Working with the Net Gen

net gen blog header

I knew that our company was founded by a younger team. I knew they insisted it was part of the company’s strength for delivering fresh thinking. And over the past few years every so often I would come across articles on Generation Y, so I had a vague idea that there were some new technologies out there…Twitter check. Facebook check. And not to sound like a granny, but (in my own mind at least) I’m not that much older than the Net Generation. Plus I’ve only been out of the technology loop for a few years writing a book. So I thought …how different could things really be now?

I started to get a clue about the revolution that had taken place when I talked to my boss about writing this blog. Now, because I consider Gen Y to be roughly people aged about thirty three and under, Mike and I are part of the “older” group (Because…uh…I just turned thirty four. Like last month.) Another way of saying this is that we were both around when Microsoft was the Google of its day, and Jeff Bezos was just another online retailer begging for loans. (Caveat— just like trees are good for oxygen, books are good for the soul so I was always rooting for them to make it, and look at them now.) Anyway, I told him I wanted to write about my experiences here at Fresh Consulting, including stories about the personalities of the people who work here. Mike was open to the idea, but had some valid concerns: “Are you sure? What if you offended somebody? Maybe better not.” Nevertheless, I decided to bring it up at our next meeting just to see what the reaction would be.

The team loved the idea

The rest of the team instantly and absolutely loved the idea, explaining that opening ourselves up online as a company, and hence as individuals, was critical to our brand and growth.

When I said, “But you do know that in order to make it interesting, I’ll have to …um…sort of make fun of all of you. Talk about your quirks and flaws.” Nobody batted an eye. (It helps that they all have a good sense of humor about themselves.)

“In print. With nicknames. Stuff that potentially your grandchildren could dig up someday.” I continued.

They all nodded. They even looked slightly puzzled. Brent, ever helpful, (but maybe slightly sarcastic), even said, “Do you want us to tell you some embarrassing stuff about ourselves?”

Learning cool new ways to communicate

As far as I can see, in my own personal opinion (NOT meant to be a scientific poll or anything), here are the coolest ways of communicating in descending order of importance:

  1. Tweets (When Mike wants to let me know something, he will tweet it from his phone so that it also goes out to thousands of people in addition to me. He wouldn’t dream of using that funny ringer thing, and talking to me. Instead his message goes out to thousands of his followers because calling me individually might be considered a tad intrusive.)
  2. Twitter Direct Message
  3. LinkedIn Email
  4. Facebook Email
  5. Texting
  6. Instant Messaging
  7. Regular Email
  8. The Telegraph (just kidding)
  9. Phone (Used mainly for communicating with your grandmother. Heck, even your mom’s on Facebook now!)

Learning the New Style

Just a couple of my observations about the “new world” so far: To me, it seems that now…

  • The Office Is Silent As Landlines Go the Way of Vinyl Records: At Fresh Consulting, we don’t even have a central office phone number.
  • While the Mac and iPhone Are De Rigeur, The People of This Generation Are No “Crackberrys.” Just like past generations had to learn that too much television is not good for you, this new generation has learned to handle information overload and – hopefully at least – keep it in its proper place. Yes, it’s cool and expected to have information at your fingertips, but it better ADD to the discussion. You need to show respect. Like shoulder pads and big hair, eye contact and being fully present in the conversation have made a comeback.
  • Selling Is A Lot Like Dating You have to court your prospects now over time, not just PUSH your messages out to get them to buy from you. Subtle casualty is key here. Rather than shower people with phone calls, instead you should initiate in social media channels and put out a lot of good content. Let that speak for your company and PULL them in from the various channels they engage in. Like dating, it’s better when your clients come to you naturally. In a nutshell: basically you should make sure you look good, and play a little hard to get.
  • It’s Desirable To Be Creative or Geeky. Ideally You Are Both. When I tell people that I’m also a writer, I can see them visibly relax, while letting out their breath. Now admitting that you’re not just a corporate type of person is way cool. It’s even good to be a nerd. Jeff, our founder even insisted that we added that we are “geeks” on our home page. Check it out at
  • The Techies Look Like Musicians Who Like To Surf Instead of horn-rimmed glasses and pocket protectors, everybody now seems to have long curly hair, and a laid back ‘tude. Think Matthew McConahey, not Bill Gates. In the dot com days, everybody bragged how long and hard they had worked the night before. The new generation hides their yawns and the blankets in the office and pretends it was easy. But just like it takes hours to get the natural look in makeup, there’s a LOT of hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make these projects look effortless. But you can’t admit that anymore. You need to suck it up, and hide the bags underneath your eyes.
  • You Should Be Careful To Mind Your Meritocracy Manners This younger generation believes that all levels can contribute and that all have equal value. This mindset is even continued when they come into contact with the people whose job it is to wait on you. For instance, I was at a networking event at a coffee shop and some (older) gentleman left his cup on the table to be picked up by somebody else. Uh oh. Not cool. Everybody talked about it, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a picture of the dirty coffee cup tweeted all over the place. Poor guy!

It didn’t take me long to realize the world of work has changed irrevocably, way beyond just making sure your online profile is up to snuff. The Net generation has done a good job of taking the Internet to the next generation and beyond, in a way that’s benefiting us all. And I’m all for openness, honesty and collaboration…and I’ll pray that nobody posts unflattering pictures of me on Facebook.


Kate London