How to Recognize Your Skills, Passions, and Values to Kick Ass in Work and Life

In last week’s article, we talked about how to identify your strengths and lead with them. Leading with your strengths is the first part of the equation to providing maximum value to others. The second part of the equation involves your skills, passions, and values.

Strengths + (Skills + Passions + Values) = Value to Others

As opposed to strengths (which are natural attributes), a skill is something you have actually learned, honed your ability, and have experience doing that provides a benefit. Skills can be difficult to articulate because it’s not necessarily a natural strength, but something you’ve spent time and energy developing to the point where it is of value to someone or something. A great way to think about a skill is the question WIFT:

“What’s in it for them?”

When somebody asks you what skills you have, you want to respond in a way hat expressed the answer to the WIFT question. By doing so, you go beyond just thinking about yourself, and consider what tools you have and how they are valuable to others (your company, the marketplace, the world, etc.)

For example, when asked what skill someone has, a common response is that they are a “people person.” That answer is weak. It provides nothing about how that skill is of use or value to somebody else. A better way to articulate being a “people person” as a skill is to say “you connect with other human beings immediately, which leads to stronger teams and client relationships.” That is communicating your value. That is a skill. Again, instead of saying you are “punctual,” explain this skillset in terms of WIFT: “I am calm, reliable, and always available to offer support. I am the type of person who is up to speed on deadlines and meetings. I’ll never make you wait or stress, which will allow you to focus on the things that matter most and increase effectiveness and productivity.”

As a business, using the WIFT method to describe skills allows you to communicate clearly to your customers and clients, while also authentically aligning your personal skills to connect better with others and get results for your company.

Passions—They Matter

At launchbox, we don’t believe in hiding your passions and personal interests in the workplace. What defines you at work, defines you personally, and vice versa. The people who are disconnected from what lights them up and makes them hear sing (passions) are the ones who are unfulfilled, stuck, and/or disconnected from their work, organization, or life in general. Identifying and understanding your passions is important because in order to have a great career and be of maximum value, you must align your work with what drives you personally. By seeing where your passions and work/life are out of alignment, you can gain clarity on what you need to do to fix this, and therefore make the changes to increase your happiness and drive.

Often times, people say, “What if I don’t know what my passion is?” I encourage you to forget the word “passion.” Instead, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are you curious about?
  • What makes your heart sing?
  • What makes you lose track of time?
  • What would you do if money was no object?

Answer each of these questions. These are your passions!

Values

Values are your real-deal-no-BS-what-you-are-made-of principles or standards of behavior. Here are some examples of my own personal values:

  • Empowering others to make a difference
  • Creating value for others and enabling their growth
  • Making meaningful connections

The best path toward shaving a great career is aligning you personal values with a company’s values. The best companies that stand the test of time are the ones that have a clear set of values they live and die by. For example, look at Zappos. They have their “Zappos Family Core Values,” which the company continuously uses to develop its culture, brand, and business strategies.

Zappos Family Core Values

  1.  Deliver WOW through service.
  2. Embrace and drive change.
  3. Create fun and a little weirdness.
  4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded.
  5. Pursue growth and learning.
  6. Build open and honest relationships with communication.
  7. Build a positive team and family spirit.
  8. Do more with less.
  9. Be passionate and determined.
  10. Be humble.

Don’t you just love these values? It makes you want to say “duh” when you read the list. Many of these values overlap with mine, and so many others, which have allowed me to have a great career. However, as great as the Zappos values are, you don’t want to adopt theirs. You want to look within yourself and think about what makes you and your company the best versions you can be. Those are your values.

Take the time to identify your values. Pay attention to what you personally care about—what drives you—and use them to express your business values. That’s how you articulate your real-deal-no-BS-what-you-are-made-of principles and standards of behavior. Now, you have the ultimate equation for providing value to others. Whether it be family, friends, bosses, colleagues, business partners, etc., it doesn’t matter…the equation works: Strengths + (Skills + Passions + Values) = Value to Others

Want to know more about how you can kick ass in work and life?

How to Tell Your Story

“We all have a life story and a message that can inspire others to live a better life or run a better business. Why not use that story and message to serve others and grow a real business doing it?” – Brendon Burchard

What do the most powerful movies, influential books, and engaging communicators all have in common?

They tell a great story.

From ancient cave drawings and religious texts, to Shakespeare and the best series on Netflix, we learn from, and are inspired by, the art of storytelling. The best businesses market through telling stories. The best public speakers connect with us through telling stories. And in order for all of us to be our best, we must be in the story business.

No matter how charming or charismatic you are (or are not), no matter what industry you’re in, being able to tell your story is a must to perform at your best. The art of story telling allows you to convey who you are, what you stand for, what skills you have, and how you can help others in an engaging way so that people want to listen. In order to connect deeper in your personal and professional life, you must learn to communicate who you are in a way that’s interesting and authentic—a.k.a. through delivering your story.

In the past few articles in this series, we have identified your skills, values, passions, and personal brandstamp. These are all the important elements that will help you define your story so you can create relevance and connect deeper with others. The secret to success in building relationships (the #1 most important skill in business) is sharing clear, concise information that conveys your values through a great story. This allows you to build connection and rapport with anyone—customers, managers, employees, coworkers, etc.

Boring presentations are bogged down with dull information. Fascinating presentations have drama and arcs. If you look at the most popular TEDx talks, you’ll notice they have many common threads:

  • They build trust and credibility
  • They create common ground and connect on a deeper emotional level (humor, awe, inspirational, etc.)
  • They give meaning to their journey and make us feel like we’re on it too
  • They show humility and wisdom
  • They inspire action

You can take away some of these common traits to tell your own great story using emotion, humor, irony, self-deprecation, and drama.

I probably tell 50 stories a day, using each one to make a point to the audience or person I’m speaking with. Whether it’s a Q & A for a corporation, I’m out at dinner with a friend, on a phone call with business partner, or simply out and about, there is a right moment to tell a specific story. You don’t just want to spill out any random story, especially if it’s the wrong situation.

Whether you’re speaking to a room of 100 people or your friend at the park, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Take the temperature before sharing: who is my audience and what’s the vibe like?
  • What does this person need? How can I share something they will understand, relate to, and as a result lean in…Is it info about a customer? A cool project? A meaningful solution?
  • What is special about you and them in the moment? What brings you to together? What bonds do you share? How can you connect to win them over?

The key is using what you have in the moment, and making it relevant (whether it’s a news story or a funny incident that happened during breakfast, it doesn’t matter.) If you’re struggling, there are some common topics that are almost always winners: kids, puppies, sports, and culture.

You can practice the art of great storytelling by paying more attention to the events in your everyday life and asking yourself, how can I bring the things that happen in my life and share them through story-telling to create connected relationships? The more you practice, the better you get. And the more skilled you get, the better you will be able to deliver your own story.

Putting together the puzzle pieces of your story

At launchbox, we’ve trained thousands of millennials and managers on how to tell their own unique story through exercises, workshops, and coaching. Here are three essential questions we’ve distilled that can help you put together the foundation of your own story:

  1. Who am I? Where was I born? Where do I come from? Who is my family? What is my background—my family identity? What am I grateful for? What and who have made me who I am?
  2. What is my experience? What work have I done? What am I inspired and motivated by? What am I passionate for and about? What have I had to overcome, and what are my triumphs?
  3. What value do I bring? What am I good at? What are my special skills? What has made me unique and special? Why do people love me, and what do I do to maintain that? What kind of attitude do I have? What can I do for others? What about me makes me successful that is not about my technical experience?

Look for overlapping connections with your skills, values, and passions. And remember: your story is not a word-for-word script. It is simply a framework for understanding yourself in a manner that allows you to interact with people and communicate who you are. It is a human connection currency.

Obviously, you don’t want to puke out your entire life story and bore somebody to death. You will probably share little parts of your story here and there when communicating with someone. Always keep in mind the specific situation and gauge how much you feel called to share. It’s like building a block tower. Start with the base blocks, and as you connect deeper and talk more, you can add the middle and top layers of your story.

Lastly, understand that telling your story is not bragging. In fact, the secret sauce to telling a great story is exactly the opposite. A powerful story communicates in a way that allows others to resonate with what you’re sharing. It builds trust and connection. When crafting your story, keep that in mind. It’s not so much “what” happened to you, but learning to convey the significance of events and allowing others to feel your emotions (the common ground that ties us all together.)

Curious to learn more about how you can deliver a kickass story in the workplace and life? Check out Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage, and Maximize Next-Generation Leaders in the Workplace .

Start Doing This to Benefit from Millennial Engagement

Engagement. Engagement. Engagement.

It’s all the hype these days, especially with the workplace changing and remote working situations on the rise. And rightfully so.

A five-point increase in employee engagement is linked to a 3% growth in revenue, according to a recent report by Aon. The study also revealed that global employee engagement levels dropped for the first time in five years. This isn’t good for businesses. As engagement falls, so does financial performance.

This isn’t due to a lack of engagements surveys and information. We spend at least $1B a year on employee engagement surveys.[1] Yet accordingly to Forbes, most companies say they aren’t getting the value they want.  The Workplace Genome Project estimates that 40% of HR professionals rarely do anything meaningful with engagement data results. Why?

Because these studies don’t measure underlying, root causes. These studies measure symptoms and outcomes. So, while the data may be interesting, it gives no insight into where a problem should be addressed, or what to do about it. Engagement doesn’t necessarily mean employee satisfaction. However, by understanding your millennial employees and getting to know them, you can engage them in ways that lead to feeling satisfied in the workplace.

According to research by the Teleos Leadership Institute, employees want 3 things:

  1. A meaningful vision of the future
  2. A sense of purpose
  3. Great relationships

An effective system of monitoring employee engagement will measure all 3 of these components. There are a lot of different factors and data points that can be analyzed and dissected. You want to make sure you are measuring the ones that are relevant and have a direct relationship with your employee engagement. Gallup has what they call the Q12 to measure engagement which include the following questions:

  • I know what is expected of me at work.
  • At work, my opinions seem to count.
  • I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  • The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  • At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  • My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  • I have a best friend at work.
  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  • In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  • This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Once you understand engagement levels, you can then work to improve them. The only way to do that is by understanding your millennials employees, and what specific strategies lead to better engagement. Here are some strategies that will improve millennial employee engagement.

Ask Tough Questions to Understand Your Millennials

While perks and benefits may appeal to millennials, by themselves they will not engage and keep them over a long period of time. From the day you interview your millennial employees and onward, be proactive. Ask them questions in order to understand what drives them personally. Why does this matter?

Knowing what motivates or demoralizes certain employees allows you to create an ideal workplace environment and keep an eye on your employees. You can be strategic in what tasks you give to who, how often you show appreciation, whether or not to give them tough love, and when give them more space. Some of your millennials may value flexible hours over pay, while others are more motivated by commission opportunities. You can increase engagement among your millennial employees by asking tough questions. Learn what drives them.

Some examples of questions to ask are:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • Do you prefer working in a structured, or more casual environment?
  • Where do you think you can add the most value?
  • What are your goals?

Provide Feedback on a Regular Basis

Performance management and senior leadership were the two weakest engagement points for companies in North America, according to Aon’s 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement. Focus on improving these “weak points” by improving your communication with millennial employees. Consider designing a system or schedule to ensure you are proactive in engaging with your millennials. A feedback strategy is a great way to stay updated with your millennials. By doing this, you can better recognize pain points and solve them, address certain needs, and more.

Leadership and management can be improved by providing consistent feedback to your millennials. A feedback strategy will make it 10 x easier. This isn’t to say you will only engage with them when your schedule says too. However, it will help you stay relevant and engaged in your relationships, which will therefore improve your leadership and management, which will improve engagement.

Data is useless if you don’t know what it means, or don’t know what to do with it. Understand that millennial engagement in the workplace is directly correlated with revenue growth. Make an effort to engage your millennials by measuring the aspects of engagement that matter most. Learn about what drives your millennials. Get to know them by asking tough questions. Communicate with them on a regular basis. Be strategic and create a feedback system to make sure you’re on top of it. By focusing on your millennial engagement, your company will benefit.

 

[1] http://www.workxo.com/blog/post/177-engagement-not-about-how-you-work

5 Quick Ways to Keep Millennials by Compensating Them the Way they want to be Compensated

The workplace in 2017 is changing at lightning speed. Millennials play a huge role in the major shift that is happening. The way companies conduct business is drastically different than just a decade ago. Millennials, who currently make up half of the workplace, are estimated to be 75% of the working economy in the next eight years.

An eye-opening research study by HUB International called, The Essential Guide to Compensation and Performance Practices: The Millennial Influence, illustrates important findings about what drives this generation.

Why does this matter to you? And how does this affect your company?

If you want to stay relevant, profitable, and affect change, understanding how millennials perform and how they want to be compensated matters…a lot. After looking at the key findings, we highlighted the top 5 ways to compensate millennials based on the success and feedback we’ve received at Launchbox working with over 5,000 millennials. Here they are:

1. Have Competitive Base Pay

Compensation matters to all employees, regardless of age. However, traditional compensation programs don’t motivate millennials. 68% of millennials strongly agree that their company “pays for the value and results I being to the company.”

Millennials actually want to be paid based on the value they bring. A compensation plan that includes value-based increases, instead of annual merit increases, is much more appealing to millennials. 60% of millennials say competitive base pay is the #1 factor for staying with their employer. If your company is not creating value-based incentives and compensation based on individual performance, your millennials will leave.

During our strengths and stories workshops, we hyper focus on how millennials can understand their strengths, improve upon them, and then communicate their value effectively in in WIFTthem (“What’s in it for them?”) fashion, so their employer understands the value they provide. As a millennial coach or manager, make it clear how your millennials can add value to your company, articulate it well, and therefore be paid more as a result.

2. Make Work Interesting and Challenging

Millennials are hungry for growth and development. They value career advancement, learning, and like to be challenged. Millennials, unlike previous generations, don’t see the value in merely “grinding it out” for years, and then rising to the op. They want to see a clear path to the top, and be engaged, challenged, and interested along the way.

As a millennial coach, you can create interesting and challenging work for your employees by tapping into their “intreprenuer.” Almost two-thirds of millennials wish to start their own business. They are hungry to innovate, and this can be a huge asset to any organization. Provide the structure so that millennials can experiment with new ideas and create new solutions within the company. A culture that promotes a healthy balance of structure, freedom, and feedback is attractive to millennials.

Working with thousands of millennials, we’ve found huge success in helping millennials learn to communicate their desire to innovate and improve certain areas in their company. As a manager in the workplace, make sure your millennials are comfortable coming forward with new ideas and feedback. After all, these ideas are will help your company succeed!

3. Show them a clear path to career advancement

It’s not enough to just tell millennials to work hard now and wait for success later. They need to know and be shown the opportunities available to them if you want them to stay with your company. Almost half of the HUB survey respondents said they were likely to leave their job within the next six months. The cost of this turnover is insane, and takes a heavy toll on your company.

A value-based compensation plan that rewards individual performance is a great way to appeal to millennials. It shows that they matter, and lets them understand that the sky is the limit. The more value they bring and communicate, the more money they earn. Then they get more responsibility, and more opportunities come their way. What business leader wouldn’t be excited by this?

4. Show the Connection Between Personal Impact and Success

Your millennials could be helping millions of people and earning your company millions of dollars. But if they aren’t seeing the connection between their results and the success, they will leave. Social impact and personal development are important to millennials. When they don’t feel the connection between the work they’re doing and the results they’re achieving, they feel dissatisfied. They start looking for other jobs. They leave

The cost of this disconnect and lack of engagement costs a whopping $30.5 billion to the U.S. economy.

Over half of millennials rated understanding how their own personal job directly impacts the success of the company as “very important.” Make sure your millennials can see the direct impact they are having in your company. By engaging your millennial employees in entertaining, challenging, and interesting work, they will find the purpose and challenge they are seeking. As a millennial coach, it’s up to YOU to make sure this happens…and make sure they know it’s happening.

5. Be Transparent about Compensation, Performance, and Feedback

Traditional compensation, annual merit increases, job/grade bands, and equity adjustments are NOT cutting it in 2017. As a leader in the workforce, you must change the formula if you want to succeed, and make it 100% clear to your millennials that they will be rewarded based on the value they bring to the company.

By having a transparent compensation and performance program in place from the get-go, you eliminate any confusion. Millennials need feedback. And they expect it quickly and in real time, just how they operate outside of work with social media. As a millennial expert, make it your job to engage with them regularly. Annual reviews won’t cut it. By having a clear plan in place, they will understand how their actions are direct related to their results, both personally (pay) and as a whole (company impact and success.)

Without frequent communication, millennial engagement levels drop to the floor. Over two thirds of millennials rank feedback directly from their manager as most valuable. Engagement plummets to 20% for millennials who don’t have regular meetings with their managers. As a millennial coach, make sure you are continuously engaging with your millennials and improving your relationship with them. Millennials want feedback in real time, not a month later. The quicker you can give them feedback, the better. Be real with them and give it to them straight. They appreciate tough love, as long as you show that you care.

The ways of the past aren’t working to engage and retain millennials in 2017. If you want to stay relevant, attract the top talent, and keep your successful millennial workers, compensate them the way they want to be compensated. Have competitive base pay. Have a clear compensation and performance plan in place from day one so millennials know they’ll be rewarded based on the value they bring to the company. Keep them engaged in challenging, interesting work by tapping into their “intreprenuer” and creating the space for them to excel within your company. Show them the exciting career path that lies ahead. Allow them to see and feel the impact they are directly having on both the company and the world. Be real. Be authentic. Communicate openly and often with your millennials. This is how you WIN and create kickass results.

How will next generation (millennial) clients buy legal services?

As digital natives, the millennial generation is coming into its own. As the first generation to grow up in the digital world, their behavior and desires are different than past generations. With the Internet available 24/7 and being seconds away from reading hundreds of expert opinions, millennials are responding differently to purchasing legal services. These differences will present a very real challenge for law firms. Traditional marketing will not work to attract the attention and dollars of today’s millennials. Digital natives (millennials) bypass the typical literature, flyers, ads and sponsorships. Instead, they’re using the tools they grew up with to find the answers they need, right now.

How can your law firm effectively market to millennial clients of legal services? By understanding that millennials are digital natives, learning what they like, and how they communicate.

Strengthen Your Online Presence

While 70% of typical legal clients contact an attorney when they’re faced with a legal issue, less than half of millennials do. When millennials need legal help, they become Perry Mason (even though they don’t know who he is) and do their research. They whip out their IPhones, check Yelp, read reviews, and assess the different options available to them. Listen to this, over 63% of millennial consumers use the Internet to find an attorney. Millennials gravitate toward DIY solutions because of the power of the Internet.  They are willing to scroll and scroll until they find what they need—and the Internet provides the ease and efficiency to do so from the comfort of their own home.  Remember, “Digital Natives”.

Be Active On Social Media

Does your firm use Facebook, Instragram, and Twitter to promote and market your legal services? If not, you’re missing out. In order to stay relevant with millennials and Gen Z (Digital Natives), your company must be where they are spending time: social media. When needing legal counseling or advice, 37% of millennials used Facebook in their search. Millennials are digital ninjas with social media.

Because they grew up with social media and know how to use Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook like the back of their hand, millennials are more comfortable with using apps to find what they need. By creating eye-catching visuals, interesting blog posts, and fun videos, millennials will be more likely to engage with your service. They trust companies that speak in their language (aka tweeting, Instagram posts, YouTube videos, etc.)

Millennials spend over 3 hours per day on social media.[1] Posting just once a week won’t cut it if your company wants to stay relevant to millennials. Make an effort to consistently post and also engage with millennials. Social media is a two way street. Invite millennials to tweet back with their opinion, post their questions on Facebook, and get involved. This engagement shows that you care, and will set you apart as a company that cares, which is really, really important to millennials or digital natives.

Millennials value authenticity almost as their number one value. And the right kind of social media is a way for your company to bridge the gap, let them get to know you better, and for them to understand you want to help them. Use social media and show you’re not some faceless company, but real people, with real personalities, with real services and solutions.

Provide Value and Data Through Blogging

While less than 20% of legal customers consider blogs important, over 40% of millennials consider blogs to be a key factor in choosing an attorney. Blogs are a vehicle to express personalized and unique messages. Your company blog should reflect your voice, values, and unique solutions in a way that resonates with millennials. With a blog, you can better communicate with millennials without being pushy. Millennials can read through sale pitches and get an authentic read on your voice before they lean in. However, an interesting blog post that is engaging and provides helpful solutions is much more likely to build their trust.  Remember; again, make your story and value resonate to your audience the way they want to receive it. 

They Use Others’ Opinions to Make Buying Decisions

Millennials are tough sells. When considering an attorney, millennials consider reviews to be twice as important compared to average customers. What started with reviews of the best Mexican food on Yelp and the most durable video cameras on Amazon has now turned to almost every industry online. Millennials trust online reviews in legal services as well because, well, digital natives value authenticity. They see reviews as an honest, no BS assessment of legal services because (in most cases) reviews are unfiltered, unbiased, an independent of a company’s influence. And they’re more willing to trust a strangers’ experience using a product or service instead of first trying it out for themselves. They also can tell who is just plain bitter and a “crazy” so they can make a determination of credibility.

May we be as bold to suggest that reaching out to past clients and politely asking if they’d be willing to leave an online review is a calculated strategy that will pay off. Be personal in your request, so they feel it’s genuine and not some email blast. Suggest what you would like them to write in your review. What part of the experience would a potential millennial buyer be looking for answers in? Ask them to write about that. Be transparent and let them know you value their feedback, and that it will really help.

Legal services will always be needed. However, the way they’re being used and marketed is changing. Pay attention to how digital natives communicate. Think about what they want: authenticity, social proof (online reviews), transparency, and helpful solutions presented in a way they understand. When you understand what digital natives want, you can market your service so it appeals to them.

Looking to bridge the generational divide in the workplace and engage your millennials? Check out the recent launchbox article “4 Ways to Coach Millennials to Drive Results and Engagement.”

 

All facts in this article were pulled from the 2017 FindLaw Report titled Reaching the New Generation

 

 

 

[1] http://www.tnsglobal.com/us/press-release/tns-millenials_study_111915

In the Age of Social Media, Real Connection Has Not Changed

This is a guest post by Matt Cohen, Associate Marketing Manager at ResMed and President of the Cal Poly Alumni San Diego Chapter. Learn more about Matt by connecting with him on LinkedIn here linkedin.com/in/mattsbcohen

 

From time to time, I like to ask myself the following question to check in on the way I’m living. The question is, “If everyone in the world were exactly like you, what would be better and what would be worse?” I could write an entire other article on what would be worse, as any honestly introspective person probably could, but I’d like to focus on one thing I do well for this article: connecting.

In the age of social media, we are more connected than ever. LinkedIn is a great example of this. Never in history has one’s entire professional network, as well as everyone your network knows, been one click away. The value of this unprecedented connection and access to one another is indisputable, evidenced by my ability to have this article read by people all over the world, but so too is the downside. We have become addicted to likes, shares, and comments because we feel it provides validation for who we are as people. In fact, research has shown that getting this perceived social validation online results in a similar release of dopamine to that of a positive in-person interaction. However, to put it simply, this is our mind playing tricks on us.

That’s right- I’m a millennial and I am saying that there is no substitution for face-to-face interaction. I know that may be hard to believe for those of you from previous generations, but I suspect that more of my generation feels that way than you may think. We are hardwired as humans, regardless of age, to crave social interaction and we know deep down that there is no substitute for the connections we make while in the same room. Just think of how much easier it is to develop trust in someone with whom you can shake hands or share a meal. Then consider that trust is the currency of opportunity and, without it, it is nearly impossible to develop the meaningful relationships we rely on to accomplish our goals in life.

I know firsthand how easy it is to fall back on online relationships. Even as a self-proclaimed extrovert and adept connector, there have been times when I have not known what to say to someone I see across the room and settle for the less stressful path of messaging them afterward behind the safety of my screen. Unless that message ultimately results in a meeting, though, I regret it. There’s no way our online conversation will carry the same quality it could have if I just mustered the courage to say hello.

So, what do we do with all of this in mind? You should certainly not do away with your social media accounts. Embrace the potential that exists in instant global communication, both personally and professionally. You should also keep in mind, however, that it should not be used as a substitute, but rather as a complement to physical interaction. I live across the country from my family and have for several years, so I am acutely aware that you can’t always arrange a coffee meeting, even with those you love. Next time you want to engage a local friend, co-worker, professional connection, or someone you may see across the room, I would challenge you to step outside your comfort zone. Genuine connection comes from genuine conversation. Look them in the eye, learn their name, shake their hand, and listen to what they say. Feeling advanced? Try listening to the other person without thinking about your reply. I know it’s not always easy, but you will get better the more you force yourself to do it and it will pay huge dividends.

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” – Charlie Jones

Author Charlie Jones said, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Unfortunately, neither of these staples of personal growth and development happen like they used to, but that can change. Self-control is the only control we really have, so that change has to start with you. It won’t be as easy as posting a status, but I promise you it will be infinitely more fulfilling.

Blog post originally posted here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/age-social-media-real-connection-has-changed-matt-cohen-mba

Matt Cohen Guest blogs for launchboxMatt Cohen, MBA | LinkedIn
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How Can Your Company Brand Itself So Millennials Not Only Want to Work for Your Company, But Also Buy From It?

The days of stock tips on the golf course and ringing up brokers on the phone are long gone.

In the digital age, Millennials are swiping through apps and checking their digital devices not only for tips, but also for making actual investments. Growing up in the midst of the 2008 recession, millennials were wary of diving straight into investments. However, the rise of apps and social media tools has made the learning curve and ease of investing much less intimidating.

Robinhood, the almost free stock trading app, is incredibly popular among millennials. The app, which allows you to invest in publicly traded companies and exchange-traded funds listed on U.S. exchanges without paying a commission, gained a lot of attention recently due to Snap’s (parent company of Snapchat) recent IPO. Snap sold shares at $17 a piece in its IPO on March 1. The next day, on the first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the stock shot as high as $26.05.Trading activity on Robinhood skyrocketed by 50% on the day of Snap’s debut, with more than 40% of those who traded that day buying Snap shares. The median age of Snap shareholders on the platform? Just twenty-six years of age, the same age as Snap Chief Executive Evan Spiegel.

Millennials, who grew up with and love the instant, impermanent version of communication, are hungry for shares in one of their favorite apps, Snapchat. With over 158 million users (many being millennials) companies should start taking note of how millennials are investing in companies they admire, like Snapchat.

A recent Reuters article, featuring interviews with various millennials, revealed that for some millennial investors, loyalty is more important than financial details. The case of Snapchat is the perfect example.

Technology has bridged the gap, allowing millennials to feel more comfortable and intrigued by investing. A report in the Wall Street Journal revealed that over 30% of millennials surveyed say they are more loyal to brands that are relevant in terms of technology. Millennials can see through the BS of inauthenticity. They appreciate brands that stand for something, are up-to-date with technology, and show transparency.

How can your company brand itself so millennials not only want to work for your company, but also buy from it? Looking at the success of how Snapchat has swayed millennials and gained their trust, your business can emulate the following strategies.

Be Relevant

Millennials love Snapchat for many reasons: it’s familiar, it’s easy to use, and it’s relevant to how they communicate in 2017. Millennials have enormous faith in investing in Snapchat because of its prevalence in their every day life. A 29 year old HR consultant and investor in Snapchat explained, “There are a lot of companies I don’t know or recognize, but Snap, I use the product, and know everyone – my friends, my co-workers, even my parents – uses it.”[1]

Millennials have two paradigms, both equally as real: online and offline. Is your company prevalent in both worlds? If not, how can you find ways to increase your prevalence, and gain trust among millennials? Millennials spend three hours per day on their phones.[2] Today more than ever, companies must have a strong presence online (a.k.a social media.)

Shelby Seyrafi, manageing director at FBN Securities, reveals that “One of the non-fundamental reasons driving the stock is that many millennials purchased Snap shares at inflated levels due to their preference for the product. That is, not due to a real understanding of the number or valuation.”

How is your company seen from a millennial POV? Are you transparent and authentic in what you stand for, what you provide, and how you deliver? The Snapchat-millennial romance shows that you must deliver a great product or service that millennials appreciate. Speak and communicate in a way that they understand.

Communicate In Modern Times

Nontraditional work schedules are becoming more common as companies are embracing digital communication. The 24/7 constant communication is normal for millennials. As a millennial employer or vendor, understand that millennials aren’t “turned off” before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. Utilize different mediums of communication.

Within your organization, consider apps like Slack, WhatsApp, or Zoom for communication. These apps allow for instant group and individual communication, minus the bore and turn-off of email. Be frequent in your interaction and engagement. Give feedback often, and make it brief, yet meaningful. Provide detailed instructions when needed.

When communicating to millennials as a brand, speak in the language they can understand. Emphasize what your company stands for; be transparent in the social impact you’re creating; be clear about your company values; and show how you nurture passion. By being authentic and providing a great product or service, you build trust. As Snapchat has shown, millennials are more willing to invest in companies they frequently use and trust.

Takeaway on Millennial Investing Trends and How Your Company Can Benefit

Apps and social media continue to play a huge role in the lives of millennials—and that includes how they invest. Millennials are more willing to invest in (and purchase products/services from) companies they trust and use frequently. As a company, make sure the way you communicate is relevant to millennials. Within your organization, use short, meaningful, impermanent methods of communication. Communicating your brand to millennials, be authentic, have a strong online presence, and make it clear what you stand for.

Want to learn more about how your company can bridge the generational divide in the workplace? We can help with that. Also, check out our most recent launchbox article, “A Short Lesson In Coaching Millennials How to Ask The Right Questions.”

 

 

 

 

[1] http://fortune.com/2017/03/12/millennils-buy-snapchat-stock/

[2] http://www.tnsglobal.com/us/press-release/tns-millenials_study_111915

How to Hire Millennials That Stay

Is it possible to hire millennials who don’t “bounce” in less than a year?

Millennials are job-hoppers, and are more likely than any other generation to move from company to company. A Gallup report revealed that 1 in 5 millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year alone.[1]  However, is it just youth?  And, if it is what can we do?

As a hiring manager or leader in the workforce, this is concerning. Not to mention that the U.S. Department of Labor estimates the price of a bad hire to be 30% of the employees first year earnings.[2] So what’s the deal? Are millennials disloyal, uncommitted and unappreciative? Maybe some millennials, yes, but how will adopting that mentality help your business? That’s right, it won’t.

As a millennial expert who has worked with thousands of millennials and organizations like Qualcomm, Intuit and KPMG, a common concern we hear from managers is how to hire the right millennial employees so that they’ll stay. It is a valid fear, and a question we receive all the time. After all, the millennial turnover costs the U.S economy over $30 billion annually.

So how do you know if a millennial will stay or leave? In some ways, it’s impossible to know. At launchbox, we shift the focus of the question: How do you hire millennials that stay? There are certain traits that, as a millennial coach, you should pay specific attention to during your hiring process. By using these three key attributes, you can weed out prospective millennial employees who will do more harm to your company than good, and thus retain the right millennials for your company.

1.) Use Your Own Millennials to Find the Right Millennials

The biggest challenge a manager faces is determining how to retain and engage millennials in the workplace. However, it starts with how you attract them. It starts with the millennial employees you have right now. There were probably a variety of factors involved that determined how your millennials wanted to work in your company: pay, company culture, benefits, work/life balance, social impact, opportunity for growth, etc. Engage with your current successful millennial employees and have them play a part in recruiting more millennial talent who will stay the course.

Like attracts like. Use your millennials to find the right millennials. Encourage your millennials to use referrals to find the right friends that will fit right into your company culture. This will accomplish two great goals: 1.) You will attract the same type of employees who are already doing an awesome job 2.) You will actively involve your current millennial employees in the hiring process, creating better engagement and involvement within your company and eventually culture.

2.) Be Smart: Ask Really Tough Questions Before They Start

If your current hiring process is a breeze, what kind of millennials do you think will end up working for you? In order to attract talented millennials who align with your culture and values, ask tough questions during hiring interviews and test the character and personality of your potential employees.

Create role-play scenarios that don’t have black and white answers. For example, frame a situation where an important presentation is due for the company on a Friday morning, yet Maroon 5 is performing Thursday night and “everyone is going.” Ask your millennial, “What would you do?” See how they manage their work/life balance. Maybe they find a way to balance both. Maybe they choose one, over the other. Either way, create a tough role-play situation where you can test the values, work ethic, and character of your potential millennial employees.

Ask them why they want the job. Other than expected answers (i.e. pay), do they have an intrinsic motivator for the job or in life? Do they have a passion, belief, or familial tie that overlaps with your company’s mission? Most will be pretty honest with you and if not, work harder at asking tough questions. Make an effort to get potential millennial hires to open up and reveal their true colors. Obviously it’s an interview, so they will be putting on the best version of themselves. Make an effort to really know them and test them.

3.) Be 100% Transparent

Does your company have freedom and flexibility options for employees? For example, can millennials work from home 1-2 days a week? Is attending weekly Wednesday meetings a non-negotiable? There are certain things you and your company will not tolerate. Let them know. If the millennial is turned off, great! You’re not avoiding future conflict and a quick turnover by weeding out someone who won’t fit the company culture. And likewise, be transparent about what your company does allow, that maybe other companies don’t. Whether it’s cool travel opportunities, yearly summits, internal innovation ideas, etc., let them know upfront.

 

By being 100% transparent, you will attract the right millennial employees who want to stay at your company. The more authentic you are in your hiring process, the more authentic the relationship will be with future employees. As a millennial coach, you set the tone. By representing your company’ authentic self and culture during the hiring process, you will be sure to attract and hire millennials that stay.

The cost of replacing a millennial employees range, typically from $15,000 – $20,000 and that is for a non-technical position.[3] Imagine what you could do with that money, investing it into the growth and improvement of your company, instead of having to constantly hire new employees. As a millennial guide and mentor, you have a secret weapon: your current, talented millennial employees, Use them for referrals to attract their friends. And when you begin interviews, ask the tough, uncomfortable questions. Test your millennials by putting them on the spot with role-play scenarios. Make them sweat a little and ask questions designed to gage their work ethic, internal drive to be at your company, values, and beliefs. Be 100% transparent about your company and culture, what you stand for, and what you will and will not tolerate. This way, you will weed out the wrong millennial candidates and attract the right fit for your company.

Just because millennials are dubbed as job-hoppers doesn’t mean that has to be the case for your company. You can hire the right millennials that stay. Be authentic, engage your current millennials to attract their friends, and ask tough questions

Looking to bridge the generational divide in the workplace and engage your millennials? Check out the recent Launchbox article, “Could Good-ole Fashioned Millennial Parenting Techniques Pave the New Way to Coach Millennial Employees?”

 

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/191459/millennials-job-hopping-generation.aspx

[2] http://www.humanresourcesiq.com/hr-talent-aquisition/articles/what-s-the-real-cost-of-a-bad-hire

[3] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/253605

Could Good Old-fashioned Parenting Techniques Pave the New Way to Coach Millennial Employees?

The most recent viral millennial video that resonated with us on Facebook was from none other than the master, Simon Sinek, best selling author and motivational speaker. He amassed over 57 million views in a matter of days. The good news is Sinek succinctly describes and analyzes millennials in the workplace. Moreover, his rational for understanding them is a window into how they grew up and were parented with (some more often than not) “failed parenting strategies.”

What does he mean by “failed parenting strategies?”

Millennials’ parents birthed the term and enslaved a generation with “helicopter parents.” The parents of the millennial generation paid extremely close attention to their children’s lives and their problems, and still do. They micromanaged, told their millennials they were special, gave them trophies for participating, and believed and embedded the entitlement theme that their children deserved the best, simply for showing up. If you ask HR Professionals, 30% percent of them will admit to having some type of altercation with a millennial parent and I can tell you I get calls from over zealous parents daily.

This up-close-and-personal, hyper involved, do it for them, and never let them fail parenting style has largely resulted from both the economic cycle of our country combined with the rise and prevalence of technology. Cellphones and social media allowed parents to have instant contact with their kids 24/7…. And information, products, services, answers and solutions anywhere, anytime, with the click of a button and little effort has made us softer. The idea of parents constantly checking in on their children to ensure safety and security may sound like good parenting as well as having everything on demand and at the moment. The intention was pure, and technology amazing. However, it backfired in many ways.

Millennials, dubbed the “anxious generation,” feel a need for frequent and immediate feedback, and have difficulty coping with failure and disappointment and the wrong or hard answer. Why? Because technology has allowed their parents more often than not to solve any challenges at anytime. The strategy of parents of millennials was to “cure,” and now many millennials are grown up, yet still struggle to figure out how they can solve their own problems.

As a millennial coach, you can see this as a pain-in-the-ass dilemma, or an opportunity to be embraced. At launchbox, I’ve worked with thousands of millennials and see that they want, need to, and will excel and grow—they just need your mentorship—or a “new or better” level of real and authentic kickass parenting—to get them there. Not kick your ass, but kick-ass, in the “dang good we get this” way. More specifically, our success in training millennial employees really works both to serve the workplace by creating engagement, retention and revenue, and millennials at the same time by teaching them they are responsible and accountable for their career and job satisfaction. In the workplace, you can lead your millennial employees to performance and engagement with these simple techniques.

First Care Enough to Tell It to Millennials Like It Is

Sinek explains that millennials are struggling in the workplace because their parents “gave them medals for coming in last.” As a millennial coach, it’s up to you to set the tone of what’s expected and tolerated within your company and culture and why “last place” does not work for the organization. Further describe how the key to success is making it about others and teach them to figure out how to change their language, communication, and mindset to do so. (Hint: use their strengths, values and passions to guide them…they are innately smart and purpose driven.)

If your millennial workers are barely “showing up,” putting in minimal effort, and walking through the motions, will you let it slide under the table and tolerate it? Or, like a great parent, will you address the problem head on? The parents who raised strong, self-reliant millennials gave tough love, taught self-respect, integrity, and consequences, and also focused on “earning” as a course of conduct, are the ones you want to emulate. As a leader in the workplace, you must do the same.

Coach them in a caring way. Sit down with your millennial and be transparent. Explain where the pitfall occurred and why it happened. Emphasize that it’s up to the millennial to take responsibility for their work and actions. If they are confused, teach them to be resourceful and find a way to gain clarity. If you’re good at this, they will listen and shift. Guaranteed.

Create the Space for Failure—They Need it

Many helicopter parents were there to clean up the mess when millennials screwed up. As a result, many millennials don’t know how to handle failure. As a millennial mentor and leader, become the tough parent in the workplace and teach them how to fail and pick themselves up. The challenge is we don’t have the time or money to do this and we would rather do the work ourselves. The problem with that is millennials need and want to be taught and learn how to do things. It is the number one thing they want in the workplace, almost neck and neck with that authenticity thing from above.

Well here is the news, make the time and invest or they will leave you because you have not engaged them. 89% of millennials in the workplace feel engaged when they feel their boss cares. Do you care and can you demonstrate that to them?

So don’t BS your millennials and allow their mistakes and poor performance to slide under the radar. Be real with them and let them know when they fail. Be proactive, like a good parent, and empower them to create a solution so they can learn and do better in the future. By being clear that you’re there to help millennials grow and succeed, they will appreciate your tough love. They will see failure not as an “end all,” but as a learning experience and growth opportunity. They will see that your firmness is not because you’re mean, but because you care.

By empowering your millennials to take responsibility for their actions, they learn self reliance, coping skills, and the ability to problem solve. What parent wouldn’t want that for their children? And what leader in the workplace wouldn’t want that for their millennial employees, or for that matter, any employee? Right, Simon? Of course he would agree.

Focus on Patience and Satisfaction From Work

In his viral video, Sinek explains how social media has created a culture of instant gratification, where millennials have fostered a sense of entitlement and expectation.

“Social media has, however, created an incredibly impatient generation who want everything immediately. What’s more, millennials don’t stick at anything for long enough, according to Sinek, whether a job or a relationship.” – The Independent

This quote above explains why millennials may be  “job-hoppers.” They are impatient, because they expect instant success and satisfaction at work. When they don’t feel or get those things, they leave in hopes of getting it somewhere else. As a matter of fact we coach 3,000 millennial each year and they are super impatient…but teaching them how to communicate, what they have left to learn, and how to find out whether their boss cares usually results in them staying and not leaving their boss, at least for a year or so longer.

Acting as a coach for your millennial leaders, you can teach your millennials the importance of doing great work and finding fulfillment in the process. The classic adage “patience is a virtue” is one that many millennial kids have heard, but not really grasped.

Create incentives so your millennials can learn the importance of being patient. True satisfaction, as Sinek pointed out, stems from the process of doing long-term work, and doing it well with 100% effort. Like a great parent, create intrinsically motivating benchmarks for them so they can create self-motivation and feel their progress.

Be the Best Parent You Can Be

In today’s workplace, to be the best millennial coach requires treating millennials as if you are their parents. Yes, most of my clients say, “I don’t want to or shouldn’t have to be a parent at work, they’re not my kids, it’s too exhausting, and that is why they call it a job and they get paid, so tough.” Oh yeah, well what happens with that mindset? I’ll tell ya…nothing happens except a revolving door. Instead, shift the mindset to really care and be invested in their success and progress. Show tough love and be firm in your approach. The more clear you are about what you want out of your millennials, the more they will understood what’s required of them to become the best version of themselves.

Allocate responsibilities to your millennials and give them the opportunity to fail. Yes, you read that correctly. Allow them to fail. They need to learn how to cope with failure, develop self-esteem, and learn from their mistakes. As a millennial coach (and parent), this gives you the chance to empower them with the tools they need in the real world—to grow and become reliant.

Instill the importance of doing great work and teach your millennials patience. Explain that nothing worth having comes easy. Set goals along the way so they learn to enjoy the process, while growing simultaneously.

When you show up authentically for your millennials, they will show up for you and your company. The new way of coaching millennials is like great parenting. Are you up for the challenge? If you are we can help teach you.

Looking to bridge the generational divide in the workplace and engage your millennials? Check out the recent Launchbox article “4 Ways to Coach Millennials to Drive Results and Engagement.”

“How Do I Get Paid What I’m Worth?” – A Short Lesson in Coaching Millennials How to Ask the Right Questions

It was and remains my favorite classic millennial question.

I was speaking at USC with graduate millennial students, teaching them how to connect to get the job they want by using our Inside/Out technique of understanding your strengths and story in away that it provides value to others. A down and dirty guide on how to get the job, promotion, girl/guy, sale, etc.

As a leadership keynote speaker I have the honor to help people help themselves by demonstrating how to win by making it about others. I covered all the basics and the secret formula that I know to be true as a millennial expert and coach. 5,000 millennials that have passed through our programs this year can attest to it working. I no sooner finished the brief lesson on the importance of identifying strengths, implementing the WIFThem mindset (“What’s in it for them?”), and owning your actions, when I asked for a question. And low and behold, a young college male in the front corner of the room raises his hand. There it was, the moment of truth, as to whether they really heard me and learned something.

“Well,” he said, “I got stuff but really, just tell me, How can I get paid what I’m worth?

I was surprised by his question. It was audacious and bold, in typical millennial fashion, only because it was the exact opposite of what we had just discussed. So I paused, took a breath and began. “Do I have permission to coach you?”

The millennial nodded yes, and I responded, “What is exactly the value you bring to the employer and how do you articulated to them initially and then through your work?”

After a few moments of silence, while the millennial was thinking of how to respond, I chimed in again.

“Dude, do you get it? I mean really? You’re asking the wrong question. What you should be asking is, how do I demonstrate what I’m worth in the market place so someone wants and needs me to come work with them, and teach and guide me and help me get really, really good at this work thing? The thing is, you can’t demonstrate it until you’re there. Focus on first gaining the skills to become valuable to the market place.”

As a millennial expert who has coached thousands of millennial employees, what this college student asked represents a typical trait of millennials. They are hungry for success. They want the grand prize (some say “trophy” but that is just plain caddy, lol) …and they want it now, now, now. They see friends and peers posting job promotion pictures on Instagram, celebrating at parties on Snapchat, and hearing about other millennials “striking it rich” on Facebook.

What happens as a result? Millennials feel entitled to earn higher wages. They are impatient and have FOMO (fear of missing out) on the success that they think all of their friends are experiencing right now. So, like the graduate student showed, they ask employers all the wrong questions because they don’t get it. They don’t get that hard work, learning skills, and demonstrating value all precede getting paid anything by the market. You need to be valuable to an employer to get paid anything, and moreover, you for shit sure better be able to explain what that is what you do and why it is so special.

This is where the magic happens. Dilemma, they don’t get it. Challenge: we need to help them get it. SO DO THIS: we, as millennial coaches, bosses, parents, and teachers need to step in and embrace the opportunity to guide our next generation leaders. While millennials’ drive and hunger for success is great, they need to check in with reality.

According to the Millennial Leadership Survey, over half of millennials surveyed already think they have the right skills to be a leader. Wow, because we know that not even remotely close to 50% of successful Boomers, Xer’s or Silent Generation have the real deal skills to lead. So how could millennials, who are new to work life, possibly get it? Not to mention they understand they need work: 43% of millennials said that their weakest leadership skill is having industry experience and 41% said technical expertise.

See the conflict? Millennials think they already have the skills required to lead and earn more in the workplace, yet their lack of experience (and awareness of it) proves otherwise. As a millennial coach in the workplace, use these three strategies to teach millennials how to demonstrate their value in the workplace.

1) Take Initiative

In a recent School of Greatness podcast episode, host Lewis Howes talked with Adam Braun, founder of MissionU and Pencils of Promise, about higher education and performing well at work. Braun touched on an important phrase that demonstrates how millennials can show value, as opposed to asking for it: “Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.” In other words: take initiative. It’s better to take calculated risks you believe will work and ask for forgiveness if they fail, rather than always wait to be told what to do and have your ideas rejected.

A good employee waits to be told what to do. A great worker reads the situation, predicts what needs to get done, and takes initiative to create a solution. Encourage your millennial employees to show, not tell. By doing so, millennials can effectively demonstrate their value.

As a millennial coach, you can inspire your millennials to take initiative by being supportive. Create an environment that fosters open feedback and transparency. Welcome new ideas and encourage innovation by instilling a go-getter mindset.

2) Showcase Strength by Leading From Strength

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

Each of your millennial employees has a unique skillset that can be of value to their organization. As a millennial coach, make it your responsibility to help your employees identify these strengths so they can lead with them. Workshops and strengths finder assessments are great ways to teach millennials how to understand their gifts and use them effectively in the workplace.

The best leaders in the workplace know what they’re best at, continue to hone in on those skills, and lead from their strengths. By learning how to access and showcase their strengths, millennials can demonstrate their leadership potential, while optimizing their unique skillset for the greater good of their company.

3) Invest in Growth

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, over half of millennials rank the “opportunity to learn and grow” as “extremely important” when searching for a job. Millennials want managers who will invest in their growth so they can become capable, reliant, and talented leaders who can demonstrate their value to the marketplace.

“Millennials do need to be convinced why and how an organization will help them learn, grow, and develop, and further their careers.” –Harvard Business Review

As a millennial coach, create a leadership program where millennials can learn important skills like communication, relationship building, and technology-specific skills via online training. Millennials are looking for managers who are invested in their growth and areas to succeed that align with their natural interests and talents.

Understand what millennials want so you can help get them there…but make sure they grasp important business realities first. The millennial question of “How do I get paid what I’m worth?” is ridiculous…and it shows that Millennial coaches need to step in and help them understand why and how to reframe the question instead of just whine and complain. Help us change the question.

Teach your millennials how to demonstrate their value. Encourage them to take initiative and lead from their strengths by investing in their growth. This is how we can create future millennial leaders!

Are you looking to create next generation leaders who know their strengths and can deliver value? Check out our online tools, resources, and workshops!