Here are some thoughts on Generations in the Workplace, & my 5 takeaways from the book The End of Anger by Ellis Cose
I really enjoyed reading The End of Anger: A New Generation’s Take on Race and Rage by Ellis Cose. The book was a surprise in a couple of ways. I expected an excellent book dealing with the “anger” of black Americans (One of his earlier books was The Rage of a Privileged Class: Why Are Middle-Class Blacks Angry? Why Should America Care?). And I was pleased to read about the possibility of much less anger in the current era – which is a true sign of hope.
But the unexpected insight was a new way to think about “generations.” He especially dealt with the different generations by race. For black Americans, he identified three distinct generations:
• Generation 1 – the Fighters
• Generation 2 – the Dreamers
• Generation 3 – the Believers
And for white Americans, he also identified three distinct generations:
• Generation 1 – the Hostiles
• Generation 2 – the Neutrals
• Generation 3 – the Allies
Just think about the words he chose, and you can realize that these different generations really do approach questions, issues, practices differently. These sections are filled with insight, and have prompted an array of thoughts. If you deal with Millennials, and different generations in the workplace in general, this book would add to your understanding in a unique way. I have found these insights nowhere else.
Now, here are my 5 takeaways from the book:
1) Let competence and work ethic trump “what you say.” Do not mention race, or gender – just get to work!
2) Recognize that the different generations really do view, and think about, the world differently. (Don’t resent these differences!)
3) We probably need to focus pretty strongly on issues that “trap” people in “class.”
4) And we definitely need to tackle the issue of too many incarcerated people!
5) And, maybe most of all, we need to embrace and take advantage of this moment of “optimism and possibility.”
Today, at noon, I will present my synopsis of the truly insightful book The End of Anger: A New Generation’s Take on Race and Rage by Ellis Cose. It is a really good book. I will present this at the Urban Engagement Book Club, sponsored by CitySquare. For this twice a month event, we select books that focus on issues of social justice, race, poverty…
The book has many strengths, but a surprise for my “business book audience” is the appendix. Ellis Cose (read the bio of this accomplished author here) interviewed many Harvard graduates, across the generations, and here shares the “rules for success” of the current generation of black Harvard MBAs. There are a couple of unique rules for black people (see # 10 — Cose explains “The point is not that you can’t talk about being black. The point is you can’t gripe about being black.” – from a segment on NPR), but these are terrific rules for success for anyone/everyone in any/every endeavor. A good, useful, helpful, agenda-setting list.
Here’s the list:
Appendix: Black Harvard MBAs Share Their (10) Rules for Success
Rule 1: You can only go as far as your networks will take you.
Rule 2: Turn customers, clients, and friends into assets.
Rule 3: Be bold—but also be competent.
Rule 4: Embrace self-discipline and perseverance as virtues.
Rule 5: Work, to the extent possible, in areas where results are quantifiable.
Rule 6: Take some time to figure out what you are good at.
Rule 7: Cultivate people who are more powerful and important than yourself.
Rule 8: Expose yourself to the wider world.
Rule 9: Believe!
Rule 10: Never talk about race (or gender) if you can avoid it, other than to declare that race (or gender) does not matter.