Thursday, May 22, 2008

Me fail English? That's unpossible.

While the Babyboomers are rekindling their summer of love spirit as they ease into retirement, Generation Ipod is getting it's first at bat of the real world. The outcome? They struck out swinging in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded.

The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans. Unfortunately that generation, myself included, has a huge cliche of a flaw: they are utterly unprepared for the real world, or at least the world our parent's generation is leaving to us. Mostly because we were never allowed to fail.

Everybody gets a trophy. First place, last place -- doesn't matter. Everybody is a winner, everybody gets to play and it doesn't really matter what happens as long as you have fun.

Go to a Little League game sometime and watch the parents wearing the specially made T-shirts with their kid's name and number on the back. Kids are kids, and adults are kids. Child worship has created a generation of parents who go through life fearing rejection.

Our kids can't fail, and they can't be exposed to disappointment. If our kids are disappointed, then we have failed as their keepers.

If they do fail, we'll just change the language of failure until it becomes success.

And oh, by the way, there's no such thing as a mistake. We now call that a good try.

We send them into the world with bellies full of self-esteem and nothing to back it up. Years of being conditioned to feel good about themselves with no accomplishments required eventually breeds a feeling of entitlement.

It's a culture of acceptance, and that's why it's an unpopular argument to suggest a guy with carbon-fiber legs shouldn't be allowed to compete in the Olympics. You don't win many points coming down against a legless runner. [read more][]

While that story is written in the context of sports, it's implications are universal. Business and recent culture have what appears to be a very explosive intersection looming in the near future.

Don't get me wrong. The members of the rising generation are not complete failures. They seem to be able to compensate what they lack in general work ethic/ life experience with being tech savvy. The intuitiveness this generation has in regards to the digital paradigm allows them to be the lead innovators of the digital age. Facebook, Google, Napster: all created basically by college students.

While I agree with author Tim Keown and his sentiments on a philosophical flaw on how this generation was raised, I do think most are quick to label the America's newest workforce as sub-par. Perhaps they are entitled and lazy, but the Internet throws a wrench into any judgment made about Gen Ipod-- perhaps their latest performance in the real world is not a "failure", but the origins of a major shift in American culture. And I think most would agree that American's cultural fabric is being rewoven. So why are we expecting that our thinking, our ideals, the way we do business, any every other aspect of our society are not going to change along with it? It seems we are judging a new generation on an antiquated scale.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Political Strategery

Amidst jaunting words from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Hill-dawg grasping at every last straw there is, and a clear-cut division within the democratic party, John McCain is using one of the oldest tricks in the book to secure his spot in the oval office: poking fun at himself, and doing it quite well.

While the democrats have not had much time to sling mud at the republican hopeful, McCain does have some dirt on his face that will question his ability to take the rains come next January- mainly the fact that he is old enough to have known my great great grandmother. Other than being considered Bush Jr., the largest public criticism of the long-time politician is his age. America just withstood Cheney's dodgy heart and Bush almost went down from a pretzel, they are weary of another president being on their last leg. That and the generation gap creates quite a cultural division between McCain and the bulk of the voting public.

The issue of McCain's age exploded a week or so ago when Obama dropped the line that McCain had "lost his bearings" on an issue. Thought to be a dig on McCain's age in addition to a disagreement over policy, the McCain camp responded with a rather terse statement. It seemed that the election was beginning a downward spiral into a personal, bitter and, let's admit, entertaining campaign war.

At the time, it seemed surprising that McCain would jump so quickly and so emphatically over a short quip that was not a direct attack. Much like the issue of race, the more your make a big deal over it and talk about it, the more of an issue it becomes, when in reality it should be a non-issue. It seems a strategic mis-step for the McCain camp to really address the issue of age, rather than ignore it, claim it as being irrelevant, and letting the issue fade into the background.

McCain, wisely, took another route. He addressed the issue in a serious manner first and this past weekend appeared on Saturday Night Live to make fun of himself for being old:

McCain, I think, accomplished three important things through this appearance. First, by making fun of himself for being old he made the issue of him being old less important. People seem to be accepting of perceived negative qualities if the person admits to having those qualities. The line "but at least they know they are [insert negative adjective here]" is commonplace. McCain should embrace his age and make it his own unique quality. It's all about spinning the issues.

Second, the appearance is endearing and humbling. With the republican brand in trouble, McCain's character and image are extremely critical in terms of him garnering support from a deteriorating voter base. America likes a humble president. Part of Bush's appeal to the blue collar vote was that he was someone they would want to have over for dinner. This appearance connected McCain with the people, obviously.

Lastly, the people McCain connected with are the younger generation. Think about the issue of age and then think about the generation that watches Saturday Night Live. He not only made fun of his age, but did it to a younger audience that is probably most concerned about his age. McCain is winning strategically right now with the democrats still locked in the primary race.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Chocolate-coated, Freaky and Habit Forming

Well, it's about time I posted something on here that I like. This one comes from the merry land of England and was pointed out to me by Jen (spot on, Jen, spot on).

Short and simple, this is a great ad. First, the premise of commercial is hilarious. Who doesn't want to see a gorilla rocking out to Phil Collins. But going beyond that, the commercial does a great job of dragging you in. The first time you watch it, you want to keep watching it just to see what it is for. The fact that it is Cadbury may furrow a few brows, but the commercials fit the tagline a glass and a half of joy. They found a great, unexpected way to sell you on that line. Well played Cadbury.