The Kids Are Not Alright

I think that we have established that it is a Mitzvah and a good idea to train a web analyst.  But peeling back that onion and executing that plan is super hard.

The logistics behind training and ramping the person up are difficult, but even more difficult is finding the right raw material.  It sounds so simple:  just go find a smart kid that has as much knowledge of online marketing, technology and/or analytics as possible.  Pay him 40-50k and off you go.

You send them off for training, you show them the ropes and you sprinkle some web analytics dust on them.  Viola, 9 months later you have the web analyst that everyone dreams about.

Here’s the problem:  there are a lot of stupid kids out there.

I probably sound like a terrible, grumpy old man.  And I am sorry about that.  But have you ever tried to do this?  Have you ever tried
to discuss with a 22-year old marketing Duke grad that your 45k job in web analytics is a great career opportunity?  It’s like herding cats.  They’re with you one minute and gone the next.

I thought the economy was supposed be really bad and there is supposed to be 10% unemployment.

This is one of the fastest growing, most dynamic career paths in the world where there is 0% unemployment and you get promoted every 18-months (which is a problem, by the way).  Hello?

They either don’t get it or they don’t think it’s compelling enough to give up their universe of opportunities elsewhere… whatever they may be.

The only people that all seem to be interested in getting into web analytics are total geeks.  In web analytics TOTAL geeks don’t get
very far.  You need PARTIAL geeks.  You need people that can be geeky and get all the techie or stats stuff nailed down.  Then they have to shift gears and talk to the regular people about what they know.

There are a lot of brilliant technical and statistical-types out there that LOVE the idea of getting into web analytics.  You don’t
have to sell it to them – it is super sexy.  They get to use their geekiness in a really cool way.

But it is really tough to convince smart non-geeks to be a little geeky.  They seem to have a natural aversion to moving in that direction.

Finding that geeky guy that can bridge the universe from numbers and computers to marketers, merchandisers, execs, etc. is apparently just as hard at the entry level as it is at every other level.

I don’t know why I thought it would be easier.  I guess I thought that “kids” might not have decided for themselves yet whether they were geeky or not.  Apparently that decision happens much earlier.

Maybe I thought it would be easier just because they are a much bigger population.   If 5% of the population are smart, hungry geeks that can straddle the fence between geeks and non-geeks, in the millions of smart kids out there you ought to be able to hire a bunch.  Just cast a wide net…. Run some ads.  Search on a job board.  Let me save you some time:  all idiots. I am sincerely concerned about the next generation.  I am officially a grumpy old bastard.

The community is partly to blame.  We have been growing so fast and the market for talent has been so hyper-competitive that nobody has tended the fields.  We have plumaged the landscape and planted nothing behind us.

Here is the bottom line:  We must do a better job educating college kids about why digital measurement is an awesome career path. We need talent flowing from all directions – from the business grads, the tech grads and the math kids in order for this to be a healthy, growing ecosystem.

Nothing short of World Domination hangs in the balance. We need to recruit 5% ers from all directions.  We need them in the digital measurement fraternity.  If we do that we can flip the equation.  We can be the ones running the companies! Running the World!!! Evil Laugh!!!!!