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.

–MGMT

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

Make continuing education a priority.

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Manipulate the System

I’ll kick it off by saying that being a young professional in today’s society is a double-edged sword that most Baby Boomers do not understand. I talk with my mom and grandma often and, when I am looking for a new job, they think it should be easy for someone with my skills and experience to find employment. And it would be very easy were it 1980 or before. Shoot, before 2000, you could walk into a company, shake someone’s hand, and make an excellent first impression when you handed a crafted résumé and cover letter to a receptionist or, if you were lucky, hiring manager.
That was then. Now we have to navigate through automated systems that often fail horribly at selecting the right person for the job. There are so many qualified candidates that human beings don’t put their eyes on applications until they’re sifted through by A.I. That’s the system, that’s the way it is, maybe we will be able to go back one day but, today, that’s reality.
Boom. I’ve covered myself. So what do we do now? We manipulate the unfair system to our advantage. We use the tools that do help us develop as young professionals to make ourselves stand out. We take the time to throw industry jargon into our LinkedIn profiles. We add key words from the job description to our résumé and cover letters to make sure our applications are selected by the A.I. systems. We go to the networking events so we can get in the rooms that the decision makers are in and, when in those rooms, we have something to say.
Technology makes things easier but it makes truly connecting more difficult. No one understands that more than those of us who learned with both a pencil at the first half of our childhood and a keyboard during our adolescence. We went to college, got out weighed down by debt, and the jobs weren’t there. Many of us are within 3 years of 30 on either side and we wonder why we haven’t made it to where The Wonder Years and The Cosby Show said we should be by now. Well, it’s because of tech. No one was ready for it. But, unless The Walking Dead is a premonition, it’s here to stay. So let’s hedge our bets and learn this new system. Take full advantage of apps like LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Monster. Invest in your professional development and personal branding. It’s the only way we’ll advance.
Oh… and don’t let Boomers or anyone else shame you for not “having it together” yet. You’ll get where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there.
Make trusting the process 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.

Paying It Forward

Next week, it’s time for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s homecoming! Best time of the year for me every year since 2006. Shoot, it’s so great that we got married around the time of G’s homecoming.

Today, I had lunch with two members of the UNCG family and we discussed giving to the school. Many of my friends who don’t give don’t because they are paying their loans. And yes, you’re paying money back but are you paying opportunities forward?

Were it not for UNCG, I would not be where I am today. I wouldn’t have met my best friends. Secondly, I wouldn’t have been made a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. by way of the Playboi Pi Zeta chapter. And, thirdly, I wouldn’t have received the education I did.

Now, many would say that education is the primary reason for going to a university and I agree. But it’s not the most important thing I took from my university. From it, I took relationships, a spirit to give back, and a better understanding of both business and African-American studies (along with many other subject areas). UNCG made me a more well-rounded and more prepared adult.

That’s why I give back to my institution. Why do you give back to yours? And, if you don’t, you should give something. Every dollar counts.

Make giving back 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.