Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Working with Millennials and Generation Drone

Yesterday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a new category of surprisingly business-friendly new rules for drone operators. The new category of FAA rules will make it substantially easier for law-abiding farmers, ranchers, photographers, contractors, videographers, real estate professionals, and fire-safety professionals to use lightweight drones for commercial purposes. The new rules, which may go into effect as early as August, will also have a pronounced impact on many industries and career choices, especially among young adults. More on this in a future post.

Meanwhile, our recent post, Once and For All, Millennials are NOT all Alike, generated more feedback than usual. One big takeaway: Our followers tell us that Millennials are not any more self-indulgent than previous generations were at a comparable age. They are simply the latest “disruptors” to enter the workforce with different values, work styles and motivations than their elders.

Josh Patrick, head of Stage2Planning Partners wrote, “The noise around Millennials is no different than the noise that was around Gen X or for that matter Baby Boomers. As each generation moves into their 20s, the whining starts about how this [cohort] is the worst of all times. It’s not that they are better or worse, they are different and understanding the difference can help you connect with these people.”  

Daniel Obst, Deputy Vice President of the Institute for International Education told us, “Millennials care a lot about mission and values.” Also, if you’re trying to reach them electronically (and who isn’t?) Obst said you’ll have much better luck going through Facebook and Instragram than you will via email.

Derek Poarch, Executive Director of APCO International, the world’s oldest and largest organization for public safety communications professionals, told me he doesn’t communicate with Millennials any differently than he communicates with staffers who’ve been at APCO for 25 years. “We hire quality people of all ages and train them well. Every person, regardless of age, has measurable goals and objectives tied to our strategic plan. It may sound tough, but we have very low turnover here. Everyone is empowered to suggest ideas.”

Russ Webb, Vice President of the Atlanta Apartment Association said his communications coordinator is only one year out of college. “Everything we plan to send out to members and the public must go through her. If she thinks any communication piece is not going to resonate with younger members, she’s very quick to let us know that it should be changed.”

Our blog and website have more about this and related topics. 

If you’re still scratching your head about how to engage with 20-something staffers (or children), Patrick recommends the book Generations by William Strauss and Neil Howe. “They were the first and I think still the best when it comes to talking about how different generations act and what tends to motivate them.” You could also ask young adults directly. Our client Naylor, LLC has also done many thought provoking pieces by Next Gen about what Millennials really want in the workplace.



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Take the Stress Out of Taking Vacation

Take an R&D approach to R&R--6 tips you can use today

With school and graduations in the rearview mirror for most of our children or grandchildren, thoughts turn to summer vacation plans. Historically it’s been a time to slow down and catch your breath for moment, enjoy the longer days and generally sunnier weather, but it can also be a time of tremendous stress for you and your clients who run their own enterprises. Being your own boss means you theoretically have more flexibility in life, but it also means you have no formal vacation or PTO days.

"We often joke that if we didn’t take a vacation we wouldn’t need one," quipped syndicated radio host, Maureen Anderson in a recent Fast Company article about how exceptionally busy people take guilt-free vacations. Before planning a two-week vacation, she and her husband, who co-produce Doing What Works, prep several extra episodes ahead of time. HB tip: If you have a client blog or newsletter, you can easily do the same as most platforms have an advanced scheduling feature.

Unlike workers in other countries, Americans tend to think of vacations as week-long events at most. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average full-time worker gets 10.2 paid vacation days after 3 years on the job, and even professional workers with a decade of service average just 16. But even with that limited time off, most people won’t take most of it at once because they worry about the ramifications if they do. It’s even worse for business owners and solo-preneurs. You don’t have to face the ire of jealous co-workers and disappointed bosses upon your return, but your re-entry into the real world can be overwhelming if you’re not careful.

According to Fast Company, the average American workers gets about 150 emails a day, so being out of contact for 10 business days means there will be at least 1,500 messages waiting for you. OY! Although only 10-15 emails a day will be important, half of those should be able to be handled by someone who is covering for you. Fast Company also said a good rule of thumb is to start planning at least a week ahead of time for every business day you’ll be gone (e.g. 10 weeks for a 2-week trip).

In other words, vacation time should be an essential part of your business plan.

Here are some of our own tips:

1. Unplug from the grid, but don’t have your head in the sand….Check email and voicemail messages at the beginning or end of day….BUT absolutely don’t respond unless it’s 100 percent necessary! Most of all, don’t leave voice mails and don’t let yourself get caught up in an endless cc/bcc loop. Time with your family and friends is all too important, don’t let work ruin that precious time. It’s good to know what the problems and issues are at the office, but don’t sacrifice valuable personal time to solve them.

2. Every morning on vacation, take 5 minutes to scribble a very short list of Must-Do’s for the first week upon your return—don’t actually do them, just scribble them down. We’ve found that just putting your major worries or concerns in writing—and stowing that list away--we’ll help your brain let go of them while you’re getting some much needed R&R. but you really need to unplug and recharge.

3. Do sports like golf and tennis. These sports are lots of fun, but, but they require intense concentration and focus to be even moderately successful. If you’ve been playing well all week and suddenly find yourself shanking your golf shots or double-faulting in tennis, that means you’re starting to let your mind drift back to work issues or confrontations you had before leaving. Empty your mind and think about nothing and relax your grip on your club or racquet. How many minutes (or seconds) can you go? That’s a good indicator of whether or not you’re relaxed.

4. Don’t expect everything to be nailed down perfectly before your leave (one of my personal big flaws).

5. Don’t expect a seamless “re-entry” to the real world upon your return. Use the plan ride as your “transition zone” both upon your departure and upon your return. Tie up loose ends on the way out—then shut down that tablet or computer upon landing. Don’t turn it back on until your return flight is in the air. Ninety percent of the problems you couldn’t solve on the way out, are suddenly easy to grasp upon your return. Trust me, this really works.

6. Make a short journal about your trip while you’re traveling. Jot a few notes and collect a few photos every day that you’re traveling. There’s no better way to remember the highlights and it will give you a sense of productive accomplishment if you’re a driven, Type A, competitive person like most of us.  

Our blog and website have more about this and related topics.


Work hard, play hard—and don’t mix the two. There’s simply no other way to achieve your personal, professional and financial goals while remaining healthy enough to enjoy them.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Once and for All, Millennials Are NOT All Alike

My friend John Graham, who runs the American Society for Association Executives (ASAE)---yes the association for associations—likes to say, “If you’ve seen one association, you’ve seen one association.” By that he means no two trade associations are the same. And that’s how we feel about Millennials.

It’s tempting to lump all the young people in today’s workforce as all the same—smart, tech savvy, but somewhat narcissistic, entitled, apathetic and addicted to their devices and social media. Sure that may apply to some members of NextGen, but it’s dangerous to stereotype an entire cohort, just like it is for young people to pigeonhole all Boomers as tech-challenged, materialistic workaholics.

Spencer Stuart’s James Citrin, author of The Career Playbook, makes the common mistake of
lumping all Millennials into the same bucket, although we give him props for advising parents of Millennials not to relive their own career dreams (and mistakes) through their kids.

Our Take: If you’re hiring young adults or trying to land them as clients, you won’t be very successful if you take a one-size-fits-all approach to understanding them. You need to treat them as unique individuals—just as you do with members of older generations—and recognize that each young person , has unique strengths, weaknesses, aspirations and skills—just like any of your other candidates and client.

As Farhad Manjoo recently noted in the New York Times, “
If your management or marketing theories involve collapsing all millennials into a catchall anthropological category — as if you’re dealing with space aliens or some newly discovered aboriginal tribe that’s suddenly invaded modernity — you’re doing it wrong.”

According to Laszlo Bock, Google’s director of human resources interviewed by Manjoo, “What we’ve seen is that every single generation enters the work force and feels like they’re a unique generation, and the generation that’s one or two ahead of them looks back and says, ‘Who are these weird, strange kids coming into the work force with their attitudes of entitlement and not wanting to fit in?’” Bock said. “It’s a cycle that’s been repeated every 10 to 15 years for the last 50 years.”

I recently interviewed Patrick Leclerc, head of the Canadian Urban Transit Association who frequently appears on 40-Under-40 lists.  “Every time I go to a conference I hear about Millennials—no offense—from Boomers citing studies done about the Millennials by other Boomers about what Millennials want in the workplace, what drives them and what their aspirations in life are,” said Leclerc. “We don’t very often give the microphone to Millennials ask them directly, what’s important to you in life? What do you expect in the workplace from an employer?  That’s what we’re doing at CUTA.”

Our blog and website have more about this and related topics.


Borrow a page from Leclerc and Mahatma Gandhi, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”


TAGS: Millennials not all the same, James Citrin, Farhad Manjoo, Laszlo Bock, John Graham, NextGen in the workplace

Saturday, May 21, 2016

You’re Never Too Old to Learn Something New

Make every day count
I’ve been thinking about the concept of time recently. Death has a way of doing that. After losing my younger sister, Claire, to cancer in January, we lost not one, but two beloved nonagenarians in our extended family over the past fortnight. Claire, who was in the prime of her life, packed a mind-boggling array of experiences and friendships into her short time on the planet. She took up politics on the latest stages of her life and was still running for public office two months before passing. While Claire is no longer with us, her spirit and her fight for diversity and school curriculum reform lives on through her foundation.

The late Kay Morrison, 90, went back to college and graduate school AFTER her children were grown and remained passionate and active in the arts and civic activities well into her 80s. Oh, and there was the running thing. Although not athletic in her youth, Kay and her husband took up distance running in their 60s and competed in full (26.2 mile marathons) well into their 70s, earning medals at the Senior Olympics. Kay’s memorial service was today outside Washington, D.C.

My father-in-law
Bill Sessions, passed away last week at age 96 after suffering complications from congestive heart failure and a 25-year battle with prostate cancer—that’s right 25 years! He was a chemical engineer and Fortune 500 exec by training, but in reality a renaissance man who was passionate about theater and opera throughout his life. He played tennis and golf through his 80s (nearly shooting his age), took a swim in 60-degree water every evening at the family summer cottage in Michigan through age 95, and in retirement became a nationally renowned woodworker who never really stepped away from his lathe.

It’s hard to imagine how much change and disruption Bill and Kay saw during their lifetimes, but Neil Irwin’s thought provoking piece in last week’s New York Times, Tracking Down the True Golden Age of Innovation, puts some historical perspective on it. Depending upon who you talk to, Irwin said it’s either a wonderful to be alive thanks to amazing advances and healthcare and digital technology—or it’s a depressing time to be alive since “innovation has slowed and living standards” (not to mention human interaction) is barely rising. We can’t bully other countries like we used to with our economic or military might—and even if the “presumptive” Republican presidential nominee pulls an upset in November—America is NOT going to win as easily on the newly level global playing field.

Our blog and website have more about this and related topics.


On thing’s for sure, we have both more challenges and more opportunities than any generation in our nation’s history. Take a page from Claire, Kay and Bill—make the most out of every day and remember, you’re never too old to learn something new.
As my father in law, Bill told my wife Brooke and I at our wedding, “Be Young, Have Fun!” Our 21st anniversary is today.



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Does Your ‘Trust Battery’ Need a Charge?

Sunday’s NY Times Corner Office profile about trust in the workplace got us thinking. Tobi Lutke, CEO of the ecommerce software provider, Shopify, described how every new employee starts at Shopify with their “trust battery” charged at the 50 percent level. As time goes on, the charge level goes up (or down) based on interactions with managers and whether the employee becomes more or less trustworthy and whether or not he or she delivers on what they promise.

Sound familiar?

If so, you can apply the trust-battery concept to your dealings with your clients, vendors, strategic partners and independent contractors. They’re doing the same with you. They’re asking themselves if you’re delivering on what you promise. Are you contacting them proactively or waiting for them to call you only when there’s an urgent matter? Are you paying your bills on time? Are you blowing off weekly, monthly or quarterly progress meetings? Are you constantly rescheduling or making excuses for missing deadlines, information requests or deliverables?

According to Lutke, there are only two kinds of days—“one when your team gets better and ones when your team gets worse.”

While the article didn’t go into great depth, we ask you to look at your team and your client roster? Is anyone’s trust meter below 25- or 30-percent? If so, it’s time to take remedial action or else, set them free.

Our blog and website have more about this and related topics.


Everyone’s hyper busy, but at the end of the day we’re all accountable. If you think every client and team member is 80-percent or better, we suggest you check you meter and make sure all the circuits and wiring is up to code.


Tobi Lutke, Shopify, trust in the workplace, delivering what you promise

Monday, April 04, 2016

Incorporating Video into Articles and Posts (and vice versa)

It’s no secret that we’re visual creatures. Most of us would rather watch TV than read when given the choice. So we’re not surprised that more and more of you have been asking about creating videos to supplement (or replace) your text-based articles, posts, tweet and emails.

Research shows that 90 percent of information transmitted to our brain is visual. Our client Naylor, LLC is pretty aggressive about experimenting with content and they’ve documented the value of adding videos and images to your tweets and newsletters.

But don’t chuck out your keyboard and scratchpad yet.

We first started discussing the merits of blending video and text about two years ago in this blog.

As was the case in 2014, adding video to your written content can substantially improve engagement and recall with the written content. On the flip side, a concise text-based summary that accompanies your video will greatly increase viewership. Our client, Coyle Financial Counsel found that viewership of its twice weekly video blogs increased substantially when it started offering a text-based summary right below its video player. The text summary always includes snappy “Key Takeaways” or as Naylor calls them, “Tweetables.” That’s right, each of the key takeaways in Naylor articles can be instantly tweeted by using a handy embedded widget (scroll down first page here).

While it’s easy in this era of disruption and killer apps, to replace old with the new, most things in life are not so binary. It’s not a matter of either/or, it’s a matter or either and or.

Even those in the media trade are questioning the ROI of video once you get past the cool factor. It’s certainly harder to produce and distribute well compared to good old fashioned text. Another drawback to video is that it’s harder to summarize and preview than written material is. Remember, most of your clients and prospects have become a gun shy about clicking on video players and having their browsers co-opted by intrusive video ads that can take 30 seconds or longer to play before you have the privilege of watching. Who has time for that in this day in age?

Stanford University study is not a light read, but it does confirm the need for thumbnails and other forms of video summarization. Also, the penalty for a poorly produced video (bad lighting, bad sound, amateurish editing) is significantly worse than the penalty for sub-par written material.

blog and website have more about this and related topics.


Just as a well-diversified portfolio usually outperforms a concentration in a single stock, sector or country, a well-diversified thought leadership strategy should include a blend of text, video, infographics, PDFs and multimedia, that work together to keep your message relevant, clear and worthwhile sharing.

TAGS: Naylor, LLC, Coyle Financial Counsel, video in text, video in emails, tweets, Stanford University study on video summaries, Folio magazine on video ROI

Friday, March 25, 2016

Working Out the Changing Nature of Our Work, Part 2

Last week’s post about the changing nature of our work, generated more feedback from usual. Chris Shay, Global Sales Manager at ADP, Global Enterprise Solutions, said we were basically on point, but that the workforce has a way to go in terms of being comfortable with criticism. “For some reason, I find current feedback is a) sandwiched between niceties, b) given in a performance review as a one-time event to check the box, or c) not given because it's uncomfortable,” said Shay.

Shay also found that NextGen is better with constructive criticism in the workforce, “but unless you play pro sports, or work for [hyper-transparent hedge fund mogul] Ray Dalio, you likely have to solicit feedback. Maybe the point was criticism, which is raw feedback, will be rampant. If it can become constructive the business and the individual will gain,” added Shay.

Jennifer Johnson of Raleigh, NC-based Johnson Meeting Group, said NextGen’s attention is split more than ever by communication from different areas (social media from work, family and friends; email from work, family and friends and on-line entertainment." Johnson's advice? "Do SOMETHING noteworthy to grab their e-attention and then try to hold it by being RELEVANT to them. And we cannot have a bunch of 40 and 50 somethings determine what is relevant to the next-generation. We need young people’s input.
Our blog and website have more about this and related topics.


Whether you’re brand new to the workforce or counting the days to your retirement (and handing over the reins), the modern workplace moves faster with more transparency and flexibility than ever before. Longtimers can learn a lot about adaptability, technology and pivoting from their younger colleagues (i.e. reverse mentoring), but NextGen needs to respect not only their elders’ experience, but their ability to think on their feet, speak and present in person and build relationships while unplugged from the grid. As with most things in life, the truth lies somewhere in between the extremes.

Enjoy your friends and family on this special weekend. Best, HB


TAGS: ADP Global, Ray Dalio, Johnson Meeting Group, Millennials in the workplace