THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Hey, boomer: Get out of the way
The book I'm reading right now is by 25-year-old Ryan Heath: Please Just F* Off, It's Our Turn Now: Holding Baby Boomers to Account.
The book is great and offers incredible insight into what young people have to offer at work and why baby boomers need to give them more space.
It's published in Australia, so it'll cost you $40 to buy it from the publisher and have it shipped, but it's worth it. Here are some of my favorite parts.
The premise is that baby boomers can't afford to retire, and even those who can afford it don't. Oh, and all of them refuse to admit that their ideas are outdated. Heath spends most of the book showing why boomers are making their institutions irrelevant to young people. Even if you don't agree with him, you can't help learning something about what's going on at in today's workplace.
Young people are basically refusing to take part in baby boomer institutions. Heath focuses a lot on Australia, where young people are leaving in droves. But a lot of his points resonate in other countries where young people have shown little interest in the all-consuming corporate life that baby boomers have institutionalized.
Heath describes his generation with great one-liners like, "We've been to IKEA more than we've been to church."
His ability to describe his generation is reason enough to buy the book. Young people will cheer at his ability to frame them in an extremely positive light. His enthusiasm for new ways of looking at old issues makes it difficult not to get excited for the future.
A lot of what Heath writes about the workplace is completely obvious to his age group but will shock older readers. For example, "A third of us are now scanning the job sections and registering with headhunting companies on the first day in our new jobs."
Heath also does a great service when he tells boomers to change how they deal with young people. He warns, "We lead a much grander lifestyle than our incomes suggest, we solve problems in a flash, and we've read about the latest dumb thing George Bush said before most of you have even turned up at the office." He describes the power of blogging and being part of a networked community: "We want conversations, not lectures."
Heath shows that a networked community and a generation that refuses to heed lectures means that hierarchy is dead. "You're playing the wrong game if you think power and influence and even fun are about being in control anymore," he warns. "Hierarchies can't cope with the new complex world we live in unless they're rigidly enforced as in the case with the armed forces. But they aren't needed for most things in our lives. Networks are designed to negate hierarchy– their members collaborate rather than compete."
The U.S. and Canada support a large industry of baby boomers selling themselves as experts on retaining young employees (who usually leave within two years). This books drives home how absurd it is to train boomers on how to deal with 20-year-olds. At some point, they will have to start hiring people like Heath.
He has great insight, and he's brave to dis the boomers when they still control almost all media outlets. Generation X might bristle at the unbridled self-confidence and optimism of Generation Y. But the Xers will be relieved to see that finally young people have the demographic force to take the boomers to task. Ryan Heath is the beginning of a tidal wave.