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The Master is Dead

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Release Date: 12/08/2023

Persevere show art Persevere

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's KIR, Cam Marston wonders if he could do the same thing for fifteen years and know, just know in his bones, that it would pay off. ----- I’ve just watched the documentary on Steve Martin called "Steve! A Documentary in Two Pieces." I’ve always liked Steve Martin. What caught my attention the most is that he did his standup act for fifteen years. The vast majority of that time, his audiences were very small. In one video clip, he’s counting the number of people in the room during his act – there were fifteen people there. He got what he thought were big breaks that bombed,...

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April's Fool show art April's Fool

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin It Real, Cam Marston hypothesizes on what a parenting podcast from him and his wife would sound like. ----- My wife and I sat together at the beach last week laughing as we retold stories and reminded ourselves of the humor of parenting. Especially as Gen X parents. We decided to compose a social media post together. The date was April first, and that date matters. The post read the following: We are frequently asked how we’ve raised four perfect children. Here’s our response: We are excited to announce our new Parenting Podcast called Gen X Parenting Tools. Go check...

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Workplace Veterans show art Workplace Veterans

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin It Real, Cam Marston has some observations about the NCAA tournament. The old guys are winning, and he likes that. ----- Someone in my family is not pleased right now. As I write this Wednesday, I don’t know who. Last night the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team took on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the NCAA tournament. My wife is a Carolina grad. I was unaware people could like basketball that much until I met her. My son is a Freshman at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He was an avid sports fan moments after his birth. One of them lost last night and is...

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Need A Message show art Need A Message

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam is searching for a message and if he hears one, he WILL obey. ----- I think there is someone or something out there trying to send me a message. A few things have happened lately that seem, well, like there is a message coming or attached but I don’t know what it is. First, storms rolled through a few months ago knocking out the power. Fortunately our house has a generator attached and it kept a few rooms running for a little while. My friends began texting about their power being out. I proudly texted a photo of my comfortable and well-lit kitchen that...

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Tell Them Both I Said Hello show art Tell Them Both I Said Hello

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

There's a grocery store Cam goes to when he's in a hurry. It's NOT the one closest to his house. That one is full of memories. Full of roots. ----- I saw him see me. He turned and headed my way. “Cam,” he said. “How’s you mother?” “Well,” I said. “She passed away two years ago.” I saw you at her funeral, I wanted to say. I remember talking to you. “Oh. Yes. That’s right. I’m sorry. Well then, how’s your father?” “Dad’s wonderful. He plays pickleball five, sometimes six days a week. Sometimes twice a day. He’s eighty-seven but I don’t think he knows it....

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Parent's Weekend show art Parent's Weekend

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On today's Keepin' It Real, Cam shares something he saw last weekend that made him feel a little bit better about things. ----- I'm in Starbucks. It's Saturday. It's Noon. I'm in Tuscaloosa at the corner of Bryant Drive and 8th Avenue. Sororities across the street disgorging young ladies for their morning cups of honey-dew latté with extra chai, extra vanilla essence and a dash of bumble bee eyelashes or something like that. Yoga pants as far as the eye can see. One girl wearing a T-shirt reading Don’t Date Frat Boys. Parents here for fraternity and sorority parent’s weekend. Dads wearing...

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Forgiveness show art Forgiveness

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam shares a story he's kept quiet for fourteen years. It's time to get it off his chest. ----- I’ve just boarded my flight. I’m headed home. Sitting here, a memory has resurfaced. Many years ago, deplaning in Chicago, I took a call from a young man. He’d studied my work and asked me to mentor him. He wanted to travel and give speeches. He wanted me to refer him when I was too busy, and he’d pay me a commission. He loved my topic and said he could represent me well. I was deeply flattered. He charmed me. A few months later, we sat at my dining room table...

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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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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.