Do this. Do that. We Millennials have been told how to act, how to dress, how to speak since we were teens. Whether it’s a millennial thing or a “this happens to every 20 something” thing, the idea of telling these “kids” how to act does not reveal consequences but rather prompts rebellion and raises this question, “Why do I have to do it that way?”
Jeff Havens is a speaker, trainer, and author regularly on Fox Business News and has been featured in Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, AOL, and dozens of other regional and national media outlets. I have witnessed Jeff in action at Ohio SHRM and I believe that saying the audience was engaged is an understatement.
Jeff’s speaking engagements, training sessions, and publications use humor in education and inform the audience of WHAT NOT TO DO and WHY. He makes learning about dress code, office and dining etiquette engaging and humorous. Jeff can tell you How to Get Fired, which might help you do the opposite and actually keep your job
Here are a few run on sentence vignettes of my experiences or stories I’ve heard during my almost quarter century of being on this earth describing how those my age have been told what to do.
Number One: There are dress codes at some public schools prohibiting students from wearing sweats basically decreeing, “No, do not wear sweat pants and try to be comfortable because you look like a schmuck and don’t reflect the affluent neighborhood and district we want to depict.” Because being comfortable and showing off your new Miami Heat 2013 NBA Championship hoodie would be a detriment to your experience as a student and is such an awful means of self-expression. Do you know how much more I want to wear that hoodie because of your “dress code”? A LOT.
Except if you know me… I clearly would not select that sports team but I’m trying to be non-bias by selecting a current event while still putting my bias into play so that I am not confused with being a front running sports fan.
Number Two: In college there was an hour of my life I will never get back to use for something much more valuable, such as watching a re-run of Grey’s Anatomy. I majored in Business Administration and rather than higher education teaching Millennials to deal with something such as rejection – we played around on Microsoft Office, learned how to write memos, worked on our resumes once a week to finagle “work experience” onto the page, and what else? Dining etiquette, yes sir or madam it was required for us future business leaders to attend this special session on how to eat and drink. I mean, who wouldn’t be jumping up and down to do that?
One, if you’re really interested in dining etiquette I am almost positive YouTube could do a fairly good job of telling you the salad fork is smaller than the dinner fork and picking up your bowl of soup to slurp the last bit of broth is inappropriate. Two, they TOLD me how I should conduct myself, which led me to ask… So if I happen to forget to turn my coffee cup over at the dinner table but, yet still decline coffee from the waiter/waitress, the person across the table from me will get up and leave?
Number Three: Speak eloquently, slow down, NEVER cross your arms, look me in the eye, and please give me your undivided attention. How many self-help or “business” books talk about how you SHOULD communicate? So what they’re telling me is if I model myself after a polished communicator, I’ll be on my way to success? What if I’m talking to a room of 20 something’s? What if I’m so polished it’s intimidating and I’m uptight and no one can relate to me?
In no way am I saying that I’m an endearing communicator but you can’t tell me that Blake Shelton’s Southern drawl doesn’t captivate you.
These are just three examples of how we are told how to act. But the younger generation entering the workforce might have some trouble with not only being told what to do but the real issue is being told what to do without understanding why. When you describe what not do to do, your why shines through. The why typically being, “I’d prefer to not act like a reckless hooligan.” If you happen to read Jeff’s books, he has a poetic and comedic means of leading you to the promise land of, “I never want to act like that.”
Please understand I do believe you need to be dressed appropriate for your environment, you need to be polite and aware when dining, and you need to understand how to be an effective communicator to your target audience. These are musts in the business environment. But might there a better way of getting this message to Millennials?
HR and Hiring Managers, show the consequence and the hilarity in that consequence. Show what not to do and you might find that the kids (and adults) you’re dealing with might listen this time. It’s not what you say but how you say it. Ask Jeff.
I will not begin this blog post by going on a political tirade about who should or should not have won the highest office in the land. So, no worries—this isn’t a political or polarizing post. You may disagree with me, but I can tell you as a bipartisan voter I could not help but notice the parallels between Mitt Romney’s failed run for the Presidency and our own failed attempts at going after “the” job we desire. I have experienced the sting of losing that job I held on such a high pedestal, but fortunately never lost millions in the process. Many pundits and policy wonks will have other ideas of how Romney lost, but here’s my take and how you can avoid the same pitfalls in your own job search.
Failure to Tell Your Story
Everyone loves a story, and if you can capture the imagination you gain interest. And in the case of politics, having a compelling story can take you places. Bill Clinton was the man from Hope, the kid that came from a disadvantaged background, but beat the odds and succeeded. George W. Bush was the black sheep of the family, but fought alcoholism and found faith to help him lead. Barack Obama had dreams of his father and cast a vision of hope for a diverse nation. Mitt Romney undoubtedly has a story, but what story did he tell? Many people knew he was a successful businessman, Governor of Massachusetts, and ran the Salt Lake City Olympics. However, what was his narrative? Besides knowing what was on his resume, what was his personal story?
It is interesting to note that practically anyone with a successful run for the Presidency in the past 15 years wrote a book prior to running for the highest office in the U.S. John McCain wrote Faith of My Fathers that detailed his story as a Vietnam POW. Barack Obama wrote Dreams from My Father that gave a biographical account of his life and that of his parents. Mitt Romney wrote, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. The book from its description makes a case for the U.S. and for a political platform, but not a person.
As a millennial, the need to start crafting your story now cannot be underestimated. It is important the choices you make in your career, to plan it mindfully. Your choices change the plotline. So, don’t go after any job offer, but ask yourself if this job makes sense as part of the story you want to create for yourself.
Like a politician, you only have a few minutes, perhaps seconds to tell your story when you are on an interview, or on your cover letter. What story are you telling about yourself? It’s the most unique aspect about you. In a sea of resumes it may be your own story that creates a connection with a recruiter or hiring manager.
So, be interesting! When you are faced with situational interview questions think of what stories you can tell and sound interested in yourself when you tell them. Think of your “elevator speech” if you will as the brief description on the back of a book jacket. Would you buy it on Amazon or pick it up from a table at Barnes and Noble?
Beside Every Good Man…
The face of America has changed—and quickly in the past few years. With that, business has also changed drastically, and if it hasn’t, that business can expect to be stifled in its growth. The change—the rising influence and voices of women and minorities.
The Republicans struggled with creating a platform and narrative that women and minorities could connect with and it cost them. The voices of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were too near, too backwards, and were not silenced early enough. Mitt Romney did comment on Akin and that his words “hurt the party”. However, it wasn’t enough to eliminate the cloud that fell over the party this election season.
Romney could’ve taken a cue from former Republican President, George W. Bush. One of his top advisors was Karen Hughes. She was influential in helping him relate to women, speaking to issues such as education, and honing the “Compassionate Conservative” image. In trying to Google for “Mitt Romney top advisors women” nothing but websites criticizing his positions on women’s issues come up. The golden opportunity to frame the story was lost because others framed it for him.
Companies that embrace diversity and that are taking the initiative in raising up women and minority leaders are succeeding. These are the companies of today and of the future that will attract millenials looking for organizations that welcome diversity. Millenials are often attracted to companies that are socially responsible, and part of that responsibility comes from embracing diversity. Voices that were once on the fringe of politics and business are becoming increasingly influential.
If you are a millennial, are you looking for a company that embraces diversity? If you are a company in an industry that has been male dominated, what are you doing to actively create a story that is as diverse as America? If you are not doing anything now, start creating that story and read the stories of those people and companies that get it.
Otherwise, expect to begin a losing streak.
Please feel free to contact me regarding any comments @TammyLawlor on Twitter.