I got to thinking about “kids today.”

I don’t mean to lump together people in the newest generation in the workforce. Because they are all the individual snowflakes their parents told them they are.

Perhaps it’s more accurate to think about how I personally was. Or tried to be, anyway. And it is in that context where I wonder why others can’t be more like I used to be.

When I was starting out in this particular business, I spent very long days with little to do, and then suddenly a rush of shit would hit my desk after 5 p.m. We would work late and oftentimes my boss wouldn’t use all my edits.

I would be crushed. But I would study the final product and understand why.

Mostly I just didn’t understand the subject matter. We really do speak a foreign language here. But at least my English and AP Style were always impeccable. And I could build upon that.

When kids don’t have that minimal foundation, I don’t think they can learn the “foreign language.”

Math plays a big part in my life. Now, I went to J-school so I wouldn’t have to use math. But with the world of online calculators, I’ve found an easy way to beat my fears of fucking that shit up.

I remember stopping by my boss’ office nearly every night (always past 7 p.m.). Even though I had arrived at 7:30 a.m., I always, ALWAYS asked if there was anything else I could do to help.

We would talk about fun stuff, too. Both of us were very into pop culture and we bonded easily.

And it was within those light moments that I could ask what I did right or wrong or could do better. I also got a line on what might be happening tomorrow. So, I could be ready.

I used that downtime to take online courses, catch up on the news, and go bug EVERYBODY in the building.

  • I went to marketing and asked what they wished editorial knew that could help them better.
  • I went to IT and asked why the processes were what they were. And how I could do more so I could bug them less.
  • I went to advertising and copy and said what is it exactly that you do. I thought maybe I could pick up a few interesting tips.

I use all of this knowledge today.

I soon ran my own department there. I run my own department today at a different company.

And I guess if I could look at the next generation and shake up their lazy asses, I would tell them to master SOMETHING. For me, it was stock options. And then I would tell them to ASK ALL THE QUESTIONS.

I meet people who can barely keep three thoughts in their head. If new information comes along, something falls out.

These kinds of people shake out of this field, usually sooner rather than later.

I remember last fall when one of my favorite people (copy) met one of my least-favorite (three thoughts). And my friend said, “Yeah. That one isn’t going to last.”

He said it after 10 minutes of being in the same room with the other person.

At some point you just know.

You don’t always know, though.

I have a situation where I had bad, bad vibes. Yet for the most part, it turned out to be a good relationship. However, it will soon screech to a halt. And maybe my gut was right all along.

I don’t know. I’m all jumbled right now.

I keep reading about how it is more important to hire people who offer a better cultural fit than a list of credentials.

Two years ago we parted with some credentialed kids (and they were kids in all senses of the word). Too smart for their own good. And not willing to use it.

Capable and unwilling, I call it.

Then we found some perfect cultural fits. That was hugely important to me.

Now it’s incapable and willing.

But when you put incapable people in a pod of overachievers, something happens.

Luckily it isn’t that the overachievers get pissed off and quit achieving.

But the incapable find themselves becoming unwilling.

Even if they don’t see it, the capable and willing sure do.

My friend E used to say of an incapable and unwilling type: “You can be nice and dumb, or you can be a bitch who gets things done. But don’t be a dumb bitch.”

I will leave it there because I have work to do. But I will hope and pray that some more capable and willing types come along … and that there is salary money free to snag their capable and willing selves when we find them.

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