Friday, April 10, 2009

The Force of Nature

I was introduced to most of the young people who populate these posts by a man I will call The Force of Nature (The Force). The Force is....just that...a force in the world.

It is hard to describe The Force, he is a well-known, accomplished human being. He has taught in the most prestigious schools, he has been an executive in the most cutting edge companies, he is a sought-after speaker and writer, he is a respected economist and expert on creating technology. Plus he is a gastronome and wine aficionado. An evening with The Force is not something one easily forgets!

But the most striking attribute of The Force, is his ability to create and sustain friendships and family relationships. It is a wonder to behold how this man who travels 95% of his time keeps current with all the folks he loves and who love him.
Certainly he is a generous man, sharing the bounty his life has brought him with all in his sphere. His generosity is legendary and everyone who knows him has a story of extraordinary munificence. He has more friends than any person I have ever met. They are devoted to him, because he is devoted to them.

The Force has a special understanding and soft-spot for twenty-somethings. He and I share a delight in watching them evolve (see The Future Kings). The Force makes different contributions to them than I do. He takes them along on his travels, introducing them to people and experiences they would have had to wait another twenty years to have access to. It is not unusual to get a note from him saying "Joe is going to Copenhagen with me" or "Brad is meeting me in South Africa" or "Matt has never been to Japan, so I am taking him along next week".

The Force makes contributions to their lives that are so rare and exotic that I believe they should be able to put on their resumes that they are a "Friend of The Force" and move to the head of any employment opportunity line.

I, on the other hand, mostly contribute to these young people by making fun of them, passing out guilt, hurting their feelings and smacking them in the head. Oh, and sometimes I make them soup.

I am sharing all of this because The Force is a big part of the lives of these young people and he will appear in these posts. Also, because when someone is unappreciative of the generosity of The Force I am stunned. Today's post is about one of those occasions.

I am a fan of the Millennials. I love them. I think the world of baby-boomer adults does not give them nearly enough credit. But, the Millennials are not all shiny and bright beacons of a better future. Some of them are just assholes. Let me introduce you to John, the bad.

The Force and I were working together (well, he was the boss and I was trying to keep up) at an entertainment company focused on the college market. The average age of the employees was fetus...really, we had 90 employees and an average age of 24. That is a young work force.

One day The Force asked me to bring a young man of his acquaintance from another state to work in the company. This is how I met John, the bad. Now, I did not know that John was John, the bad when I first met him. I would have called him John, the shy at that point.

John-the-shy-soon-to-be-John-the-bad, knew The Force through the most byzantine set of relationships. Someones brother house-sat for The Force and that person or their second-cousin had this brother or cousin or cell-mate that had just finished film school and needed a job in an entertainment company. Well, hey-presto, we just happened to have one.

John-the-shy-soon-to-be-John-the-bad was relocated to the DC area. We gave him a job, set up a film studio for him and gave him responsibility for an important new part of the company. He did a marvelous job. He is talented. Creative. Semi-hardworking. He began to create a video experience for our users that was on its way to being first-class.
John-the-shy-soon-to-be-John-the-bad was also really working the shy artist thing and I soon learned he was sleeping his way through the office. He hit on anything with a pulse. Always with the lowered eyes and toe stubbing the ground.

One morning,
when John-the-shy-soon-to-be-John-the-bad had worked with us for three months, he came into my office and closed the door. John-the-shy-soon-to-be-John-the-bad had something he needed to discuss. Turns out that he wants to quit and take a part-time job with another company. I listened. I nodded. I understood.

Then I suggested he call The Force and tell him of these new plans.

"What?" says,

"Have you told The Force?" I asked.

"Well, no" replied
John-the-shy-soon-to-be-John-the-bad, head down, toe stubbing.

The Force was in another state raising money for this little company. Part of the value proposition The Force was pitching was exactly what John-the-shy-soon-to-be-John-the-bad was working on. Having him bail on us at this point would not be good.

"Well, then, I want you to pickup the phone and call him. Right now, from my phone. I want to hear you tell him that you are bailing".

More toe-stubbing and head lowering followed..."I can not do that" said

Now, it is at this point that my memory gets a bit fuzzy. I know that there was yelling and dropping of the F-bomb (me) and crying, cowering and hiding in the parking lot (John the Bad).

I am not proud of my behavior that day. I should not have used vulgar language and I should not have raised my voice.

I should have just kicked his skinny ass all over the parking lot. The putz.

The Force is The Force, partially because he allows himself to be vulnerable to others. His bigheartedness should not be taken for granted. All of the other young people understood that. John, the bad, believed he was entitled to all of the beneficence. And that is what made him John, the bad. He was the only one, among 90+ twenty-somethings that took the opportunity for granted.

By the way, John, the bad stayed with the company. Avoided me at all costs in the hallways and went on to produce some fine content for us. But he is and always will be John, the bad to me.

And this is why I love these Millennials...because the ratio of great-young-person to asshole is about 92:1.

1 comment:

  1. Heh. Heh. Heh. I remember hearing of the above incident via the infamous Ruckus rumor mill.

    Scary post though. Before I got to the part about film school, and had only read about the "shyness" of the main character of your post, I feared that "John" might be a synonym for myself. (How narcissistic of me?! Which reminds me of a discussion we had regarding another Ruckus millennial.)

    I liked this post though. It was like an annual review that came four years too late.