Pokemon: Gotta Catch ‘Em Millennials

pokemon-go

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.

3 Millennial Travel Trends & The Workplace Impact

Millennial-Traveler

Millennials love to travel. Timing (having less responsibilities) and adventure-seeking are the two biggest motivators, but their tendencies shed light on how Corporate America should market to them.

Here are 3 ways:

Culture – When Millennials travel they want to immerse themselves in the local culture. Touristy spots aren’t a given, instead planning ahead and leaving room for exploration is the preferred method. In the workplace, diversity and the ability to connect with co-workers matters. Entrepreneurship is down amongst Millennials because it’s riskier than working for an established company. Travel destinations are usually known for at least one thing, what is your company known for? The answer defines your culture which is your brand.

Peer Recommendations – Travel sites are only appealing to Millennials if they contain reviews. Want to know where Millennials vacation? Ask their friends. Travel agents are basically instinct because part of going on an adventure is planning it yourself. Millennials are strong brand influencers, so if your company is labeled as a “cool place to work” applicants will come knocking on your door (not a bad recruiting strategy right?) The purpose of offering perks shouldn’t just be to attract Millennials, but at a deeper level tie into their desired lifestyle. For example, providing yoga classes and organic food on-site is a wellness perk. Millennials who desire that type of lifestyle become your company’s brand ambassadors to prospective candidates. Get your younger worker’s buy-in because Millennials trust their friend’s recommendations over expert’s.

Shareable Experiences – Where social media thrives visually is through beautifully taken photos and videos. Great design is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also shareable. Instagram and Snapchat have exploded with Millennials because of sharing. Forward-thinking companies take photos/videos of everyday life at work. Not stock images that are orchestrated, but a peek into a day in the life at your company. Similar to hotel websites, Millennials check your company’s digital footprint across different platforms to get a feel for your brand. We spend more than 50% of our waking hours at work, so hopefully it’s share-worthy. User-generated content can be one of your company’s biggest recruiting tools, but only if you’re intentional about it.

Retaining Millennials starts with understanding Millennials. Since work-life integration has become the norm questioning “why” Millennials make specific decisions matters. Use travel trends as insight into engaging your Millennial workforce. Companies are starting to offer unlimited vacation (hmm, I wonder why) for increased customization of schedule. Smart companies will use market research such as travel trends to recruit, retain and optimize the best Millennial workers out there. Will you? 

Let’s Start A Workplace Revolution Together

josh-allan-dykstra

Josh is a good friend I met for coffee over 6 years ago. We were both at different places then, but our similar views on leadership and work kept the conversation going. Since we connected both of us became authors and dads. Josh is someone I always bounce ideas off of because he’s such an insightful and bright human being. He’s always been supportive of me and I am a big fan of his. I hope you enjoy a peek into this thought leader’s mind:

1) You truly are a thought leader. What does that term mean to you & how does it influence your work?

To me, leadership (for anyone) is about one thing: doing something that’s worth following. To that end, I’m always trying to spread thoughts, ideas, and stories that help others envision a better future for work, and inspire them to come along on the journey. Right now, for the vast majority of people on the planet, work truly sucks. It doesn’t have to be this way. We have all the tools we need to fix this—it’s a desire and design problem, not a capability problem. I want us all to start believing we can create something better… because we can.

2) At the core of what you do lies in making organizations better. Explain your philosophy briefly.

Most of us optimize many different parts of our organizations: marketing, finance, operations, etc. What we typically don’t maximize as a business driver is our culture—the human size of our business. What I mean is, every person in your company has a choice at every moment: will they bring their best self to their work, or will it be something less than their peak performance? We create organizations where people choose peak performance as often as possible, improving results across the board.

3) When we first met, we were both “kidless,” but now as a parent how has that affected the way you view/do work?

Being a dad has made me acutely more aware of the opportunity cost of my time and the finite-ness of my energy. I’ve always had some vague understanding that choosing one thing makes something else impossible, but that notion is now technicolor. And, at the same time as we added kids to our family, I’ve also added more colleagues to my company. Both changes are amazing… and also extraordinarily challenging. I’m doing my best to leverage the benefits of both these things: learning to continually do the things that are the highest and best use of my time at work and to find partners on my team to help make all the other stuff happen, in order to maximize the time I get with my kids. It’s remarkably difficult, but I’m slowly getting better!

4) You recently picked up and moved to a new state, what has that transition to a new “home” been like?

We recently moved to Denver after being in Los Angeles for a decade. We’ve been here now for about 6 months, and I’m afraid I’d be lying if I said we were somehow “settled!” My job has changed very little—in fact, that part of my life has mostly been made better as I’m now closer to a better airport—but the rest of life was completely uprooted, of course. Starting over isn’t easy for anyone, far as I can tell (and moving to a cold climate in the middle of the winter was just a serious bummer), but I will say that the wonderful folks of Colorado have been very kind to us. I’m extremely optimistic that this will be an excellent home for us and our kiddos!

5) You and I are strong advocates of leveraging personal strengths, tell my readers about the Strengthscope and how it can benefit them and their companies!

Let me put this as simply as I can: if your organization doesn’t have a strengths-based culture, you are simply NOT getting peak performance out of your people. Period. Here’s what I’ve learned over the last decade: humans are physically incapable of producing sustained excellence if we’re not utilizing our strengths in our work. My consulting group utilizes an assessment called Strengthscope® to jumpstart these conversations and help people re-orient their mindsets towards a path that’s far more productive and positive! We love it.

What You Shouldn’t Offer Millennials As A Perk

working-home-alone

Remote work.

What? Flex time, yes. Working full-time from home, no.

Believe it or not Millennials desire to connect relationally more than any other generation. They tend to prefer virtually, but putting a Millennial at home takes him/her out of any opportunities for interacting face-to-face.

If Millennials are perceived as poor communicators, why would you want to make it worse by eliminating social situations?

Take it from an entrepreneur himself, working from home can get lonely. Instead of complaining about other co-workers not getting their work done, you can only vent alone (occasionally talk to yourself…at least I’ve heard). Lifestyle entrepreneurs desire solidarity and freedom, but it’s not for everyone. Traveling for vacation is much different than waking up at work.

Workplace culture has overtaken following your passion. Without a shared physical location it’s nearly impossible to create culture (unless you’re a 100% remote company). Millennials love to collaborate, therefore working in close proximity breeds socialization.

There’s a downturn in entrepreneurship of Millennials for the simple fact: it’s lonely (risky too). Millennials love to consume and that’s where the steady paycheck comes in. Companies offering career development programs shouldn’t worry about Millennials leaving. Your 20’s are a time of career exploration and companies can address this by providing long-term on-boarding programs (structured like an internship) comprised of: mentoring, cross-departmental training & soft-skills workshops. Do that and retention rates will skyrocket.

Stereotypes of any grouping are a place to start, but never the place to finish. Millennials get a bad rap on many issues (some deserving), but if you really understand their values and motivations you can focus on their potential and strengths.

Perks are meant to improve engagement which results in increased productivity. Don’t make the mistake of offering working from home to Millennials or else you’ll become a former employer soon.

 

Are You a Confused Millennial?

rachel-ritlop-confused-millennial

I’ve always believed LinkedIn and other social media platforms are about making a virtual connection in hopes of connecting with people you would never meet normally in person. That’s how Rachel & I met. Since we write about similar topics and have mutual friends, we got on the phone and chatted. After talking with her I was impressed with her takeaways and business acumen so I decided to interview her so that you, my readers might be inspired.

1) Tell us briefly how you successfully transitioned from counseling to a business/career coach.

Well initially I started out as a general life coach. I worked with people of all ages, from 17 to 80! My real passion started to come out as I taught twenty somethings how to find their purpose and “adult” effectively. During my first year in business I started getting approached by local businesses to consult on their behalf with program developments, social media marketing, and employee satisfaction. At around the year mark of my business is when I decided to rebrand my business to focus more on business and career coaching.

2) What advice would you give someone who is unhappy in their career?

I would probably ask them to explore what is causing the unhappiness to figure out if its something that could change with some inner work or if the person is in the wrong career all together. For example, someone can be really unhappy because they aren’t used to a certain type of structured work environment or having a boss, but love the work they are doing. In that situation the person should probably work with a coach or counselor to figure out what changes they can make to create more autonomy for themselves in the workplace. However, if someone actually dislikes the work they are doing, then I would have them write out the characteristics of their dream career and start working on an entirely new career plan based on whats missing for them and their intrinsic and current skill set.

3) Your alter ego, The Confused Millennial, has gained a lot of traction as of late. To what do you attribute this growing following?

I think it’s really relatable for people. I constantly get emails and comments from people saying how much they can relate or love the blog. I think most of us millennials are multi-passionate and the idea of narrowing our focus to one thing can feel pretty claustrophobic. The blog is a place to read and watch other millennials journeys, plus get actionable advice based on personal experiences. I think we all crave community and thats what The Confused Millennial is really doing.

4) I’ve noticed a big part of your brand is your complete transparency. Was that intentional or just you being you?

I’ve always been the type of person that what you see is what you get. I have a real hard time with RBF and hiding my emotions. When I moved my business on-line I made the decision to be “more polished” as a business/career coach since that’s what I thought I needed to do in order to be “successful”… but a month after the launch of rachelritlop.com I felt like I was a total fraud. I realized how much fluff I had consumed on the internet and I felt taken advantage of and just wanted to do something different than what all the “big coaches” were doing with their perfectly polished personas, and be true to me… which led to the creation of The Confused Millennial.

5) Recently you launched an Instagram E-Course. Tell my readers more about this great resource!

Yeah! It’s been great! It decided the last week of March to grow my Instagram following and in just three months I saw an increase in engagement from 0% to 8% and from less than 300 followers to about 6,000! I decided to put all the information I learned and tips into a course! Basically it takes you through the basics of Instagram, how to optimize your Instagram for engagement and conversations, how to take Instagram worthy photos with your iPhone, how to grow an engaged following and so much more! The course is available for sale here!

Identifying Your One Thing

One-thing

Several years ago when I worked as a Youth Pastor I came across a book called The 1 Thing: What everyone craves – that your church can deliver.

It was a good, not great book, but the message was simple: build relationships. In the context of “church” it’s a crystal-clear way to set your mission.

Here’s how it applies to you: what do you do best? What is your 1 thing?

If you don’t know, keep reading…

As a huge supporter and user of the StrengthsFinder assessment, I believe everyone should live/function out of their strengths. This particular test reveals your Top 5 strengths and how to use them in your personal and professional life. It’s a great application tool towards becoming the best version of yourself, but I’d like to challenge you to take it a step further.

My Top 5 results from the StrengthsFinder are: Relator, Individualization, Maximizer, Arranger & Strategic. Don’t worry if you don’t understand the terminology, the reason I’m using this example is from these 5 themes, my most marketable talent is: efficiency (Maximizer).

I’m obsessed with efficiency. I plan out everything (even though it rarely plays out the way I envision it). I care about “flow,” punctuality and running ahead of schedule. I apply this strength to the one thing I do best: lead Millennials (that’s why my blog is called Maximizing the Millennial).

The point of my example isn’t to bring attention to myself. It’s to show you narrowing your brand down to one thing is powerful.

People do contact me about career coaching, but I don’t proactively market it. I have other skill sets and interests that excite me, but I don’t focus on them. Customers want to know the one thing you do and how you do it the best. That’s why they hire you.

Job descriptions desire generalists, but within those multitude of tasks they still want to know your speciality. Not only will identifying your 1 thing help you answer the dreaded interview question, “what are your strengths?” It defines your brand.

You can’t be anything you want to be, you can only be the best version of you (2.0). So what’s your 1 thing?

Taking A Bite Out Of SEO

Rachel-Howe

Rachel Howe is someone I know through the social media platform Brazen. Back then it was a virtual place to meet other Young Professionals. Recently I had a client who asked me for a SEO recommendation so I scoured through LinkedIn and contacted Rachel to gauge her interest. Long story short, my client hired Rachel and everyone is happy. Since SEO can be an intimidating subject, I’ve asked Rachel to share her thoughts in the following interview:

1) Tell us a little bit about how you got started in SEO.

Well, what can I say? I don’t think anyone can say that they grew up wanting to be a search engine optimizer when they were a kid. Especially since the internet is less than half a century old! I did what I think most people who entered the profession ended up doing, I kind of fell into it. When I was a kid I used to want to be an artist or a veterinarian. I quickly realized that I was no good at science and biology. And, while I enjoy art and have taken a few college art classes, I knew that it wasn’t something I was passionate enough about to do day in and day out (not to mention when you’re putting yourself through college, being a starving artist just won’t cut it.). So, I studied marketing. I could see myself as a businesswoman and marketing combined my interest in using my creativity and business interest. I had no idea what I wanted to do though. When I graduated, I ended up working in the corporate setting for a couple of years. I knew that I couldn’t keep that up. It was just too draining. So I did things I liked like writing and marketing. I set up my own blog and started blogging about internet marketing. Soon after I got my first agency job at a small agency here in Milwaukee. And the rest is history ☺

2) What are some misconceptions about SEO that you’d like to clear up?

I think the SEO industry is interesting because there are people out there that give it a bad rap. There are “black hat” SEOs that try to game the system and make a quick buck, which are the biggest culprits. But there are also people that just think that you slap a few title tags on a site, stuff some keywords on the page and voila! The site is SEOed. While that would be great, it also does the profession a disservice. It is a profession for a reason. People make their livelihoods out of it and a lot of work goes into doing great SEO. It’s a large combination of things including understanding algorithms, code, marketing principles, PR and having good business sense. There’s a lot of work that goes into it, so my hope is that by bringing transparency in combination with education, we’ll shed more light into this up and coming, complex industry.

3) On your site, you talk about creating meaningful connections vs. solely driving sales and leads – why is that important?

A lot of people will tell you they can make you a ton of money with SEO and get you to the top of Google for “xyz” terms. The chances of them delivering on that is low. Yes, it is definitely possible, but there really are no guarantees with search engines. Things change all the time and you can only really estimate and put your best foot forward. Even if they could get you to the top and let’s say they convert here and there. Are they repeat purchasers, or just a bunch of one-timer purchasers or visitors? Because if all you get is one time purchasers or visits, you’d really be missing out on a valuable segment of your market, which is repeat purchasers. And going after that is a better use of your marketing dollars and time.

If you think about how search engines like Google evaluate websites, it’s really almost like evaluating a business as if it were the brick and mortar itself. You have to be a good, credible business in the real world and that translates on the internet. Which is largely due to the relationships you build and how you run your shop. So, it’s really important to think about the broader perspective when you get into marketing your business online, or anywhere for that matter.

4) If you had to sum up what you do in one word, what would it be? Why?

Marketing. At the end of the day, great SEO is more than just getting higher rankings. It’s helping people market their products and services.

5) Describe to my readers what it’s like working with you & why they should hire you!

I like to think that I’m easy to get along with and at the end of the day, I want to help people with marketing and growing their business. I think big picture, but I’m also practical. I don’t tell people what they want to hear, I tell them what they need to hear so we can focus on getting results. If you want to work with someone who’s honest, hard-working and cares about getting you results over a paycheck, then here I am! (of course, I want a paycheck, but you get the point😉

3 Reasons Why Millennials Love Snapchat

how-to-market-on-snapchat

When it comes to social media, it boils down to personal preference. I gave Snapchat a try, but quickly deleted my account because I didn’t care for the user interface.

I’ve witnessed multiple brands that market to Millennials jump on the Snapchat bandwagon and recently did some research about why. Here’s 3 things I learned:

1) Visual Storytelling – All ages love stories, but Millennials love to be visually entertained. It started with You Tube and movies, but got more personal with Snapchat. Look how celebrities use it to connect with fans. Gary Vaynerchuk recently launched VaynerSports, a full-service athlete representation agency that guide players through their professional career. His advice to his client, All-Star Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, is to post more on Snapchat. He suggested filming everyday tasks because people want to see your everyday life. There’s a human element to this app which makes it high-touch.

2) Transparency – “Snaps” are a peek into your life. Although you can doctor it up, the amateur feel of Snapchat makes it feel authentic. Millennials can smell a fake miles away. Brands competing for the attention of Millennials must be careful not to script a message or forever be deemed as phony. Most videos/photos aren’t spectacular, but its much easier to see who you are visually versus written or auditory. The simplicity makes it attractive.

3) Communication – Sharing is the new communication for Millennials. Although brands and celebrities use it, most of the time snaps are sent to/from friends. Think of it as texting, but with video/images. You can just as easily send messages via iPhone, but Snapchat’s reputation amongst Millennials is the go-to source for frequent communication. What Facebook was to Millennials 5-10 years ago has been replaced by Snapchat. Whether a public or private story, Snapchat is the platform to stay in touch without saying a word.

After reading this don’t go and download it if you’re not already using it. If it’s for you, you’d probably already be on it. But if you want know how to effectively communicate with Millennials remember why they love Snapchat and use that to your advantage.

Corporate Survival Guide For Your Twenties

kayla-buell

Kayla is someone I first encountered through a LinkedIn Group I manage and her posts were very insightful. I’ve witnessed her blossom from a blogger into an author and thought her advice would be helpful to my readers. I haven’t had the pleasure to meet her in person yet (because we live on opposite coasts), but we do follow each other on Twitter and Instagram. Here’s my interview with her:

1) Tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming an author

I’ve always wanted to write a book. It’s always been on my bucket list, but if I’m being honest, I never thought it’d actually happen. A couple years ago I got inspired one day and I wrote down a whole bunch of thoughts and ideas for this book I wanted to write. I wrote it down on colored construction paper and threw it into my computer bag, the place where all my scribbles and post-it notes go to die. But one day last summer, I received an e-mail from a publishing company and I took the time to read it. They had found my blog, and they asked me if I was interested in putting together a book proposal. The first thing I did was Google the heck out of them to make sure they were a legit company, and after I verified that yes, they were very real, I retrieved that page of colored construction paper and I started working on my proposal. A year later, here I am, officially an author. How cool is that?!

2) In the past year you got married, bought a house and published a book: how did you manage it all?

Oh, you mean, you don’t want to hear the stories about me in the fetal position having full-blown panic attacks? LOL!  Manage it all? Somehow I did it, although I was an absolute crazy person this past year. I really learned to use my time wisely, so I would spend my lunch breaks writing little sections of my book and I would continue writing when I got home from work. I would write on the weekends and pretty much any free time I had would be spent with my computer on my lap. Thankfully I have a super-supportive husband who dealt with me ignoring him from to time so I could get my writing done. But the turnaround time for my book was insane! I was offered my book deal in August and my draft was due in November. Hence the panic attacks. I was literally writing my book until the day before my wedding. I got married on a Saturday, and Friday, Joe was greeting our out of town guests while I was up in our room writing. Definitely intense, but so worth it.

3) As someone who graduated from college early and jumped into the corporate world immediately, what do you wish you knew then that would have helped you?

That’s a good question. I wish I had known that it was totally okay for me to explore other career options. I feel like I got into a career as a young professional and I thought, “this has to be it…this is what I studied,” even though I wasn’t passionate about it. I wish I had been a little less harsh on myself, allowing myself to explore more of my passions and interests, even if that meant job hopping a bit more during the first few years out of college.   

4) You refer to Millennials as being more “lost” than any other generation before, can you elaborate more on that?

Millennials are for the most part overachievers. I think a lot of us have big goals and dreams for ourselves and we want to make an impact. But when it comes to figuring out HOW to do that, I think that’s where we struggle sometimes. We have multiple passions and interests and with technology making so many things accessible to us, I think we often struggle to figure out which direction we want to go in. But I think that’s just what happens when we’re young and trying to figure out who we are and what we want to do, so I think the key to success here is to embrace that feeling of being lost and not thinking of it as such a bad thing. 

5) Give us a preview of your book and how it can help 20 somethings navigate the business world!

Corporate Survival Guide for Your Twenties is a down-to-earth, no BS guide to navigating those first few years at work. I mean, it’s not going to matter that we got our dream jobs if we don’t know how to behave in the workplace and get fired in three days, right? So the book’s designed to give readers some advice regarding things like starting off on the right foot, getting people to like you, earning your boss’ respect, and dealing with people you want to punch in the face. It’s got humor to it, because the last thing I wanted to do was write a book that was like a textbook or some lame HR manual, so it’s a fun read with practical advice and it’s something that I think even more seasoned employees would benefit from.

Why Routines Should Be Mandatory

daily routine

People ask me all the time, “What’s the biggest difference between having a boss versus being your own?

Besides a steady paycheck, my response is: a lack of routine.

Parents stress how children need routine and structure to survive (it’s true I have 2 kids under 3 years old). But what works for kids also works for adults.

If you work for a company your routine is taken care of during the day, but if you’re an entrepreneur or even work remotely it’s up to you to set a routine.

I’ve been on my own since 2007 and through much trial and error here’s what works for me:

Morning workouts – I try to exercise 5 times a week in the mornings between 6:30-8:30 AM. I don’t consider myself a morning person, but with 2 kids I don’t have much of a choice. Since I’m up anyway, I force myself to go to the gym regardless of how I feel. It’s become my morning coffee and when I don’t stick to this routine I literally get cranky and feel lethargic.

Task time – I know I do my best work from about 10 AM-2 PM. As much as possible I try to find a quiet place with minimal distractions and accomplish as much as I can. Since I’m a pretty organized person I schedule everything into my phone with alerts so I don’t have to think about what to do next. This uninterrupted time is when I plan my workshops, speeches, marketing, etc. Protect this time, it’s necessary.

People time – Around mid-afternoon I usually hit a wall, so meeting with people, Skype or phone calls are scheduled between 2-5 PM. Conversations energize me, so whatever creative juices I am lacking usually get rejuvenated through interactions. Of course sticking to this schedule isn’t mandatory, but over time you pinpoint what flows best for you and go with it.

Routines promote productivity. Without them distractions will rule your life. I’m a planned person, but don’t consider myself Type A. The nice thing about routines is they can change. Tinker with them to see what works best. What matters most is to have them.

Routines are like boundaries. They determine what is useful and help us decide what to say yes and no to. That’s why they should be mandatory.