Thursday, January 31, 2008

Honesty among peers

Recently, a former Best Buy employee sued the company because one of their employees said "he sucked." The employee said this when asked for a reference of the guy who supposedly sucked.

This is where we Gen Xers sometimes get into trouble. And I'm sure it was an Xer who made the comment. A Boomer would have eloquently said something that made the suckiness of the employee very clear, without ever saying so. And an Xer would just come out and say it.

Is it possible that Best Buy could win the lawsuit if they indeed could prove the employee sucked?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The end of handwriting

While teaching an introduction to marketing course at Northwood University last week, I had an interesting thing happen. When I asked my students to bring a blue book for the essay midterm, they had no idea what I was talking about. On top of that, all the students but one asked to bring their laptops to the midterm (and they submitted them through email via the WiFi connection in the classroom.)

Futurist William Draves wrote in his book The Nineshift about this phenomenon. Millennials are not much for cursive - but they have a replacement skill: keyboarding.

Some readers of this blog might wonder if I was worried that the students may cheat on the exam because I allowed the use of computers. My answer is no. Draves points out that how we defined "cheating" in the last century will vary from how we see it in the 21st Century.

"Shift Seven. Cheating becomes collaboration.
New values, work ethics and behavior of the 21st century take over. Boys are leading the change in values and behavior, just as they did 100 years ago."

When I was in college in the 1990s, school was all about the individual. You learned the material alone and spit it out alone. Students today are accustomed to working in teams. They've been doing it since they were kids. And that's one of their strengths going into the 21st Century workforce: Teamwork.

A lot of academics don't get that. In fact, I recently saw a professional development seminar for community college faculty titled: BEATING MULTITASKING MILLENNIAL STUDENTS AT THEIR OWN GAME: USING THEIR TECHNOLOGY TO CURB DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR. Hmm. Sounds a little combative.

So back to the cheating question - why wasn't I worried? Because I told them what would be on the exam and I allowed them to use notes on the exam. Was I worried that they hadn't memorized the exact textbook definition of marketing? No. In the workforce they let you keep notes and files and books on your desk - making memorizing unnecessary. What's more important to me was that they could synthesize and apply the information they studied (and they could).

Monday, January 7, 2008

Boomers in Xer Bodies

I watched the show Cashmere Mafia with great anticipation yesterday - followed by extreme disappointment. The 30-something Xer women portrayed in the show aren't Xers at all -they are acting like Boomerettes.

What was I hoping for? Frankly, a tamed-down Sex and the City. Both shows have the same producer. The difference is that although at times over-the-top, the Sex and the City gals did focus on what was important - their lives. These Cashmere Mafia women are career above all else. Yuck.

It's common for Boomers to think ALL women want the ultimate career success and are willing to pay the ultimate price. An article from Newsweek represents the successful woman as all work and no play. But in response, blogger Penelope Trunk says that Gen X women don't want that life.

I agree. And for that matter, I think Gen X men don't want to be slaves to their jobs, either. Quality of life is what's important.

The thing about Cashmere Mafia is that if the show were about four SINGLE working women, I probably wouldn't have had such a problem with it. However, as a working mother and wife I am offended that the Mafia women would sacrifice their families for some job - no matter what that job is.

The 1980s are over. Someone should tell that to ABC-TV.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Shout Out

When I find a blog that is especially amusing, I like to let everyone know about it. Check out Team Building is for Suckers. The blogger is an HR professional in her early 30s. What I like about it is you can really get a sense of the Gen X perspective on things from it - especially it's biting humor.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Obama's Victory in Iowa

By now, it's common knowledge that Barrack Obama was the big winner in Iowa. What I find interesting is that the criticism AGAINST him is his so-called lack of experience. Yet as a Gen Xer who is very skeptical of the political system, I find the fact that he hasn't spent the last 20 years kissing Democratic booty kind of refreshing. If we keep electing the same kind of politicos over and over, how would we ever see change in America?

At the same time, as someone who lived in Iowa for two years (two years of my life I'll never get back), I'm not sure that the vote there is indicative of what the entire country wants. I covered the 1996 caucuses as a journalist. What happens at them is that whoever wants to show up to the caucus in their district does, they have a meeting, and then they take an ad-hoc vote on what recommendations they will send to Des Moines. People who vote don't necessary want to sit around and talk issues with their neighbors, though. Gen Xers, in particular, often don't feel they can change someone else's opinion, while Boomers often feel that a well-crafted argument can persuade anyone. Therefore, the attendance at the caucuses, from a generational perspective, is probably not representative of the actual voting population.