4 Frequent questions about Gen Y answered (via a PR disaster)


I do a lot of public speaking, mostly on the topic of how to bridge generational differences in the workplace. And I field tons of questions from corporate audiences. Here are four of the most common questions:

How can you tell if a member of Gen Y hates his or her boss?
You can't. This is a non-confrontational generation. They change politics by voting, not screaming in the streets. And they change the workplace by quitting, rather than complaining. This is a generation that enjoyed mutual respect with their parents and their parents' friends. Gen Y at large feel uncomfortable being openly confrontational than other, less cared-for generations.

This doesn't mean that they are not complaining about their bosses. They are just doing it in a better way. For example, quitting, which members of Gen Y end up doing about once every 18 months. And leaking totally insane emails like the one that was picked up on Dealbreaker and Valleywag, from John Soden, a managing director at the investment bank, Thomas Weisel, who said this to his underlings on Good Friday:

“Everyone below the MD level —

“We are an investment bank. Unless you are an orthodox something, please get into the office. We are getting paid minimum wage for a reason — we are not making money, which is hard to do from home.

“Join Wells Fargo and become a teller if you want to take bank holidays.”

Why does Gen Y feel so entitled to a huge salary?
They don't. In fact, they choose other things over salary: respect for other people, for example. Employers: You could save money in salaries by being a socially responsible company that Gen Y (and the rest of us) want to work for.

If you are at the top of the ladder, lack of respect for other people looks obnoxious—I mean, why give up the best years of your life climbing the ladder if you are not giving equal respect up and down the ladder. Right?

Gen Y feels an acute sense of social justice. That we are all equal. You can see this in the general democracy online, for example. Nielsen reports that Gen Y cares more about the content of a comment than the qualifications of the person who said it. And in a stunning video on YouTube, Senator Mike Gronstal of Iowa said that when it comes to giving gays the right to marry, his daughter listened to a bunch of conservative old men at work debating gay marriage and told her dad, “Those guys don’t understand. They already lost. My generation doesn’t care.”

This is true at work, too. So it makes sense that after the email leak, some enterprising young banker took up the Twitter name johnsodentwp and started pretending to be him. The gist of the jokes? Intolerance. And how absurd it is. Here's an example of a twitter:

“Just found out you can be Jewish orthodox as well as Christian orthodox—is there anything those people haven’t got their hands on?”

Does all this Gen Y stuff apply to other countries as well?
No. Because Gen Y doesn't divide the world into us and them. It's one world to Gen Y because the Internet has been practically all-their-life. If you are blogging at 2am in Minneapolis, the first person to read the post will probably be in Australia. Or Singapore. And if you are looking for photos of mountains, you might find the best ones on a Flickr feed from Tibet. The Internet is inherently collaborative, so national boundaries give way to national mashups.

For example, tweeting all day as John Soden is too much work for one person who already has a job. So there are five people maintaining the Twitter feed, who are working in Hong Kong, Brazil, England, and the US.

Given the international nature of the group, it's not surprising that they come up with tweets like this one:

“Some of my foreign staff sometimes revert to their native tongue. How rude. People are selfish.”

How is Gen Y so entrepreneurial when they have no business experience?
Did you hear about the contest between Ashton Kutcher and CNN? The winner is the one who can get to a million twitter followers first. As incentive for people to follow, whoever wins will buy 10,000 mosquito nets for World Malaria Day.

Here's the problem: CNN did not actually take the twitter feed titled “CNN”, and people were following that feed instead of the real CNN feed, which was some inscrutable version of CNN with some extra letters. So CNN ended up having to buy the CNN name on Twitter.

And if you doubt the entrepreneurial savvy of Gen Y, watch to see what John Soden has to pay to get the twitter feed with his name on it under his control.

67 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. Vagina Drum
    Vagina Drum says:

    I think the first step in “bridging generational differences” has to do with treating people as individuals, not as a narrowly profiled component of a manufactured demographic.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Yeah. I’ve been thinking a lot about this. At Brazen Careerist — the blog network — we’ve been using the term young professionals instead of Gen Y.

      On the other hand, in order to talk about big ideas, you have to make generalizations. If we want to talk about our own lives — as individuals — then generalizations are not useful. But to talk about trends and movements we have no choice but to generalize.

      One more thing – hindsight gives us the ability to see that in history, demographic generalizations stand up in terms of accuracy and usefulness in many cases.


  2. Allison Blass
    Allison Blass says:

    I’m a little confused on #4. You said that no,this Gen Y stuff doesn’t apply to other countries. But then you say, “It's one world to Gen Y because the Internet has been practically all-their-life… The Internet is inherently collaborative, so national boundaries give way to national mashups.” That sounds like a yes to me, because it sounds like Gen Ys do have the same business values, they just ignore the boundaries between countries. Would you mind clarifying for me? I think I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying. Thanks.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      My point is that the assumptions behind the question — that other countries are other — does not apply in the same way to Gen Y.

      So the term negates the question. Technically.

      Sidenote: This reminds me of when my ex took the AP history test in high school. As his answer to the essay question, he wrote that the way way the question was written negated the question (similarly to what I am saying) and he refused to answer the question and he got a 4 on the AP Test.


  3. Allison Blass
    Allison Blass says:

    I’m a little confused on #3. You said that no,this Gen Y stuff doesn’t apply to other countries. But then you say, “It's one world to Gen Y because the Internet has been practically all-their-life… The Internet is inherently collaborative, so national boundaries give way to national mashups.” That sounds like a yes to me, because it sounds like Gen Ys do have the same business values, they just ignore the boundaries between countries. Would you mind clarifying for me? I think I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying. Thanks.

    (Sorry for the duplicate, I wrote the wrong number of which question I was talking about).

  4. Ariel
    Ariel says:

    You’re right on about what Gen Y values and will stand for. I took a 15% pay cut recently to stop working for a gen X-er who was very hierarchical, a micromanager, who wasn’t caring and demanded psychotic hours. So I quit.

    I still work lots of extra hours, but now I’m in a very horizontal, equitable workplace where I feel respected and the director treats people like adults. I couldn’t be happier with the switch!

  5. KateNonymous
    KateNonymous says:

    Wow, I wish quitting had changed my first workplace. But lots of people quit, and nothing changed. I hear it did eventually, but that was due to being sold repeatedly and changing out the top management–not because people at my level left.

  6. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    These are my favorite types of posts. And the discussion of generations is always interesting to me.

  7. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I never really gave a lot of thought about the differences between each generation before I started to read this blog. Of course each generation is different based on the times and events that shaped their lives but also present and intermixed are life stage issues common with every generation. Generational and life stage issues can be difficult to separate from each other since they’re happening concurrently.
    These sentences quoted from above –
    “This is a generation that enjoyed mutual respect with their parents and their parents' friends. Gen Y at large feel uncomfortable being openly confrontational than other, less cared-for generations.” – indicate that Gen Y’s parents did a very good job as parents. I’m not sure which generation they would be.
    “Why does Gen Y feel so entitled to a huge salary?” – I agree they don’t and neither did I when I was a young professional. I wanted to be made responsible and held accountable for work that mattered to the company and was fulfilling to me. There are many commonalities across the generations so to your point – “I do a lot of public speaking, mostly on the topic of how to bridge generational differences in the workplace.” – I think a good place to start to make that bridge is to start with the commonalities, make note of the differences, and then work from there.

  8. Steve
    Steve says:

    Guess what – we are not all equal.

    We should have equal rights and equal opportunities, but in the business world, you are only as valuable as what you accomplish. There is no equality in performance and effectiveness. At some point, you have to provide value as an individual.

    As for changing the workplace by quitting, know that when you leave you cannot contribute to change. You simply are reinforcing the corporate belief that you were not a good fit. In the end all companies will do is excessively scrutinize job hoppers and their on again off again job histories will merely allow many to collect lots of thanks but no thanks rejection letters.

    Someday, this entitled generation will do what the generations before them have done – get with the program.

  9. Natalie
    Natalie says:

    Love this discussion of generations. I find it true in a lot of ways. I’ve changed jobs for a variety of reasons, most because of moving and opportunity, but one time influenced by conflict.

    Pay doesn’t motivate me as much as comfort does either, i.e. benefits and being passionate about what I do, too.

  10. Kat
    Kat says:

    Random fact: I typed ‘John Soden’ in Google News and this was 1 of 16 results displayed. I didn’t know this blog was a “news resource”.

  11. Anne
    Anne says:

    Hmmm…conflicted about the John Soden tweets. I love satire as much as the next person, especially if involves bringing down a pompous bigot. However, I find it a little unsettling when people make fake blogs, fake myspace pages, etc. The problem I have with it is that many people believe what they read, whether it’s meant as satire or not. It’s too easy to take things out of context. In my mind, I’m thinking it’s one step away from identity theft/fraud. Yes, most people will get that it’s a joke, but I think it’s fighting dirty. Before the internet, there was such a thing as a credible news source. Now it’s a free for all where anyone with a grudge can put anything they believe into print without fact checking or verifying anything first. It’s way too easy to blur the line of reality and report things that aren’t true. Once slander or libel has been comitted, you might be able to retract it or remove it, but the rumors and damaged reputation are permanent.

  12. Maus
    Maus says:

    P your last paragraph is a thinly veiled inducement to extortion. Any social networking Gen-Y avenger stupid enought to demand money for the fake Soden Twitter site might be prosecuted in California for a violation of Penal Code section 518.

    And, yes, I learned how to recognize things like that by going to law school. Pity me for the folly of obtaining knowledge at a graduate school.

  13. Cass
    Cass says:

    I think the hardest part between catagorizing people into Gen X, Gen Y etc. is the fact that like all situations, those on the cusp get lumped in with those they might not be similar too. I’m right on the edge of Gen X and I guess the good thing is that I can understand where the Gen X AND Gen Y people are coming from. I’d definitely be willing to take a pay cut if there were less of the micromanaging that Gen X is notorious for doing, but at the same time I need to be able to survive.

    As for the quitting vs. complaining I think Gen Y has realized that complaining in the workplace never really gets you anywhere, but it’s much better to leave and find somewhere better suited for you. Perhaps as they age their perspective might change, I don’t know. Only time will tell on that.

  14. Chrissy
    Chrissy says:

    I don’t get your point about the twitter contest. CNN lost because they don’t know how to use twitter to their advantage. Merely uploading headlines to another websites doesn’t give us anything new, Kutcher’s twitter feed gives us something we can’t find anywhere else.

    And Kutcher doesn’t use his name as his twitter name either. Its aplusk.


  15. John Soden III
    John Soden III says:

    I am sick and tired of all this online brouhaha about the email I sent. These kids need straight talk or they won’t acomplish anything, and that’s what I give them. If they don’t want to work, get a job in marketing. Or write a blog. This is investment banking. Land of kings. It is not easy.

    I made it to where I am with hard work and perserverance, not from taking two floating holidays a year.

    John Soden III

  16. Jason Bourne
    Jason Bourne says:

    Just curious about your comment about the Gen Y’ers switching jobs every 18 months. How do you think that’s holding up in the face of the recession?

    And, isn’t it a little nobler to stick it out and eventually get to a place where you can actually influence your company’s culture? Much harder, certainly, but I make a note of people who “don’t get it” where I work and take a great deal of pleasure in watching them leave.

    I think the 18 month rule reflects badly on Gen Y – makes them look like passive/aggressive babies – is your new job THAT great?

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Comments from those who preach the “change from the inside” cause me to wonder if these individuals have ever actually tried to literally change the culture of a company. Do you know what kind of resources/energy it takes to do something like that? You might as well be trying to start a company from scratch. Can it be done? Sure. But if a person is weighing the cost of moving to a company that is already aligned with the values they affirm and can make a contribution to furthering that company rather than trying to stay and work years for the possibility of reversing the titanic, unless one is out to start a crusade, it is probably more likely they will just quit then spending 5-15 years trying to “make change from within.” On the other hand, some of these individuals may just leave and start their own business/organization. With respect to the comment regarding entrepreneurialism of Gen Y, start-ups seems to be another alternative.

  17. Vlad Dolezal
    Vlad Dolezal says:

    I fully agree with the bit about respect. It’s amazing how far a little respect can go.

    For example, at my Jiu Jitsu club, we were choosing the committee for next year. Now each of the jobs is only a little bit of extra work, so I wouldn’t mind doing any of them, because I like the club. Since I have quite a bit of computer skills, I figured I would take care of the website.

    Then I found out that our sensei called the job “Web monkey” instead of the traditional “Web master”. Right. I won’t do the job if I don’t even get a basic bit of respect. So I didn’t volunteer for the position, and as far as I know, no one else did either.

  18. Bill
    Bill says:

    Okay, that email was kinda blunt, but I’m not seeing what’s so “insane” about it. Must be a Gen Y non-confrontational thing.

    Good Friday wasn’t even a bank holiday.

    I work at a non-profit, and our CEO recently ordered everyone, from managers to admins to IT staff, to get out there and do some fundraising. They are monitoring who complies and who doesn’t. Times are extraordinarily tough, people.

  19. Ina
    Ina says:

    But Kusher’s not some kid slacker, sitting in his parent’s basement. He’s been running his own career and a production company for a while. The CNN twitter feed was subcontracted to some 25 year old in the UK. If anything, corporate Kusher beat out GenY employee.

    My experience with GenY types is that they are too chicken to complain about something upfront, but they’ll go and whine on their blogs and tweet tears. They don’t quit outright over principle, they just shut down. Really mature people (cared-for or not) are able to articulate their problems and seek a solution, not revert to passive-aggressive non-confrontational inaction. Trunk might think about no longer playing amateur psychologist on this site.

  20. Brad Gutting
    Brad Gutting says:

    Over and over and over again, I see Trunk making excuses for the pansy members of Gen Y, and thereby encouraging it.

    Fortunately, they’re not all like the way she describes them (which she seems not to think of as problematic). But many of them are, as Ina remarked, too cowardly to take direct action. People who cannot confront a difficulty are pretty useless; chances are they’re weak and lack conviction.

    Quitting a job rarely accomplishes much, unless you’re integral to the money-making capabilities of the organization. Remember, cemeteries the world over are filled with people who assumed they were indispensable.

    It’s just weird. There’s so much emphasis on this site about doing certain things to get to certain places, who to use, who to talk to, where to go, and so on. Rather than developing specific skills that fill a need, be it for a company or for a market that could be served by someone going into business. “Hard work” and “humility” are not concepts discussed here, and given the traffic and attention paid by many young professionals, I think that’s dangerous. NO ONE can avoid any of that stuff.

    • Sara
      Sara says:

      I don’t think she means Gen Y members quit in a huff without another job lined up, or quit thinking that they will be begged to stay. I’m 26, and although I’ve been at the same company for 5 years (a place that I really like), I’ve always known that there are certain things that I can change, and certain things I can’t at my job. When the things I can’t change become a problem and a deal breaker, I’ll do something different. I’ve never felt stuck. I’m not married and I don’t have kids, so I don’t have anyone depending on me. Maybe it has more to do with that.

      But just because I’ll keep expecting my employer to do things to get me to stay doesn’t mean I haven’t worked really, really hard. Don’t you think it’s much less productive when both parties don’t have to work at the relationship? They shouldn’t expect me to stay if they just an okay employer, and I shouldn’t expect them to keep me if I am just an okay employee.

  21. Welmer
    Welmer says:

    What I’m really curious about is what makes Ms. Trunk an expert on Gen-Y.

    Nothing, obviously (except for the sex with younger men). And she can’t even take criticism — it isn’t good for her “brand.”

    • Darren M.
      Darren M. says:

      Many of those who praise the Internet to the skies for democratizing content really don’t like it when it’s used against them. They’re really more like the publishers of old, who “bought ink by the barrel,” printed what they liked, and selected what criticism, if any, got disseminated about them.

      So, I’m not surprised.

    • Mike
      Mike says:

      This is unfair, and ignorant. As she has argued many, many times, expertize is now merited by by context, not credit. Penelope spends time with, talks to, works with and analyzes the habits and attitudes of young professionals relentlessly. Her own industry hopping career path mirrored what is now commonplace; volleyball pro > software exec > entrepreneur

      I don’t agree with everything shes says either, but can we please lose the bitter little trolls in the comments? If you don’t like her, fine – leave. There are a lot of people who do, and appreciate her counter-intuitive and yes, controversial, opinions.

  22. FreeRangeHuman
    FreeRangeHuman says:

    Penelope, this is a great post. In the Gen Y spirit I will be Tweeting it :)

    To the dissenter commenters above, I would say that in my experience as a specialist Gen Y career coach this is spot on.

    One thing I would add is that employers can build on the collatorative mindset of Gen Y. Gen Y is imbued in a world of easy access to information, collaboration and equality of opinions (ie: a world where more people receive Kutcher’s tweets than CNNs).

    So hierarchies appear irrelevant and outmoded in the workplace – what comes across instead is a new pragmatism: it doesn’t matter about structures and systems, what matters is using a wide range of resources to get things done.

    If employers let Gen Y take the lead in key ares, they will find things being done differently and more efficiently, and in turn have more satisfied employees (with, as Penelope notes, scope for a lower salary bill).

    Thanks for the thoughts!

  23. jonathanwthomas
    jonathanwthomas says:

    As a young professional (I’m 25) I pretty much agree with your assessments. I have no problem quitting a job if I hate it and in fact, I have done just that in the past. Just have to make sure I have something better lined up first.

    There is no such thing as company loyalty anymore, corporations will get rid of you without a second thought, so why would I give them any part of myself other than 40 hours a week?

    I’m there to earn money and make a living. If I wanted to help building something ‘great,’ I’d start my own business (which I do a bit on the side).

    I’m sick of fellow gen-yers who feel they need to work 60 hours a week in some misplaced sense of loyalty and duty, thinking that they’ll get to the top, when really they are suffering for no reason. Work is just that work, it’s not the purpose in my life.

    Your career is all about pursuing capitalism at it’s best. The owners of companies are doing it, so why would they expect any less from me?

    I don’t care if I had the best job in the world – my philosophy is always be looking for a new one. Does that make me a bad employee? Probably. Does that mean I’ll do a good job and be a good return on your HR investment? You bet.

  24. Paul
    Paul says:

    @FreeRangeHuman, 4/18/09:
    “So hierarchies appear irrelevant and outmoded in the workplace – what comes across instead is a new pragmatism: it doesn’t matter about structures and systems, what matters is using a wide range of resources to get things done.”

    Read the other comments – the old pragmatism is far from dead, and not about to admit of any new pragmatism. Hierarchy will be with us for a while yet – in fact get ready for the backlash.

  25. GenerationXpert
    GenerationXpert says:

    What I find interesting is that Gen Y is “nonconfrontational” and won’t tell you when they have a problem with you, but they expect a great deal of feedback on THEIR performance. Case in point: When I teach a college class of Gen Y, I don’t know if they like the class or not until the end when I get their evaluations. When I teach a seminar of Boomers or Xers, they will tell me (usually quite nicely) if I’m not covering something they want to be covered.

    I think it’s kind of juvenile to just quit your job instead of trying to work with you boss to get past the problem you may be having.

  26. Steve C.
    Steve C. says:

    Voting with your feet is nothing new. Doing it in the middle of a huge expansion or bubble is easy. Not so, when unemployment is hovering around the low teens, and no one really has any idea how much worse it’s going to get, or how long our economy will take to recover, or what it will be like when the economy reaches some new equilibrium. There are going to be a lot of “Gen Y-ers” out there who are in for a rude awakening if quitting is the only exit strategy they have. Of course, they can always work in retail, as one of your recent posts pointed out. I have to wonder, was that post a set-up for this one?
    From a Career Development perspective, walking out the door every 18 months or so, or quitting every job that doesn’t suit your lifestyle or generational philosophy, is a recipe for disaster. Sooner or later you have to explain the pattern to a potential employer, and in an interview setting, unless you are a really good liar, the fact that you have been leaving jobs because you didn’t like your boss or couldn’t get a flex-time schedule you needed is going to stick out like a big red pimple on the end of your nose. Even if you had a very legitimate gripe or reason for leaving, it is very hard to put a positive spin on the story. And you always have to tell the story.
    Everyone knows that people leave people, not jobs. But if you have to do it, the best way to do it is to never leave a job without already having another one to go to. Otherwise, you are most likely just subjecting yourself to a bigger, more stressful problem than the one you trying to solve by quitting.
    Far better to assess yourself, career, thinking style and behavioral-wise. Avail yourself of some validated, business-based, normalized behavioral assessments(not Myers-Briggs, by the way), and bring that forward in the interview process, before you commit to an employer. Better yet, add the assessment to the portfolio you submit as part of the application process, in addition to the traditional cover letter, resume, and references. Both you and the employer will be better off in the long run if you are a good fit with the organization.
    As far as the guy who created a phony Twitter entry, this is a classic example of an individual who cannot grasp the difference between freedom and license, and really shouldn’t be held up as an example of anything positive. This is the type of action that will eventually lead to less freedom, not more.
    Steve C.

  27. HR Good_Witch
    HR Good_Witch says:

    Good post. Here’s what worries me though…. “they change the workplace by quitting, rather than complaining”. What’s missing here is giving open, honest, constructive feedback and engaging in making things better. Guess what? EVERY workplace has jerks in it. It is an important life skill to cope with small frustrations and influence significant change for big issues. It takes practice and you’d be well served to use the opportunity of having a jerk-off boss, to hone those skills. Frankly, to walk away suggests you are not “equal” that you are not engaging in the relationship as an equal with something to offer, with the maturity to handle conflict. It’s a process, it takes some time and it pays off.

    Sure, eventually, if you’ve given it your all and then some, and it still sucks, then walk.

  28. Marilyn_Res
    Marilyn_Res says:

    I love your stories! Why not put a “Twit This” button at the bottom like you have for Delicious and Digg? Make it easier for lazy people like me to tweet your stuff.

  29. Greenman2001
    Greenman2001 says:

    How do you measure whether they do or don’t like confrontation? Is the fact that there’s an epidemic of bullying among children evidence that they do or don’t like confrontation? How do you document, let alone prove, that they don’t like confrontation because they’re indulged by their parents? I dislike the way you frame mere opinion as fact. It seems quite dishonest to me.

    And going back to the original problem, why are these people unable to get themselves into work on time? Am I allowed to state the opinion that they’re in all likelihood as irresponsible as 20-somethings have always been since the dawn of time as a fact? That they’re lazy, self-absorbed, and narcissistic and that employers need to plan around those traits?

  30. Don
    Don says:

    You summed up the generations born after Gen-X quite nicely. Gen-Y, Gen-Z are a bunch of “Quitters” and can’t handle the pressure of a real job or a real life situation. Why don’t we just call them Gen-Q instead?

    And as for ‘grumpy old Republicans’ and ‘gay marriage’ it is the younger, atheistic and agnostic generations who do not understand “marriage” and its place and function in society. The joining of a man and a woman in the ceremony of marriage is a religious tradition that dates back eons. If gay people want to get ‘married’ in a Christian religion then they need to work within their church to try and change the Bible. (good luck!) Otherwise they are being united in a ‘Civil Union’ at their local courthouse. If they got their facts straight and started using the proper terminology then they might actually start earning some respect from the religious right instead of just the unknowledgeable, radical left.

    And, quite frankly, Republicans and Conservatives alike do NOT CARE what gays want or want to do just so long as they don’t try changing what is already in place. Gays trying to change the God given definition of marriage is just plain WRONG! Why can’t the liberals create their own ‘new’ category without attempting to destroy what is already in place? For example: It would probably be better received by all sides if there was a new category called ‘gay union’ on the Federal 1040 tax form, with its own benefits. Does this sound so difficult? And plus, it’s not destroying the heterosexual Christian definition and tradition of marriage.

    We Gen-X Conservatives ‘get it’. Do you liberals?

    • jonathanwthomas
      jonathanwthomas says:

      Sorry but I’m not a quitter – it’s my life and if I don’t want to deal with bullshit from someone, I’m not going to. We can live our lives however we choose. Do you want a medal for conforming to some rigid standards and not being a ‘quitter?’ It’s my career and it sucks up the best years of my life – I’m not going to spend it unhappy, stressed or dealing with unnecessary bullshit.

      Not everyone has to live their life the way you say they should.

  31. Helen Romeo
    Helen Romeo says:

    RE: “Gen Y cares more about the content of a comment than the qualifications of the person who said it”.

    So, let me ask: why did the last post (Golddigging) suggest strongly that ‘Brand’ and Who someone dates is so crucially important – aren’t these qualifications of a type?

    And, if “content of a comment” is so important, then surely it would be sage to review it thoroughly before reacting to it, to ensure the eventual understanding really is in line with the original intention, before taking it at face value?

    …Let me explain: I’m English/British whatever you may call me, and we use a lot of irony,sarcasm and wit, and so I was always convinced that David Dellifield’s comment about looking after P’s kids was sarcastic/ironic/witty and NOT literal (why would it be literal? who really WOULD look after a stranger’s kids?!)….we use irony/sarcasm frequently in this country to underline a weakness in someone’s argument but the common assumption for who’s on the receiving end, is that you don’t take it literally and lambast someone for it. We accept a bit of sarcasm as being a more benign means of criticism than outright abuse. I assume things must be different there in the US considering the venom that was directed at David Dellifield for what here would have been considered an innocent ‘jibe’ directed as making Penelope re-think her posting on being Oh SOOO bored with her kids??

    RE: quitting as an option, I don’t know about the US, but here in England it isn’t an option in the current climate and indeed has not been looked upon favourably for some time (my husband has been in banking, accountancy and consulting for over 15 years at a senior management level, so have many of our friends/acquaintances) as as far as I can deduce if you quit too frequently it only ends up harming your prospects, as it shows neither persistence, nor creativity in looking to make a parallel move within a company, nor loyalty in aligning your prospects with a company’s (and if you are working for such a duff company in the first place it doesn’t say much about your own judgement and career choices/research before you start!!). You may note I mentioned loyalty – which had been ‘outmoded’ here in London particularly in Finance for a long time (and replaced with quick-fix gold-digging: but look where that got us!). However Loyalty, and Persistence and other “old-fashioned” traits are starting to be rewarded again. Quitting, in the London financial rat race, is a NO GO OPTION at the current time. No one is quitting!!! as they risk not getting another job, or being shown to have no staying power – which is what everyone needs to get through this recession.

    However, as always there should be no generalisations in life. It’s what the individual, in his or her individual career, decides is best at that individual time and in that individual environment! Which is what differentiates the more ‘flexible’ West from workplaces such as Japan where the old-generational heirarchy and respect and loyalty are still KING (I’ve lived and worked there), or India where community, respect and reputation are still KING (half my family has lived and worked there). So there are big differences between the same generation depending what country they live and work in – internet or no internet….

    You see, there does appear to be a lot of assumption/blatant generalisations/contradiction on this blog. My humble opinion. I suppose it’s the comments that ultimately are more interesting than the posts themselves, as they do show a great variety of perception/mental flexibility.
    Oh… but we can always generalise, that I’m an at-home mum with no career and so how am I qualified to talk of these things?!www.frustratedstay-at-homemum.blogspot.com
    (I only speak 5 languages, have travelled the world, lived and worked in 4 countries and have a top academic record to boot…) Oh,and by the way, the “only” in that last sentence is an example of sarcasm! (smile)
    …I salute our differences! Keep on discussing!

  32. Helen Romeo
    Helen Romeo says:

    And yup, I AM aware that Penelope writes that “NIELSEN reports that Gen Y cares more about the content of a comment than the qualifications of the person who said it..” and that it wasn’t her personal opinion.

  33. Matthew Lehman
    Matthew Lehman says:

    It’s always so odd that discussions of generational gaps become the opportunity to demonize a demographic. I’m an X (barely) and live in a world of X, Y, boomers, and probably 20 other interesting demographics. The fact that in general Y’s value meaning in their activities and think with less convention does not make them lazy, entitled, quitters, or self-absorbed – those people exist in all generations. What’s interesting is to understand how the Y’s work differently and harness that because in many cases they are way more efficient at certain things as a generation. I marvel at how well some of my younger friends can do things that are hard for me without almost no effort. If they want to come in at 10am and there’s no downside to doing it, then it seems like an ok trade-off. If they change jobs every 18 months on average to find the one that fits them well so be it – I can’t say that my average of every 4 years has worked out all that much better.

    All you people with an axe to grind should just go find the people that got you this way and vent at them. Whole generations are not to blame.

  34. FreeRangeHuman
    FreeRangeHuman says:

    Helen, to respond to your comment about people not quitting in the current climate in London: I’m a London-based coach specialising in Gen Y, and most of my client base have recently quit or are about to quit their jobs.

    Admittedly those in the hardest hit markets (finance and banking law for example) are staying firmly put, however across other professional sectors Gen-Yers are still going for what they want, rather than security. In fact, the fact that they now see that loyalty to a company doesn’t exactly pay off (by watching others work 80+ hours a week then being made redundant) there seems to be more reflection and introspection about career choices.

    And to be honest, if they do it right, this means they get a great pick of jobs that others are just not looking for at this time.

    (BTW, having said all that, I liked your comment: great to hear another local perspective!)

  35. Amber Warren
    Amber Warren says:

    I can’t possibly agree with your implication that Gen Y’s are better off for their “mutual respect” with their parents and friend’s parents. The Gen Y’s I know were raised to be “Friends” with their parents. But this totally backfired on the issue of respect. They turned out to be spoiled, expectant, lazy and unambitious. They don’t respect their elders. They don’t respect their parents. Parents who try to be friends instead of being the dictator have really missed the point. They’ve now sent unproductive, selfish and unrealistic kids out into the workforce. Yes, I am amazed when I work with interns at how savvy they are with stuff – all kinds of stuff – but they are also incredibly lazy and defiant too.

  36. Shawn
    Shawn says:

    Investment bankers have some of the best quotes. I was at a recruiting function where an MBA student asked for the business card of an MD who responded “I’ll give you my card on one condition.” The student said “Sure. What?” The MD replied “That you never, ever contact me.”

  37. Al
    Al says:

    @Don – I agree, Brother! Let us ride forth in our God-granted glory and slay these heathens and heretics who dare defy the glory of God, the Papal authority and the Holy Emperor! Deus Vult!

  38. Al
    Al says:

    And Don, might I add that you need to redefine “religion” as “Catholic”. Anyone who isn’t Catholic is a heretic and needs to be burnt at the stake – especially those villianous Protestants!

    Marriage was invented by the Holy Church, and anyone who does not pay tribute to the Pope and the Holy Emperor should not be allowed to marry.

  39. Doug Mitchell
    Doug Mitchell says:

    Completely agree.

    Have been training “the next generation” in radio and media for 15 years.
    I especially liked that Gen X and Y will become agents of change by quitting the company and taking their chances rather than staying and whining.
    I can tell when my “students” don’t like something or someone because I work at maintaining a relationship with them by listening and then talking.

    Love this blog…keep it going

  40. Mary
    Mary says:

    I think the post (like most Gen-Y themed articles) attributes too much ‘uniqueness’ to Gen-Y. The notorious F*dcompany.com was from a Gen-Xer, proving that the concept of publicly ratting out your boss predates the younger crowd. All 20-somethings are cool and hip. Gen-Y is no exception but they aren’t exceptional either; they just came into the age at a time when technology enables their coolness and hipness to be tweeted and texted and blogged ad nauseum. They too will turn 30.

  41. Jared O'Toole
    Jared O'Toole says:

    I like your take on Gen Y. It’s not about being lazy or feeling entitled. We just don’t settle. There’s opportunity everywhere and we simply realize that. We don’t change jobs every 18months because we love saying I quit! to our boss and causing a scene. We do it because we see more opportunity somewhere, were ready to pack our bags and move to a new city and a new adventure at all times.

Newer Comments »

Comments are closed.