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Thread: The Advice on Giving Advice Thread

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The Advice on Giving Advice Thread

    A thread in another forum recently degenerated into a string of personal attacks. This is not the first time, and it got me to wondering why. On the one hand, we have to admit to somtimes being a little discouraging related to planning as a career. On the other hand, the people asking for advice often do not want to hear honest answers.

    In the particular thread to which I referred, the original poster did not want to hear anything that countered his idea that he could find a good planning job doing exciting work, where he simply had to show up, work a 37.5 hour week, and go home. Everyone who suggested otherwise was ridiculed and accused of lying or not knowing what they were talking about. He was probably about the worst we have seen here on Cyburbia in this regard, but certainly not the only one who refused to listen to advice. What is it that makes people unwilling to listen? Is it a fear that they may not get everything they want from work and life? That they have spent 4+ years and thousands of dollars and still may not have the promise of a job? That their departments or others are filling their heads with contrary notions?

    I wonder, too, if it is the way in which the advice is offered. Many of us have been dealing with a string of hard years as the economy has tanked, we have had pay freezes or cuts, or become unemployed. Even before, we were often dealing with excessive workloads that had us logging long hours. That strain can come through in some of the advice we offer. Perhaps we are not offering rose covered glasses, but smoked ones that turn things gray instead.

    Please confirm my opinions. If you disagree, please explain why you are wrong.
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I think many college students/recent graduates still cling to the notion that their sh*t don't stink, thanks to helicopter parents, lawnmower parents and misguided professors.

    I think the Cyburbia community loves to help and offer advice, but we are quick to pick out the jerk-off kids who come here just to confirm their already false impressions about the planning profession.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  3. #3
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Often when people solicit other for advice they are looking for validation and not true advice. When they don't hear the answer they want they get mad because you are basically telling them they are wrong.

    I read through the other thread and while it could be interpreted that collectively we were being a little discouraging about planning as a career, I thought that it largely was on point. We all work in different social/political climates and in public/private/non-profit sectors and have differing experiences because of that but it's enough to get a gauge of what it's going to be like out of school especially in this economic/employment environment.

    That said, although I have not solicited advice from people here very often I have learned a great deal about working in planning from before I had even applied to graduate school. I've taken many of the suggestions and points of information from many of you to heart and I think that it's paid off for me. I am one of the few in the school to land a full time job in community development, doing what I want, at a reasonable salary, in this economy, before graduation.

    Don't let one buffoon with a sense of entitlement the size of the Empire State building deter you from offering pretty sound and helpful advice when it comes to a planning career.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek View post
    Often when people solicit other for advice they are looking for validation and not true advice. When they don't hear the answer they want they get mad because you are basically telling them they are wrong.
    My thoughts exactly.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I think there are lots of, let's say, well-seasoned, myself included, folks in here that get irritated when someone fresh out of school comes in and tells us how it all should work

    I am 45 yo, so I am the last year of the generation of boomers - for me, I started out as a draftsperson in some slave-driving firms to work my way up the ladder to be a director that I have been for 11 years - yes, I sound like the old fart that walked 12 miles to school in a blizzard (actually it was 1) but the memory that my past managers have of me was I kept my head down and worked hard and didn't ask for a work-life balance ever, was happy to be billable - I lived through the aftermath of 1987 and it was no fun - we we were all happy to have a job as we watched our friends lose theirs every day

    it's amazing in this economy, and, on this board with every day the laid off thread getting another page longer, and once a week on LinkedIn I find an old colleague down in Boston who is out of work, that anyone can feel they are in a position to hand pick not only their job but the conditions thereof

    I know I have to hold back on this ire, and instead gently type in my sage and calm advice as a conscious effort so I can fully understand why others get sucked into the wtf advice; they are saying what many of us are thinking as we read the thread - the sad thing is, that person that got banned will only take note he was banned and not inhale the points that were accurately pointed out

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    Full-time school life and full-time professional life are two very different things. In many cases, your get alot of theory in school and then get to your first planning gig and real-life hits you square in the face. Even internships don't usually give you the full picture.

    If you ask for advice, you'll get and in many cases its not what you wan to hear. Don't want to burst any bubbles, but reality is quite a concept.

    The old cliche comes to mind about walking a mile in my shoes or when you've been around, then you can talk. You know what, the system will weed them out, luck will be involved, diligence will be rewarded, and at some point in time a bell will go off in their head and "ding" it starts to make sense. It took me six months to understand that back at my first job and I had a good boss to help me understand rather than to let me sink.

    btrage said their sh*t don't stink, I'll tell you mine doesn't, but I have to use alot of airfreshener, disinfectant and turn on a strong vent fan (in other words I feel I'm very good at what I do, but I have to work hard, know strengths/weaknesses and distribute credible information) to make it that way. If I fail to do that - P.U.!
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    I've also noticed the generational bias. Usually when I ask for advice, suggestions, or price quotes, I hope for (solicit) several, and if there's a clear majority I figure there's some expertise that I should follow.

    In another forum, where folks were asking for comments, I offered some gentle suggestions. The original poster jumped on me, followed by a couple of others. (C'mon, the way I wear my hair has nothing to do with your self-description.)

    There's another term besides the ones cited by Brage, something about how, for the cited generation, even a minor accomplishment is hailed as a major milestone. ("You wiped! Goooood job!!!") But I am old and I can't remember it.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Firstly, all of your opinions are wrong because they aren't mine.

    Secondly, what is a "lawnmower parent?"

    Thirdly, I actually think you are all on target, so disregard my first comment.

    Yes, people often are not emotionally prepared for the possibility that, in asking advice, they may not hear what they are expecting. In these cases, it seems folks are often actually looking for validation, but calling it advice. I guess that's what many of you are getting at in pointing to the coddling - maybe these folks are expecting a supportive parent-like figure to tell them they are doing great so just keep on this track an you'll be fine.

    I think generational issues are at play for sure.

    I think also it can be difficult to step into a (virtual) setting where others have rapport and make snappy, sardonic comments and quips to questions. I get it. Many other get it, but if you are new or are not really tuned into the rhythm and sensibility of the "mood" in the forums, people might misunderstand some of the posters' intent.

    and some people, regardless of their age, are just like that - brick walls who can communicate only in one direction, them to you. Any thing that comes back at them that does not reflect what they already know and feel is disregarded as invalid or an affront. Those people come in all ages, colors, religions and genders (yes, all of them).

    But, to end on a compassionate note, I do recognize that many people currently in college are facing a completely unknown and, in many cases, barren landscape and that's scary in a way they cannot even articulate as many have never really fully entered the workforce yet. Its a bleak looking future out there for everyone, including young people who are now waking up to the reality that all that stuff they learned about "how the world works" is dashed on the jagged rocks of hopes and dreams. So, to have someone basically say "sorry, kid, you're f*cked" can feel pretty awful and, perhaps, a bit mean. Not that we intend it that way, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I don't think this really applies to the recent crash-and-burn advice forum in question - that poster was just agitating - but maybe some of the others.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  9. #9
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I think advice is taken, not given. If you want to accept it, then it can help guide your way - if you want to be a jerk about it - then it just isn't acceptable.

    I think people in college are scared. They have worked hard and are looking at a fairly bleak outlook. Instead of looking at the positives, or working hard to build a resume, some would rather just keep their college glasses on and believe that it isn't like that in the real world.

    That thread was funny for a whole bunch of reasons, the least of which was the fact that the kid was not really asking for advice...
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  10. #10
    It is, I think, as much about receiving advice as it is giving advice.

    I just recently queried the listserv (for a very state-specific issue) and there's an element of wanting validation to my query, but acknowledging the opposite might be true. Since I'm a big boy, I wasn't afraid to ask the question, whatever the answer might be. (I am, admittedly, pleased that the responses so far have been affirming.)

    I also think the medium is a bit of a limiting factor -- internet forum communication has its weaknesses after all.

    I still have to wonder if our now departed poster had done an internship anywhere, which surely would have clued him into the idea that while he, as an intern, might go the proverbial 37.5 and have a nice work/life balance, those above him were putting in longer hours and attending night meetings ad infinitum.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    The threads tend to gather steam as people who have already offered advice to the certain individual keep trying to answer the same questions or doesn't seem to 'get it' I personally don't involve myself after the first time, if the poster sees that his or her questions are not being answered they would hopefully stop asking. Mods may want to start merging these threads if its the same poster opening new threads.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  12. #12
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Some good thoughts in here already. I have to say though- that the incident in question seemed to be more of a fairly effective troll than someone actually looking for advice.

    But interestingly people have started pointing out some generational differences. I think what perhaps some of you aren't realizing or are glossing over is the fact that many in the younger generation just don't trust the older generations advice. Further- given the economic climate we are currently in and the job market and outlook for the younger generation, many in the younger generation blame the older generation for these problems.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Cloverhill's avatar
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    Who was the genius that said that parents should strive to give their kids a better life than they had?

    I had a great suburban childhood in the 70s, isolated from war, hunger, strife of all kinds save the occasional bloody nose, student loans, and lost little league game. How the heck do you give your kids better than that? Parents are trying to do that and they are sabotaging their kids.

    A lot of these kids grew up in starter castles, has BMW carpools, and got their choice of AP classes in HS. This is the next step up from the, achem, well-seasoned generation. Why wouldn't they feel entitled? This is the reality for them. But is the prosperity curve flattening for us as a society just as the cost curve is steepening?

    All that said, I've hired and mentored my share of newbies that came in hungry, learned the trade, and are successful. In fact, that desire is something I look for. I can deal with someone who is willing to be patient, learn, and work but the person that comes in and asks for new office furniture in their first week probably isn't going to cut it in our shop.

    Ref to lawnmower parents in this article:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicopter_parent
    No one stood up and yelled, "Socialist Government takeover of science and engineering!" when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cloverhill View post
    ...Ref to lawnmower parents in this article:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicopter_parent
    Dan, didja see this?!?
    In Scandinavia, this phenomenon is known as curling parenthood and describes parents who attempt to sweep all obstacles out of the paths of their children.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    I think there are lots of, let's say, well-seasoned, myself included, folks in here that get irritated when someone fresh out of school comes in and tells us how it all should work
    Part of the problem though- is that the "well seasoned" folks are somewhat responsible for the awful prospects for people fresh out of school. I mean, let's be honest here- you guys destroyed their future.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Slightly O.T.-I'm a few months older that lp. She considers herself to the the last of the Boomers whereas I consider myself the first of Gen-Xer-odd.

    Back on topic. This issue will come to the forefront for me in a couple of months when I get my first ever intern. One of my goals is to expose them to the realities of working in planning on the local local government level. Many moons ago, I did an iternship with a public defenders office. That experience was one the reasons I didn't go to law school. I hope to give this person enough real world experience to help them make a decision about their career in planning. How much mentoring I'm able to do remains to be seen.

    I have a younger staff and it's interesting. I give them my experience of being in as long as I have. I like their energy and try to incorporate their ideas into how the office functions.

    As for the threads- I agree that the person was looking for some handholding. I also agree that they got some real world advice from people who have fought the battles. I hope the person takes it to heart and either accepts the reality we all live with or goes onto another profession. We may have saved some PD a headache. It is too bad that it disintergrated into name calling.

    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    Part of the problem though- is that the "well seasoned" folks are somewhat responsible for the awful prospects for people fresh out of school. I mean, let's be honest here- you guys destroyed their future.
    Hopefully said with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 25 Mar 2010 at 1:48 PM. Reason: seq. posts
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post

    Hopefully said with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
    Not really no. I'm kind of playing devils advocate here and trying to convey why some younger people refuse to take advice. Each generation is responsible for the world that they leave for following generations. Kids getting out of school today have no future. Whose fault is that? It's not theirs. So if they have that mindset- why would they value your advice if they think you destroyed their future?
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    Perhaps some of the generational issues are one of the current economy. Can you imagine spending $40,000+ on a graduate degree in planning to find at the end of your degree program that there are no jobs? None. I would have been bitter and angry and totally upset at the world. The dooming thought of having to move home with my parents and pay students loans while working a minimum wage job would have killed me.

    I graduated in 1996 and had 100 entry level jobs in the APA JobMart to apply for. The sky was the limit! I could move anywhere and get a planning degree. It was a different world.

    Not this this explains the complete rudeness of the poster we're referring to, but it might be a little of it.

    I've also seen a little bit of smugness in some of the responses to questions from newbies. I just read one thread today that upset me a little -- the experienced planner was kinda insulting to the answer seeker. It should be part of our mission, as practicing planners, to help guide the young'ins. If they're not rude and they're really honest about needing some help, we should do all we can to help them. Heaven knows I had a lot of help in my early years.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    Not really no. I'm kind of playing devils advocate here and trying to convey why some younger people refuse to take advice. Each generation is responsible for the world that they leave for following generations. Kids getting out of school today have no future. Whose fault is that? It's not theirs. So if they have that mindset- why would they value your advice if they think you destroyed their future?
    You'll find most of us graybeards got to where we are by not lunging at any and all bait that swims by.

  20. #20
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    Not really no. I'm kind of playing devils advocate here and trying to convey why some younger people refuse to take advice. Each generation is responsible for the world that they leave for following generations. Kids getting out of school today have no future. Whose fault is that? It's not theirs. So if they have that mindset- why would they value your advice if they think you destroyed their future?
    How did a planning director destroy their future? Their future isn't destroyed, they just are graduating at a really bad time in the economy; but that's not our fault, is it?

  21. #21
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    How did a planning director destroy their future? Their future isn't destroyed, they just are graduating at a really bad time in the economy; but that's not our fault, is it?
    Not you personally- but everyone in your generation. Again I'm not really saying that you (or me for that matter) did, just that the impression is there that the older generation really made things worse for their future. Sure it's a bad time in the economy, but that is in no small part due to tax policies and debt spending that the baby boomer generation is at least somewhat responsible for.

    My point is that many in the younger generation don't trust your advice.

    Personally, I trust your advice

    Edit: See the thread about generational differences. Cardinal kind of hit the nail on the head as far as where I was going. And he is so much more polite than me
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  22. #22
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    soon I will be the planning guru found atop a 20% slope

    Off-topic:
    thank you dear

    and in truth, it $ucks getting older, everything you do has wider implications

  23. #23
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Great thread. But it's hell when I can't slack during the day and come home to read all these spot-on comments. Ya'll have stolen my thunder. You bastards.


    EDIT: Except imaplanner, I didn't destroy anyone's future.
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  24. #24
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Every generation thinks that the preceding ones screwed up the future for them. Probably started with Og The Caveman, "Hey, if you old cave farts hadn't started using wooden clubs, I'd be able to find some decent kindling for my fire! Fire is the lastest hot thing, you know."

    BTW, if you start with the attitude that your future has been ruined, you'll probably make it true.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  25. #25
    Cyburbian PrahaSMC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    I think there are lots of, let's say, well-seasoned, myself included, folks in here that get irritated when someone fresh out of school comes in and tells us how it all should work

    I am 45 yo, so I am the last year of the generation of boomers - for me, I started out as a draftsperson in some slave-driving firms to work my way up the ladder to be a director... I kept my head down and worked hard and didn't ask for a work-life balance ever, was happy to be billable - I lived through the aftermath of 1987 and it was no fun - we we were all happy to have a job as we watched our friends lose theirs every day
    A couple of things: first of all, I think there's a 90-percent chance everyone got all bent out of shape by someone trolling for the simple "pleasure" of getting people worked up. The poster in question posted the same stale questions day after day and was probably getting a riff out of all the people jumping all over them, and other posters eventually took the bait. After the first two threads, I figured people would start to ignore them... Second, the "entitled generation" has been something affixed to each subsequent generation since the beginning of time:
    "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.- Plato
    Today's generation of young people don't feel any more entitled, or aren't any less hardworking than any of the previous ones. In fact, today's young achievers have risen to the top in an exponentially more competitive, cut-throat educational system and an equally harsh job market. People that attend elite prep and charter schools, join dozens clubs, and volunteer in their free time to fill out their resumes (of which there are tens of thousands trying to gain entry into elite colleges that admit ~10% of applicants) dedicate themselves more fully, at a younger age than people ever did before.

    Quote Originally posted by southsideamy View post
    Perhaps some of the generational issues are one of the current economy. Can you imagine spending $40,000+ on a graduate degree in planning to find at the end of your degree program that there are no jobs? None. I would have been bitter and angry and totally upset at the world. The dooming thought of having to move home with my parents and pay students loans while working a minimum wage job would have killed me.
    This. A lot of us in the younger generation that went to grad school felt like we had one chance to make ourselves competitive in the global economy; to many, planning seems like a really interesting, timely field to puruse. After being out of work 6 months, 12 months, a year and a half... needless to say it's painful and makes you wish you had pursued anything else. Bleak doesn't even begin to describe the feeling. Not to mention, a lot of the "expectations" people talk about are partially fueled by the faculty members at universities, who tell students things like "planning is a hot employment field now" and "recessions are good times for planners." The first time a spoke with an old faculty member after graduating, he/she was shocked, shocked that I had yet to find work and attributed it to me not looking hard enough.

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