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Monday, June 1, 2009

I'm going to stereotype you and tell you YOU're biased if you disagree

Brazen Careerist does it again.

On Friday, they ran an article by someone with little expertise in the topic, explaining how to manage different generations. It was full of condescension and ignorance. Examples:

Schedule flexibility is also important to boomers - not that they’ll ever be late, though. I am pretty sure it all boils down to a Baby Boomer not wanting to be told what to do by someone younger because seniority is what they believe still rules in the workplace and, naturally, because they’re older they expect to be respected.


Gen X: Indeed they too need to feel respected because they’re close enough to GenY’s age to still kick your ass remember what it’s like to be your age and take advantage of what they know you don’t know.

(Typos are hers here and in the excerpt below.)

Okay, so whatever, this is typical Brazen Careerist BS at this point. But today, she posted a follow-up, defending herself against all the people who left criticism at her original post. Here's her conclusion:

it identified to me that there are people out there who instantly react negatively when confronted with generational stereotypes. By exposing what possibly could be viewed as a bias an condemning me for it, the commenters in turn showed their biases as well, without even realizing it.

In other words, rather than consider that the commenters criticized her for a reason, instead she accused them of just being biased. We're biased against ... bias, I guess.

Is anyone else getting sick of bloggers with no experience giving out terrible advice that could actually harm people professionally? And in this case, it's going to harm the author when a future employer finds it. Brazen Careerist might be the worst of it, since it's obviously encouraging its writers -- most/all of them inexperienced new workers -- to be provocative rather than to be right or to write what they know, as we saw here and here.

It's one thing to be mistaken originally; it happens to all of us. But when people point out how your thinking might be mistaken, attacking them is a really weird response. (Notice I'm not following the author's lead and attributing this kind of thing to Gen Y -- frankly, no one I know in Gen Y behaves this way, so I'm not sure where they're finding these writers.)


HR Godess said...

I think any person who is looking for advice on the web needs to proceed with caution. I wouldn't come to your website and follow your advice right off the bat. I read your website regularly for a good period of time to see what you were about. Granted, I'm an HR person, so I tend to be more on the careful side.

Most of what I read on the Brazen Careerist is entertaining to me and not factual. I do understand that others may not take the same approach as I do but I would highly recommend that anyone looking for advice proceed with caution until the information can be verified as credible.

Anonymous said...

I want to hear a Gen Y who lives with his/her parents tell me that his generation doesn't need security...

youshouldonlyknow said...

I kind of think of it as some sort of wading pool. We all make mistakes when we are young, but these geniuses have to deal with whatever the consequences of what web archival will bring. Hopefully, it won't hurt them too much in the long term, and some of them might actually be success stories - but I think that if you are dim enough to take some of this "advice" without caution, you probably deserve the outcome.

Jim said...

I agree. I had high hopes for that site, but have been disappointed more often than not. Every generation flys out of the gate with all the answers, hell I know I knew it all when I graduated from college! My advice, it's fun to be controversial, but don't write anything you can't defend with a little think I like to call facts!

Rosezilla said...

The writing on BC is really, really bad. I have to say, I never really got to the point of anger with the subject of the post, since the whole thing was written so poorly. She obviously missed the class in school about topic sentences, followed by arguments, followed by a conclusion. Not to mention, spelling and grammar. It's hard to feel anything but pity for folks who can't write their way out of a wet paper bag.
Penelope should loan out her editor, but maybe his head would explode....

greymous said...

Have to agree with some of the other thoughts expressed. I read BC occasionally and only for the entertainment value. If I want advice from someone with little to no real world experience I'll just ask my 9 year old. He knows everything about everything already! :)

The points made are simple common courtesy along with basic people skills.

Charles said...

Actually I believe most readers of blogs can see through that kind of BS and, therefore, are not harmed by it. So, I don't see that as an issue

What is a harmful issue is that there are many recruiters and others in such "positions of power" that think this way and do stereotype job candidates and employees.

They often then claim that it is a "personality conflict" or not a good "cultural fit." As if somehow or other those words excuse their own ignorance.

As for writing such nonsense, I am not sure that it would hurt them. They can always claim that it was the "angle" they were told to take when writing the articles, especially since that blog seems to be such drivel on a regular basis.

The bottom line which is so often missing nowadays - treat others respectfully, with courtesy, and as individuals.

dave wags said...


To be honest, I'm getting a little tired of how seriously you're taking the folks at that site-- you're lending them some cred & ad income by responding as you do, when they don't deserve so much as a mention on a blog of your caliber.

A post of the quality you quoted isn't worth the digital space it's on.

Here's hoping that I never see another tit-for-tat argument of a foolish, "in-the-first-place" argument on your blog.

Amy said...

I really enjoy these posts when AAM gets angry. They're entertaining and I like seeing the Brazen Careerist stuff called out when it's deserved.

Write what you know. If you're going to write what you don't know, don't be defensive when you're called out on it by people who know more than you.

Anonymous said...

Write something publically, then get criticized, then claim the world doesn't understand you or you were only joking.

I hate that site not so much for the advice (I doubt many people take it seriously), but for the fear people will think all young professionals are really such cop-outs with an inflated sense of self--yeah, I'm worried about stereotypes all right, and BC does nothing but reinforce them. What an embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you should take them that seriously. Even though there are some inaccuracies or broad statements in the article, the article isn't so horrible that's it worthy of a shout out. Generational issues are one of those things that nearly every site and person has an opinion on, and it doesn't do an article much good to be wishy washy and not commit to a stance. Doing so allows conversation for or against the article, as is evidenced here; by writing about and linking to the article in question, that is exactly what makes such things more trafficked and popular among search engines.

I didn't explain myself very clearly because I'm getting hungry.

Just Another HR Lady said...

I honestly don't read Brazen Careerist anymore, it reminds me of reading the National Enquirer, just sensationalism.

Anonymous said...

If you think that article was annoying, you should read their article entitled "Successful Old People Should Stop Being Selfish And Retire".

Kerry said...

I only read the stuff by Penelope Trunk now...none of the other ones. They just piss me off.

BC is kind of like watching one of those talk shows back in the 90s, where people would go on and agree to do paternity tests, or pull each other's hair and lift their shirts, or confess to all sorts of weird kinks. On the one hand, you wonder why the hell anyone would agree to put themselves out there like that...but on the other, you feel bad for them, being exploited like that for ratings.

Wally Bock said...

I used to follow the Brazen Careerist as part of the process of picking top business blog posts every week. I don't follow any of them anymore. Penelope, IMHO, works so hard to keep her "outrageous and provocative" image that quality and relevance often disappeared. The other BC stuff has pretty much always been a font of misinformation and defensiveness. There are too many good blogs to waste time on those.

Ask a Manager said...

Maybe I just need to remove BC from my news reader so that it doesn't cause me the occasional paroxysm of incredulity and frustration. I just keep thinking that you can respond with reason and influence someone's thinking. Is it time to conclude that in this case you cannot?

Ooooh, but it pisses me off.

Anonymous said...

Weren't you like that when you were fresh out of college? As a member of the "don't trust anyone over thirty" generation, I certainly knew more than my hidebound elders. Didn't you tell everyone who would listen - and some who wouldn't- how backward your parents' generation was compared to your own? I'm convinced that generations are far more alike than different. In a few years the brazen careerists will be wringing their hands in frustration when the next generation coming fresh from school with no real world experience tells them how old and foolish and narrow minded they are.

P.A. said...

Oh, my... I had to post a reply agreeing with you. I could forgive the first article, but the second, no way!

Kelly O said...

I've never bought into that "don't trust anyone over (insert arbitrary age here)" way of thinking. It's just good solid common sense to focus more on what you can learn and where you can find some common ground rather than trying to push a new idea on someone just because you're younger/just out of college/ think you have it all together/ whatever.

I removed BC from my daily blog reading because it became too much - too many ill-written posts with too many typos and too many defensive authors who seem to be too concerned with backing up their own point to observe what others are saying. I agree the focus seems to be on provocative and different simply for the sake of being different, which is not always a positive thing.

It's really a shame, because it could be a great venue, but I just don't see credibility, or a reason to accept what's presented as good career advice. (Not that I consider myself a huge authority either, but there's a litmus test of common sense that accompanies most things, at least I think. Even new and different ideas.)

class-factotum said...

Weren't you like that when you were fresh out of college? As a member of the "don't trust anyone over thirty" generation, I certainly knew more than my hidebound elders.No! I wasn't! I was scared to death I would screw up and that everyone would figure out I didn't belong in my job, so I tried to keep my head down and learn what was going on. I knew I didn't know how to run things better.

At the age of 45, however, I am convinced I should be running the world. :) Or at least McDonald's.

Jack said...

I used to read only Penelope's work, and even that has been very irritating (the past two posts specifically).

1. Most recent post:
The gender gaps prevalent today - no more glass ceiling, no more salary gap between men and women, and sexual harassment is merely a legal issue (AAM, what do you think?)

Instead, the current gaps are that a. women don't get paid enough at start-ups,
b. they don't get enough oral sex, and
c. they don't get enough fun.

(almost seems that Penelope needs more money, sex and fun - all of which are in her own hands, and she should stop complaining!).

2. The post before the latest one - "conflict of interest doesn't apply to blogs". For example, PT got paid by LinkedIn to say that they are good and that people should use the services of LinkedIn, but PT believes that she doesn't need to disclose that she was paid by them.

Of the 100+ comments here, 90% of them blasted her unethical (illegal?) behavior. This barely got any response from her, apart from that Hollywood actresses do the same too.

BC (PT only - never read her brood's blogs) are out of my career advice folder (in my blog reader) and are now in my miscellaneous entertainment section.

Jack said...

By the way, AAM, you really need to publicize your work more. I find it more level-headed and useful, but it definitely needs far more publicity.

BC gets that right better than you do. Unfortunately :-(

Ask a Manager said...

Jack, please prepare to marry me.

Her thing on gender issues seems born of really limited experience -- or unwillingness to see past that experience. I'm willing to believe it's not an issue in her company; it's not in plenty of workplaces now. But of course there are still tons of workplaces where it is, and it's silly to dismiss it as a non-issue just because it's been a non-issue for her.

I suspect it's not so much lack of empathy as it is a desire to be counterintuitive, provocative, etc. But often her writing is so beautiful that I don't even care.

"Miscellaneous entertainment" section might be good advice.

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad I'm not the only one who thinks the writing on BC is terrible!

Dan Bobinski said...

I've thought for a while the writing at Brazen Careerist has carried a certain "fluffy" element to it, and I'm glad it's not just me that notices it.

And, sadly, as you point out, honest disagreements there aren't treated respectfully. We need more good management blogs like this one!