Sunday, March 27, 2011


Pants: ...and then I told him he should be careful, he would have to eat his words.
Kitten: Why would you do that?
P: What, hon?
Syl: She wants to know why you would "eat" your words. It's a figure of speech dear.
P: It means you say something but you find out later that you do the exact opposite of what you said.
P: Exactly! And then he likes them at the end and he has to eat his words.
S: Yes, like everything your father and I ever said about parenting before we had children.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Kitten: Did you know Irish people have St. (unintelligible)?
Syl: You mean St. Patrick's Day?
Kitten: Yeah, but it's only for Irish people.
Syl: Do you know you're Irish?
Kitten: No, they don't have eyes and they do bumps.
Syl: Actually, that's blind people.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Generational differences

Answer these questions:

Your boss tells you that you will be transferred to headquarters, which is in a city 1500 miles away. Your reaction:

  1. You will do whatever is required of you; you go without a second thought.
  2. What a great opportunity! They must really like you to send you to headquarters.
  3. What did I do wrong? They can't just move me across the country.
  4. I will go wherever the team needs me. It could be an adventure.

You want to get together with a friend. You:

  1. Call them or email them to set up a time and a date.
  2. Text to ask where they are right now so you can meet them.

This year and last year, my work has provided a training program (voluntary, but not voluntary, if you know what I mean) and one of the speakers last year was kind of cool. Claire Raines is one of the authors of Generations At Work: Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, and Nexters in the workplace. Sometimes, you hear an explanation that immediately resonates - you know as soon as you hear it that it's true and you know you have seen the signs and wondered what it meant. This one was about generational differences and it went far beyond the workplace for me.

The theory on generational differences is that children begin to process world and national events and how they impact them around the ages of 11-13. Because a generation becomes aware of the world outside themselves during a similar time and environment, generations tend to share some general traits as a group.

The generations were broken out into four groups - Traditionals, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Gen Y. The commonalities were:

  • Traditionals: because they came of age during the depression and the years leading up to World War II, they place great value in belonging to groups. They tend to be active in churches and social groups. They are patriotic and feel successful when the group is successful.
  • Boomers: The overriding feature of boomers is a competitive nature. As they grew up, there were not enough spaces for everyone. They had to compete for top positions in sports, theaters, classrooms, everywhere. With the events of the 60s, they are also distrustful of the government. Boomers want to raise good children. At work, they tend to want to excel in one area, to become an expert and rise to the top of their field. They are quite mobile, moving as much as they need to in order to reach the top of their field. They usually measure success more in monetary terms.
  • Gen Xers: Gen X came of age during the 80s, a time when the job market was difficult, employees were being laid off, and the economy was harsh for many. Mothers were joining the workforce in large numbers but the culture to support children was not yet in place. As a result, Gen Xers tend to be distrustful of organizations. They are tribal and rely on their social group, which can include any mix of family and friends, since this is how latch key children learned to get by. They are extremely loyal to their tribal group and are much more rooted to the place they have set up their home than their parents were. At work, they require more autonomy in decisions and often want to learn more than one function. Becoming proficient in several areas makes them feel more secure in their job and more marketable - a reaction to the joblessness and insecurity of the 80s. They also are highly interested in being good parents (different from raising good children) and will usually choose family or their tribe over their job.
  • Gen Y: Several events have defined Gen Y, most notably the attacks on 9/11 and the rise of school shootings, particularly Columbine. Gen Y tends to live in the moment and not be as concerned about the future. Gen Y plans a lot less and coordinates more - they find out where people are right now and go meet them, even if where they are right now changes before they get there - they simply change course. They are more spiritual than either the Boomers or Xers. They are also incredibly closely tied to their parents. Gen Y is also the first generation to grow up with technology like cell phones and texting. Boomers and Xers use technology to replicate functions they did before, like writing a letter or networking with colleagues - Gen Y uses technology in a way that is original - they create new ways to use it instead of replicating old tasks.

Ms. Raines pointed out that the Army has done an excellent job in defining the generations and marketing to them.

  • Traditionals: I Want You posters - appealing to the need to join and succeed as a group.
  • Boomers: Be All You Can Be - appeals to the Boomers need to the be the best
  • Gen X: An Army of One - appeals to autonomy of Gen X
  • Gen Y: We'll Make them Army Strong - actually appeals to the parents of Gen Y, as they are so close to their parents that they will most likely make the decision on with their input. The Army actually has a section for parents on their website.
If you look back at the questions at the beginning, you can see how the generations value different ideals and where your own might fit. Of course there are differences in individuals that generalities can't begin to cover, but this discussion was eye-opening for me. It helps explain some of the differences with my parents and bosses, as well as some of those in the younger generation.