Wishing a very happy birthday to my co-author, colleague and friend, Jenna Running! Enjoy your last year in your 20′s.
Remember when I said that sometimes you have to seek inspiration for your blog posts? Today, I was strolling through Twitter and decided to peruse #GenY, one of my saved searches. Luckily, within minutes, I ran across an article that peaked my interest, thanks to Andrea Blasdale for sharing. It was yet another one on the topic of the crazy Gen Y-ers (AKA Millennials). I, like Jenna did in her post earlier this year, expected to see more negative commentary but instead I was pleasantly surprised.
Imagine how every employee – and every company – would benefit if we lead every employee as we’re so often told we need to lead Generation Y.
Don’t worry, we aren’t taking over the world but do give the article a read to understand Dharmesh’s point. Given the fact that the average age of a HubSpot employee is under 30 and that the Millennials are the largest demographic we’ve ever seen, Dharmesh is absolutely making the right move by realizing the positives in our generation. Though I’ve decided to only comment on a few points below, for all of you struggling to understand us “difficult” Gen Y-ers, keep reading.
- Gen Y cares as much about the “why” as the “what” or the “how much.” I can personally vouch for this. Of course I want to know what my role is and how much my paycheck will be but in order for any of that to matter, I need to passionately care about and feel connected to the “why.” At LexBlog, I might be a senior person on the business development team but what keeps me energized is our vision: We Empower Professionals to Network Through the Internet. How could I not feel connected and believe in a vision that improves the life of a lawyer, engineer, doctor or chief marketing officer? Working with a group of people who believe this is an added bonus.
- Millennials disproportionately (at least to older generations) value transparency and access to information. How else would we know if we are achieving the “why?” Be open and honest with us, that’s all we ask for. Share information that helps us make better decisions for ourselves and the bottom line. And, as Dharmesh points out, we are skeptical of companies whose leaders have a closed door policy. We genuinely value the relationships with our co-workers and bosses and believe the only way to get there is to be open and honest with each other (and that’s a 2-way street).
- Gen Y is impatient for feedback. I know this drives the older generations mad but we don’t seek feedback just because we crave attention. Instead, because we care so much about the “why” we don’t want to wait a year at a performance review to realize we are headed down the wrong path. We want the opportunity to correct course or re-calibrate if needed. It is important to us to receive construction criticism and feedback on the spot so that we can continue to make an impact.
If you walk away from this learning only one thing, I hope it is that you understand Millennials have the same wants and needs as other generations. We just tend to express those wants and needs in different ways and maybe we are more vocal about them but that doesn’t make us needy, selfish, narcissistic brats.
And lastly, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Dharmesh’s article. You’ll have to read the rest to understand why.
Lead every employee the way we’re told to lead millennials and we not only create more skilled, fulfilled, engaged, motivated, dedicated, and loyal employees, we also build stronger companies… because companies are ultimately made up of people.
I’d love to hear feedback from all generations, not just Millennials and remember, as a Gen Y-er, I lack patience when it comes to waiting for feedback.
I am finally back with my tail between my legs and a big “I’M SORRY” for being gone for so long followed by a gigantic “THANK YOU” to my colleague, Jenna for keeping us going. There have been a lot of changes in my life the last 8 months but the biggest one of all was welcoming my beautiful baby girl (Reagan Michelle McKenna) on June 24th. Yes, I am already that mom wanting to brag about her and share a million pictures but I will do my best to save those for the “new mom” posts that I have in the que. I have thought long and hard about how I really let this much time go by without a blog post and it all came down to life getting in the way. It happens.
Instead of beating myself up about falling into the stale blogger category, I decided to hit the net for some inspiration. After a few hours of surfing, reading, reviewing Tweets and a motivating breakfast with Kevin McKeown I was inspired to put together my own tips for getting back on the blogging track which was also a nice way to ease back in. So, for my fellow stale bloggers or even those just getting started, here goes.
- Re-visit your strategy. Remind yourself why you started a blog to begin with. What are your goals? Are they the same? Have they changed?
- Be yourself. I found myself trying to emulate what my colleagues were doing. This was a nonstarter for me and an instant de-motivator because we are all different. Go back to your roots and just remember to be yourself.
- Seek inspiration. Inspiration isn’t always going to come to you. Sometimes you have to seek it and the next couple of tips will help with that. Seeking inspiration does not have to exist only online. Read a magazine, talk to a friend or take a walk. It is okay to put down the smart phone.
- Comment on your peers blog posts. This is a great way to generate ideas for a blog post or spark up a conversation.
- Review your Tweet stream, Facebook news feeds and LinkedIn updates. Go back to the things you have Tweeted, shared, liked, etc and see if there is anything worth turning into a longer discussion. What are your friends sharing? A blog post is a great way to further that engagement and share your opinion beyond 140 characters.
- Schedule blogging time but be flexible. In order to stick with blogging, it should become part of your routine so it is good to schedule the time, however do not feel stressed if you need to move it a day or two. Just try not to push it back 8 months like I did.
- Limit distractions – that includes social media. This has been one of my biggest problems. Once you have your post idea, sit down and write. Log out of your social networks and close your email. You might even think about leaving your phone in the other room as to not be tempted by Snapchats and text messages.
- Change your scenery. Having trouble focusing? Think about moving to a coffee shop, sitting outside, or just moving to another space in your office or house.
- Don’t feel obligated to finish a post in one sitting. This post alone has taken me a few days but each time I come back to it, I have a clearer vision. Just be sure to commit to a time when you plan to hit publish.
- Don’t beat yourself up (or give up). If you are like me, feeling guilty about the time that has passed is easy. Don’ let it get to you, just put an end to it. Part of my problem was being too hard on myself. I’ll admit, I was close to throwing the towel in but really glad I didn’t.
Along with the tips above, I encourage you to also read Blogging: Most Definitive Medium For Demonstrating Expertise On The Web as another great reminder why you should stick with blogging. After all, like Dorie Clark says,
Writing is still the clearest and most definitive medium for demonstrating expertise on the web.
I am curious to hear how others got back into blogging after a hiatus. Please share your thoughts, ideas, frustrations and breakthroughs. In the meantime, while I am not playing mommy or trying to finish Orange Is The New Black, I will be looking for inspiration on my next blog post. Ideas welcomed.
A quick search on Generation Y in the workforce is greeted with an onslaught of articles on how to manage the Gen-Yers on your team. How to make us productive in the work-place, meet their unique needs, and deal with our sense of entitlement. But what happens when 20-somethings begin to shift from being managed, to becoming managers themselves?
With my co-author and colleague Kara McKenna off on maternity leave (congrats to Kara!) I find myself in a more managerial role, and am quickly realizing that I don’t have it all figured out. I can only imagine that other 20-somethings are experiencing the same.
While sitting in Kevin McKeown’s office, he shared with me a document produced by Google, listing Eight Good Behaviors specific to managers. Google created this list after looking through performance reviews, feedback surveys, and award nominations. As only Google would do, they correlated words and phrases to create this list. I wont go through all eight, but there was one that stuck out to me the most:
Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented
- Focus on what employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it
- Help the team prioritize work and use seniority to remove roadblocks
Why this one over others on a list that includes “be a good communicator” and “empower your team”? Because I think this one was written specifically for me, or maybe from a less narcissistic viewpoint, my generation (queue The Who).
When we first come into a management role as 20 somethings, one of our biggest challenges is growing our ability to assert ourselves, and having the confidence that people will listen. This of course isn’t true for everyone. Kara, for instance, comes from the south side of Chicago, asserting herself is a non-issue. I am from the Northwest, where we are notoriously passive aggressive and take it personally when someone honks their horn at us. Kara is the one honking her horn.
Using seniority to remove roadblocks, can be a daunting task for someone like me. Over time I’ve realized that the idea is not to become someone else, or mimic their personality. Although I must say, I do a pretty mean Chicagoan accent. Rather, be yourself, be willing to advocate (passive aggressive demands don’t count) for your team even if it ruffles some feathers, and do so in your own way. As long as you’re authentic, knowledgable, and respectful in your argument, people will begin to listen.
The best piece of advice I can give: don’t let your first managerial role be your first crack at leadership. Put yourself in situations where you can practice managing people and teams. My experience coaching teenage volleyball players provided invaluable leadership experience. My colleagues at LexBlog are not half as intimidating as a squad of teenagers accompanied by their parents. Volunteer, mentor, coach, and you’ll find yourself much more prepared as you continue along your career.
I encourage you to read the full list of Google’s Eight Good Behaviors when you have some time. Thank you Kevin for sharing with me.
Last month, I joined my conference-savvy co-author Kara at the Legal Marketing Association’s National Conference in Las Vegas. Although I’ve been to numerous large events for various associations, this was my first major conference experience, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous. But, meeting my clients face to face, listening to the same sessions they do, and what concerns/questions they raised was invaluable. I also walked away with a number of tips for any first-time conference goers, who aren’t as lucky as I am to have someone like Kara to show them the ropes:
1. Do change up who you sit with. It is easy to meet a person and follow them around for the next two days….until they hand you a restraining order. You’re there to learn and network, and so is everyone else. You’ll connect with some more than others, but try to use every session, networking event and luncheon to meet new people.
2. Don’t forget to bring some comfy shoes. I bought a pair of new leopard print wedges that I thought would be perfect. And they were, for the first four hours. During the next four, my hate for anything leopard gradually increased, which is a problem when you’re in Las Vegas.
3. Do have a glass of wine, or two with colleagues and/or clients. It’s okay, really. I think somewhere early on I was told to NEVER drink in a professional setting. I realize now that’s beacause “College Jenna” probably shouldn’t have. We’re all professional adults now, loosen up and have a little fun with your peers.
4. …but don’t let “College [Insert your name here]” come out. Going back to point 3…a couple glasses of wine, cool. Shots of Fireball Whiskey…probably not, even in Vegas.
5. Do practice your networking skills before you go. This isn’t selling, or flirting, or just free lunch. This is about listening and making connections. Make sure you understand the difference.
6. Do take some time to relax. These things are exhausting. If you get too tired, your ability to connect with people goes down hill, especially when you’re yawning in the middle of a conversation. If you need to skip a session or event for a power nap, or a minute to recharge, do it.
7. Do perfect your handshake. Try it on a friend or colleague before you go. Think strong and confident, not dead fish.
8. Do dress appropriately. A conference is a not a time for you to try out that new mini skirt you bought or or break in those jean shorts. Play it safe the first day, and if you feel over-dressed, leave the jacket in the hotel room on the second. Not the other way around.
9. Don’t forget your business cards. Having to reply “I forgot them” every time someone asks for your card not only gives the impression you’re forgetful, it also gets very old, very fast.
10. Most important: don’t make it a one night stand. You will meet many people while at a conference. Take their card, give them yours (because you remember them right), and write a note to remember them by. DO NOT blow off following-up with them when you get home.
Attending a conference is such a rewarding part of your career and can lead to some invaluable connections. Control what you can, and be ready for anything. And, above all…have some fun.
In 1908 15,000 women marched the streets of New York City, demanding shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights. We’re one-for-three…so not bad (kidding)! Today is International Women’s Day (IWD). I would love to tell you that every March 8th I sit down and reflect on those who fought for the liberties I take for granted, followed by an evening of bra burning and man bashing. But, this is not the case. Rather I turned on my iPad during my morning commute, opened up Zite, and thought “why the heck is everyone discussing women’s rights this morning?” After shamefully realizing my ignorance I decided to do penance by, you guessed it, some reflection.
My mother was a feminist, or so I always thought. She told me to speak up for myself, as so many women before me weren’t given the same right. She taught me to be independent, have goals, demand equal treatment. She emphasized the importance of education, especially reading and writing. She had a lot of female friends, and sometimes they would wear colorful scarves on their heads and go hiking, hey, they grew up in the 70′s. She also happened to be a liberal. But, does this list define a feminist, or just good parenting…does it really matter?
As female professionals we will probably be coined as a feminist or the anti, whether we like it or not. Just ask Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg who have not sat pretty with the movement feminists these days. I must say, I’m a bit confused, shouldn’t the female Execs of FaceBook and Yahoo! be the posterwomen of female equality in the workplace? Are there different types of feminists? Do I even know what a feminist is?
With this in mind, and in light of IWD I thought I would help all our female readers out. Below is the official Seventeen Magazine Quiz: What kind of feminist are you? I found it right under their other official quiz titled “Is it a Flirtationship or Something More” so this one should be pretty accurate.
Click the image below to take the quiz:
What kind of feminist are you?
Happy International Women’s Day! Make sure you take some time tonight to sit back and relax and let the man do the dishes for once…oh wait, that wasn’t very feminist of me…or was it?
Teens around the world let out an agonizing groan the moment they receive their parent’s Facebook request. In a recent study, 50% of parents admit, emphasis on “admit”, to joining Facebook to keep tabs on their kids. For a teenager, this can lead to social suicide, and a few weekends in the doghouse. But, for my generation, those who “friended” their parents for the first time as adults, it may not be such a bad thing.
My mom was always the “tech savvy” one; a typical Northwesterner with Birkenstocks from Nordstrom and a Mac computer for no reason other than it was a Mac. While I was in college, before Facebook existed and we were still aimlessly wandering around MySpace, she used my online debit card transactions as a means for monitoring my whereabouts. I frequently received emails asking what Wine World was and how I could spend $50 at some place called Mullys. I almost had her convinced it was a coffee shop, until she also picked up Googling.
In our household she did anything and everything requiring a computer, while my dad read the newspaper and preferred driving in circles to using Mapquest. This worked for them. But, in 2009 my mom passed away, and my dad was left to fend for himself. He’s had to learn everything from scratch at the age of 65: emailing, looking up directions, paying bills, checking bank statements (thankfully I had my own account by then), the list goes on. I worried about him, living alone in the house I grew up in.
Two years later, when I was 26, I received my dad’s official Facebook friend request. His “About Me” section read:
“Born and raised in Tacoma WA. Spent 4 years in the military and acquired a masters degree in Social Science. Worked at a psychiatric hospital for 36 years and retired in February of 2010. Wife passed away in January 2009 and we have 2 children. My daughter lives in Maple Valley and my son in Denver”
He may not get a date anytime soon with that piece, but I was relieved to see him begin to use social media to connect with family, old colleagues, and especially my brother and me. As time went on, he began to “like” things, such as Earthlink and American Idol. He also used it as a platform to update us on his life:
“… a sad event was that my dog had to be put to sleep. On the brighter side I bought a new Honda Civic on January 4th. I really am pleased with it…”
He posted pictures of himself golfing, and commented on the ones from my wedding. After my brother broke up with his girlfriend, he found her page on Facebook and wrote a note on her wall before the break-up had become FBO (Facebook Official):
“…sorry things didn’t work out, good luck with life”
We spent some time discussing the difference between writing on one’s wall (public) and messaging someone (not public).
Of course our best moments are always in-person over a cold Manny’s discussing who he thinks will win American Idol. Our online relationship helps fill the gaps between those moments. Connecting on Facebook is not at all about monitoring the other at all, it’s about allowing access into each other’s lives in a way that was unheard of when I was a teenager, but connects us more as adults.
I know by now you’re thinking, what does this all have to do with Biz Dev?” And the truth is, nothing more than to point out that the need to feel connected is simply human nature, no matter where you are in life. Social media can help grow and nurture those relationships, both personal and professional if we are willing to let people in. Stop looking at it as a means of monitoring, and start thinking about it as a way to build relationships.
As I was doing some research for another planned post, I came across many articles advising managers and CEO’s on how to deal with a Gen Y employee. I began to believe I was reading instructions on how to proceed when confronted by a bear, rather than a 20-something:
When faced with Gen Y employee, do not make eye contact, and back away slowly. If Gen Y employee attacks, curl up in a ball and play dead, while covering any major organs. Hopefully the Gen Yer will be distracted by a Facebook update…before it’s too late. Apply Neosporin to any open wounds.
Most of us have heard the sad torrid tale of the Gen Y employee: we received too many BS awards growing up and now we don’t know what it means to work for something. We don’t take criticism well, and must be handled with care. So, when I came across a guest post by Barrie Hadfield, CTO of SkyDox: 5 Ways Gen Y Is Changing Your Business, Like it or Not I was prepared for the worst, another post about how to “handle” a Gen Yer, and our insatiable need to be coddled. But instead, Barrie discusses what we bring to the table, and being a typical Gen Yer who needs constant acknowledgment, I appreciate that. Below are a few of Barrie’s points to pay attention to, combined with a bit of my commentary:
“File sharing platforms are one of the first significant technological achievements developed by Gen Y, with many being launched at the beginning of last decade” says Barrie. As CTO of SkyDox he may be a bit biased on this one, but I agree. It’s cleaned up our servers, inboxes, and what I think is most important: simplified seamless syncing between multiple devices. In Forrester’s Forrsights workforce survey, 74 percent of workers surveyed used two or more devices, and 52% used 3 or more. How do companies plan to accomodate this? Invest in personal cloud services of course.
Ah yes, instant messaging has exploded since the a/s/l conversations being had in the AOL chatrooms of the late ‘90s. Now IM is the way many professionals internally and externally communicate, including here at LexBlog. Barrie points out: “IM platforms are now found in file sharing platforms, company intranets, and conference software, in addition to the contemporary ubiquity of consumer platforms, such as MSN Messenger and G-chat.”
The “off-the-grid” extinction
It’s not news that Gen Y is constantly communicating via multiple platforms, whether it be text messages, social networks, or G-chat. But what is interesting, is the result: the dissolution of the line between office and home. “Understandably, this has been embraced by companies. Forrester Research states that 70 percent of organizations now encourage teleworking” says Barrie.
So waive your techy, over-connected, ipad carrying flags high my fellow Gen Yers. As Barrie so eloquently put it we are “arguably the most communicatively adept generation in human history” and there is much for the professional world to learn from us. Albeit, there is much we have to learn as well, but I’ll save that for a different post.
First of all, I owe a HUGE thank you to my fabulous Co-Author Kara for holding down the fort, and keeping this blog updated. While Kara was diligently posting to the blog, I was in the final planning stages of my wedding (that’s a nice way of saying I was having a panic attack), but now that the Big Day has come and gone, and I am fresh off my honeymoon, I’m ready to get back in the blogging saddle.
Planning a wedding has taught me at least three things: eloping isn’t a bad option, breathing into a paper bag is not cute, and seating charts are not for the faint of heart. But, since this isn’t a blog on how to recover gracefully from nervous breakdowns, let’s focus on a fourth: If you don’t have a solid internet presence, or dare I say none, you are missing out on a HUGE amount of business.
Having attended about 15 weddings in the past 3 years I started my planning process with a stack of recommendations: florists, caterers, venues, coordinators, hair stylists, make-up artists, photographers, bands, DJs…the list could go on. So, where do I start? Easy. I googled each and every one of them. Sadly, I was able to eliminate close to 60% of them based on zero to no Internet presence.
Then came the fun part: I delved deep into their social networks: I stalked Facebook pages, and Twitter streams, I perused Pinterest accounts, read reviews, read other reviews by those reviewers to make sure we had similar taste, studied online menues, scoured the Internet for pictures, dissected LinkedIn profiles, and at the end of it all I had a short list of vendors to call, and only a few restraining orders to deal with (kidding). This is how my generation makes buying decisions.
It’s not just B2C vendors that need to pay attention to their digital footprint. In fact,
on average nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision by B2B customers—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on—are made before ever having a conversation with a supplier. Harvard Business Review
I know, it’s not completely fair. Your DJ skills may make my great-grandfather swivel his titanium hips. Your product may end world hunger. But if someone looking online can’t figure that out after 10 minutes of searching…world hunger will continue, and great-grandpa will stick to his usual 2-step.
As a society, we have come to expect the information we want, the moment we dream it up. I can get a new pair of stilettos at my doorstep in less than 24 hours from Zappos. I can download movies, music and books in an instant. Your information as a business professional, needs to be just as easily accessible.
It doesn’t mean that referrals aren’t valuable, word-of-mouth is what got me that initial stack of cards in the first place, but to get your ideal potential client to pick up the phone you better have the online presence to back that referral up.