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Friday, August 19, 2016

Motivational speaker at LANL

So LANS just spent a huge amount of money to bring on motivational speaker 
Cam Marston to explain how the different generations of people are different. Nothing wrong with Cam but near as I can tell he is a stand up comedian who tells us the the most popular stereotypes about each generation that anyone who lives on earth has already heard about a million times. He provides no nuance or new perspective to this whatsoever other then telling it jokes most of which you have heard before if listen to the comedy channel. Did you know in the old days that TVs had bunny ears made of aluminum foil, however you have not have guessed this but millennials did not grow up with this. All of this is presented without any real evidence and for obvious reasons does not apply to Los Alamos or any other scientific workforce. But hey LANS needs to burn money somehow. By the way the only reason anyone went was because it fulfilled the ethics training requirement which we have to take thanks to some ethical lapses of our former deputy director Beth Sellers. Why to go LANS!!!!

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have to say, this speaker was very informative on generational differences and how to negotiate these differences in the work place. Seems to me the original poster is in denial. As a Baby boomer, I sat next to a new hire millennial and a long-term employee GenX person and laughed along with them. The humor helped lesson the blow at how different we are based on our experiences, but the reality that we all share a common workspace and can find common ground. I sincerely hope they have more speakers of this caliber.

Anonymous said...

"The humor helped lesson the blow at how different we are based on our experiences, but the reality that we all share a common workspace and can find common ground. I sincerely hope they have more speakers of this caliber."


The guy was funny I agree with that, however he did not have anything informative to say about what are common stereotypes (which in fact are not really that accurate) or information could be easily found or not known by anyone who has a pulse. It had no real value whatsoever in terms of the workforce and it cost a lot of money this guy may get 50k to 100k per talk. I think LANS could waste this money in much better ways.


Anonymous said...

"the humor helped lesson the blow at how different we are based on our experiences"

First of all this is not even true if you actually look at real data but hey it makes for some good jokes. This guy is not an academic and just feeds off common misconceptions. Notice he did not provide any real data. In any case science as done by millennials, GenX, and Boomers is not all that different, some details may change but the foundations of how science is done do not, so the whole argument really does not even apply to a scientific workforce.


"but the reality that we all share a common workspace and can find common ground."

Did you really need to pay some hack 50k to say this? Be honest with yourself on this, I mean really honest, did you learn anything new at all by this presentation? Come clean. I get it that you got to kill an 1.5-2 hours on a Thursday to hear some jokes, I understand that having a good time is better than real work which has been true across every generation for all human history but what was the actual value added to LANL?

You do know that there was actually a reason that this speaker was brought in don't you? If not I will tell you, LANS has no idea why so many mid career have people left during their tenure. Why would that be, could it be bad management, corrupt policies, a poor attitude toward the technical workforce, Bechtel looking down on non Bechtel people? No that could not possibly be the cause. A rumor I hear is that they trying to say that millennials just change jobs all the time so it is not their fault that so many people left the lab and that the speaker was suppose to confirm this theory. Well guess what the speaker did not confirm this theory, not to mention that the demographics of this argument do not make any sense in the first place. I would also add that if there was anything to this theory all you would have to do is check any other DOE lab to see if they have similar issues and they do not, except one which would be LLNL, hmm why would that be? LANS is trying to throw everything including the kitchen sink to save some face in light of their own failures.

Every generation has some differences but there are certain universals which are timeless, all you have to do is read ancient texts and the same characters, same flaws, same villains, same sins, and shortfalls come up time and time again. Greed, pride, wrath, lack of self-awareness, stupidity, denial, brutality, suckups, blind devotion, the willingness to sell your soul for gain, betrayal, traitors, apathy, and criminality. The converse is also true, hard work, bravery, ingenuity, hope, creativity, curiosity, needing a sense of purpose, integrity, compassion, love, ethics and passion for life.

Anonymous said...

Have the LANS and LLNS multi-year workforce attrition tables been posted lately?

Anonymous said...

I think hiring this speaker to present was wise.

Many in the auditorium listening to the speaker may be in some way contributing to the recruiting, interviewing, training, mentoring or supervising the new hire early career generations.

Although I was aware of many of the points in differences in the age groupings [Baby Boomers; millennials, GenX, GenY, iGen...] I now better understand their perspective and why they have them [e.g., as a result of their collective experiences].

My adult children are all Millennials, and they never knew a time when TSA wasn't up in your business at the airport. This relentless focus on national and personal security can and should benefit our Laboratories greatly.

Anonymous said...

OP: Why to go LANS!!!!


Why not????

Anonymous said...

"Although I was aware of many of the points in differences in the age groupings [Baby Boomers; millennials, GenX, GenY, iGen...] I now better understand their perspective and why they have them [e.g., as a result of their collective experiences]."

Fair enough but many of things that where said are simply not accurate, particularly the points made about millennials. It is simply not true that all millennials have the same perspective much less any kind of collective experiences. I know it is easy and simple to make these claims but simply not true nor is it born out in any actual statistics.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2015/02/23/what-you-think-about-millennials-is-wrong/

When one looks at real numbers you will find that millennials are pretty much the same as
Gen-Xers and Boomers. Millennial respondents were less likely than baby boomers to say their top career goal was to help solve social or environmental problems (22 percent versus 24 percent) and do work they're passionate about (20 percent versus 23 percent). The idea that their are vast differences in the generations is just does not hold water. The big drivers in differences in groups is not generational but are within the same generation, which are economic class while growing up, ethnicity, religion, cultural, and international and national geography and so on. The speaker made a crazy statement that "we all watch the same TV shows" which supposedly means we are all the same, however it is wrong on two counts, (1) We do not watch all the same TV shows nor do we spend the same amounts of time watching them, (2) Any two different groups of people watching the same TV show will not perceive the show the same way, nor be influenced in the same way. As I said this guy is not "an expert" and certainly would not be considered an expert by any kind academic standard and he does not have to live by academic standards in terms of rigor of research, honesty or motivation, you simply have no way to to know if he is accurate or literally makes stuff up for a good show.

"My adult children are all Millennials, and they never knew a time when TSA wasn't up in your business at the airport. This relentless focus on national and personal security can and should benefit our Laboratories greatly."

I simply do not understand your point, the same things that should make LANL/LLNL an attractive places to work for top talent are essentially the same in 50s as they are today. In any case the TSA has been in your face since 2001, and LANL-LLNL have declined greatly since 2001. Of all the things that could benefit LANL in terms of recruitment of top talent, bringing in a speaker at high cost to make banal or wrong points is not helpful. A much better way to start would be to a have functional non-corrupt management, higher ups that actually care about the mission and not just short term easy profit, respect for the job, respect for the employees and not treating the place like a scam or feel that there is no right or wrong and it is all just perception anyway so who cares what we do so follow the money!. In the end you can always just hire random people but the question is what kind of people? LANL, LLNL should be a place for the best and brightest but if you consider these places as just hustles for corporate money than it does not matter who you hire. In short bringing this speaker out was a waste of time and money in the same way the Saatchi and Saatchi thing was and simply shows how out of touch our current management is. It is great that you enjoyed the talked, laughed for a few hours in the middle of a workday and got to cross off your ethics training but don't try to claim this is something that was of any actual value.

Anonymous said...

Canyon alcoholics

Anonymous said...




Why not????

August 20, 2016 at 12:16 PM

I am not sure what your point is but the speaker must have cost a fair amount of money and there little to no value added to the institution, that is why not. All you have to do is look this guy up on google to see what he is all about.

"Cam Marston is the leading expert on the impact of generational characteristics and differences on the workplace and the marketplace. As an author, columnist, blogger, and lecturer, he imparts a clear understanding of how generational demographics are changing the landscape of business. Marston and his firm, Generational Insights, have provided research and consultation on generational issues to hundreds of companies and professional groups, ranging from small businesses to multinational corporations, as well as major professionalassociations, for over 15 years." Cam Marston provided our franchisees with actionable ideas about communicating with customers across the different generations that will translate into increased sales for those who put his simple, valuable message to work. Thank you for a fantastic presentation that was equally entertaining and educational…an all-around success! "


Cam Mastron is not a scholar, he talks to companies and business about the marketplace and how to sell things. Now what on earth does this have to do with LANL, LLNL or any other scientific organization? He does not give talks at universities, he does not give talks in conferences on sociology or demographics he gives talks to companies and corporations so they can sell stuff and make more money. Hashtag: LANL is not business, it is not a company selling things, it does not have costumers, it does not compete in a freemarket of trading goods, we are not in a marketplace, it is not a corporation, what motivates people to work at LANL or LLNL are not the same things that motivate people to work for McDonalds, Coke or Wall Street. LANL and LLNL are by nature scientific organizations and should be run like scientific organizations just as they have been done for 50 years or so, so trying to bring in the corporate motivational speakers to improve our "sales" to "move product" or bringing in a add company on how to re-brand ourselves to our potential "costumers" so we can capture market share will not accomplish anything because it does not apply to the fundamental nature of what we are and what we do. Bringing in a veterinarian to fix your 18 wheeler truck does not and cannot work by definition. Treating LANL and LLNL like Wallmart cannot work either. This is not that hard to figure out. LANS and LLNS have been failing so why is that, well why would your truck run worse after you give it a hairball treatment.

Anonymous said...

Canyon alcoholics

August 20, 2016 at 2:46 PM

If that is the case than you could easily provide some great examples of how the speaker had something valuable to say for LANL.

Anonymous said...

I find it puzzling that the same folks that teach us not to profile, buy into speakers like Cam. Claims about generation (age) this or that doing something different or better/worse than some other generation are no different than similar claims over the years about gender/ethnicity categories being valid and acceptable predictors of all types of outcomes related to work or professional achievement.

Anonymous said...

Two points:

1. Good talk, but I wonder how much LANS paid this fellow to talk about "generational issue"?

2. Second time the auditorium has been filled to capacity since being built. Last time it was full was when Pete Domenici inaugurated it.

Anonymous said...

2. Second time the auditorium has been filled to capacity since being built. Last time it was full was when Pete Domenici inaugurated it.

August 22, 2016 at 4:04 AM

When McMillan gives a talk in the auditorium the only folks that show up (in the front row) are his senior management shaking their heads (up and down or left and right) in unison when Charlie tells them to. Its enough to make you barf.

Anonymous said...

Beth Sellers is only one of the LANS executive involved in recent ethical lapses.

Does the name Rick Marquez ring a bell? He also got caught with his fingers in the cookie-jar.

Anonymous said...

When McMillan gives a talk in the auditorium the only folks that show up (in the front row) are his senior management shaking their heads (up and down or left and right) in unison when Charlie tells them to. Its enough to make you barf.

August 22, 2016 at 4:10 AM

Even better to watch on LabVIEW and guess which bobblehead is going to get caught pickin'.

Anonymous said...

The post of August 19, 2016 at 9:44 PM is one of the most insightful on this blog.

I'm one of those numerous mid-career people who left LANL in the past several years. I can tell you that the reasons for my departure had nothing whatsoever to do with "generational differences", or some such nonsense. They had everything to do with the decay of the scientific base of the Lab and the systematic campaign of harassment and abuse against people still trying to do reasonably good science.

The world of LANL became the world of Atlas Shrugged. One by one, the best people around me would disappear, while sycophants and mediocrities willing to sell their souls for gain would systematically advance. And the management responded by redoubling their efforts to abuse and humiliate the remaining good people. "Greed, pride, wrath, lack of self-awareness, stupidity, denial, brutality, suckups, blind devotion, the willingness to sell your soul for gain, betrayal, traitors, apathy, and criminality", I had seen them all.

I guess they are now trying to explain away the inconvenient truth that so many people left for better positions elsewhere by creating a myth of "generational differences". This is just a PR scam. Even they know better.

Anonymous said...

"Even they know better."

Actually, they don't. They are so wrapped up in their own insulated stage play that they have completely lost touch with reality.

Anonymous said...

"They are so wrapped up in their own insulated stage play that they have completely lost touch with reality."

I have had some very, and I do mean very odd conversations with some LANL managers about the very nature of reality itself in which they argue that it is all perception and there is no good or bad work or science there is only funding and network building and that nothing has any real meaning anyway. I guess if you deny that there is such a thing as reality than you can say that there was nothing to be in touch with in the first place. To be honest I am not sure if they believe this stuff or simply want to believe in order to justify what they have become. It does explain why so many in management at LANL try to completely insulate themselves from any contact with non managers or the world outside of LANL. They just sit in the echo chamber for a long enough time they start to believe it, odd indeed. I also expect that as the time to contract change approaches that you will see even weirder and crazy stuff coming from upper managers as they see that their whacked world view is not true. There is still lots of denial in the higher ranks that the contract has been lost. They somehow thought that the extension was going to save them but now "reality" is starting to hit home.

Anonymous said...

Better than libtards anti white male dystopia.

Anonymous said...

A standup comedian hired as a warm-up act by Charlie and the PADs for several hundred thousand dollars.
No impact on rats fleeing the sinking ship.
Priceless!

Anonymous said...

A standup comedian hired as a warm-up act by Charlie and the PADs for several hundred thousand dollars.
No impact on rats fleeing the sinking ship.
Priceless!

August 25, 2016 at 6:26 AM

Look people mid career have been leaving the lab in droves for the last 10 years. LANS did not care at first but DOE has taken notice so the fault has to lie somewhere. It must be demographics as the alternatives would be bad management and that is option that cannot be considered.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, most of the "stellar" managers responsible for the recent mass exodus of mid-career science talent are home-grown. They had been at LANL for decades, slowly floating up through the management hierarchy. After the contract change all barriers to their aspirations were removed. The rise became meteoric, the salaries astronomical, the power to destroy absolute. The system of incentives that NNSA and LANS created was perfect for them.

This incentive system is not expected to change any time soon. You want to know who will run the place in ten years? Look around. Take note of those people who have no marketable skills to find a job outside LANL, who are dumb and ruthless, who profess opinions like "the era of basic research is over", "there is an oversupply of PhDs, so no one is irreplaceable", and so on. You are looking at the 2026 LANL management team.

Anonymous said...

New hire mid-careers leave because they have little skin in the game. The TCP option is insulting to new hires. They might as well go elsewhere to build their retirement.

Anonymous said...

>This incentive system is not expected to change any time soon. You want to know who will run the place in ten years? Look >around. Take note of those people who have no marketable skills to find a job outside LANL, who are dumb and ruthless, who >profess opinions like "the era of basic research is over", "there is an oversupply of PhDs, so no one is irreplaceable", and so on

I have heard similar opinions along the lines of "excellence is all in the eyes of the beholder" and "the lab is only perception", "science is defined by the victors" ect. All of these statements are from people exactly as you described and are in management in order to survive. They see excellence, hard work and the outside world as a threat and try to shield themselves from these things as much as possible. Very odd mindset but to them it is their very survival as they have no where else to go and as rough as this sounds many cannot even cut it in DOE or Washington type jobs as they have some real sharks.

Anonymous said...

The thing that is so sad at LANL is the number of people working as mediocre managers, when they could have been good scientists and technical leaders. I don't know about LLNL, but I'll bet it is the same there.

Anonymous said...

Who are these mediocre managers who could have been good scientists? A typical problem LANL manager is someone who couldn't cut it in science, became a manager and now suffers from (Brain) Size Envy.

Take the Doofus who ran the T division until recently and ran it completely into the ground. This fella had a miserable track record as a scientist, not enough accomplishment to qualify for a postdoc, let alone lead the once great division of Hans Bethe. Now that he's been out of that job for a year, do you think he's generating good science? ROTF. And his story is very typical of LANL under LANS.

Anonymous said...

Division leaders are selected by ADs, and the current crop of ADs are intellectual lightweights. You want change, it must start from the top.

Anonymous said...

And the ADs are not concerned with the scientific accomplishments of their appointee. If anything it's a minus, as a reputable scientist is perceived as a potential challenger down the line. What matters is demonstrated unconditional loyalty. Kick-down-kiss-up is an optimal candidate.

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Anonymous said...

LANS has no idea why so many mid career have people left during their tenure. Why would that be, could it be bad management, corrupt policies, a poor attitude toward the technical workforce, Bechtel looking down on non Bechtel people? No that could not possibly be the cause. A rumor I hear is that they trying to say that millennials just change jobs all the time so it is not their fault that so many people left the lab and that the speaker was suppose to confirm this theory.

I do suspect that the management is genuinely surprised that people have left en masse, instead of taking all the abuse lying down. Somehow, they where expecting highly trained technical professionals to just roll over and give in.

The problem didn't start with LANS, though LANS certainly aggravated it. The watershed moment was Vice Admiral Nanos. I remember when he demanded that we come to our offices, sit inside and not be allowed to do any work; periodically attending his mandatory "All-Hands" meetings where in fits of rage he would call the Laboratory scientists "buttheads" and lobbed various other insults at us. I remember listening to him thinking: this guy is absolutely crazy. No person with a Ph.D. from a respected university would take this treatment. Does he realize how many other job opportunities there are for us? He will end up with a Lab where the only people who are left are the ones who couldn't get any job outside!

Of course, when it came out that he shut down the Lab under false pretenses, at the cost of several hundred million dollars to the taxpayer, the Admiral had to scurry away with his tail behind his legs. But the real tragedy is what happens next. Rather than being put in jail for waste, fraud, and abuse, the Admiral goes on to continue a comfortable career in the bowels of the government military bureaucracy. Meanwhile, LANS takes over the management of LANL and, rather than repudiate Nanos's reign of terror, adopts his method of treating the workforce. The end result is a hollowed out and permanently damaged Lab.

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