That Tiny Website — Short Stories, Video Games, and Freelance Editing


Identifying What Matters to You in An Employer

Over the past couple of years, I had two moments of great clarity when it comes to work and what matters to me at a job. Before I get to those though, I should give a little bit of context as to why this post matters.

There have been several think pieces written over the past decade about this very concept or ideas adjacent to it. Often times, people are stuck at jobs they hate but they don’t realize why they hate them. It could be because the job is truly bad. It could be because you have bad work habits. It could be because you have a bad boss or a company that doesn’t do the right thing. You could be stuck there even though you have a way out because you need the money. One of my favorite business bloggers, Kaytie at Optimistic Millennial, did an entire piece on this very concept.

The problem, both in my own personal experience as well as the experiences of those I’ve watched go through this, is that often times we stop too quickly when asking why we don’t like a job. Sure, we may be able to say ‘I hate this job because I don’t like the boss I have’. But when we truly despise a job, we often leave it at just that. I hate this single, vague aspect, and nothing more. While this is a great way to have hate that you can direct at something or someone, it does very little to help you make change to improve upon your situation — as well as to avoid repeating the same problems that makes you hate your job yet again.

Last year, I talked about how I left my long time employer for various reasons. The job had, as I shared in that post, felt at times like the worst job I’d ever had. What I didn’t realize — despite writing it in that very post — was that it was also, at times, the best job I ever had. I didn’t stop to think what made it that way. I was so focused on the fact that I was burnt out and bitter about the way things ended that I couldn’t recognize the fact that there were several good qualities about that job that I truly enjoyed and that mattered to me.

Mind you, I’m not talking about things like salary or benefits. Those things clearly matter. If your job’s salary and benefits don’t allow you to meet your basic needs, you’ll constantly be worried about where money is coming from. It will make you paranoid about your job stability even when you have a completely secure job. I witnessed this with several employees around me over the better part of 2018, feeling it myself at times as well. That said, that’s probably commentary on a specific type of job is treated in the USA versus how it’s treated in other countries and is better left for another post1I eagerly await the day when American companies put the same level of care to hiring, training, pay, and candidate selection for call center employees that Philippine companies do..

Let’s say that your salary and benefits are good enough that you’re not worried too much, if at all, about them. What do you need in a company at that point? That’s when the self-reflective side of each of us comes into play. You need to go beyond the thought of ‘I hate my job’ and ask yourself why that is. Not just once, but several times. Such a process may look like this:

I hate my job.


I hate my boss.


They micromanage me.


I don’t know.

Is there anything I can change in my behavior to help improve myself so they don’t need to do that?


K. Cool. And have you discussed this behavior with your boss.

No. They don’t take feedback well.

Granted, the above mental conversation could go on much longer than I’m letting it and could discuss several more problems than what I’m listing. But I think the larger point is made. Learning what you love in a job is not just about knowing what you dislike in a current role. It’s about understanding why you dislike it AND how having a different environment around you will help you to be a more productive employee.

The second epiphany about what mattered to me was an extension of the first one in some ways. I had realized that I there were parts to that old job I loved. I had also realized that my (then) new employer wasn’t the right fit for me and that I needed out. The great moment of clarity came when I recognized that in order for things to improve and to find a company that fit what I truly wanted in a company, I needed to flip the interview process on its head.

I love interviewing. I know that sounds weird, but the interview process is fascinating to me, regardless of which side of the table I’m on. The problem was (and likely still is to a certain extent) that I’m much better at being an interviewer than being an interviewee. I’ve worked at multiple companies now where I would get pulled into interviews to help get a better read on prospective candidates that came in looking for a job — even if that candidate wouldn’t report directly to me or my department. After thinking about it for a while, I came to realize why this happens.

As I was learning to be an interviewer, I learned a technique called behavioral job interviewing2Also sometimes referred to as behavioral-based interviewing.. The basic premise to this concept is to get your interviewee answering whatever questions you have with examples of how they handled a situation in the past with their previous work or school experience3The behavioral job interview, in my opinion, is one of the few interview types that doesn’t inherently put recent college graduates or people looking to change careers at a disadvantage in the interviewing process. This is because the interviewer will, if they’re conducting the interview properly, be looking for behaviors in how situations were handled just as much as direct job experience. Although it’s a style that is not necessarily an end-all be-all for interviewing, particularly when a job requires some level of experience or a specific prior skill set to do safely, I view the behavioral job interview as a critical component of most any interviewing process.. I tried taking this tactic one step further, often times drilling down on a specific scenario or question to determine not only what behaviors the interviewee exhibited from the event we discussed, but also what they learned from that experience.

I have, for as long as I could remember, subscribed to the spray-and-pray method of job hunting. If you get in front of as many people as you can for interviews, not only are you bound to get more job offers, you’re also sure to eventually find a company that you’ll like. It was the entire premise of my 2017-2018 job search that resulted in countless form rejection emails. And considering the rotten luck I’d had with friends trying to refer me in to wherever they worked — I had never gotten a job as a result of a friend/colleague’s referral prior to my new job — I thought this was the best way to handle my job search.

I do think this method can still work. That said, in utilizing this method, what I wasn’t doing was researching the companies before I applied to them. Or, if there were concerns about the company that surfaced in my online search, I wasn’t trying to dig in and address those concerns in the interview process. Nor was I asking about the things I cared about in a job aside from benefits, salary, and schedule. Essentially, I was doing everything I encouraged those who asked me for advice NOT to do.

It wasn’t until I started treating the interview like I was the one interviewing the company that I started to notice a change in results. I cared a lot more about things that were deeper company culture factors that I had in the past. Though this turned off some interviewers, other times it led to deeper philosophical conversations about business culture and direction during the interview. Even if I didn’t get the job at a specific place I interviewed, I had a better idea whether or not the job was going to be a good fit for me — and not just from a salary standpoint — coming out of the interview process.

If nothing else, this experience showed me why it matters to understand what I’m really looking for in a job. There’s no guarantee I’ll be 100% happy with everything in my new job. After all, there’s always something that gets on your nerves, even in jobs you like. That said, I feel informed and comfortable for the first time going into a job. I don’t think I would have been able to do that without learning what mattered to me in my work.

On Rejection

There’s a colloquial usage of a word in the English language that’s always befuddled me. There’s a specific way the word ‘break’ is used that essentially makes it come off with a positive connotation. See: break the seal, break a streak, break a slump, and others. Basically, it’s used to mean ‘to bring an end to something’.

I’ve found this weird for the longest time in part because of the primary usage of the word break. As a verb, it’s meant to indicate when something is separated or shattered, while as a noun, it’s an interruption1The verb can also mean an interruption, but in this context, it is more commonly a noun.. Yet, regardless of the exact nature of the usage employed, the word break typically has negative connotations. With the exception, again, of bringing an end to something.

It’s been a rough couple of years for me in the working world. To explain why though, I need to take a step back and give a little context. One of the things I’ve been working on for quite some time now is trying to get myself to the point where I could make a transition to a human resources role. It’s something I’ve wanted for a few years now and I’ve made an active effort everywhere I go to try to learn things the best I can so that I can grow into such a role. But then I watched the people who supported my move transition roles or leave the company. While I gained new support in some cases, other key folks felt I needed to be further entrenched in the role I was in because I was too valuable to lose. I don’t say all of this as a matter of sour grapes — things worked out the way they did for a reason and I hold no ill will against anyone for it. It’s needed context.

And then our office got shut down.

I took a job that I though would help me out. A job that I thought (from the interview process) that would both be a step forward in my role and responsibility, and one that would help me to have opportunity to grow my career with supportive people who wanted me to move up, but also to do so on my timeline.

Two days into the new job, I realized I was wrong on so many levels. I had been misled heavily in the interview process by the director over our department about the department, its resources, the nature of my role, its responsibilities, and its seniority. Over the course of the rest of the year, I’d learn that the career growth opportunities I’d been led to believe existed were in the company, though not to the extent as they were originally portrayed. There was nothing I could do though. I had no where to go back to. And considering I had changed jobs in the extremely recent past, companies wouldn’t touch me with a ten-foot pole — longer if they owned large enough poles.

I felt like all of the work I’d put into my career to that point was a waste. My career had taken a massive step backward. I wasn’t challenged anymore. I didn’t feel like I fit in with my new employer, be it socially, ethically, or mentally. I had just gotten out of what was, at times, the worst job I’d ever been part of, only to feel like things had managed to hit an even lower point. This wasn’t a feeling of imposter syndrome. I’d had that and knew very well what that felt like. This was something new. I felt rejected. By prospective employers, by my current job, by my previous job, by those who didn’t believe in me, by those who did believe in me…if you can think of someone it felt like I was getting this feeling from, you’re probably right.

While all this was going on, a former coworker of mine reached out to me seeing if I had any interest in doing a freelancing writing project for the company she worked for. I was somewhat interested, though nothing ever came of the project. Considering I was having struggles getting my own freelancing work off the ground at this point, it would have been a welcome gig, though one I definitely would not have had time for in retrospect.

Later in 2018, I interviewed at the same company for what would have been a dream role. I had a lot of confidence that the role would come to fruition and that it was just a matter of time before it happened. Then, right when I was hitting what was arguably my lowest point mentally with how rejected I felt by everything work related — all while combined with a massive amount of non-work related stress — I found out the budget had been cut for that role. I didn’t get the job.

I was on my break when I found out. On my breaks, I typically walk around the parking lot in an effort to get some exercise, as sitting in a cubicle all day is a rough way to lose weight. In that moment, I found myself standing in the parking lot of a nearby building, crying because I felt like I was never going to get out. Nothing was going to change for the better. I felt like the world was rejecting me, no matter how hard I tried to make things better.

Things did — and are still getting better. I write this post, including the previous 900+ words of sadness and frustration, to remind people that in order to advance your career, it requires a ton of hard work. Not just a little bit here and there. Not just one day of hard work and you’re set for the rest of your career. Do your best every day. Even if what you’re doing isn’t what you’re passionate in, do the best you can and put some of that passion towards finding something to fuel your passion. No one is going to help you out of the rut. Sure, you may find someone who helps you take those last few steps and helps you land a new role. But if you’re not putting in the leg work yourself leading up to that point, they’ll never see your hand poking up from the ditch to grab.


An (Updated) Career Desire History

Earlier this year, I wrote a few posts talking about searching for — and ultimately finding a new job. I originally had written this post as an extension of those posts, meant to go up in May of this year. But that never happened. So I’m putting it up now.

The main idea for the post below came from a post I wrote in the summer of 2013, wherein I discussed my career aspirations throughout life as a response to a blog post that did the same1Said blog is apparently now dead, as the domain is up for sale.. I’ve kept most of what I wrote on the original post, which accounts for about 800 words of this article, though I have added to that content to help it make more sense here and there2Such as footnotes like these.. I’ve also updated the post to include more information about how my career aspirations have changed since 2013…not that it’s happened at all or anything.

Age ??? – Second Grade – A professional wrestler AND a football player

As a young boy, I fell into the stereotype of wanting to grow up to be a professional athlete. Despite being the smallest kid in my class, I was convinced that being a wide receiver in the NFL was the optimal life choice I could make. My idol at the time was Brian Blades, a diminutive wideout for the Seattle Seahawks who put up four 1,000 yard seasons during his eleven years in the league. When I later played football in middle school, I wore the number 89 because of Blades3I was blissfully unaware that Blades was on trial for murdering his cousin, a charge he was later acquitted of.

At the same time, I was convinced I could also be a professional wrestler. I loved watching pro wrestling, particularly mesmerized by the acrobatics of Shawn Michaels4Oddly enough, my favorite childhood wrestlers — Edge and Christian — weren’t even the ones that first got me into wrestling. and the sheer power of The Undertaker. I even had a gimmick thought up for myself. My ring name was going to be The Jukebox Hero (blatantly lift from Foreigner’s song by the same name), and I’d be a musician who hit people with guitars as his finishing move (basically a tolerable version of Jeff Jarrett/The Honky Tonk Man).

Second Grade – Third Grade – A history teacher

My first experience with public school came midway through second grade, thanks in large part to my parents getting divorced. I was an incredibly shy child — the only two people I talked to in second grade were my homeroom teacher and the school counselor, with third grade not being much better — though I did find that I loved learning. My favorite subject of all was social studies, primarily because I was the only kid in class who could spell Czechoslovakia and knew that the former Cold War nation had dissolved in 1993. When the third grade class did a musical based off of careers, I was first in line to sign up for the part of being a teacher. My interest in actually teaching history didn’t stick around long, however.

Third Grade – Seventh Grade – Sports Statistician

Despite not having a television or internet in my house throughout most of my childhood, I was exposed to computers for the majority of that time. My dad had a Macintosh LC 520 that he used for work, though I mainly used it to play Monopoly and Spectre5It might have been Spectre VR that we had. I’m genuinely not sure at this point.. After he replaced the LC 520 with a new computer, I got the old desktop and started fiddling around with some of its other programs. A spreadsheet program caught my eye, and from there forward I routinely started keeping statistics from kickball and football games that my cousins, my brother, and I would play after school. To this day, I still think it would be pretty cool to work for the Elias Sports Bureau, though I’m content with not working there as well.

Seventh Grade – Ninth Grade – Anaylst

I had no clue what I wanted to analyze, I just knew that I wanted to analyze things. Most of the time, my desire to be an analyst fell into the realm of watching for changes in stocks and bonds, or attempting to forecast future athlete performance based off of past trends. Had Bill Barnwell, Jayson Stark, or Matthew Berry’s writing been easily available to me in middle school, I’m fairly certain my career path desires wouldn’t have changed. The start of high school signaled my next change in career choices, all prompted by a sudden increase in my skill level of something I did every day.

Ninth Grade – Early Senior Year – Jazz Trumpeter or High School Music Teacher

I started playing the trumpet (very poorly) in the fifth grade. For the first four years I played, I was horrible at the trumpet. I really wanted to get better, and I’d try to practice when I could, however my stepmom was pissed off I didn’t choose a manlier instrument like the drums6She also told me I had a vagina and that “I might as well get gay married” when I told her I didn’t want to play football anymore., so I wasn’t allowed to practice at home. My dad divorced my first stepmom midway through my eighth grade year, and I began practicing trumpet every day at home7My dad was a trumpeter himself, so he didn’t mind..

In less than a year, I went from being 14th chair (out of 15 trumpet players) to 4th chair of all grade levels (1st in my class). The emotional and ego boost of succeeding made me strongly considering going into music for a career for a couple of years, though soon enough my desire to work in sports would resurface.

Early Senior Year – My Final Semester Of Undergraduate College – Sports Radio Talk Show Host

At one point, I wanted to be a journalist. Well, more accurately, I got pissed off at how certain members of my high school’s staff had a shitfit when I told them I didn’t want to work in science for the rest of my life, and it caused me to go even harder towards considering journalism or broadcast media in college. Though the more I look back at my decision to go to school for communications, the more I think it was a ploy for me to get out of the house and get a college degree more so than what I actually wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong, I loved working at a radio station in college, however the longer I talked about sports, the more I realized it wasn’t a viable career path thanks to my strong distaste for anything baseball or basketball related. Fortunately, a class during my final year of my undergraduate degree changed my career direction.

Last Semester at State Tech – Mid 2015 – Curriculum Designer

In my final semester working on my communications degree, I took a filler class to get my course load to a full-time schedule. The class was meant for upperclassmen to teach incoming freshmen how to deal with the stresses of college, including everything from study habits to handling alcohol (seriously). Each of the four upperclassmen was responsible for creating lesson plans for two classes across the semester (in addition to the class sessions created by the graduate assistant teaching the class), then they would teach the content they created. I found that I loved creating lesson plans, going so far as to go to grad school a year later with the intent of learning to develop curricula for college students.

While I no longer work in higher education, I still have a passion for creating plans to help individuals learn and grow within their fields. The problem isn’t that I dislike doing curriculum development. It’s that it’s not all I want to do for the rest of my life. I actually got to be a curriculum designer as a component of my job from mid-2014 to mid-2018. And it’s enjoyable under the right circumstances. In designing curriculum for various departments in the company I worked for, I began to realize that there was something I wanted to do even more.

Early 2015 – Present – Author
Mid 2015 – Present? – Human Resources Professional

Something changed in 2015. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was, but something made me have a drastic change in desire of how I wanted to make a living. A few of my friends began to share that they thought my writing was good. Really good. To the point where I should take one of my NaNoWriMo stories and turn it into a book. I did something along those lines in 2016, publishing a book of short stories I’ve written. That said, I’m still working toward getting my first novel done. I’m hoping that to have it in decent shape by the end of 2018.

As for those changes to my career desires thanks to my job I mentioned? All of the training I created helped me to realize that most of the things I had an interest in fell under the realm of human resources. So I started doing everything I could to point my career in that direction. In recent posts, I’ve covered why this hasn’t worked out so far. That said, with a new start, I’m hoping my career trajectory begins to take me that way.

What are some of the jobs you’ve wanted in your past? Do you have any career desires that you look back on now as being silly or amusing? Share them in the comments.

Everything Millennials Are Killing

As a millennial, I’m continuously shocked to learn how many things I’m killing. I don’t have the time in the day to kill anything, let alone to kill all the things ever. It’s bad enough that Know Your Meme is even making fun of it. And while there may be plenty of think pieces online written by people who aren’t millennials trying to explain why millennials are killing entire industries, that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to give you objective journalism.

And video game posts. And short stories. And shit posts. But mostly objective journalism.

Without further ado, here’s a list of everything millennials are killing, according to newspapers, magazines, and other major publications1I refuse to refer to this amalgamation of sources as “the media” not because it’s inaccurate, but because people who use this term are often doing so out of a derision towards a particular set of news sources that don’t agree with their personal or political world view. Doing so is not only childish, but also embarrassing for those who speak that way, even if the terminology they choose to use has some basis in reality (depending, of course, on the adjectives they use to describe “the media”).. This list is ordered chronologically, as I’m just trying to retrace my steps to figure out what all I’ve killed. I have chosen to exclude items that random sites not tied to publications have stated that millennials have killed, otherwise this post would be 50,000 words. If there are other things I’ve killed that I’m missing, leave me a link to the article you’ve found in the comments.

Note: A massive thank you is due to a pair of articles I found on Buzzfeed and Mashable that gave me a good start to this list. That said, I went down some weird rabbit holes to find some of these articles.


June 8 – Payscale says millennials killed the corner office


July 22 – Slate says millennials are killing the religious right


July 16 – Unwritten says millennials are killing manners and class

July 24 – Forbes says millennials are killing golf

August 1 – Wired says millennials killed bad advertising

August 25 – The Gothamist says millennials are killing McDonald’s, but only those of us who are promiscuous

September 8 – NBC News says millennials are killing credit cards

October 2 – Forbes says millennials might be killing Home Depot


February 20 – Mic says millennials are killing the terms boyfriend and girlfriend

March 24 – Market Watch says millennials are killing Macy’s

May 27 – The New York Times says millennials are killing thongs

May 30 – Tech Crunch says millennials are killing banks (though to be fair, banks started it)

August 13 – Quartz says millennials killed General Electric’s performance review process

September 2 – Business Insider says that a millennial owned company is trying to kill Victoria’s Secret

September 24 – Refinery29 says millennials are killing TV sitcoms

October 2 – Digiday says millennials have killed focus groups

October 28 – Entrepreneur Magazine says millennials are killing the cubicle

November 10 – Time says millennials — with some help from baby boomers — killed retirement savings for Gen X


January 8 – Philly Magazing says millennials are killing working

February 3 – Forbes says millennials — in a coordinated effort with baby boomers — killed the Toyota Scion

February 9 – and Deloitte partnered up to say millennials are killing company loyalty

February 25 – The Atlantic says millennials attempted to kill the wine cork, but it’s unclear if they’ve succeeded

March 4 – Mashable says millennials are killing expensively furnished hotels

March 21 – GQ says millennials are killing breakfast cereal

March 23 – Entrepreneur Magazine says millennials are killing the 9-to-5 workday

March 28 – Business Insider says millennials are killing paper napkins

April 14 – Bloomberg says millennials killed the McWrap

April 15 – The New York Post says millennials are killing the movie industry

April 26 – Elle Magazine says millennials are killing the stiletto heel

April 27 – Vice says millennials are killing fucking

May 5 – The Wall Street Journal says millennials are killing running

May 8 – The Globe and Mail says millennials are killing the Canadian tourism industry

June 21 – Market Watch says millennials are killing face-to-face interaction

June 29 – The Economist says millennials are killing diamonds. They followed up a day later with their infamous diamond tweet.

June 30 – Quartz says millennials are killing the myth that they’re entitled

July 16 – The Caribbean News Service says millennials are killing the cruise industry

July 19 – USA Today says millennials are killing the bra

August (Date Unknown) – Call center company Evaluagent says millennials are killing call center culture.

August 3 – The New York Post says millennials are killing sex. Again.

August 10 – Market Watch says millennials are killing home cooking

August 19 – NY Magazine says millennials are killing the Olympics

August 22 – The Washington Post says millennials are killing home ownership. Also on this day, research firm Mintel said millennials are killing bar soap.

August 26 – Inc says millennials are killing vacations

September 6 – Indiewire says millennials are killing the DVR

September 21 – Business Insider says millennials are killing light yogurt

September 29 – Time says millennials are killing traditional baby names

October 10 – The LA Times says millennials killed big spending and risk taking.

October 13 – Reuters says millennials are killing their parents’ retirement plans. Again.

October 17 – The New York Post says millennials are killing gyms

October 27 – The Wall Street Journal says millennials are killing grocers

December 16 – The Wall Street Journal says millennials are killing fabric softener

December 29 – The Journal of Hand Therapy and the National Institutes of Health say that millennials are killing strong handshakes. Also on this date, the New York Post says millennials killed the dinner date.


February 17 – Fortune says millennials are killing department stores

February 28 – The Metro says millennials are killing marmalade

March 23 – The New York Post says millennials are killing brunch

March 25 – USA Today says millennials are killing cable

March 28 – USA Today says millennials are killing lunch

April 4 – Bloomberg says millennials are killing marriage

June 3 – Business Insider says millennials are killing casual restaurants

June 15 – Nylon Magazine says millennials killed J. Crew

June 22 – Autoweek says millennials are killing automotive marketing

July 10 – USA Today says millennials are killing college football attendance. Also on this day, Yes Lifecycle Marketing published a study saying millennials are killing malls.

July 12 – CNBC says millennials are killing Harley-Davidson

July 21 – Business Insider says millennials are killing the oil industry

July 24 – Business Insider says millennials are killing the beer industry

August 15 – NPR says millennials are killing Applebee’s, marking the second time Applebee’s has died by our hands

August 16 – Business Insider says millennials are killing ‘breastaurants’ like Hooters

August 25 – Business Insider says millennials are killing traditional education

October 2 – The New York Post says millennials are killing postcards

October 13 – Vice says millennials are killing lotteries

October 31 – Business Insider says millennials are killing Halloween…kind of.

November 30 – Forbes says millennials are killing salary secrecy

December 7 – The Weekly Standard says millennials are killing office holiday parties


January 4 – Fortune says millennials are killing being imperfect

January 13 – Wired says millennials are killing capitalism

January 19 – The Washington Post says millennials are (possibly) killing Costco

March 11 – The Financial Post says millennials are killing malls again. But this time it’s Canadian malls.

March 24 – Forbes says millennials killed both youth sports and Toys ‘R Us

March 27 – USA Today says millennials are plotting to kill the top sheet, though they haven’t acted on it yet

May 1 – The Guardian says millennials are killing the living room

May 14 – Metro says millennials are killing Club 18-30 holidays

May 24 – Carbuzz says millennials (or Gen Z…they’re not sure which) are killing subcompact cars

June 26 – Forbes says millennials are killing kitchens. Again.

July 2 – CityLab says millennials are killing country club membership

July 12 – The Comeback says millennials are killing Millennial Night for minor league baseball teams. This one isn’t important at all, but did make me laugh.

August 6 – Business Insider says millennials killed a beer specifically created for them

August 9 – Maxim says millennials are killing the razor industry

August 11 – Philly Magazine says millennials are killing mayonnaise

August 21 – Bustle says millennials killed dress codes

September 15 – The Washington Post says millennials are killing Washington DC’s metro

September 20 – KARE 11 says millennials are killing resumes

September 24 – The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says millennials are killing post offices

September 26 – USA Today says millennials are killing divorce

October 8 – USA Today says millennials are killing relationships

October 9 – Fortune says millennials are killing the primary care doctor

October 10 – Bloomberg says millennials are killing American cheese

October 11 – The Guardian says millennials are killing getting drunk

October 24 – Sports blog Saturday Down South says millennials are killing the University of Miami’s smoking Ibis mascot

November 1 – Jezebel says millennials are, shockingly, not killing funeral homes

November 19 – The Daily Mail says millennials are killing large Thanksgiving turkeys

November 22 – Metro UK says millennials are killing Christmas traditions

November 30 – A study by the Federal Reserve (via NPR) says millennials are killing things because they’re poorer than previous generations. We finally have a motive!

December 3 – Business Insider says millennials are killing canned tuna

December 21 – NPR says millennials are killing both cash and saying Merry Christmas. It’s a two-for-one murder special!


January 16 – The Drinks Insider says millennials are killing wine

January 25 – MSNBC says millennials are killing “traditional American motorcyles”, expanding on our previous kill of Harley-Davidson.

January 30 – After nearly a year of a possible kill, says that millennials are killing Costco. For real this time. The kill count has been updated to a confirmed kill.

February 14 – Observer says millennials are killing Coca-Cola

February 18 – Metro UK says millennials killed the protest song

February 26 – KXTV says millennials are killing the traditional gym. Again.

February 27 – Inverse says millennials are killing potatoes

March 5 – Ad Age says millennials are killing the NBA. Meanwhile, KXTV says millennials are killing California

March 15 – The Fort Worth Star-Telegram says millennials are killing Fairmount, Texas. Meanwhile, KXTV says millennials are killing kitchens.

March 25 – KXTV says millennials are killing cereal. Again.

March 28 – Boing Boing says millennials are killing the McMansion.

April 2 – KXTV says millennials are killing soda pop.

April 8 – KXTV says that millennials aren’t killing Irish whisky. This won’t be added to the kill count, but the article flips our typical trope on its head, so it makes the list.

April 23 – KXTV says that millennials are killing yogurt. But that they’re not. It’s all very confusing and amuses me. I’m going to mark this as a possible kill until I see bleeding yogurt cups.

May 6 – KXTV says millennials are killing meat.

May 8 – WWLP says millennials are killing both the manufacturing sector and the middle class.

May 10 – The Inquisitr says millennials are killing the hamburger.

May 14 – KXTV says millennials are killing old-school drinking.

May 20 – KXTV says millennials are killing the gender pay gap. To which I say…about fucking time.

June 6 – The India Times says millennials are killing the doorbell.

June 19 – The Washington Post says millennials are killing wedding cakes.

June 24 – City Metric says millennials are killing the car.

July 3 – Smart Company says millennials are killing investment managers.

July 11 – The Radio and Television Business Report says millennials are killing broadcast television.

July 14 – Vogue India says millennials might be killing the opera.

July 24 – The West Australian says millennials are killing Australian restaurants.

August 1 – Grazia says millennials are killing the full stop…or the period. Whatever you want to call it.

August 4 – KIIITV says millennials are killing friendship.

August 8 – Tucson Weekly says millennials are killing the baby industry.

August 13 – KXTV says millennials are killing dating.

August 21 – Moneywise says millennials are killing off 15 different wedding traditions. I’m counting this as a single kill because the title is even clickbaitier than a normal millennials are killing title.

September 3 – The Why says millennials are killing the Philadelphia accent.

September 23 – Boing Boing says millennials are killing Amtrak’s dining car.

October 8 – Inverse says millennials are killing climate change denial. Which…good.

October 17 – 225 Magazine says millennials are killing the dinner party.

October 19 – The Telegraphy says millennials are killing houseplants.

November 1 – SB Nation says millennials are killing the World Series trophy.

November 18 – Independent says millennials are killing Secret Santa.

Current Millennial Kill Count

Confirmed Kills: 133

Repeat Kills: 7

Possible Kills: 5

Total: 145

Other (Failed Kills and Motives): 2

The Fallacies of Training

I talk quite a bit on this blog about the freelance work I do, as well as the fact that I’m an author. That said, it’s not common that I bring up my day job. I generally don’t feel like this is the right place to talk about it in most circumstances. While there are some exceptions, the more I can keep my work life and my blogging life separate, the better I think the content I create is in both places.

My day-to-day for the past four and a half years1Across tenures with two different companies. That said, I’ve also been tasked with running training at multiple places before I officially got a trainer designation. has been a combination of training instructor, instructional designer, technical writer, and (occasionally) professional development coach. When taken as a whole, I’m going to classify these responsibilities as training, not just for ease of explanation throughout this post2As referring to it as Learning and Development or L&D is just silly., but also because training is more than just the act of standing in front of a room and telling people how to do their job. I find training to be a generally fulfilling job, however not everything about the role is particularly gratifying.

In my time as a trainer, there’s a handful of common fallacies about training that I’ve encountered regularly. These items tend to come up regardless of the company I’ve worked for, independent of departments of subject matter experts (SMEs) I’m working with, and commonly arise regardless of the nature of the project as well. I wanted to take some time to talk about them at the request of a friend of mine who recently stated she was considering getting into training, as well as to serve as a critical thinking exercise for myself about how corporate adult education is handled.

1. Your leaders and employees have very different perceptions of employee knowledge.

One of the first things I learned when I moved into a training role was that no one can agree on how much employees know about a given topic. Let’s say you’re a trainer for The Business Company3aka my favorite fictional company to use in pretty much any example thing I do.. Your first training task is to retrain your customer service team on supporting your primary product — Business Widgets. Your employees, on average, will say that they know 80-85% of everything they need to know about Business Widgets. Your leaders, on average, will say that your employees know 30-35% of everything they need to know about Business Widgets. While there will be individual employees and leaders who will have different answers for you (some objective, some not), you’ll find that this will be the general range you’re in.

The reality will be somewhere in the middle. Your employees, even the well-trained, long-tenured employees likely won’t know every single thing they need to know to do their job. Likewise, the leaders that assume your employees know little to nothing about their job are likely greatly underestimating the ability of those employees to do their job. This disconnect is common, if not expected. After all, employees are (generally) so focused on the minutia of their job that they don’t see how the mistakes they make impact the larger picture for the company. Similarly, departmental or divisional leaders are typically so disconnected from the reality of a front-line employee that they misinterpret a downtick in performance as a downtick in knowledge4There’s a separate fallacy that causes this issue as well, that being the use of small sample sizes to make training and staffing decisions rather than trended or longitudinal data.. Even leaders who used to be front-line employees fall into this trap, particularly the longer they’ve been separated from that role.

As a trainer, the key way to manage these expectations is to do your best to remind both sides of this debate that training is a process that everyone goes through. For leaders, remind them that their front-line employees are the experts in their role for a reason — and while they may need refinement on certain topics or in particular pieces of knowledge, there’s a reason they were hired to handle the hard work of their role. For employees, a lesson on the concept of an asymptote is probably the best way to get your point across. No matter how much those employees learn, there will always be more to learn. Even though they’re getting closer and closer to perfection, it will always be just out of reach because there’s something new that can be learned in all situations.

2. Developing quality content takes time.

So you’ve determined that you need to train your front-line employees on how to support Business Widgets. Great. Now it’s time to create the training content that your training department will be delivering. In a best case scenario, this will likely entail gathering all of the content you need from pre-existing materials and conducting your training. More likely though, particularly if The Business Company is a technology organization or if the company has not created training materials before, you’ll have to create this training largely from scratch. Any learning and development professional will know that this takes time, as you have to consider numerous factors. What’s the best method of delivery for this training? Who is your audience? How long does this training need to be reusable for? How much time are your leaders going to allot to training5Spoiler: The answer is usually “less than you’ll need”.? How will you assess learning and knowledge retention from the material covered in the training6We’ll talk about this point more a little later in this post.?

That said, individuals who don’t have a background in training or instructional design will commonly assume that all that needs done to make a training is to slap a PowerPoint together, get people in a room, and start talking. That takes, what, a couple of hours, right?

Hearing that previous statement happens more often than you might expect. Leaders: making that statement is the quickest way to drive your learning and development staff to insanity. Yes, we could throw something together quickly for whatever content needs taught. But in order to create training materials that will last, that will teach employees well, and that will ensure they’re retaining information, your learning and development staff needs time. This is to say nothing of if that content also needs to be created for a learning management system (LMS), if audio or video recordings are needed, or if there’s other mitigating factors that will delay the content from being created quickly. The creation of learning materials is not instant. If you’re a training professional, be sure to set clear and reasonable expectations with your leaders about this point.

3. Everyone will agree on assessment — until assessment is ready to be conducted.

Assessment, in my estimation, is the most critical part to a comprehensive training program. Assessment allows you get a gauge on how your employees are doing in terms of knowledge retention, as well as the ability to identify areas for future training where your employees are currently struggling. That said, assessment is more than that. Assessment allows you to turn training from a one-way interaction where your training staff teaches employees what to do and changes it into a two-way interaction where both your trainer and your trainees gain valuable insight and provide critical feedback to one another.

That said, the level to which assessment will be accepted within your organization will largely depend on how much buy-in you can generate from your leadership team. At a previous job, I spent a ton of time creating this comprehensive technical assessment for technical support representatives at the behest of leadership. This assessment was to be a three hour long assessment conducted yearly in order to get a full look at what areas an employee may need training on. We went through the design, planning, and beta testing phase of the assessment, getting all the way to our launch date with no concerns from anyone in leadership. Then, three days into our assessment cycle, our director announced that he was changing roles effective immediately. The new director felt that knowledge assessment shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes of a rep’s time, so the project was shelved, only to be rolled out again nearly a year later after a massive redesign. Unfortunately, one hole created by that redesign was that the partial set of data obtained before the project was shelved was no longer relevant, due to changes in the technology the reps were supporting in the time that had passed.

While I don’t have a ton of advice for how to handle a massive organizational leadership change like the one described above, it does highlight the fact that the way assessment is viewed varies drastically person to person. Everyone agrees that you need to understand what your employees are struggling with. But while some folks want to determine that all in one fell swoop, others will want to break that judging up into bite-sized pieces. Whatever length and depth your assessment needs to be will vary based on your circumstances. I will note that no matter how much time I’ve budgeted towards assessment in my training plans, I’ve nearly always received push back from those above me saying ‘that’s too much time’ or something to that effect. If your knowledge assessment for your training really matters, be prepared to fight for it. It’s likely the first thing that non-training professional will look to cut from your training program.

4. Your leaders need to learn too. And not just leadership training.

One of the easiest sells I’ve ever had to make when pitching a training program was to say that organizational leaders/managers/leads/supervisors/etc need to receive the same attention in training that front line reps do. Everyone wants to feel like they’re getting attention from other groups, so hearing that training had an interest in them made the managers I’ve pitched training to ecstatic. What was a much harder sell, however, was to tell them that the training they needed was not solely management exclusive training.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of leadership training topics that are critical components of any leadership development program. Whether it be teaching your managers how to coach more effectively, how to be more discerning interviewers, or even how to apply their interpersonal skills more successfully to work with their managerial peers, you’ll find there’s a lot managers want to learn about7And this isn’t even when considering common managerial courses like sexual harassment training, legal compliance like Sarbanes-Oxley, or IT security training.. But in most cases, your leadership team likely needs a limited amount of training in the skills, product or process knowledge, or even job-specific functions that their direct reports need to know. Getting your leaders to sign onto this training is challenging. Getting them to show up — or to take an online course, if that’s the modality you’re using — is likely just as challenging, if not more so.

Although there will be a certain subset of leaders who will feel like any training not directly made for them is beneath them and is not worth their time, the best way I’ve found to present this type of training is to push it as a way to further a connection with their team members. Seeing their manager in a training with them can foster conversation on the topics covered in training with the employee’s manager. It serves to show that even though an employee may report to a manager, that manager is still human and looking to learn just like the employee. For online courses, managers can take advantage of the self-paced nature to allow themselves time to complete the training, take notes over whatever they’d like to discuss, and potentially review in team huddles or meetings. It’s a great way to make managers part of the training process, as well as to reinforce content while you’re at it.

5. Someone with a higher title than you will make you redesign your training and make it worse.

This is just reality. While learning and development professionals often have some level of creative control over the content that they’re creating, designing, and facilitating, these professionals do reports to someone higher on the corporate food chain than them. And occasionally, someone higher up on that ladder is going to force you to change your training in some way and it will make it less effective. This could mean you’re not training the full cohort of people you intended to train. It might mean that you’re now forced to train a module that is much more effective online in a classroom because that leader doesn’t want to have to do the training at a computer. There’s a chance that the person above you has decided to fully change the program you’re designing.

While these changes are rarely, if ever, meant maliciously, it can be frustrating, particularly when you’ve dedicated a lot of your time to making your content the best it can be — only to have that program changed by someone who doesn’t have the same expertise as you. My best suggestion for dealing with this problem is to go with the flow and try to accommodate these requests the best you can. After all, such changes are generally coming from someone higher up than you. While you certainly can (and should) make an effort to explain why you’re conducting your program in the manner that you are, it’s often better to lose a single battle and make a few small changes on a single training than to jeopardize your entire training program8I’d love to say this isn’t the worst case scenario, however I’ve seen it happen first hand before..

6. Someone with less experience than you will give you ideas that’ll make your training better. Listen to them.

I recognize that this point is essentially a corollary to the previous point. That said, it’s also a reality that took me a long time to learn once I started doing training in any capacity, be it internal employee training or external customer training. You’re going to have ideas thrown at you on how to do your job better in nearly any role, however these seem to come at you faster and more frequently in training than in nearly any professional role aside from customer service.

As you might expect, some of this advice is going to come from those above you, regardless of their experience level with learning and development. That said, they’re not the main focus of this point, as we’re more likely to take advice from those who have influence over us (and reporting to someone is by its very nature, a form of influence). Where the ideas you’re most likely to ignore are coming from are from those that you, as a trainer, would be viewed as being the expert towards. Said another way, your trainees, your customers, or even your co-workers that aren’t training professionals may give advice as to how to improve your work. Be willing to listen to them. While not every idea you’ll be presented with will be beneficial to your training — and if you get enough feedback, some of it is bound to be contradictory — having an open mind to the ideas you’re presented give you the opportunity to grow within your role. If nothing else, examine each idea for what it is, determine how you could (potentially) take that advice to improve on your work, and then choose to act on that improvement you’ve identified. This can work well even if you’re choosing not to act on the idea itself.

I might do more columns like this in the future for the blog, as this was quite fun to write. That said, I’d like to know what those of you who read this blog thing, especially if you don’t have a training/learning and development background. Let me know your thoughts on this post — or even your own experience with training and development in your career — in the comments.


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