It's No Longer Hip to Be Square
By James M. Dauby
About a year ago, I was with my daughter, 23, son, 19, and wife at our favorite local restaurant. Somewhere in the midst of the food and drink, conversation turned to parenting styles and how our kids viewed their mom and dad. Their comments and perspectives on parenting were enlightening, and the evening was most enjoyable.
But then, it happened—a moment that will forever be cemented in Dauby family history. I asked them who they thought the "cool" parent was. As I began to rise to deliver my emotional acceptance speech, both of them, in chorus, said, "That's easy: Mom!" Mom? Did she slip them a $20 bill under the table? Should I ask for a recount?
As I continued to dine on my slice of humble pie, they shared their reasoning. To my surprise, it all centered around technology and today's use of it. Soon words were flying everywhere: iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes (i-Anything), Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Xbox 360, and on and on. Then, as if they were lawyers presenting closing arguments, they proceeded to support their decision through examples such as:
> The time they bought me an iPod for Father's Day, but it sat unopened for six months—until I regifted it.
> How I was, until recently, still using a cellphone that flipped open and had a retractable antenna.
> How I would come back empty-handed from the neighborhood video store complaining new releases were never in, and why we always owed late fees.
> How when I knew they were on Twitter I would ask them who they were "twitting" (still makes more sense to me than "tweeting").
> How instead of using an iPad and a cool cloud application, I would find myself buried in my 4-year-old laptop studying something as exciting as a regression analysis spreadsheet.
These are the things that kept me from scoring high on my kids' "coolness" scale. I liken it to my youth and seeing my own dad wearing plaid shorts, dress socks and patent shoes. Each generation, I guess, has lenses through which they view their parents, especially when it comes to being hip. For my kids, it's the use of technology. Even more difficult for them to come to grips with is that their dad is president/ chief executive officer of a technologydriven company. Shouldn't I know everything about the latest technology and be an avid user of it?
You know, they're right! As leader of such a company, I need to embrace all these wonderful things that our broadband networks, products and services give our customers. So I have a fresh new perspective on how I approach the latest in gadgets and applications. I bought an iPad (OK, I won it at a trade show drawing). I have a Netflix subscription (OK, the neighborhood video store closed its doors). Regardless, I am determined to lead by example and be a consumer of the latest in technology and applications.
I must admit, I do find myself sometimes yearning for simpler times. I think this is just a natural process of growing older, though. For now, I will try to impress my kids with my new perspective and attitude toward technology, and will try to move up their "coolness" scale.
Probably won't ever catch mom, though!
James M. Dauby is president and chief executive officer of PSC in Meinrad, Ind. He can be reached at email@example.com.