Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Be Honest - You're Faking it, Right?

It has been one month since I said goodbye to a congressional campaign in Georgia and headed to the noble North (and if one more person here tries to tell me that Northern Virginia is the South I will cause a scene).

I've accomplished a lot. I've bombed a few interviews (thanks, DC traffic), bitten my tongue through networking events, and learned quickly who the nice people are. They weren't hard to spot.

There is nothing glamorous about networking. Unless it is done in an upscale restaurant in a pretty dress and shoes that hurt really badly when worn the eight blocks to the metro. Then it's still not glamorous.

My problem is that I have an increasingly low tolerance for bull.

Recently, a certain congressional campaign wisely decided to fire their campaign manager after months of watching him fail to meet benchmarks or accomplish even basic tasks that I've seen interns handle with ease. The fact that it took them months to recognize that he was steering his plane into a nose dive straight to the ground is galling. Thankfully the strength of the candidate is keeping them afloat and we're 19 days away from what I expect to be a victory. But I find the whole scenario to be a very good lesson on how easy it is for certain members of my generation to fake their way into responsibility they totally don't deserve and couldn't aspire to handle.

After the Greatest Generation we have the Baby Boomers, who insist that paying their dues and climbing the ladder is the only way to prove their worth, learn, and build a career. And it's taken a lot of effort from the people of my generation to prove them wrong. The truth is that the Baby Boomers have accidentally engendered a generation that can run circles around them in the productivity realm. We were raised doing fourteen things at once all while listening to music, effortlessly navigating between four browsers at one time, chatting with our friends, and monitoring our cell phones. Then we grew up and applied what we consider very basic principles to our work ethic.

So after watching 20-somethings get results while refusing to take meaningless work, the old school realized that this new generation is chock full of creative, ambitious, fresh-faced men and women with the loyalty of golden retrievers and the libertarian wits to get the job done with little directive.

The challenge comes in weeding out the fakers. Because the fakers ruin it for all of us.

It might look like I'm drinking a latte and playing on my macbook in a Starbucks, but in an hour I've sent out a newsletter to 300,000 people and generated ample copy for a contract client with no notice. All while google chatting four friends, tweeting my two cents about a gubernatorial debate, listening to The Shins, and paying attention to the types of footwear women are wearing in DC right now.

But who knows - the guy next to me who touts an LLC and a wealth of social media savvy might just be playing on Facebook.

So I have two questions for the people of my generation, and I'm just going to ask them: Why do we reward the tools? Why do we accept them in our midst?

They come in, nicely dressed, with the ability to sell ice to an eskimo, and bring with them the overwhelming stench of "trying too hard" and a whole lot of BS social networking jargon that nobody over the age of 15 should actually use. To me, they are painfully easy to spot and I bite my tongue to keep from screaming "GET OUT! GET OUT OF MY CAREER FIELD!"

And people in my parents' generation, unable to tell the difference between someone who is actually smart and someone who just knows how to pathologically lie their way in the door, hire them.