Opinions & Advice

Your future Manager

Your future manager is a multi-tasking fiend. She or he will embrace every form of social media and communicate with staff by email or instant messenger.  Technology use will be first and foremost on his or her mind, with an understanding that it doesn’t always work perfectly, but incorporating technology into processes is crucial. They will demand it!

I am the oldest of 6 and also have quite a few younger cousins that I’m very close to.  They range from 5 years old to 26.  The females spend a lot of their free time on MySpace and/or faceBook and are texting fanatics.  The males also spend a lot of time playing XBOX Live.  They all play team sports, take lessons for a particular musical instrument, read books, and do fairly well in school if they’re engaged that semester. They all have a cell phone (except the 5 year old), a computer (or three), their favorite flavor of social media, and over 900 channels of television to chose from along with an arsenal of movies to watch & videogames to play.

When I get into conversations with my parents, aunts and uncles about the comparisons of what the younger generation has and does compared to what they did, it always boils down to amazement at how the kids can do so much in so little time.  Some of these kids have been wrongfully diagnosed for ADD because they can’t multi-task in school – they don’t have Attention Deficit Disorder!  But they do their homework beautifully because they can do their school work while watching TV and messaging friends without worrying about a teacher getting upset.  They’re addicted to multi-tasking.  I am too….as I’m writing this article, I’m also watching the news, following Twitter & faceBook on TweetDeck, and responding to emails.  I don’t find it amazing – I think it is just normal.

When we can’t multi-task, we’re bored.

My parents, on the other hand, focused on one thing at a time growing up.  Playing with friends in the neighborhood or doing homework was pretty much all they could do after school.  They didn’t have a TV in their bedroom and computers certainly weren’t around.  They had to walk into another room to use the phone and they also had to stand next to that rotary dialing thing.  They weren’t bred for multi-tasking.

I’m going to take things a step further.  Have you ever played a video game?  Yes, you probably have. Have you ever played a video game online with other people working together toward the same goal?  If you’re over the age of 40, chances are you probably haven’t. The current main-stay game on XBOX Live is Call of Duty 4 where you are a special ops soldier for the US and you take on missions to stop terrorism.  It is fast-paced and requires that you know your weaponry quite well in order to complete a mission effectively.  There are goals and achievements to be made and you have to pay attention to quite a few different things all at once while playing. Then throw another 20 players into the mix and you’ve got an unpredictable human element compounding all the other stuff going on.

My point is, these kids who are playing XBOX are learning to strategize, memorize, plan, and work with others to achieve a common goal.  Sounds like some damn good training to me!

Yeah, there’s that gory video game element, but is seeing something in a video game that you can see on the news or in a movie harmful enough to deny these skills that are being honed?  I guess that’s a different topic for a different blog.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that there is a gap of misunderstanding between the younger and older generation.  I want to point out the good in what our kids are doing today, and say that you need to be ready for what they’re going to do to the workforce in the next 10 years.

Next up:  Hiring based on which RTS game someone plays…..just kidding!

Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...
"doing a lot" and "being productive" are not necessarily the same. The challenge I see with the generation you have described is that they lack skills when it comes to detail and task-completion. Sure they are busy, but are they producing stuff.
You bring up a good point Jon. I can only look at my own family and their friends, so we could be the exception, but I certainly see good things!

But like it or not Jon, these kids are your future.
I think we should have a Dealer Refresh clan on Xbox Live. Who's up for some COD4? :)
That's funny Justin! We should call it the DealerRefresh Future Training Clan (DRFTC). By the way, my handle is AxPoindexter.
all the cool kids play cod4 on PS3 :)
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • May 7, 2009
Interesting way to look at it Alex. So so so TRUE!

You're right..I can be sitting there on the couch with the wife watching a little TV and I actually start to feel guilty because I could be doing 4 other things while I'm watching TV BUT I know the wife will be like "Why do I have to fight with your computer or Blackberry for your attention?????".

Meanwhile..we just sit there and watch TV. She could at least be rubbing my feet...right? LOL
Pretty good article Alex. I usually have 10 windows open on my computer to go along with my texting and phone calls from the blackberry and the land line. I have a 17 year old who watches anime while monitoring his very popular blog and listens to music while on Myspace, twitter and the otaku boards. I have a 16 year old who online games and flips between my space and watches T.V. I have an 11 year old who constantly watches cartoon network while gaming on his laptop to adventure quest, exteel, ragnarok and world of warcraft. Finally my wife is a MySpace, FaceBook, Twitter Pro all while checking her favorite website Toxic Ice or playing all manor of puzzle games. I would say that we fall into your scenario. However I can't get my kids to do shit. They are a multi tasking non-productive force to be un-reckoned with and I actually feel sorry if they ever have to accomplish a non-technology task to earn a living.
Great article, but I'm still dazed from my 4 year old son asking me for a DS this morning. He told me "I need it to text Jared." Jared is his 5 year old friend down the street. Both of them should probably learn to read before texting.

In any event, this generation is definitely absorbing and processing multiple forms of media simultaneously, and at earlier ages than ever before. I remember rolling my eyes at my dad because he couldn't master Asteroids on our Atari 2600. Now, my 8 year old destroys me on Wii and looks up cheat codes for games on Google. I'm way too young to feel so old...

These guys are growing up in a world of instant information gratification. I don't think it's a matter of them demanding technology- I think it's more a matter of them growing up in a world where 24x7 technology is so deeply interwoven into their lives that to not have the same relationship with technology in their careers will be unimaginable.
  • E
  • May 8, 2009
You forgot the ipod playing your favorites songs in the same time.
I feel more effective, because I'm feel aware of everything in the same time. I feel connected to the news, my customers, my friends and family.
really, how much time do you really spend conversing directly with your other half compared via phone or email.
I'm a working machine; my laptop multitask, so do I.
  • K
    Kim Clark
  • May 8, 2009
Great article Alex and I couldn't agree with you more about this generation (as a Mom of 12 and 13 yr olds). The one thing that needs to be pointed out, in my opinion, is what do they do once they have the customer. They have all these ways to communicate and get someone in - but - what do they do then? They may have it all over us 'old folks' in technology BUT they can't look anyone in the eye and have an actual conversation!! I joke with my girls and say "if you are interviewing for a job - if you do nothing else than look the interviewer in the eye and have engaging dialog - you will get the job."
All of this technology creates a "put in - get out" mentality and conversation has gone away.
Maybe. . . we can have 1/2 of this generation speak and the other multi task???
Skip, I'm sort of with you on this one. The concept of social media has really caught on, I'll give you that. I get emails every day asking to join someones network. And, as technologically skilled as I think I am, I haven't played the social media game. I don't have a Facebook page or Twitter. It seems like it takes a lot of time to keep up with everything.

But I do know that goals, planning, and plain old hard work is still the caveat that makes most people successful. I know dealerships that will pay $5000 per month for a website to attract more leads, but still won't do the hard work necessary to convert those leads into sales.

I also know dealerships that have a normal website, buy leads from third party providers and sell just as many vehicles, without the big expense.

Technology is great, I love it. But nothing will take the place of hard work and excellent skills.
I have to share that the military started figuring this out some years back... back in my younger days as a Naval Aviator, they were always preaching "situational awareness" as there were 14 things to think about and do at the same time while flying, and "multi-tasking" was the norm. The younger generation coming into the service today has done much better in this situation and - believe it or not - the multi-tasking they learned while playing video games, using their cell phones, etc - has prepared them well... Don't underestimate these folks!
I grew up playing keyboards. Not piano, keyboards. I wanted to play 2 or 3 or 4 heck as many as I could get behind at once. Horns on one, cello on another, organ, electric piano, and of course the Mini Moog.(now I am dating myself bad) I work much better under pressure, doing several things at once I think, because of the years of trying to play an orchestra electronically. I too, am addicted to this stuff but my 14 year old son and 16 year old daughter can do everything I am doing with an i-pod headset on, texting with one hand and writing a report in the other while surfing myspace. Their brain grows expotentially and at first I was worried
that they would have some nervous tics or disorder from the overload.
They get straight A's, sing in Chorus and play basketball too. In my opinion, they are fine but it makes me tired.
Kim Clouse
Alex's post makes me think about having an Apple II in first grade and where it has gone since then. I am 30 and I have always enjoyed the evolution of technology. Like I enjoyed Oregon Trail then and COD4 now. People who are not productive do not keep their jobs. People who understand the role of tech in their work and personal lives, and use it wisely, will be successful now and in the future. They are already out there, leading a brave new world of multi-taskers right now. I hate doing one thing at once, how boring!
Right on Alex!

My only comment is "Tweet Deck is cool" except for the annoying sound it plays when somebody tweets or direct messages.
“doing a lot” and “being productive” are not necessarily the same.

This is so true. Some days I feel like I'm doing a million things at a time but not being very productive. But usually I'm helping other people be productive, so I guess that counts!
Alex’s post makes me think about having an Apple II in first grade and where it has gone since then. I am 30 and I have always enjoyed the evolution of technology. Like I enjoyed Oregon Trail then and COD4 now. People who are not productive do not keep their jobs. People who understand the role of tech in their work and personal lives, and use it wisely, will be successful now and in the future.