How would you classify your latest work, what inspired its inception?

“Why I Find You Irritating: Navigating Generational Friction at Work” is about embracing and collectively leveraging our unique generational distinctions in the workplace. Eighteen or so years ago, I found myself running a school for new consultants gathered from offices across the globe. These young people were markedly more assertive in how they interacted, how they expected to be treated and how they responded to authority. Subsequently, I started doing some homework on generational differences. After reading some 50 generationally-themed and parenting books, I felt I knew enough to make a unique contribution to the literature on the topic, culminating in my book, “Why I Find You Irritating: Navigating Generational Friction at Work.”

How long did it take you to complete? 

The book started out as a collection of essays on various aspects of the topic written over the course of several months. I then got help in shaping the narrative into a cohesive whole. This took some time since I had to work with an editor to edit out some of the content. This was difficult, simply because I was so attached to everything that I had written. The edited version, from inception to finish, took roughly 18 months.

Who are some of your top 5 authors or writers you look up to & admire?

This is a difficult question, simply because I read quite a bit, both in the categories of fiction and nonfiction, and so I like different authors for different reasons. This being an interview about my nonfiction business focused book. I’ll limit myself to authors relevant to me in that category. 
In no particular order, I enjoy the writings of:

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Leonard Mlodinow

Dan Ariely

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Oliver Burkeman

Why do you write?

Writing allows me to express more nuance and gives me a chance to elaborate in a way that speaking alone does not. It’s also a place where I can capture not only my insights, but also once written, it shows me the gaps in my thinking and what I need to do to fill them in.  Our thoughts, while they may make sense to us, need to make sense to the reader. It dramatically reduces the making of assumptions as to what the reader may or may not know about the topic. Lastly, it allows me to reflect on what I’ve written and, in reflecting, on occasion, has led me to further insights. 

What’s the biggest take away you want your readers to come away with after reading your latest work? 

The takeaway is in the title, why find you irritating. Our early memories inform our view of the world around us, and though passing through the six stages of life is universal, how you view those stages and interpret the actions of others is unique to your generation. I explain why we might, on occasion, be irritated by members of another generation. I do this by making distinctions between our individual generational lens, formed by our experiences growing up and stage of life.            

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

Sadly, this is not a question I can answer, since different book genres meet different needs at different times. It’s like asking who do you love as opposed to who have you loved. I have had a lifelong love affair with reading and so to name the best book ever would be a disservice to my past. It would discount how intensely I felt at the time when reading them. In retrospect, knowing what I know today, they weren’t all great literature, but for any number of personal reasons I considered them great books.

When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer? 

I never imagined myself as a writer until I started on this journey. I find writing hard. Even this interview is hard. There are so many ways to articulate a point. I have trouble with finding the right turn of phrase or making a point that is both cogent and concise, not to mention being able to capture my voice on paper. Because of having written my book, I have an even greater admiration for authors knowing the struggle involved in putting pen to paper. 

If you could meet, have dinner, have a drink with anyone (writer/non-writer) (dead or alive) who would it be? 

Since I was a child, I have always found science fiction mesmerizing. I loved reading about what the future could be and any author who could transport me into it was magical. Asimov, Clark, Herbert, Heinlein, and Dick were all capable of teleporting me to a different place and time, I would have a drink with any or all of them. Heck, I’d even buy the first round.

What’s next for you? 

Frist off, I started a podcast, Cubicle Confidential, where I and my friend Mary Abbajay answer questions about the workplace. I have also been lucky enough to not only have been able to write about generational differences in the workplace, but I have been speaking on the topic as well. My goal is to get my message out to larger audiences so we might recognize sooner rather than later that every voice in the workplace needs to be heard and that ultimately, we have more in common than we have differences between us.


End of Interview