Category Archives: Generation Y

Stable Kids in a World of Unlimited Choices

For many Millennials and Xennials, we feel the need to questions everything our parents did in raising us. Our culture is one of entrepreneurship, disruption and re-invention. This seeps into parenting as well.

Many things need to stay the same, and some things need to change with the times.

Children growing up in the 80s and 90s were surrounded by a changing world with the introduction to one of the world’s most shattering technologies, the internet.

The good parents who foresaw the changes that would change our generation, did their best to protect us from MTV, drugs that the DARE program warned us about and the potential evils of big cities.

Our parents saw we needed security and that is what they dedicated their lives to. The suburban dream was born with big yards and minivans. Our parents worked for the same company for years in order to provide us with what we needed the most, security.

Each generation has our specific parenting challenges and ways we need to parent our kids.

Now, as we millennials and xennials are parents ourselves, we see a whole different set of needs for our kids. Security is still a need, but the way we pursue it has to be slightly different. Given the nomadic nature of careers, security based on location isn’t much worth pursuing.

Security is an illusion. It is more important to teach our children self worth and how to thrive in a tumultuous world.

This hit me when my grandmother was watching me feed my 2 year old son. I gave him a choice between carrots and green beans. She was shocked that I would ask a 2 year old this question. My grandmother made the comment – “In my time, the kids just ate whatever we put on their plate. No choices and no questions asked.”

What she said stuck with me for months.  The “do as I say, or else” worked great in that generation where you had limited choices in life- you picked a career that seemed stable and stuck with your job as long as you could. The radius of decision making was severely limited. You needed to follow the rules in order to succeed.

Our world is no longer one of limited choices. In fact, we have unlimited choices, and that can be incredibly immobilizing.

Teaching simple decision making tactics are crucial to helping this generation thrive in the midst of a world with too many choices. Our kids can travel the world, live in pretty much any location they want and interact with almost anyone they desire given the ability to connect online. Their jobs could take them to Medellin, Salt Like City or Chiang Mai. They could live in a city, a cottage or a farm. Their dietary choices could give them access to any type or quality of food on planet earth. Their future decisions could take them anywhere.

Stability means something else in this generation. Stability means that a person has the “know how” to choose their limits in a world with unlimited possibilities. Their stability may not be in a home, in a job or even hobbies. The closeness of a few key relationships, the ability to field the bumps of life and a rooted identity are what brings a person security in a global world.

So maybe my grandma was right about the beans and carrots “one choice” approach of her generation, but we need new tactics to teach decision making skills if our kids are going to be able to navigate our new global world.

 

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Bridging the Gap with Millennials in the Workplace

Millennials are infiltrating the workplace like never before.

As a person on the cusp of Gen X and Gen Y, I am used to being the “young person” in the office surrounded by Generation Xers. But now that more Gen Yers (or Millennials) are entering the marketplace, the whole workforce must adjust. I often find myself on the border, being used to identifying with Gen Xers, but having an unspoken synergy with my younger Gen Y professionals.

Close relationships with my younger siblings have taught me an incredible amount about what it really means to be a Millennial. My youngest sibling is 15 years younger than me, and I feel blessed to be able to have an inside view of what is going on in American high schools and colleges. I’m fortunate to have inside access via unfiltered conversations with my siblings as we have done life together, even while bridging a significant age gap.

Growing Up Together
Embracing the Age Gap

As I watch my younger siblings navigate the marketplace, look for jobs, and determine which line of work to go into, I’ve learned that there is a significant difference between the way that Gen X and Gen Y view their professions.

 

 

For Millennials:

  1. Lack of Hierarchy Matters— Millenials are seeking a truly flat structure. Snobs are out. Inclusiveness is in. Particularly in the workplace it is essential to give young workers direct access to managers, superiors, and CEOs . Millennials don’t do well with hierarchical relationships in which there are impersonal barriers, or expectations of a senior dumping work on a junior employee.
  2. Relationships Matter— even with raging individualism of the West, young people still look for community and relationships in interesting ways. A solid group of friends is something everyone longs for, and this is no exception for Millennials. In the workplace, being able to relate to co-workers is equally important.
  3. Technology Matters— Duh. If you don’t text your Gen Y colleagues or connect with them on social media you might as well not exist. Many Millennials are more open to having a conversation on social media than they would be face to face. This builds trust and crosses the impersonal barrier which often exists in the workplace.
  4. A New Form of Individualism — American Millennials still embody the rugged individualism of our culture, yet are looking for those close relationships and inclusive community. Showing even a little bit of interest in “really getting to know” a Millennial communicates volumes.
  5. Generosity Goes a Long Way. In a generation of people who have been raised with everything, small acts of kindness and generosity have a lot of impact. A person who is willing to give their time and possessions away to another person, makes a big impression.

For those of us on the generational border, we have an opportunity to help Millennials feel at home in the workplace.

Timeless Nomadic Business Principles

I was raised in a globally nomadic business home.

I witnessed the global nomadism movement taking place as an 8 year old eating Cheerios at the kitchen table. I watched my dad packed his suitcase and fly to places like Japan, Korea, Slovenia, France, Brazil, China. He would come back with gifts from the exotic bazaars of the Far East, sweet chocolates from Germany and postcards from Washington, DC. Even as a child I instinctively felt the beginning of globalization when my Dad would bring me Little Mermaid embroidered jackets or Simpsons sweatshirts from Korea. I was never raised wondering “how do they know about Disney in Korea.” Somehow I put the pieces together realizing that there were intelligent, English speaking professionals, highly aware of American culture all over the world.

My dad would get calls at 3am from his colleague Mr. Lee in Korea, thus exposing me to the concept of time zones. Us kids would watch Sesame Street while my dad be busy on our old computer (whose monitor seemed to fill up a whole desk) writing reports, saving files on floppy disks and playing Mai Jong. This was before the days of laptops, ipods, wifi, cds, Kindles, Bluetooth, and Blackberries (although we did have a Zach Morris looking ‘car phone’).

And somehow it all got done.

My generation (23-31) has been raised in an interesting time where the generation gap has been vast. We grew up canning vegetables with our grandparents in the morning, and listening to “Gloria Estefan” on our Sony Walkmans in the afternoon. We’re blessed to understand ‘both sides of the fence’. What it is like without technology, and what it is like with technology.

The generation younger to us (16-22) can note imagine what it would be like without a cell phone, texting and facebook. Their iPhones are like a 3rd arm… always attached.

With all these changes and differences in generations, I believe there are some principles of business that are timeless.

What did I learn from this beginning age of globalism?

  • Boundaries between work life and home life are essential
  • Not all the fancy latest tools are necessary as long as you know how to use the ones you’ve got
  • Business only becomes more efficient if you know how to use your ‘slow times’
  • You’re only effective at work when your personal life is in balance.

Lets not forget these and feel like we need the fanciest tools, the newest gizmos, the hottest new training to be successful.

There are some things that don’t change even in a global economy.