Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How being like Hannibal Lector can help your career

I’ve been thinking a lot about career issues lately. Mostly because someone very close to me is having career issues – and they aren’t really issues you think you’re going to have mid-career.

A lot of Gen Xers are struggling with this. It’s the square-peg effect. I thought it was just me for a lot a years, but when I talked to other Gen Xers it seems there’s a whole bunch of us who feel like we don’t fit the mold.

What I’ve come up with (through the studies and other writings I’ve found along with my own observations) is that Gen X is simply doing it differently than those who came before us.

Here’s how:
1. We have redefined success. Making money is good, but we’re willing to sacrifice some of that for control over our time.

2. A lot of us a true knowledge workers. Management is a trap. We’d rather write, than watch people write or solve engineering problems rather than watch people solve engineering problems. For a whole bunch of Xers, management is about watching others do the job you love.
As someone who for the last two years has had the career experience she’s always wanted, I thought I’d give a shot at some suggestions for getting the job that’s best for you.

You really do need to figure out what you want. For me, I’m happiest when I get to help others through my job. But I don’t have a job like social worker or doctor or rescue worker. I’m in marketing. I used to ask myself – how does that help other people? Well, it turns out that all those bad experiences I’ve had were useful. A big part of my job right now is helping other marketers with their work (and with dealing with what we will call the “difficult” people at work.)

Find the right boss. A lot of people think it’s all about the work. For me, it’s all about the boss. When I’ve had bosses who understand me, I was happy. When I had bosses who didn’t, I was miserable. The right boss for me may not be the right boss for you. What do you need? A mentor? Someone who’s hands off? A drill sergeant?

Be like Hannibal Lector. No, not a cannibal. Patient. Hannibal Lector was very patient in stalking his prey. Patience at work was one of the hardest things for me to learn. But if you want to accomplish your goals, you need other people to do it. And most of the time it takes time to get them to see your way.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Have Woodstock stories just become background noise?

Chez Pazienza wrote what I would call an amusing attack on the Babyboomers recently that ran in The Huffington Post.

I say amusing, because it did make me laugh. It is fun to make fun of the hippies rolling around in the mud at Woodstock. But it also got me thinking about the attacks on Boomers that the anniversary of Woodstock has brought on, why they are really being written, and do Gen Xers really care about that anymore?

What I mean is that we have heard about Woodstock, Studio 54, whatever, blah blah blah, for our whole lives. By now, doesn't it go in one ear and out the other? Like when your grandma tells you stories about the depression - they were probably poignant at one time, but after the billionth time they become background noise.

What do you think? Do we care enough to write our pithy retorts?

Photo: Two hippies make a difference at Woodstock