The Young and the Restless: Old Hands vs New Blood

luddite2If you get enough landmen together for enough time, the conversation will eventually turn to criticism of whatever group isn’t represented. Whether it’s all the new landmen who who don’t dress the party, wear headphones and don’t know ‘nuthin — or the old luddite landmen who never do anything but tell stories about better times.

Of course I have an opinion on the matter, just like everyone else, and if you haven’t had the ‘good fortune’ to be a part of one of these conversations then you don’t get out enough. We could make a mile long list of transgressions that these different groups have done unto one another, but that’s not really the point of this article. I’d like to suggest that young ‘new’ landmen, old ‘new’ landmen, old experienced landmen and everyone in between are behaving as those groups have through time immemorial.

A typical belief is that the newer generation has less morals, principles, and general work ethic that the previous generation. Not only is this ‘typically’ true of the current state of cross-generation relations, but it has been true in the past as well. If you’ll examine history you’ll see examples (even hundreds of years ago) of the old guard expounding on the failings of the new guard.  I’d wager a guess that you’ll find that, generally, people get more mature as they get older — and that the growth of maturity last far beyond the age it is typically attributed to.  As an example, I always make a point to ask successful people what age they were when they felt they had truly achieved some measure of success.  In many instances I receive a variation on “I didn’t have any real money/success until after the age of 50.”  That speaks to me, it indicates that you have to spend many years trying, failing, and occasionally having varying amounts of success until it ‘sticks’.  It also means that most of us don’t start Facebook at the age of 22, or even make great decisions right out of college.  Reaching maturity (and success) take time, determination and failure.

On the flip side of the coin is the argument that the ‘old fogeys’ are working slowly with their carbon copies and manual typewriters.  While I’ve given my fair share of Excel lessons to landmen, it’s not uncommon to see ‘old’ landmen who are just as comfortable with technology as I am.  It should also be pointed out that there are some landmen that are valuable enough that it is in a companies best interest to pay a junior landman to handle all of the typing, emailing and online record pulling for them.  Somewhat akin to the landman I met in West Texas who has a steady string of college students who pull books for him in the courthouse for $10/hr.

On looking at all of this, I can only assume that all of the divergent landman groups are one in the same — just at a different point in life and their career.  Most of us will make each other proud at some point, it just make take a few years.  Some of us might have to wait longer than others.


Do you have any stories of the “young and the restless” coming together to make a project work?  Tell us all about it in the comments below!

Randy Young

Randy Young

Randy is a land consultant with experience in field and in-house land work, land administration, and software consulting with systems used in the land management business. He is an active member of the AAPL, HAPL, and NHAPL and is a regular attendee of industry functions.

Randy’s latest projects have included land data systems integrations, with a focus on Quorum Land System.

  • superiortitle says:

    I’ve had the pleasure — and the pain — of being one of those old experienced landmen surrounded by new landmen. Generally, if you treat others as the professionals you hope they are, they’ll reward you with respectful behavior. Some, however, wouldn’t know respectful behavior if it dropped an index on their head. Unfortunately, some of the older, more experienced landmen have yet to learn this lesson and they fail to treat ANYONE with respect. As for the new technology available to make our jobs easier, I’m for whatever works and gets the job done in an accurate and timely manner. That said, the tools don’t make the landman — the brain, curiosity and diligence make the landman. Just my opinion.

    • Randy Young Randy Young says:

      Thanks for commenting! That’s great insight and I suppose there will always be people out there who can’t represent themselves well. That’s just life 🙁 You are absolutely right about stating that technology doesn’t make the landman, it’s a great landman who can use technology in a complementary manner that really creates some efficiency.

  • John Gaston says:

    I am 27 and have been a landmen since my teen years. What I have seen in the past 3 years is not
    just innocent adolescence. I must disagree somewhat with your premise. Seeing young people and
    people my age come into the courthouse with megadeath blasting on their headphones, hand drumming
    the table, while spreading out their work area like they are paying rent, and leaving their equipment over
    lunch hour, all whilst being dressed for a day at the beach, all of these things don’t show me an equally
    able or valuable workforce. I have to say when I saw a synopsis of this blog I thought “finally! Someone
    Is going to address this problem, yet all I have seen is somewhat encouragement for this lack of professionalism and the rudeness that comes right along with it. I would be more inclined to address the
    younger generation telling them that no legitimate land out fit will take them seriously in hard times or like anything more than a mere locust member of the swarms of Imagers and ignorant landmen that are
    hired as nothing more than a entity someone can make a little of the top from, if they don’t change their ways.


    • Randy Young Randy Young says:

      I can certainly appreciate your sentiment John, but I don’t feel like those ‘bad apples’ represent an accurate cross section. To me your observation is a stereotype similar to that of saying old landmen can’t type or use ms excel, which we both know isn’t true but in a minority of cases.

      The activities you mentioned are poor, but those people will weed themselves out on their own. I think there are plenty of rants online disparaging different groups of landmen without my help…. but maybe a ‘good manners’ blog is due?

  • Connie Gibson says:

    Bravo John! One of my greatest pleasures is and will continue to be honoring the new guard. However, I believe that one of the problems is that technology (taking photos – which I highly approve of) makes them a landman. The main thing is I don’t think some of the younger folks in the courthouse have been tutored in manners and consideration of others. A couple of years ago, a county clerk’s office ban photographers/landman because of their rudeness, lack of being conscience of putting books back in the right place and yes, blasting the headphones. I love music but please leave an ear open so I don’t have to say excuse me 10 times and then tap you on the shoulder only to be met with a dirty look. I know some absolutely fantastic young landmen, they are a true credit to the industry. I also know that technology will probably eliminate the pleasure of mingling with peers in courthouses. I remember when we had to absolutely hide whatever we were working on and for whom…you don’t have to learn to read upside down anymore.
    Bottom line…I adore you young guns and I have faith that you will have long, enjoyable careers as landmen.

    I’m also very sorry and don’t enjoy criticizing others but a tank top with a tatoo of a naked lady worn by someone who has obviously not showered in a couple of days is very distasteful to me. If you are a field landman, I think lesson #1 is to earn the respect and admiration of the folks that work in the court houses, abstract plants, etc.

    FYI: I’m trying to get a couple of us old goats to go in together and open an Old Folks Home for Landmen, Geologists & Engineers. Activities will include “Pin the tail on the NE/4”, “Throw Darts at the Map” and “Release the Bottom Hole Pressure”.

    Good luck and don’t let anyone discourage you but if you have to have a tatoo, have one that says “I love my mom”!

  • Connie Gibson says:

    Wow, I didn’t see you Randy. You are so right “good manners” should be a requirement in any profession. We all know where good manners start…at home. That may be the biggest problem a small portion of young people have.

  • John R Gaston says:

    It’s funny you mentioned having to hide your work. I can remember a time when a client asked me to spend half the day running the wrong tract, just to throw off any espionage activities that may be going on. That client would have a heart attack if he saw the way some of these imagers/rookie landmen handle the information. Most of the time I can walk into any busy courthouse around lunchtime and actually see an index book, open, with a camera on top of it, fully displaying the exact location they are running.

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