How to recognize bad advice about work

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Be careful who you take career advice from. Knowing who to take advice from is a really good skill for any aspect of your life, but especially in the field of work, because work is changing very fast right now. A lot of advice that was good ten years ago is not good now. And people who are using old language to talk about contemporary careers are thinking in terms that will pull you off track.

Here are three examples of topics your parents talk about all the time in their careers, but these topics will not be a part of new millennium careers. Watch out for these three terms — they probably come with outdated advice.

1. Career change
When Baby Boomers change careers, they stand on mountaintops. They announce that career change is a new trend, and they are doing it, of course, to save the world. The Baby Boomer specialty is saving the world by screaming from mountaintops, and then borrowing some more money to support that habit.

The other thing about Baby Boomers and career change is that they didn't really do it before now. I mean, they did, but it was cataclysmic and often seen as reckless. For example, it's what men did in their 40s after a midlife crises. Or what people did when they got to middle management and realized they were sub-par at their chosen career. (Note: It's very easy to delude yourself that you're competent until you get to your mid-30s. Around then, the less competent end up competing with people in their late 20s and losing.)

Gen Y will change careers at least five times. And, if they're smart, the job hopping they do — which happens every 18 months in their 20s — will span a wide range of jobs. Which means that the idea of career change is outdated. People do it all the time. But they don't call it career change, they call it finding a job.

The best way to find a job is to hone your skills, update your ideas, and adjust yourself as the workplace changes. Which means that you are not likely to have a single career for more than a few years. Or, more likely, it becomes semantic: is this a change or a shift? And really, who cares? Just keep your skills up, know what you like and what you're good at, and stay employable. All the time. Not just the year you want to scream from mountaintops.

2. Networking
Do you know who is using social media? Gen X. The average Twitter user is in their 30s. The median age of LinkedIn is 40. The majority of people who are joining Facebook right now are over 35. This is because Gen X wants to meet new people online and reconnect with all the friends they lost along the way. Gen X is using social media to network.

Gen Y doesn't need to. They never lost their connections because they've been online since they were ten. They do not need to meet more people online to expand their network because they are native networkers — they have had the tools and the predisposition to use them since before Gen X even knew what Facebook was.

So while Gen X is busy using Twitter to let people know what they are up to and promote the hell out of whatever they are doing, Gen Y is using Twitter for tweetups — meetups set up via Twitter. Which is a way of making genuine friends offline.

Even though Baby Boomers have been telling their kids forever to network. Networking is a dirty word to Gen Y. (Think about it: A Boomer says, “I’m going to a networking event.” A Gen-Yer says, “I’m going to a party.”) To young people, networking is sort of like job hunting: Both are for people who don't have a grip, because if you're smart, networking and job hunting are like breathing. You do it all the time, so you don't need to talk about it. It only comes up if you stop and want to start again.

3. Midlife crisis
It's not that you won't have crises. But they'll be earlier. The midlife crisis is a result of people getting on a path that someone else paved before them. If you see that you have a limited range of choices and you have to make one, then you don't need to know very much about yourself in order to move forward. That's what Baby Boomers did — they chose a path. Even the women chose a path that men laid out before them. The women fought to be able to take those paths, too.

So when the Boomers hit their 40s, they realized that the paths they chose from were all wrong, and to find a good path, they would actually need to know who they are. The crisis point is that it's pretty hard to focus on yourself when you have kids, a mortgage and a marriage that is probably faltering because what marriage doesn't need a lot of attention after ten years? There is not a lot of space for you to be retooling your idea of yourself. That's the crisis. You need time and space that you don't have.

Now, though, people take that time and space in their 20s. Gen X did it instinctively, and weathered belittling from Baby Boomers with labels like slackers. So Gen X is not having midlife crises. We had our crises in our 20s. And Gen Y is doing the same thing, but with more optimism (they always have that) and more support (their parents would do anything for them.)

Today the crisis happens earlier. The people at risk of having a crises are those who do not give themselves a chance to explore and falter in their 20s. Beware of the lives that look too perfect in their 20s. Those are the people who will be a mess in their 30s. And it will be a quarterlife crisis.

67 replies
  1. LPC
    LPC says:

    Penelope I am one of your biggest fans. I never mind your outspoken posts or your outrageous behavior. But can you find some way to preview in your posts what your links lead to? I mean, how I am supposed to know if I want to click on a link to “midlife crisis”? Dear god only knows where it might take me. Like, add some AJAX to your posts so we can get realtime previews? Just saying.

      • Able Parris
        Able Parris says:

        I love this post, and will pass it on, but please do not add pop-up preview windows to your links. They are terrible, and will make you articles unbearable.

    • jenni
      jenni says:

      Ew I hate those. Can’t you just mouse over it and look at the url… or like take a leap of faith? Those always getting in my way or make me feel like I’m about to open an add since like 80% of sites that use them are linking to advertisers with them.

    • Leah
      Leah says:

      you can adjust preferences in your browser so that the URL appears in the lower bar when you mouse over the link. very easy to see where links go!

  2. Kate
    Kate says:

    “Beware of the lives that look too perfect in their 20s. Those are the people who will be a mess in their 30s. And it will be a quarterlife crisis.”

    Thank you so much for this! I am in my mid-20s and my friends and I struggle with knowing what the next path will be. I’ve hit the 24 month mark in my current job and am looking to make a major change. But the baby boomers around me give me advice to stay the course. Your post was right on.

    And on a personal note, some of my friends are getting married and settling into these routine lives. I am still exploring what works for me in all parts of my life and am no way ready to make any kind of commitment. Their lives all looks so perfect from the outside, but in 10 years, they’ll be hitting the quarterlife crisis mark and it gives me hope to think that I, who took the time to figure myself out, will be living a fulfilling life. Thanks again!

    • Patrick Flick
      Patrick Flick says:

      I’m having a little trouble with the math that suggests a 30-something will soon be experiencing a quarter-life crisis. Unless we will all be living to be 120 years of age in this coming century, I think this is a little too optimistic. Age comes very quickly my dears. To borrow a phrase from Jim Morrison and the Doors, “No eternal power will forgive us now for wasting the dawn!”

  3. SL
    SL says:

    Really insightful post, Penelope!

    I’m an early gen-y (1982), and I feel like I’ve already had my ‘midlife crisis’ when I was 25. I had been working in the field that I hoped to get a professional degree in after I graduated from college to ‘try it before buying it’. Good thing I did that, too — after I worked there full-time for two years, I discovered I hated at least fifty percent of what the job required. I spent the next year and a half waiting for my husband to get through his grad program so I could escape and regroup.
    I finally got out of the wretched place last winter, thankful that I hadn’t gotten into the professional program before I knew myself better and knew that it wasn’t the kind of work that I wanted, but still carrying the same sort of self-worth crisis that comes from having plans and self-investment come out a disappointment.
    Since then, I’ve gone back to school to bone up on business and accounting — something that I discovered might be a tasty move while I was looking for a way out of my old job.
    I don’t really consider this a career change either, as my last job wasn’t a career to me. Another goal since my old job: make sure I get flexible skills that can translate to many different places — like a true gen-y-er, I’ve learned not to put up with anything that makes me hate myself.

  4. LCLou
    LCLou says:

    Thank you for this post! I can’t tell you how many times people (Baby Boomers) have told me to be careful about job hopping and how hiring managers won’t hire someone who has only been at their jobs 1-2 years. I always ask these Baby Boomers why would I stay somewhere just to say I stayed somewhere when my learning curve has flat-lined? I’ve told them that they’ve set the example and look at how unhappy they are. No thanks. We are supposed to learn from history, so people shouldn’t be offended if I learn from theirs and chart my own path of happiness.

  5. Stuart Foster
    Stuart Foster says:

    Any non C-level who has been at the same job for more then 5+ years isn’t qualified to give someone advice period. They likely have stagnated and are simply just bitter about the position they are in.

    I’m not perfect. I know I’m not and I don’t want to be that way. My fallibility makes me human. However, I do admit and try to learn from my mistakes. Enjoy your messy 30s people who seem to be perfect :).

  6. timdellinger
    timdellinger says:

    Why is GenY not using social media?

    1) GenX and the Boomers use social media because they have a real and genuine need for an electronic space to stay connected. They simply don’t have the time or energy to stay connected the way they’d like to be. GenY, on the other hand, has infinite free time, and can stay connected in person… thus no need for all the typing and uploading and whatnot.

    2) GenY has no content to post. Well, they do, but it’s rather dull and entirely predictable.

    3) Social media’s “gee whiz” era is over. Remember when laser pointers first hit Wal-Mart? Every kid had one and used it all the time… just because they could. Movie theaters and classrooms still have written rules in place to ban behavior that no longer happens, and it no longer happens because the “gee whiz” factor is gone. GenY used social media because it was The Latest Thing. Today there are other fads attracting their attention.

    Are GenY “native networkers”? No. All young people of any era seem like good networkers because they are (or recently were) in school. Their networks will fade just as fast as their participation in organized soccer does.

    Tim Dellinger

  7. William Bruce
    William Bruce says:

    Oh, the irony of a post so entitled, at such a blog as this. That could get perilously — and comically — self-referential.

    But forgive the unintentionally corrosive tone. I just wondered if anyone else noticed.

    • Maus
      Maus says:

      I too had an inner chuckle at the title and lead on this post. If P is consciously writing self-deprecating humor, then I applaud her. This blog, with its train-wreck advice, is endlessly entertaining.

      BTW, good luck on the write down of your legal bill, P. If your attorney is smart, he or she will realize that future billings are assured.

    • JTManne
      JTManne says:

      I’m actually surprised there aren’t more such comments. After reading the headline, I expected the first thing to be “You read it here.”

  8. Robert Bryan Boova
    Robert Bryan Boova says:

    Penelope you are so great.

    Thank you so much for everything you do.

    I was really down in the dumps about the current rut that I seem to be stuck in and reading this post was exactly what I needed to spin out of it.

    Keep up the good work.

  9. Sara
    Sara says:

    Bruce – hear you – my first thoughts:

    It’s given by someone who mistakes blog clicks with success and believes they can generalize the work environment using volleyball analogies.

  10. Steve
    Steve says:

    Wrong on all three:

    1. Career change – I (a boomer) changed my career and path in 1999. NOT a recent phenomenon at all. And by the way, there are a lot of GenY folk upside down on mortgages for homes they could not afford to begin with – you know, the entitlement thing. No to mention their insatiable need for the latest and greatest electronic gadgets and a lifestyle that has many of them hopping the globe in search of “life experiences” through travel that many boomers have deferred until they could actually afford it. You know, after you pay your dues, put in the time and develop a resume of real accomplishments.

    2. Networking – boomers have strong networks not because they use electronic tools, it is because they have the benefit of experience, time in the workforce, and valued the relationships they had time to develop in the workplace by staying for a while.

    3. Midlife crisis – ? Once you get a glimpse of mortality you begin to reevaluate your life. That usually happens in your forties. GenY is not experiencing an early midlife crisis, they are having a hard time deciding what they want do when they grow up because they haven’t grown up yet. Growing up is harder for them because they were not asked to grow up sooner by their parents.

    • William Bruce
      William Bruce says:

      In all fairness to Ms. Trunk, her views are at least as nuanced as those stated above — and probably as accurate. I would say these “opposing” descriptions are both mostly true, but for somewhat different demographics. Beyond that, there are at least a few other issues that merit more detailed examination…

      1. Ms. Trunk is mostly right in asserting that “paying your dues” is bullshit — and she addresses elsewhere that a splendid way of avoiding the problem is nipping materialistic tendencies in the bud. Therefore, this really is not an either/or situation, as I mentioned before.

      2. The “value” of a relationship and its time quotient are not directly proportional. In fact, with many people they are inversely proportional. C’est la vie.

      3. Ms. Trunk has a quite valid point about the *nature* of the mid-life crises that Baby Boomers faced. True, the mid-life crisis is not going away, but only because the human condition is not going anywhere. However, the particular and tragically absurd mid-life crisis of the stereotypical American (male?) will begin to die a slow death, before long. What will replace it? What form will it take? Well, that is where my imagination fails me.

      “Talk amongst yourselves.”

  11. Anca
    Anca says:

    Very relateable post for me. I’m 25 and definitely having a crisis — I’m unemployed and considering a spinning my experience and skills into a new career. The word “networking” makes me want to run in the other direction (being introverted doesn’t help) and yet that’s exactly what I unintentionally did at a party this weekend.

    • Bart
      Bart says:

      I’m so tired of the Gen Y demographic bragging about their lack of social skills and how introverted, geekish, nerdy etc. they are. Get some polish, refine your manners, and pull your finger out of your ass. Now, go talk to someone you haven’t met before.

  12. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    I don’t think it’s that Gen Y is naturally better than Gen X at ‘networking’. I think it’s just that people in their 20s go to more parties than people in their 30s and 40s. In my early to mid 20s networking was primarily something that happened to me naturally by going to the pub or various parties. Since my late 20s I’ve been less inclined to go to parties, so it’s been something I’ve had to work harder at. I haven’t changed generations, I’ve just gotten older. Gen Y will get older too.

  13. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    Oh by the way, I hear you on the line about needing to get lost in your 20s. I thought I had it all sorted out but now my industry (media and journalism) is tanking and I’m at a crossroads. It’s okay though, I’m only 32 and I’m good at what I do so I know I’ll find my way through.

  14. Carol Saha
    Carol Saha says:

    Baby boomer here, but seem to relate to what the 20 yr olds are going thru more than what most people my age experience. Just taking a really really long time to grow up. Maybe.
    Love your blog.

  15. Jason Bourne
    Jason Bourne says:

    I worked a terrible job for 5 years. Looking back, it was the smartest thing I ever did for a number of reasons:

    1) I used the copious free time (it was an Office Space type job) to explore other career paths and figure out where I truly was meant to be.

    2) I learned about not only what I HATED about working, but what I hated but COULD LEARN TO LIVE WITH. Turns out EVERY job has some aspect of that.

    3) My resume looks good because really, employers look at length of service like women look at mens relationships – if you’ve “dated” a company for five years you’re much more likely to do it again. And people can tell me until they’re blue in the face that job hopping holds no social stigma anymore and I will tell them to their faces that they are naive and that they will someday agree with me.

    4) Having a crap job, and holding it for FIVE years makes me REAAAAALY appreciate the dream job and the dream life I live today. It’s all about perspective. My worst day at this job kicks the ass of that other job so hard…

    I love your posts, Penelope. And I like seeing all the intelligent responses here – but we have to get Gen Y to look a little harder at themselves and realize that compared to our ancestors life and work is amazingly easy these days. What does it say about our society when people leave a job after two weeks? It doesn’t say that they’re smart, or wise, or can “see into the future”. It says they’re lazy, unmotivated and unwilling to compete for success. They want a trophy just for showing up, and I’m sorry, but good luck with that.

  16. Sara
    Sara says:

    OK, so this is only related to #2, but I am exhausted from the older generations trying to use social media because they do it all wrong. Gen Y uses social media to communicate with friends and sometimes to make new ones, and to expand their networks in things they are interested, whether it is their current career/hobby/whatever (which all overlap these days for young people anyway; it’s not so segmented like it is for Baby Boomers). In my experience, a lot of the older generations are using social media only for business and they are failing miserably because they don’t add any value.

    I’m 26 and I work in an industry that is mostly B2B with a bunch of older people who all of a sudden are saying: omg, we have to be using social media for marketing now!!! But then they don’t add any value; they just say the same thing, which is now even more annoying because they are saying the same thing 10 times more often via Twitter, Facebook, email, advertising, LinkedIn, etc. It’s worse with the economy because all their marketing budgets are cut, and the marketing people are running around frantically thinking they are falling behind by not using every type of social media out there to reach customers. For it to matter, it has to be used well, or they’d be better off just skipping it altogether. You have to give me a good reason to follow you on Twitter, or visit your Facebook page more than once.

    • Gardner
      Gardner says:

      Thats an over generalization, don’t you think? I’m a Gen-Edger (last year of Babyboom/1st year of Gen-X) and I use FB to socialize with current and old friends and family and use LinkedIn for work related things. So do many of most of my friends. Frankly I’m exhausted by the younger generations complaining about older generations using social media at all. I will agree with your one point about campnies rushing to use social media for marketing without thinking through the value it will bring them.

      • Sara
        Sara says:

        Yeah, it is just my personal experience that the people in my industry using it ineffectively are from older generations. But I also follow a lot of older-generation people on Twitter that are interesting and helpful too. They just seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Really, I just wish all marketing people would think about using it in a more thoughtful and useful way. Or stop altogether.

  17. Early Retirement Extreme
    Early Retirement Extreme says:

    Who me? (in the link above, you referred to me as a baby boomer). I’m only 33 and I just switched careers after about 15 years doing just one thing starting from the bottom and becoming one of the world’s technical experts. Then I quit, because the only further growth would be in the political domain and I have no interest in that.

    I realize that people are different and need different things. It does seem to me that job-hopping is on the increase simply because more people can’t get their foot in the door of an actual career, or maybe they just have short attention spans :-D … once or if the boomers go away, you will see a bunch of serious people having careers again; it’s just demographics. For now, the worker surplus do a wide range of the easier work on demand, sort of filling out the holes, although I guess they would say they’re tying together the strings of the awesome network or something ;-)

    Okay, so there are a few work strategies to pursue, which you can take from operations management and apply directly to work strategies.

    1) Project – this is the typical career, where you set milestones and build a complicated project, network, etc. developing your skills in the same direction.
    2) Jobbing – this is the flexible or diletant approach you’re advocating. Short different jobs that require re-skilling. You develop many skills in no particular direction (other than job seeking skills which are actually useless to everyone but the individual).
    3) Flow process – this is the same as jobbing but with no change in skill set, that is, once the college degree is there, there is no further development.

    Now, whichever you choose obviously depends on who you are as a person. I pick 1, because I like competence, but if I liked something else, I would pick something else. Nothing inherently bad about that. I think you’re confusing bad advice with wrong advice.

  18. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Yes! I spent a huge chunk of my 20s caught in the snag of the post-dot-com recession, burning out in the same job because it seemed like the only job to be had. I wish I’d had the guts at the time to just quit, even though I had nothing else lined up.

    Boomers look at that four-year stint with admiration, but most of my potential employers, Gen Xers themselves, are just confused by it. And I’m still feeling the effects of having a stagnant salary so early in my career.

  19. Clare
    Clare says:

    My Dad’s advice to me and my sister was to get a good safe job in the nuclear energy research place he worked at.

    I don’t think he actually understood the irony of that, but for both of us, the thought of repeating what he did every single day of his working life, literally plodding towards retirement, was enough to send us screaming in the opposite direction. We’ve been accused of being feckless, unambitious, wasting our talents, not having goals, going to the ends of the world to escape… but if you can’t explore your options when you’re young and have the stamina for all those great times, when are you going to do it?

    There are many who know what they want from an early age, and go all out to get it. Great for them – we need doctors and lawyers and even nuclear research scientists. But for the rest of us who get excited by different opportunities, who want to experience different careers and work with a range of people, moving on and “changing” careers is as natural as the shifting sands in the desert.

  20. Alicia
    Alicia says:

    Thanks for the thought provoking post. I am re-inventing myself after a long career in media and it’s nice to get reassurance it’s OK to make that change because my 60-something year old parents think I’m insane. Speaking from experience about the mid-life crises….I have found that waiting until you are older to marry makes a HUGE difference on what your crises looks like. For anyone feeling some sort of pressure about getting married in your 20’s or early 30’s – think long and hard about that one and then don’t do it. Life is long (if you’re lucky) and you don’t want to wake up 40 something in a miserable marriage AND a sucky career. Pacing is everything.

  21. Eduardo Di Lascio
    Eduardo Di Lascio says:

    The one thing that sometimes bothers about your blog is this notion that Gen Y got it all figured out. But they dont.

    Best regards from São Paulo, Brazil

  22. Amy
    Amy says:

    I wish my father could read this (and your post “Stop worrying that your twentysomething is lost”) and understand this. Right now I’m in my third year of university and he keeps giving advice about what I should do – a few courses on Law, or Business-related stuff. (I’m enrolled in two BA programs: English & Chinese Studies.) Luckily my mom understands me, even though I don’t really know what my future’s going to look like – and she knows that.

  23. ernie
    ernie says:

    Hey PT,
    You’ve never heard of Tom Peters? You description of boomers is more like the GIs. Most boomers learned about networking (rolodexing) long ago. Job security has been gone since the 80s. Sure Gen Y can gossip online, but can they dance?

  24. Sumayya
    Sumayya says:

    For a Gen Y-er I think I’m pretty crappy at networking, but you’re dead on for 1 and 3 and I completely relate. I have at LEAST 3 careers in mind besides the one I’m in (and will leave so quickly my chair will be spinning) and I’m in the throes of my quarter life crisis. Dealing with all of it now. Glad to hear you’re on the same wavelength…can you mention this to my boss?!

  25. Cathitude
    Cathitude says:

    I’m a Boomer, born at the very apex of the boom. I have had three careers since I started working at 21. But since one of them was as a consultant, it was like starting a new job every few months anyway. That lasted for 10 years. Now I work for a university, where I am O.L.D. compared to most of the people I work with. But here’s the thing: it drives us nuts when we hire dabblers like those PT is talking about because the cost of hiring, orienting and training is so high. It takes about 3 months before they really know the job. And when they leave 9 months after that “to find out what I really want to do” and we have to start all over again, it sucks. That, more than anything else, is why employers raise eyebrows at resumes showing lots of jobs with just 1-2 years at each one.

  26. Katie
    Katie says:

    so very right. i am having my mid 20’s melt down right now. I went to school for my parents. Took two professional jobs to prove to them that I am ok. Now I am back home, I have quit 5 jobs in one year. I keep getting pushed into things because I need to make money. This is why the anti depressant and adderall industry is doing so well. Like my parents say “you work to make money, no one loves their job”

    In the past week I have been talked to by three different sets of parents about what I plan to do with my life. I keep telling them that if I were able to plan that out before I went to college I would be much happier. They explain that they did that with their kids and it was only for the best. Why are our parents so surprised when they find out what is best for us not what they wanted for us?

  27. Bobbie
    Bobbie says:

    Thank you Penelope. I’m approaching 50 in a couple of days. I need to hear these things.
    I’m a Boomer who never did fit into and stick to a “path” in her 20s – mostly because of a lack of SSRIs and an undiagnosed depression. The labels for that kind of “slacking” were far worse and the behavior much less forgiven.
    My appearance to any hiring committee is that of a pleasant, intelligent, healthy and fit 35 year old. I have a post graduate education that gets me the interviews, but time after time I’m not hired.
    Your article helps me see that I’ve been consulting the wrong people about why I keep getting passed over. My peers tell me “you’re over qualified” or “there’s too much favoritism in this small community.” Boomers don’t want to hire me, not because I’m too old, but because what they really need in an employee is someone who can operate in the world as if they were from Gen Y. In other words, by hiring me, it would be the clueless hiring the almost-as-clueless.
    I’m beginning to understand what you speak of when you so frequently refer to “keeping skills up.” It’s not necessarily the peg-in-the-hole specific skills like a medical coding certificate, but more so the skills needed to communicate well in today’s media and to keep that communication going all day long – to create and manage a brand image for yourself and your product or service.
    Or am I still clueless?

  28. Mhughes
    Mhughes says:

    Please add to your list of do nots: Do not accept the first job offer. Three times in the past two years I have relocated and had to job search. Three times I got desperate for money and accepted the first job I was offered, instead of waiting for an opportunity that served me more appropriately. Now, I’ve had three jobs with similar skill requirements and it will take hard work to move me in the direction I wanted before job search #1. Be patient and wait for the right opportunity. My shortsighted panic has slowed me unnecessarily.

  29. ioana
    ioana says:

    I’m sorry to disagree again but I don’t think that having your ducks in a row when you’re 20 is a sign that you’ll be lost later on. And viceversa. Actually I think it’s exactly the opposite. Focus and hard work has its rewards.

    Those perfect lives you see, might just be pretty darn good, or as good as it gets. A lot, if not most families of 2.5 kids and a pet do NOT have a skeleton in their closet.

  30. Scott Woodard
    Scott Woodard says:

    Not bad advice. In general, everyone should take advice about careers (and most everything else) with a grain of salt as the advice usually comes from someone dissatisfied with where they are now. However, in considering advice – especially generalizations applied across generations – it’s worthwile to remember that we don’t stay the same. Us Boomers are different now then we were in our 20s; different than we were in our 40s; and will be different in our dotage. Advice given usually applies to a snapshot in time. Things change; technology changes; habits change; needs change; advice changes.

    ~ Scott

  31. Danny
    Danny says:

    This post has a very good point about knowing who to take advice from. I would take that even a step further. Even after you have established that you are interested in what a person has to say, Penelope Trunk for example, keep your eyes open. Just because you have come to respect someone’s opinion, remember to think for yourself. Even Penelope, as much as I respect what she has to say, will through a ridiculous hanging curve ball once in great while. Bottom line, good advise from the right person is great, but remember to always think for yourself.

  32. ioana
    ioana says:

    How to recognize bad advice about work?

    Well simple. By the IP.

    Just kidding, love ya.

    Here’s what I learned in my own career, about myself, not related to any blog or anyone except myself and my own work: STFU ioana.

  33. Shefaly
    Shefaly says:


    I (Gen X) just spent 45 min on the telephone with my nephew (Gen Y) who is seeking his next career move. I did not open any of my LinkedIn/ Facebook/ Twitter pages and gave him from memory a dozen names of people whose companies he should look up and to whom I am happy to introduce him. I don’t know what that says about my networking… In return, most of my mentors are older than baby-boomers who don’t even read their own emails but oh, their references! They yield results and revenue.

    Such is the nature of life. We get and we pass on. All advice is given with ‘caveat emptor’ attached. I do hope you would stop dwelling on the “generational differences” that exist only at the leading and trailing edges of the bell curves!

    Most people get ahead in life because they know how to look beyond the clichés about generations, age-groups, use of technology or social networks, and reliable predictors of future success (like stock prices, people’s trajectories may go up or down).

  34. Jamie Favreau
    Jamie Favreau says:

    Well I am a Gen Xer that goes to Tweet ups and loves them. So I am NOT on Twitter to just be on there. I am there to learn, listen, and network. Networking is about helping people and I guess I love Tweet Ups. Maybe I am NOT the traditional Gen Xer. I did get caught up in catching up with the people from my past. But if you don’t make quality relationships with them, are they really in your present?

  35. MJ
    MJ says:

    The generational aspect to this is huge, and you are right to highlight it – be wary of career advice from anyone over 50, and be very wary of career advice from anyone over 40/45 who started life in (and thinks this was a great move) a law or accounting firm or the government. These folks tend to be risk averse, but worse yet, the oldsters are still shuffling around, talking about how the right way to have a career is to have 1, maybe 2, jobs in a lifetime. I’m thinking of writing down everything that my two over-60 colleague say and publishing it as humor.

    In 2009 a job or a career is more than a safe place to sit on your a$$ until you retire, and they don’t know it. I’m not sure why these folks have not yet been made extinct by a flaming asteroid, as they deserve, but they are out there and BEWARE.

  36. Scott
    Scott says:

    Not bad advice. In general, everyone should take advice about careers (and most everything else) with a grain of salt as the advice usually comes from someone dissatisfied with where they are now. However, in considering advice – especially generalizations applied across generations – it’s worthwile to remember that we don’t stay the same. Us Boomers are different now then we were in our 20s; different than we were in our 40s; and will be different in our dotage. Advice given usually applies to a snapshot in time. Things change; technology changes; habits change; needs change; advice changes. Watch Champions league online

  37. pathaque
    pathaque says:

    Note: It's very easy to delude yourself that you're competent until you get to your mid-30s. Around then, the less competent end up competing with people in their late 20s and losing.)

    What happens if you already know you are lame. All my coworkers are early twenties and I am in the middle of my 30s.

  38. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    Thank you so much Penelope…You hit the nail on the head with this post.
    I am a Gen Xer and it’s true. We had our crisis in our twenties and now I’m happily married with three kids and no crisis on the horizon. Life is great! Also, I can't think of one friend my age that isn't on facebook and why not, it's a great way to reconnect.

  39. Charm Links
    Charm Links says:

    The only really good career change is to start your own business. Are you still making jewellery? It is a massive change in lifestyle and attitude as well as generally not having as much money but it is well worth it. I guess the mid life crisis is related to the fact that most people start their own businesses when they are in their fourties!

  40. Champagne Fountains
    Champagne Fountains says:

    DEfinitely, running your own business is fantastic but you have to concentrate on one thing – marketing, watch how you spend your marketing dollars very carefully. Also interested in your thoughts on the midlife crisis. Everyone hits this, it’s just human nature! Have you achieved all you wanted in life because you’re getting older, less energy etc – just natural!

  41. Wilbert
    Wilbert says:

    Regarding career change…people really make it seem easier than it actually is. I went through it once and I learned for a fact that it is not easy at all. The same thing goes for starting your own business too.

  42. William Mitchell, CPRW
    William Mitchell, CPRW says:

    Seems to be just a play on the semantics. Maybe the term “networking” may not be around long, but the act of networking will. One may be at a party instead of a networking event, but even at the party … you should still be networking (or whatever they will be calling it 15 years from now).

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