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Opinion Editorials

Boomer.email is a scary look into all generations mindsets

(EDITORIAL) Boomer.email exposes problematic email chains circulating amongst the Baby Boomers, and subsequently how relentlessly unforgiving Millennials are of them.

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boomer.email

Remember email chain letters circa 2002? It was perhaps the predecessor to the meme, where people would receive long emails with jokes, riddles, astrological advice, conspiracy theories, and other Internet-inspired nonsense? Well, they’re back. Or rather, they never left the email ethos for those born roughly 1944 to 1964.

I’m talking about Boomer.email. Boomer.email is the latest provocative content by MSCHF, a Brooklyn-based web-cult of pithy Internet nerds that may or may not classify themselves as a company.

MSCHF creates a new “drop” every two weeks of something completely out-of-pocket and weird, with the aim of producing social commentary prioritized over profit. Their most famous antic was probably the 2019 release of Jesus Shoes – custom Nike Air Max 97s shoes containing holy water from the River Jordan in the soles. The group, which is 90% male and 100% Millennial and Gen Z, produces a “portfolio [which] may amount to a very successful string of viral marketing campaigns, a series of jokes or something like art.”

Boomer.email, according to the website, is “a weekly newsletter where we forward unhinged email chains sourced from thousands of real, anonymous boomers.” The categories are Memes, News, Politics, and NSFW (Not Safe For Work). Email samples include a series of memes with Donald Trump’s face photo-shopped over images of Queen Elizabeth II, a long explanation of the conspiracy theory that China exported the coronavirus as biological warfare, and a supposed telegraph exchange between General MacArthur and President Truman where Truman defines political correctness for the general in order to mask prevent his Japanese racism from reaching the press. The exchange ends with a BUILD A WALL image and the text “Secure The Border” and “Make America Safe Again.”

All published emails are anonymous. Anyone can forward an email to ok@boomer.email.

If the goal at MSCHF (try pronouncing it, and you might get the name of the company, which I at first thought was a clunky acronym) is simply to create social commentary, it’s working. The emails are drawing praise and scorn from every corner of the Internet. Check out the following sound-bytes from articles reviewing the content:

“There is as much hilarity in the Boomer.Email newsletter as there is just pure sadness that a generation that gave us so much in the way of technology, infrastructure and wisdom has relegated itself to no much more than the brunt of jokes based on their ill-informed and quick-react emails.” (Forbes)

“Check out the website to read the first week’s emails in full or sign up to receive further newsletters for more evidence of how [expletive deleted]ed every younger generation will continue to be for at least a few more decades.” (AV Club)

“Unfortunately, many [boomers] don’t think to fact-check their personal emails. And if boomers can’t grasp documented history — which they lived through — with accuracy, it’s easy to understand why MSCHF, along with a majority of their millennial and Gen-Z cohorts, are so anxious about our future.” (New York Post)

And now, my own:

Shaming an entire population of people whose only common trait is their decade of birth is shameful and hypocritical. If Millennials don’t want to be pegged as collectively lazy and entitled, we should not be developing newsletters that paint Boomers as collectively ignorant and politically harmful.

Of course it is important to shine a light on injustice – there is no room to condone content that is downright bigoted (see racist examples above). As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

But when we are done clucking at the Internet-fueled ignorance of anonymous Baby Boomers, we must recall that civic engagement, productive discourse, and voting for our representation are far more effective and necessary tools for change. When we recall that Boomers are our relatives and colleagues — and if you are a Millennial, probably your parents – are Baby Boomers, Boomer Email presents us with an opportunity. It behooves consumers of this content to be critical, and take the opportunity to fact-check and start dialogue, rather than waste time simply mocking generational fodder.

Heather Buffo is a Cleveland native, a recovering Bostonian, and an Austin newbie. Heather has her Bachelor of Arts in Neurobiology from Harvard University, and is a City Year Boston AmeriCorps alum. When she's not writing for AG, you can find her pouring beers at the Brewtorium, but only one at a time.

Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer slowing you down? Does it make a simple job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment to improve your productivity.

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better equipment, better work

What is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes.

In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on StackExchange.com an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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