I’m Not a Good Person. I’m Not a Hard Worker. I’m Not Special.

Being born in 1981, my childhood was fully infused with an overdose of the teachings of the Care Bears and The Get Along Gang. I’m referring to that mantra that all adults (and Smurfs) seemed to further convince us of, during that Ecto Cooler drenched decade:

You are special. You can do anything you put your mind to.

You become anything if you truly belief in yourself.

And then I graduated college and got a real job. And then I got married. And then I had kids.

Responsibilities and reality started kicking in, and gradually, I felt less and less special. Less of the good person I always believed I was. Less of the hard worker I assumed I was. And just not quite as special.

Yeah, all that Lucky Charms marshallowy goodness talk… turns out it was all fluff.

The real world doesn’t work that way. The real world wasn’t as easy to win over as I expected it to be.

Instead, I actually have to prove myself on a daily basis to compete with the free market, even if that struggle is not obvious in my weekly highlight reel on Facebook.

The real world doesn’t care if I think I’m a good person, a hard worker, or special.

What does it even mean to be a “good person”? Compared to whom? Compared to the people who are better or worse than me at certain things? Compared to an ax murder or compared to a missionary in a 3rd world country?

What does it even mean to be a “hard worker”? Compared to whom? Compared to everyone who shows up to work and does their job too?

What does it been to be “special”? Even as a kid, I started realizing that if everyone is special, then by default, we fundamentally cannot all be special.

Instead, here’s the truth that I officially had taught myself by age 34; when life finally started making more sense to me:

It’s not about being a good person, a hard worker, or special. Because all of those things are just relative to everyone else around us.

And if I live my life thinking that I truly am a good person, a hard worker, and special, then ultimately, I’m more likely to believe that I deserve things in life.

That is one toxic word.

Deserve.

It’s always a red flag when I hear someone say it now.

A person who thinks they deserve something is going to feel entitled. When they don’t get those things they think they deserve, they will become disappointed. And when they become disappointed, they will blame other people; not themselves. And when they blame other people, society just isn’t going to take that “victim” seriously.

In the end, the victim creates a reputation and lifestyle that causes them to miss out on opportunities than others are now given instead.

Because what it’s really about is being the most dependable and available person. Not the good person, not the hard worker, not the special person.

What it’s really about the person who’s willing to do those tasks that no one else is able or willing to do.

It’s really about being the creative person who’s willing to take risks and introduce more efficient and effective ideas.

So yes, it’s true.

I’m not a good person. I’m not a hard worker. I’m not special.

And I use that to my advantage.

 

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Am I The Guy From The Campbell’s Go Chicken & Quinoa With Poblano Chilies Package?

Am I The Guy From The Go Campbell's Chicken & Quinoa With Poblano Chilies Package?

Last night I noticed my sister had sent me a picture on my phone; a picture of who I naturally assumed was me. I figured she had found a picture of me in college or something and was sending it to me for nostalgic reasons.

But as I looked closer, I realized that actually wasn’t me… it was the guy from the front of the package for Campbell’s Go: Quinoa With Poblano Chilies.

That’s when I read the text she sent with the picture:

“I saw this at Walmart and thought it looked like you… if you liked quinoa a little TOO much!”

So I did what any other Millennial guy would do in this same situation: I posted the picture on Facebook and Twitter saying this:

“Anybody seen my latest modelling gig?”

Some instantly assumed it really was me. Others didn’t know. And a few were pretty sure it was a joke. But no one really knew for sure.

Then I created the best replication I could of the original picture to show the similarities; side by side.

I can appreciate the marketing behind Campbell’s Go line-up. I like that they are using black-and-white close-ups of Millennial (Generation Y) models to advertise a simpler, more organic feeling product.

So at this point, while there is still live activity and conversations going on in my social media circles about the similarities between me and the Campbell’s Go: Quinoa With Poblano Chilies guy, I would like to find the actual Campbell’s Go: Quinoa With Poblano Chilies guy and interview him here on Family Friend Daddy Blog.

I have a few quick and relevant questions for him. Obviously, I would like to know some basic stuff like his name and where he’s from.

From there, I’d like to know more about the photo shoot he did for the packaging. I would like to ask him about his ethnic background, comparing it to my own. And I’m curious how old he was when the picture was taken of him; whereas I am 33.

Obviously, I am Tweeting this story to Campbell’s Go and sending the link to them on Facebook. After all, Campbell’s Go is targeted to Millenials, whose culture is embedded in social media conversations.

So I would have to assume someone from their marketing will be eager to reach out to me in a few days. Let’s see if my plan works…

How To Market To An “Unmarketable” Generation Y Dad

April 25, 2013 at 7:27 pm , by 

2 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

Honestly, I can’t remember the last decade I bought any product because of an ad I saw.  Yet still, I buy things… am I unknowingly responding to ads anyway?

Even though I consider myself an unmarketable Generation Y (born in 1981 or later) dad, I will buy products based on the principles a company stands for, like Annie’s Homegrown andChobani, and I privately boycott their competitors; because publicly banning is officially uncool.

(Hint: Social justice is especially a major selling point to Generation Y.)

With that being said, I easily parted with $4.24 today on a product other than food or gas:

I bought you your first Monster Jam monster truck today. I just couldn’t contain myself!

Why did I part with a 5 dollar bill of my blow money today? Did you do something special? Did you earn it somehow?

Nope.

Other than firmly standing behind the moral principles of a company, another way to market to a stubborn dad like me is to make me believe that I am bonding with and/or teaching my child by buying the product; especially when laced in 1980′s nostalgia. (Dads love to teach their kids lessons!)

(Plus, it helps the company to lavish in the fact that I’m not a doofus dad like traditional commercials portray me, like in this Robitussin commercial.)

Well done, Hot Wheels Monster Jam monster trucks. I could have bought the vegan spring rolls at Whole Foods, but no, I bought my son a purple monster truck named King Kraze.

When I took a minute to dissect my thought process in buying you that purple monster truck, I realized that I believe the toy reinforces the masculine play time that you and I share… even when I’m not actually playing with you.

For example, I know that you will be taking King Kraze with you to bed, to dinner, and whenever you’re in the car. My spirit lives on in you through that toy. Sure, I know that sounds ridiculous, but I’m standing by it. Plus, I wanted your purple 1983 Chevy Silverado lowrider to have a friend. (Standing behind that strange comment as well.)

Yes, I love making you happy. But… I’m willing to admit I also like making small financial investments in things that encourage you to be a loud, messy, crazy, little boy.

A purple monster truck, I believe, helps do that.

So, in review, a stubborn, penny pinching, Dave Ramsey following, Generation Y dad like me will magically buy a product for his son if he believes that…

A) the company that makes the product is morally superior (not simply superior in quality) and/or B) that the product will reinforce the traditional ideas and principles that remind him of his own 1987 version of childhood and/or C) the company makes it clear that dads are helpful and important, not idiots.

Well, I guess there is a “D” too:

D) Get my cool guy friends on Facebook to talk about and post pictures of themselves with their son using the product and/or “like” the company on Facebook and have that company acknowledge those Generation Y dads’ somewhat indirect help in guerilla marketing, because Generation Y like to feel their input matters to helping a company with its marketing and sales tactics. (Twitter is the relevant social media hang-out spot for Generation X, not Y.)

But in order to make that happen, A through C probably already apply. Yeah, I’m a hard sell.

 

Love,

Daddy

Generation Y Parents Vs. Marissa Mayer Of Yahoo

March 1, 2013 at 11:30 am , by 

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

A really weird news story that has been trending for two weeks now is that Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, announced to her employees that she will be banning them from working remotely, starting in June. This didn’t go over well, especially with moms who have been working from home.

Things got even more interesting when it was revealed that Marissa Mayer paid to have a nursery built in her office, so she could bring her toddler to work with her.

There’s no need to point out the obvious double standard here.

As a Generation Y parent, I am especially intrigued and provoked by this story. It’s because Generation Y parents live by a unique work ethic.

Dr. Randall S. Hansen, founder of Quintessential Careers, published an article called “Perception Vs. Reality: 10 Truths About The Generation Y Workforce.” He helps shed some light on why Marissa Mayer’s decision especially rubs a raw nerve with parents of my generation, born in 1981 and beyond:

“Generation Y is the first generation to expect — from day one — employers to realize there is more to life than work. Just as many Baby Boomers are now discovering later in their careers, Generation Y sees work as a means to enjoy life — and life comes first. They have a strong work ethic — just not in a 9-5 sort of way. Generation Y wants work to be fun and flexible because the line between work and life is seamless. (In other words, there is no such thing as work-life balance because it’s all just one thing.) Generation Y also follows a mantra of working smarter, not harder.

The key for employers is offering flexible work schedules, adjusting the belief that workers need to ‘put in the hours at the desk’ to be effective, and developing a work culture that is pleasant and positive.”

So for any Yahoo employees, this news about no longer being able to work from home is not cool. But it’s especially an insult to those who happen to be parents aged 32 and younger.

Something I have personally observed about Generation Y in the work force, is that we’re not good about keeping our mouths shut when we spot an obvious double standard. We have an (unrealistic?) expectation that our superiors should go by the same restrictions they place on us.

No eating lunch at our desk? No texting during work hours? Fine. Just don’t let us catch our supervisors doing those same things.

Because as Dr. Randall S. Hansen goes on to explain in ”Perception Vs. Reality: 10 Truths About The Generation Y Workforce,” Generation Y has been raised to question authority:

“While some people refer to this cohort of people as Generation Why for a reason, it is not so much an issue of a lack of respect for authority as much as it is that this group has been raised by their parents to question everything and raise questions when they don’t understand something.

This generation is very independent and not afraid to challenge the status-quo. Many in Generation Y want a relationship with their boss like the ones they have with their parents. It’s not that these folks have little respect for authority; on the contrary, they feel employers do not respect them.

The key for employers is realizing that asking questions can often lead to answers and solutions that are actually more efficient and effective. Unlike with any other set of workers in the past, employers must also provide more autonomy — and trust Gen Y workers to complete the work.”

I’m curious to see how my Generation Y mindset will affect you as my son. I am proud to be a Generation Y parent. I think you and I are going to have good, open and honest communication.

As for ever hearing me say, “Do as I say, not as I do,” well forget about it.

Question me as your dad and I will be glad to you give you an answer that is not “just because.” Learn by my lived-out examples, not just my words.

It’s very important to me that I’m a good dad… I associate that with my Generation Y work ethic.

 

Love,

Daddy

5 Token Signs of Millennial (Or Generation Y) Parents

December 2, 2012 at 11:52 pm , by 

2 years.

Dear Jack,

You are the product of twoMillennial (or Generation Y) parents.

Both Mommy and I were born a few months apart in 1981, the year that began our generation. The way we will parent you will be different as compared to how it would have been if we were part of the generation that ended just a few months before we were born; Generation X was born roughly between 1964 to 1980.

As the sort of first-born of my generation, I am constantly trying to figure out what makes us different from previous generations. After all, people say that Millennials were the first children not to rebel against their parents. That’s pretty weird…

An article published about a year ago in The New York Times referenced your parents’ generation as the “post-emotion generation… no anger, no edge, no ego.”

On the surface, it may appear that we are sheltered, narcissistic, jaded by the polar extremes of American politics, motivated by recognition more than money, obsessed with green living, and easily inspired by social justice issues.

I’ll be honest- it wouldn’t be a stretch for someone to describe me in any of those ways. Actually, I wonder how else I appear as a stereotype to other generations of parents.

In fact, I’m so curious about the traits of my generation, especially as they relate to being parents, I have decided to pinpoint 5 token traits of Generation Y parents:

1. They give their own kids either extremely classic or extremely original names. For every Jack there is now a Brody and for every Sarah there is now a Hadley. Millennial parents tend not to name their kids the popular names of their own generation, like Chris and Matt for boys, and Amanda and Jennifer for girls.

2. They want their kids to be, or at least seem, unique. That’s part of the explanation for some of the bizarre baby names popping up these days. Millennials were raised to believe they were special; evidently more special than every other child of The Eighties who was told that. Now, Generation Y parents subconsciously still wish this extra dose of uniqueness on their own kids.

3. Millennial parents are overly self-aware of their parenting style. Everybody’s watching, all the time, thanks the social media outlets and blogs we plug into on a daily basis. We make sure no one can ever question if we’re involved enough in our kids’ lives. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? To spank or not to spank? To helicopter parent or not to helicopter parent? Those are the questions.

4. Facebook replaces the necessary phone call update and proud wallet pictures of our kids. There’s no real need for us as parents to pick up the phone and update our friends and family on what our kids are doing, nor is there reason those people should be desperately curious to see new pictures of our kids: There’s a constantly updated flow of that on Facebook every day.

5.  They are really into what their kids eat. Back in the 1980s, processed food was king. Now, the awareness of disease, cancer, and obesity has caused parents to actually question what “natural and artificial flavor” means. Trust me on this, you don’t want to know. There’s a reason food companies keep those ingredients a mystery.

So there you have it, son. Hopefully I’ve taught you a thing or two about why your parents and your friends’ parents are so quirky…I mean, “special and unique.”

 

Love,

Daddy

The Millionaire Mindset of Generation X/Y Parents

June 25, 2011 at 9:10 pm , by 

Seven months.

My wife and I have a catch phrase in our house: “millionaire mindset.” Whether we are discussing an unnecessary purchase or are patting ourselves on the back for money we cleverly saved somehow, we speak our code word to each other.

It’s our way of reminding ourselves that in order to be successful with what we have been given and blessed with, we have to think with the mindset of a frugal millionaire who worked hard for his fortune.  It’s not that we are trying to become millionaires, but it sure won’t hurt if we are wise in our spending; and more importantly in our savings.

So we are not ashamed to use store brand products, to buy used stuff for our son off of Amazon.com or Ebay, and to make our own baby food for him.  We keep in mind that while name brand products tend to impress people, they are counter-productive when it comes to financially prospering in the long run. Having a child makes you reconsider your spending habits as well as your saving habits. After all, our son starts college in less than 18 years from now!

There was a time when bigger and flashier was better, when it seemed most people refused to buy store brand products; right down to their hand soap and kitchen table condiments (like it matters that your bottle of mustard says “Kroger” instead of “Hunt’s”.)

I think it’s safe to say that the modern cultural movement is now towards simplicity.  We, as a nation, are learning the meaning of “living within our means” and not consuming more than we actually need; that credit cards are the devil and that frequenting all-you-can-eat buffets are an invitation to onset Diabetes.

We get it now that money isn’t everything- and more importantly, that it in theory it’s a waste of time to spend our entire lives chasing more money, only to find that by the time we retire there may be nothing left for our own social security.  Money is simply a necessary evil, as far as I’m concerned.

My wife has said several times since we’ve been married, “I could never be a millionaire because I wouldn’t know what to do with the money- I would end up giving it all away.” Exactly. Because no one person can legitimately spend anywhere near a million dollars within a reasonable amount of time, without giving a good portion of it away.  Sure, it can be invested, but ultimately, it’s a matter of asking what the end goal is in investing that money.  I personally just don’t see much of a point in investing in a bigger lifestyle only to encounter more overhead.

Who knows, though?  Maybe all it would take is a million dollars to prove me wrong.  I doubt it though.  I prefer a laid-back, low maintenance lifestyle.  I don’t like extra noise even if I’m wearing the most expensive ear plugs.

I’m sure part of the reason my wife and I have this generational mindset is because we were both born in 1981; the crossroads between Generation X and Generation Y.  We were told our whole lives that money isn’t everything, but being happy is.  So we believed it.  And I guess we always will.

Free buzz cut courtesy of my wife… priceless.

buzz cut

How Teddy Ruxpin Subliminally Taught Me the Generation Y Trait of Being Motivated By Happiness, Not Money

Whether you are motivated more by wealth or happiness, it’s still a pursuit.  No guarantees for either one.

Maybe Teddy Ruxpin is the reason why today I prefer vests over neckties. Back in the Eighties, all my friends would put their fingers and pencils and crayons in their Teddy Ruxpin doll’s mouth when he talked- but my mom wouldn’t let me do that to mine because she said it would mess up his mouth. She was right. My Teddy Ruxpin worked fine for years and years after my friends’ Teddy Ruxpins ultimately broke down for good. Since Kindergarten (1986) I have been having brief flashbacks of this live-action puppet after-school special of The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin I saw once where he and Grubby fly in an airship to find a hidden treasure and get captured by mud people.

Recently, some hero posted the one hour made-for-TV movie on YouTube. I watched it all the way through. Teddy Ruxpin and his friends discover a room full of golden treasures but choose instead to take only these crystal necklaces with words like “truth”, “honesty”, and “bravery” on them. Because “these things are the real treasures”. Right. Of course.  Then the bad guys take the real treasure (gold), but because their attitudes were wrong, the tresure vanishes into thin air once they touch it.

Golden treasures are typically a let-down in movies and TV shows, for the most part at least. From what I remember about most “treasure hunt” movies, the heroes ends up choosing some kind of abstract moral principle over the actual golden treasure, which is actually a trap or illusion for the villain. The only semi-exception I know of is the movie Without a Paddle. They get the moral treasure (which in this case was “life itself”) and also $100,000 cash, which the two richer friends give to the poorer friend.

Usually I am pretty quick to pick up on recycled plots, but it’s taken me until just recently to realize this one about “the real treasure”.  Interestingly, in my research about Generation Y (people born from 1982 and 2001), I learned that one of their main characteristics is that “being happy” is their main motivational drive, not money or wealth, as is the case with many of the older generations.  I would have to believe it was this common “love/life/joy is better than gold” theme in entertainment during the Eighties and Nineties that has something to do with the way Generation Y is wired.  Though I was born in 1981, I was still born close enough to the generational switch that I admit my main motivation in life is happiness, not material wealth.  And maybe that’s dangerous- because for some people, finding financial success could actually be easier than finding perceived happiness.

“The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”  –John Milton