Are Boomers and Millennials Mirror Images?

Do boomers and millennials seem to be on different planets? Why are so many employees who are new to the job market having trouble adjusting? Are their new companies and managers adjusting to them?

Open for Business – Courageous Leadership

America is open for business, which is a call for courageous leadership. There has never been a more important time for leadership and civic involvement, especially on the part of women.

Are Boomers and Millennials Mirror Images?

Do boomers and millennials seem to be on different planets? Why are so many employees who are new to the job market having trouble adjusting? Are their new companies and managers adjusting to them? The reality is boomers and millennials mirror each other.

I am a child of the ‘60s—a boomer for sure. We were a generation that sat-in, protested, and changed culture. My first corporate job was working to create a corporate social responsibility agenda. A critique of millennials is that they want to run the place within months of arrival. I think I did that too. We all have precedents. My father, civil rights activist and business leader Whitney Young, was Dean of a School of Social Work at 34.  Millennials are not a phenomenon in the 21st century workplace.

During my academic career, I oversaw a group of students to create a new program dedicated to their academic success. I determined the strategy and, much to my surprise, got pushback from the students. A middle of the night epiphany brought back memories of when I was in college and we were totally upending the status quo. Rules in place when we entered college (no men in the dormitory rooms, skirts for women in class, curfews) were gone when we graduated.

Why shouldn’t the students I was working with have the same right to determine an agenda for success that would work for them? After an initial shock, I let go of control and allowed the students to periodically toss me out of my office for planning meetings. I was there for guidance and a supportive voice to administration. The students were now in charge.  They did a superb job then and now some 30 years later.

Youth is exuberant, optimistic and fearless. Some boomers have toned down and become more staid. Becoming older has meant wisdom laced with risk aversion.  There is natural head butting between generations who are at different life stages. What millennials do and say may be fueled by 21st century technology, but it is not atypical for their life stage.

Dealing with those new to work requires seeing ourselves in them and finding the ways they add value. Educating to appreciate some of the old with the new is also a great approach. Robert DeNiro’s film, The Intern makes this point perfectly.   The keys are respect, listening and empathy. Recognition and acknowledgement of every individual as employee and customer is a driver of business success was the central thesis of my doctoral dissertation many years ago.  Today, we need to honor that idea more than ever.

Open for Business – Courageous Leadership

America is open for business, which is a call for courageous leadership. There has never been a more important time for leadership and civic involvement, especially on the part of women.

Particularly moving was the recent courage demonstrated by Acting United States Attorney, Sally Q. Yates. Courage is one of the most critical leadership qualities and one that I have been fortunate to observe in my years as an executive, civic leader, former First Lady of New York State, wife and mother. The measure of a person is not seen when things are going well; they are tested when challenges create rocky and murky waters.

These are the most difficult and yet most important times to stand up and be counted. Ms. Yates stood strong in her values and beliefs, despite the personal toll.  She said in a statement that she wasn’t convinced that President Trump’s recent Executive Order on immigration was lawful.   She courageously stood by her conviction to the Constitution and the rule of law.

As a nation, from Washington to our local governments, we must carefully balance economic, partisan, and individual goals, with what is right for our nation, its citizens, and consistent with time tested values, principles and constitutional rights. It is important to be thoughtful about why each public servant serves. Protection of constitutional rights must be at the forefront to maintain the system and process that we all hold dear.

Business has an opportunity and a duty to take the lead in courageously setting the tone that will ignite a growing economy that is inclusive, innovative, and prosperous for everyone. Let us work together in a positive and constructive way to uphold the kind of courage that will ensure our country fulfills its historical mission.  We all must set the example we want our children to shadow, and live by the values we want them to pass down to their children.

Standing up for our convictions is critical at this point in history. Ms. Yate sets an example, and demonstrates a kind of heroism that creates a moment of self-examination and personal reflection.  To continue to build our country, we must get back to basics. Courage under fire is at the foundation.

Leadership: Open for Business – Courageous Leadership ©Change Create Transform 2017

Why We Must Act Now – Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Together we will continue to progress and pursue the letter and spirit of Dr. King’s call to action to each of us individually, our country, and our world.  Overwhelming and moving are words that come to mind when considering how to properly recognize the birthday of someone who changed the course of history.

Dr. King’s writings and quotes are cited frequently, but the occasion of his birthday makes us go deeper.  If Dr. King were here today to guide and counsel us, he would tell us that today is an important opportunity to encourage and support others.  By looking closely and carefully, we can find out where to start.

Educational progress for the African American community has been tremendous, and continues, according to the Urban League. In spite of these strides, there are persistent and troubling facts which are found in their 2016 report, State of Black America

  • 10.8% of white Americans live below the poverty line, compared to 27% of African Americans – both figures are unacceptable
  • Unemployment rates are double for African Americans, across time and educational levels
  • African American median household income and home ownership is roughly 60% of that of white households

The report goes on to state, “This year, as the National Urban League celebrates the 40th anniversary of the State of Black America report, it continues to interject serious consideration of the social, economic and political issues facing African Americans into the national discourse.  While aggregate improvements can be noted across the board for Blacks and whites, unfortunately the findings tell a clear story that significant disparities remain and have not been resolved by any gains, particularly in income and employment.”

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, the United States has the largest prison population in the world, 2.3 million of which 1 million are African American.  This does not include the 11 million people who pass through the system every year and are not convicted. While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.

Naturally these facts, and the feelings they elicit, take you back to Dr. King’s book “Why We Can’t Wait” and his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, written in 1963.   His letter is a road map for planning a strategy to make change and have impact.

Dr. King would tell us to celebrate his birthday by living by our principles and commitment to peace and justice. He says in his 1963 letter to be patient and reasonable, but he also implores us to act, and to go where there is injustice, because “injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.”  He tells us to ignore our critics, otherwise we will not have time to do our important work.  Dr. King reminds us that our discontent is normal and healthy, and we must channel it into nonviolent action.  His deep disappointment in 1963 is clear, and he would be disappointed today.  But he reminds us that there can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.  We may have disappointments about today’s state of affairs, but that is because we care, about our community, our country and our world.  Finally, Dr. King recognizes that sublime courage, the willingness to suffer, and amazing discipline are required in the midst of great turmoil.

Dr. King’s non-violent model was designed to encourage and help humankind, but he focused on his community because the largest injustices were there. During his short life and these intervening years, he has been recognized as a great champion for all people.  So let us renew the commitment that he asked of all of us so many years ago.

No matter who you are or what you have, you can take action each and every day. Use this day of celebration to remind yourself that you can make a difference in our world.  You are unique, special and a life changing spirit.   Dr. King’s message of peace and love can be lived by us moment by moment and day by day.   We can turn the tide, because it’s not over, until the victory is won.

Leadership: Why We Must Act Now – Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ©Change Create Transform 2017

Savvy & Practical: Quantum Transitions

Based upon the principles of physics, change is ever present. At the quantum level, everything is always changing.
According to Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, business closures are now outpacing business start-ups. “400,000 new businesses are being born annually nationwide, while 470,000 per year are dying.”

Transition is right around the corner. Everyone is an interim leader. If it has not happened yet, just wait. The status quo is transitory and largely an illusion. Knowing this does little to help us manage the challenge presented by volatility and the business landscape.

Not only are businesses starting and closing, companies are merging, growing, changing and entering new frontiers. Leaders, managers, and professionals are reinventing themselves, changing careers, and innovating in place.

There are steps to be considered.

Five Practical Ideas for Quantum Transitions

1. Design Your Future

Develop a specific written plan that includes your dreams, vision and plan for the future. Your ability to craft an action plan for yourself is in direct correlation to the outcome you can expect. Include in your plans self-development goals that challenge you to grow and learn.

2. Calculate Your Worth

Everyone has a specific, unique contribution to make. Whether or not you capitalize on your strengths, capabilities and gifts is up to you. You have value. Think about and write down your accomplishments, experiences, and talents, starting from the youngest age you can remember. You are worth a great deal.

3. Take One Day at a Time

Multi-tasking is an oxymoron. Getting one thing done at a time is both efficient and effective. We should plan for the future without misdirecting effort. Dedicate most of your energy to specific actions steps that must be taken each day, one day at a time.

4. Take Care of Yourself

Self-care is central to success. In the middle of transition, our self-care routines can become disrupted or disappear. Recommit to caring for yourself through healthy eating, adequate sleep and rest (they are different), physical activity, and engaging in fun. Connecting with community, friends and family is also important.

5. Release Control

Live life fully. Seeking outside control diverts energy from the possibilities of life. Be pleasantly surprised by what the future holds, to minimize stress and maximize focus.

Savvy & Practical: Quantum Transitions ©Change Create Transform ® 2015

Savvy & Practical: Change the Game Without Trading Players

Sports has become an increasingly complex and interesting industry. The parallels for business are sometimes obvious, at other times subtle. Many lie in how to integrate, develop, manage, and retire players on a team. Stepping into a new leadership role can be a daunting task and often requires a team to return to fundamentals. If you are able to add top draft picks or free agents to a team in transition, it can create a climate of positive anticipation, new energy, and the opportunity to start fresh. More often than not, a team must change their game without trading players. This frequently signals the strength of the back office, as well as the coaches, managers, and players. It is reassuring and refreshing to see a skilled organization revitalize a team that has lost its self-confidence and the loyalty of its fans or customers. Several keys steps are generally undertaken to change your game without trading players.

  1. Stabilize. Create a climate that reassures and rebuilds the foundation. Lead by example. This is primarily accomplished when leadership puts their “skin in the game.”
  2. Communicate. There can almost never be too much communication. This requires active listening and a high degree of self-awareness by the team and its leaders. In most cases, facilitation and feedback on a continuing basis are essential.
  3. Quantify. Develop meaningful and achievable goals and objectives. Utilize a team process to get buy-in from every player.
  4. Celebrate. Find the accomplishments, and utilize them to spur motivation to move to the next level. Foster an environment that celebrates success and learns from failures and challenges. Motivation comes from within, but is spurred on by recognition from those we respect.
  5. Dream. Bring the team to the next leveling by tapping into their dreams. No matter how battle worn a team might be, each person underneath it all has dreams and a belief system. It can and should be a springboard to refresh, renew and rebuild.
  6. Include. Every member of the team has something to contribute. Including each team player in the strategy, as well as the tactics is a sure formula for success. Not doing so is wasted resources.

These principles will lead to measurable financial results and build strong businesses. When failure, challenge, change, or some combination confronts a team, the temptation is to trade players. It takes discipline, savvy and a practical approach to change the game.

Savvy & Practical: Change the Game Without Changing Players ©Change Create Transform 2015