As a regular watcher of Mad Men, I thought this season was a little slow but I loved the background theme that emphasized change: the civil rights movement, women’s rights, the Vietnam War, all of the characters lives were affected in some form or another by social or personal change. Part of the season focused on the new blood in the office such as Michael Ginsberg who is hired by Peggy as a copywriter. He clearly has an instinct for advertising and scares the boss (Don Draper) to the point where Don decides to not pitch Ginsberg’s work (the team had voted his idea as the best); instead Don pitched his own awkward idea.
The theme of young talent coming in and taking over isn’t a new one, if you work long enough you too will go from being the “new kid” to eventually hearing all about the great new kid.
A long time ago, you were the new kid who was starting out in the world of work. You were probably a little too arrogant or idealistic and maybe you thought you were going to be a VP in a few years. A few go-rounds and you probably realized that this wasn’t going to be as easy as you thought. Maybe after a few years you started understanding that song “Working for the Weekend.” But over time things got better, you started to actually know what you were talking about, built some networks and connections in your field. Just as you start getting settled, a new kid comes strolling into your department.
Maybe he reminds you a little of yourself: over confident, a little arrogant and always on his damn cell phone! To top it all off this kid even has the audacity to tell you that it would be cheaper if you switched over to a cloud based storage system! “The balls on this kid!”
How do people handle it when their greatest accomplishments are in the past and the future looks to be a struggling to compete with the kiddies? If you are Don Draper, you just don’t let the new kid’s work be shown to clients. Or maybe the new kid is slowly sabotaged by deliberately withholding information or omitting certain critical information. On the other side though, many people reach out a helpful hand to guide and mentor young people in the workplace.
It’s not a newsflash to realize that people from different generations act and think differently, according to Mad Men this has been going on at least since the sixties, I would bet this has been going on far longer, we just have TV to chronicle it for us.
Remember that we were all the new kid once upon a time, at one point we were the youngest person in the office, we probably didn’t know enough to know that we didn’t know anything. Some people treated us like crap, stole our work, tried to make sure we couldn’t shine, but a smart person learns from that and moves on. Others actively mentored and guided, they showed us the ropes and I think a smart person learns from that and moves on.
Which person are you? Did you learn from how others treated you and act differently? or the same? What were your experiences starting out in the work world? Would you do anything different now?