Twentysomething: 7 reasons why my generation is more productive than yours


This post is from Clay Collins, author of the blog The Growing Life.

Generation Y is known for rolling into work late while wearing headphones, and dressing as if every day were casual Friday. We’re often seen TXTing in our cubicles, taking breaks, and instant messaging. While these images don’t exactly encourage others to view us as bastions of uber-productivity, we’re often a hell of a lot more productive than previous generations.

Here are seven reasons why my generation (Generation Y) is often more productive than yours:

Reason 1: We use the best tools
Generation Y is more than comfortable doing the experimentation necessary to find the right tools and technologies for most effectively completing a task. We understand the company’s project management software better than you do because we are comfortable playing with it. And we can probably recommend 2-3 other tools that would work better in the situation because we’re not afraid to rely on nearly-free, online productivity tools from unknown companies. Our to-do lists are carefully maintained, prioritized daily and synced with our PDAs and iPODs.

Reason 2. We’re good at automating
Generation Y has grown up with technology and we believe that computers can do just about anything (or that they will someday). So when we’re receive a task, the first question we ask ourselves is: “how can technology make this task go faster?” Sometimes our efforts to employ technology make things more complicated, but quite often we end up successfully automating a repetitive task, saving ourselves and our companies thousands of dollars.

Reason 3. We get better sleep
Previous generations have lived by Ben Franklin’s aphorism: “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Generational Y intuitively knows what psychologists have confirmed: that a significant percentage of the population is much more productive when they go to bed late and get up late. Simply put, you’re more productive when you follow your biologically determined circadian rhythms and get up when your body tells you to.

Reason 4: We’re much more likely to love our jobs
Since Generation Y switches jobs much more frequently than previous generations, we’re much more likely to be doing things that (1) we’re good at, and (2) we actually like. All the job switching and repositioning we do means we’re much more likely to end up with professions that are actually suited to our passions and talents. And every productivity guru knows you’re most productive when you’re doing things you actually care about.

Reason 5: We stay up to date in our fields
Another upshot of changing jobs so frequently is the need to stay on top of the latest developments in our fields. Because job searching is a somewhat continual process for Generation Y, we’re likely to teach ourselves new skills, or pay for training, even if our employers don’t because we want to stay competitive. We see training and skill-building as our own responsibility — not something that our employer will necessarily do for us. And our lifestyle choices reflect a passion for constant learning and development .

Reason 6: We’re experimental
Generation Y is continually doing research and development at the individual level. And because Generation Y cares more about getting new experiences and learning new skills than about not making mistakes , we’re willing to try new things, be creative, and take new angles. While this experimental approach might not result in quantifiable productivity, it leads to the kind of shifts in thinking that save time and money over the long haul.

Reason 7: We don’t “go through the motions”
We’ve seen our washed up parents work shit jobs they hate, and we won’t go through the motions for the sake of job security. If you’re an old-school boss, then this won’t be comfortable. However, not going through the motions for the sake of going through the motions actually makes us more productive in the long run.

Clay Collins is author of The Alternative Productivity Manifesto, and Quitting Things and Flakiness: The #1 Productivity Anti-Hack. Clay also writes about lifestyle design at Project Liberation.

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  1. Ashe Mischief
    Ashe Mischief says:

    Great post! And it’s all so true. As a recent graduate (from grad school), I was discussing with a supervisor & friend the daunting and discomforting nature of working an 8-5. Why? — because of #3. 8-5 disrupts my natural rhythm, and I’d be much happier working 10-7.

  2. Joe Wehr
    Joe Wehr says:


    If your goal was to be provocative – BINGO!

    “washed up parents” Ouch! A little judgmental?

    I congratulate on your confidence and enthusiasm, but a little moderation, tolerance and patience might be in order.

    It’s good to be on the leading edge, but you might might want to stay off the “bleeding” edge.

    You’re mindset is not going to contribute to the solution, so you’re part of the problem.

    Regarding the use of technology, mentor an older co-worker in the use of web/enterprise 2.0 tools to enable them to do their work more effectively and efficiently. Don’t teach them tool, teach them how to use it in their work. You’ll learn too, about the business of your company, and build a relationship that will yield benefits that might surprise you.

    Ask Ryan H what his mother might think of your post.

  3. KateNonymous
    KateNonymous says:

    Is there any generation that couldn’t say this? The technology is new, but the principles aren’t.

    * * * * * * *
    You’re right. Just about every generation can say this. Since World War II, productivity in the U.S. has doubled. Doubled. This is due, of course to improvements in technology, but also in our understanding of human productivity. Every generation is getting more productive than the previous one.


    • Glenn Friesen
      Glenn Friesen says:

      Do you think that this pace of productivity growth will exhaust itself, the Earth, or the people in the workforce? Or do you think, perhaps, new technology (like the expected introduction of Robots in modern life) will keep the rapid pace of productivity going?

  4. Grumpy Gen-Xer
    Grumpy Gen-Xer says:

    Golly, another post by some kid who thinks that nobody over 35 is capable of learning a new skill or using technology. Look, son, I was writing scripts and macros when you were at your mother’s teat. We Xers and Boomers are not all lifeless automatons who cower in our cubicles all day, unwilling to speak truth to our corporate masters. Some of us have known about work-life balance for a while now, thank you very much. I suppose that every generation thinks of itself as the font of all worthwhile knowledge–I remember well thinking how clueless my old colleagues were when I started. But eventually you realize that you don’t know everything, and that your elders may actually have accumulated some worthwhile life experiences. You’ll get there eventually, and I hope to god that you don’t have to listen to Generation Z telling you how worthless you are when you do.

  5. Lance
    Lance says:

    Seriously? I could write about the positive attributes of every generation and show how it has a positive effect on their business performance. I didn’t know it was a pissing match about who was more productive though so I came unprepared.

    I guess I’ll just have to start with your numbers showing that Gen Y is more productive.

    Err, nevermind.

    Gen X and Boomers have done stuff in the business world. Their success is proven by results. Look at the Fortune 100. Gen X and Boomers are all over the place. We aren’t there yet.

    An argument like this rings empty to businesses because there are no numbers or results to back it up. Until we do something, we’re not going to be respected for bucking the unpleasant things about working.

  6. Harold Jarche
    Harold Jarche says:

    I can say yes to all of the above reasons, and I’m way past my twenties. I’ve met many people in their twenties who do not exhibit any of these traits. I don’t see any reason to categorize people by age, it’s too simplistic and doesn’t add to our understanding of how people work and learn.

    * * * * * * *
    Yeah, analysis based on age is often too simplistic. I agree. Still, there are some notable cohort effects.

    It’s important to note that what I’m describing is a general trend that applies to averages among large populations. There will always be exceptions (and in this case, there are many). But I see positive developments as well, and many of these positive developments often co-vary with age. That’s all :-)


  7. Katie Konrath
    Katie Konrath says:

    I can definitely see the advantage of Gen Y being able to easily find the best tools for the job. At one of my last jobs, one of the hardest parts of my job was not finding tools that would make our lives easier, but teaching my co-workers to use them. Luckily, they were open to learning, but I did still have to spend a significant amount of time writing down each new step as clearly as possible.

    It’s amazing how different our generations are in our basic comfort with computers and new programs.

    In response to a commentator about, the reason I think we Gen Yers feel the need to write articles like this is because – when we are in the workplace – a lot of Boomers treat us like ignorant kids who aren’t capable/productive.

    And yes, we do work a little differently, but the workplace has also changed a lot. We can’t depend on job security, and paying our dues probably won’t pay off because we won’t be there (either due to our own choice or not) long enough. So it’s not surprising that our generation feels like we have to look out for ourselves more.

  8. Tim in SF
    Tim in SF says:

    I usually like your column a lot. I will often print out a post and tack it up on the bulletin board for others. However, this is the most blatant ageism I have seen in a while. And it doesn’t even have the virtue of being true.

    Are you comparing Y to X or Y to the baby boomers?

  9. Shefaly
    Shefaly says:

    Well, all I can say is that you really need to get to know more people than your ‘washed up parents’… It may even be worth losing some sleep hours. And looking up from your bots. :-)

  10. Michael Henreckson
    Michael Henreckson says:

    I’m not sure what’s more interesting. The way Gen-Yers compare themselves favorably to other generations, or the way other generations resent the comparisons.

    The fact of the matter is Gen-Y is way too arrogant. We think we’re really hot stuff and can beat the pants off of anyone else when it comes to a contest of productivity and money-making ability. We think we’re light-years better, but we’re actually just slightly different.

    Most Gen-Yers are better with computers than previous generations. That’s not to say that previous generations are lacking in intelligence. Far from it. It’s thanks to our parents and even farther back that we even have computers. Bill Gates is older than my Dad and he’s undeniably influenced the progression of computer software and hardware in incredible ways. He wasn’t the first one to invent computers either.

    That being said, I usually have an edge in computer use and productivity than most people over 40. Why? Because I grew up with them and as Clay points out in Reason #6, I was experimental with them. That’s the key to learning and keeping up with advances in computers. No class or set of classes can do the same thing, because things are always changing. You have to keep experimenting and figuring things out on your own. Otherwise you’re stuck doing things by the book, and the book isn’t always right about the fastest simplest way to get the computer to do what you want it to do.

    In a nutshell, we’re arrogant, but we do have a couple excuses. One is that we do know technology. That’s not a very good excuse, but it is an excuse. Second, we’re young. Arrogance is something that we’ll hopefully grow out of given a little time to gain experience and realize how fragile we really are. :)
    * * * * * * *
    In response to this: “that’s not to say that previous generations are lacking in intelligence.”

    I think you’re right. It should also be noted, however, that there is a LARGE pool of data in the psychological literature showing steady in robust increases in IQs in the general population over time. The generation under me will, as a population, score higher than my generation, etc.

    That’s not to say that we’re smarter. It’s just to say that, over time, each generation is getting progressively better at scoring well on a test that was designed to test the ability to be productive workers in this modern society.


  11. dewey_decimal
    dewey_decimal says:

    As an academic librarian, I have to disagree somewhat with points 1 & 2. No doubt there are 20-somethings out there who really are on the leading edge of technology and automation, but a lot of the students I see have never explored technology beyond Google, Facebook and instant messaging.

    I am currently teaching a class on online research to a small group of teens who’ve been hired as summer research assistants. I handed out a pre-course knowledge survey to get a sense of where they’re at. In addition to lacking any traditional library research skills, these students all indicated that they are unclear about what a database is, are not making use of RSS readers to keep track of feeds, and aren’t using social bookmarking tools.

    Now compare this to most of the librarians I know. Most of my colleagues are reading and writing blogs, subscribing to feeds for both blogs and academic journals, creating wikis, using screencasting software to produce online tutorials, and even, in some cases, inventing their own apps. Most of the people I’m thinking of are in their 30s and 40s.
    * * * * * * *
    Right. Most librarians are going to be better at using library-related technology than teenagers. My hunch, however, is that most 35-year-olds will know less about how to use technology, in general, than the teenagers.

    I think it’s important to remember that librarians have MAs in “library and information studies” and that the general population does not. So that probably skews the analysis.


  12. francy
    francy says:

    sorry, but….who cares? did you write this to justify all of those text messages? because regardless of how productive they may have been, you still LOOK like you’re completely wasting time with personal stuff.

    and that’s not good for anyone.
    * * * * * * *
    I think it's much better when managers manage results, not appearance. I'd rather work with someone who's twice as efficient as the average employee, even if they look like they're doing 1/4th of the work.


  13. Maggie
    Maggie says:

    Ditto what Harold said–I can say yes to them all too and I’m 40. One thing about all the Gen-Y stereotyping is that, as dewey says, while most 20-somethings are familiar with YouTube and Facebook, many (most, to gratuitously generalize as you do) have no idea about technology–or work, or life, for that matter–beyond that. Just because a person can send a text message doesn’t mean that they’re an edgy go-getter.

    One thing that doesn’t compute for me is the disconnect between the ubiquitous over-achieving high-school and college students–all AP classes and extra goes at the SATs to ensure the best possible score and supercharged activity schedules–and these laid back, who cares how much I make as long as I’m happy 20-somethings. These Gen-Yers you’re talking about–how did they manage to switch gears from “I must get all As and be in all honors classes and play by the rules to get into the best possible college” to “Who cares if I make mistakes?” young professionals?

    I love Penelope but my one criticism of Brazen Careerist is that having all Gen-Y bloggers is getting kind of old. Every post seems pretty much the same as all the others: Look at me, I’m 20-something and I have figured out the secrets of the career universe. Ok–we get it already! How about some other perspectives?

  14. Aaron
    Aaron says:

    Thanks for the nice laugh this morning. Since most Gen Y’ers seem to use these vaunted technology skills to post embarrassing photos of themselves on Myspace and Facebook while somehow not figuring out what Spellcheck is means I’m not too worried about the Gen Y competition.

    I wonder if there will also be an epidemic of neck strain (to go along with the video game and social networking induced carpal tunnel) because of all this Gen Y navel gazing.

  15. Katie
    Katie says:

    @ Maggie I can answer your question about the overachieving high schoolers because I was one. I had a full 16 college credits before I entered college, despite not taking a single AP test my senior year. I lettered in track, swimming, band and bunch of other activities. I was also did two youth in government programs, and went to state every year in a creativity competition. Then, in college, I graduated a semester early despite switching my major 4 times.

    What happened to me is that I learned that people can work really hard doing everything they’re supposed to do, and excelling – but still be laid off because the company wanted to cut costs.

    Companies broke their deal with the workers, and I no longer feel compelled to play their silly game.

    I have no problem doing the dirty work for a company, but I want my contribution and abilities to be recognized, and I want to work on something that matters.

  16. Joe Wehr
    Joe Wehr says:


    Thanks for giving everyone a chance to hurl grenades at you. You made it way too easy.

    On the other hand, you’ve stimulated discussion and engagement. Attractive for potential investors in Brazen Careerist.

    In future posts you might want to focus on what you’ve learned from the feedback to this post (failure is often more valuable than success) and suggest ways to make the workplace more engaging for young people and to build relationships with older co-workers.

    Hold your head high, you’re trying to make adifference.

    Joe, a Boomer (1947) with a Gen Y mindset

  17. Supernetuser
    Supernetuser says:

    Generation Yers! We need to start encouraging positive views of us by being productive in the first place. Somebody took the whole thing about ‘washed up parents’ too sensitively first of all. Parents aren’t washed up, they’re just getting older. Then again, I’m wondering if I’m going to find an office-job by the time I’m thirty. I’m 27, post-college.

  18. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    @Michael Henreckson
    Thank you for your acknowledgment of the contributions of previous generations and the tools they provide so that succeeding generations can be more productive. Each generation has its own strengths and unique experiences. A productive workplace with a range of generations (one form of diversity) will seek to work together and maximize each generations strengths rather than emphasize their generational differences.

  19. GenerationXpert
    GenerationXpert says:


    The one thing that I learned that is key to your success – more than anything else – is the way you get along with your coworkers. Emotional Intelligence. People really don’t hire,promote, invest in, and buy stuff from people they don’t like. It’s probably not fair, but it’s true. Therefore, if you go around telling other generations (who at this point make up the majority of American workers – Gen Y is just getting started, man) how much better you are then them, they will not like you. And you have a really hard time getting ahead.

    Another thing to remember is with age come wisdom. My grandmother may break the remote control to her television every six months, but she has really good advice when I get in a jam. She doesn’t have a computer or a cell phone – but there are lots of things she knows that I couldn’t even begin to grasp.

    So, in the future, please remember that every person in their 20s since the beginning of time has thought that their cohort was the best generation of all time. When you write posts like this, it makes you sound like a punk (and I really don’t think you are.)

  20. MsCatalysta
    MsCatalysta says:

    fantastic post! really enjoyed reading it. I completely agree about we seek our own training. Absolutely. I would also add that much of our “training’ is just by first hand experience. Our generation is inventing the tools that make life faster and more efficient and we are more apt to try them and make our own tweeks. Twentysomethings are a bit lazy in that they don’t want to “reinvent” the wheel- we rely on a few to invent it for us and then the majority just adapt that wheel to our best use.

    Thanks for a great post! Would love your opinion on my blog sometime. I talk about the joys of being a twentysomething and going from college to corporate.

  21. tinyhands
    tinyhands says:

    All those reasons and all that productivity, yet Gen Y has yet to really DO anything except blog about what they’re capable of doing. I don’t see it. Not impressed.

  22. Maus
    Maus says:

    I grow weary of the Gen Y superiority complex. Congratulations, you’ve mastered Twitter and Facebook; so now you are ready to be CEO. Perhaps previous generations also drew from a bottomless well of narcissism, but we didn’t blog about it ad nauseam.

    You kids are damn lucky there’s no draft because if you think corporate heirarchy is a problem, the military would crush you. Before we “washed up” hacks empower you to spend company revenue and potentially alienate clients, we will test you. Sadly, I find many of you utterly lacking in anything but enthusiasm and an outsized sense of entitlement.

  23. Ken
    Ken says:

    How difficult is it to stay “up to date” in your field when you’ve only been in the field 5 years?

    I’m impressed when I see people pull that trick off for 30 years (or more).

  24. Benjamin
    Benjamin says:

    “Reason 2. We're good at automating”

    We are getting so good we are automating ourselves out of our jobs. Then our productivity drops to zero :-).


  25. sophie
    sophie says:

    Boy, does this hit some nerves! How soon did it take to get 20-25 comments!?

    I’m a tail-end boomer, although I hardly consider myself one. My Gen Y kids come to me for IT advice since I work in that field and they do not. I regularly update my skills, not because I’m of a certain generation, but because it’s a necessary component of the field in which I I work.

    Here’s the real glitch of Clay’s far out analogy. Generation Y is just starting out. Most are not even married, let alone have kids. Heck, some of them keep moving back home with Mom and Dad! So, sure, they can quit their jobs whenever they’re bored, or go back to school for the latest trend.

    But life’s a circle. Like the rest of us, Gen Y will also grow older. They’ll get married and have kids. They’ll stay with a job longer, until they’re guaranteed a better one, because they have dependents. Taking classes to updates skills won’t be as affordable or accessible. Goodness, by time they’re 40-50 yrs old, they may have even been working for 20-30 years and be tired of it, no matter what they’re doing! (But they won’t be able to quit because they’ll still be taking care of kids, since they started so late).

    Every generation has been there, each in our own way. Every generation thinks we know it all when we’re 20. We get even worse when we’re 30, because we have a few years’ experience under our belt. By time we hit 40, we start to realize the more we know, the more there is we don’t know.

    Beyond that, I haven’t a clue, since I haven’t gotten that far. I look forward to a whole exciting world yet to come.

    Clay, I hope you write a follow-up in 20 years. It’s sure to be good. And likely a bit humbler.

  26. 1wineDude
    1wineDude says:

    In a word: bullocks.

    I think I probably know people from any of the recent generations still in the workforce that exhibit several of these traits, myself included. And I know those who are and aren’t productive on both sides.


  27. rennie
    rennie says:

    Wait till his circadian rhythm gets out of whack because he has to get up early for his kid. Oh, that’s right, Gen Y will have an automated and up-to-date schedule for parenthood, job, and life.

    Ah, Clay. You’re so funny:-)

  28. Carla
    Carla says:

    I think the best part of this whole column and the comments, all of which I find completely hilarious and so typical of Gen Y thinking it’s superior to anyone else, is this comment from Aaron:

    “I wonder if there will also be an epidemic of neck strain (to go along with the video game and social networking induced carpal tunnel) because of all this Gen Y navel gazing.”

    I think we Gen Xers are just jealous that we didn’t get a chance to be as arrogant as you Gen Yers, because we didn’t get to enter the workplaec as easily as you, because there were too many boomers, not leaving enough jobs for us when we left college. So while we’re truly bitter at your attitude, we’re also just jealous that when we held that attitude, no one gave us the platform to gaze at our own navels.

  29. Jenflex
    Jenflex says:

    I won’t rehash all the earlier comments (although Aaron, Maggie, MichaelH: Yesyesyes).

    My comment is item 2: I think there really is an age-related thing going on there. I was a total night owl until I hit 30. At that point, it was like turning off a light. Night and day difference, pun not intended. I don’t think I’m alone, either.

    Clay, talk to me in 10 years after you’ve had a kid or two, and tell me how much of a night owl you still are, okay?

  30. Dave Atkins
    Dave Atkins says:

    Productive at what? All your points are very true, but real productivity is about getting the right work done and doing what matters to the customer/client/business. Your productivity can be perceived as wasted time withou results that matter to others.

  31. rainie
    rainie says:

    Very provocative post! I agree with much of what has already been said by others, and sophie really said what I would have.

    As the washed up stepmom of a couple Gen Y’ers, I realize that the workplace has changed, that the contract between employer/employee has been broken, that results are what count, and that being at your desk for 8 hours does not mean you were being productive.

    I also remember being smarter than all of my older coworkers! I am excited to see what Gen Y will eventually accomplish because you do have a lot going for you, despite what many would consider as the strikes against you. You are bold and intelligent. I truly hope and believe the accomplishments of Gen Y will be spectacular!

    But, go easy on us old people though – keep in mind we stayed in those dead end jobs to provide you with computers, cable TV, cell phones, and all that other technology you’re so comfortable with.

    Now move out of my house so I can start living my life for me! *grin*

  32. Jim
    Jim says:

    You might understand technology, but only with experience can you really get the insights into how the business world works.

    A lot of times these newly minted grads come out of college thinking they know more than those before them, only to be cutoff at the knees.

    A perfect example would be the dotcom heyday. There were a lot of B2B companies who were out to eliminate the middle-man. And these B2B sites based their entire business model on price. They’ll match buyers and sellers over the internet and take a percentage of the transaction.

    Guess what, middle-men are still around and most of these B2B’s are defunct. Had they had the industry insight needed from experience, maybe they could have put a robust platform together that incorporated more than just cost savings.

    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to respect and admire the ingenuity of previous generations. Each has something to give.

    Without the hard work of the Greatest Generation who not only endured a Great Depression, but fought WWII (and many in Korea), we wouldn’t be here. To think we know better than the previous generation is arrogant and disrespectful.

    Another prime example from the dotcom days, remember the “New Economy?” Everyone was going to make tons of money, customers were just going to appear and the economy would grow forever. These were new companies who did business the new way.

    Guess what, when it all came crashing down, these companies laid their employees off, and many of these companies did a very bad job of treating their best asset like an asset. Many of these firms upon implosion lost sight of the human dignity of their employees. Some of these companies set up conference rooms and fired people en masse. Others laid people off by email or cell phone.

    But the previous generations didn’t hide their humanity behind technology. They handled issues face-to-face.

    These generations were not perfect, sexual harrassment, and racism was an unfortunate part of the culture in the US. But to wholesale dismiss entire generations because you are more technically savvy is in effect repeating the arrogance of previous generations.

  33. Clownfish
    Clownfish says:

    One of the big faults I find with GenY’ers is that while they think they are masters of technology, they’re more frequently just bamboozled by smoke and mirrors.

    I work in the field of design arts and media. I was lucky to do my training just before the advent of computers. As a result, I learned to *draw* first and foremost. With a pencil and paper. OMG OLD TECH!

    Towards the end of my studies, computer graphics began to be more and more part of the toolkit, and I incorporated them appropriately. And over the decades since, I have taught myself HTML, CSS, Flash animation, and now video editing and post-production. Not bad for a 43 year old Luddite.

    I have also observed that, in the later generations of designers, the whole process begins and ends with the computer. Most of the younger designers I have seen never even pick up a pencil. And frankly, their work suffers as a result. The basic connections that drawing makes between the hand, the eye and the brain are absolutely fundamental to the design process.

    Instead, I see kids who can play with Photoshop till the cows come home, but the result still lacks the fundamentals of good design, and is frankly a swanky looking mess.

    The other problem I see is not one that is confined to GenY, but seems to be strongest in that generation, is a completely uncritical approach to information. If it’s on Wikipedia, it must be true. If it’s on “Idol”, it must be awesome.

    “Awesome” is the buzz word of Generation Y. Everything is “awesome”. No critique, no evaluation, just a reflexive, unthinking enthusiasm for the “awesomeness” of everything they see on Youtube.

  34. Jay
    Jay says:

    Gen Y has never dealt with economic uncertainty. Gen X dealt with it right out of high school + college. But we’re probably coming up on some rough times –when people get laid off. And have to get crap jobs. And start rethinking all of their job hopping…

  35. lamb
    lamb says:

    shhhhh. nobody tell clay. Gen Y – they’re just the latest crop of young people to be low-man on the totem pole, bled for pennies, and pounded into something useful.

  36. VigilanteNighthawk
    VigilanteNighthawk says:

    Geez, I’m 26, and think Clay is full of it. I can tell you right now that at best, his description represent the so called ‘go getters,’ which are not as numerous as Clay would have us believe. Well, onto the points

    1) That is very funny. I can tell you flat out that the majority of people I know of all ages don’t know jack about technology. Yes, us young’uns may be better at using technology than those older than us, but on average most people of our generation are still clueless beyond MySpace, Google, Facebook, etc. I’ve actually gotten a few bewildered stares when I told some of our contemporaries that they should switch to Firefox.

    4/7) Please, many of my friends hate their jobs. I’m a freelance computer programmer. I love programming, and I love the flexibility, but most of my friends aren’t so lucky. I have a friend with a BS in Engineering (with a 3.6) who is currently an Assistant manager at burger chain. I have a another friend who is a bus dispatcher with his degree. Don’t give me the “all of us love our jobs” routine. Most of the individuals I know, in spite of being very intelligent and hard working, do not.

    6) Of course we experiment. That’s what people do when they don’t have any experience to utilize. I’m fairly certain other generations did the same thing until they found out what worked.

    Honestly, I’m getting fed up with the generational pissing contests. Our generation does things differently because the times are different, not because we are unique and special among the stars.

    Now, for some other comments:
    @Maggie: I have to agree with Katie. Many of us followed the rules and got good grades no longer have any idea as to why we did it. I was valedictorian of my high school class. When I look back at those years, I feel like I was a race horse, being driven towards a goal that wasn’t my own at breakneck pace.

    My parents never pushed me like that, but everyone else did. All I and my friends heard was the constant refrain that you had to do well in school to make it. We had to be competitive to make it into a good school. We had to be involved in hours of after school activities and then do hours of homework and studying, all this while our more laid back friends spent their time being young. Then, we got into the good schools, got good grades, and because of this, we were supposed to be rewarded.

    We weren’t. I’ve already recounted the story of my friends. As for me, I did well in college but went for months before I was able to land a job. I spent two years as a substitute teacher looking for work. Finally, I said to hell with it and decided to start my own business using my programming skills. These weren’t skills I picked up in college. No, these were skills I picked up over time by reading books and researching on the internet, picking up not only the basics but also touching on areas of computer science and software engineering as well.

    After all of this, I can’t help but look back and feel like nothing but an idiot. I and many of my friends worked hard and sacrificed. We gave up a lot of our teenage years to do what were we supposed and in the end got squat. It was only by doing everything I wasn’t supposed to, by learning on my own even though my training wouldn’t be recognized and by opening my own business in spite of the risks that I finally did “make it.” ( All I feel my experience has left me with is a desire to not suffer this sort of treadmill based lunacy again.


    While it is generally the rule, I will say that neither I nor my siblings, 19 and 20, do not rely on technology in this manner. My sister is an artist who draws freehand and only uses the computer for inking. My brother barely knows how to use photoshop, but draws freehand.

    I can also sadly say that I’ve seen this reliance on technology in other areas as well. I’ve seen some very nice looking websites where it was obvious the designer who coded them relied on a WYSWIG and didn’t know a thing about coding. On a site I was recently contracted to program a back end for, I saw tables used for layout, inline CSS, and a large white image used to set the background. Needless to say, I am not looking forward to pulling apart the pages to use as templates.

  37. Adunate Word & Design
    Adunate Word & Design says:

    VigilanteNighthawk, you will go far. You write and you write well, something many of your contemporaries are still learning.

    I can’t believe your hard work in school is all for naught. So you’re not working in the field you studied. Not many people are. But what your high school and college years did was teach you discipline and perseverance. You obviously learned the fundamentals of language, writing and math. You now possess the solid foundation to go in any direction you choose.

  38. Boon
    Boon says:

    Imagine a large corporation with numerous project management applications, all desktops are unique, each users’ choice of applications changes regularly as and when new/better ones come about, core systems and applications are fully personalised individually. Gosh, is there order in chaos?

    The values of Gen X works very well at the individual level, but by it’s nature not scalable.

    Let’s see how it is when family, children commitments and responsibilities come along.

  39. Clownfish
    Clownfish says:


    You’re quite correct: What I should have clarified is that the trends I see in what I called the design arts and media (as distinguished from the fine arts) are prevalent in younger designers, not because they are “GenY”, but because they are of the generation of designers who have been educated in an age where traditional drawing skills have discarded in favour of the whiz-bang instant gratification of high-end software.

    Oh, and I’m so with you on the badly constructed website. In my experience, it’s usually more cost-effective in the long run to simply rebuild such sites from the ground up.

  40. Another Gal
    Another Gal says:

    I’ve had it with this place. I’m out of here. This is really the last straw I need after a hard day of work–some ignorant 20 something punk telling me he’s superior?

    Look buddy, I work in the internet field, I manage a high profile internet business, and I’ll tell you the 20 somethings on my team can’t even think their way through a problem. If it’s not written on the board or in a book or on the net, they can’t create it. If they aren’t told EXACTLY what needs to be done they can’t seem to figure it out.

    Twitter, Facebook, etc are not changing business. They are not business models. They are not changing things.

    Mark Zuckerberg didn’t invent facebook, he is a prop used by the venture capitalists to make it seem like it’s being run by the gen yers. The person running that company is :::gasp::: a gen x/late boomer with a stellar record.

    Sorry buddy, but you just lost Penelope a reader, this type of post is just too much troll baiting, not useful, not fact based information (only ONE link on the whole thing?), just your opinion. And just like buttholes, everyone’s apparently got one.

    This is just like in 1995 when the internet changed from really smart people to a place where anyone with $1500 and a packard bell could get on the internet and spout bulls*it.

    there are plenty of other blogs with good informative and thought provoking, not troll baiting commentary, and I’m headed there.

  41. Dale T
    Dale T says:

    I always said, early to bed and early to rise gives you the same number of waking hours as late to bed and late to rise.

  42. mark
    mark says:

    This site has dumbed down to sensationalism (PT’s divorce) and troll bait (this POS “article”). I’m out of here. PT, this is the type of crap your business model is built on?

  43. Maurice
    Maurice says:

    @Jim testify brother

    just cos you can push buttons on an IPhone done means you know anything about how a mobile phone works.

    And I suspect the spoon feed nature of today tecnology stops people really learning stuff – €“ ill give you an example I'me a late baby boomer or early gen X depending on how you look at it.

    I took one of the first class my high school offered in programming as was in the middle tier as I'me dyslexic an got moved down a set.

    In my CSE class we started with Machine language (ok a cut down training language but still proper machine code)

    My first job was at a world leading RnD organisation where I would get given interesting problems like how do we get a 3d plot of the droplets from a fire sprinker system where the pattern has been captured using multiple filters and time lapse photography and shots of variable focal length to get the Z axis information

    Had to work that one out from almost first principals with the enginner whose project it was and then write the low-level interfacing code to the A0 digitizer we brought and projected the images on.

  44. Jon S
    Jon S says:

    This post is excellent. At least we now know that PT isn’t the only one out there trying to give some “expert” advice!

  45. bill martineau
    bill martineau says:

    Quick question: While your being so productive at getting work done are you in fact getting it done any better?

    Being a IT recruiter for 20+ years (you know the career path the internet was going to wipe off the face of the planet)and the owner of my own company I learned my craft (sales) at the feet of my father and have trained many others over the years. However, the ones that truly succeeded were the ones that understood the business not necessarily all the new tools that can make us more productive. Because in my business if you can’t sell it doesn’t matter if you can use all the web tools in the world.

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