Why Support Gets Lost In Translation

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Managers, friends, even spouses say they want to support you, but how come it goes horribly wrong?

Support is determined by the recipient, not the giver.

If the receiver doesn’t feel supported, it’s only a gesture.

Let me give you an example. Your manager tells you he/she is “hands off” in their management style, yet you feel micromanaged.

Translation: your manager wants things done a certain way and when it’s not, you’ll hear it. Hands off to them means “as long as you do things my way, I’ll be hands off.”

To someone who is self-motivated and innovative that’s a huge turn off.

In the workplace support it a term used loosely. The main problem is if the giver doesn’t know how the receiver defines support, it’s just talk.

Support gets miscommunicated as frequently as any generational difference.

If you truly want to support someone, ask them how they feel supported. It may be different than what you value, but if you truly care you’ll do it.

The #1 reason why employees leave their current job is because they feel undervalued, therefore support has an incredible ROI.

The root cause can be the difference between a leader and manager, but ultimately it starts with ego.

Support is meant to benefit the recipient so if the receiver doesn’t feel supported that falls on the giver.

It can be a tricky game to play, so first know the rules.

I feel supported when listened to. Answers aren’t necessary. Once I’m able to vent my frustration, I can enter problem solving mode. Offer me trust and I will give it back tenfold. That’s what helps me feel supported, how about you?

Why Work Life Balance Is A Unicorn

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Work Life Balance is extinct.

Compartmentalization is so last year.

The concept used to be a Venn Diagram with the left circle representing your professional life, the right circle your personal life and the overlap the “balance.”

Now your life is just one big circle, a.k.a. Work Life Integration.

If you’re unhappy at work, you’re unhappy in life (and vice versa).

That doesn’t necessarily mean follow your passion (although nothing’s wrong with it). It means focus on your desired lifestyle and find a career to support it.

Job turnover isn’t just a Millennial thing. It’s reality moving forward.

Admit it. You’re most likely not going to work your current job for the rest of your lifetime (the benefits aren’t that great right?), so job-hopping becomes the norm.

Blame it on the following reasons: Boredom. Multi-Passionate. Uncertainty.

But the biggest reason: Life Stage.

If someone asks me how I feel about entrepreneurship now vs. when I started (almost 10 years ago) my response is: I’m married and have 2 kids.

It doesn’t mean I don’t love being my own boss anymore. It means my family is more important.

So using the lifestyle analogy, I’ll stick with being an entrepreneur as long as it supports me financially enough to control how much time I spend with my family.

Your career (and life too) goes through seasons of change.

Balance isn’t achieved by being proactive.

The tension between battling priorities in your life sharpens your choices.

Choose what’s most important to you based on the most valuable currency: time.

That’s no myth.

The Darkside Of Tech: Why You Should Be A Softie

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Technology has not only changed the way we live, but also marginalized our skill set.

If you’re older than a Millennial, you’ll remember taking speech in school.

Although a dreaded class, it teaches one of the most crucial skills to succeed in your career: communication.

Ironically in a tech-dominated economy, want to know what employers are looking for more of?

Soft skills.

In fact, this Wall Street Journal article states it’s what’s being searched for on LinkedIn Profiles everywhere.

Schools like General Assembly have wisely capitalized on teaching skills that are actually marketable.

The problem is unless you plan on working in a silo, you need to talk to people. Albeit a stereotype, most engineers can’t communicate better than the average rock. As brilliant as your tech skills may be, there still needs to be conversation taking place within the chain of command (even in a flat organization).

This is great news to people like me, who don’t have the patience or the desire to learn how to code. True, I’ll probably never make as much money as techies, but I can add value in other ways.

Like our economy, shifts in skills that are valued over time fluctuate. When the recession hit in 2008, services like training were stripped because they were deemed as a “luxury.” Guess what? Today, on-boarding, career development and soft skills workshops are rampant.

Why? Because when there is an over-saturation of a particular skill set, it’s what’s different and needed that becomes more valuable.

In an on-demand, instant gratification, push-button world, orators still rule. If you’re lacking in that area start networking, do more public speaking or join toastmasters.

Technology is wonderful. I couldn’t live without it.

But scarcity breeds value. Every tech star out there needs a partner to compliment him/her.

That’s why you should be a softie.

How To Deal With Uncertainty

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As a planner I prefer to be in control.

When I’m not it’s scary.

But when you think about, how much of your life are you really in control of?

You have the power of choice, but you can’t control the outcome. In fact you can drive yourself insane second-guessing what you should have done in retrospect.

The best advice (but probably the most uncomfortable) is to trust the process.

Easier said than done, but if you’ve done your research, taken multiple factors into account, pull the trigger and don’t look back.

Take for instance sports: when you make a play sometimes it works out in your favor and sometimes it doesn’t. If you feel uncertain in the moment, most likely the result won’t be favorable. On the other hand committing to a plan of action and living with the outcome gives you a sense of peace.

As a recovering control-freak myself, I realize the more I try to control the less I actually am.

Pair that with the fact my wife is very spontaneous and carefree and it can drive me to anxiety if I don’t take a step back.

As a coach I tell my clients to focus on creating good habits that are repeatable. Goals are good, but creating routines that lead towards your desired lifestyle are better.

Funny thing is sometimes I need to listen to my own advice.

If you’re unsure about an aspect in your life such as your career or a relationship, look at how you spend your time. Examine your priorities. Understand the way you process.

Uncertainty can be looked at in two ways: negatively or positively.

You can choose to be anxious or excited. The former will drive you crazy while the latter comes with anticipation.

For your mind and body’s sake (and health), choose the high road.

Trust me.

It works.

How To Be A Storyteller During Your Next Interview

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Applying for jobs sucks, but if you get to the interview process here’s a way to stand out:

Tell stories.

Since the beginning of time stories have always engaged us. During an interview, telling a story will calm your nerves while painting a memorable image in the mind of the interviewer.

In fact, if you can tell a story about a past experience accenting how you used personal strengths you’ve nailed it.

Past behavior questions tend to be the most accurate predictor of future prowess. It’s not 100%, but it’s proof you’ve done it before so you can do it again.

The easiest way to implement this strategy is planning ahead of time. Think of 3 stories that illustrate your strengths clearly and remember them. Most likely you’ll be asked a question like, “What are your strengths? or Why should we hire you?” Now it’s story time…

Interviews are perceived as intimidating, but similar to public speaking the only way to get better is through practice. You can easily simulate an interview by role playing. Anticipate the toughest questions ahead of time and you’ll be fine during the real thing.

Interviewing relies on self-awareness. Know your strengths and weaknesses and be able to communicate them clearly. For the question, “What is your biggest weakness?” always answer it in a positive way (otherwise you’ll shoot yourself in the foot). For example: “I’m impatient. I like to move at a fast pace. I care about efficiency because time is money. I like to push others to move with a sense of urgency.”

See what a did there? I took a potential weakness and flipped it into a strength.

Some interviewers play games, but most ask similar questions.

Do your research.

Practice.

And most of all…tell stories.

It makes you memorable.

What McDonalds Can Teach You About Failed Branding

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Have you seen the recent McDonald’s commercials featuring wholesome ingredients in family settings?

That’s a far cry from their previous campaign geared towards a “cool” hip-hop crowd…

Confusing. That’s what McDonald’s marketing is currently.

Apply that to your professional life. When you’re asked the question, “Why should we hire you?” in a job interview would you state what makes you unique or go with what’s trendy nowadays? (I hope you choose the former)

My point is when it comes to branding it’s important to know your identity.

Using McDonald’s as a bad example, they’ve flip-flopped on who they are trying to be and to whom they’re trying to be it to. Newsflash: people don’t buy McDonald’s products because of sustainable procedures, family values or the perception of being part of the “in-crowd.” It’s sole appeal is: it’s cheap, fast-food. I guarantee if they spent more money marketing their dollar menu, combo meals and sale items profits would rise quickly.

Trying to be the jack-of-all-trades results in being a master of none.

That’s why tools like the StrengthsFinder are helping in defining your identity (personal brand).

Your strengths determine your style which reveals your brand.

Don’t be afraid to niche yourself according to your speciality. People need to know who you are and what you do clearly.

If you communicate various descriptions it sounds confusing…and the problem is when someone is confused they will always say “no” to buying you.

Don’t be like McDonald’s. Be clear about you.

Why Millennials Hate Church

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There may be an assumption here that I’m stating Millennials aren’t spiritual or believe in God, but that’s far from the truth.

My perspective comes from working at a church leading Millennials (1996-2006) then helping companies retain & train Millennials (2007-present). Essentially I’ve followed Millennials around for 20 years. What I’ve found is as Millennials have evolved, churches haven’t.

Think about your favorite decade of music. Isn’t it based on what you listened to while in school? The problem is churches are playing the same music from the ’50’s…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Churches can’t reach Millennials because the model they are using is broken.

Millennials want answers to today’s issues, but to put it bluntly the church isn’t relevant. God and the Bible haven’t changed, but the means to tell their stories have. For instance, who wants to wake up on their day off (Sunday) to hear someone tell them what they shouldn’t be doing? Feedback is vital, yet we live in a day where social media, videos and texting are the way we get our information. The mediums churches use don’t reach Millennials.

Millennials desire collaboration and community more than any generation before them. I find it unnecessary to have Sunday service weekly when rarely do you get to communicate with others and if you do, it’s usually surface-level conversations after the program is over. Why not emphasize smaller group meetings weekly in people’s homes or public meeting places? We learn more in discussion than we do in “class.”

Events can serve the purpose of getting large amounts of people together, but either interest-based or training-type focused solely. What if a “church” spent it’s funds on creating a local business within the community that offered jobs, programs and resources to it’s neighbors? Isn’t that what social entrepreneurship is? Impact breeds lifestyle and lifestyle is what influences others.

The irony of this post is the people who will agree with it are who it’s for: Millennials. The ones who are offended by it: older folks who attend church regularly.

The best example I can give you is once I was at a church conference with multiple generations in the audience. The speaker said, “raise your hand if you disagree with how your youth programs are being run.” Most of the older people put their hand up. The speaker’s response? Good. It’s not for you anyway.

Mic dropped.

If you enjoyed this musing, check out the inception of my idea here: The Startup Church.

The Unemployed Entrepreneur

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Want to know the real motivation behind current entrepreneurs?

Being broke.

As a business owner each day you wake up needing to sell.

You either make money that day or you don’t.

Nothing is given to you. You have to fight for everything a.k.a. the daily grind.

Signing up as an entrepreneur basically makes you a sales person. Even though you’re the boss, you’re 100% responsible for selling. It’s tough work, not for the faint at heart. In fact, you become so accustomed to rejection you think you’re dating her.

But chasing your dreams does have a tremendous upside. Complete freedom is one of the best feelings you can experience and once you’ve been the boss, it’s tremendously hard to go back to working for someone else. In the right situation it’s possible, but chances are while you’re working, you’re strategizing how you can improve the process on your own.

The reason entrepreneurship is down with Millennials is because it’s too big of a risk. Chasing your dreams doesn’t pay well. If you like supplemental income for travel, dining out and adventures put that on hold. Considering starting a family? One of you better have a stable job with benefits or suffer a drop in quality of lifestyle.

Possibly a larger factor than a big, scalable idea is timing. Forget age, what life stage are you in: single and career driven or in a relationship and starting a family? The answer to that question will give you clarity on whether or not to pursue your dreams. Starting a business takes more of an investment in time than money, so your current level of responsibility will give you clarity on pulling the trigger.

Take it from someone whose priorities changed drastically over the past several years. What was a good decision before, isn’t the best decision now. Pride aside, your life goals change which calls for a life pivot.

Entrepreneurship can be for everyone, but think about the lifestyle you want to maintain and decide from there.

Pitch Perfect: You

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Recently I read a great article, Founders: Pitch the Promised Land, and it got me thinking…

Why don’t we pitch what we do more aspirational?

Fear. Fraud. Failure. Those are the voices in our head, but aren’t dreams what motivate us?

Whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur: you’re offering a product or service right?

Pitch their dreams.

Take your elevator pitch as an example. Try selling yourself to a stranger in 30 seconds or less; it’s challenging to say the least. That doesn’t include the fact rarely does anyone buy anything on the first impression.

But if someone is “shopping,” your goal is to deliver an answer as clear as possible. Why?

Because without clarity (a.k.a. confusion), the answer to your sales pitch is “no.”

The best stories are the ones that get you thinking. In this case, it caused my own self-evaluation.

Here’s my answer to the question, “So what do you do?

Before: “I help small to mid-sized companies retain and train their Millennials.”

After: “Millennial Mastery.”

My initial answer is clear and straight to the point, but the revised statement paints an image (or at least causes you to ponder for a moment).

It is possible? How’s it done? What’s the cost?

The goal of a pitch shouldn’t be to get an immediate answer. It should be to get customers to want more.

Engagement in the workplace is talked about constantly, but it should also be integrated with sales pitches too.

So the next time you’re asked the question, “what do you do?” Answer in future-tense.

Pokemon: Gotta Catch ‘Em Millennials

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Driving or walking down the street, you’re bound to see groups of people staring at their phones…

And chances are they’re playing Pokemon Go, a recent craze amongst Millennials. An estimated 80% of players are between the ages of 18-34.

So how did this app go viral so fast? Here’s 3 reasons why:

1. Nostalgia – Pokemon reached it’s peak in the late 90’s, when most Millennials were in their childhood. For the same reason Transformers connects with men who grew up in the 80’s, Pokemon Go has struck a chord with Millennials. Nintendo is brilliant for bringing this fad back. But Pokemon has capitalized on much more than childhood memories. They’ve used gamification to engage the most influential generation yet.

2. Social Community – Rarely will you find Millennials playing Pokemon Go alone. Instead groups of people move in drones trying to catch the different characters. Local businesses would be smart to offer “lures” or incentives to entice the increased foot traffic. An article in Forbes dubs it “a flash mob organized by a gaming company.” Other generations may look down upon the craze, but there’s definitely something there and can be a huge opportunity to businesses who take advantage of the trend.

3. Activity – One of the most overlooked aspects of Pokemon Go is the mobility factor. There have been extreme incidents of people getting out of their cars during traffic, but for the most part it gets you out and about on your feet. This is not Crossfit or extreme cardio by any means, but it has a similar effect as FitBit. As an observer it looks comical to see groups aimlessly scour around town, but at least it provides a path to exercise. With obesity at an all time high, Pokemon Go helps, doesn’t hurt the cause against lethargy.

As with most trends with Millennials, you have a choice: frown upon or take advantage of it. Understanding why something is appealing is the best place to start. Millennials are an influential, peer-based consuming machine. Catching their attention is difficult, but Pokemon Go may have given us a peek into what makes them tick.