Monday, December 16, 2013

Your Age Does Not Determine Your Success (No Matter What Middle Aged Old Farts Say)

Permit me to be bold.

Well, I'm not actually being bold, I'm just telling the truth. It's just I have the audacity to speak it, which comes off as being bold and arrogant, but still, it is the truth when I say:

Not one,



boss I've ever had

was smarter or better than me at either his/her job or mine.

And this is an important point to make, because as many of you youth are finding out, you are being challenged ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE NEAR your full capacity in your careers.  You are working jobs that are way beneath your skills, education, and training.  And if you don't find out why this is, it WILL lead to decades of confusion, angst, depression, frustration, and anger.

Thus, in order to have this mental peace and sanity you need to understand what is going on in a macro-economic sense to understand the environment you're in, why you are in a job that seems to be going nowhere, and dealing with bosses that are seemingly illogical, constantly lecturing you, and are never happy.  And to do this we need to compare two very different economic environments - WWII and today's economy.

To this day I am still amazed at just how much responsibility young men (and women) were giving during WWII.  Fighter pilots at the age of 17 (because they lied on their applications), 22 year old captains in command of men.  Majors who haven't even made it to their 3rd decade of life.  And let's not forget what governments on both sides were doing with their youngest, best, and brightest.

The Manhattan Project had tons of 20 something men.
Hitler's rocket program was headed up by a then 28 year old Verner Von Braun.
And I don't think anybody back at home on either fronts were required to have a bachelor's degree with "master's preferred" in order to work in the factories and help in the war effort.

But that was the thing.  There was a war going on.  All countries on all sides NEEDED everybody to produce at their absolute potential, at their absolute best.  Because if they didn't, then it would spell the end of that country.  To that end, all the hurdles, hoops, and other bullshit was eliminated.

Don't care if you're not related to the boss, you are the best welder.  WE NEED YOU!
Don't care if you aren't sleeping with the owner, you are the best secretary.  WE NEED YOU!
Don't care if you are only 18 years old, you scored well in flight. Here's your P51.  WE NEED YOU!

It was the closest we've ever came to a meritocracy.

Now, contrast back then to today's economy.

The economy is growing 40% slower than it was back then.  There is no war that threatens the country to galvanize the people.  Thus with neither growth nor compunction to use and employ everybody, including our youth, now people are employed based on an increasingly petty amount of irrelevant traits.

It's not merely if you're the best.  You need to network and have an in.
It's not merely if you're the brightest.  You need to "have adequate people skills."
It's not merely if you are the best man for the job and can replace your boss at a fraction of the price. You have to pay your dues.
And it's not merely if you're more than capable. You need to answer the idiotic questions of a math-impaired 25 year old HR ditz.

Ergo, our economy is not a meritocracy like it was in WWII as much as it has become a bureaucracy.  And advancement and success is no longer dependent upon skills, excellence, ability, and potential, it is based on the (veritably) psychotic and sociopathic laws and rules the current managerial class sadistically applies.

This is why you go to college, become amazingly skilled, but are then hired to do a job you could have done when you were 13.

This is why you ram heads with management because all you want to do is work hard and get promoted, but your boss constantly and miserably fails to provide clear and concise leadership, and blames their failures on you.

This is why no matter how many jobs you get, you aren't "having bad luck."  It's just that employers are that lousy.

And to top it all off they drown you in a sea of propaganda telling you:

"you just aren't cutting it"
"you just don't get it"
"you just don't take your job seriously"

confusing you to think you are the one with the problem.

The question is, is it worth it?

Is it worth wasting your entire youth going to school, and then further busting your ass off for another 6-8 years getting advacned degrees and certifications, so that by the time you're NEARLY 30 and have easily spent 25 YEARS IN SCHOOLING AND EDUCATION and THEN and ONLY THEN does society allow you to start working?  Only then are you deemed "worthy" to file and fax?

It's the biggest lie (bar social security, medicare, Obamacare, and socialism) told to the younger generations.

Here's the truth kids.

The modern day "employment system" is so dysfunctional, so bureaucratic, so corrupted, and so nepotistic, it's no longer worth participating in.

I don't care what they tell you about working hard and "putting in your dues" and a "steep learning curve," the pay is plain just not worth it.  You will NEVER get promoted.  You will NEVER be challenged. And you will NEVER make the money that will make your quarter century of education-slavery worth it.  It is a scam, it is a lie, and you will easily waste 50 years trying to pursue it only to get laid off and die poor.

However, the true testament as to just how impossible modern day employment is, is not the bum deal you get.  It's the fact that SELF-EMPLOYMENT is not only much easier, but statistically more likely to bring you financial success.

Look, if a 17 year old kid who lies about his age can pilot P-51 fighter planes, then you can start a business.

If a 28 year old can build the first successful ICBM, then you can become self-employed.

And if men in their 30's and build an atomic bomb, then you can come up with a better mousetrap.

But you can't do that with $70,000 in student loans, blathering idiotic professors stealing 4 years of your lives in pre-requisite classes, bloviating Pointy Haired Bosses keeping you in the mail room until you're 27, and more idiotic professor holding you hostage in an MBA program until you're 33.

The key is to play a split strategy.  Yes, keep one toe in the "traditional route," get some schooling, do what you need to do.  But at the same time it is VITAL you immediately start pursuing a business venture of your own, starting as early as the age of 18.  100% of your efforts will go to benefit you, as opposed to the .2% of your efforts that a corporation allows you to have.  And while there is no guarantee you'll be successful, and it is likely you'll have to try multiple businesses before one sticks, in the end it is a much wiser and better strategy than putting 100% of your faith in the "corporation" and being a good, reliable "corporate man."


nick eu said...

captain, how about if we could sponsor you through donations for each quality article we read ?

I just got this idea, after reading previously some affiliate thing you kept updating.

People don't need, always, to buy from affiliates or to click on advertisements, Google failed, sorry to be the first to say. But, some, people can offer incentives for reading good articles. In a way this can tell you what articles we consider of quality, and you will improve.

For example, I could donate at least one dollar for this article, you can compare. And its not always about finding new information, but just that I like it. One expression that I like from what I encountered " why you're not being used to your full potential."

Paul, Dammit! said...

So... it sounds like you're saying that the employment market is heavily influenced by market forces?

This makes me thinkof my Damage Control instructor when I was taking the prep classes for my captain's license. In WWII, maritime schools turned out officers in 18 months and immediately put them to work as 3rd mates. They would cross from the US to the UK to Murmansk, a 1 month voyage, a week to unload and 12 days back to the US. If they survived (about 50%), they would immediately sail again as 2nd mate. If they survived (50%), they got 90 days vacation, and sailed again as chief mate. If they survived (50%), the next voyage would be as captain of the ship. They had 21 year old captains who had saved or lost a half-dozen ships after torpedo attacks...

Attrition is still the most reliable way to rise to the top in any career, isn't it?

Mr. H said...

Say captain, you should also tell the younger generation that they have a better chance at making money by gambling rather than going to school and working for someone. That's what I should have done and would have done if I was young again. I would have learned to play poker or played the hedge fund at wall street. Because let's face it, the odds are stacked against you when you gamble in education and working in the job for someone else.

Stephano said...

You have to understand that the people you work for where not born idiots. They started out just like you did, young and full of ideas, but over the decades as they gained experience and more responsibility they found they had less and less time to do the job they loved and spent more and more of their time in soul crushing meetings where they had to sacrifice everything they wanted just to get a few things they needed. They became mindless cogs in the rudder of a giant ship with no idea where they are going.

I see this all the time. People that were once great designers, architects, and engineers, transformed into useless beurocrats, paper pushers, and cheerleaders for hopeless causes. Which is why I refuse to be promoted. I refuse to become a senior or a lead or a mentor. I like what I do and refuse to become one of them. Why give up what you love to become something that is meaningless? It's not worth the extra money.

Anonymous said...

Oh my yes. The longer that command is postponed the greater the loss of nerve. You speak of WWII: the senior commanders were in their early 40s.

And so it goes. We read, Alexander "Hamilton became a clerk at a local import-export firm, Beekman and Cruger, which traded with New England; he was left in charge of the firm for five months in 1771, while the owner was at sea", and while Hamilton was 16 years of age. Alexander the Great conquered much of the known world and was dead at the age of 33. Napoleon was crowned Emperor of the French when he was 34. Etc. etc. etc. etc.

LordSomber said...

The key is LEVERAGE.

I started out as a go-fer for a business, Quickly moving up the ranks as turnover was high. Amassed skills along the way. I butted heads with mgt. all the time, but these weren't men who moved up through the ranks themselves, but clowns who were parachuted in. With a wide scope and range of skills, my leverage regarding ability in multiple positions insured job security against petty mgt. who couldn't see the forest from the trees.

Cap has issues with bullish!t degrees and I can't blame him. But the whole time nobody knew I had a degree in field X and was self-taught in a related craft. Actual work results were what spoke loudest.

In my day-to-day job, what I've taught myself and learned in the workplace amounts to 90%, and what I learned in school amounts to 10%. But that 10% is a foundation I don't regret in the slightest.
Kinda like learning the alphabet before you can do any decent writing.

Anyway, in your workplace, make yourself as invaluable as you can to establish leverage against crappy mgt. decisions. I didn't plan this so I suppose in retrospect I lucked out in a way.
Keep the company's big picture in mind and you'll easily leapfrog over the useless toads.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, America, you've become the Vogons.

And you're starting to look like them too ...

Anonymous said...

At 27 years old I took the red pill. I am now 30. I mentor at my fraternity house and am a chapter adviser, instilling what I consider an education that is sorely lacking to our young men. These kids (really men aged 18-22) are want to complain, bitch, moan, and otherwise find a reason or someone to blame as to why they aren't bettering themselves or those around them. Perhaps taking a queue from President Obama. Either way, I relate the story of my deceased grandfather. At age 16 he lied on his application and joined the Army, attending basic, then advanced hand to hand combat, then jump school, then eventually Ranger School. At age 18, in Tennesee, he was picked for the 5th Ranger Battalion and participated in the landing at Omaha Beach, the Battle of the Bulge, the Battle of Brest, and the rest of it. After a couple years in theater, he made it home in one piece, and got a bachelor's in mechanical engineering. At 26 he owned his own home, had a wife, and a young family. Better man than I.

And these pussies we are growing now have to be yelled at to go to class, clean their rooms, and get a part time job. It's pathetic.

Shenpen said...

The widespread glorification of entrepreneurship sounds like a specific feature of American culture to me, and is probably based on the cultural trait of believing in material progress, in beint enthusiastic about new and new products.

And enthusiasm towards your product is a key for entrepreneurial success.

What should we do who come from cultures that generally do not have such a deep enthusiasm for material products as Americans do?

I use all kinds of things but there is zero - zero! - products I feel enthusiastic about. I cannot have this deep seated belief that for example any software is worth dreaming about. I write software because I am paid to do so.

I mean, there is utility in having better micetrap but it's nothing to get all beaming about.

Entrepreneurs need to be all beaming about their products or else they will not work hard enough.

I have heard that is often a good test to think over what to do if you was rich and then do that anyway. I sure as hell would not care about making new products! I don't know what I would do. I guess at first I would become depressed, because not having any pressing need in my life I would have no desires left and no motivation. I do things because I must, not because I want to. I guess I would buy a lot of books. I guess I would buy land in the countryside, and basically make my empire there. All sorts of DIY projects, making a vegetable garden here, a chicken coop there, a playground for the kids, whatever, I guess that would be an OK way to while away time.

Rick said...

Cappy, This article proves you don't have to wait until you're 18to start a multi-million dollar business.

Anonymous said...

My dad recently passed away at 90 (he was 50 when I was born). He was 17 when he started pilot training and went to the Pacific theatre, WWII.

But he also said he didn't know anything until he had over 2000 hours ("of course, before that I thought I did"...). He told my husband that when he went to pilot training. And after the first 2000 hours, my husband agreed.

It's all relative. I'm a nurse, and speaking as a nurse experience is by far the best teacher for a great many things. My first year as a nurse was scary stuff (and I did outstanding on my boards, and best in the class comprehensive finals by far).

leeholsen said...

"The key is to play a split strategy."

thats what i'm doing. i have no belief that the usa will be anything but a survival of the fittest from here on out as entitlements and debt have killed it.
so, i am putting away the 9 to 5 paycheck and working on my own to not need that but have no doubt that upward mobility and valuing your people are long gone.

Aquinas Dad said...

At 17 I enlisted.
By 19 I was in charge of millions of dollars of equipment, had the equivalent of a 4 year degree (amazing how fast it goes when you don't have a 'take all these liberal arts classes to broaden yourself' attitude), an above Top Secret clearance and was in charge of the lives and deaths of other men.
When I got out at the age of 25 I had briefed presidents and heads of state, gone to war with the FFL, and more besides.
I talk to a guy about a job in management
"Sorry! we won't even talk to you without a 4 year degree".
Two things are going on, IMO
1) The modern man in the west conflates 'management' with 'leadership'. 'Management' is a set of skills that anyone can learn and with which you grow better with practice an experience. 'Leadership' is a set of character trained that you cultivate.
Very different things. A great leader may suck at running a weekly scheduled meeting. But a yutz with an MBA can figure out if a meeting is being run according to the Franklin Covey method, he can'r recognize a real leader.
Besides! The Boomers built their entire lives on rejecting the character traits of leaders! They *HATE* leaders! All that is left is managers, so management is a skill, skills take time and surprise! Boomers are better because they are older!
2) Boomers (and because of them many Gen X'ers and Millennials) are steeped in Marxist thought (even if they identify as something else) and are thus viewing everything through the lens of class. But in the democratic West, especially America, how do you signal/gain/etc. a higher class?
Well, military officers have to have a degree. Lawyers and doctors, too. Now we have three generations that think the mere having of a certificate called a 'degree' = higher class.
It doesn't make sense, but it IS based on Marxism.
So a diesel mechanic that owns a home, a car, and a business and is debt free/ Lower 'class' than a girl with a 4 year degree in puppetry with $100k in debt, living with her folks, and never held a job at 25.
A guy with a Master's in Art History from an Ivy(a field so saturated he will *never* get a job in it) with $500k in debt, living at home and working at Starbucks? Higher 'class' than a guy with a 4 year from a small local college, a wife, 2 kids, and a house.
[remember: i am discussing their opinions, not reality]
This explains why women are so willing to waste their prime childbearing years in school - it is in an attempt to be 'higher class' than other women. This is why they reject decent men who are blue collar.
This is why feminist/female pundits discuss men not going to college as if that, in and of itself, were somehow shameful.
This is why women of average or below looks, average or below intelligence, and average or below attitudes in their 30's can believe men are 'intimidated by their intelligence' - to these women an overly-expensive masters from a state school was had specifically TO BE intimidating!
So it is in the workplace - if you actually focus on skills and merit well; what are the people who invested so heavily in (poor) education and (worthless) seniority going to *do*?
Work on their character?!
As if!