I Know How But You Could Learn

I’m beating a dead horse. But, and I say again, stop asking millennial employees to be your office’s tech gurus. Outside of those of us who are in I.T., we do have things on our plates that do not involve helping everyone figure out how to set up an out of office e-mail response.

Google is a beautiful thing. Before going to your younger counterpart’s office/cubicle/desk, take advantage of your search bar. If you’ve done that, then feel free to ask I.T. or even one of your more tech savvy coworkers. But please don’t waste time asking for help if you haven’t made an effort.


(This post was inspired by yet another of many conversations with my peers.)

Make continuing education a priority.


Options or Else

“Previous generations didn’t even know they wanted all these options. We’ve always known we have them.” — Deryle Daniels, Jr.

Newsflash: It’s not 1938 anymore. The generation that raised the generation who is managing/leading us taught our Baby Boomers  that the only option was to _____. Go ahead and fill in the blank. They were taught that there was an “only option,” which is no option at all and, if there was an option, it was a binary one: Do ____ or fail.”

Because of limited knowledge, opportunity, and vision (“Limited vision,” in this instance, is not a slight to them at all, just a reality. It’s very difficult for the mind to to envision that which it cannot even comprehend.), they didn’t know anything but what they knew. An imagination, at that time, was just that. Now, if I can imagine it, I’m sure I could see it happen over my life time. But I digress and am getting too philosophical. This post is about options.

For the past three decades (the entirety of my existence), there have been options. Abacus, calculator, pencil and paper, or mental math. Ross Perot, George H. Bush, or William J. Clinton. Video games, play outside, or read a book. Take this job, keep the one I have, or travel the world. HBCU, PWI, or community college. Electric toothbrush, manual tooth brush or… Actually, those are the only options unless you want a nickname like Yukmouth. As a leader of an organization, you have to recognize that people have options and you need to make them want to select yours. Why should they buy your product? Why should they work for your company? Why should they attend your educational institution? In 2018, a degree from UNCG can hold as much educational value as one from UNC and, if I play my cards right, can land me as good of a job.

In this day and age of information everywhere, it is a consumer’s market. You have to incentivize or you will lose customers, employees, and investors. Loyalty died when corporate America replaced the term “personnel” with “human resources” and when the bottom line began to grossly outweigh quality of product/service. Now that consumers know the power of their dollars, they will take those dollars to the lowest seller. Being aware of what they bring to the table, employees will take their talents to the highest bidder. Long lesson short, if you don’t show people that you value them enough to give them your all in hopes for the same from them, they will leave you.

I’m just trying to help you understand this before it’s too late. While most logical adults know nothing will ever be perfect, they also will hit a point where, if the bad outweighs the good, they’ll be headed out on the first thing smoking.


Make being the right option for your target market a priority.

Don’t You Have an I.T. Professional?

“The core of what Google is about is bringing information to people.” — Sundar Pichai

Every millennial I know who works in an office setting gets calls that should be fielded by someone in an information technology department.

“James, can you help me copy and paste this hyperlink?”
“Jane, I accidentally rearranged my Powerpoint presentation. How do I undo it?”
“Alex, my app store won’t open. What do I do?”

And, every millennial who gets questions like this wants to tell you to do two things, in this order:
1) Use Google
2) Call I.T.

The time that many millennials waste helping our less-than tech savvy coworkers isn’t only a waste of time and far outside our job descriptions – it’s irritating when asked over and over. Those of us who wanted to go into information technology did. The company/organization pays someone to do what you’re asking us to do. Have I.T. help you (or just Google it, like most of us technologically-omniscient young folks do before we answer the questions you asked).

And this isn’t me pointing a finger at anyone. Just my thoughts on ongoing conversations I have with many of my peers. No love (that was already there) lost.


Make using Google a priority.

Work to Improve Things Instead of Blaming One Another

I cannot say I disagree with this stance when speaking generally of my generation. That being said, we, as millennials, must not give up on our desire to have an impact but we must be aware that doing so will take some time and effort. The thing is, by increasing effort, you can decrease time. So work harder and you won’t have to work as long to have the impact that you want to have. To those of you who say “I’ve been working and it hasn’t paid off as quickly as it did for Joe Blow down the street,” I respond “But imagine how much further you’d be from where you are if you weren’t working as hard as you are right now.”

Some points of action for millennials, myself included, to take from this talk:

  1. Let’s put our phones down. It’s great to be connected but how connected do we have to be all the time? People did live for thousands of years before the advent of the mobile (or even the tele-) phone.
  2. Be cognizant of your moods when you’re picking up the phone. Are you doing it because you’re lonely or depressed? If so, find a healthier way to handle that feeling instead of looking to something that could/has become an addiction.
  3. Try to step out of yourself and into the shoes of a person who didn’t grow up with access to all the resources you have at your disposal and realize why they may think you’re spoiled.
  4. Have honest conversations with critics from older generations who haven’t come to the conclusions that Simon did in the video. Let them know “Hey, it’s not our fault but we’re taking steps to develop the positive traits of generations and to develop additional ones we’d like to pass on to the future.”
  5. Know that, no matter what participation awards you got before, from this point on, it’s on you to believe that nobody owes you a thing. Be willing to work for the impact you have on the world.
  6. Lastly, know that impact is a change that happens over time. Very few things in history happened in the blink of an eye. But, if you’re pushing your environment forward in a positive direction, no matter how fast or slow it’s moving, know that you are having an impact.


Make self-awareness a priority.

#TrendingThursday 2.0 – Num. 12

Here are the ages you peak at everything throughout life by Chris Weller and Skye Gould
Now, as with everything, take this with a grain of salt. Some of the best people in certain fields have been late bloomers. But, at the same time, it adds a bit of perspective when you’re thinking about where you want to be in your life, personally and professionally.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Being a Good Bar Regular by Tracy Moore
I like a good drink, every now and then. And I, while I like having them at home because it’s cheaper, there are times when I just want to hang out at a bar. While I knew many of these basic rules, like leave a $1 tip for a beer and $2 for a cocktail, it’s always nice to hear a bartender’s perspective on how to be a good (and respectful) regular at your neighborhood bar. Oh, and though written for gentlemen, ladies you may want to read this, either for your own knowledge and to share with the men in your life.

3 Suit Rules That Seem Stupid But Matter
I don’t wear suits all the time anymore. Very few of my friends do. But it’s still important to know how to wear one when the time comes. Check out this article and figure out how you (or someone you know) can benefit from it.

To Be a Great Leader, You Have to Learn How to Delegate Well by Jesse Sostrin
I’ll be the first to say that I’m not the best at delegating (but I’m getting better, now that I’m in my second position with a dedicated person playing a support role). I like to do everything I can myself. That’s why this article was so important to me. I hope it can help you along the process of becoming stronger at delegating tasks.

Make professional development a priority.

All Dogs Are Created Equal

We’ve all heard the word “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks.” But what about show dogs? What about dogs whose livelihoods are dependent on learning new tricks? Those dogs are contradictions to that rule. My entire generation is full of show dogs. Not in the sense that we are all entertainers, but in the sense that we are hardwired to learn new things.

We are exceptions to the rule. No. I take that back. We are the new rule.

I was born in 1987. I went to elementary school and, at the beginning, though I had the most basic Macintosh computers to toy with, I learned everything, from arithmetic to writing, in the traditional fashion. As I progressed to middle school, computers were intertwined in my learning process and I can compute the answer with or without a Macintosh or IBM.

Those born between the mid-1980s and early-1990s were born right on time to do it all. We are the dogs who always had to learn new tricks because the world was always changing. It is hard for the old dogs to understand why we always want to learn those new tricks. It is equally difficult for younger dogs to understand why we want them to calm down and look at traditional ways of doing things to determine what’s the most sensible.

I say that to say this: Going forward, generations need to learn it both ways. We need to appreciate the processes of our elders, the processes with the sharpened pencils and college-ruled notebooks and the hardback books. And, at a certain time, it is necessary to learn the processes that are guided by modern technology. At the end of the day, learning new tricks are the things we do. From books to tablets, abacuses to TI-84s, we must be prepared to always learn any and everything in any way from now on.

All dogs can learn all tricks if they want to. The question is, do you want to?

There’s A Shift In Workplace Culture… And That’s Alright

Considering decades passed, with the exception of those born with a silver spoon, position in corporate America (when looked at from an equitable point of view) has always been based on time invested in a given field. You found a job, you learned the ins and outs of it over years, gaining experiences and innovating when you could. But people didn’t change fields too often because access to information was scarce and time consuming. If I was a marketing professional, I knew marketing and I wasn’t going to invest years in learning accounting. However, today, we are at a point in society where we have access to all the information we need at all times. Therefore, I can become a theoretical expert in a field in a quarter of the time necessary to do so three decades ago. That is not to take away from the advantages and wisdom that practice provides but, even when we think about theoretical educators who have little to no experience in the classroom, I could conceivably read enough over a three year period to comprehend what a doctoral student learned over his seven or eight years of formal schooling four decades ago.

Now, imagine that you are that seasoned, well-educated professional who sees a young person come into your office for an interview. She has a solid theoretical knowledge of your field and, in addition to her knowledge of what you know, she brings a skills set that you don’t have, one that is strongly reliant on the ability to learn things quickly and put them into practice, executing and then moving on to whatever is next. You, as that professional who has invested years into developing a knowledge base and reputation may be intimidated by this young person. She is throwing a wrench in the “natural order” of things. At this point, the experienced professional has two options: A) become a mentor, allowing his practical knowledge and wisdom to supplement her theoretical understanding of the field or B) become a blockade, holding her back from reaching her potential because you automatically assume that her status as a young professional makes her arrogant and unteachable (ironically making him the unteachable one because he refuses to open his mind to the possibility that someone so young could comprehend with the right instruction).

Now, we will take a look at the same situation from her perspective.

Imagine walking into an interview as a young woman, looking to enter a field that was once dominated by men. You may be on edge and defensive already. Eager to show what you know and that may come off as arrogance. That perceived arrogance, to some, may give off the impression that, eventually, this young lady is going to work to take steps forward, eventually working to dethrone the interviewer. Thus, in response to your defensiveness-turned-perceived-arrogance, the experienced professional will become defensive. So the young professional has two options: She can: A) tone down her confidence and realize that, though she knows everything in theory, she knows little to nothing in practice and wisdom can be given but not fabricated or B) allow her defensive response to earn her an enemy instead of a mentor.

And there you have a cycle of culture change and resistance to  change. But what if both individuals (generations) put themselves in the other’s shoes? Maybe then we’d be able to come to common ground. That’s not to say to back down from people who threaten your professional stability/growth but when you perceive a threat, try to come to an understanding with (s)he who opposes you and turn your enemy into your ally.


Make professional development a priority.