An Open Letter To Some Impatient Millenials


Millenials texting on their cell phones. Photo Source: http://genyu.net/2011/11/22/1-800-anxious/

Dear Impatient Millenials:

I am writing to you. Yes, I know who you are. I technically am one of them. I am one of you. I was born in the early 1980’s. I straddle between Generation X and Generation Y. I prefer to call myself apart of Generation Y. Generation X is so yesterday. After all, I prefer

I am writing to you all because, I am a little concerned of some off the behaviour you may be causing in the work place and give other Generation Yers like myself a bad name.

I don’t know if you read a recent Wall Street Journal Article about what companies in the US are bending over to some pretty wonky demands. Here are just some:

– Ocean Spray in Lakeville Massachusetts scrapping an 8 a.m. start time daily because many millenials working at the company live in nearby Boston.

– A company called Chegg Inc, eliminating some middle management jobs in order to allow younger workers to more management style project.

If that was not cheesy enough, according to the article, some gen Y workers at Chegg wanted to leave early to finish their work at Starbucks.

Yep, I have to cringe when I read this. It has been bad enough that many people within our age group are struggling to find jobs. Many within generation Y are struggling to pay bills. Many are stuck at dead-end jobs, anticipating furthering their education because they can’t get the job they want.

I truly believe that most within our generation do have a challenge and do not have it completely easy and are struggling to find their path. Those get my sympathy.

However, I have to address to you within my generation that complain about not having it your way all the time. I really have a problem with the outlandish demands some Generation Yers get from their employers besides the ones I just mention. I could list others. iPads, BlackBerry’s, lavish gifts and from sources, some employees going for manicures in the middle of a Friday afternoon. The list could be as long as the Red River. Heck, even major unions whose most of their membership baby boomers would want to slap some of you young punks.

Now I am not saying work should NOT be fun for you. It is vital for companies to keep talent like us if companies want to grow. I am all for using technology and all the vital tools of mass collaboration to boost a company’s bottom line. However, maybe some of you Generation Yers need a reality check, given the examples I have mentioned make us look like spoiled little children.

Perhaps I will refer you to some interesting stats the WSJ article mentions on what we value and what we could possibly learn from baby boomers:

A 2010 Pew Research study found that while baby boomers—generally born between 1946 and 1964—cited work ethic, respectfulness, and morals as their defining qualities, millennials chose technology, music and pop culture, and liberal leanings—followed by superior intelligence and clothing as their defining qualities. Millennials are also likely to prioritize lifestyle over salary, and to foresee changing careers.

Ok, now that you have read this, here is some advice, as a millennial/generationYer myself to you:

Respect Baby Boomers Work Ethic: I have a lot of respect for baby boomers. After all, this was the generation that fought in World War 2, and build a lot of prosperity in our society. They have built many of the companies that are top dog today. They believe in respect, which is a vital part in building a client base. Building trust amongst one another is very important. Most baby boomers know this. While I disagree with baby boomers sometimes, especially when it comes to cherishing technology, learning from their experience, and trust is something you all could learn.

Don’t Ask for Everything Now. BE PATIENT!!!! Please, please, please please. I understand you ambitious younglings want to climb the corporate ladder, want expensive clothing, iPads and leave early to go to Starbucks every Friday. However, some millienials like myself would just kill to have the basics, like a 9 to 5 job, dental and health care benefits at best. That is all. Some don’t want to climb the corporate ladder, but learn from others now, in the hopes that maybe, with further education, we can start our own businesses as consultants later in life like myself. Bottom Line: You just can’t get everything you want ASAP and will need to pay their dues.

Be Thankful For What You Have: A big one. Be thankful for what you have at your job. Because one day, it can be taken all away from you. Add to that, many millenials are struggling to find work. Keep that in mind.

I hope that helps you out. So check your ego at the door, and just enjoy what you have and don’t ask for those shiny iPads on the first day of your job.

Sincerely,

Your Generation Y friend

Adam

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What the Renewable Energy Sector Can Learn From Apple


Apple recently became the most valuable company in the World. Renewable Energy companies like Gamesa could learn some lessons. Photo sources: ipad & iPhone: http://www.uis.edu/informationtechnologyservices/iss/iphone.html; Apple Logo: Wikipedia; Gamesa wind turbine: http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/view/17062/gamesa-launches-low-wind-4-5-mw-wind-turbine/

In case you missed it last week, Apple became the world’s most valuable company, reaching an astronomical US$622 billion on Monday, August 20th. This is quite amazing accomplishment, given that Exxon has often been the most valuable company.  With Apple again whipping the oil giants like Exxon, here are some lessons both the renewable and clean technology sectors can learn from Apple’s success:

Sell a vision: One thing that Apple has always been good at is selling a vision, something that other companies do not provide.  Apple was on the edge of a vision, making cool products like the iPhone, iPod and iPad that people wanted. Steve Jobs and company had a vision of where they wanted their products to go. Look at where that vision got them. It’s important that leaders within the renewable energy sector do not lose focus and continue to have a solid vision of where they want their product to be.

At the same time, keep your products simple: While it’s important to have vision, it’s also important for a company to simplify its product. When Steve Jobs returned to the company he created back in the mid-1990’s Jobs began to simplify much of the product line apple had.  Carmine Gallo, an author who has written many books on the success of Apple recently had this to say about the importance of how Apple simplified their products in a recent Forbes article:

“Steve Jobs once said, “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” In 2007 cellphone manufacturers were adding features to phones to make them ‘smarter.’ More features added complexity for consumers. Steve Jobs had the courage to eliminate the clutter, including the keyboard itself. Part of the iPad’s success is that it is incredibly easy to use. Since there’s only one button on it, even a 2-year-old can use it. Don’t believe me? Search YouTube for “2-year-old” + “iPad” and see how many people post videos of their children picking up an iPad for the first time. Apple’s lead designer, Jonathan Ive, once said, “We are absolutely consumed by trying to develop a solution that is very simple, because as physical beings we understand clarity.” In 1998, Steve Jobs told a business reporter that one of his mantras was focus and simplicity. “Simple can be harder than complex. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there you can move mountains.”

Renewable energy and clean technology companies, should keep their products simple and straight forward for their customers to use. Remember the KISS method in school. It applies here as well.

But sell the “Coolness” of the Product: Just because you keep your products simple does not mean they do not have to be cool. Apple has been successful, because of the coolness factor. They used the “anti-PC” factor early on. Apple innovated products like the mp3 player, mobile phone, and computer tablets, and virtually made cool products other companies would not dare have thought have.

Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder in their 2007 book, The Clean Tech Revolution also emphasized this, saying:

“And if your “cool: cachet is high enough, you may be able to command a premium price for a clean-tech product.” (P.278)

Renewable energy companies like wind, solar or those in the clean technology sector including electric cars and smart grids need to sell the coolness factor. They just can’t sell the “Save the world” factor in order to engage people to buy it. Former General Motors executive Bob Lutz, well-known for his anti climate change views, is a proponent on selling the GM  hybrid electric Volt car as a “cool” product, because the demand was there.

Here is hoping the ghost of Steve Jobs will channel through the leaders within renewable energy and clean technology companies looking to boost their bottom line.

Announcing…. Rant VideoGaming Blogger


Besides writing for Cleantechnica, I am also entering the world of writing about video games part-time. Rant Gaming has accepted my application for writing for their blog. I am very excited about providing content for one of the more well-known video game blogs currently on the Internet.

Thanks to Rant Gaming for taking me on. I look forward to providing my unique perspective in both the historical, business and fun part of this emerging entertainment industry.

How Far Would Renewable Energy Be Without On-line Media?


EarthTechling and Cleantechnica are two of the more popular news related websites pertaining to alternative energy & clean technology. Photo Sources: EarthTechling (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/klcfmghlkbplmiaeileeepjmnbgcodei); Cleantechnica (www.cleantechnica.com)

What role has on-line media played with the growth of the renewable energy sector in the past ten to twenty years? That is a question that really has not been up for discussion within the renewable energy community.

However, it does merit some discussion. Afterall, commentators are saying that we are in the midst of quite a change in mass communications. No longer in the days of the World Wide Web do we get our information from just ten television channels and local radio stations. Rather there is the five hundred channel universe, web 2.0, smart phones, and tablets are bombarding our senses with information.

Despite all those concerns of information overload, the Internet is at least providing an outlet for other voices that normally would get shut out.

For newer industries like renewable industry that need to grow all important market share to increase their products, it provides a means of an efficient communication strategy that would have been more difficult in a ten channel universe or newspaper era.

I won’t go into too much into detail, but you can thank a lot of the renewable energy revolution’s backbone from the information technology revolution that happened in the mid to late 1990’s to early 2000’s.

However, I think it was the power of Web 2.0, when it really started to take off in around early to mid 2000’s we saw a new breed of on-line media take off. Blogs, thanks to Blogger, WordPress, along with podcasts have allowed the average citizen to get involved in media. That has been important in the spread of the discussion of renewable energy’s role within society.

Case in point, in the early 2000’s, as the Internet and the World Wide Web were in their infancy, there were very few websites you could find decent commentary or news related to clean technology. After all, both were fairly young infant industries.

Yet, as we moved further along into the first decade of the 21st century, good quality on-line media was being devoted to the subject. From podcast radio shows, to documentaries, and on-line publications, the ante of the quality of news within the renewable energy industry has increased, as the industry as grown.

Websites, including EarthTechling, Cleantechnica, and Renewable Energy World provide superb content on a daily basis for those who want to know how alternative energy affects the nexus of economics, markets, politics, globalization and environmental issues on a daily basis. I consider these the MSNBC’s CNN‘s and CNBC‘s of the renewable energy world. You can thank the Internet for that.

Heck, even Bloomberg’s website a mainstream business source for news, added a sustainability part of their site thanks to the increasing appetite for sustainable development issues amongst business people. Bloomberg types are not your stereotypical granola munching hippie types, either, folks.

In the future, when we look back at media, and energy, in the early 21st century, there is a good chance that likely, we will say, that without on-line media’s presence of blogs, on-line video and podcasts, who knows how much this sector would have grown.

Perhaps maybe this paragraph from a recent Corporate Knights article sums it up best of where the interlinking between alternative energy and the World Wide Web are headed:

“Thanks to the web, citizens in every location of the globe are connecting and contributing, strand by strand, to what is in essence a mesh of surveillance around the planet, constantly taking the pulse of nature and making note of the pressures we place on it. “It’s really the web and Internet infrastructure that’s allowing the scaling up of all of this,” said Jeff Seifert, chief technology officer at Cisco Canada. Cisco and NASA are working together on a non-profit initiative, called the Planetary Skin Institute, that’s aiming to make sense of – and help decision-makers act on – this massive (and growing) wave of data.

And here’s the thing: you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. As Berners-Lee likes to say, “Most of the history of the web is still ahead of us.” “

Winnipeg Violent T-Storm and India’s Blackout: Welcome to the Climate-Energy Era


The aftermath from Winnipeg’s rapid fire Thunderstorm on July 29, 2012 via The Weather Network: Photo source: http://www.theweathernetwork.com/your_weather/details/4029/7325544/13/hits/604800/786?ref=ugc_mostviewed_thumbs

Winnipeg’s short violent thunderstorm on July 29 and India’s massive blackout between  July 30 to 31 . You would not think these two stories are intertwined. After all, one store is on the other side of the world, and one impacted us here in the River City.  Well they do and should give you some food for thought in the climate-energy era.

The first story of the week, hit very close to home. Winnipeg, on July 29th had a wild and wacky thunderstorm. The storm occurred as temperatures hit around 35 celsius (C) during the day.  Then, according to a Winnipeg Free Press article, a ridge of cold air from Dauphin that afternoon. The storm swamped the Manitoba capital just around 6pm, causing damage due to severe winds reaching close to 80 kilometres per hour (kpm), along with heavy rains.  Smashed roofs, damaged trees were scattered all over the city, as Manitoba Hydro crews were trying to restore power across the city. The storm had the similar feel of the derecho storms that hit the Midwest and eastern US in late June.

While Winnipeg has had severe storms in the past, this one was unique according to some analysts.  Ronald Stewart,  the head of the University of Manitoba’s faculty of environment and geography said  that perhaps,  this storm is a story of things to come, tying it to climate change:

“I can see that, the new normal,” Stewart said. “One doesn’t want to couch everything in climate change, but when you have a warmer world, you’re going to have huge dryness and huge wetness. We have one of the most extreme climates in the whole world. It could become even more so. I don’t think this storm set a precedent. I do think it is indicative of the variable climate that we have.”

A traffic jam, during the India Blackout, courtesy of Indiablackout.com. Photo source: http://indiablackout.com/traffic-jam-in-new-delhi/

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, India was hit with the world’s largest blackout.  The blackout effected between 600 to 700 million people, around 10% of the world’s population.  A late monsoon in the country, along with a overwelmed grid were just some of the reasons officials and experts have given towards an unprecedented blackout.

Both Winnipeg’s rapid fire thunderstorm,  along with India’s nutty blackout provide some interesting examples of how to deal with future scenarios like this in the climate-energy era.

First, in terms of Winnipeg, this storm quite frankly shows, Winnipeg, and Manitoba are not ready for the “big” storm. What if in the future, Winnipeg does get hit by a large tornado , causing severe damage. Or, even just as bad, what if Winnipeg, or somewhere in Manitoba, gets pounded by a rainstorm in February, causing flash flooding in the future. Not only that, but ideas of a freezing rain storm in the winter, instead of a blizzard are definitely not out of the question.

Both the province of Manitoba and Winnipeg, really need to come up with updated infrastructure, along with better planning to deal with climate change related problems in the future.  This ranges from more alternative energy sources, to upgrading sewer backup, smart grids, and more strategic warning systems.

In terms of India, the blackout showed the current grid in the emerging market country is severely stressed and outdated. The grid needs upgrading, if it wants to compete with other emerging markets, including China. Take it from one energy analyst who was quoted in a USA Today article about the blackout:

“Underinvestment at both the state level and national level has been building as power demand increases,” said Charles Ebinger, director of the Energy Security Initiative at the Brookings Institution. “This is just a colossal case where everything has come home to roost after years of neglect.”

While the blackout has shown some of the problems with their grid and the need to keep up with India’s massive power appetite, the crisis has spurred talk about increasing renewable energy investments in the country.

An article from Germany’s Deutsche Welle provided interesting points to further this argument:

“India covers over half of its energy needs with coal. In order to tackle the country’s energy problems, experts have long been demanding that India move away from coal and use renewable and ecologically friendly sources like sun and wind energy. A number of new nuclear power plants are currently under construction. But since the nuclear disaster in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, opposition to nuclear energy has grown considerably.

“We won’t be able to get away from coal as our main source of energy within the next decade. But we will surely be able to increase the amount of renewable sources we use,” said Arup Ghosh (an energy expert from New Delhi).

Solar energy has grown in India with plants like the Gujarat park in the emerging market. Photo Source: http://www.gujaratsolarpark.com/solar-energy-blooms-in-india/

In fact, there has been some excellent strides by India. They have recently installed over 1,000 mega-watts (MW) of solar photovoltaic energy across the country. That is important for developing country like India, who needs up to date capital to keep up with the demand.

The cases of Winnipeg and India this week (one area of the developed world and one an emerging market) show that climate and energy are linked at the hip and can’t be ignored any longer. One’s at least attempting to try to steer themselves in the right direction, slowly going towards renewable energy in an ever energy hungry world. The other is still stuck procrastinating, waiting for a big extreme weather event to hit, before addressing the concerns of infrastructure and warning systems.

Welcome to the climate-energy era folks. Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a nutty ride.

Generation Screwed, Well, Maybe…


Comic explains the current state of Generation Yers in the job market from a What am I missing.com article on Generation Screwed. Source: http://www.whatamimissinghere.com/archives/23111

Recently I had seen a feature article in Newsweek magazine entitled “Generation Screwed,”  (millennials) about those between the age of 18-36. Of course, this article was dealing with mainly the United States population in this age group, yet you could apply this template to pretty much most of us within this age range in the developed world. Canadian magazine MacLeans published a similar article in December, 2010. Here are some interesting facts pertaining to Generation Screwed from a infograph earlier this year in the US:

In case you are not familiar, many experts are predicting this generation is going to have a very difficult time reaching the echelon of our baby boomer, and even our generation counterparts in terms of prosperity. We will be worse off.  Increased demand on our health care system, demand on the Canadian Pension Plan system will definitely test the public system. It will increase the nation’s debt loads.  Add to that the Great Recession back in 2008 slammed baby boomer private pension plans back years,  is causing them to retire later than sooner.  Oh, don’t forget the mountains of consumer debt they have too and you have one part of the ticking time bomb.

Now, on the flip side,  generation Yers are facing, consumer debt along with mortgage sized student loan debt,  plus the lack of current good job opportunities as baby boomers are reluctant to retire.

Mix all of those and you have the potential for what could be a booby trap. Here are some reason’s why:

  1. Regardless, generation Yers are going to somehow and someway pay for baby boomers expenses, either direct or indirect. It is going to come directly via through higher taxes, and paying through our pocketbook to insure that there is money to cover health care and public pensions.  It will come indirectly as the lack of high quality jobs for post secondary grad will force those to take McJobs. Yep. That is right, Mc Jobs.
  2. As this generation continues to work in dingy, low paying jobs, ideas of owning a house will likely become a pipe dream. You can forget about owning that nice 4 bedroom house, so  might as well go for that modest apartment.  Owning property could become a foregone conclusion for our generation because we are broke!

Some baby boomers may not worry about this. Granted, heck, they think we are the spoiled generation. However, I argue that you should be worried for we need high paying jobs to pay for your retirement. We need high paying jobs to pay for your health care. We want a decent career.  We want some fun. Heck, maybe we even want to buy your houses as you will need someone to buy them.

I sit here thinking, perhaps are generation is screwed.  The jobs aren’t there. The houses are too expensive. Plus, the stress level is getting to us. I am not as rosy as I was a year or two ago. I could blame the Great Recession, with companies using it as an excuse not to hiring. I could blame it on the lack of entrepreneurial spirit in Manitoba. I could blame it on the rise of unpaid internships.  Might as well pack it in, right.

However, while we may be screwed, here are some suggestions that may help out.

One, its going to suck, but the days of tax cuts may need to come to an end. We may have to face the piper and accept that higher income people should take a tax increase. Yep, as much as I would love to have a tax cut, if it meant keeping our public health system and Canadian Pension Plan system at least sustainable in order for baby boomers to retire earlier, I would definitely take it.

Second,  large companies need to stop it with the “unpaid” internships. Seriously. While internships are a really wonderful idea in nature and allow for recent grads to get experience, the economy, as a whole loses as what would normally been paid out in wages, gets ciphered back to corporate profits. Please instead put these unpaid internships into wages, or at least offer employment within a company after a short period of time.

Third solution could either compliment number one, or in the very least be a substitute, promote creating small business and entrepreneurs. If the Great Recession has taught us anything, was the giant behemoths after bounced back. They continue to make astronomical profits. Allowing new and innovative small businesses would entice higher earning jobs. Maybe entrepreneurism is the best way to go here.

Fourth, ramp up private R&D in Canada.  More investments in private R&D would spur new products, innovation and new jobs for post-secondary grads. Canada ranks as near the middle to lower in the pack with regards to private R&D.  More attention should be paid to this.

Fifth, lastly, colleges and universities need better career councillors to provide current career advice. Without those connections in the real world, graduates will struggle and wonder why there $10,000+ investment in post secondary education was worth it.

Generation screwed still has some hope. I tend to like and am supportive of the potential of our generation. And who to say there is not. After all, this generation is one of the most educated, passionate, and well-trained generations, ever. We are pumping out college graduated out of the ying-yang. Author Don Tapscott, has written numerous times about our generation, including the best-selling books,  Grown Up Digital, and Macrowikinomics. Don’s energy is perhaps why, maybe I have not completely lost all hope, as he states below from his 2009 book Grown up Digital:

“If Growing Up Digital Got anything right, it was the assertion that this generation will change the world. They are already bringing and implementing radical views regarding the way business should be conducted and about the process of democratic governance. They are a generation that can learn together, as a unified generation, unlike any other. They are seeking to protect the planet and they find racism, sexism, and other vile remnants of bygone days to be both weird and unacceptable. They will seek to share in the wealth they create. They will want power in every domain of economic and political life.

The big remaining question for older generations is whether that power will be shared with gratitude-or whether we will stall until a new generation grabs it from us. Will we have the wisdom and courage to accept them, their culture, and their media? Will we be effective in offering our experience to help them manage the dark side? will we grant them the opportunity to fulfill their destiny? I think this will be a better place if we do?” (P. 310)

Don’s words echo so true today. However, that window is slowing closing faster than a speeding bullet, however.  This problem is going to take more than just protesting in the streets, or even some of the suggestions I have given. It may be a even deeper conversation that needs to go further. But the question overall is, will our political and business leaders answer before we as a generation are toast?