Authoritative leadership doesn’t work anymore

When I accepted my current job, it was to fill a void left by a manager who was no longer effective.

The days that followed were filled with stories of him hollering at people, threatening, belittling and basically just being a bully. I was pegged for his replacement because I interviewed to be his polar opposite.

BACK IN THE day, bosses could get away with throwing their weight around, scaring people into submission and using the “you will do this because I am your boss and I told you to do it” tactic. A boss who “doesn’t put up with shit” was desired by companies.

However, be it a generational shift or result of in-depth social studies on work places, it has been discovered “not putting up with shit” isn’t good enough. In fact, to some degree, it’s a bad thing.

Turns out the best leaders are those who get the best out of people instead of those who inspire people to do just enough to keep their jobs.

Authoritarian leaders are on the way out.

WE FIND OURSELVES amid this transition when it comes to leadership in our country. We have a president who prides himself on being this old school boss, not “putting up with shit” from anyone. This sounds good to some, but is even worse than ineffective to others … it is counterproductive.

For instance, we saw this last week with the government shutdown. We see it every time our president tries to get legislation passed or reform an institution installed prior to his tenure. It’s a struggle … a bad struggle where people actually put so much effort into fighting him that they have no effort left put into being the leaders they were elected to be.

While the president may have sound ideas that might work if put in motion, they will never take off simply because of the “you will do this because I am your boss and I told you to do it” approach.

He will ultimately always be ineffective – and always blame others for this ineffectiveness.

THE BOSS I REPLACED had his direct reports’ attention at first. He did scare them into doing the things he told them to do. They were even covering for him when he was not present but should have been.

But eventually, it became too much and the whistle blowing began – slightly, at first, but loudly before it was over. They were tired of being talked down to. They were sick of not being appreciated, recognized or encouraged. Not one wanted to be a worker bee anymore for a “queen” only in it for herself.

So which is better? On one hand, the less authoritarian and more authoritative is preferred by many direct reports. This is the person who sets high goals, but also offers the tools and support necessary to meet them. Positive reinforcement plays a big role. But on the other hands, some direct reports will always interpret the authoritative leader as a friend and ultimately a pushover … which generally does not happen with an authoritarian leader.

The answer to this is in recent history, with our president. He may be full of wonderful ideas and schemes, but until he stops being a dictator in a democratic society, he will not accomplish anything.

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Need to do better

I have a son who is full of life, bursting with energy … and has a toy box full of mangled toys.

Some may say the toy box goes with the first two attributes, but it doesn’t.

It goes with no one teaching him how to play with the toys.

I GO TO WORK every day and make sure both of my children have all they need to be healthy. They also get plenty of the material items they want, which seems particularly important to my 12-year-old daughter.

This is part of the reason my son has a box full of toys – they’re puzzles with pieces missing, train tracks with mismatched parts and learning toys that have taught him nothing.

For the last two years, I’ve said to myself over and over “I need to sit down and play with my boy.”

SOMEWHERE ALONG THE way, like many adults, my definition of wholesome time with the kids has shifted from actual time with the kids to incorporating them into things I need to get done.

For instance, I feel like I’m doing a good thing when I let my daughter tag along with me at work (some days all I really do is drive) if she doesn’t have school. That’s because she’s so happy to be with me.

But I’ll tune her out and be fleeting when she talks to me about her friends or favorite music.

If I can find a way to have my son stick by my side while I’m working around the house, I feel like I’m being a good parent.

But I don’t routinely sit down with him to assemble the multiple puzzles we bought for him at Christmas.

CHILDREN NEED PARENTS who can be children with them. They need teachers, guides and support, but they also need these people who can be on their level at times. This is common sense. I knew that before I was a parent because my parents were this for me.

It’s too easy, however, to go to work, pay the bills, keep the lawn mowed, make home repairs and say, “I’m taking care of my family.” It’s like you are, but you aren’t.

I would like to:

  1. Go to work
  2. Pay the bills
  3. Take care of the house
  4. Be the guy who my family loves

Reality is, when my 12-year-old daughter was 3, I was nearly a decade younger and had more energy. I also had fewer people who wanted my time.

My daughter is loaded with fond memories of us playing in the sandbox, reading on the front porch and painting with me at the kitchen table.

Today I am older and have fallen mildly out of shape, my job is more demanding and I have others who need me to be the person who brought us together. I have to make it a point to remember this list and do it, no matter how tired I am at the end of the work day.

I need to do puzzles with my son. I need to cherish conversations with my daughter. I need to be Hollie’s friend more often than I am, although we generally do all right with this.

While this will be forced at first, it will eventually become second nature. Parenting is a natural skill, but every skill needs the occasional polishing.

It’s not so natural that it doesn’t take effort.

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Degrees of success

If there’s one good thing that’s come out of the polarization of American politics through social media, it’s the uprising of those without tradition college degrees.

Well, personally, it’s not a “good” thing, as it’s generated regret inside of me.

I liken this to politics and social media because social media has generated more interest in politics than before Facebook went public. People just see an idea, latch onto it, share it, and others latch onto it and share.

One of those ideas is you don’t need a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a lavish university to be successful in this world. It seemed to start not long after President Obama was elected and labeled part of the “liberal elite.”

It took off from there and reached full climax during this last election. It is my opinion President Trump’s masterful media moguls and campaign managers capitalized on the crux of this battle between those with formal education and those without. It actually spiraled out of control on social media platforms with military, trade school and nothing-but-training folks taking the offensive against the hoity-toity formal degree holders, who they found belittling each time they cited articles or quoted subject matter “professionals.” Trump won the votes of the former as well as the masses that don’t bother with social media, while the latter assumed there was no way Trump would win because they promoted Library of Congress articles suggesting Trump was racist, sexist and terribly unqualified.

How it turned out is history.

IT ALL GOT ME thinking, though, about how the tables had turned against the belief one goes to elementary school, high school and college, earning more money in a lifetime the longer he or she stayed in college. That was what I was taught by society and my parents, as I can still remember my dad saying he was determined to have at least one kid with a college degree.

But my experiences with that degree have suggested I may have fared better without one. Here’s why:

  1. I pigeon-holed my job search … that is, I limited the jobs I believed I could do to those seeking my degree.
  2. Loan repayments aren’t as bad as people make them out to be, but it’s still money I don’t need to be spending every month.
  3. I had unrealistic expectations with my first jobs because I had this degree and everyone had told me degrees lead to big bucks
  4. Shamefully, it wasn’t until recently that I actually stopped thinking those without degrees knew less about the world. In reality, I knew moderate amounts about a greater number of things, but their knowledge of specific topics with which they’ve had extensive, direct experience was far greater.

COMBINE THIS WITH my career and life to derive my conclusion.

  • Roughly 50 percent of my high school comrades with degrees are doing what they studied in college; I am among those not using their degree.
  • I know men and women who’ve served in the military doing very well following their time enlisted.
  • My job today exposes me to technical colleges and trade schools; these students will be set up to live comfortably for the rest of their lives without repaying student loans.
  • Finally, my fiancee, Hollie, does not have a degree and has used hard work, dedication and past job experiences in retail and customer service to go from cook to salaried manager for a semi-formal chain restaurant; her potential with not only this company but any restaurant like it is virtually limitless.

Hollie’s situation is a prime example of what it takes to be successful with or without a degree. After our son was born, we were fortunate to be in a position where she did not have to work. After he was a year old, though, she was ready to rejoin the workforce in a capacity that was “just enough to keep her busy and bring in some extra cash.” Having worked in restaurants through college, I told her that if she did nothing more than have perfect attendance, she’d stand out from 90 percent of her co-workers. She not only showed up every day, but she did an incredible job at her role and others, receiving promotions appropriately and setting herself up to one day run the entire restaurant. She’s compensated well and the satisfaction brought on by her success has been a thing of beauty to me.

I am completely proud of her.

NOW I’M NOT ONE to second-guess myself when it comes to decisions that have carved my life’s path, but I do when it comes to my career. My time in the newspaper business exposed me to a realm of careers I believe I would have liked more than mine. I wanted to be in the Army as a kid but gave up on that when I discovered a medical conditioned disqualified me. I would have liked something to do with horticulture, landscaping or turf management. Maybe something to do with carpentry. I absolutely would have loved being a farmer.

Instead of learning a little about a lot of stuff, I would rather have learned a lot about just one thing.

That’s not to say my degree has gained me nothing. After all, it was my experience as a reporter that exposed me to these trades and piqued my interest in them … and I couldn’t have been a reporter without my degree. My job today is rewarding, as the compensation provides for my family and I thoroughly enjoy teaching others what I’ve learned about the craft. I have made a difference in others’ lives with this job – and I earned it through a connection I established as a newspaper reporter.

While this debate is one I’ll probably always have with myself, three things are perfectly clear:

  1. Gone is the notion one cannot be successful without a degree.
  2. Gone is the belief people with degrees are somehow better than those without.
  3. If you don’t work hard – with or without a degree – you’ve no right to expect success.

Instead of teaching students to go to college, we should be teaching our young persons to do jobs that make them happy … even if that job is a trade, craft or service. Teach them they will always get out what they put in.


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Riding like Dad

When I was in college, I had a friend who introduced me to bicycling to get around campus.

He told me to get a high quality mountain bike, swearing it was “way better” than cheap Walmart bikes.

He was correct. My $300 basic model Trek shifted smoother, rode better and felt virtually indestructible. This evolved into more than something for riding around campus. It virtually replaced my car, as I purchased racks and saddle bags to carry groceries, things I needed for work and beer.

Then I wanted more. I wanted to ride to other towns. I wanted to double my speed getting to class and work. I wanted to be a real cyclist – even if it meant wearing spandex and flamboyant  colors. I needed a road bike.

THIS DECISION ACTUALLY GOT ME my first writing gig, as when I took my first newspaper job and was not a reporter, I began an online column for the paper that was pretty successful. I moved to a smaller city than my college town, but continued to ditch my car for the bike. It turned out people enjoyed hearing about my experience riding around their community – both cyclists, non-cyclists and angry old retired men who pegged me as an environment-loving liberal (I’ve actually never cared about the environment or much politics).

By this time, I’d introduced my father to the freedom that is being on a bicycle. Sure, it’s great exercise and all of that stuff … but I liked knowing it was my own strength taking me to other towns and states instead of an engine fueled by a government cash cow.

When Dad would visit, he always brought the Trek mountain bike I’d helped him pick out at a dealership where he lived in New York. It was kind of a drag at times, as even if he had been in the physical shape I was in from 100+ miles a week of riding, his mountain bike wouldn’t have allowed him to keep pace. He also dressed positively ridiculous: sweat pants, sweat shirt, back pack, tinted safety glasses and water bottles that looked like they came from an end-cap of the little kids’ section of Walmart.

I never said anything about it, though, because we were grown men riding bicycles in the Bible Belt … not exactly a cycling utopia. We could be armed in full military battle gear and would still look like sissies to the locals. I would, however, chuckle to myself when we’d begin even the slightest of inclines and I’d hear his gears shifting as he slowed but pedaled faster, never confident enough to lift his butt off the seat to truly climb. He’d do one of two things as I passed him, since I always rode behind him so not to lose him on the ride: he’d either remark how nice his Trek shifted gears or call me an asshole.

FAST FORWARD A FEW years. Okay. I graduated college in 2006, so fast forward 12 years. That’s right – an entire decade and some change. I am no longer in the business of writing and have a job where I’ve been told to avoid physical exertion because “it’d be hard to replace you if you got hurt.” I have a 12-year-old daughter and a son who will be 3 at the end of the month. To top it off, the diabetes I’ve had since I was 9 has triggered some disease associated with my thyroid, which makes becoming a fat ass seem inevitable.

I have no time to ride my road bike, which has sat the last 7 years idle but for the occasional ride around the block towing a child trailer or loaded with a toddler in a seat over the rear wheel. I got rid of the speedometer when the battery died because it had been so long since I gave a crap how fast I was riding. Tire tubes generally popped every time I rode because they’d dry rotted due to never being rotated.

I’m not sure what created less time to ride a bike … being a single parent or finding a woman. I believed when I was the former that having the latter would give me more opportunities to ride, but that wasn’t true, as leaving her at the house with three children so I could ride for three hours seemed selfish. I realize there are fathers who leave the house to play golf all day, but I could never be one.

But I digress. 

FOR CHRISTMAS, I TOLD HOLLIE all I wanted was to be able to ride my bike again. The cables needed replaced. My front rim was bent. The rear sprocket was worn out. I wasn’t looking for it to be new again, but I did want to be able to shift gears and have brakes. Hollie came through on this. It rides like a million bucks again.

So today I began my routine of riding at least 30 minutes a day – a goal I would have laughed at in college for being too easy. I don’t care how fast I ride. I don’t care how many times I shift gears. I don’t care if I never stand up to climb a hill. I’m probably 30 pounds overweight, get winded when I dance with my son in the kitchen, now take blood pressure medicine and haven’t felt fully rested in months. Thirty minutes on the bike a day is a good start.

And when I set off on this journey, I was not wearing sweat pants, but something similar. While I wasn’t wearing a Richard Simmons-style sweatshirt like my dad, I was wearing a hoodie. I wore ski gloves to keep my hands from going numb. I didn’t wear anything over my eyes or carry a water bottle, but wished I had. I’ll do that next time.

As I came to the bottoms of uphill slopes, I shifted gears like a madman. It took all I had to each the top. When I began down these slopes, instead of shifting into high gear and flying, I coasted so I could catch my breath.

Everything has a starting point. Today was mine. While I’ll never share a selfie to flaunt my physical fitness, I will be glad I’m doing something to prolong my life and be with my children longer. I really don’t care about my appearance. It’s all about not dying.

I realized this as I made the last turn of this 8-mile ride that seemed uphill for 9. My dad had it right all along. Life is not about where you can ride or how fast you can get there … it’s about enjoying your time on the road.

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Why I hope our president succeeds

Something happened recently that has weighed heavy on my mind all week.

On Monday, a father and his three small children burned to death in a house fire in the county next to mine, probably 20 miles from my home.

Their remains were found in the same room, believed to have been trying to escape the 1,000-degree blaze.

FOUR NIGHTS EARLIER, I SAT at my kitchen table ecstatic, my hands shaking, as I ordered $500 worth of football tickets so my dad and I could attend my team’s first playoff game in 18 years. I was disappointed earlier in the week, as prices of the tickets were more than I was willing to pay given I’d just shelled out even more than that to pay for my kids’ Christmas presents. Ticket prices had come down just enough for me to pull the trigger that Thursday.

Investigators believe the fire was started by a propane tank inside the mobile home, running one of several space heaters.

It’s not hard to do the math on what caused this: the weather had been unbelievably cold for South Carolina for several weeks. Houses in the South aren’t insulated to stay warm efficiently; my propane furnace has run and run and run and I have the propane bills to prove it. Although it’s irked me to do so, Hollie and I have been able to pay these bills … this single father probably could not.

Enter the deadly space heaters, apparently including at least one with a tank of something explosive.

HINDSIGHT IS ALWAYS 20/20 and it’s not like I blame myself for not doing something to prevent this, but had I known the money I spent on those tickets would have kept a father and three children – one close to my son’s age – alive, there is no doubt I would have found this guy’s utility company and made sure his account was current. Hell, practically anyone would have had they known it would have prevented this tragedy.

In the days that followed, fire departments and other first responders across the country paid tribute to the four-year-old boy who died, as he always wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up … just like my son, who will receive a firefighter costume among other things for his third birthday at the end of this month. Yet I fuss because the extra propane bill leaves less money to spend on entertainment.

Over Christmas, I heard on the local news an anonymous donor brought current all students’ lunch accounts at a local district so no students would go without lunch. While paying an entire region’s utility bills for the winter months is a lot more money and would probably create controversy due to the usual suspects trying to take advantage of such generosity, it’d be really neat if someone did that. I guarantee this family who perished was not the only family using space heaters inside that chilly night.

THIS IS NOT INTENDED to be anything political, but it does make me think of our nation’s current administration’s directive to cut funding from programs that provide assistance to families’ struggling to pay utility bills … and the public sentiment following this move, where people tout the economy’s uptick.

Truth is, unemployment is down, stocks are up and the economy, overall, is doing better than it has in a while. Everyone’s 401(k) is better off. My premium for health insurance went down this year. Yippee!

But we still have families going to bed at night with space heaters running because they can’t afford to heat with their actual furnace. They know this is dangerous, but they take that risk to avoid a child getting sick.

I believe it is a mistake to rely on government to take care of these problems. Yes, I do think the President is on the right track with this, as no one should be required to pay for someone else’s utility bills, food or medical care.

However, while it is the president’s job to create policies that help the economy, it is also his job to be a leader – to shift public sentiment in the direction of something that encourages people to voluntarily give money to programs that help those in need. Instead, he seems to be doing just the opposite.

Remember when private donations to Planned Parenthood went through the roof after President Trump was elected? That’s how it should go. Planned Parenthood and social welfare programs that help those in need should exist … but they should get money through voluntary donations encouraged by sentiment from the president.

I AM FULLY AWARE all of this sounds completely idealistic and both conservatives and liberals would find this completely preposterous, as I’m suggesting institutions that have relied on government funding now rely strictly on private donations. Add to that the truth that citizens have been conditioned to only do what the government makes them do, so the idea of giving even more isn’t even considered.

I hope everyone starts giving more – freely – since some of the extra money in their pockets is coming from welfare programs that could have at least helped prevent Monday’s tragedy. There will always be hard-working mothers and fathers who struggle to make ends meet. For some families when money is tight, they just have to stop going out to eat so much or maybe give the children 20 gifts for Christmas instead of 50. But for some families, they must make the choice between food and heat, knowing if a child gets sick, they might not be able to pay for the necessary visit to the doctor.

There are agencies in every community that rely on private donations to provide housing and utility assistance. Many utility companies have their own programs set up for people to donate if they want to help those who are struggling to pay utility bills and these are probably the best route to help specifically with those who cannot pay for heat or electricity, as the overhead is minimal. Of course, longstanding national organizations with sound reputations like The Salvation Army are out there. I know I have my favorite charities as well as those I avoid. It just takes a little research to see which use the least amount of your donations for “operating costs.”

I just hope as we get more money in our pockets, we remember to give. May we listen to what we learn in church and not what the president shares on Twitter.

There should not be families in the greatest nation in the world who have to sleep next to a propane tank and open flame.



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But for a few fleeting moments

I do not believe our purpose on Earth is to make mortgage payments.

Our gifts from God are not cars, vacations or the ability to “hustle.”

We all serve something greater than this and are rewarded with something more.

TONIGHT I LISTENED as my 12-year-old daughter sang loudly in the shower. I am no expert on vocal contributions, but it’s unlikely she will be heard on the radio anytime soon. Still, it was glorious to me.

She is happy.

She washed her sheets earlier in the day and ran them in the dryer, where they remained, cool. I turned it on high temperature for a few minutes and hurried to put them on her bed before she got out. I took her top covers and put them in the warm machine while I did this, so her bed would be warm when she laid in it 15 minutes later. I did not have to do this; she’s been doing her own laundry for a while now. She’s been making her bed for years.

“Oh, thank you,” she said when she saw me tucking the sheet under her mattress and I told her about the warm top covers coming next. “That’s so nice of you.”

She smiled.

A few years ago, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal to me. I did everything for her because I loved her and felt like it was my job (which it was). But when she turned 10, slowly but surely her stepmother and I started funneling more responsibility to her.

Making her own lunch for school.

Preparing the next day’s outfit (with guidance).

Keeping her room clean. Like, actually clean – not just going through the motions to give her the idea like when she was 6.

It has been an uphill battle since middle school began. I’ve talked to her teachers, a nurse and even the woman who runs the cafeteria after it was discovered she’d been charging lunches rather than making them at home. This is something many middle schoolers go through – they want to be treated like an adult but don’t want the responsibility.

“You just have to stay on her,” they all say. “Don’t let her think it’s going to stop unless she starts doing the work.

“Don’t worry … by high school, she will be your best friend.”

Lately there has been a lot of this “staying on her” going on around here. She’s cried. I’ve wanted to cry. I’ve worried. I’ve prayed.

I’ve wanted to just start doing everything for her again.

My daughter singing in the shower was my reward tonight. This was a gift from God. No matter how stressful, trying or difficult things have been with her at times, she is happy.


MY SON IS EVOLVING into a firecracker. His wild, curly hair is a reflection of his personality. He knows he is the youngest. He knows he is the baby. He uses this to his advantage and it’s hard to rise above this and teach him boundaries.

He is my parents’ last grandchild.

Through him, I am reminded of this greater purpose we all serve. Already he is testing me, finding my limits, then seeing how far beyond them he can go. Then he spontaneously says “I love you” and reaches around my neck to pull himself to me for a kiss.

All I can do is smile.

There is time to teach him boundaries. Tomorrow is another day. For now, I’m just enjoying his time as a baby in a toddler’s body. His soul fills mine.

HOLLIE AND I HAVE had a tough, unconventional road that has only recently started to feel like it will have fewer obstacles. She works very hard as a restaurant manager and her schedule keeps her away when the kids and I would like to see her most.

While these circumstances are painful, it feels good to truly miss someone when they are gone because then you get to experience the joy of reuniting every day. This is a gift from God – one I’ve never felt when it comes to another adult to whom I’m not related – and I’m happy to have it.

ALL OF THIS WORK and it never seems to end. My job is extremely busy at the end of each year and the beginning of the next. It could not be like this at a worse time, as everyone else – including my children – is in Christmas mode already. All I really want to do is stay home with them and bake cookies.

There is the added expense of Christmas gifts this time of year. Since we live in a rural area and use propane to heat the house, there is that bill too now. Annual vehicle taxes are due at the end of each November, Kalista keeps needing money for school things, so on and so forth. While the extra expenses themselves can be a burden, keeping up with them as the head of the house amid a demanding work schedule is the main stressor.

I sometimes pray that God will help me remember to be thankful.

When I die, this is probably the main thing I hope I’ve instilled in my children: moments are fleeting. Stay focused on what God has given you and not what you hope to get from man. As a father, I can be in a room with my children and be away from them in thought because my mind is with work or responsibilities or the next day’s schedule. I do pretty well with this because I’m aware of it, but someday I’m going to be on my death bed and want these moments back.

“Oh, thank you, Daddy,” I can hear Kalob say. “Thank you.”

“Thank you.”

“Thank you.”

He will sometimes say it three times, waiting for me to say “you’re welcome,” before I even realize he was talking to me because I was checking my work phone or thinking of something else.

I hate that.

Or this:

“I thought you were going to ____________ for me today.”

Turns out, I’d made plans to do something with my daughter or Hollie but I became distracted by work or a task around the house and forgot, letting down someone I love in the process.

What makes this all the more painful for me when it happens is I don’t do this too often, so when I do, it really stings.

Our time on this Earth is so short. For many, including likely for myself, it will be less than 60 years. Our “timelines” in the broader scheme of things never match up perfectly with those we love. There will come a day when my children must go on without me.

They can be homeless, surgeons, writers or welders. It is not their trade or status on the social food chain that concerns me. I want them to have integrity. I want them to be sincere. I want them to cherish this life.

May God help me to always cherish mine through them.

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Writing for generations

I hate to be one of those guys who remarks “stupid young people,” but …

“stupid young people.”

My employer has decided to embark on the social media journey by using its own type of Facebook that will connect all colleagues in the area it covers, which is more than 1/4 of the country. I love the idea, as our company is contracted by other companies and it’s easy for members of our team to feel less like members of our team and more like members of the organizations we service. By posting photos of our company’s work in Florida, for instance, it will allow those assigned to a spot in Virginia to feel like they are part of something greater than what they have in Virginia. It also makes it easy to recognize folks’ good efforts.

I was asked to help champion this endeavor, being one of the first 30 or so who have access to this “Facebook.” Since I’m mildly savvy when it comes to this stuff, it’s a perfect fit.

However, after a month of learning the program, practicing and it being rolled out to other leadership in the company and now, today, the initial implementation of it to the ENTIRE company, one thing has become apparent to me:

I write too much for millennials.

I realize millennials are the subject of much ridicule in the workplace. As baby boomers retire, leaders are finding managing to be more challenging because millennials are pretty close to being polar opposites. Three years ago, I had it in my head that millennials will “figure out” they had to be more like baby boomers if they didn’t want to get fired and, in the meantime, would just stick to hiring folks from older generations.

Meanwhile, HR kept sending links to online training seminars geared toward millennials.



And more.

Also during this time, I began to see I had more millennials looking for jobs and fewer and fewer baby boomers because they were retiring to a life of bitching about millennials. There were more clashes between the generations on the job, including complaints “that kid won’t stay off his phone.”

But guess which generation is increasing in the workplace and which is on its way out.

Three years ago, people were fired for being on their phone. That’s just not possible today – we wouldn’t have a workforce.

Among other things we will have to accept as millennials come of age, cell phone use is one. They have become a way of life for young person. Like a drug, they literally cannot put them down. While this sucks a lot and I hate it, older generations are going to have to accept this instead of getting after “kids who won’t stay off their phones.” I mean, managers tell people to get off their phones but reprimand them when they won’t return their texts … that doesn’t make sense.

Which is exactly why I like the idea of social media being used by our company. This is the means of communication millennials are used to using most often. For the most part, people anymore don’t take actual phone calls. They don’t like e-mails. But send a text or a message via social networking, and they’ll respond almost instantly.

If you can’t beat them, join them.

One fault of the baby boomers is the “I was here first, so do it my way” attitude. I’m a little too old to be a millennial, but baby boomers are my father’s age. I have been conditioned to be more malleable. Therefore, the fact I’m a generation older than millennials doesn’t make me believe millennials should do things my way.

Maybe I should do

things THEIR


As I move forward with this task to teach, encourage and use my work’s social network, I am reminded that GONE are the days when people read novels. Everything needs to be concise, to-the-point and lacking foreshadowing, introductions and conclusions. Use bullet points to break down a long paragraph. Why? Millennials have learned they’re too busy to sit down and read a book. They want stopping points so they can read for four minutes at a time and come back to it. They want videos and photos to tell the story – not words.

It has been a humbling experience for me. Ten years ago, I could write and write and write and people would tell me how it made them feel. They’d say they enjoyed it. Now? If that’s all I do is write words, I will get no response … because no one read all of it and some saw how long it was a decided not to read any of it.

It has been especially true for social networking. Even with personal social media, I see more of a response to posters, memes and photos with a dozen words typed over the top than statuses people have actually written. When I made my first post for my work’s social network, I poured a ton of effort into it, describing a procedure, feedback from staff and sharing risks to consider. I included photos and videos.

and didn’t get much feedback.

Later on, our HR director who was also a champion for this new endeavor had a very nice way of saying that maybe I should shorten the text. While this was hard for me to do because I had taken the time to provide context, examples, a conclusion, etc., reducing it to “just my point” increased its likes and views.

Since then, I’ve listed things in bullet points. I’ve let photos tell the story. I’ve kept video clips to 30 seconds or less. I’ve worried less about making my content enjoyable to read and more about making it faster to read.

I’m a work in progress on this, as one can tell by this blog post. It’s difficult for one to throw out the foundation of writing after it’s been drilled into him through decades of school and experience. But THIS is where we are headed. We have to make things fit on one screen of a phone because if we don’t, people won’t read it.

Do I resent millennials and their technology for this? Not really. I’m disappointed, but I can’t alter the path of society.

I just need to learn these ways.

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