“As you’d imagine, it’s a pretty laid-back environment here,” Dave notified me upon offering me a position as a full-time writer at Grandex in Austin. And upon my first day of work, I truly didn’t know what to expect. After all, the largest site under the Grandex umbrella was Total Frat Move, so I could only imagine there would probably be some solo cups in place of coffee mugs and some tank tops in place of button downs.
Starting a new job is almost as stressful as applying and interviewing for a new job, but I had done my due diligence. I didn’t have to look much further than our co-founder’s LinkedIn to see that he was the same age as my sister — a year-and-a-half older than me. I didn’t imagine he’d been hiring a bunch of baby boomers to come in and tell him how to run his company, so I figured I’d skew right in the middle of the age range of my coworkers.
On my first day, I went to the wrong building. I foolishly went by the expired Yellow Pages listing for the company rather than the address in the email signatures of those I had negotiated the terms of my employment with. Luckily, I was immediately picked up and brought to the office (just a few miles down the road) where we laughed it off and got our day — and my new career — started.
One-by-one, I met everyone I’d be shoulder to shoulder with for the next year. And while I’m not certain, I can only assume there are more “fucks” uttered in our office than in the law office adjacent to us. And while I could be wrong again, I’m going to guess that there are a few more beers opened before two o’clock on this side of the wall as well. But for what they may lack in the eye test of professionalism, they make up for in competence and dedication.
At my last job, I was your typical entitled “sorry, I’m off the clock” employee. There were weekends where I’d completely disable my phone’s email functionality and go airplane mode during the day for fear I’d get a call or text that would inconvenience my time on the golf course or at the pool.
But there’s something different about being in an office of people from largely the same age group as yourself. It creates a cohesive identity and collective passion for the work at hand. Working with my peers — or those up to six years my younger — creates a fearless environment. Never are you worried that a senior staff member with decades more experience than you won’t grasp your pitch. Rarely do you feel as though someone is inserting their will simply to further establish their seniority rather than because they have an actual reason to intervene and tell you that you’re simply wrong. Seldom are you hesitant to speak your mind for fear of being an outsider.
Rather, your ideas are received with a similar perspective. Sure, sometimes I’ll be asked, “What the fuck are you talking about?” or told, “You know how they say there are no dumb questions? That’s a dumb question.” But because we’re on the same page 99% of the time, their harsh criticisms don’t deepen the chip on my shoulder or harvest any type of resentment on my end. They’re taken in stride and with a grain of salt.
Unlike in The New York Times piece, I don’t care if someone’s eating a tuna sandwich in one of our meetings (which actually sounds heavenly compared to the look of a dip cup). I don’t care if someone is riding a hover board while grabbing a free Kind Bar from our break room (although, they’d probably be pushed off of it before they had a chance to make a second attempt at riding it). And I don’t really give a fuck if it’s noisy half the time, because if I complained about it, I wouldn’t get to partake in my daily post-lunch ping-pong match.
If I nitpicked everything wrong about working in an office where the median age is 26, I’d be no better than the New York Times author and I’d have no place in this company. But by allowing ourselves to be a part of a free company culture, we promote a setting where we’re allowed to thrive with one another as opposed to tip-toe for fear of not doing the “right” thing. They can keep their quiet work spaces and retirement parties, because we’ll be just fine without ’em. .
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