Taggenerational differences

Millenials Actually Read More Books Than People Over 30

Some surprising research from Pew:

Millennials are quite similar to their elders when it comes to the amount of book reading they do, but young adults are more likely to have read a book in the past 12 months. Some 43% report reading a book—in any format—on a daily basis, a rate similar to older adults. Overall, 88% of Americans under 30 read a book in the past year, compared with 79% of those age 30 and older. Young adults have caught up to those in their thirties and forties in e-reading, with 37% of adults ages 18-29 reporting that they have read an e-book in the past year.

Full Story: Pew Research: Younger Americans and Public Libraries

Plus: “The number of independent bookstores in the US rose by more than 20% between 2009 and 2014, according to the American Booksellers Association,” Quartz reports.

(both links via NextDraft)


Debunking The Millennials’ Work Ethic “Problem”

New Survey “Proves” There’s a Generation Gap Between Workers

Why “digital natives” don’t exist

Generation Make

Urban Farm Store by maggiekate

William Deresiewicz tries his hand pinpointing what defines the Millennial Generation:

Today’s ideal social form is not the commune or the movement or even the individual creator as such; it’s the small business. Every artistic or moral aspiration — music, food, good works, what have you — is expressed in those terms.

Call it Generation Sell.

Bands are still bands, but now they’re little businesses, as well: self-produced, self-published, self-managed. When I hear from young people who want to get off the careerist treadmill and do something meaningful, they talk, most often, about opening a restaurant. Nonprofits are still hip, but students don’t dream about joining one, they dream about starting one. In any case, what’s really hip is social entrepreneurship — companies that try to make money responsibly, then give it all away.

My take is that it’s perhaps not as much about selling stuff – though working in marketing and advertising has become sort of glorified – as it is about making stuff. We’ve seen a big rise in maker culture, crafting, urban farming, food carts (called food trucks outside of Portland), steampunk, a resurgence in print magazines (Coilhouse, Dodgem Logic) etc. A lot of the excitement is about making physical things, but making apps, websites and events is popular as well.

It is noteworthy thought that modern counter cultures seem to have business models built right in. As I’ve written before, bike culture is big business and a cottage industry of books and DVDs sprung up around the 9/11 Truth movement (I think these things have become more coopted than they were when I wrote that column in 2007, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post).

Deresiewicz only just touches on one important thing: the tendency he identified isn’t actually limited to millennials – it’s infected culture as a whole, at least in middle class North America (I’m reminded of this commentary by Gustavo Arellano who points out that none of this is actually new for Latin families living in the U.S). As I keep saying, this seems to be more of a broad cultural shift rather than a generational difference.

Update: Looks like TechCrunch has a similar take.

(Photo by maggiekate)

Debunking The Millennials’ Work Ethic “Problem”

What's in the fridge? by dotbenjamin

The Pew report states that a majority of Millennials “say that the older generation is superior to the younger generation when it comes to moral values and work ethic.” The phone survey conducted for the report found that Millennials are the only generation to not list work ethic as a Top 5 claim to generational distinctiveness in an open-ended question.

Believing that work ethic isn’t amongst the Top 5 unique characteristics for one’s generation is very different from actually admitting to having poor work ethic, a point lost on many commentators. This and the Millennials’ response that other generations have a greater work ethic are in fact self-assessments rather than a qualitative behavioral analysis using some objective tool or metric.

The Millennials’ educational accomplishments alone, as noted in the same report, would belie any assumption that we don’t work hard or value the process and outcome of said work.

Harvard Business Review: Debunking The Millennials’ Work Ethic “Problem”

(Thanks Paleofuture)

(Photo by dotbenjamin / CC)

I have some related thoughts in my essay Generational Differences.

Previously: Interesting polling data on the “millennial” generation

See also: How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America

Interesting polling data on the “millennial” generation


Interesting polling data on my generation:

Generations, like people, have personalities, and Millennials — the American teens and twenty-somethings who are making the passage into adulthood at the start of a new millennium — have begun to forge theirs: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change.

They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults. They’re less religious, less likely to have served in the military, and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history.

Their entry into careers and first jobs has been badly set back by the Great Recession, but they are more upbeat than their elders about their own economic futures as well as about the overall state of the nation.

Read More – Pew Research: Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.

(via Theoretick)

See also: Generational Differences.

The biggest difference between now and the 80s

If there’s one thing I miss about the 1980s, something that I wish the teens of today could have, it is only this: We only had the most vague sense that everything we knew had happened before. Our parents told us that their teenage years had been much the same as ours, with the same joys and heartbreaks and pains and revelations, and we sorta believed them. Today, a teenager can get on the web and discover that The Killers really are a Duran Duran ripoff, and that we were just as goofy for “The Lost Boys” as they are for “Twilight.” They can recognize their faces in our own. And though our ignorance was part of what made the 1980s fun, I sort of envy the myriad ways through which today’s teens can retrace their steps.

Monkey Goggles: What the Eighties Were Really Like

(Thanks Josh)

Generational differences

The older I get the more “why this generation is so different from that generation” articles grate on me.

Case in point: this Harvard Business Review article on “Generation Y in Workforce.”

If you replace every mention of text messaging with e-mail and replace Josh’s ideas with the idea of building a web site in the first place, this article have run in the mid-90s as an article about Gen X in the work place. The sales exec at the end would be saying Josh didn’t do anything to disprove Gen X’s image as a bunch of slackers more interested in being “free agents” than dedicated salary men.

It could have come out in the 70s as an article on Boomers in the work force and been about how Josh thought they weren’t investing enough in television. The complaint could have been “they’re a bunch of hippies who want to start their own companies in garages and wear jeans every day.”

Every generation looks at the next generation and worries. This isn’t new. I shudder to think of what WWI vets thought of the kids of the 20s. Yikes.

Some people get new technology and business innovation, and some don’t. I think this is more of a cultural disconnect than generational one. Serious technophiles who blog and podcast, Twitter and Torrent seem just as likely to be tech or creative professionals in their 40s or 50s as they are to be teenagers or high schoolers. You know who the first people I knew were to get into Napster? High School teachers. Boomers. Because they had access to high speed internet at work and all of us students still had dial-up at home. Ten years later, I still know people my age and younger who don’t download music, don’t own computers, and/or don’t use text messaging.

I think younger people are more likely to be more tech savvy than our older counter parts, due to having more exposure to computers at school growing up, it doesn’t make us into radically different aliens (like Rushkoff argued in Children of Chaos). Gen Y, Gen X, and the Boomers also have, I think, very similar tastes in music, movies, cars, fashion, etc. What most people perceive as generational differences are usual accidents of culture – when some very traditional rural Christian parent’s kid turns out to be a goth. The parent doesn’t not get her kid because she’s old. She doesn’t get her kid because she’s a traditional rural Christian and her kid is a goth.

Better advice for Gen X and Boomer managers trying to learn how to manage Gen Yers in a corporate environment: think about what it was like to be their age.

Non-generational things to keep in mind, coming from a Gen Y guy who’s been out of college for about 5 years now and is maybe just maybe starting to figure out how this whole “work” thing works:

  • No one took “Office Politics 101” in college
  • No one (except maybe a few business majors) took “Corporate Policies and Procedures 101” either
  • Young workers spent the past 4+ years in college seriously exercising their brains, and now they’re doing menial office tasks that people without degrees can do just as well.
  • In other words: they don’t have a clue about how corporate culture works, and they’re bored out of their minds.

    Here are some things that may be unique to the current generation, not because of some deeply ingrained difference in paradigms but because the economy sucks:

  • Even in the relative hay days of 2005-2006, mass layoffs were common place.
  • Young people consider themselves to be walking targets during a layoff because they lack experience and seniority.
  • Tuition was more expensive relative to wages and inflation when Gen Y was in college than any time in history
  • Thanks to price inflation and stagnant wage growth, entry level jobs pay less now than they have since before the labor movement.
  • In other words, young workers don’t have any job security and don’t make much money. They make less money than their managers did when they were starting out, and have more student loan debt.

    So they’re bored, underpaid, don’t have a clue how the corporate environment works, and know they could be let go without notice at any minute.

    And managers wonder why “young people these days” don’t have any company loyalty?

    It seems like workers and companies are at a stale-mate right now: companies want committed, hard working employees and with good attitudes. Employees want their work to be valued and want some measure of stability Employers can’t offer this sort of stability to their employees (not as long as they have to make job cuts to satisfy their shareholders), so morale suffers. This isn’t some generational paradigm shift, it’s economics. This isn’t to say that the economy didn’t suck at other times – but I don’t think there was the sort of economic nihilism in the past. People have been saying “all jobs are temp jobs” for a long time, but ours is the first generation to be entering the work force with this mantra already a given.

    The creepy corporate paternalism from Enterprise sounds worse than the “get tough on ’em” attitude from General Tool & Supply. But neither one sounds optimal. As a “Gen Y” worker myself, here’s what I would tell managers:

  • Mentor employees and advise them on career paths within the company, giving them an idea on when and how they will be able to be more involved with key decisions, make more money, and do more interesting work. It sucks to feel like you’re at a dead-end, or just stumbling around in the dark.
  • Give honest feedback about their work. The generic “Great job! You’re the best” example from the Harvard case is actually a morale killer. If everything you do is received with the same fake praise the praise is meaningless. It leads to either laziness (“why bother doing a good job if even bad work is praised?”) or paranoia (maybe all my work is terrible and they’re just being polite”).
  • Don’t ask for input if you know in advance you’re not going to use it. Managers do this with the best intentions – to make people feel like they’re involved. But this phoniness is transparent and it makes employees feel like their input isn’t valued ever. If their input isn’t wanted or needed, don’t ask.
  • Don’t be dismissive of ideas (like Sarah in the story above). Take time to explain what’s wrong with an idea. If similar ideas have failed in the past, explain it. Show that you’re not dismissing an idea because you don’t value the employees input, but because there’s a legitimate reason not to use the idea.
  • Advice for young workers (what I’ve learned):

  • Company loyalty is rewarded more than competence or effectiveness. This may sound unfair, but think about this from the company/manager’s point of view: why bother training you, promoting you, etc. if they don’t think you’ll stick around? (I agree: companies should make you WANT to stick around – but if you don’t act like you do they aren’t going to bother promoting you)
  • If you’re not getting mentorship, you’ve got to seek someone out
  • Never go over your bosses head unless you’re reporting your boss for serious misconduct
  • You know you have great ideas and that you’re creative, competent, and have a lot to offer the company. They don’t know that. They hired you because they thought you were minimally competent to perform the duties at hand. If you want to do more, you’ll have to prove yourself. And that takes time.
  • No matter how great your idea for changing how things work is, it probably has problems and there’s always a chance it will fail miserably. People fear change because change IS dangerous. Trying to fix things can make things much worse.
  • Because of this, experienced managers are usually in charge of making these decisions. Trying to make a decision that’s “outside your pay grade” so to speak could make you look creative and ambitious, but it will probably just makes you look pushy, impatient, and/or arrogant.
  • Get involved in things outside of work to help satisfy your creative and intellectual instincts. It could be awhile before you get to do the sorts of things you want to do at work.
  • Don’t be a complainer/whiner.
  • Don’t talk about how much money you make, and don’t complain about not being paid enough.
  • So old timers: tell me why I’m wrong.

    Youths’ Views Differ from Parents

    Though the Sacramento Bee‘s story leads with “Berkeley study finds youths more conservative than parents,” the study actually finds that youth are more “conservative” on some issues (such as abortion and school prayer), and more liberal on others (such as gay rights and environmental protection).

    Sacremento Bee: Berkeley study finds youths more conservative than parents

    (via Drudge Report)

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