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Things Really WERE Better When You Were A Kid

February 6, 2014

It’s an age old argument: “Today’s music is just so much noise. Music was better in my day” versus “That music is old and tired. Today is much better.”

Generally, the people arguing are at least 30 years apart: Think a child with music blasting loud enough to hear their iPod without headphones and a parent who’s idea of dancing is a twirl around the kitchen with a mop. Or a grandparent vs some young whipper-snapper.

But, I’ll settle the dispute right now. The music really was better when you were a kid. . .or younger. I’ll explain in just a minute.

Here’s the business tie-in.

Every organization has a history. That history includes events and processes. The events might have been one time happenings or the they might be something that happens on a fairly regular basis. Either way, they are something that people remember.

How many people did you talk to today? And by “talk to” I mean have a conversation with? Ten? Fifty? A hundred? Do you even remember? And that’s the point. We pick and choose what we are going to remember. Yesterday I talked about the fact that I recently passed my PMP exam. (Holding My Breath. . .For Four Months.) It was a very memorable day. And one I don’t think I’ll forget. However, even now, just a couple days later, I can’t tell you what brand of computer I was using. I met the woman who checked me in and we had pleasant conversation, but I can’t recall her name.

We pick and choose what we are going to remember. So what’s this have to do with business?

Simple, businesses do the same thing. We remember memorable events. (That sentence might actually be redundant.) Many of the experience I share on this page are things that have happened to me over the years. Datacenter CSI: The Day The Servers Died has become one of the most popular. It happened years ago, but the details are still fresh in my mind.

We tend to quickly forget those events and people who are not memorable. (Again, I’m pretty sure I’m being redundant.) When I think back on my Microsoft career, for example, I’m going to remember some really good events like getting a promotion (How You Get Promoted), and some really bad events like when we thought terrorists had bombed our company meeting. (I still need to write about that one.) But, I’m not going to remember much of the boring stuff. You can use this collective memory as a company.

When my oldest boys were 10 years old, they went on a campout to the foothills above our house. The Webelos leader and I also went. It poured down rain that night. So bad, in fact that the boys tent got flooded. Fortunately it was summer and other than getting wet, they weren’t otherwise hurt. The Webelos leader was a new leader. He was convinced that the campout was a failure.

Not at all. In fact, in a few months they will remember this as one of the best campouts EVER.

Sure enough, two years later, my boys, now Boy Scouts were on their way to a campout and the weather looked like possible rain. One boy said,

Remember that campout when we were Webelos where the tent got flooded?

Yeah, and our sleeping bags got drenched!

Yeah, that was so cool!

So, give your teams opportunities to build positive memories. It will give them a common experience to draw on during rougher patches.

So, what’s all of this have to do with music and the difference in generations?

Easy. We also have selective musical memories. If you turn on the radio today, you’ll hear dozens of different artists. I’m a country music fan, but the same experience applies to other genres as well. Of today’s artists, only a handful will have staying power. George Straight has been recording for decades. But, many of the artists will be one-and-done. So, thirty years from now, the artists we remember will be the ones who had staying power. The good ones. The ones with talent. Just listening to the radio today, you don’t know who those people are going to be.

The decades silence all the mediocre and poor bands. So, when we look back we only see the really good acts. In country music it would be people like Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams Sr. There are many more, but we don’t remember the one hit wonders or the merely mediocre.

When we compare “then” and “now,” the past will always win. Because we stack the deck and we only save the good ones.

Some might say I only hold this belief because I’m a fan of old country music and I’m pushing 50. To those people I say “Get off my lawn!”

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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  1. Oh, I don’t know Rodney – I still remember disco! (grin)

  2. Well. . . the Bee Gees were . . . but Saturday Night Fever was. . . .

    Okay, you might be right on this one.

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