Not Everyone Gets a Trophy – video book review

Bruce Tulgan almost lost me with the subtitle of his book, Not Everyone Gets A Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y. I thought, “I don’t like these ‘manage generation’ type books.” But then I read in his bio that Bruce is a 4th degree black belt, so I’ve decided that this book is awesome! Okay, I’m joking. Well, I’m not. Bruce is a 4th degree black belt, but the book is awesome even without that.

Basically, if you read it as a “new way to manage” book, it’s a lot better. I also make the recommendation that I wish certain sections “linked out” to other resources, as Bruce kind of skips over some parts after telling us what to do. But hey, it’s a really short book, and he did just fine with what he’s delivered. Check out the video review: runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Stuartfoster

    I love this book…mainly because Bruce is a “4th degree black belt”. The title throws me quite a bit. I'm sure it's a great selling tool for those not in Gen Y, but to those of us who are: yuck. Also, remember who gave us those trophies in the first place: the older generation.

  • Deirdre

    Hi Chris, thanks for the recommendation on the book. My agency does work in the HR arena and employee recognition. Managing Gen Y and getting them motivated and thinking strategically is often a challenge. I'll check out this book based on your review. It sounds good and I like that it's a quick read (under 200 pages). It's also pretty cool that the author is a 4th degree black belt!!!

  • RobinKD

    Like you, Chris, I find generational titles cringe-worthy. I've read a couple articles, mainly when discovering this is a big issue. Frankly, I was wondering what “they” were saying about “us.” But I'm using the stupid quotation marks because I'm not always sure there has to be a they and an us. Is there so much inter-generational angst that we need this explosion of information about it? Maybe.

    I think becoming informed on this subject is a good thing. I've learned a few things from it. But when reading a book becomes a substitute for learning enough about an individual to work well with him/her or having a one-on-one when the going gets tough, I'm against it. In many cases, I think reading a bit and then working on individual issues directly is the best bet.

  • Brindey

    I have to agree with StuartFoster……we are young, not rogues circus animals. But oddly enough, I heard economist Barry Bluestone talk at the Fenway Association's annual meeting on the shortage of gen-y people and how they will need to change, shape, and fill the room at the top. This book may be more apt than it looks.
    P.S. Do all successful media books need to be a bright neon shade with color blocks or lines in white and black and a sans serif font? Who wrote that memo?

  • Tyler Hayes

    This book may be a good read, but is it truly a Gen Y book? Or is it just the older people vs. younger people debate? I don't know, because I haven't read it. Just a cautious thought before reading it, as a lot of the debates I see online on how to manage Gen Y, why Gen Y isn't motivated, etc. are just masking themselves with the Gen Y label to get more viewers, rather than being honest and just saying “young people” instead of Gen Y.

    But, like I said, this might not be the case for the book. Just a thought.

  • Carl Lambrecht

    Chris, thanks for the interesting book review. One point that jumped out at me was what you said about the advice being good in general and new business rules. Sure, there are generational differences based on what influenced different people as they were growing up, and what the business/social/political/economic world was then versus now. But the book will be valuable to the reader if it provides help bridge those gaps bidirectionally. I'd be interested in reading it not just to improve my management of others but myself as well. Thanks again for the review!

  • fdesroches

    I'm with RobinKD – deal with the individual first. If this means reading a book that glosses over an entire generation, then so be it; but be forewarned that something will certainly be lost in the mix.
    I, for one, find it interesting that we don't see more content for Gen Y-ers on how to manage up (though they would have to be short, because everyone knows Gen Y-ers have short attention spans). Personally, I would love to see titles like “Don't Sweat It, Your Boss is Only Worried You'll Replace Him”, or “Hang In There, You'll Have The Company To Yourself In 10 Years”.
    As for Bluestone's position (thanks @Brindley) that Gen Y will need to change and fill the room at the top: Gen Y will certainly make it to the C-level ranks, but the structure and way business is done will have to change accordingly, not the other way around.
    Otherwise, interesting review :)

  • martyglover

    Gen Y is a pretty broad generalization, but it really comes down to a lack of respect for how people earned their positions in the past. Some things are different, many things are not. Respect is a two way street, good managers respect the drive and desires of the people they lead, Gen Y tends to not respect that leadership. I see two key impacts of this,

    First, questions are different than challenges and Gen Y tends to aggressively challenge any status quo, without understanding it first. Second, they don't really understand bonus based compensation. Bonuses are not to be earned by doing extra, if you show up somewhere around 40 hours a week and get your assignments done then you should get a bonus…..uh no. And, just to add a third, your not doing the company a favor by agreeing to work for them, its a mutual social contract at least, and the lack of respect for that contract is perceived as, legitimately, a lack of loyalty.

  • modernsextrash

    “remember who gave us those trophies in the first place: the older generation.”

    The more people talk about their Gen Y children as if they are unguided cattle, the more they will push them away (it's frustrating that older generations still haven't learned this from their sons and daughters!)

    One of the many reasons GenY is perceived by their elders as unmotivated and incapable of “thinking strategically” is because the tools and gadgets they've been allowed to surround themselves with do the motivating and strategic thinking for them. GenY is simply on a whole different platform of motivation and strategic thinking. They understand that media trends are changing, and they are forming new models to usher in this change. It's a matter of incentive. Why waste the time and energy on inserting oneself into a system that's dying, when a more efficient system, what Gen Y has grown up with, would prove more effective?

    If anything, from GenY's perspective, it's the older generations that seem unmotivated or unwilling to adapt. Chris, any good books for corralling all the adults out there?

  • Ian Muir

    Marty, I think you've nailed a few things and missed others.

    I find it rare that managers actually respect my drive or ambition. Most managers expect respect from day one, but don't return the respect until I've proven myself. If you respect me, I will respect you. If I have to prove myself as an employee, you have to prove yourself as a manager.

    Yes I challenge status quo, because in many ways the status quo is changing. Agreesively challenging the status quo has led to results. I find that in many cases, older employees defend the status quo without understanding it. Change is good right?

    I agree with the bonus based compensation, but then again almost every company I've seen offer bonuses bases it on salary, not actual work. When I put 100 hours into a project and get a smaller bonus than a senior dev who put 10 hours in, I'll be pissed.

    100% agree about loyalty. I have no loyalty to a company that hasn't earned it. Give me a paycheck and I'll do my job, but a paycheck alone does not earn loyalty. When my boss throws a fit about the dev team expensing a $100 lunch once a month, that tells me I'm just a paycheck. Most companies that complain about loyalty treat their employees like line-items on a budget, not people.

    Finally, I disagree that none of this applies over time. My ambitions and aspirations are shaped largely by what my parents wanted. The workplace has changed drastically over the past few decades and a larger percentage of young people are starting their own companies. My generation is better educated and more tech savvy than the last, and my children will be better still.

    My parents busted their ass to make sure I have a better life than they did and I will bust mine to make sure my son's is better than mine. I want him to challenge the status quo. I want him to be more skillful than I am. The future is shaped by the young, that is unlikely to change.

    In closing, I will probably bitch about these same issue when younger, better programmers come along. Damn kids and their Ruby on Rails.

  • martyglover


    I firmly believe and expressed that respect is mutual, I have spent most of my career watching bad managers fail to respect or value the people who make them successful, thus eventually failing. Several generations worth at this point.

    Challenging the status quo is not a good thing in and of itself. Questioning, understanding the options and adding value creates better results and empowers others to accept change and share in the success, or failure. I will tell you my youngest managers can be the most intractable when challenged openly, it is not age it is human response.

    Bonus plans should reward work above and beyond the job that the salary pays for, I agree that many plans don't reward value.

    Loyalty is a human response to understanding the actions of those who either have invested their time and energy in your success, or haven't. Youth often doesn't recognize that success wasn't an individual activity.

    My generation is better educated than the last, and, if you believe the stats, possibly better educated than the next. :) (I don't believe that). The value of shared experience, personal and professional loyalty, clear expectations of a fair pay for a fair days work and the challenges of management in general are learned experiences. The world constantly changes. Each generation changes the world, thank goodness, but it changes with the willingness and support of the previous generations, not in spite of them. The future is shaped by everyone, the young just get to see more of it.

    And, oh yeah, those kids won't be better programmers than you, but they will be convinced they are.

  • drewshope

    As a “millenial” or “generation y” -er, I have to say it's sad but true. I work hard and do what I'm going to say, and I really don't have a lot of competition. People my age have a reputation for being whiney and lazy, so it's easy to break that stereotype with a little bit of motivation.

    Working in the industry I am in (real estate), it's also easy to be pigeonholed as another flighty 20-something. I have found that embracing my youth and using my energy and tech knowledge has actually gotten me pretty darn far.

  • greg cryns

    Well, problem is that I don't know what Generation Y means, that is, I don't know what age group the title refers to.

    Even so, after this review I may get it at the library.

  • Steph

    So I pulled this from's product description (my thoughts):
    “This book will frame Generation Y – children born between 1978-1991- for corporate leaders and managers at time when the corporate world is desperate to recruit and retain worked in this age group. It will debunk dozens of myths, including that young employees have no sense of loyalty (I'm not loyal to companies that slow me down),
    won't do grunt work (I'll totally do it, but not for too long. I want be feel like I am valued for my ideas and creativity not a monkey punching numbers… “We got that ambition, baby”),
    won't take direction (I'll hear what you have to say and give your way a try but if I have a better, more efficient way of producing the same result, admit defeat),
    want to interact only with computers (for me personally, that couldn't be farther from the truth. I can't wait to find a job where I don't have to sit in front of a computer for 8 hours straight),
    and are only about money (HA! What money?).

    “But he will also make clear that they do have a well thought-out plan for themselves, one that requires that every job they take build up their skill sets, so they become more valuable employees for someone else–if and when you do not fulfill your end of the bargain, or drag your feet in doing so.”
    (Could not agree with this more! After years of bosses being spread too thin to be concerned with my career development, I had to take control of my own career. I am learning so much at my job and using all of the available resources to advance my skill set but unfortunately, I'm more likely to take those skills to a company that values them)

    Thanks for the book recommendation. It provided some much needed inspiration for a blog posting :)

  • MattWilsontv

    I've worked with Bruce and his partner Jeff Coombs and they've been absolutely fantastic.

    Great to see you picked it up Chris.

  • Iggy Pintado

    I really enjoy your video book reviews in less than three minutes. I hope you get a chance to do mine at some stage!

  • memoire pc

    I like the video review concept. think I'll stay tuned.

  • memoire pc

    I like the video review concept. think I'll stay tuned.