Why Millennials Should Embrace History – 1987, a year in review


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The danger of focusing on hype (like your Klout score, for instance) is something we repeatedly, generation to generation, and collectively forget. Today, we have Millennials freely exchanging ideas and thoughts in public venues such as Facebook and Twitter. It’s almost like the free love of the 60’s, just do it. What could possibly go wrong?

Step back just 20 or so years (the results of free love had just surfaced). Back then, I was in my 20’s, a borderline Boomer/Gen X’er, and I thought I could take on the world. But, there were others that were really doing it, like on Wall St. Yep, you saw the movie, and you may have read the excellent book Liars Poker. Have we forgotten how all of that turned out? Let’s see, I was just moving to New York when Black Monday hit, Oct 19, 1987….

  • Analysts from Moody’s were clambering to get my job as a bank examiner with the government
  • Stock brokers who were making millions a year, lost everything
  • The real estate market then folded in on itself.

These people propped up a system that was inflated by their own hype. So, I have to ask you…does that sound familiar? Today, we have wide-eyed Millennials who think they can take on the world. Hey, more power to them. But, keep in mind the dangers of ignoring reality, history, and believing your own hype. It could come back to haunt you, no matter how smart you think you are. You’re missing one thing…the experience of hindsight.

True story. We were all sitting in the board room of a bank we were reviewing when one of the ladies on the team began droning on about her new boyfriend, the bond trader from Shearson/Lehman. She was talking about all the wonderful things they would be doing, the places they would be going, until my friend Hank, a new recruit and 20 years my senior asked “With what?” Buffy, that’s what I’ll call her (and called her then) repeated that he was a bond trader. Hank mentioned that the market had just crashed and these guys, if they were employed, weren’t making any money. “But they make quarterly bonuses”, she said. “Not anymore they don’t”, he replied. She just didn’t get it. I was embarrassed for my generation.

So what could possibly go wrong? After all, these old people never had social media, so what do they know? Let’s use terms the Millennials will understand:

Amplification – This is a relatively new concept, at least in terms of being silly, deceitful, mean or slimy. The fact of the matter is, ultimately, you’re gonna get called out. In the olden days, this was fairly muted and could be frustrating, especially in a corporate environment where seeming idiots were being promoted. You’ve all heard of the Peter principal, but I’m talking about the slimy people where were cutthroat and didn’t believe in adding value, only stealing value.

In the age of Amplification, all of your bad traits (and mine) are out there forever for the world to see. Even those calling deceitful operators out in public (like me sometimes) can be viewed negatively. But in the end, it’s pretty obvious that these new media could be the downfall of a generation. My nephew has put stuff out there that has me very worried for his employment future, for instance. Fortunately, he is not being amplified beyond Facebook, but that’s bad enough.

Network – The youngin’s are out there (I may be old to some, but to my 4 year old, I’m Dad) are building networks faster than was ever possible before. Heck, I’m doing it too. Does this mean they will all be successful? I think you know the answer to that. We can’t all be equal. So, while we may not have yet seen how a network can come crashing in on itself, I’ve already spotted some early abusers and have been watching them closely. It’s really sad when my generation reaches out to them and they ignore us. It’s worse when some from our own generation, at last, see a new opportunity that has always evaded them, and forget to put their parachute on.

Reach – How are you creating this reach? Publicly? Are you essentially bullying brands into engaging you because you’re loud and obnoxious? Do you think you sound smart when the shallowness shines through? These are things to worry about because the hype is almost over, and the content is now being re-evaluated. Are you a thought leader, or do you rely on mimicry. Do you take ideas from others, or do you highlight their contribution to your growth. How far can you reach all by yourself?

You should ask yourself that every day.

In closing, I’d like to point out the dangers of labeling your success, with the above factors, with a score. You can use numbers or letters, but in the end, your score could very well be “L” even if it’s 70, if you know what I mean. The people who will never have anything of interest to say will simply be ignored. The ones who…

  • Lie
  • Steal
  • Cheat
  • Are arrogant
  • Are deceitful
  • Are disingenuous, Machiavellian and basically worthless souls

…more people are watching you today; businesses, future employers or future customers. You can’t hide who you are forever, because someone will out you and not only will your world fold in on itself, those remaining will have to figure out whether the social media your operated in enabled your bad behavior, or whether it enabled the people who brought you down. That will be an interesting discussion and I can’t wait to engage in it.

Oh, one more thing, in the slightly altered words of Carly Simon (do follow), you’re so vain, you probably think this post is about you…don’t you, don’t you?

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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