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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:

Title:

Start Date:

College:

Hobbies:

Special Interests:

Incentives:

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

Five words they use to describe themselves:

1
2
3
4
5

Top three values:

1
2
3

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:

Action:

Development Plan:

Resource:

Timeline:

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.
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Appreciating the Diversity of Our Nation

I have been doing some traveling recently after a long stretch of local work. I used to travel all the time, but in the last few years it has been sporadically at best.

I have been to Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Raleigh in the last 3 weeks. Not a lot of travel compared to many, but enough for me to realize the distinctions of cultural differences. I grew up mostly in CT and spent many years in the North East. I went to school in Lynchburg, VA, but when you are 18, I am not sure you are really paying attention to the culture or friendliness of people. http://www.lynchburg.edu/



After college I went back to CT for about 5 years before leaving there permanently in 1991. Over 20 years ago, I left my state that I did most of my education from, the people I knew and my family and ventured out to upstate NY to a small little town called Norwich situated between the metropolises of Binghamton and Syracuse. I remember being struck by how friendly people were. We became “regulars” at the four or five eating establishments and merchants and business owners were grateful for your patronage. I was the Sales Training Manager for the business and covered the US and Canada. I got to travel and be immersed in all the major US regions, and really got a passion for local foods, dialects, norms and uniquenesses.





A few years after that in 1994, I moved to Cincinnati. Wow, the big city by comparison. I was so excited about the opportunity! I just turned 30 and my career was soaring at Procter & Gamble and my workaholic underpinnings had been formed. I was climbing the corporate ladder, and loved everything about it! Seven years there and what struck me was the charm and humility of the Midwest culture. People were genuinely polite, interested in what you were doing, asked about your day and really wanted an answer more than “fine.” I really thought I could live there forever. I loved my friends who became like family, I traveled around the world, and I had stability and satisfaction in my career. I loved learning about different cultures around the world and not just in the US! My obsession with understanding the backgrounds and style differences of people AND the ability to help bridge the gaps that keep people from working optimally together was born!



In 2001, in order to be with my beautiful step-daughter who lived in Maryland with her mom and step-dad, my husband and I left all the stability of P&G and moved to the DC metro area to be a closer part of her life. Best decision EVER from a personal perspective. But my glorious travel days were put on pause for a couple of years. When you are acclimating to a new region of the country, you miss the things that made you feel comfortable. While I love where I live, the surrounding areas were not as ‘homey’ as what I had become used to. The people, while polite, were not overly friendly. The pace was faster, the edge of working in our Nations' Capital was completely different, and I sort of put my head low, worked like mad, and went into survivor mode. My husband had a stroke at age 38 and left the workforce due to disability. http://www.stroke.org

I worked at several organizations as a change agent and HR executive, and realized the average lifespan of an HR Exec in DC is about 18 months. So my perspective and world view became very DC-centric. I started my own firm in 2008, and was blessed with local gigs, so I was home A LOT! And I have grown to absolutely love where I live. The business opportunity is amazing and I have dear friends and colleagues I would not want to lose for all the tea in China (as my husband likes to say.)

I changed my business strategy in 2012 and now I find myself on the road again. And I love it! While I miss my husband and 5 year old, I know this is where I am supposed to be.

So back to my epiphany…I really love the people of the mid-west. Genuine kindness, a life pace that includes others, and a trustworthiness that I can relate to. And the south has a charm and a history of chivalry. I cannot tell you how many doors were opened for me, luggage carried, elevators held open, all the basics I had learned to forget being a woman executive that wants to play in the boys club.

So much gratitude. So much to think about….

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