09.19.2013 09:53 AM

Generation Y: between posting photos to Facebook showing how fabulous you are, please read this

It’s brilliant.

I love the use of funny graphics (although not the crypto-racist “gypsy” designation, dating one of the Romani people, as I do).

Personally, I acknowledge that I had totally amazing parents, and was given plenty of opportunity.  But I still was required to work at McDonald’s at age 15 if I wanted spending money, and I still had to take out lots of student loans to get through university.

My Dad also gave me great career advice, free of charge, which I heeded.  If you are deciding on a career for yourself – and I was, eyeballing law and/or journalism at the time – do your best to make sure they aren’t career paths leading to a dead end, he said.  So, after putting in some time at the Calgary Herald and Ottawa Citizen (and not because I foresaw the Internet or whatever), I figured the traditional media was an industry going down, not up.  Same with law: the law schools were handing out way too many diplomas, and – from my perch at the Toronto and Ottawa law firms where I toiled – lawyers weren’t heeding the complaints clients were making, increasingly, about huge fees.  Too many lawyers, not enough clients: not good.

Generation Y, here’s my advice to you, gratis: you are indeed special, but that does not relieve you of the obligation to work your ass off.  Nor should you ignore the warning signs all around you: that is, if something seems like it’s too easy, that’s because it probably is.

Do what makes you happy, and do what you’re good at.  That way, you’ll be happy to come into work, and you’ll frankly be amazed that someone wants to pay you to do something you love.

Oh, and get your head out of your ass, too.  It’s a tough old world, and it doesn’t take prisoners.


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    frank says:

    Well said. I don’t know you from Adam, however, it looks like your kids are in good hands.

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    "The Other" George says:

    You took the words out of my mouth. Brilliant, indeed. I’m going to be sending this to a number of my colleagues – we constantly joke about the prevailing attitudes of many of the Gen Y’ers at our office and this articulates it quite well. Thanks for sharing.

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    deb s says:

    great commentary of the egos created. I think the gen next up are even more special, their parents attend interviews and fight on their behalf for grades, raises etc, well into their 20s.

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    Kelly says:

    Marry the boss’s son or daughter. It’s always been the fastest way to the top.

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    Jason says:

    As someone looking to make a career change, this is good advice. If you love something, you’ll find a way to make money doing it. And, you’ll be better at it than forcing yourself into a career that you don’t love.

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      Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      The old cliche of “find something to do that you love, and you will never work a day in your life. And the money will come.”

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    The Other Jim says:

    Thanks for sharing this. An excellent read that I would have otherwise missed.

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    Sean says:

    Very interesting. I have mixed thoughts on this, as a card carrying member of this generation. Contrary to this article, I think a lot of us actually feel very “average”. Many of us are unhappy by being bossed around by boomers who never tried, are less than average and mentally checked out of their careers about 20 years ago. Boomers are a romanticized generation and are more typical than they like to believe. Yes the 60’s and 70’s were exciting, but most boomers were just along for the ride. Many of the boomers I know would be in the EI lines if they were looking for work today and would be quite satisfied about it.

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      Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      Ya, but there is just so damn many of them!

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    Luke says:

    Yeah, this is a pretty condescending and sanctimonious generalization. At least that is the tone I’m getting from it.

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    Beth Higginson says:

    Good advice!

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    Eric Weiss says:

    That is a great article. I like this one too. I send it to any aquaintance that sits around pouting that life isn’t fair.


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      Sean says:

      “life isn’t fair” I always like to respond with “fairness isn’t real.”

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    Fraternite says:

    It totally wasn’t planned for me, but I think the 3 years in my early 20s when I didn’t live at home and worked at the Esso for $7.50/hr were good for me. I don’t think I was ever as bad as the so-called GYPSY, but the experience nonetheless opened my eyes.

    I had to come back to my parents grovelling because I just couldn’t sustain myself and I had some paltry (but it didn’t seem paltry at the time) debt, but it did provide a good reference point for how I could have turned out — and it does make me a lot happier and grateful whenever I think of what could have been. It certainly was motivating, to put it mildly.

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    Steve says:

    For the rebuttal:

    “This state of affairs does not exist because we’re entitled and have simply declined to work as hard as the people that birthed us. American workers have changed from generation to generation: Since 1979, the alleged Dawn of the Millennial, the average U.S. worker has endured a 75 percent increase in productivity…while real wages stayed flat.

    Those changes are blips on a timeline compared to the massive, psyche-altering vicissitudes of American Industry, its self-Taylorization to the point where profit-making and shareholder value have been maximized in ways that Morgans and Carnegies and Vanderbilts couldn’t even have conceived — in ways that have stiffed workers and the families they can no longer afford. Since ’79, the top 1 percent of earners in America has seen their income quadruple.”


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    Massimo Savino says:

    Really? I read this a couple of days ago and completely hated it. We’re almost the same age, and I think this article is just rubbish.

    ‘ “follow your passion” is a catchphrase that has only gotten going in the last 20 years, according to Google’s Ngram viewer, a tool that shows how prominently a given phrase appears in English print over any period of time. The same Ngram viewer shows that the phrase “a secure career” has gone out of style, just as the phrase “a fulfilling career” has gotten hot. ‘

    This is splitting hairs of the worst order. Look at the scales used! Going from 0.0000005 *percent* no less to 0.0000002 pct is ‘going out of style’, and from about 0.00000036 % to 0.0000012 % is ‘getting hot’ ??

    It’s fact-free analysis. It’s also *exactly* the same kind of thing you might see in Cosmopolitan – just change the terms: ‘Women think like this. Men think like that.’ It’s one thing to make these assertions, and totally another to back them up with something resembling evidence. Which the author doesn’t do. This says a lot, don’t you think?

    Another way to think of it would be in terms of the anecdotes that result – not from the author, but from the responses below the article itself. I used to work in postsecondary education, and one of the things that struck me was that whenever an article in the G&M or Star or Maclean’s would be published on the subject you’d get this storm of responses, all totally ignoring any factual evidence — if the authors bothered to include any — in the piece itself and rambling on and on and ON about **their own personal experiences**. Looks the same to me from here.

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    Philippe says:

    That’s solid advice.

    Personally speaking, I can also attest to the fact that there is no greater satisfaction in the world than building a business from the ground up. 10 years later, after 15 almost-failures, multiple stressful & sleepless nights- it’s fun to sit on the beach & enjoy.

    My advice is: no jobs out there? Go ahead and create your own. We need more entrepreneurs in this country.

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      Vankleek Hill says:

      Just don’t be an entrepreneur in the used car industry. JT disapproves.

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    Ty says:

    To start, “generations” are bullshit designed to sell books and create headlines.

    If we’re going to go this route, I’m not going to take lessons from the generation that brought us the “Age of Aquarius.”

    One thing that’s often glossed over when judging this “generation”: We can’t fuck up.

    The amount of competition in every sector (which, since women are involved far more, has increased), and the fact that every piece of data in our lives in computerized and kept on record, means that any of the “forrays” of previous eras are permanently a part of our lives, and all the easier to disqualify us from jobs.

    So, we have people who mess up in life, and get stuck in horrible psychological/ states because they have had drilled into them that the have to be perfect.

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    frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

    Having worked with a number of generation “Y’ers”……..its a fitting moniker…..for a great number of them(not all) when asked to do a task by a superior……the usual response is “why”?…..

    There are a few that make me think that when I am old and grey, I may be in good hands……but for the overwhelming majority, I simply think that my future involves Soylent Green…….

    However, since it has been my generation that has overwhelmingly laid waste to this planet, and left a huge mess for them to sort out…….perhaps its simply payback…….

    Aging Old Fart Boomer

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    Cameron Prymak says:

    The article had graphs and drawings and other stuff that made me realize people reading this at work may actually think they’re working because you could distill the essence down to GBS’ one line,

    “Youth is wasted on the young.”

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    Tim says:

    It’s a reoccurring phenomenon for a senior generation to righteously decry the antics of its emerging successor(s). While some maintain a level of adaptability to change, most of us are destined to “get stuck in our ways” and proclaim the wrong doings of our children because it wasn’t how we went about things. Congrats on your contribution, Warren.

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    Danny says:

    I just have to share my Gen Y experience.
    I am managing a very big job right now, and have 3 very smart Gen Y workers. One is really outstanding, and is willing to take on any task, work hard, accept feedback and improve his skill sets. We raised his rate by $5 an hour a few months ago and I see he will have a great career. The other two, while just as bright, bristle when I ask them to do some tasks. I asked one to take on a task and he told me ‘That doesn’t align with my career goals.’ They are technically competent, but sorely lack in empathy and Emotional Intelligence. Now these are things that can be learned, but when I speak to them about taking different approaches or how they can improve, they get aggressively defensive. I think they have never been criticized for anything in their lives.

    I asked one ‘How to you generally try to improve on a skill set?’, trying to find how I might coach him. His responce was “Do you think I could be a better manager?!’. with an incredulous tone. I am thinking , well hell yes, you are a very junior manager. I said, ‘Well yes, look at your peers who have 10, 15 or 20 years experience. I can put them into very tough, politically challenging situations and be confident they can handle the work.’ He replied, ‘I could do those jobs, you just won’t put me into them.’ And I thought, this young man is totally delusional.

    I just don’t know where to start.

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