that’s not my point.
Robert Wolcott, from Kellogg Business School, finds that successful people do not need to be able to predict what the future will look like. Rather, success depends on being able to see the direction of change and adjusting to move in that direction yourself. Of course, cognitive dissonance holds us back; most people feel comfortable working within a set of rules, and maintaining the status quo. The people who are most comfortable breaking rules generally make the most money. And in many offices the people who are most concerned with following rules get fired fastest – for inflexibility.
In the book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown says that “being ourselves, risking judgment, risking being seen, actually leads to happiness.” Brown writes about vulnerability, and that’s an important tenant to taking action on a trend. If you do what everyone else does, it’s unlikely they will judge you harshly. So it feels safe. But Brown explains how staying safe is akin to being unable to be vulnerable.
Today switching jobs is totally acceptable. In fact, the average 29 year old has had seven jobs, and the job hopping does not decrease as people get older. I could see that was coming. I knew.
So often we read about trends and we hear predictions, and we do nothing. Because it feels prudent. But that’s actually the most high-risk move – to avoid moving in the direction of a trend. Not because you’ll miss the trend, but because you’ll miss opportunities to live your life according to your own values.
People used to ask me how I knew how Gen Y would change the workforce. And it was so obvious to me when I looked at what was happening around me. Now I think the same thing about homeschooling: It’s the next obvious thing that is happening, so we might as well get on board before getting left behind. The same type of person who was desperately trying to hold on to an outdated workplace yesterday is desperately trying to hold on to an outdated education system today.