Flip-flops and iPods and Trophies, Oh My!

Much is being made of the values of "Millenials" relative to other worker age groups, in this 60 Minutes report. Part of the fun of watching it is Morley's face when talking about the Millenials. He looks like he just smelled something bad. OK, so as not to regurgitate the same fluff that was put out when Fortune wrote about this last year, I have a few comments on this report:

-60 Minutes needs to get some new blood. Morley's cuddly and all but if your opinion is written all over you face (and your word choice, tone of voice, etc), maybe a moderate perspective is required. I don't know how he could have not acted all shocked by this but it was distracting, if not thoroughly entertaining.

-speaking of which, the reports acts as if nobody sits between the Boomers and the Millenials. Next up on 60 minutes: a report of how news shows cater to the boomer audience in their reporting. Come on producers, get it together.

-Blaming Mr. Rogers is a low blow. First, Mr. Rogers was MY generation, not the Millenials generation. Second, we got our fair share of losing and recessions and "business attire" to not exhibit the same behaviors as the Millenials. It's a matter of degrees and there's nothing wrong with a little liberally applied affirmation from a man is a cardigan sweater and keds.

I think it's all an over-reaction to what came before; which is natural. That's not to say that the "me first" attitude isn't a little annoying. But surprising? Not really.


(Edit: added link to Fortune article. Also, thanks to Darryl for the post idea and link)

Comments (14)

  1. Roger says:

    I just watched it Heather and I agree that the Mr. Rogers comment was a cheap shot. He was my generation too (I’m technically considered a late boomer but I identify more with gen x’ers) There’s even a new term for us: Generation Jones!

    Instead of blaming it on Mr. Rogers, blame it on Mom and Dad and the schools. Susie gets a gold star in Math class because she ‘tried’; nevermind she didn’t get the right answer. Little Johnnie played soccer but we didn’t keep score because we didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Tom’s parents give him a brand new Trans Am (remember them?) when he gets his license and when he wraps it around a tree two weeks later, they buy him another one.

    One interesting thing I noticed in the 60 Minutes piece was that all those kids worked or wanted to work in an office. Take the internet shoe company for example. Who actually ships the shoes? Who takes the customers order, picks it in the warehouse, puts it in a box, and loads the pallet (or shipping container, or whatever?) Surely not a millenial.

    I don’t want this to sound like "those-young-whippersnappers" but I guess it does a little. I’m in my early 40’s and still looking for my life’s passion.

    BTW, enjoy the new car.

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Roger – I agree. When I saw the office environment for Zappos, I thought "yikes!". I’m sure that it’s fun for the Millenials, but wouldn’t appeal to me. I’m not all "whipper-snappery" either. I just want work to be work…it can still be fun, but the costumes. Ugh.

    So the challenge is how to create an office environment that appeals to people of multiple generations. Because if that little parade was going on outside my office, I would be losing it. Surely they need people with some skills that the average 23 year old doesn’t always bring to the table.

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    What is that? Something made out of pot, I think. Looks furry.

  4. Kerry says:

    It’s interesting to me the different views of the Millennial generation – I read both positive and negative things about this generation. The 60 minute report was one of the more negative – it was a bit condescending, don’t you think?

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Definitely. And, like, fearful! Is that the fear mongering of the baby boomer generation: atomic bomb, cold war, etc.? OK, I should stop…I’m probably only making it worse. 😉

  6. Matt says:

    I think this illustration best explains my point of view on these generational dynamics


  7. Rick Pennington says:

    I learned a bit about the milennials while I was taking classes for a (now aborted) masters degree. We were looking at the way that they changed college student affairs divisions. One term in particular stood out to me… Helicopter Parents. These are parents who continue to hover over their children well into "adulthood".

    Parents act like college is "High School: Part Deux".  Their kid gets in trouble… they call and yell at the Dean.  Their kid gets a bad grade… they call and yell at the professor!  

    This behavior starts well before college, though. My wife teaches middle school.  She has had parents get upset at her for their children not turning in assignments.  She has had kids tell her that their parents say the kids don’t have to listen to her, and that the school is wrong for enforcing rules and regs.  Accountability has gone out the window.

    One generational theorey states that children will parent in reaction to how they were parented.  The boomers were parented by the ultra-conservative "greatest generation" of WW2 times.  The nuclear family was king, and people on TV didn’t sleep together in the same bed.  They reacted to this, founded the free love movement, and parented their kids (Gen X) with a more laissez faire attitude, allowing the kids to develop on their own.  Now, Gen X is parenting the milennials, and have them convinced that they are all special, that everyone deserves a trophy.  These kids depend on their parents for everything and have lost the ability to solve problems on their own. This has gotten so bad that a paper was recently released stating that children today are not cognitively ready to live on their own until they are 26!

    I am a Gen X/Milennial cusper (I was born in 79).  I heavily identify with Gen X.  I think the parents today are going to reap what they sow, and their grandchildren will lead another cultural revolution like we saw in the 60s/70s.  This time, though, it might not have good effects…

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    Matt – seems we just keep getting spoilder and lazier and arroganter. 🙂

    Rick Pennington – guess that makes me Gen X. OK, so I am not going to ever have kids, so I won’t have the opportunity to mess up anyone’s life but my own. And granted, my parents really emulated the greatest generation more than their own (they did the whole scary 70s fashion thing but not so much the free love thing…I don’t even want to think about that, actually). So I think that there’s hope for the free thinkers.

    I do feel like a bit of a tweener in some ways. I don’t believe in company loyalty (kind of millenial in that regard) but have worked hard to pay my dues and get where I am (boomer?). What do you call people that kind of step outside of the sterotupe and select elements from different generations that work for them? Needless to say, I am the "different thinker" in my family when it comes to politics, religion, social norms (and if you are thinking that I don’t seem so "out there", then just consider that my family is totally "in there"), but I’m realy having a hard time putting myself into one of these generational buckets.

    What is Gen X again?

  9. Rick Pennington says:

    There are arguments about the traditional age ranges of the generations, but I have seen Gen X stated as being born in the late 60’s to 82 or 84, with the last 5 years or so belonging to the "cuspers", those that are tweeners.  I am in the same boat as you, Heather, in that I tend to pick and choose what I believe… you’re probably a cusper too. I tend to be more politically/socially aligned with Gen X, but I have been influenced by technology my entire life by the Milennials.  

    The biggest thing to remember in this is that these are noticable trends in generations, not absolutes. We’re all influenced by culture and events in different ways.  I believe the most significant event in my lifetime was the fall of the berlin wall and communism, for example, while many people born after me will probably say 9-11.

  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    OK, well late 60s here…so technically, I’m on the cusp of what came before…boomers is it? Same as my parents? That’s what they get for reproducing so young!

    So interesting about the Berlin wall. I guess I wasn’t very geographically /politically astute. For me, 9-11 was a BIG deal but I was 33 when it happened. Also, Reagan being shot was big. And people realizing what AIDS was (a little slowly) in the eighties.

  11. Rick says:

    Sorry about the double post, Heather, feel free to cut this, but I was just thinking further about this infuriating and remarkable generation that is coming up.

    A traditional, 4 year college student graduating this year will have been born in 1986.  They won’t have really understood things until about 92 or so…  They never had Reagan or Bush the 1st for presidents… they were growing up during a time of extreme prosperity… they haven’t really known a world without the Internet… they were 9 when Win 95 came out..  they didn’t know the berlin wall or the red menace…. they’ve never really had to live under the threat of nuclear war…

    Its interesting to me to think about all the things that have shaped my conscience that they never really experienced.

  12. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yeah, for sure. 1986 was my senior year in high shool and lots happened before then! Wow!

  13. Graham says:

    To get an idea of the differences between recent generations, check out the annual college mindset survey Beloit College has done for several years… http://www.beloit.edu/~pubaff/mindset/

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