Millennial Makeover: 3 Steps for Success

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Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. Labor Force and that number will just keep growing. The stereotypes of being narcissists, fickle and poor communicators are mostly true, but there’s too much emphasis on the problem and not enough focus on solutions.

I’ve worked with Millennials both as a volunteer and paid basis for the past 20 years and here is what works:

1) Teach/Model Communication Skills: As technology increases, communication skills decrease. With texting, social media and various apps, verbal communication isn’t practiced much. Young professionals can multitask quickly, but are slow to respond to emails, lack professionalism and avoid conflict. In order to turn the tides give them opportunities to speak in public, network at events and define professionalism. Rarely is a new hire ready to do their job independently. That doesn’t mean they’re not capable, it means you need to teach them what they lack. The only way to improve skills is to practice. Stop complaining about their faults and show them how to do it.

2) Give Frequent Feedback: Millennials crave coaching. Since we’re stereotyping here for brevity purposes, Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers aren’t the greatest managers. Most supervisors move up in rank because of seniority, but the technical skills mastered are far from leadership skills that are needed to develop emerging candidates. Frequent means daily or at least weekly feedback. Yes, Millennials tend to dislike criticism, but that doesn’t mean you stop giving it. No, I’m not an advocate for micromanaging, but if someone isn’t performing to standards, they must be informed. This goes both ways too. Leaders should be secure enough to ask how they can serve their workers better. Praise is welcome, but make sure it’s specific, not general like “good job.” If you’re going to be generic in your feedback, do everyone a favor and don’t bother opening your mouth. Start at the end. Performance evaluations shouldn’t be a surprise to any worker if feedback is being given constantly.

3) Reward Intraprenuership: Millennials are the most innovative generation in history. If they don’t see the market fulfilling a need, they create it themselves. Corporate culture should welcome mistakes. We all learn best through trial and error and the most successful people in the world deal with failure better, not success. New projects are a great way for Millennials to take initiative, collaborate and test market products/services. If you ask most young professionals what matters to them most at work, you’ll usually get the response: make an impact in the world or opportunities for growth. Rewarding intrapreneurship satisfies both desires if planned well. Responsibility happens when ownership is taken. The quickest way to teach that is by delegating tasks, trusting people to get it done and holding them accountable for the results. Don’t worry about retention as much, instead foster an entrepreneurial culture and it becomes your most effective recruiting tool.

Generational differences cause a lot of problems at work, but if you choose to focus on the strengths of Millennials instead of their weaknesses, you’ll see positive results in your ROI much sooner than later.

Why Coaching Doesn’t Work

coach's whistle

I’ve been coaching for the past 8 years as an entrepreneur, but much longer in basketball and life. It’s a skill set you can learn, but similar to leadership there are some who have an innate ability to thrive in it and a “higher ceiling” in terms of execution. As a customer there are more reasons than not to avoid coaching, which makes it hard to “sell.” Here are just a handful:

“What is coaching?”

“How does it work?”

“How much is it?”

“What results will I get?”

“HR and management already provides that at work.”

The list goes on and on, so instead of trying to convince you why coaching works, I prefer to share my experience of hiring a coach. I worked with a coach for 18 months. We met bi-monthly and talked about professional and personal issues. I loved how he would ask me questions that were based on my agenda, set goals to accomplish before the next session and go at my pace. It felt much more like hiring a personal trainer to strengthen my mind than anything close to therapy or psychology. I liked it so much I picked my coach’s brain on how to become one and after going back to school for a M.A. in Organizational Leadership, here I am.

Now the toughest part is selling it. Coaching is a process, it provides solutions to the “how” questions. Problem is customers are focused on the results. Confidence and career advice is what my clients get from working with me. Another issue is paying for individual sessions. Going back to my personal trainer analogy, you wouldn’t hire a trainer and expect results overnight, so you can’t do the same with a coach. Sessions don’t work, programs do. P90X and Insanity sell fitness, but they’re packaged as a program. That’s exactly how you need to buy coaching. For example, my Career Bootcamp is 30 days of coaching which includes: (4) 60 minute sessions + unlimited weekday email support. If you take full advantage of this offer, you can have up to 26 “touch points” in a month’s time. Now that’s value! You get a defined outcome in specific time frame. Much easier to buy.

It’s not that coaching doesn’t work, it does. But the challenge is how it’s “packaged.” These days anyone can call themselves a coach, I get that. So if you’re in the market to hire one, contact a coach and ask them questions. Your decision to hire one should be based on chemistry (do you “fit” with them?) and confidence (can they get me to where I want to be?). Coaching is an investment in personal & professional development. Athletes hire coaches to increase performance, so should you!

Millennials: Why Potential is Overrated

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Dear Managers,

Before you hire your next college graduate based on potential, stop. The equalizer for a young worker is experience, which tends to be lacking, but ultimately what employers care about for long-term tenure. After completing a four-year program, you need someone to give you a chance because you need experience right? Well, only part of that is true. If you’re a smart worker, you would have been interning, volunteering and/or working a part-time job. Experience, not a diploma, is a far superior measurement for success on the job.

This isn’t saying natural talent doesn’t matter, but far too many times “potential” makes us blind to current deficiencies. Take for instance athletes. Young talent is referred to as “raw,” but since sports is something you take seriously since childhood if you want to go pro, your body of work as an amateur precedes you getting to the next level. If a pro basketball prospect is known for his scoring ability, but struggles on defense that’s a red flag. As a natural scorer, that’s probably where he’ll thrive in yet even with teaching, he’ll be a mediocre defender at best. People can be taught skills, but we can’t can’t escape our strengths and weaknesses. Most superstars are elite at every level of competition. Play to your strengths and be aware of your shortcomings. Each person has a ceiling whether we want to believe it or not.

That’s why good interviews consist of past behavior questions. Employers want to know what you’ve done so they can predict how you’ll do. If you’re hiring for sales job, don’t look for charismatic individuals, look at sales experience. Want to hire the best engineer? See how much your candidate toyed with computers and video games as a kid. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell referred to the 10,000 hours rule where it takes that much practice to master a skill. Sounds crazy, but that’s equivalent to about 10 years of work. Someone straight out of college will probably not have that much experience in the industry, but some experience is much better than no experience.

It goes back to how we view our college experience. Did you wait for counselors and advisors to tell you what to do or did you take initiative to learn things on your own? High school is the last time education will tell you what’s next. In college, you choose your own destination. Potential is overrated because is says “I’m confident I can do this, I’m just waiting for my opportunity.” Experience says, “I can give you a specific example of why I’m a great fit for your company, when do I start?” Hire the experienced over the potential candidate. You’ll be glad you did.

Video Marketing 101 w/ Sunny Lenarduzzi

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Today’s interview in our Personal Branding Series is with Digital Marketing Guru Sunny Lenarduzzi. I stumbled upon Sunny’s work via Twitter and love her work and personality. She’s mastered the You Tube Tutorial so if you’re trying to figure out technology on your own, stop! I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her in person yet, but I’m sure we’ll eventually cross paths once she’s dominated Canada and moves her way down south. Hope you enjoy her brief, but powerfully clear words of wisdom.

1) How did you get into video marketing as a career?

My career started in broadcasting and after years of reporting and hosting on television and radio, I fell in love with the digital space. Now, I feel like I’ve combined those two passions into my dream career. I love creating video content and working with brands and individuals to help them grow their influence and create tangible results through a visual medium.

2) What do you consider your biggest strength as a communicator?

Perhaps it’s a strength and a weakness, but I’m very straightforward. I like getting right to the point and I do my best to deliver messages as clearly and concisely as possible.

3) What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

It’s funny, I can’t think anything that I would consider a big challenge. Have there been hurdles? Yes. But I love what I do so much that I see every challenge as an opportunity for growth. I would say one of the most difficult aspects of my job is to stay ahead of the trends and keep up with the fast pace and information overload.

4) How would you describe your style/personal brand?

Simplistic. Joyful. Informative.

5) What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to build their audience/brand?

Know your audience and what their needs are. You have to start with researching your target audience extensively to ensure that every aspect of your marketing initiatives matches what they want and need to hear.

The Introverted Networker

Shy

There’s a belief out there that you have to be an extrovert in order to be an effective networker.

That’s a myth.

While it’s true that extroverts can be great at networking, introverts have their advantages too. Take for instance: listening skills. You and I love to connect with others, but the only way that’s possible is if there’s a discussion. That means someone is talking, while the other one is listening. If you’re talking all the time, you’ll notice people avoid you like the plague. Listen well and people will be drawn to talk to you.

Quality over quantity is a huge factor too. As an introvert, you may not be able to shake 50 hands during an hour meeting, but the 5 or less people you do meet you’ll probably remember how to follow-up with them. Consider using network events as a way to meet people, then grab coffee or schedule a phone call with them afterwards. Networking is a numbers game. Extroverts are better at meeting a lot of people at once. Introverts are better at getting to know a small amount of people at a time.

Only 7% of communication is done through words. The other 93% is shared between tone and body language. Introverts tend to be more intuitive so they pick up on non-verbal cues and intonation. Since interpreting communication requires observation and reading beneath what’s said, people feel valued when they are “heard” correctly. Knowing this, if you’re an introvert and have avoided networking up to this point because you didn’t feel like you’re “talkative” enough, stop making excuses.

It’s about who you know, not what you know, so if you’re not meeting new and maintaining old relationships, you’re getting behind!

Hoops Hour Podcast w/ R.G. – 5/22/15

R.G. and Scott discuss the Lakers winning the 2nd pick in the draft lottery for 2015. Who should they pick? Is it Towns and his athleticism on the defensive end and “analytics based” upside? Or is it Okafor with his old school back to the basket offensive game and winning mentality? Find out!

A Speaker’s #1 Weapon

public-speaking

Public speaking is the #1 fear of adults, but why? Up until a few years ago┬áI dreaded speaking in front of an audience myself. Most people aren’t born with the gift of public presentation and as an introvert it can cause a lot of anxiety just thinking about it. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make better so every opportunity to get up in front of people and speak, you should take advantage of. Confidence builds over repetition, but the one technique that elevated my speaking ability literally overnight is called The Memory Palace.

Essentially it’s a visualization routine to help you memorize your speech. Think about it. If there’s one aspect that stands out about great speaker, it’s their ability to not use notes. I always believed speakers who could orate without referring to an outline were superhuman. But with this technique not only do you give your audience the illusion that you have a fantastic memory, but your body language exudes confidence that is memorable.

Not only has it helped me become a better speaker, but it also cuts down on prep time because you’re remembering stories associated with images rather than reciting words written down on paper. When speaking only you know if something was omitted. You can always play off the fact a point was forgotten because no one else knows what you intended to say. There are many ways to plot your talk, but here’s what works for me:

1) Storyboard your ideas on paper in 4 equal quadrants

2) Organize your thoughts so the story flows

3) Add visuals (screen images and/or props) to enhance your message

4) Rehearse at least 3 times before you present

5) Smile and have fun speaking!

The formula of 70% presentation and 30% content has worked for me. Once I jot down my ideas, I shift my focus towards what clearly communicates my point to the audience. Your message is directed towards the crowd, not you. Stop preaching and start sharing. Body language plays such a huge role in the absorption of a presentation, so smile, make eye contact and slow down. Public speaking is becoming a lost art with the rise of technology, so if you want to stand out professionally learn how to become a great speaker.

If you want to improve your speaking skills, here’s the video that transformed me!

Follow Up Like A Boss

Follow-Up

A friend of mine owns a very successful business called Westside Rentals. He built it from the ground up over 10 years ago and now it’s a multi-million dollar company. Mark is a very generous and friendly guy and being an extrovert he gets asked to speak frequently and accepts more times than not. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with him on occasion and hear him present. No matter where he speaks, he always concludes with the following:

Here’s my email address (usually it flashes on the screen), feel free to contact me, I’d love to hear from you.

But here’s where it gets interesting. The more successful you are, the less available time you have. So the caveat is Mark check’s his email several time daily, but one tactic he uses is if he responds to you, he’ll ask that you send him an email 2 weeks later to follow up. 90% don’t. For the 10% who do follow up, he’ll usually stay in contact with you.

This story is unique, but the principle is not. I can’t stress enough as a coach how much people today don’t follow up. We live in a world where distractions are plentiful and focus is becoming a lost art. For example if you send an email to someone you’re trying to contact, the rule of thumb is try 3 times. That means if you don’t get a response within a week, try again. If you don’t hear back after that, try once more reminding the person you understand they are busy, but you’d love to hear back from them. Be specific. Be brief. Be courteous.

Since only 10% of people actually do follow-up, those are the ones who usually reach their goals. Not because they are pushy. Not because they are arrogant. But because they are persistent. Most people give up after contacting someone once because they take it personal. Someone not responding to you isn’t rejection, it’s usually them being too busy or intending to respond, but forgetting to.

Following up is similar to sales. Rarely do you get the sale the first time around, but if you keep at it (albeit you’re not sleazy or annoying) you usually get better results than not. When you follow up, you stay on that person’s radar. Just because they don’t respond initially doesn’t mean they’re not receiving your message. That’s why the “3 times” rule comes in handy. If after 3 tries you still don’t get a response, it probably means you’ll never hear back from them. Go back to what I said earlier: the more successful a person is, the less available time they have. So don’t take it personal, rather take it as a challenge.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to do what everyone else isn’t doing. Follow up like a boss and be a part of the 10% that makes it happen.

OED: Obsessive Efficiency Disorder

work smarter

I admit I’m obsessed with efficiency. To me it’s about working smarter, not harder. Planning my week out ahead of time means I can maximize my time the way I want. Since time is equal to all, I just want to make sure I’m optimizing mine.

For those of you who can’t relate because you feel disorganized, here’s some practical tips to control your schedule:

1) Use your Smartphone Calendar Daily. iPhone users have the luxury of syncing everything (as long as you have Apple products) so once you devices are connected, you have no excuse to forget dates, run errands and pay bills with alerts and reminders. There are three color coded categories preset: work, home and social/out. I encourage you to put everything you do in your phone. That includes meetings, when to exercise, follow-up emails, paying bills, projects, etc. Putting events in your phone means you don’t have to remember them. It’s like working on auto-pilot. Our brains aren’t meant to multitask (no matter what you’ve heard before), therefore make it easier on your brain by setting alerts.

2) Network Spreadsheet. Relationships are your greatest asset. Remember that. It doesn’t matter how career-driven or lazy you are, you need people. One thing that has helped me tremendously is tracking my contacts. I use Numbers (Apple’s version of Excel) to organize all the people I’ve met into different lists (similar to Twitter). In each category, I color code based on how I last contacted someone: black – email, blue – phone/Skype, green – in person, orange – text and red – need to get back to them. I also date it so I know how long ago since the last time we communicated. On top of that I use LinkedIn to write a note to myself about how we met and what we last talked about so I can pick up the conversation where we left off. Also take into consider prioritizing. I go from left to right. On the left side are people I need to keep in touch with so the frequency is more. Towards the right are people I just met so it’s not as frequent, but if our relationship grows they move “left” on the spreadsheet. You don’t have to use a system like this, but its just an example of how I organize my network.

3) Leave Gaps. As someone who’s goal-oriented, I like to achieve. The worst thing I can do is pack my schedule too tight where I get behind early and can’t finish what I intend to accomplish. Let’s say you have a coffee meeting that is supposed to last 30 minutes. Factor in the commute, extra time to talk, one of you being late, etc. and I’m sure the time slot allotted will be much higher. It takes some experimentation, but in the end you can estimate pretty accurately over time. We live in a world where everyone is in a rush, so why not go against the grain? I’m not saying be slow, but give yourself extra time to get stuff done. Back to the whole multitasking concept, give yourself a break between tasks to rest. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up to make mistakes. On a personal note when I planned the majority of my wedding, I put this idea of “leaving gaps” into action. As I worked in tandem with our wedding coordinator, I created a schedule for everyone involved (imagine getting separate timelines from the groom). The result: our family and friends said we were the most relaxed couple they’ve ever seen get married. That’s because the planning and preparation were done ahead so once it was showtime, we had nothing to be worried about.

You can tell by these examples that efficiency matters to me. It’s what I pride myself on and the standard I hold others to. I realize everyone doesn’t think the same as me and that’s fine. But if any of these tips can help you become more efficient, this post was worth writing. So have fun working smarter, not harder!