Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Why You Need to Understand How Gen Z Differs from Millennials

They’re not just tech savvy; they’re the next wave of successful business owners

As we discussed last week, there’s no one-size-fits-all definition of the younger generation entering the workforce. While it’s tempting to use the catchall phrase “Millennials” you should be aware of an even younger and tech savvier cohort coming up the ranks. Meet Gen Z--the 70 million young Americans born after 1995—i.e. your teenage and young adult kids and grandkids who don’t even remember a time before social media.
Like it or not, you’re going to be working with both Millennials and Gen Z for the foreseeable future. You’re going to be recruiting them, marketing to them, wooing them as clients, transferring your assets to this group and possibly even working for them. You might even find yourself negotiating with their Helicopter Parents during the interview and hiring process.

If nothing else, it’s important to understand the key differences between Millennials and Generation Z because they certainly don’t think alike. Just so we’re clear, a “Millennial” is a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000. Gen Z’ers are college students, high school students, middle schoolers and below.

According to blogger George Beall, there are 8 Key Differences Between Gen Z and Millennials:

1. Gen Z is Less Focused. Today the word relevant is constantly being refined and Gen Z lives in a world of continuous updates. According to Beall, Gen Z processes information faster than other generations thanks to apps like Snapchat and Vine. Thus their attention spans might be even shorter than Millennials’. Our take: You don’t have to text and tweet to reach them, but keep your messaging short and get right to the point. On the off chance they want more info, they’ll reach back out.
2. Better Multi-Taskers. Gen Z has the stereotype of being less focused than their Millennial counterparts. They will create a document on their school computer, do research on their phone or tablet, while taking notes on a notepad, then finish in front of the TV with a laptop, while face-timing a friend. My take: As the father of a 13 year-old and 18 year-old, I can assure you this is NOT an exaggeration by Beall. But, if the work is good, who cares who, when or where they get it done.

3. Bargains. 
Beall said Millennials care more about prices than Gen Z. This is arguably because they came of age during the recession. From personal experience I would say Gen Z is a bit on the materialistic said as they are very brand conscious and know the prices of luxury cars and clothes, as well as the prices of homes in their neighborhoods, how much they’re teachers are paid and whether or not they’re in a “rich” or “hood” school district.

4. Gen Z is Full of Early Starters. Beall said many employers are predicting that more teens, between the ages of 16 and 18 will go straight into the workforce, opting out of the traditional route of higher education, and instead finishing school online, if at all. Our prediction is that there will be a renewed interest in the skilled trades—electrical, plumbing, HVAC, auto repair—especially by boys. There will also be more gap years and delayed entrance to college….not necessarily to travel (unless to be digital nomads), but to earn money working or to try their hand at a startup when the personal risks are very low at that age.

When they do decide to attend college, we also think there will be more use of income-share agreements instead of student loans to finance there ever-rising cost of tuition.

In our next post, we’ll look at four more ways that Gen Z differs from Millennials and what you can do to get along with them, leverage their talents and not get in their way.
If you’re smart, you’ll try to adapt and understand them. But if you roll your eyes and try to impose your will on Gen Z, you’ll find yourself taking a very long walk off a very short pier.  

TAGS:  Millennials vs. Gen Z, George Beall, teen entrepreneurs, young people and money

Monday, June 19, 2017

Don’t Understand Millennials and Money? Wait Until Gen Z Shows Up at Your Office

I hope you enjoyed Father’s Day yesterday and took a moment to drink something cold, grill something hot, smoke something slowly and enjoy your favorite outdoor hobby…or hammock.

As the father of 18 and 13 year-old boys who graduated last week from high school and middle school, respectively, I’ve been thinking a lot about the passage of time. It’s not only technology that distinguishes today’s younger people from previous generations; it’s how quickly they’re accelerating their transition from childhood to adulthood.

Meagan Johnson, a generational expert, speaker and author calls members of the Gen Z cohort “Linksters” because it is the first generation to be linked into technology from day one. Social, mobile and cloud storage aren’t things they had to learn….it’s been part of their DNA from the time they were in pre-school.
According to the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), most members of Gen Z—the 70 million young Americans born after 1995--don’t remember a time before social media. As a result, the Center said, “they tend to live more of their lives online and via smartphone—interacting with friends and family and making major purchases. This could have profound implications for everything from their relationships and how they learn to virtual reality training and problem-solving,” CGK said.

While today’s teens and tweens run circles around us on the tech front, I’ve had some good laughs watching my boys try to push a lawn mower, change a tire, address an envelope properly or try to read the hands of an old fashioned analog clock. I guess it’s how my dad felt watching me butcher 2x4s on his basement table saw, weedwack my mom’s flowers in the yard, or try to paint over the fresh scratches in my junker car without first using primer or scraping off the old rust.

More to today’s young people than tech addiction

What you may not know about the always-wired generation is that they’re fiercely independent, very entrepreneurial and highly conscious of money, brands and the freedom that technology and a little bit of cash can bring.

My 18 year-old has a drone-based aerial photography business to supplement his minimum wage jobs in retail and manual labor. The other night I drove my 13 year-old to the ball field to collect his monthly check for umpiring Little League games. It was great to see he had earned several hundred dollars officiating the endless “walk-fests” known as 9-10 year-old baseball and occasionally putting an unruly coach or parent in his place.
What impressed me more was how quickly he and his peers became part of the financial system. Before we left the parking lot, my son and fellow young umps had scribbled their names on the back of their checks, snapped photos with their smartphones, tapped their mobile banking apps and whoosh….the money was instantly in their debit accounts.

On the silent ride home, my son went immediately to StockX.com—the online stock exchange for footwear started by Cleveland Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert—to check out the prices of limited edition vintage sneakers. He’s been working a few deals with his virtual friends and customers from all over the U.S. and getting ready to attend a “SneakerHead” convention. That’s where he and his buds will have a booth, buy and sell several thousand dollars’ worth of high-end sneakers and apparel. More often than not he and his fellow traders will come home with a handful of “Benjamins” ($100 bills) the way our generation used to come home from the drugstore with a handful of baseball cards.

The other day, I dropped my son 13 year-old off at the post office to make a shipment across the country to a cyber pal he made in California. He and his counter-party were Facetiming each other to confirm that the other was actually at the local post office preparing to ship the sneaks they were trading. Kids in the “industry” as the call it, typically meet via Instagram. All have Pay Pal accounts and most have “trust” ratings that tell others whether they are trustworthy shippers or known scammers.
The SEC and Better Business Bureau could learn a thing or two from this generation.

When I came home from work the other day, my son was hanging out with a friend from across town….. When I asked the boy if he needed a ride home, the kid politely declined. “Is your mom or dad on the way?” I asked. “Nah,” the kid said. They’re busy at work. Uber’s picking me up.” So he whipped out his phone, tapped the Uber app and said, “Gotta go….he’s right around the corner.”

While many marketers, trade associations, educators and financial professionals are trying to figure out how to remain relevant to Millennials—the roughly 75 million Americans in their 20s and 30s--there’s another cohort coming up the ranks that is even smarter, more tech savvy and more impatient to become independent adults who have little need for conventional banks, brokerage accounts, landline phones, taxis, traditional classroom education or higher education.
Although most Gen Z’ers are still in their teens, CGK reports that 12 percent say they have already started saving for retirement and 35 percent say they plan to start saving in their twenties.

According to Harvard Business Review, nearly 70 percent of Gen-Z teens were “self-employed” (e.g., teaching piano lessons, selling goods on eBay) versus just 12 percent that held a “traditional” teen job like waiting tables. This ability and ingenuity to turn coveted skillsets into earnings power will likely serve Gen-Zers well as they enter the labor force.

Will you be ready to work with Gen Z or serve their needs when they become your clients? In my next post we’ll explore 8 key differences between Millennials and Generation Z?”


TAGS:  Millennials vs. Gen Z, teen entrepreneurs, young people and money

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Now That’s How You Break Out of a Slump

I was comparing notes with a client the other day about the debilitating effects of “senioritis.” That’s the deadly combination of apathy, arrogance and inertia that turns normally conscientious college-bound teens like ours into highly emotional and lethargic couch potatoes. And we were both deep into it.

Both of our kids were accepted into their first choice colleges this year—highly selective, extremely pricey East Coast academic institutions. Now we’re wondering if we’ll have the stomach to scribble our names at the bottom of the kids’ first tuition checks after they’ve spent most of the spring “mailing it in” at school and at home.

Eighteen year olds will snap out of it as soon as September rolls around. For others, the timeline isn’t so clear, but now is not the time to throw in the towel or cash in your chips.

We all go through slumps from time to time. Whether you’re an athlete an entertainer, an entrepreneur or a professional service provider, we all go through periods in which we think we’re doing things as well as always, but we just can’t get the hits to fall, the puts to sink, the critics to reward us or the deals to close.
The onset of summer is one of the prime times for slumps as you’re caught between mounting office deadlines and family pressure to plan your vacation.

The best thing to do is keep believing in yourself, trust your process and maybe take some inspiration from the sports world.
Who is Scooter Gennett?

In the midst of an 0-for-19 slump, on a day he wasn’t even supposed to be in the starting lineup, Cincinnati Reds outfielder, Scooter Gennett became become only the 17th player in Major League Baseball history to hit four home runs in a game—one of the few non-Hall of Famers to accomplish the feat.

The modestly built 5-foot-10 outfielder (who ironically wears uniform #4) had never hit more than 4 homers in a month….let alone in one game. In fact, Gennett entered Tuesday’s game with only 38 “dingers” in his previous 1,637 Major League at bats, which means he hit almost 10 percent of his career total Tuesday night in the space of three hours.

Still not impressed? Consider that two months ago Gennett was jobless when the Milwaukee Brewers released him, only to have his hometown team (Cincinnati) pick him up on a whim. And just four days before Tuesday’s historic game, Atlanta Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips, who was traded by the Reds, ripped the Reds and Gennett to the heavens for giving away his old No. 4 so soon after his departure.

Who is Alex Honnold? 

You may not know the name, Alex Honnold, but you have probably visited California’s Yosemite Park. You have probably gazed in awe at El Capitan, Yosemite’s iconic 3,000 foot high sheer granite wall that’s more than TWICE the height of the 108-story Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago.

On Saturday, Honnold took only four hours to become the first climber ever to “free-solo” his way up one of El Cap’s most difficult routes—an ascent that takes most climbers four DAYS to complete. If you’re not familiar with free-soloing, that means climbing alone, without ropes, gear, support crew or safety nets.
Honnold, an elite climber from Sacramento, had been relatively quiet in recent years while trying to decide what his next breakthrough challenge would be—and when.

As he told The New York Times Sunday: “A couple years ago when I looked at the wall it was more fear than anything. I’d look at it and be like, ‘Oh my God that seems daunting.’ But because of all the preparation and all the time I’ve spent visualizing and imagining, by yesterday I was like, ‘This is going to be awesome.’”


Like Gennett, Honnold said the mental side of his remarkable physical feat was the key. Just like breaking out of a slump.
For more about breaking out of a slump, read Chris Winfield’s piece in Inc. Magazine

Honnold said the physical side of his climb was quite a bit of work — going up on the wall day in and day out to memorize moves, to check different sequences and figure out the best way to use the holds that feels the most secure. “But the mental side is the bigger unknown. That’s the part where you just imagine the whole experience and process it for a long time and then wait until you’re ready.”

When Gennett came to the plate for his fifth and final time in the 7th inning of Tuesday’s game, he said he wasn’t even thinking about tying one of baseball’s most enduring records. “I was watching the game, but I wasn’t really instinctually seeing the lineup and all that. I guess that may have helped me that I didn’t put pressure on myself.”

As my other son’s baseball coach told him the other day during the midst of his own hitting slump: “Just focus on the mechanics and keep grinding away every day, and the hits will come.” Next game: two hits and a walk in three trips to the plate.

As we get older, life gets more complicated than hitting a ball or climbing a wall, but you can’t let your inner self get in your own way. Or as baseball great Yogi Berra once quipped, “90 percent of the game is half mental.”


TAGS:  Breaking out of a slump, Alex Honnold, Scooter Gennett

Thursday, June 01, 2017

How Important Are the Things We Worry About?

Last week’s post, You Are What You Write, provoked several interesting comments. Here’s one from a TV director I know in Manhattan, who is terrified of writing. However, she is a keen observer of social dynamics and always a great storyteller. In my book, that’s being a writer.

“When I left work Friday afternoon, I had one thought in mind.....to rush to catch the 6:16 train so I could get home and start the weekend with a nice cold beer. Like most people in the Northeast, I was preoccupied with worries about Memorial Day weekend traffic and whether the gloomy forecast would wash out all of the parades, kids’ ballgames and barbecues.

While totally absorbed in these thoughts, I noticed a blind woman trying to navigate her way onto the train at the 66th Street subway stop.  She seemed to hesitate when the subway arrived even though she had the aid of a seeing eye dog. There was a large gap between the platform and the subway--at least 10 inches--and I guessed that the gap was the reason for her hesitation. I offered the woman my arm which she readily accepted. 

We got on the subway together and, one by one, every passenger in our vicinity offered her (and me) a seat. I figured that was the end of it.  Well, I'll be damned, when we got to 42nd Street (my stop), she said "Times Square?"  I replied "Yes" and asked her if she was getting out at this stop. She replied: "Yes, I'm going to Grand Central".  I'll be damned again, that was where I was going! 

Once again, the bling woman took my arm and we slowly navigated our way to the shuttle between Times Square and Grand Central Station. As most of you know, the shuttle platform has an even bigger gap; one that an able-bodied, sober, seeing person could easily slip into. How the hell was the woman able to navigate these terrors on a daily basis? 
We proceeded to Grand Central while chatting a bit. At Grand Central, the seas literally parted for us and people whispered about her beautiful dog. But my companion’s next problem was figuring out which track was assigned to get her to Crestwood, her ultimate destination.

We made our way upstairs, through turnstiles and swinging doors to the departure board. I told the woman the track number and she replied, "OK, like usual" and off she went. Turns out my blind companion has been commuting for 20 years and each day she faces some peril which she inevitably has to overcome. I had a 20 minute glimpse into her world and, oh how tough it must be. If you hear me complain about stupid stuff, tell me to shut up. I couldn't have scripted a better start to the Holiday Weekend.”


As our follower reminds us, Memorial Day is for honoring (and remembering) all the brave people who fought for our country. Let’s not forget all the brave civilians who fight hard daily just to get through the day.

Let’s finish this short week strong and be thankful for what we’ve got. Keep the great comments coming.


TAGS:  Memorial Day weekend. Courage of the blind. Writing for non-writers