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The Master is Dead

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Release Date: 12/08/2023

Squeezed show art Squeezed

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Cam's phone has been ringing. It's a lot of his small business friends and they're experiencing similar things. They're feeling pressure. They're feeling squeezed. ----- When an orange is squeezed, orange juice comes out. We know this. We know that sun and good soil and water and maybe some fertilizer help that orange develop that juice. We know the ingredients, we somewhat control the ingredients, and we know the goodness that comes from a squeezed orange. What happens, though, when you and I are squeezed? What happens when life puts pressure on you and me? What ingredients are we drawing on...

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Lent show art Lent

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Mardi Gras ended Tuesday for Cam. Immediately following Mardi Gras is the beginning of Lent and Cam struggles with what sacrifices he should make. ----- Lent. I struggle with Lent every year. How much suffering is enough to prepare my soul for the Easter arrival of the Lord? Is there enough? Who knows. There’s always someone suffering more; someone taking it to the next level. As a child it was ice cream. I gave up ice cream every year and dutifully reported it to my religion teacher as the assignment instructed. I love ice cream, vanilla especially. In fact, I’ve created an association...

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Dry January show art Dry January

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' it Real, Cam Marston has thoughts about this upcoming weekend. Mardi Gras is on us down here in Mobile, and that leads to some tough decisions. ----- Dry January ended last week. Dry January followed soaking wet, sodden to the bone December. I’ve never done Dry January before and after sodden December, I needed to give it a try. Aside from one small drink to celebrate my daughter’s twenty-first birthday, I drank no alcohol for thirty-one days. I’m not sure I’ve done that since I was a teen. The net result? I lost nine pounds. I slept very well every night for a...

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God Stop show art God Stop

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

What do you call it when your certain plans are suddenly upended? They're changed with no warning? You call it a God-stop. On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam shares his experiences with them.  ----- A friend told me a story about how he had applied for a job a long way from home. His potential new employer had said they were going to make a very attractive offer. My friend and his wife began discussing selling their home and moving their kids to a new school. It was certain to happen and then…it didn’t. The job offer never came. His calls to the new employer to get an answer or a...

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Twenty-One show art Twenty-One

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Cam spent Monday evening at a big party for a small group of twenty-one year olds. To say the least, times have changed. Here's what he saw. ----- A moment after midnight on March 4th, 1990, I stood on a barstool and declared loudly to the packed bar that I had just turned twenty one years old. I was in Boulder, Colorado. A moment later the bouncer had me by the shirt and said, “That means you used a fake ID to get in”, which was true. I was nearly carried, my feet barely touching the ground, to the door and tossed into the street. Oddly enough, the same story happened to my wife, long...

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Resident Cynic show art Resident Cynic

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

My real name is Charles. But Chuck and Chas live inside me. Chuck was trying to get out this week. Chas had to try to keep in under control. ----- An icicle hangs from the roof of my house. I’m looking at it but still can’t quite believe it. Icicles are very rare here. Usually reserved for the freezer door that was left open overnight. A winter storm blew through and Mobile, Alabama is doing what it usually does when it gets below average cold – we’re freaking out. School is cancelled, quote, “out of an abundance of caution” for the kids. There’s no rebuttal to that phrase. It...

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Kids These Days show art Kids These Days

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Storms blew through Monday night. It was tough weather. I survived. My daughter? It was the aftermath of the storm that nearly broke her... ----- My favorite oldest daughter is upset. “I just can’t deal with this. It’s just too much,” she keeps saying. She’s leaving for a bit. She needs to get out of the house. “I’m going to Starbucks,” she says. “I’ll be back later.” My wife and I say nothing. You see, the power is out. The big storms that cruised through Monday night left us in the dark. It’s now Tuesday afternoon and the power company estimates another thirty hours...

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God On Our Side show art God On Our Side

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On New Years Eve, I watched a conversation in my kitchen that was exactly as I hoped it would be.  ----- A friend called this past fall. He said, “The Holy Spirit told me to call you and tell you the Holy Spirit wants you and me to make a podcast together. Will you help me?” My goodness. What do you say to that but “Sure. I’ll help you.” The podcast is about his spiritual journey. He brings his friends on from time to time to tell their stories. My job is to keep us focused on the topic, keep us at around twenty minutes per episode, and toss out a contrary opinion that will help...

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Solstice show art Solstice

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Yesterday was the winter solstice. Brings back memories... ----- Yesterday was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Said another way, there is more darkness on December 21st than any other day. It’s also the day I got engaged many years ago. The story I like to tell is that my wife, who was then a collegiate volleyball coach, was watching VHS videos of players she was hoping to recruit. I asked her to stop the video and pay attention to me for a moment or two. She reluctantly did with a “this better be good” expression. I asked her to marry me. She considered the...

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Leena's China show art Leena's China

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

A family tree of photographs is at the top of the stairs at my father's house.  ----- A picture hangs at the top of the stairs at my parent’s house. It’s of my mother’s grandmother, my great grandmother. I think it’s Grandma Leena. My father and I were trying to figure out who it was. My mother had told me about the picture and about Grandma Leena for years. I never listened. There are a bunch of other pictures. At the top, near the ceiling, are pictures of my mother and father’s family and they form a family tree, coming together, picture by picture, generation by generation,...

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This may be a bit over the top but it's what it looks like to me:

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The apprentice to master model in the workplace may be dead. It was declining prior to the pandemic but now, after the struggles from the pandemic are largely behind us, the apprentice to master model is gone. And it’s a shame. Our society today, our workplace, our government, all of it comes from this model. It served us well. We’ve left it behind. Out to pasture. It’s not a good thing.

Begun in the trades ages ago, its basic tenants are that a person enters a trade or a workplace with little to no knowledge. They apprentice themselves to someone who can teach them – a master. The apprentice slowly learns, begins mastery of their craft, to become the master themselves. They then train the next generation and so on. Stone masons, mechanics, glass blowers, plumbers, electricians, lawyers, and accountants. All of them and many more.

What brought apprentice to master to an end? A few things, the first of which is technology. Technology began its creep into the workplace two generations ago. The Baby Boomers were running the show. Boomers were first skeptical of stuff, and took it on reluctantly. In time, the power of technology became apparent and most Boomers didn’t know how to use it. Who did? The Gen X’ers.

The Boomers said “Hey Gen X. We need your tech skills. Please come work here, use this stuff, and teach me how to use this stuff.” Thus, Gen X entered the workplace as the master. The young were teaching the old. As technology continued its creep, more and more Gen X’ers were needed to teach the Boomers. The technology changed and the Millennials then entered teaching the Gen X’ers. Again, the young teaching the old. The workplace desperately needed the young master.

After the pandemic hit it changed again. No one could find workers. Workplaces were doing cartwheels to get employees with no proven experience, no discernable talents. Employers further sent apprentice to master into oblivion by giving the youngest workplace entrants perks and benefits and hybrid workplaces and flex schedules that previously only the masters could dare ask for. Tenure no longer mattered. And if the new employees didn’t like the way they were treated, if they felt unappreciated, registered too many microaggressions, off they went to quickly find a new job. A California MD told me in her workplace the newest workers are weaponizing wellness. “I don’t want to do that,” they’re saying, about whatever it is. “It will make me unwell.”

I was with a client in Dallas Wednesday. They’re struggling. They make high pressure valves and pumps and such. They’re struggling to find people to work. Making the items, installing the items, building things, and fixing things. To learn this stuff, employees have to apprentice to a master. No Google search, YouTube video, or ChatGPT will do it.

There was a lot of white hair in the room of 850 people wondering how to keep their businesses going. I’ve studied workplace trends for twenty years. I didn’t have much good news for them.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep it Real.