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Good News About Millennials!

Earlier this month I was privileged to speak to about 200 college Juniors and Seniors at the Lynchburg College Anderson Leadership Conference.  It is a special program on a Saturday that has become a popular and well attended special event at the college.  I am a 1985 grad/alumni and The Anderson Leadership Conference is made possible by an endowment established in 1990 by Crantford V. “Andy” Anderson, Jr. and his wife, Jeri, in memory of their son, Chip, a 1985 graduate of Lynchburg College. The Crantford V. “Chip” Anderson III Endowment, administered by the Office of Student Activities, provides funding for activities that foster leadership among high school and college students.  As a leadership development junkee, I was thrilled to be asked to speak, and truly honored and touched to realize the event was in memory of my classmate.

I spoke about the generations, and tried to offer the future grads some insights into what they can expect from the multiple generations in the workplace, and also provide some business basics tips I have picked up in the research I've been doing on the subject the last year.  I was impressed that 200 college young adults attended a Saturday program; and most were well dressed killing the perception that Millennials do not know what appropriate dress is.  I was also impressed in how they can actually communicate with one another as well as adults, again extinguishing another myth that their social networking and tech savvy upbringings have somehow eliminated their ability to use verbal communications skills.  I am extremely optimistic about the future of industry if these participants are any indication of what our schools are educating and unleashing onto society.

The more I am around Millennials, the happier I become that it is their turn.  And I am grateful to hand the reigns over to this new generation, and feel it is my calling to help them be effective and successful.

My advice to skeptical Gen X and Boomers:  Encourage them, talk to them, tell them what is expected, ask them about what matters to them.  Here is a Coaching Action Plan that may help you if you are managing Millennials.

Associate Name:


Start Date:



Special Interests:


What motivates them? Learning Style (auditory, visual, experiential):

Five words they use to describe themselves:


Top three values:


Role Models:

Favorite Technology:

Social Media preferences:

Service/Volunteer interests:

Frequency of contact:

Preferred communication vehicle and style:

Competency and Skills Strengths:

Competency and Skill Gaps:


Development Plan:



Career Interests:


Bottom line:

    • Engage them and they will do well.
    • Ignore them, and they will leave, or worse - stay and check out.
    • Respect them and they will return it.
    • Relate to them and they will be yours.

Public Sector Transitions to Private: Trending

The Ermi Group loves working with our strategic partners, and welcome Evan Scott as this month's guest blogger.

Evan Scott is the CEO and a founding partner of the executive search firm ESGI. The company, based in Alexandria, Virginia specializes in working with private sector companies who sell products, services or consulting to Federal, State and Local Government. The firm assists these clients with recruiting senior level executives for their key positions.  He serves as Chairman for The Membership Committee of The Homeland Security and Business Defense Council, serves on the board of The Washington Chapter-USO and is active at AFCIA, NDIA and Infraguard. Learn more about ESGI at

Dear Mr/Ms. SES,   GovCon Executive

Your Next Job May NOT Be Out There Waiting For You…

By Evan Scott

People choose to begin or build their careers in the public sector for a variety of reasons – a commitment to a program or series of programs, a desire to serve the public interest, loyalty to a particular government, and even national pride/patriotism for some. Further, a career in the public sector typically carries with it a number of benefits – greater job stability, a more defined path to advancement, exceptional benefits and retirement plans.

However, despite the widely recognized benefits, a growing number of senior public sector executives contact us with questions about careers in the private sector. These individuals tend to feel as though they have worked hard and made their mark at their organization or agency and simply want to pursue a new challenge. Perhaps they have twenty or twenty-five years at a particular agency or military branch and can leave with a pension, but feel they are too young to retire. Others indicate they are tired of the “politics” or frustrated with the inability to move between agencies.  Regardless of the reason, it is an increasingly familiar path and it is a move that often proves rewarding for individuals and organizations alike.

In the private sector, when we work with senior level executives they typically have many years of business experience and we discuss the pros and cons of leaving one company to join another. On the other hand, when we sit down with an officer from the armed forces or executive from DHS the discussion is quite different.

When considering individuals from the military, companies assess the candidate’s ability to move from a command and control structure to an environment that requires them to influence people at all levels in the organization. In business you can’t “command” people to perform and this is where business leadership is critical. We have many examples of senior officers responsible for large commands, and most companies simply do not recognize this as applicable to their business. However, companies do recognize the value of credibility with, and access to public sector decision makers. There are many companies inside and around the beltway who recognize the value in having highly regarded military personnel carrying the corporate logo on their business cards.

Over the last twenty plus years, we have had the privilege of working with hundreds of experienced professionals who have served the public sector with distinction, but have reached the difficult decision to leave and join the private sector. As with any important career move, it is important to plan ahead. The following is our short list of things to consider when developing your own personal transition plan:

    • Take an honest assessment of the type of individual you are and what you enjoy doing. Do you enjoy working with and influencing people? Can you see yourself in a sales role? How well do you perform when it comes to managing and leading teams? Do you enjoy management of others or do you feel more comfortable in an individual contributor’s role? Are you an introvert or extravert? Do you really enjoy business and what issues interest you? Answers to this self-assessment will help decide what functional area will be the best fit for your personality. There are also many psychological tools available to assess your personality and then match your likes and dislikes with the appropriate job and career track.
    • Industry may not fully recognize or understand the value of your experiences in the public sector. I have worked with Generals who have commanded thousands of people yet, in the view of a for-profit venture would not be qualified to lead a 200-person P&L. The measurement criterion for success in the public sector does not easily translate into industry criterion. The reason being there are weekly, monthly and quarterly financial targets that companies must reach to continue to grow. When a company misses their quarterly numbers, heads might roll. I can’t emphasize this point too much. The biggest culture shock you will experience is the drive for revenues each and every quarter. Think of this like a professional sports team. Each team and team member must perform their jobs in order to win. When you do not win team members are traded or let go. There are no long term pensions associated with this event and you will find yourself pursuing another job.

    • Meet with former colleagues who have already made the move to the private sector. Have an open and honest discussion with them about how they were able to make the transition, the challenges they faced, the surprises they encountered, and their recommendations to maximize chances for success. Ask how their public service experience translates into what they are now doing. More often than not, networking will lead to your first private sector position. Don’t be shy and do not only focus on the money. For you to be successful you will need to love what you are doing. This is much more important than the financial rewards that will come as result of success.
    • Understand what titles mean. Business Development means setting a strategy to pursue specific programs your new employer wants to win. These programs must be qualified and your incentives will be tied into your company winning work. Program Management is exactly what it sounds like: responsibility for every detail of a customer program. This requires strong understanding not just of relevant program technologies, but also the affiliated financials. Capture involves taking what the company considers a qualified lead and closing the business. Capture opportunities are typically handed off from the Business Development team. Sales are straightforward. You have a product or service and are given a revenue quota to meet every month.
    • Everything you bring to the private sector must contribute to helping your new employer succeed. Never stray too far away from this reality. It will feel different to you – faster pace, longer hours, greater accountability – and will take some time to come to grips with. It also dictates what and how people around you operate. We like to recommend that you always stay close to the revenue. Even if you are not directly responsible for bring in deals you need to always ask your self: what have I done today to contribute to my employer bring in revenue.
    • When a company hires an employee, regardless of seniority, they are considered a P&L investment. In other words, the company pays your salary; benefits, business expenses etc. and they need to realize a profit at the end of the year. This includes every function and not just sales. Even “general staff “have a P&L associated with them and they are regularly evaluated against their contribution to overall corporate objectives. Think of companies as entities that promote based on achievements more than politics although trust me, there is plenty of politics in the corporate world. You might also use the example of having your own company and hiring people. Every day you will ask yourself what return are you receiving from the investment you are making in each employee. If you feel you are loosing money then you stop investing.
    • Companies will pay to gain access into, and credibility with the agencies with which they want to do business. Take a hard look and be honest with yourself. How will it feel to call upon friends and colleagues and ask them for business? If this causes trepidation in you, then consider other functional areas than BD or sales.
    • Work with someone who can help you put together a professional resume that will resonate with gatekeepers in the private sector. Competition is fierce in the private sector, therefore it is important to market yourself accordingly. Find someone who can translate your public sector accomplishments into terms that recognized and understood by industry. Help executives understand the value your skills and experience bring to them as they seek to accomplish their goals. Avoid acronyms and jargon that are commonplace in the public sector, but essentially foreign to people outside it. Resumes are what we call a “10 second event”. Unless the reader gets it within 10 seconds they will not read on.

By now, it should be clear to you that the private sector environment differs considerably from the public sector. The transition is not always an easy one. However, despite a sluggish global economy, the demand for executives from public service has not slowed. Just remember that with these jobs come new and specific expectations. Be very sure you understand how your new employer will measure your success.


2013 Oil Change

I picked my car up from the dealer for my 30,000 mile service today.  I always feel so responsible when I get that done, and the car is running well.  I wonder why as human beings we often do not take the time to 'change the oil' for ourselves?

I have been coaching leaders at some capacity for nearly 20 years.  One of the best decisions I have made in my professional career was to apply to Georgetown University's Leadership Coaching Certification Masters Program back in 2005.  I am so grateful I was selected to attend with coaching cadre sweet 16!   Over 35 cadres graduated this program to date, and this community is amazing.  After 22 years in corporate roles ranging from sales and marketing to C-level leadership, I started my own Leadership Coaching and Human Capital Solutions firm on January 10, 2008. We celebrated our 5th year in business this month, and 2013 looks very bright.  How fortunate I am to be able to do what I love and support my family.  Coaching is such a phenomenal concept.  A one-on-one relationship with a certified coach that you can trust and has your best interest at heart.  That stretches, challenges you to get unstuck, to question your 'stories' you hold onto so dearly, but for the sake of what? It cleans out your filters...changes the oil.

I have worked with several amazing coaches over the years.  It is a good practice for coaches to be coached, and each time I engage I am instantly reminded in the power of coaching.  We tell our clients that they have to do the hard work in making behavioral shifts, and that is true, but a coaching session is just such a gift.  I had one of these experiences today.  It allowed me to reflect on the last season of my life and helped me to see how much progress I really have made!  Five years ago I was stressed out, scared to start out on my own, burdened with the reality of being the bread winner, a mom, the wife of a stroke-survivor, and college tuition right around the corner.  No one would blame me from being stressed either.  I have heard from so many dearfriends and colleagues, "You have a lot on your plate."  Well, I guess I do, but honestly in this day and age, who doesn't have a lot on their plates.

I did a lot of soul searching and reflecting in 2012.  Invested in coaching, new certifications and continuing education.  I re-prioritized my family to play a primary role in why I am here, and came to accept many realities that have become my life.  And does it feel good!  I have to say that I am probably the most 'at peace' with my life, family, business and relationship with God that I have ever been.  So what now?  Things are chunking right a long nicely, so what's next?

That is what is becoming more crystalized with the help of my coaching session today.  When you talk out loud about what you value and observe to someone else, it is liberating to have them pick up on 'stuff' I might skate right by.  And when we tell our 'story' to someone else, it is easy for them to call out what chapters of our story may be holdig us back, or that we need to dive into more deeply.

Today I made a declaration to focus on three areas:

1. Continue seeking joy in my life - I have a lot of it, and now I am hooked and want more!

2. Focus on wellness - I want to eat right, get some exercise and meet my grandchildren some day!  Just ordered Playful Planet's Storyland Yoga for kids and families to try out with Kate.

3.  Simplicity.  Every day I hear someone else is downsizing, simplifying, and minimizng the abundance of perishable goods that once seemed important and now do not.  I am ready...


Recent comment in this post
Guest — Christina Togni
Couldn't agree more. I can't wait to reflect after 5 years on this incredie journey. Thanks for being my coach!
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 12:56
  1 Comment

SAD: Seasonal Affect Disorder-More Common Than You Think

January...a time for resolutions, renewal, new starts, new budgets for many businesses and new jobs for those December grads.  It also triggers some post-holiday blues for some people, and that can be often linked to SAD: Seasonal Affect Disorder.  I thought I would write a little about this to hopefully increase awareness.  The news is brimming with attention to mental illness these days with the horror that descended upon the tiny town of Newtown, CT.  I grew up just a few miles from there, and have dear friends that knew some of the victims personally.  Not all mental illness falls into this category, there are countless forms, and many being situational, and in the case of SAD, seasonal.  I want to become more active in increasing awareness and hopefully supporting solutions to this epidemic.

According to staff at the Mayo Clinic, SAD is defined as "a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you're like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, seasonal affective disorder causes depression in the spring or early summer. Treatment for seasonal affective disorder includes light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications. Don't brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the "winter blues" or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year."

I have been talking about this disorder lately with clients, a couple of them later went to talk to their physician, were diagnosed and started the light therapy, one for as little as 15 minutes.  They reported rapid results and a new energy and optimism they had not felt in a long time.  In fact, the team members also reported a significant difference on one leader's demeanor and the quality of the conversation they had with them noticeably improved.  

This time of year can be high stress for businesses, and if our leaders are just not feeling up to par, there may be a logical explanation as to what may be helpful.  I am looking forward to the day when we can talk openly about these things and offer possible solutions that can make big differences in how we impact those around us.


Year-end Reflections

December is an interesting month.  In business it signifies year-end for many.  Closing out ‘the books’ and analyzing expenses among other things take up the time of many a finance professional.  The first three weeks are often a flurry of activity preparing for the near shut-down of businesses world-wide between Christmas and New Years.  Traffic increases, stores are crowded, kids are bouncing off the walls trying to stay on the nice list.  Countless managers are gathering feedback for performance reviews, and checking if goals were met or exceeded.  Some organizations tie pay to performance.  Others provide COLAs (cost of living increases), others give holiday bonuses, or extra time-off.

I set some personal goals for myself in January, and tried to be intentional in reviewing my progress since I really do not have a manager asking me to do so.  I tweaked my goals along the way to reflect changing environmental factors.  My goals were focused on managing stress, and taking care of myself and family.   I set business goals for The Ermi Group which included researching/writing a book, keynote speeches and workshops regarding Leading Millennials.  The book is a work-in-progress and I conducted a few keynotes and several Leading Millennials workshops.  It was a good year overall.  And my streamlined personal goal was quality time with family, and I feel good about achieving that too.

It was an important year of discovering where my energy was most needed.  If you have been reading my entries you would know that my husband is a stroke survivor.  Ten years ago on July 1 he suffered a ‘freak’ stroke  at age 38.  He no longer works outside the home, and has been an amazing stay-at-home dad.  The six year old started kindergarten and the 20 year old is a junior in college.  So new routines had to be created, and if you know anything about brain injury, the short-term memory is often impacted, and hard-wiring new concepts takes a lot longer than for other people.

Very busy times for both girls and mom and dad.  My biggest discovery this year was I need to be more present at home.  Both physically and mentally.  I spent much of the last 10 years as a workaholic in corporate roles, then starting my own consulting firm.  I pretty much buzzed in and out of the family on a part-time basis.  But I realize that Kate will be a 20 year old before I know it, and I was missing these precious moments of discovery.  Cuddles, snuggles and laughs. And Todd needs some help in creating those routines that make things run smoothly.

So, I declared more quality time with family, and it has truly been a gift.  I created additional office space on the main floor of our home in order to be more plugged-in to the day-to-day events.   As a result, I am being more intentional about traveling, how long I can be gone and making sure I plan in family time before and after being away.  I feel very strongly about volunteering and have a service-oriented value system.  I used to do it all on my own, now I am choosing things we can do as a family when possible, like going to Hurricane Sandy survivors with donations and a heart to help.

In past years I did not think life balance was possible.  I have learned much from my Millennial colleagues that assume balance should be part of the employment proposition.  Of course there are some compromises in achieving balance.  Having an executive salary versus your own firm, prioritizing family, it changes the landscape a bit.  And it does not have to be a negative.  I started clipping coupons.  I saved $38 at the grocery store last week.  I used to have a hard time passing by a Gymboree or Kids Gap, but Target has some great clothes for kids.  And how many outfits does she actually need at age 6?  Going out to lunch is one of my guilty pleasures.  And if I am working from home, I can eat leftovers or soup and not starve!  Setting priorities and focusing on what is really important makes lifestyle shifts a gradual process and quite doable.  Those Sonoma/Napa boutique vineyards were sure fun while it lasted, wonderful memories were created.  There are some very decent wines at a reasonable price point.  We once belonged to a wine club that was about $100.  We recently rediscovered the original Wine of the Month Club for $34!  And the wines were really good!

The curse of the younger Baby Boomers, especially we Generation Jonesers who grew up wanting it all and wanting it now.  I hear many of us planning our downsizing, minimizing, and prioritizing.  Some have burned through 401Ks as the economy dropped, underwater real estate, college tuitions, starting our own businesses and reinventing ourselves.  And it’s ok.  We are going to have to work until we are 80 anyway!  The fiscal cliff. What’s the diff? As if.

So it is about finding something you love.  Discovering your gifts, passions, potential.  We are not done yet!  Not even close!  We are resilient.  We are flexible.  And we are ready for what’s next.

In 2013 I want meaningful work and priceless time with family and friends.  God will take care of the rest.



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