Young Professionals

Elbows off the table

Modern Manners Guy LogoImage via Wikipedia

Mind your manners.

Now it may seem that having good manners is just common sense, but let's not take anything for granted. After all, we have manners, or maybe we should call them unwritten rules, which help make for a more stable office environment. As a young professional, are you following the "7 Tips to Help Young Professionals Fit In" as noted by the International Business Times CareerWise?

While all these tips are important, there were a few that stood out to me, such as, "Don't text!"

I know you are thinking, "OMG, did u really just say that?" While smartphones may bring many benefits, nothing will bother your boss more than walking into a meeting and laying that phone out on the table. Unplug for a few hours, roll your sleeves up and get to work!

And for those of you bringing your phone to the treadmill with you to work out... trust me, you're not that important. :)

Getting back to rolling up your sleeves, you should understand that it just isn't fair. In the real world, you are only as valuable as the work you produce. While many young professionals still look for that nod of approval, believe me, there is no report card with a star on it that you can bring home and show your mom anymore. Take your "good work," if you even get that, and get back to it!

But let's finish up on a positive note. Continue to dress to impress because many of us actually do. While office codes have become more and more lax in terms of appropriate dress, I actually see many young professionals looking to turn business casual back into business professional. It doesn't hurt to be the best dressed in the office, so keep putting that tie on.

There may be a generation gap in terms of what are acceptable manners, but as young professionals we are the ones who need to come forward and bridge that gap. After all, no matter how much time passes, your mom will still be telling you to keep your elbows off the table.

Enhanced by Zemanta

But, umm, so, you know...

image made by myself. Front view of the mouth ...Image via Wikipedia

Ten minutes?

You seriously expect me to get up in the front of a room without any note cards or PowerPoint slides and talk for 10 minutes?

These thoughts ran through my head the first day of the Toastmasters program that I hesitantly entered into at my previous job. Ah, the timeless art of public speaking. This probably won’t be the last time I write about it. But that is because it is a blast! Yeah, I said it.

It is one of the most humbling skills there is. No matter how good you think you are, you can always get better. For the young professionals of the world, it is a skill to embrace and learn early on.

I’m glad I did.

I seriously had to be talked into this free Toastmasters program at my first job out of college. That is how crazy I am! And like many young professionals, I stumbled my way through my first speech using my fair share of the words “but,” you know,” “like” and so on.

But people say “practice makes perfect” and with time I got better. And as my public speaking ability improved, the more excited I got for my next speech. I am still nowhere near being an expert on public speaking, but now I can at least say I look forward to the opportunities I get to speak to a crowd. Not only that, but strong vocal skills can be a huge asset in being successful in the workplace.

Take the time while you are young to improve this invaluable skill. Ever ramble in a job interview you didn’t get called back on? Ever walk out of a networking event thinking I should have handled meeting so-and-so differently? Ever give a presentation to a client that left them scratching their head?

Want to rock your next 10-minute presentation? Check out Toastmasters' 10 Tips for Public Speaking.

- Jason Wells

What about the pants?

TrousersImage via Wikipedia

Let’s begin with the moral of the story. Who puts your pants on each morning?

Here’s the question: How have you let the recession affect your attitude in the workplace?

As I dwell on it more and more, I suppose I don’t actually disagree with Cindy Goodman’s remarks in her blog: New Gen Y reality: Recession forces younger workers to update their work attitudes.

It is more of a concern that maybe she is correct.

In the current landscape of the economy and job market, any job is a good job. And Generation Y professionals entering the work place need to put more focus on development. But that is true recession or no recession.

Getting back to the question at hand, Goodman’s post gives me the impression that young professionals are currently accepting what they have at hand instead of demanding that next big step. While the recession may mean we all need to work a little bit harder, it is critical to not let today’s struggles prohibit you a prosperous future.

Get a grip my friend! Grab those reins and make sure you are always in the best shape to prosper no matter the environment.

You only live once! Make the most of it! Don’t let life pass you by! Any other overused phrases we should add here?

Wake up each day with the attitude that you may have a new job the next day. Still give today’s job 100 percent. I don’t know many young professionals that land their dream job right out of college. But you need to be working toward it:

1) Get out and network. Build those connections that will put you in the best shape to succeed when more opportunities become available.

2) Find your expertise. What is it that you know you can do better than your peers? Practice and strengthen that skill to the point employers can’t afford not to hire you.

3) We’re all entrepreneurs. Can you think of multiple entities that need that skill you’re best at? You might be on the path of creating something of your own.

Keep your eyes forward. You don’t have to be a product of the economic climate. Wake up tomorrow and put on the pair of pants that fit you best!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Twice your age

Freaky Age a Belgian four-piece Indie-rockband...Image via Wikipedia

I’m smarter than I look. No, seriously.

Or at least we are all trying to tell many of our co-workers that.

Scott Ginsberg, also known at the “Name Tag Guy,” recently posted “How to be Taken Seriously by People Twice Your Age.” He points out that it is not rare these days for a young professional to be working alongside someone twice their age.

I often hear varying opinions of the latest workforce generation by the Baby Boomers we are now in business with. But as young professionals, that is not something we can control. However, we can control the image we project as we try to establish ourselves as idea generators and reliable professionals in the work place.

A brief excerpt from Ginsberg’s blog post:

THE QUESTION IS: How are you supposed to be taken seriously when you’re the youngest person in the room?

SHORT ANSWER: Being proactive and powerful without coming off as arrogant and annoying.

Most of us can admit to exuding a little arrogance when we landed that first job out of college. Did you walk in like you owned the place; like you were ready to take over as the president on day two? More of us did that than we’d like to admit.

On any given day, many YPs are ready to conquer the world. Or are we? While that enthusiasm is something to be embraced, maybe it could be put to better use.

Time and learning can be humbling. If there is one thing that is clear to me now, it is that there is no replacement for decades of experience. We need to embrace those we work closely with that have it.

Once we can admit we have a lot to learn, we will open ourselves to a boundless book of knowledge. And we’ll gain respect along the way from our more seasoned peers.

But we also need to stick to our guns! We may be right a lot of the time. Some of the most innovative new ideas are coming from the younger generation. And with solid data to back up our ideas, people will listen.
Yes, we will create our own paths. But we also have take off the blinders and observe the established culture around us.

It is one of the building blocks of success.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Triple Bottom-Line

It's tough to be young and in the business world.  Rather than relying solely on my observations on the impact of young professionals in Iowa's business world, I've been seeking the perspective of others, both young and older.

This month, I talked with my good friend Christian Fong, founder of Fong Strategic Consulting , a management consulting firm, and a former candidate for the governor of Iowa. Still in his 30s, Christian has never been afraid to make bold decisions, which should be expected from someone who graduated from high school early and attended business school at Dartmouth College. I asked him to give me some insight on what Next Generation Iowans should be focused during these uncertain times.

Here is his response:


Vogue US v. Vogue NipponImage by superfem via Flickr

Iowa has never been a place where we embraced a “greed is good” business philosophy.  We never bought into the economic philosophies built on the presupposition that self-centeredness was a virtue, and the key to free markets. Instead, we know that while free markets are vital to a healthy economy, narcissism is not.

That Iowa way of doing business is now in vogue. Corporations have decided that they can do well by doing good. They talk about the triple bottom-line, where they have financial profits, and at the same time do good for their community and the world around them.

Individual Iowans, especially the professionals that are emerging as today’s leaders, should think about a similar approach of a balanced life with a triple bottom-line.

Bottom-Line One: This is the traditional bottom-line, measuring financial profit. You need to be good enough at what you do, and make a product or service that people are willing to pay for, so that you can make money.

Bottom-Line Two: Beyond the profit motive is a second bottom-line: being a productive part of your community. After all, professionals, like businesses, do not live in a vacuum.

Here in Cedar Rapids, I led an effort after the Flood of 2008 to have businesses release their employees to help clean up houses, churches and even competing businesses. I did not have to twist arms of corporate executives to make it happen. They understood that what was good for their community and good for their employees. Andhappy employees are, of course, necessary for a healthy bottom-line profit. Each individual made the decision to give up potential business deals or progress on career strategies and get into their community to help make it better.

You do not have to wait for a flood. Choose to go vote, buy local, volunteer at your church or join a nonprofit organization’s board. Good citizens, whether corporate or individuals, are great for a community and the benefits work both ways.

Bottom-Line Three: Simply put, mission matters. A good income and a good community can create a good life. But people want more than a good life. They want a meaningful life, and they want to work for a company that is making a difference. Some will define a mission as ecological – perhaps it is a focus on sustainability, in all its forms. Perhaps it is meeting the real needs of people around the world. Perhaps it is a spiritual focus on healing the hearts of broken people around you. But without a mission, it is hard to keep pointed in the right direction as individuals and companies.

Are you making a difference? Are you meeting needs of the people in your community in ways that put them first? Are you making a good living, being excellent at what you do? If so, you are showing a profit across your triple bottom-line. - Christian Fong

Fong Strategic Consulting specializes in helping small and medium-sized companies define a strategy, and obtain the financial resources, to grow.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Becoming an entrepreneur

24-inch x 2 Workspace (iMac)Image by liewcf via Flickr

It's tough to be young and in the business world. Rather than relying solely on my observations on what is the impact of Young Professionals in Iowa's business world I've been seeking the perspective of others, both younger and older, to get their perspectives.

The first person I talked to was Alexander Grgurich, a young professional entrepreneur trying to make his way in the business world. Alex is already on his second successful start-up company and has even dived into actively participating in municipal politics. I asked Alex to give me some insight as to what inspires a twentysomething to become an entrepreneur. - Isaiah McGee

Here is his response:

I’ve been fascinated with entrepreneurship from an early age, selling candy out of my locker or running my own placemat advertising business in high school. I think it’s the sense of adventure and knowing that you’re risking it all to forge your own path that keeps me coming back for more.Thankfully, Des Moines embraces young entrepreneurs like myself and is developing a collaborative work environment that is spawning more and more innovation at every turn.

I recently opened Foundry Coworking, a collaborative office space for other innovative entrepreneurs and creatives in the area. Coworking is an international movement taking root where people can share office space and amenities while building a community centered around success and making each other better. Cheap office space can be found anywhere, but what really separates coworking environments is the community of “doers” in the space, the relationships that form, and the events that are held to make the community that much better.

As much as the entrepreneurial life is rewarding and exciting there are times where that inspiration and positivity can be difficult to keep up. I’ve found that being surrounded by people with the same challenges that I have has been a great motivator to pick me up and keep me focused when I need it. Although my fellow office mates are all in different industries than I am, we all share an ethos that pushes us to help each other and strive for success.

The economic trends of late have pushed a lot of people into the realm of freelancing or creating new ventures. As this trend continues and more people come to value the freedom and rewards in having your own business, collaborative work spaces will continue to satisfy a need in the community.

Whether it’s Foundry Coworking, Impromptu Studios, or Performance Marketing Group, Des Moines is blessed to have so many coworking spaces and I recommend everyone stop by each one for a day to get some work done, attend an event, or just to visit and meet new people. - Alex

Enhanced by Zemanta

Generations in the Workplace

Kudos to the Business Record and Merit Resources for bringing in David Stillman of Bridgeworks to Photo_david2 discuss Bridging the generation gaps at work. David's lively presentation covered the nuances of the four prevailing generations in the workforce, while at the same time providing insight and solutions that workplaces should be implementing. Stillman was in town to promote his new book "The M-Factor." Stillman's presentation analyzed each of the four generations their influences and traits, and pinpointed areas of engagement for each.

Traditionalist - Influenced by roaring 20s, Great Depression, World War II, patriotism, loyalty, conservative, and have faith in institutions. Stillman pointed out that most workplace culture is based on Traditionalist influences. The key take away was that the legacy of traditionalist can not be dismissed. While it may appear traditionalist don't like change, a look at their historic experience says otherwise. They can accept change if it is an evolutionary change rather than a revolutionary change, or something that builds on their legacy rather than dismisses it.

Baby Boomers - influenced by Vietnam, Watergate, civil rights, suburbia. Stillman pointed out the 80 million boomers in this demographic has forced them to be competitive in order to stand out from their peers. Growing up in an amazing time, they wanted to, and and still want to do, amazing things. They are masters at internal politics, but flunk at delegating. Aging parents and close knit relationship with their kids has made them a very needed generation, but it has also caused some burnout. Reminding these workers how their work is having a positive impact on not only the job, but themselves and the world will go a long way with keeping Boomers happy.

Generation X - Grew up during a period with high divorce rates, more than 23,000 hours of TV viewing per person and the personal computer. This generation, while often chided as lazy, slacking and pessimistic, doesn't see itself that way. A very self reliant, resourceful and eclectic group, Xers have supply and demand on their side. The relatively few 45 million of them has allowed the group to be less competitive and more independent. Their experiences  have caused them to be more skeptical and rightfully so. Stillman encourages work places to embrace this skepticism, for there is at least a kernel of truth in it usually.  And while members of Generation X are realistic in their understanding that Boomers are not going anywhere so their chances of vertical movement are limited. there is an innate desire to still move, to still learn, to still grow. Providing Xers with more frequent feedback, keeping opportunities for professional development and allowing for additional opportunities to move laterally within the company may satisfy Generation X's workplace need.

Millennials - Influenced by terrorism, technology and their Baby Boomer parents. Concerned about global outlook, more collaborative. We've touched on many of their traits, concerns, and approaches in this blog before, so I won't rehash any of those, except one. Stillman did emphasize that with this group meaning matters, and being able to demonstrate how their job helps accomplish the larger mission goes a long way with this generation that is apt to give back. He also encouraged workers to allow Millennials to be part of the decision making process, even if their approach is naive it still creates an opportunity for them to learn and be mentored.

Great insights from a team I consider the best on the subject of generational behavior. This event was more broad based than the last time Bridgeworks was in town with their Millennial speaker Seth.  It would have been interesting If the two could have switched with David coming to the Power Breakfast and Seth speaking at this event, given the marketed focus of each event. More Millennials and Gen X young professionals need to hear these insights, but at this time and place in their career it might be tough for them to attend events like these on a weekday morning. But scheduling events like these with high demand speakers are never easy. It would also have been nice if Mr. Stillman could have stayed longer for followup and questions. But again, scheduling events like these with high demand speakers are never easy.

Kudos again to the Business Record for bringing him in.

How the Economic Recovery will Further the Iowa Age Drain

Map of USA with Iowa highlightedImage via Wikipedia

Iowa has joined the rest of the country in turning the corner on the recession, with each of the workforce generations playing a key role in those efforts.

But Iowa’s economic recovery will come slower than other parts of the country, due to our lack of job growth. This may have further consequences then we realize.

According to a new study from Price Waterhouse Coopers, Generations X and Y will fuel the shopping growth needed to spur an economic recovery. Though Gen X is only about 75 percent of the size of the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations, they will mostly be responsible for the spending that is needed to fuel the economic recovery since Boomers need to recoup wealth lost during the recession of the past few years and Millennials don’t make enough money.

On the other hand, nationally, Boomers are participating in the "Gray Revolution" and are being sought to fill in job gaps, provide temporary relief, or better yet, jump into “just in time” assignments that call for more expertise and shorter commitments. There’s been an increase in human resources departments designing age-friendly practices to attract, retain and promote Boomers. Companies looking to expedite their own recovery will find this pool of wisdom workers inviting.

Millennials face a new problem in establishing their role in the recovery. Undoubtedly, Millennials are helping significantly with both the shopping growth and labor pool. However, Millennials' ages serve as a double-edged sword. They do not providing enough money or experience to lead these main functions of recovery, though their resilience, technically skills, and optimism play a crucial role in helping to sustain recovery and set the prevailing mood.

For Iowa, especially the timing of our recovery, Millennials role may have additional impacts, particularly in the coming months as another year of Millennials enter the workforce. While the rest of the nation is already in the midst of recovery, many Iowa Millennials will once again be enticed to emigrate on notions of job opportunities and income growth in warmer climates.

Many will never return. The one silver lining: the U.S. Census occurs in the spring.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Next Generation More Actively Engaged in Public Policy than You May Think

Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, after ...Image via Wikipedia

As any business decision maker can tell you,  government policies can have an impact on bottom line of a business. Consider for instance, in the Iowa legislature current legislation being discussed over budgets, tax credits, property-tax reform, and business procedures, and how much money these new laws will either cost or save the business community.

After a three-year effort, the Generation Iowa Commission, which the legislature formed to study and recommend policies to attract and retain young professionals in Iowa, was able to convince the legislature to place a member of the next generation on the various boards and commissions that recommend policy and legislation.

YP Iowa, a subgroup of The Iowa Association of Business and Industry, and one of the few statewide young professional organizations in the nation, has successfully organized a "YP day at the Capitol" for the last three years. The legislature itself has seen a number of new members under the age of 40 in the last few cycles.  Even the heads of both the Republican and Democrat parties in Iowa are under the age of 40.  Former gubernatorial candidate and Generation Iowa Commissioner Christian Fong would contend we have no choice but to engage the next generation. Otherwise they will leave.

The Pew research on Millennials had some interesting stats on Millennials and political activity.  Millennials tend to be more engaged in political matters than previous generations were at the same age.  This is great news, but it should come as no surprise.  The next generation has always been an active generation and the 2008 elections only cemented the notion of next generation political engagement. As a result, both political parties have seen “gold in them hills” and are increasingly shepherding and intensifying efforts to grab hold of the next generation as their new voting bloc.  Efforts of groups such as Act Blue and the Next Right have also emerged and writers such as James Carville and Robert Samuelson are claiming one side has lost touch with Millennials.

No one for certain can tell you which way these Young Professionals will land on the political landscape, but it will continue to have an impact on Iowa.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Profile of a Millennial

Pew Research released its full comprehensive study, which answers the question “who are the Millennials?” For those still trying to figure out this demographic of young folks born between 1980 and 2000, the 150-page survey paints one of the clearest pictures to date of this generation.  In future blog posts, I’ll referring to their findings as a reference point. 4333190477_5c6dd02540

The Pew study makes a number of conclusions, and as a good study always does, it creates a number of other  questions. Below are a number of conclusions, and other questions I believe come up as a result.

40 percent of American Millennials are minorities

Will this amplified sense of cultural awareness change workplace view on what's right?

80 percent sleep with their cell phone

Will this change courtesy of when its appropriate to connect with people?

Two-thirds text while driving

What other new laws will overwhelming target the next generation?

40 percent have a tattoo (half of them have more than one)

Will work attire become more lax on what is considered professional?

25 percent are not affiliated with any religion 

How will the church change to reflect this new dynamic?

40 percent were raised in a single-parent home

Will those experiences create a bigger need for belonging?

2 percent are veterans or currently serving in the military, yet are very civic minded

Will this change the profile of a U.S. soldier to be less aggressive?

Two-thirds supported Barack Obama Obama for president, but half have since cooled to him

What kind of impact is this group looking to have?

Millennials don’t rank work ethic as a high priority, but 60 percent realize that and agree they should do better in this area

How does this focus on working smarter not harder change the dynamic of work?

This profile can tell us much about where this next generation is headed, but the right follow-up questions need to be asked.

Next Generation Poised to be More Racially Accepting

Civil Rights March on Washington, leaders marc...Image via Wikipedia

While there is constant talk among older generations about the failings of the younger generation, one area in which the younger generation should be admired is their views and actions on racial issues.

While older generations have an impressive history in paving the way for increased racial equality, from sparking the civil rights movement to electing a black president, much is still left to be desired. Iowa particularly has been apart of this two-sided equation.

A state that is 95 percent white did more to elect the nation’s first black President than any other state. In addition, Iowa has a rich history of pioneering the breakdown of racial barriers. On the other end, the high number of blacks in Iowa prisons, the large Iowa high school drop-out rate for blacks, the high Iowa jobless rate for blacks, or the failure of many of Iowa’s black entrepreneurs is very disproportionate to the low African-American population in Iowa.

For the past few months Pew research has been studying the Millennial culture in all of its subsets have found that this group of 18- to 29-year-olds is more open to diversity than any other generation sub set previously. Their level of acceptance in this generation is greater than in other generation.

According to the pew study, Millennials, compared with older groups, particularly Americans ages 50 or older, are significantly more likely to be accepting of interracial marriage. In addition, a majority of Millennials say at least some of their friends are of a different race.  Compare those rates to Americans ages 50 and older who are considerably less likely to have cross-racial friendships. This difference is largely the result of fewer older whites having black friends. The study showed just 36 percent of whites ages 50 to 64 and 32 percent of whites ages 65 and older report having at least some black friends. Why does any of that matter? Because we make decision based on trust, we trust those whom we can relate to- those with whom we have a relationship. Without those relationships it’s difficult to be included in the decisions.

Does this infer that older people are racist and younger people are tolerant? Not necessarily.

The Pew study shows that all generations over time have improved in their views on race. However, it is reasonable to assume that Millennials increased experience and willingness to engage with diverse cultures will allow them to be in a better position to deal with some of the lingering racial and ethnic disparities we still face.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Entitlement Will Make Millennials Save

Millennials have been saddled with the term of being an entitled generation. One that expects to get something because of who they are not because of what they’ve done. Whether an accurate term or a misinterpreted exaggeration, this trait has been placed on them. Ironically, through the mist of this financial crisis, their sense of entitlement may actually be paying off.  This generation is looking at what they believed was promised to them and beginning to think they might not get it.
As discussed before, generational behavior results from the experience of said generation. Each generation reacts to problems they’ve encountered and attempts to fill those voids, or solve various societal ills. In the past decade, most research focused on the cultural, technological and political reactions of Millennials, but that was all before the financial crisis hit. Recently, there has been a run of articles that have researched millennial reaction to the economic crisis, and just like other major events it is having an affect on Millennials that may shape their long-term perspective.

Newsweek just published an article tackling this notion of “Generation Recession” and considering the long-term consequences such as making less, generation based class warfare, and a shift of talent from the private sector to the public sector.

A recent poll by the Knights of Columbus showed 55 percent of Millennials think their careers will be negatively impacted for the long-term by the current economic situation and are looking for free market rather than the government to handle the economic crisis.

A UK study suggests that timing might be everything. Discouraged workers tend to be affected more by financial crises when around the sensitive and professionally formative ages of 17 to 25. What happens during these periods tend to have a psychological impact that is long lasting.

A study commissioned by Microsoft also confirms this cynical view. Sixty-seven percent of those Millennials were wary of stocks, banks and investment firms due to the near-collapse of companies such as AIG and Citigroup. 

Coupled with this economic sensitivity and the generational sense to fix the problems seen as youth, makes Millennials apt to do something different. Millennials are already regarded as being a very scientific generation; looking for formulas that offer consistent solutions, willing to be collaborative, desiring positive experiences and outcomes. Last decade, we saw the emergence of how that played out in other fields; the rise of social media, everything “green," and the “Casual Professional”. It should be to no one’s surprise that the millennial generation is now reacting to the greatest financial event in three generations.

Recent research suggest that Millennials were more likely to pay off debt, had a savings goal and are not as interested in immediate luxuries.  Additionally, they are setting other financial goals and using the tools of their generation such as mobile apps from, and for daily money management and budgeting.

Millennials are poised to earn less, but stay updated on their cash flow situations and save more than the previous generations. Just as the Silent Generation learned from the Great Depression and were able to enjoy the American Dream, The Millennial Generation may now be poised to do the same.

3 New Year's Resolutions for Young Professionals

2010 marks the year that Millennials are poised to surpass Baby Boomers as the largest generation on the planet. The last few years have been filled with articles from experts, business leaders, researchers and bloggers, warning about the coming generation storm.  Well folks, it's no longer 23664139 pending…it's here.

The arrival of the new decade brings a great opportunity for the ranks of the young professionals to really start coming into their own. Though this is an ever-evolving process, the new year marks a great time to establish resolutions that will help start this process on the right foot. Here are three resolutions YPs should consider in 2010:       

1.     Grow Up. Tone it down a little. You know you’re hot stuff, you’ve always been taught the world is yours and to go out and grab the bull by the horns. But as you may have learned last year through this economic recession, the real world doesn’t always go exactly by your plans. Life is more art than science, filled with circumstances that don’t always follow the formula you were taught. Your ability to take that in stride and focus on the needs and desires of those around you will not only give you enough favor to place you in a better position, but it will also provide you better wisdom of what to do once in that position.

2.     Slow down. Yes, life is short. But few things are enjoyed that are rushed. While no one wants to miss that golden moment, an opportunity passed up is not the end of the world. It might actually allow you to gain a better handle on your current involvements which in turn might lead to more fulfilling opportunities. Think of life as one of those holiday meals you recently experienced, rather than a quick fast-food bite. The holiday meal takes hours to prepare, enjoy and recover from, giving us an experience that leaves us with pleasant memories. Fast food, on the other hand, is convenient, and tasty, but is quickly fleeting and unfulfilling. Give yourself time to appreciate all the subtle nuances of life.

3.     Unplug. Your world provides conveniences that previous generations could only imagine and it’s only going to get better as time goes on. Yet, as cool as these tools and toys are in allowing us to do more with our time, the result is more and more being asked of us. Though we can take on more than ever before, are we allowing our brain to fully comprehend our actions? Stepping away for a while from the gadgets, the noise and the clutter allows your brain to catch up, process and see the bigger picture. It might help you become more creative and a more critical thinker. So, rather than become slaves of our own technology, prove that you can still function without it.  

Taking time this year to readjust will help young professionals position themselves for their arrival into prominence.

5 intangible skills that YPs need in a Job

DF-SC-82-04968Image by US Army Korea - IMCOM via Flickr

In my last post we looked at five mostly tangible areas that if young professionals paid more attention to, would land them a job. However, while getting a job may seem like an exact science, it its far from it. It's not just have a good resume, friendly references and a strong interview. It also requires skills that just can't be searched on Wikipedia.

In December, I moderated a workforce readiness panel geared toward Millennials and afterward I asked two of the panels human resource executives, Susan Bunz of Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. and Jenifer Owenson of Ankeny Community Schools, about their thoughts on necessary skills at work.

1. Integrity: I touched on this as one of the three planks of leadership, but human resources is looking for people who will not be problems later on. If you cause problems, whether it's with the customer, client, colleague or chief, It costs the company money. Ultimately, if the company has reason not to trust you, why would they risk investing a lot of dough hiring you? A business will go to great lengths to ensure they hire someone with integrity. Beyond a background check, they may Google your name, search for photos of you on Facebook, read your tweets and even pull your credit score. These measures you may feel are unfair to your privacy, but for the investment they are making in employing you, they want to make sure they are not making a mistake. 

2. Confidence: If you are lucky enough to score an interview make sure you exude confidence, but caution, as there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. A confident employee means he or she will be efficient, customers and clients will be satisfied and the employee will contribute to a positive environment. However, when an employee is arrogant he will make mistakes, clients will feel disrespected and the work environment feels poisoned. In the interview they are looking for someone who strikes that right balance of assurance without cockiness.

3. Critical Thinking is one of the areas that HR is most concerned that millennials don't seem to have enough. Your employer can train you to do the specific job you were hired for, but being able to think on your feet, use deduction, and inference are invaluable skills. Many Millennials understand the science of work and can follow the formula, but the challenge is being able to understand the art of work and recognizing how how the aspects flow together.

4. Written Communication Skills: In the millennial world of text messaging and 140 character conversations, brevity is now par. Abbreviations and small words may be efficient, however, HR executives are concerned that young professionals lack basic writing skills to be effective in the workplace. This goes past the margin of syntax and grammar; it also includes command of the English language beyond the same overused 10,000 words. Words have meanings and the more we use them will sometimes help the reader clearly understand what you, the writer, is thinking. Also worth mentioning is that though we all may feel like our ideas are fresh when they barely meet (or miss) deadline, remember it's still embarrassing to read several typos that could have been proofed, or worse yet have your letter be read by an unintended audience, because you forgot to change the salutation.

5. Oral Communication Skills: It seems like everyone hated their high school speech class, afraid that they would freeze up on stage and be embarrassed for life. Ironically, the world is full of great speakers who can't get anything done and poor orators who have accomplished much. So what gives? Forget about the words. Communication has more to do with our non-verbals than anything else. Our tone, timing, body language and facial expression say more than the actual words we speak. It's not about memorizing big phrases or saying something that will one day be quoted and etched in stone. It's more about connecting to your audience whether that's an audience of one or 1,000. It's about providing stellar customer service, keeping your colleagues in the loop and responding to your boss's call.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

5 underrated areas that YPs need for a job

Job-interview2 This past week I moderated a workforce readiness panel geared toward Millennials soon to enter the workforce. The panel answered a series of questions to help assist these Millennials understand the reality of what human resource officers are looking for in employees. I sat down with two of panelists afterward, Susan Bunz of Pioneer Hybrid and Jenifer Owenson of Ankeny Community Schools. I asked them a series of questions and compiled the answers into two themed groups. In this post, I will focus on that first theme, "Five underrated areas that young professionals need for a job."

1. G.P.A. : Many young professionals don't believe their grades matter, reasoning that grades do not reflect how smart you are. There's some truth to that theory, however, grades do reflect your ability to follow directions and how hard you work, which is a huge plus for an employer. An absent G.P.A. on a young professional's resume would raise flags. Maybe you have something to hide. If you had a 4.0 wouldn't you flaunt it?

2. Work History: HR professionals understand that times are different and workers of today do not display the same sense of loyalty as the previous generation of workers. However, commitment matters and if you hop around from job to job there better be a more compelling reason than "my boss and I had differences." A big red flag is gaps in workplace employment, the HR executives are wondering "what happened there, did they get fired? Are they to undesirable to hire?"

3. Internships: Beyond the work skills that are acquired while participating in an internship, the biggest benefit is the relationships that are built. Not only do you have a better understanding of the culture, style, and jargon of a particular business, but you've also made valuable connections that can benefit you later as references or better yet the job itself. Some businesses look at internships as six-week-long interviews. Perform well and there might be a long-term position in your future.

4. Volunteerism: Millennials may have a lack of job experience and older Millennials and young Xers may suffer from the work-history dilemma mentioned above. So another area that young professionals can take seriously is their volunteer history. Many high schools, colleges and YP groups have numerous volunteer opportunities available. Whether it's at church, in school or in the community, these activities not only help you build different skills, but also show commitment, professionalism, work ethic, employee/peer relationship and camaraderie.

5. Leadership: Many young professionals have an incomplete idea of what leadership means, it's not just being in charge. For the Gen Xer, that may be some relief in that statement and for the Millennial, some disappointment. Yet, in reality, leadership has more to do with initiative, confidence and integrity.  Have you demonstrated those characteristics academically, professionally or socially? Can that be verified on your transcripts, your work history, internships or community service? If so, then you are on the right track to getting the job you want

The next YP blog post will tackle "Five intangible skills that young professionals need for a job."

Finding Common Ground in the Generational Technology Gap

The 'Where do you want to go today?' logoImage via Wikipedia

When discussing young professionals in the workplace, the topic of technology is never far away. The crux of the issue always seems to involve the importance of Boomer managers understanding Millennials' reliance on technology to communicate or Millennials' need to assimilate to the communication style of a Boomer controlled workplace.

The competing perspectives set up an interesting, yet sometimes contentious, debate on what I call "the generational technology gap." My advice in dealing with this gap comes from the immortal words of Rodney King: Can’t we all just get along?

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story that essentially asked the question “Will young people wean themselves off (over reliance on communication technology) once they enter the work force, or will employers come to see texting and social-network checking" as accepted parts of the workday?

The article attempts to show the increasing battle that companies and schools are having with getting this new generation to comply with its communication rules. Though is stops short of taking sides, the article seems to imply the battle is futile and policy makers would be wise to adjust. I would agree, to a point. The working world does need to adjust to the changing trends and behavior of its workers. However, it is still important for new workers to live off line from time to time.

Earlier this week, I attended the launch party of Catchfire Media LLC, a social-media strategy firm. There, I noticed something that I didn’t quite expect. Most of the people in attendance at the wine-and-cheese event, including the principles of the company, weren’t isolating themselves in their blackberries or iPhones “live tweeting” the event. Rather, we all were engaged in meaningful real-time face-to-face conversations. Some of these conversations had in many ways been enhanced because of previous online connections that had been established. The generationally and technologically diverse crowd wasn’t primarily focused on social media 101 conversations, but on business and marketing conversations.

It was almost like there was a general understanding from those there: "hey, we know this stuff is meaningful, but lets focus on how its going to help me." This undirected approach signaled to me that we all are ready to embrace technology, but it’s the approach in how we do it that matters most.

A new banking survey commissioned by Microsoft seems to suggest there is also common ground, even in the midst of our generational technology gap. Though the survey shows a major gap in preference in the use of technology to fulfill banking needs, it also shows that both Millennials and Boomers found many similarities in their criteria for choosing a new bank. Customer service ranked highest, followed by rates, identify fraud protection and access to bank retail branches and insurance on deposit accounts.

The opportunities are there for us to find common ground in technology and Boomers must become more apt to embrace it. However, Millennials also have to be willing to learn the “hard way” way of doing things. 

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce: Part 1 social media conflict

Last month, the Business Record concluded its 2009 Power Breakfast series with the topic "Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce." The breakfast held at the breathtaking Des Moines Club on the 34th floor of the Ruan building was filled with Des Moines business people seeking answers to Power breakfast a common issue facing their workplaces. 

The breakfast featured a presentation from Seth Mattison of Bridgeworks LLC, followed by a panel discussion featuring myself, Seth and colleagues Rita Perea (Rita Perea Consulting), Ted Williams (The Williams group) and moderator Adam Steen of 25 Connections.

Seth encouraged older generations to deal with millennial workers by understanding the M factor that makes Millennials tick. The M-factor can be explained in seven key focal points that will be released in Bridgeworks’ upcoming book of the same title. Seth took one of those factors, social media, and challenged older generations to do the following at work:

•    Confirm and verify before judging. A Facebook page on an employee's computer screen might be the employee reaching out for information. However, it's also possible that the employee is doing something that has nothing to do with business. "But if they're meeting expectations, who cares?"

•    Create clear policies and procedures regarding privacy issues. Seth noted the tendency of Millennials to “share everything” both personally and professionally. "The line is blurred,” however, and throwing the baby out with the bathwater is not the answer.

•    Put social networking to work for you. People do business with people they like. Rather than dismiss the trend, learn how to make it work for you and the company.

•    Don't let the real water cooler dry up. While many Boomers are quick to point out the over reliance of Millennials on technology, the alternative is to “ take them to lunch” and “mentor them” on the importance of real conversations.

Fellow IowaBiz blogger Nathan Wright has also recently shared similar advice on this matter and I think companies should be hard pressed to take heed to these recommendations. While social media will continue to evolve over time, it undoubtedly is a behemoth, and everyone will need to decide if they want to be part of the steamroller or part of the pavement. 

You can read more about this Power Breakfast from Business Record Editor Jim Pollock’s article or watch video from the event as well. My next blog entries will focus on broader conversations I have had with the other panelist and attendees of the event as well as an exclusive one on one conversation Seth and I had following the Power Breakfast. Stay tuned!

Can the Hawkeyes & Cyclones be the Key to Ending Brain Drain in Iowa?

Map of USA with Midwest highlightedImage via Wikipedia

Football fans and non-football fans alike are embracing the annual rivalry that is Cy-Hawk classic. This is the time when the state's two Division 1A teams take on each other for bragging rights as the state's best football team. Its easy to get caught up in the hoopla, the donning of a cardinal red or pitch black shirt to signify your allegiance, the trash talk, or the parties. Even if you are not a football fan, this game can consume a good portion of your attention and disrupt your normal routine.

I always find it entertaining the buildup to the game as both of these institutions have fine football programs, even if they don't always finish with winning seasons. Each university has seen record breaking enrollments in recent years, so its apparent these are great institutions. As a matter of fact ALL of Iowa's colleges and universities from our system of community colleges to our collection of independent private colleges to our regents universities are known for a distinct area where they top the rankings.

 It should come as no surprise that the state of Iowa ranks No. 1 in the Midwest for college student attraction and nationally the state is a Top 5 importer of college students. Thousands of students not born or raised in Iowa seek higher education here each year, creating an actual net brain gain of college students. Additionally, Iowa has a strong brand known for education.

So while the so called brain drain has effected the midwest region hard, our state currently finds itself in a unique situation than its neighbors. We are hemorrhaging young talented people just like our neighboring states, but this happens after college. Iowa is attracting droves of young intelligent minds from the ages of 18 to 21. The state’s cost-of-living, culture of compassion and community and outdoor activities should be advantageous for us, but we lose those young adults after college seeking higher wages and opportunities elsewhere, which leaves a looming workforce shortage that our neighbor states know all to well. 

By employing the techniques that college recruiters use to attract students, to also attract or retain young professionals, We have an excellent opportunity to solve our brain drain challege in Iowa.

Go Hawks, go Clones.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

A multigenerational staff discusses working in a multigenerational workforce

My Generation album coverImage via Wikipedia

I had the pleasure of doing a workshop recently for a staff of career services professionals at Iowa State. The staff was conducting a beginning-of-the-year retreat and wanted to address the issue of working in a multigenerational workforce. The staff of about 10 people ranged from early Baby Boomers to late Millennials.

To have that range in an office this small provides a very unique opportunity to study multiple generational interactions as they happen, while also helping to prepare students for those same realities as they enter the workforce.

The staff discussed an idea that has been addressed in comments on this blog before,  the idea that the study of generational issues is not an exact science. In reality, descriptions of varying generations are broad generalizations. One should be careful not to believe that all people who are born between year "x" and year "y" behave in a particular manner, because there is more to be taken away from someone’s personality or behavior profile then his or her age. However, age is important as those common experiences that happen during a particular time period do shape our perspectives, which in turn influences our personality or behavior.

This sentiment regarding experiences was evident in the room as the group was divided into pairs to discuss what irritated them about those they knew in other age groups. Each pair talked about the lack of appreciation for some type of perspective or experience that they personally held dear. It was clear that the group did not want to label themselves.

What was interesting to note was the response from the Millennials toward the belief that they behave like an entitled group. The 20-year-olds in the room said that they always been taught to play nice we each other, that can achieve whatever they want and that technology will make your life easier. As I thought about their responses two questions dawned on me: When did this become a bad idea? Are Millennials the first generation in ages to actually listen to their parents? The massive number of Millennials would have me think that Gen Xers feel overshadowed and Boomers feel rivaled by this assertive generation that has yet to fully experience life…and seem to be okay with it!

As the staff affectionately discussed these issues, they came to the conclusion that for older generations an opportunity exists to teach younger generations…if the older generation is also willing to learn from them. The conclusion for younger generations challenged their demographic to set themselves apart individually by listening to the advise of their older colleagues or settle into the negative stereotype that they have of them.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

An Analysis of "The Age Curve"

So I finally got the chance to go through my book list and read a few books I’ve been eying for months.  Most of the books I read I'm attracted to by the cover. Then, when time is available, I sneak over to Barnes and Noble or some other book retailer and read the gist of the book until I get becomes bland and predictable. It had been a while since I read a book that really sparked my interest enough that I could not put it down. One book in particular caught my eye because of the title The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm by Ken Gronbach. I grabbed the book with skepticism, but was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

I was worried that it would be another book that addressed generational differences from a surface level approach that dabbled in generalities, broad conclusions and snarky commentary about millennial 411NICIKZVL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_ behavior. Instead, I read an entertaining book filled with statistics and demographics, but clothed in stories and anecdotes that compel you to continue reading.

Gronbach is not afraid to call out certain industries and companies for their failed and failing approach to answering the generation question. He surprised me by spending significant time explaining the impact of the generation dip that is Gen X and the impact that will have in the business world. Finally, someone else sees this issue and is not overlooking them to focus purely on Millennials or Boomers. Gronbach shows how the dwindling number of Generation X and certain marketers failure to focus on generation demographic shifts caused a devastating drop in profit margin.  Just look at Honda's motorcycle and Levi jeans as examples.

Gronbach explains how, and more importantly why, Millennials are beginning to affect the market in significant ways. He goes on to answer the question that many generation critics have about the study and explains, through compelling case studies, why certain businesses and industries are doing well and others are not depending on how they've responded the change in generational size and taste.

Why not completely absolved of problems, for instance the book can be repetitive at times, Gronbach goes beyond what most similar books on generational issue miss and that’s explain not only the “what” but also the “why."

Kudos to The Age Curve for taking what can be a dry subject and injecting lively anecdotes in with interesting facts. Yes I did eventually buy this book.

Generation X: Who needs them?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Gen X sucks! It's just not as sexy as the other generations it falls between. The Silent Generation defeated the Nazis, Boomers started a revolution, and Millennials are saving the planet. Generation X is so bad it doesn’t even have a name, just an X. Gen Xers are the smallest of the four generations with a dip in the population line by about 20-30 million. While most of the attention of young professionals is focused on this overconfident, happy and resourceful millennial generation, what’s forgotten is that YP’s still have a large Gen X segment in them. 

If we use the current membership guidelines of most YP groups the age out limitation is usually 40 years of age, the most restrictive are capped at 35 years of age. Most research points to 1980 as being the arbitrary gateway to be considered a Millennial. Those two facts together suggest that the working world has at least five to 10 years left of Gen Xer’s preparing to take over. The population gap gives opportunities to Boomers to stay past their prime and Millennials to seize the day as well. However, for the Xer, their life experience of critical thinking, skepticism, isolation and standing in the shadows will be a highly valuable experience for management and leadership.

Gen Xers experience being caught in the middle positions and will have to deal with the largest generation gap since 1969 and the subsequent problems that brings, such as differing views on politics, religion, leadership and technology. In regards to technology, Gen X is already showing its leadership. While many seek Millennials for understanding of the latest Web 2.0 technology, it is Gen X, not Millennials, that is leading the charge with the most buzz worthy of social media tools: Twitter.

Millennials have not caught on to Twitter as much as Gen X has, but looking at the 3-year-old service that Twitter is, its millions of users, its rapid growth, diversity of third party applications, and its saturation in print and media., makes it a force to be reckoned with. In addition, its ability to break real time events like the overseas uprising in Iran, the stateside death of Michael Jackson in and even more localized events like the dismissal of public from the State Capitol, give Twitter a legitimacy that other platforms just don’t have. Gen X can be proud to lead the charge in this area and be content with anticipation over joining the leadership circle and finally getting some respect.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Reflection on the Passing of Three Cultural Icons

Michael JacksonMichael Jackson via

Last week, each generation lost three cultural icons: Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Their lives had great meaning and contributed much to the popular culture. Pop culture, as silly as it can be sometimes, provides energy in an otherwise boring world, so when pop icons vanish it feels as if part of our own history our own identity has also left.  

As some eulogize these figures, many are thinking back to a life experience that somehow involved one of these stars. Though many might argue over the abundance of attention a celebrity’s death may get compared to the average person, the truth is we were able to chronicle our own lives and identity by watching them. Sometimes it was comparing our actions and sometimes it was contrasting our actions to theirs. Yet even in their passing these icons provide a reflecting lesson for the generations to take.

Ed McMahon knew his role, found success and thought it would never go away; a great legacy that in latter years was trying to regain relevance, not for limelight’s sake but for humility’s purpose. McMahon did things the right way until things changed and McMahon was left.

As the world changing Boomers now face a changing world, it is fascinating to see the struggle to pass down not just the memories of their past, but its significance and purpose to future generations that may not be as willing to absorb all its predecessors lessons.

Farah Fawcett’s death was probably the most heroic, her fight had been long chronicled, and in the end it was bitter sweet. However, before the end of the day it was largely overshadowed by the death of Michael Jackson. As time goes on she will be re-eulogized in a way that is not overshadowed, and the courage of waning days will be celebrated.

While the focus has been on Boomers and Millennials, Gen X characteristically has been overlooked. But as I’ve noticed of Gen X's embrace of an imperfect world is the generation's realization that they have to lead regardless of being in the shadows of two behemoth generations.

Jackson’s legacy was multi-generational. However, Jackson’s persona can only fully be measured from a generation that only remembers him when he was at his peak. There is no question that Millennials are a self-aware group searching to find their place in the world of work. Jackson grew up in the limelight, which allowed him much influence. But away from the stage it created a real sense of vulnerability that in the end was probably his downfall.

USA Today published a report recently referring to Millennials as the “recession generation” and indicating that this generation had particular dreams and expectations that all of a sudden took a turn when the economy tanked. Now a generation that has always been taught it was invincible is starting to realize it s vulnerability.

Thee is much more we can take away from the lives of these individuals, but let's continue to look at the lessons their lives teach us.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Networking on the Green

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Networking on the Green, held at the Principal Charity Classic. The event was hosted by a couple of friends of mine and provided an opportunity to blend young professionals with CEOs and upper management of some of Iowa’s best companies.

Headlined by J. Barry Griswell, regarding his new book, the folks in the room were given an opportunityDSC_3409 that many never have, to ask the former CEO of a Fortune 200 company what it takes to be successful. As Griswell spoke about “owning the problem,” I thought about how many in the room had grew up not having to do just that.

Yet his message was embracing and lacked the instructional tone that I’ve heard from others of older generations who tackle the subject.

It seemed as if the theme of Griswell’s message was the “key to success is being okay with failure," a particularly useful message for a generation that is pretty bold by most standards. However, looking across the room, I’m not sure if the attendees soaked that in or not. This observation and Griswell’s advise pushed me to ask back the question “what’s the difference between going against the grain/conventional wisdom and just being plain crazy?”  Specifically, I was thinking about the person who is overaggressive with passion, but no sense of reality to navigate accordingly. Griswell's answer focused on the importance to still play by the rules, another important key. However, I wish I had an opportunity to ask a follow up question. I probably could have given many of the young pups in the room seemed intimidated by his 6 foot 7 inch frame, and failed to ask any questions of him or the other CEOs in the more intimate speed networking sessions.

The scheduled speed networking was an exercise that tends to reward keen listeners and punish avid talkers. However, it was neither who benefited, as most listeners never got to hear what they wanted nor did most talkers get to say what they wanted. Alas, that is the beauty of a speed-networking event; the ones that are skilled enough to listen and appropriately interject a question or comment in the right timing are the ones that benefit the most. The point of the event was to be a catalyst that leads to further discussions independently, not the nucleus.

I think most of those people in particular were aware that this was not the moment to sell their product or service, but to learn and build relationships, so it was rewarding to see both CEOs and YPs stay well after the event to “finish” conversations and follow up on thoughts. As a matter of fact, I think the experience of sharing with peers afterward - sharing our thoughts on networking - was just as rewarding as listening to the mentoring thoughts of Des Moines business leaders. What was not lost on me were the CEOs and serial YP networkers that weren’t there, and I wonder if an encore event is planned for the future, how will the uniqueness be preserved?

Brain Drain Solutions Part 3: Provide Value

 Okay, I get it!  Brain drain is such a derogatory phrase. It hurts our feelings; it insinuates that those of us who are staying don't have a brain. What else do you call it when pools of your best-educated minds leave their contained space for a large cesspool?  Some other suggestions: heart dart, hand scram or a worker diaspora. Call it whatever you want, but in order to deal with the problem we have to address it; not cover it up, deny it, or runaway from it. Research shows that young people are leaving Iowa and the Midwest because No. 1, they can't find a job in their related field, or No. 2, the job doesn't pay enough.

Most would assume pay matters because this is a selfish materialistic generation. Those who believe thatBlog haven’t studied this generation.  A collective goal orientated generation such as the millennials aren’t looking to run in the rat race, what they are looking for is value. Oftentimes value is manifested by what we make. The young professional has a sense that if I have X skill set its exchange value should be Y. 

"Tell us something we don’t know.” Sure everyone wants more money, however, are we looking at why more money is desired?  Possibly for some businesses, the abilities to pay lower salaries and wages is what attracts them to locate in Iowa in the first place. For the young professional, more money is wanted because there is a higher debt load, a realization of a cost of living fallacy and a greater sense of expectancy. More is being asked of today’s worker than ever before, so if that’s the case either pay me what I feel I’m valued or I go elsewhere.

For those of us that have stayed in or relocated to Iowa, we have seen the value elsewhere. One of Iowa’s chief commodities is its people. If you ask many non-natives why we chose to stay here, usually it was because of someone we met. Consider the number of foreigners who are here because of marriage, sorority, or extended family. Bingo! you have the very piece of value that trumps money: meaningful relationships. The reason mentoring, internships and apprenticeships work so well is that they create an opportunity to build relationships.

The more a business can create an environment where the worker feels that he or she belongs and contributes to a greater cause, the more likely the he or she will stay. The more a worker’s contribution is seen as essential and valued as such, the worker will stay. When worker’s skill set X is exchanged for value Y, the workers will come. If Y is not money, then what is Y?  What are businesses doing to create meaningful professional relationships?

Quality of life improvements are only important in so much as they help build relationships; they are not end pieces, but rather tools. People don’t move in droves to LA, Denver, Atlanta, or New York because of their natural geological features. They move because they believe there are opportunities that will lead to relationships. Iowa is doing its part and it's starting to pay some dividends.  Our national press has increased, Iowa cities are popping up on rankings after rankings, Iowa is becoming quite a regional film Mecca. Now business must just follow suit... A daunting task made easier when young professionals do their part to solve the brain drain issue…

Brain Drain Solutions Part 2: Learn the Lessons of Social Media

Henry Ford gained success by taking a system that already existed (the assembly line) and applying it to a whole new industry (automobiles). That type of innovation changed not just an industry, but also an era. I would argue in dealing with Young Professionals (YPs), business needs to do the same. Businesses should take a cue from the success that social media has had in reaching those under the age of 40, and apply those lessons to their brain-drain dilemma. Specifically, social media can teach businesses five lessons.

1. Embrace technology. Most people would say they appreciate technology, but too often the older generation looks at new technology as "kids stuff". There is a difference between accepting technology and embracing it. Those that accept technology bring on these new tools because they have to not because they want to. Embracing technology implies enthusiastically and patiently seeking comprehensive ways to utilize these tools efficiently. Technology can be a complicated investment, but shouldn’t be dismissed callously because one group doesn’t understand it. 

2. Encourage collaboration. More people go to college now than ever before and the number that are looking at graduate-level work is also increasing. It is safe to say this is a smart generation. It is also smart enough to realize that if they don't know something, they know where to get it. YPs have grown up in the information age, where knowledge is at the tips of their fingers. In addition to social networking, blogs, wikis and P2P are other applications based on networks sharing information. If economics always Braindrain2 values interdependency, then businesses that encourage workers to collaborate will find more productivity, better relationships among staff and another reason for the YP to stick around.

3. Allow for personalization. The brand of the company is important and comes first, but what makes it authentic is when people can see how it relates to them. YPs (and over the course of history, young people in general) have always rebelled against conformity. Allowing employees to make it work for them will enhance, not detract from the overall brand. As a mentor of mine said "make theirs, yours and make yours, theirs"

4. Provide flexibility. There is no work/life balance for this new generation; there is only life, in which work is a part of it. If management continues to make issues out of casual Fridays, sick leave, or work start time, workers will continue to finds ways around it. With this generation, the ends justify the means, so to many of them, these rules are arbitrary, and will be broken. It is crucial to explain the rationale behind time honored policies and be willing to compromise on some of them, if that flexibility provides increased productivity.

5. Be visual. There shouldn't be any surprise that kids in school (now our emerging workforce) have trouble concentrating. The ability to control what you want to read on the internet, images not staying stagnant on TV for no more than 7 seconds, and instant everything from news, to tanning, to coffee, have placed a heavy burden on communication. For messages to get across they just need to be seen. The idea that a picture paints a thousand words is more alive than ever. Businesses would benefit in clarity to have as many ideas, concepts and directives be complemented with visual references.

These five lessons can be applied to work stations, duties, meetings, et cetera. They help create value for the young worker, which in turn goes a long way in helping to convince them to stay at their job in this state. Yet there is still one thing that all businesses must do if they are serious in recruiting and retain young professionals in Iowa...

Brain Drain Solutions Part 1: What Business Needs To Do For YPs

In Iowa, we are in trouble. We know the statistics, we know the consequences, but we haven't talked enough about the solutions. If business is serious about finding & keeping quality young professionals it Braindrain must do the following:

1. Cut the Crap. The excuses are immense and it's a display of power, but often when I hear some professionals refer to young professionals they do so in a quite condescending tones that belittle their experiences and perspectives. The rationale is often that "we were all 'that age' and therefore naive once." However, one thing that is overlooked is their experiences are different then yours, not better, not more important - just different. Imagine growing up in elementary school with the Oklahoma City bombing, then going into junior high with the Columbine shooting, then high school with 9-11, then college with the Virginia Tech massacre. Each generation has their own unique experiences that shape their identity are therefore must not be dismissed.

2. Wonder Why. There is an opportunity to use the comparing and contrasting of your experiences and their experience to better understand how to appropriately position workers to maximize their potential. In the areas where there are differences, we need to know why. If you don't know, the only way to know is to ask. According to the 2008 Ranstad World at Work Survey, the areas that have the most varying perspectives between generations are also the ones that tend to be the most needed and require the most consensus: leadership, respect, work ethic, purpose. Do we spend time discussing the reasoning behind these points? Do we spend time discussing seeking to understand how these young employees came to their own conclusions? What we may find out is some may have no clue why themselves, which creates an opportunity to have them investigate their own reasoning, which may lead to a clearer focus on work task.

3. Rely on Relationship. Understanding "why" allows the working world to do the integral part of building open meaningful relationships with young professionals. As much as we don't want to admit it, the working world has changed. The American dream to many young professionals is connected with balance rather than success, collaboration is more important that management to this group. Young professionals see the working world more like a circle rather than a line. With many in this new generation being guided by helicopter parents that hover over their now-adult kids every decision, it is important that businesses see the value in providing meaningful opportunities for this generation to learn from the wisdom workers in the workforce looking to renegotiate their own working relationship over the course of a generation. Mentoring, internships, and apprenticeships, endear both the new worker and the old to an opportunity of building a true relationship that respects the other, allows for questioning and builds potentially strong bonds.

Young professionals are not off the hook, they also have a responsibility that they must take on. We'll cover that in my next post.

A New Baby Boom?

According to the National Center of Health Statistics, more than 4.3 million babies were born in the United States in 2007, beating the record set in 1957 at theBlog height of what is (was) known as the baby boom. The baby boom period began in 1946, as soldiers returned home from World War II, began to have kids, make more money, move to the suburbs and have more kids. This boom has not escaped Iowa either as births in Iowa have set new records the last couple of years.

The cause could be attributed to pastoral guidance to be fruitful and multiply,probably not, however, this second wave of a baby boom is causing a few raised eyebrows as 40 percent of these new babies are born to unwed mothers. In addition, after falling for a number of years, teenage pregnancy is up for the second straight year.

Considering that generational behavior is simply a reaction to the circumstances and situations presented to that particular generation, the question that immediately comes up is how will the family dynamic play on this generation and on the generation having these babies?

The nuclear family structure had an impact on the original baby boom generation as well as on its offspring, Generation X. Many speculate that the rebellion of the '60s and '70s was geared at the structure set up from their parents' circumstances. The Millennial generation tends to be a more optimistic, social and activist generation. Will their kids rebel against that? Will this generation relate more to the silent & X generations?

To be fair, while a record has been broken, its still too earlier to tell if this will last for a sustainable period that will indeed constitute a true baby boom. However, it is widely speculated that the Millennial generation will surpass in number the 70 million Baby Boomers that exist today and the yet to be named Generation Z will probably meet that goal as well. Not knowing what future events will assist in shaping the generation being born today, it's hard to predict their impact on the workplace, but one thing that appears to be certain is that this issue of multigenerational conflict will continue for some time.

War on Social Media

A friend of mine at one of Iowa's largest employers commented that he spent a half hour with hisBlog information technology people trying to explain how Twitter can be a business tool, so that they would unblock it.

Beyond blocking most social networking sites (including YouTube) some schools are lobbying for legislation to ban cell phones.The city of Waukee recently passed a resolution to "take any action necessary to prohibit the use of its name in social networking platforms" even against a Facebook fan page that asks "why is Waukee a great place to live?" Record & film companies are reluctantly accepting YouTube and filesharing programs only after years of injuctions and litigation.

The stories above are the battlefields in a war against social media, an invasion of digital foreigners against digital natives. Just like in many wars, the natives are seen as unsophisticated and must be taught how to conform to the more powerful invader or risk the consequences. However, just like the Romans and Christians, the Islamists and Arabs, or the Europeans and New World tribes, the natives' culture eventually penetrates and influences the invader's culture.

This war in social media is as much ineffective as the War on drugs, poverty or terrorism, except this war lacks the nobility of cause the others have. Rather than embrace the technology, resources are wasted on this attack, only for it to be eventually embraced. It is attacked because it's not part of the norm or it challenges the known and comfortable, it accelerates the natural order of evolution. So at the expense of  someone else's comfort, the medium and tools that a younger generation uses are stifled. Lame attempts to create alternatives are instead established and time passes by.

There was a time when television was the target, VCRs were taboo, and calculators were another item in the cross hairs. Look at the schools that today still use overhead projectors and PA systems; businesses that still use faxes and blast memos through couriers; cities that cycling through PowerPoint slides on their cable access stations and believe people still read their community tabloid. How much better would things be if these schools used cell phones to teach their students, businesses used Twitter to be more efficient and cities used Facebook to build and enhance community with their citizenry.

Many of these same institutions will say they do indeed embrace these things, but...insert excuse here. These institutions error toward the side of caution rather than intrigue and are quick to stop them before they seek to learn their full positive effects.

This war will continue until digital natives are given an opportunity to have equal level dialogue with the foreigners in places where decisions are made. While many of the natives are young professionals and many of the digital foreigners are of older generations there are peers in each demographic that can help negotiate the peace process.

Brain Drain is a symptom, not the problem

Since the economic crisis hit, you don't hear many people bring up the issue of Iowa's Brain Drain anymore. We falsely believe since there will probably be a lull in the expected generational workforce transfer that the brain drain issue has gone away. Wrong!  Actually, this economic crisis probably only makes it worse.

The truth is, Iowa’s workforce is peaking in size. According to both federal- and state-level data, in 10 yearsBraindrain Iowa’s workforce will lose about 60,000 people every five years. That would roughly be the equivalent of losing a Principal, Allied or Rockwell Collins every year.  Look no further than the 2010 census, where Iowa is scheduled to lose yet again another congressional seat, as to why this should concern us all.

Funny thing is Iowa tops the Midwest in attracting students for college. Our universities and small liberal arts colleges are well respected and highly coveted, but once students graduate, there's a great stampede for the exits. Iowa is a “net exporter” of its young professional workforce, losing about 4 percent of its young professionals since the beginning of this decade, ranking our loss of educated people in the nation the forth worst.

Another way of looking at it: Iowa is losing about 10 percent of its economy. This outflow of educated people leads to slower economic growth, productivity and innovation and increases in the poverty rate.

Brain Drain is not the problem. It's a symptom of the lack of jobs for people with advanced degrees. Simply put, either we stop sending kids to college or we must provide more college required jobs.

Last year, the Generation Iowa Commission surveyed 1000 YP Iowans about their job preference priorities. There highest priority: a high paying job in their field of study.

Other lower ranked priorities were demographic-specific amenities and attractions, options for career advancement, mentoring opportunities, cost of living and student debt repayment.

Why do wage and field of study rank so high? Let's look at what an Iowa workforce looks like to a college graduate:

62 percent of Iowa’s high school graduates go to college
33 percent of Young Professional Iowans will get a bachelor’s degree
24 percent of workforce aged Iowans already have a bachelor’s degree
12.2 percent of available jobs require a bachelor's degree or higher

Even after cost of living had been adjusted, Iowa still ranks second-to-last in the Midwest in the key wage metric. Iowa has relatively fewer advanced degree career opportunities, without concentrated industry clustering and new economy capital-efficient industries.

We need young, educated Iowans to secure our future. Young Professionals want to stay, but can’t find an appropriate job. We need to close Iowa’s wage and salary gap, not through state-mandated laws, but through job creation programs, expanding Iowa’s career pathways and connecting wages with age-appropriate amenities. This will put Iowa on a path to solve its Brain Drain issue.

How Should Millennials React to the Stimulus?

In case you've been living under a rock somewhere. The country is fighting off a financial catastrophe and when asking so called experts how we got into this mess, you're bound to hear a plethora of reasons. When asked how to solve it, you're bound to get a number of responses there, too. However, the one unifying statement is that doing anything is better than doing nothing. So that leads us to our powers that be; they have determined our best course of action is a huge infrastructure spending bill that will in theory "stimulate" the economy. When we say huge we are talking nearly a trillion dollars. Let me say that again (insert pinky to corner of mouth) - $1,000,000,000,000. FYI, our current national debt is nearly 11 trillion dollars.

What should Millennials think about all of this? Is it worth it?  Is it wasteful spending or is it a huge investment in our future?  I would argue it depends on what we get in return. Some will argue that Millennials will stand to benefit directly from the stimulus. Besides an improved national infrastructure, we are also looking at increased job training, loan guarantees for small businesses, funding for college, funding for service within the military and service outside of it, as well as low income assistance. Others, like (former presidential candidate and silent generation figure) John McCain, call this stimulus package "generational theft" others will also cite that it only creates a horrific financial burden on future generations with the added negative of growing government.

A compelling case can be made either way. It would seem we are stuck between a rock and a hard place on this one.There are a number of amazing things scheduled to happen during the lifetime of Gen Y and Gen Z and its not clear if this stimulus will help or hurt these accomplishments. Millennials, so far, seem to have a lot more faith and expectation from the government than the previous generations and, given their experiences, it's understandable why. Let's hope that for once the government lives up to these expectations for much is at stake.

So what is it? Is this thing good or bad for Millennials? I've gotten pretty good feedback on this topic on Twitter and Facebook, it would be interesting to see if there is a consensus here or if there are diverging opinions

Streaming Videos @ Work: Is it a Generational Issue?

Last Wednesday I had a conversation with a number of friends over the previous day'sMedia
Inauguration festivities. The conversation focused on the historic nature of it, akin to one of those "where were you when..." moments. A few of my friends were livid because they were not allowed to watch it on their computers at work.

I posted on my Twitter & Facebook status, a question on the fairness of this policy and the response comments starting flowing. It was interesting to see the range of comments that I received especially considering the political range of friends I have spanning from long time conservative financial brokers to union organizers.  Though the conversation turned into an employer expectation/productivity vs. employee rights/flexibility, and then later a conservative vs. liberal ideology, I could not help but wonder if it was more of a generational issue?

Then, as if someone was thinking the same thing, I came across this article related to IT issues in the workplace. Essentially many Millennials are ignoring IT usage policies and CIOs and other managers are having to lay the smack down. In one report 90 percent of Gen Y workers have suffered consequences for bypassing the IT policies. (and this was in Canada!)

Another close friend of mind had secretly learned that her company had the technology and capability to allow people to work from home, but the management team decided against it, opining "it is counterproductive in building relationships with co-workers." I'm not sure I agree. (This place has also cut back on the number of interoffice social & charitable events they do as well.)

I had a followup conversation with a Millennial IT security guy (who has a side Web development business) at large company in town (who recently laid off a bunch of folks) to discuss this issue further. His take: "It is just too cost prohibitive for everyone to use the technology that's available", and his company was "concerned about the lost of proprietary info." I get that, but it also left me with a number of questions:

1. What good is having the technology if it can't be used?

2. If the technology can't be used, should an alternative be provided?

3. Even without the growth of social media, hasn't proprietary info been at risk?

4. Are Millennials being consulted when these decisions are being discuss. Should they?

Shared Control Rather than Generational Fighting

The other day an older friend of mine were discussing the perception given off by different generations and my friend commented about Millennials saying "What these young folks don't understand is although there are communication difference with the generations, the power structure lies with the older generation, so (millennials) just need to listen and conform" Really? Interesting thesis, but aren't these the same generations that coined the phrased "never trust anyone over 40" and the other called Gen X precisely because they could not be defined?

However, beyond this tilted view of collaboration many millennials, at the very least don't care about the "power structure" and are completely content with picking up and moving on if they feel disrespected or ill-equipped. Some are willing to take jobs that appear to lack advancement but provide flexibility even if it means working side by side with their generational peers at the end of the age spectrum. The worker transfer from baby boomers to Millennials is still on its way, just delayed, and the current recession has actually forced all generations to learn and adapt like they have never before. Boomers have had to stay in the workforce longer than they were anticipating, Xers have had to adapt to working more collaboratively. What about Millennials?

Millennials have had to learn how to work harder even through their frustrations, currently many of them can not afford to job hop as before, and while working at Starbucks or Footlocker might be tempting to some of them, even those opportunities are becoming scarce. Overall Millennials can't run, Xers can't hide, and Boomers can't ride.

Through this economic crisis, Millennials also have an opportunity to showcase their collaborative skills, Xer's there ability to be creative, and Boomers their ability to endure, They all benefit by sharing control rather than fighting for it.

Negativity and Silver Linings for Young Prossionals this Week

This week, a famous local cartoonist was laid off by his principal employer. His concern came from how he was dismissed, but particularly, in a post employment interview with a local television station,  he seemed concerned over the message his dismissal sends to young journalists.

He's right. Blog

This new generation shows no loyalty to the job, because they don't feel it's reciprocal.

So it should come as no surprise that the state's Generation Iowa commission highlights salary related issues as the top concern of this age demographic, according to primary data at the state and national level.  After having mixed legislative success last year, the commission has streamlined their recommendations for this session, focusing on  job creation opportunities and getting this generation a seat at the table on other state commissions. As an active member of the commission, I have some relevant insight in how it made its findings and will tackle that issue in more depth next month.

Some are now laying claim that young professionals are responsible and most impacted by this economic mess. On the other end, the world of politics seems to be outpacing the business community in embracing the younger demographic in a positive and engaging way. President-elect Barack Obama still is getting people excited about the youth vote, the Iowa Legislature continues to add young professionals to its membership and Sen. Charles Grassley has finally admitted to what I have known for months.

He's on Facebook and Tweets on Twitter.

As a matter of fact all of our congressional delegation does - and many of our state legislators also - but not nearly enough.

So while it appears many decision makers still don't get it, there at least appears to be a silver lining in the sky.

Thankful for what we have

A day set aside to give thanks. To take account for what we have, and the blessings180px-TraditionalThanksgiving
that are birthed from those harvests. Simply, we have made a sacred or holy day to reflect on our stock, and while on most days we race to add to our stock, on this day we pause and realize that at least we have, regardless if it's a lot  or if it's a little.

As young professionals are perpetually trying to navigate the fastest way to achieve their goals, the lesson of thanksgiving is a poignant reminder of what is truly important. Generation "We" is more apt to live this principle even if they don't truly understand.

Now, there is no question that this is an economist's holiday, we are celebrating our supply by our demand, and there is nothing inherently wrong with that, as a matter of fact, President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving from the last Thursday of November to its current slot to help give merchants a longer period to sell good before Christmas. Hoping the increase in spending would help bring the country out of the Depression.  Soon after, JC Penny's started their "day after Thanksgiving" sale (just kidding)

The focus shouldn't be on the day after, even though Millennials do like to shop. It should be on the reason why we can opt to do that in the first place. Often, this holiday is overlooked by some just and opportunity to have big dinner, watch football, and take advantage of some great sales. However, Thanksgiving is more than just food, football, and Friday shopping. As cheesy as this might read, allow me to use one more football analogy. In the football game of life and work, Thanksgiving is a timeout; to rest and gather our thoughts with our team, before we continue on.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Learn from Millennial's Behavior in the 08' Election

A historic election that will be analyzed in many areas, but specifically when all is said and Obama_change done this election could be seen as the election of the next generation.  Regardless of one's desired outcome for the Presidential race, there are many lessons to be learned from this election, particularly, the value of millennials.

In politics, young voters have conventionally been derided as a non-factor. In the past, the disengagement of Generation X helped to solidify this sentiment. However, the emergence of the millennials has begun to challenge this belief, and only future elections will tell if their impact on the 2008 election was an anomaly or truly a trend.

The emerging trend in play is not necessarily how many of them are voting, but rather for whom are they voting. While the percentage of young voters increased by only 1 percent - from 17 percent to 18 percent - exit polls show that young voters supported Obama over McCain by a margin of 2 to 1. That number translates to about six points; the same difference in the winning margin for Obama. It is conceivable that if those under 30 voted the same way they did in 2004, it would have been 2000 all over again with Obama barely winning the popular vote and McCain, winning Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Indiana.

Considering, in 2000, how popular McCain once was with the youth vote, it's at the least telling that more wasn't done to reach out to millennials, considering it's a safe bet to assume Obama had a leg up with this demographic based on image and relatability alone. In addition, the Obama campaign used a variety of tools to solidify and broaden its appeal to YPs; from its reliance on social networking sites and text messaging to its use of Twitter, its tailor-made campaign theme ("Yes We Can", is the epitome of Gen Y) and even ads in video games. In hindsight, the McCain campaign might have wanted to compete more in this area, but didn't have the resources to do so. However, Republicans would be wise to take note of this impact in future elections.

Businesses should also analyze this further, as this next generation is a very socially conscience generation willing to be active, if inspired. Obama recognized this and used tools to broaden his appeal to them and in return received their loyalty.

Can businesses replicate this model?

Are YP's Caught in the Middle?

I recently had the opportunity to finish reading a book that gives a scathing analysis of36589261 the economic reality being faced in the Midwest. The book, "Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism by Richard Longworth," was written before the massive government bailout recently passed by Congress, but still deals with our economic perils in stark terms.

deals with the Midwest's struggle to stay competitive against overseas markets, counter to the expectation that capitalism needs to seek out foreign opportunity. Author Richard Longworth paints a picture that emotionally appeals to those in the Midwest as if the region was hit with some economic parasite that has left an empty landscape full of rural ghettos. Anyone living in Iowa can relate to this conversation over the apparent decay of Iowa's rural communities and the division between rural and urban.

Longworth correctly pinpoints the divisive battle that happens between rural and urban communities, not just within the confines of the state, but even in the larger confines of Midwest state vs. Midwest state. Caught insinuates that Midwesterners' characteristics and ideology are no match for globalism, which the book also attacks.

Midwesterners are described as unskilled, risk averse, change resistant, sluggish and indifferent. An Iowan himself, living and working in Chicago, Longworth appears to come off hypocritically harsh toward Midwesterners. Yet, at the same time, who else but someone from the region could give paint such an emotional picture and get away with it. No doubt Longworth is attempting to say there are no easy answers. However, he does suggest solutions to the crisis, which, on first read, appear to be immigration as the immediate fix, while a reemergence of city centers and a redirection toward research and biosciences are the longer term fixes.

After reading Caught, I was left to ponder two questions: Has the ball already been put in motion to return the Midwest to its heyday? And is the return of YPs to the Midwest a sign of progress?

There are definite signs in the Midwest of more regional collaboration, as well as an increased focus on research and biotechnology. It would appear that some, particularly in Iowa, are trying to lead the way in this renaissance.

Only time will tell.

In Bad or Good Economic Times, the Answer is Networking

In tough economic times, young professionals have to rely more than ever on what they can bring to the table. Let's consider that there has been frequent talk about the pending boomer transfer and its collision with the brain drain. Young_business_people The belief has been that these two phenomenas will lead to a bear market of job availability. However, for many YPs and others watching or experiencing this economic downturn it doesn't appear as if that is true.

Reality is the brain drain is already here and has been here for quite sometime. Statistically, post college age professionals have been leaving the Midwest for years for more southern or coastal megaregions, at a ratio of six to one.

As for the boomer transfer, tough economic times might delay the transfer, but it will happen. The interesting thing about a market cycle is its cyclical effect and the ability to predict certain realities, even amongst the unknown. So the real question for Young Professionals is "How do I rise above the fray?" How do I set myself apart?" "How do I make myself professionally desirable?" The answer to those questions don't rely in inflated resumes or a checkoff list, but rather something quite simple- Networking.

When I mention networking,  I don't mean your standard predictable business card meet and greet, but more like an serial, authentic drive to build relationships. Building relationships goes beyond just getting to know someone, but establishing what at their core makes them tick, then  giving them something that is of value.  This type of Networking is similar to that Midamerican Energy slogan "obsessively, relentlessly, at your service.

Previous generations relied more heavily on the resumes and took a more analytical static approach, even though what was binding these positions still ended up being the impact of the relationships, that won't work as well anymore.The emerging workforce generation places more emphasis on the social realm, but A.) how deep our those relationships B.) how broad our those relationships, to test this out compare the number of friends on a Facebook or Linkedin page versus the varying degrees of familiarity  those said friends.

An obsessive networker bent on building long term professional relationships,will constantly be tilling and cultivating her network, in order to rise above the crowd. In order for the young professional to best position himself, professional relationship building has to be a priority, otherwise in bad economic times your left out in the cold, and during good economic times your left for something more hot.

Do Young Professionals Understand the Economy, Do They Even Care?

Wall_street By many accounts we are currently dealing with an unprecedented economic situation. Do Young Professionals even care or have a clue about the economy? Do they even care?

The current young professionals demographic consist of two generations; the last half of the Generation X and the first of the Millennials, typically Xers tend to be more critical while Millennials are more optimistic, this manifest as YP's appearing either pessimistic or clueless. 

Unlike other disastrous situations affecting our country Young professionals understand how terrorism affects personal freedom at places like airports and shopping malls, etc. They understand how natural disasters like floods and hurricane affect us. They even understand the governments responsibility in protecting us in those situations. However, YPs struggle to understand the governments role in a free market economy.

When the government feels it needs to step in
, whether or not that is the best course of action or not, it sends a clear message to our young professionals that they need not care, because it is the governments responsibility, or that they should be pessimistic because the government wasn't doing what YP's believe was the governments job in the first place.

But YPs should care, Why because they are paying for it. The generation that is growing into the largest economic force in history with 80 million people, might be restricted in their economic freedoms by the economic actions they were not responsible for creating, that would make anyone pessimistic.

Mentoring: the "Boomer Solution" Bridge to the Workplace "Wisdom Gorge"

It's no secret that Millennials are coming of age and, in less than a decade, will be the dominant demographic in the workplace. At approximately the same time, Boomers are beginning to retire and most will begin to collect Social Security and other sources of retirement income. The resulting "wisdom gorge" (rather than "brain drain") has given employers some cause for concern, particularly with what appears to be a penchant for workplace disloyalty among Millennials.

While I am one of the first to defend Millennials in their ability to multi task, set goals, and  grasp technology, those skill sets do not begin to make up for the years of relationships, trials and errors, and practices, that have been gained from over thirty years in the workforce and it would appear both generations agree with me.

Many best practice guides, including the one I mentioned last month by the Generation Iowa Commission, suggest a bridge over this wisdom gorge is hiring Boomers, on a part-time basis, as mentors to Millennials while also assigning them work that is meaningful yet flexible. 

This mentoring relationship should be natural as both Boomers and Millennials like to emphasize meaning in the workplace. There is no question that the generation that rebelled against authority in the 60's and 70's and pioneered financial success in the 80's and 90's feels they have answers to a cavalcade of problems.There is also no question that a generation that is too busy to use complete words and sentences, or
research news, or wear a tie, find pertinent value in relationships and collaboration, after all, aren't many boomers the parents of the Millennials anyway?

Keeping, hiring, or rehiring these Boomers can also provide a solution to keep human capital in places where many Young Professionals are fluid.  And the "boomer solution" provides an opportunity to keep experts in soft skills utility that cannot only be shared, but also implemented in real time.

It's a win/win for all involved. Boomers can continue to contribute and influence, while enjoying the flexibility earned by their time. Millennials can still specialize and collaborate, while acquiring new skills and relationships, and employers can feel confident that their workforce needs are not only being met, but are also set for the future.

Help with New Research for Recruiting and Retaining Iowa's Young Professionals

Generation_logo Last year, the governor and the Legislature approved and funded the Generation Iowa Commission in an effort to  tackle the issue of post college-age individuals leaving the state. The commission was charged with studying why they were leaving, the impact on the state of Iowa and what could be done to reverse that trend. The commission concluded the top five factors young professionals use in determining where they will work:

1. High paying job and low cost of living
2. A place compatible with their skill set and growth of those skills
3. Quality of life, vitality, uniqueness and diversity of community
4. Geography and ease of travel
5. Career advancement and leadership

Research had indicated that the first two factors far outweighed the other factors, which are more properly considered “tiebreakers" and that emphasis on the bottom three factors should always be in conjunction with the first two.

Based on those factors, and general research on generational behavior, the commission recommended that businesses should engage in the following strategies to assist in recruiting and retaining young professionals:

  1. Be community focused and engaging
  2. Emphasize both an internship program and a mentoring program
  3. Utilize the relationships of employees that are alumnus to key educational institutions that provide the types of employees the company needs
  4. Continue to find ways to focus on total compensation packages that add additional value to salaries, particularly for critical needs areas, as well as offer clear and flexible career pathways

The commission is now beginning its second year and is actively collecting data to be used to develop an updated report. The report will include new findings and recommendations of the commission regarding the status of efforts to attract and retain the young adult population in the state, career opportunities and educational needs of young adults, and the movement of the young adult population between rural areas and urban areas and between Iowa and other states. They are encouraging young post college-age Iowans to complete the survey here.

This primary research should serve well to compare to their research from last year. It will be interesting to see if the data matches well with past research or national data and it should be interesting to see if it will change the or magnify the recommendations from the commission. A report is expected at the end of the year.

This site is intended for informational and conversational purposes, not to provide specific legal, investment, or tax advice.  Articles and opinions posted here are those of the author(s). Links to and from other sites are for informational purposes and are not an endorsement by this site’s sponsor.