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Every month, our blog covers a specific engagement topic and looks at it from two perspectives - Gen X and Gen Y. Meet our GAIA Blog writers!

 

Gen Xer Nancy Nessel

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"As a member of Generation X, I have been tracking trends among generations since 2008. Marketing and trends are my passions. Since receiving my MBA in Marketing, I have held leadership positions in brand management, online marketing, e-commerce and consumer research for large consumer product companies and then a boutique marketing innovation firm. 

I have always been fascinated by the impact technology and social media have on our behavior, and on Generation Z in particular.
I run my own professional blog entitled gettinggenz.com which is about the upcoming generation of 4-18 year olds. To educate myself, marketers and parents of Gen Z,  I track trends in the media, seek out unusual behaviors and look to my own two Gen Zs for insights. Residing in Connecticut, I am married to a fellow MBA and have two Gen Zs, age 11 and 14." 


Gen Yer Carmia Annandale-Schutte

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"I’ve always been passionate about life skills for child and youth development and from an early age started questioning how my peers and I will someday contribute to society. My interest in youth started when I taught children life skills lessons through dance and drama methods and realized that my generation has so much that sets them apart from preceding generations because of the swift advancement of technology, social media and branding. Because of the constant expansion in this market, my fascination with cross-generational communication hasn’t stopped growing. By expanding my insights and research from a South African sphere to a multi-cultural and community-focused horizon my goal is to become a leader in the Gen Y communications industry as well in the youth life coaching spheres.

In 2012, I completed my BA Degree in Drama and Media and in 2013 went on to complete a Postgraduate Degree in Marketing, Advertising and Communications Management. I am currently an English Teacher in South Korea and am passionate about personal development, travel, stories, creativity and education. I perceive myself as an old soul and thus I’m able to offer fresh, mature and meaningful insight into my own generation."

 

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January 2016 Announcement: GAIA Blog continues on GenerationY.com

To our new and loyal readers: It is with mixed feelings that we are announcing the discontinuation of our popular GAIA Blog in this space. This page has had over 212,000 clicks in the past 4 years and we are humbled by and grateful for your interest in our articles. Having said that, the time has come to evolve and with the set-up of our brandnew Generation Y Portal we are moving all blogging activites over there. Go check it out!

At this point, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our generational bloggers Nancy and Carmia for their skillful writing in the past years. Both will continue to share their insights on their own blogs:

Below articles will remain accessible for a little longer before we'll move them to an archive space.

Thank you for following our blog and we look forward to welcoming you at GenerationY.com for new articles and insights about Millennials in the workplace!

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December 15th, 2015 - ‘Tis the Season for Charity. How are Employees Giving Back?

The holiday season is upon us and many struggle to clamor onto the meaning of these holidays.  To us at GAIA Insights, it’s about the spirit of giving – opening our hearts to give back to those less fortunate.

From a Gen X perspective...

The more traditional Generation X seeks and speaks meaning, and we’re willing to give in many ways. Luckily, we have our employers, or altruistic children and local charities to remind us to step away from the Amazon cart and fill our carts with meaningful graces. Here are some examples of how Gen X gives back and how to reach Gen X for donations in the future.

Financial Contributions

In larger corporations, major nonprofits retain their automatic pipeline to employees’ paychecks and to the harried Gen X, this is an easy way to give, a “no-brainer”. But it’s very challenging to get a Gen X to donate beyond the no-brainer methods, because December is the busiest month of the year. We feel strapped for time and for money. December is not the best month to ask a Gen X for a financial donation. We are inundated by donation requests, personal requests pour into our mailboxes, email inboxes, and through social media. We are stressed out about hosting family events, figuring out how to afford the gadgets our Gen Z kids “need” and the year-end workload drains us from doing any of the above. So how do you get a Gen X to give?

Gift Contributions at the Holiday Event

Working remotely can be isolating for those who want to participate in a holiday donation or events, meaning fewer contributions. Employers are asking for gift donations to support local charities, ones we can resonate with. Considerate employers are holding casual and easy to attend holiday parties – luncheons in the office or cocktails late afternoon during work hours – to get the highest turnout. And employees are required to bring a gift to donate – a toy, dry food or new clothing.

Gift Contributions with Gen Z

Offer a charitable method to Gen X which involves their generous and caring Gen Z kids! Gen X parents of Generation Z will be reminded about those in need, despite the seemingly selfish requests from their own kids. For example, my colleague Julie is organizing a toy drive for locally-resettled refugee children. She emailed out a list of refugee children’s names, ages and what they’d like – not an iTunes gift card, not an iPhone – but toys and clothing. My kids and I signed up for two children, physically went to the local independent toy store, the kids picked out age appropriate toys, wrapped them and we delivered them to the charity HQ.

Employers that ask for a gift with spirit and thoughtfulness will be far more successful than asking for more money at this hectic time of year.  As the last generation with fond tech-less memories, Gen X wants to “pay it forward” by giving back to show gratitude. 


From a Gen Y perspective...

Generation Y is entitled, narcissistic and when it comes to giving back, they slack. Right? Wrong! Millennials are used to being stereotyped; however, they truly long to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Listen up to get Gen Y to envision a Future with your Company

The workplace does not define Generation Y to the degree that it did define many Baby Boomers. As you may know, leading a balanced life is important for Generation Y. They are on an endless search for happiness: they want to be happy at home and happy at work. Money is not as important as that.

With that being said, giving your young employees a purpose (read: a social cause to become involved in) they might just think of sticking around for a long(er) time. Millennials need direction and meaning and opportunities to “do good” to thrive!

Generation Y has grown up in a world where community service is often integrated into school curricula,  where Martin Luther King Day and September 11th are now attributed to volunteering, and where the amount of non-profit organizations has exploded over the past couple of decades. Unlike older generations, Millennials have been exposed to these volunteering and fundraising ideas in many areas of their lives, reinforcing the idea that giving back to society is a natural way of life. 

One of these places where there is a chance for Generation Y to give back is in their workplace, where employee volunteer programs should become more and more common. In fact, being a Millennial myself, I believe that the corporate prioritization of giving back should be a central tenet of the Millennial employee experience.

The 2014 Millennial Impact Report states the following:

  1. One-third of Millennials surveyed said that their companies’ volunteer policies affected their decision to apply for a job.
  2. 39% stated that it influenced their decision to attend a potential job interview.
  3.  55% said that the volunteer policies determined whether or not they would accept a job offer.
  4. Millennials want to engage with causes to help other people, not corporations.
  5. Generation Y prefers spending time with a cause, getting to know it before fully committing to it.
  6. Generation Y is highly influenced by the decisions and behaviors of their peers.
  7. Generation Y treats all their priorities (time, love, balance, money, volunteering, networking, etc.) as having equal value.

In conclusion, I think it is important to note that Generation Y wants to volunteer within the work sphere and that clearly-defined “giving back” company policies help to engage and retain Millennials! Spark their interest by making it about people, not about themselves.

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November 21st, 2015 - Schmoozing in a Virtual World

In the world of Generation Y, basic human interaction has changed. Personal lives are no longer limited by distance, space and time. Face-to-face meetings aren’t necessary anymore and society is urgently affected by the transformation of digital communication. So what's the impact on relationships in the workplace? How can you kiss up if you don't see each other in person?

From a Gen X perspective...

Early Schmoozing

“Schmoozing”, building a strong relationship or kissing up or charming someone, was a major power move for Generation X. Dressed to impress, a Gen X mover and shaker would race into the office every day, yes every day by 8am, to beat the boss. After news chat over coffee, a Gen X clamored for power lunches in the executive suite, then began sipping scotch in the C-suite after lunch, all to lock in the precious relationship with the boss, and this was on a daily basis.

Yet not all Gen X mastered this form of schmoozing.  If you didn’t have the “gift of the gab” or the ability to charm, fib, fonder or fall over others, then an unassuming Gen X would get stuck in the same job and miss out on the promotions. But remember a position is comprised of two important elements - the output and the relationships. 

Working Virtually Dampens Schmoozing

When Gen X was offered to work virtually, around the year 2000 for many corporations, this was a blessing for the productive workers but a worry for the schmoozing slackers.  No longer could the schmoozers rely on their personality tactics for promotions, tactics that surely eased their workload because they’d avoid it or offload it to a colleague.

Working virtually evened the playing field and some of the office politics dwindled. Since 2000, the annoyingly loud and self-serving interruptions of a schmoozer have steadily decreased. Employees’ status has been judged based on the real tangible work they do and not only on their charm and charisma.

How To Virtually Build Engaging Relationships with Gen X

  1. Treat virtual communications like face-to-face engagements. For a Gen X, the goal continues to be a face-to-face engagement, the ultimate meeting where we can schmooze after proving our capabilities. Try to Skype and Face Time more frequently and when you do, dress professionally and make your home office look stellar. Always bring up the next step such as a personal meeting or call.
  2. Show yourself off by your work. With less face time in the office, your work, what arrives in the inbox, is your new face in the virtual world. With fewer interruptions, your work should be fantastic. Gen X prefers to put their heads down and produce excellent results so we are excellent at “schmoozing” through our work.
  3. Use appropriate social media to connect and engage with important professionals. Gen X is so fortunate to have the office gossip columnist talk all over social media about those we want to track. Gen X can eavesdrop without being seen, knowing all we want.

a. Facebook is for personal use but old friends or classmates may be good to network with. Follow but don’t stalk.

b. LinkedIn is a Gen X favorite. Here’s where you can schmooze to network such as endorse and congratulate.

c.  Twitter is the place of introduction for people who may have a common professional interest. It’s at the bottom of the ladder where a meeting is at the top.

 Ask Generation Z for the latest ways to build engaging relationships on social media. I’m impressed when a Gen Z is optimizing their visibility on Instagram or Whisper. Or when they know how to get our attention – by being everywhere like a brand.

  • Get noticed wherever your peers are.
  • If it matters, respond ASAP. Gen Z values the frequency of chats and the response time between texts; this is a good lesson for Gen X. Gen Y and Z will think we’re not interested if we don’t respond right away.
  • Schmooze by sending short notes, cute images or photos. Keep it short.

No matter what form of personal exchange occurs, Gen X, Y and Z will always feel the need to impress and to obtain feedback. We are conditioned to compete with other colleagues. If it’s not schmoozing, Gen X is producing at overly impressive rates. If you want to schmooze with a Gen X, pay attention to their work and call them to come in for a personal pat the back.


From a Gen Y perspective...

Blurred Lines

Since the emergence of text messaging, email and social media, the proliferation of oral conversations has gradually failed in the face of the conventional and traditional written word. For Generation Y, it is preferable to network online. Since they are the digital natives, it may even be easier for them to connect this way rather than fostering real-life relationships. Building virtual relationships is very easy and Millennials generally find it easier to connect online than in real life. We would much rather connect with ease over difficulty because it offers instant gratification and stress relief.

Gen Yers use technology every day to share feelings as they experience them. Almost like a thought catalogue or an open diary.  Social media platforms provide a place that allows us to take part in (online) communities, strengthen distant relationships, improve virtual communication skills, and share personal information. Instead of intimate and real-life conversations, we are choosing to share images and text our friends because it is easier. We are sacrificing communication for connection.

Although we know there is a lot of evidence that online relationships can be meaningful, if we dig a little deeper we will notice that people are lonely as ever. Real-life social skills are diminishing due to us constantly connecting through technology and social media. So although we can experience real emotion and live parts of our lives online, we have to realize that constant communication through social media and technology has the ability to deteriorate our social skills.

5 Tips for other Generations on how to Build Engaging Relationships with Millennials:

1. Go mobile
Every Gen Y either has or wants a smartphone. Why is it so popular? Because it allows us to connect to the internet with ease! By developing a solid mobile presence, you can position your brand to stay top-of-mind with Millennial consumers.

2. Focus on interactive web design
Generation Y wants to be able to access your online platform through multiple devices (even simultaneously!): mobile, laptop, tablet, iPod… That is why a simple and easy-to-use web design is very important as it will ensure your message gets delivered.

3. Purpose, purpose, purpose
Get Millennials to build relationships with your brand by involving them in the social aspect of your business. If you can get them to become passionate about your corporate social responsibility, you will get them on board!

4. Let your advertising be natural
We don’t like traditional display advertisements such as billboards and banners because we don’t want to be screamed at. If you want to advertise, then do so in a natural and non-disruptive fashion, such as placing the ad in alignment with the content or object which is being advertised.

5. Connect online
Humanize your brand by connecting with your consumer online. Answer the simple questions and be personal in your approach. It will show the consumer that your genuinely care about their experience.

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October 20th - It's All About Connections: The Rise of Networking in a Virtual World

The definition of networking has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, quickly changing from face-to-face event hopping, to mastering your presence in social media. Thanks to technology, professionals and ambitious teens have many more opportunities to build relationships. This gives us access to find almost every individual we want to. The challenge is the same: to indentify the right contacts and build real relationships.

From a Gen X perspective...

Remember Little White Rectangles?

You might see a seasoned professional handing out little rectangles of paper called business cards. No doubt that’s a member of Generation X.  A successful Generation X  rose up the ranks through face-to-face networking – in airports, at cocktail parties, conferences of their profession, industry events – and working each contact by schmoozing, calling, meeting and subsequently emailing (a win). 

Networking was a no-brainer, a must-do if you wanted to grow or change your career.  Thus, to be successful you have to constantly work on your image, focus on how you position yourself “in the room”, have good body language (i.e. stand outward), and make eye contact. Because we’re used to connecting on a more personal level, we are in search of making “real relationships”.

Nowadays, online requests from a stranger are usually ignored, though that may be a FOMO for Gen X. We remain skeptical and discriminatory about who we connect with so we stick to safer spaces like LinkedIn and Facebook. Gen X is adaptable to learning virtual networking as it is today, so Gen X has taken well, a pragmatic approach, to networking in today’s modern room. 

Generation X in a Generation Z Room

Gen X realizes that technology has enabled networking to go from timely and for some, intimidating, to offering endless opportunities, if done right. Think of social media as a giant stadium, filled with an audience holding up signs making it easier to identify a potential contact (back when there were no signs). 

Can we build genuine connections through social media? Certainly, and it’s all about making the right plays when you engage in each kind of social media. So how do we do this right?

1.      Make a good and consistent first impression

Gen Z uses an 8-second filter to scan information, and this applies to scanning for connections too. Gen Y and Gen X are beginning to scan that quickly as well. Your profile may seem to be “good enough” to you, but to the infinite audience, it’s who you are to them. Because so much of connecting is online, we are judged based on what’s visible to others.  Think of your profile as the way you look at an in-person networking event.  Invest time in constantly maintaining your image, e.g. with a professional photo. Each profile needs to be the same across all social media, same image and same titles, etc… No one appreciates multiple personalities online and offline.

2.      Use social media like a Gen Z

Pick up to three social media apps and immerse yourself in making connections with, on top of the obvious ones, others who share your profession, share a passion for the same cause, or are even remotely in your industry. Follow brands and industry leaders that resonate with the professional in you. Spend time on each app every day to appear committed, otherwise your new friends will drop you. Don’t be afraid to make a statement or reveal your opinion about a circumstance related to your profession, it’s another way to connect. Also, if you’re physically attending an event, a conference or a social event, go to the right app and screen the person digitally as you stand next to them physically (they won’t know). Cool.

3. Pick the right social media channels

According to hbr.org, “People are hungry for real conversations and real relationships.” Connecting virtually with little human interaction is not for everyone. The majority of professionals want to make an authentic connection, one that might build and last. HBR suggests going to a “target rich area” to enhance your chances of making the right connections.

Online networking is analogous to the flirting that leads up to a real relationship, connecting instantly or carefully.  Every social media space has its own reputation, its own positioning of opportunities in the endless landscape of virtual connections. For example:

  • Twitter for the initial connection, the introduction where you identify a person you have something in common with.
  • LinkedIn for the professional connection only. LinkedIn is the virtual equivalent of an industry conference, connections run a little deeper and more professional than other spaces. 
  • Facebook for personal connection only with potential if professions match.

If you follow the above approach to modern networking, you’ll realize that finding true connections is easier and more efficient. The room of networking opportunities has exploded in size, but honestly, the same social skills apply – watch what you say, don’t talk to strangers and always make a good impression. Working in your pajamas might be comfortable but no CEO got where they are by hiding behind a screen in their home. Get out there, however you can.


From a Gen Y perspective...

For older corporate leaders it might be intimidating connecting with cyber-centric Millennials. Unlike Baby Boomers or Generation X, Gen Yers have grown up in a technological and egocentric world. Whether you are reaching out to Gen Y as a way to recruit new leaders or to incorporate young members into your organization, I highly recommend that you form appropriate connections with them to ensure optimum engagement. Here are three tips for networking with Gen Y:

1.      What’s in it for the Trophy Kids?

Millennials tend to be more egocentric than their forerunners simply because of the way they were raised. Gen Y, also referred to as “Trophy Kids”, have been rewarded for success over and over again, but many times for the mere fact that they just took part in something, such as playing the tree in the school play. Thus, this generation can be hesitant to leave the comfort of an adoring family home.

Therefore, I suggest that when you try to engage with them, you should stress how your offering will benefit them. If you can offer them a competitive salary, laid back work environment, fast progression, an easier life, and personal and professional growth, then I recommend you mention these benefits early on in your relationship. It will get their attention and decrease the chances of them becoming disengaged later on. Show Gen Y that they are the focus and you will appeal to their determined nature.

2.      Write Cleverly

No one responds well to uncertainty or imprecision, right? Enticing Generation Y with your clever writing could do wonders for your business by showing this pool of new thought leaders exactly what they are committing to when engaging with your company. Here are some ideas for writing to attract suitable and sustainable Gen Y employees:

  • Give them the numbers! Include facts and figures rather than imprecise declarations; for example, instead of ‘we have an impressive client database’ say ‘our database boasts over 20,000 customers…’
  • Be clear and brief, make your call to action easily understandable
  • End on a high level of enthusiasm; Gen Yers are positive and big dreamers and so should you!

3.      Be Modern

When networking with Gen Yers, I urge you to sell yourself and connect with Millennials through the latest digital spheres and digital marketing techniques. We will feel that you “get” us and that our relationship could be virtual as well as real. Here are some more ideas:

  • Create an infographic with all your significant points instead of writing a paragraph on it.
  • Add some humor with fun pictures or videos.
  • Delete typical stock images and share personal ones.
  • Make something that’s unique; anything weird and wonderful will be loved by Gen Y’s.

Remember, we grew up with social media and technology, so we will naturally be expecting you to be on top of your tech game.

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September 21st, 2015 - How Technology Affects Our Work Skills

From a Gen X perspective...

As a stereotypical member of Generation X and a dedicated employee of the ever evolving corporate world for over twenty years, I am proud to state that I witnessed, tested and thrived on the lifetime benefits of our information age.

Technology has improved our work/life balance beyond belief.  I remember that moment in 1994, sending my first external email from my apartment to another, emailing outside the corporate walls.  Then in 1999 becoming the first employee of a global corporation to work part-time because technology allowed me to juggle and enabled them to keep tabs on me. And today as I work from home, some of my most productive meetings are held in my large master closet, that’s right a closet with sound-proof walls, because my entire family works from home and having four offices is just not an option.   

But has technology improved our work/life performance? “Of course it has”, we all say! But not every generation, or individuals within each generation, agree. Old habits and strong preferences die hard for some folk like those from Generation X. Nor do some businesses who wonder why their employee stops into the office to deliver bagels but rarely stops in to deliver good results. Today’s office is like an airline’s hub of all communications and collaborations, a central meeting place to check in when necessary. Before we assume technology has enhanced work performance for all generations, let’s look at some drivers of performance.

1. Collaboration

Most collaboration is done virtually. “Seventy-nine percent of people work on virtual teams,” said Rick Puskar, SVP of Customer Experience & Services for Unify. “What’s interesting is that in most organizations there is a preponderance of using yesterday’s tools.” Working together without ever being together, and having never met, seems very difficult, especially to us overachieving Gen Xer’s.  Most Gen Xer’s prefer face-to-face collaboration, at least occasionally, because we feel strongly about knowing our colleagues, connecting with them and knowing how to work with them. This helps to increase our performance and that’s our #1 goal. Obtaining and sharing knowledge 24/7 is becoming easier and faster and this is accelerating as mobile and internet devices are becoming more accessible in emerging markets and from more remote locations.

 2. Concentration

Years ago, going into the office was a concentration haven for Gen X, a place to finally get some peace and quiet and tackle a major project without any distractions. But some of us hid, and that wasn’t good for collaboration. Today, most office floor plans are now open seating with constant noise and interruptions, which doesn’t work for Gen Xer’s. Allison at Accenture says, “I can’t concentrate in the new floor plan. I get so much more done when I work from home.” I find working from home challenging, Gen X is still not used to it. I re-create my “office space” free of barking, echoing, ring tones or doorbells.  Then I turn up my boundaries and lower the screens. For aging Gen X, and maybe every generation, concentrating will be a bigger challenge no matter where we work. With up to five screens going simultaneously, no one is fully engaged unless they work hard at it. Employees need to find the right space that works for them in order to produce the top results.

3. Communication / Connection

As we avoid the corporate “hub” and fly solo in our domains, our human connection diminishes. Does this matter and what does this do to performance? According to an article in Forbes, “The surprising truth about social networks is that it fills the humanity gap many global workers feel in cold, impersonal email chains and conference calls.” I don’t agree, most people will tell you, they want some human connection on a daily basis. As Brenee Brown, the American scholar says, human connection gives people a purpose, a sense of worthiness and if you feel worthy, you are more likely to succeed in life, i.e. to perform.

4. Results

I see “results” losing center stage among so many employees. As our attention spans shrink, to 8-seconds for Gen Z, employees are concerned about their day-to-day performance more than the long-term, the end result of their performance. We have so much freedom to complete our part that we procrastinate more and more. We can pull all-nighters if we have to. However, so far, most organizations have stronger results due to technology. Some employees take advantage of the virtual freedom and negatively affect results. If so, managers have to get tougher and do a little babysitting. Virtual employees need to be held accountable more than ever, e.g. bringing them in for a monthly check-in.

Conclusion

No doubt the benefits of our evolving technology outweigh the challenges for Gen X. And technology gets better every day, making it easier and more productive for us to work virtually. Let employees know the corporate “hub” is here for them and provide an open-door policy 24/7. 


From a Gen Y perspective...

“What technology does is create new opportunities to do a job that customers want done.”                                                                                                                                        - Tim O’Reilly

We can’t help but be Digital Natives. While Generation X and Boomers are still new to the technology game, Gen Y was born and bred amongst technology. The internet, gadgets, apps, social media platforms... are simply a part of our existence. So how does technology affect work skills and productivity?

Digital Distraction

The downside of being the “internet generation”/ “digital natives” is that we are easily distracted by technological platforms, especially social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, email, apps, and websites that cater to our personal brands and hobbies. Because we are addicted to the online and technology space, we will most often have multiple tabs open on our work computers. Obviously, this is not the most fortunate of habits to practice since it markets distraction. Procrastination, boredom, lack of focus and high levels of pudding brain can be expected from an unproductive and mostly unengaged Millennial. That being said, all of the above mentioned can be eliminated by employees if you are able to focus on the positive:

Gen Y means GO!

What are the positive aspects of how technology affects Millennials in the workplace?

1. Gen Y’ers are easily able to create something from scratch using technology.

 2. We are eager to teach Gen Xers and Boomers how to operate technology.

 If corporations knew how to effectively capitalize Gen Yers’ positive technological skills they would not have to hire external businesses to do work for them PLUS they would be engaging Millennials which means LESS distraction, procrastination, boredom and unproductivity in the workplace. They would get their usual “techno fix” whilst their employers benefit from it. As you can see, Generation Y offers more positive and innovative skills for your corporation if you are able to identify it.

Here are a few Insider Tips into how to identity and effectively engage Gen Y’ers when it comes to technology:

 - Show them that you need them. Engage us by showing us that we a valuable for something and that we can really help out. We will go out of our way to figure out innovative solutions for your company. It will make us feel good and hop on the Confidence Train.

- Invite us to teach others. We have all the patience in the world to teach Boomers and Gen X’ers about something we have knowledge about. Whether is it social media, technology, apps or gadgets - ask us to show you how it is done and you’ll learn the know-how of any technological challenge.

- Engage technology. Implement the use of technology wherever possible. In meetings, for surveys, for communication and for professional development - anything to do with technology will light the fire in us.

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It’s August, and for many people in the Northern Hemisphere this is the end of a beautiful sunny summer.  On the outside we look relaxed with a golden tan, a toned body, glowing eyes and a wide smile created by memories of how we felt on vacation. But on the inside many of us are hardly relaxed; we are thinking about fall and the logistics of the soccer team carpool, college applications or a new job. No matter what generation we are in, we need to think about our perspective towards all that we juggle; our holistic perspective, our attitude towards our treadmills, our families and ourselves, is very important and each generation approaches this precious time of year differently. Each generation is at a different stage in life so the see-saw teeters from personal to professional at a different speed.

From a Gen X perspective...

Generation X Reclines, Reviews and Renews... 

The majority of Gen X employees take their grandest vacation in July / August, the perfect time for Gen X to unwind… ok, for a minute. Sitting still on a beach or by the pool is incredibly challenging for Gen X, especially as we get closer to September. We don’t know how to “do nothing”, at least some of us. We think, we fidget, we order drinks, we dig a bit with our kids, we scribble, we take notes on our iPad. 

Why do we worry? Fall is a major time of renewal: kids going back to school, bosses return from a vacation in Bali with a zillion new breakthroughs for the business, employees move all over the world and windows of opportunity open and close simultaneously and instantly. But after a few days, we really start thinking - our perspective changes magically from productivity and logistics to outlook and holistics. Finally, we’re able to contemplate the bigger picture of the treadmill we run on every day, the one we run on physically at 6am and mentally all day long.

Not only do we think about the logistics, but also the holistics of our lives as they are today – how it all works together: our jobs, our skills, our families and our perspectives. As a time strained but content Type A writer / mother, I usually return from vacation with a list of my own rules on how to make this year better - what to focus on, how to be more joyful and what to ignore. For example, I have a new perspective on carpooling:  avoid it. Logistically, my schedule is easier because arranging the car pool took longer than driving it. Holistically, my daily life is calmer with fewer logistics and we spend more time together.

    1.    As Gen X begins turning 50, our perspective on life totally changes.
    As individuals – parents, employees, care takers – we used to obsess over the logistics of our daily lives. We share each other’s schedules over a glass of wine as if we’re discussing the finale of our favorite tv series. But is that what we want to remember about this time in our life? Not me, I want to remember the bigger picture. Gen X is losing interest in the logistics, the details, because the big stuff matters.

    2. For Gen X, it’s a time to reflect and tweak work-life balance.  
    I plan to change my perspective about work, about creating a schedule surrounded by boundaries, and stick to it. As more Gen Xers work from home, we are constantly distracted by most of our responsibilities and it’s hard to complete anything. A flexible schedule means always available to too many people. So here’s what I’m saying – “I am working right now, I will get to it when I’m done.”  All the logistics can wait until my article’s done.

    3. Gen X wants to change careers, when the time is right. Is this the year to make a big career change?  Gen X has been waiting for a promotion for years, with Boomers lovin’ life in the C-Suite. But we are forced to be accountable for everyone, we fear our kids reliving our economical childhood. If I have a 60-minute commute, who will pick up the kids at school?

    4. Soon, Gen X’ers will be empty nesters. What will we do then? As Gen Z’s go off to college, some parents are ecstatic, few depressed, lonely or stunned. The departure can be shocking. If you don’t have a steady income to help pay student loans or keep you busy, then get one. You can begin building a second career now.

    Fall is very different than the New Year. The New Year is about making personal improvements while the fall is about making life-improvements. Nature tells us what to do: get really colorful then shed what we don’t want. Aging, responsible Gen X wants a colorful yet simple life: that’s our new perspective.


    From a Gen Y Perspective...

    "I can’t blame this generation. I can’t blame them for focusing on themselves. They’re reinventing what it means to be successful."                                   
                                                                                   - Jaleh Bisharat, SVP of Marketing at Upwork Marketing

    Generation Y is notorious for being narcissistic, entitled and having an unconventional work ethic, right? To us, success means regularly checking in with ourselves: our workplace performance, work-life balance and personal and professional goals. This may be why we seem distracted and uncommitted - why we may be switching jobs too often or hang around undecided about what we want to do. Because to us, success means being happy and fulfilled.

    We are half way through the work and school year and although Baby Boomers or Generation X may have used only their vacation time to review the months that have passed in 2015, we Millennials haven’t. Instead, we do so throughout the year in up to monthly increments to keep our perspectives in order. Whoa, these kinds of values can be helpful, yet tiring at times. Because we can be quite narcissistic (sorry, team mates!), we are always thinking of ways to better ourselves.

    During this time of the year, we reflect on our position and vision for the year. Gen Y reflects back on what we have achieved thus far, acknowledge it, make necessary changes and tackle the second half of the year. While reflecting on the half-year that’s passed, we don’t just reflect on workplace goals but work-life goals. Here are a few examples of short-term goals throughout the year:

    1. Be more focused at work
    2. Eat healthier and drink less
    3. Sleep 7 hours to have more energy at work
    4. Start planning that road-trip
    5. Be open to working longer hours
    6. Meditate regularly
    7. Save money
    8. Skype your family once per week
    9. Organize a social gathering for your team at work
    10. Start fostering a personal connection with your boss

    I asked a Millennial co-worker of mine about his perspective on the topic of Gen Y objectives and he had the following response: Sometimes, things that we may have thought were imperative at the beginning of the year, are not as significant as we thought they were. Because of this, many of us know that we have to make space for change and fluctuation. I have no reason to pursue a goal that no longer serves me.

    I think his response is quite accurate with regards to the general feeling coming from Generation Y. Which leads me to my following point: how our perspectives lead to our success. The following perspectives are what open up a pathway to success for Millennials (if you’re from another generation, I suggest you lean in and take note in order to get the most from your Gen Y employees):

    • We seek work-life balance because we have an independent and nimble nature.
    • We are entrepreneurial, risk-taking and innovative because there is always a better way.
    • We don’t care about climbing the corporate ladder, we seek fulfillment in the present moment.
    • We seek flexibility in our professional lives.
    • We are digital natives.
    • We prefer to work in a company that serves a community and offers space for personal growth.
    • We are constantly contemplating and checking in with our goals and successes.
    • Personal connections in the workplace matter. Say hi and ask “how are you?”
    • We see everyone as being connected to a team. There is no space for individual players.
    • Success is about being satisfied with all spheres of life.

    There is a new phase of the year upon us and, unfortunately for older generations, our core values may surprise you. We are not overly focused on climbing the corporate ladder. Family values, life experiences and personal connections in the workplace are more important to us. It could be summed up as appreciating a tailor-made lifestyle and a healthy global community.

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    July 25th, 2015 - Phone or Family: Who Are We Vacationing With?

    As long as Gen Xers remember, family vacation is a time to bond, to play games like checkers and cards and to laugh at zany stories from the past. Today maybe more than ever, Generation Z, Tiger moms and overworked parents need a break from this stressful and overstimulating lifestyle of total transaction - don’t they? Millennials on the other hand, view vacation as a birthright. They’re more inclined to spend money on it than possessions. They see value in travel, particularly international journeys and turn to social media sites to spread their excitement about travel to the peers and other generations, including their parents. But why spend thousands of dollars on a family vacation if the family’s heads are buried in screens? To most members of Generation X, you are not completely on vacation if you spend most of your time working, texting or on social media the entire time. While some try incredibly hard to sustain the traditional family vacation, technology has taken over whether you’re on your phone or you’re not.

    From a Gen X perspective...

    Balance Means Plugged In or Unplugged on a Gen X Family Vacation  

    Gen X sees social media and texting (“the phone”) as a frenemy:  we love it to be in touch with kids and friends but dislike it for all that it can deliver. Some Gen Xers are disciplined: they can stay off their phone all day on vacation until they get some downtime to check in with work, social media, and texting. And some are not always that disciplined, like me. So on my last vacation, I took a digital detox for four days and the experience was amazing. The vacation was much more enjoyable because I was in the moment looking up and out, not down! I was so much more relaxed (except for the times I’d wrestle my kids for their phones). I spent more time with my family, I read books and I had great conversations with other phoneless people. I wasn’t taking photos the entire time (luckily someone else was) but it was interesting watching everyone take endless photographs. I realized that the phone’s constant delivery of stimulation is a trigger – yes for happiness through the connecting, but more so a trigger for stress through the demand for immediate reactions. To a Gen X, unplugging is a gift. For four days I saw the sky and not the screen, it was heavenly. 

    Planning the Gen X Family Vacation

    To Gen Xers, vacations are a luxury with most taking 1-2 per year; I know many families that don’t take any.  We put cars and homes and college savings over vacations. We were raised by our frugal parents, taking very few vacations and many of us never went abroad before we were teenagers. When we do travel, we take more educational trips to help broaden our kids' horizons. In terms of planning the vacation, Gen X uses travel websites and Trip Advisor reviews over Facebook. We don’t speak with anyone unless it’s a friend who’s been to our destination. The mof Gen X goes for the best deal and will spend hours, even days, planning an awesome trip for less money. I have a group of friends that travel a lot and we copy each other’s itineraries – it’s all about saving time.

    Using Social Media Moderately

    Perhaps because Gen X is older than Gen Y, we work hard to “live in the moment”; as we approach 50, we’re appreciating every experience we get to enjoy. To some, including Gen X, that means tweeting and posting photos of what we see, the food we’re eating, and where we are and this is fun in moderation. Personally, unless there’s an emergency, I try to use social media when I’m hanging out or alone, not in a crowd or with my family. Otherwise, what kind of role model am I? We all see those families sitting around the expensive dinner table, with their heads practically on their laps typing fiercely on their phones, not a word said. Not my family. Yet I see my screenagers becoming more addicted to their phones and it worries us, especially on vacation when they have phone access unlike at school or camp. While I’m thrilled they have these social connections, I think phones should be limited to certain times of day on vacation. All day it’s BZZZ and BING and the instant grab.

    Appreciating Concierge Services over WiFi

    Where we travel, some hotels don’t have WiFi in the rooms, especially in developing countries. I love this because this lack of technology acts as my Mother’s helper. Here the kids use their phones less and I don’t have to supervise the time my kids spend on their phone and if they do use the phone. When we do have WiFi, generally speaking, Gen X uses social media for a specific purpose with a specific intent such as making reservations, reading reviews about places, calling in the kids, posting some photos and checking in with work. If we’re paying for a concierge at a hotel, why spend hours searching the internet if a friendly knowledgeable person is 2 minutes away at the front desk? Most concierges provide better info and maps than a website any day. I favor the human interaction, even if the phone is your best friend.


    From a Gen Y perspective...

    It’s all about the Balance

    Millennials are not black and white when it comes to work life and personal life. That’s why divorcing ourselves from our social media networks, like Gen Xers, does not mean we get to take a break from our mobiles. For Generation X, the smartphone is a symbol of work and constant communication. For Generation Y it is a tool that allows us to achieve balance by simultaneously focusing on work and play. That is why, during vacations, smartphones are always a priority. There is no difference between the time we spend on social media during the work week and during vacation. For example, this summer I will be vacationing on a remote island in the Philippines for a week-long detox and spiritual retreat and a month in advance I already started contemplating how and when I will sneak in some online time without disturbing my wellness retreat schedule. Older generations would say it’s ironic that social media updates are a priority during this time. I choose to differ: I have an online brand to uphold and the vacation I have chosen is a good reflection of my values, desires and dreams. This online brand I’m feeding is important because it will hopefully contribute to my career one day. Furthermore, it is not only about sharing more of my personal brand with my loved ones and the world, but documenting it for me so that I can someday return to those colorful picture-perfect moments I spent on the island.

    Planning vacations to the Tee

    I like to think that going on social media whilst vacationing created the term FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). How many of us have scrolled through Facebook, Instagram or blogs to find ourselves dumbfounded by the awe-inspiring travels our peers get to experience? The internet simply is part of this generation’s DNA, so naturally it plays a vital role in educating us about our travel plans. We work out the details of a trip before seeing an agent to perfect the details and do most of our research ahead of time - surfing the web, reading online reviews and asking our online networks how to travel and best places to go. Social media allows Gen Y users to share and repost things that interest them, and for Millennials, it’s also a great source for travel inspiration. Overall, when it comes to booking a trip, 48 percent of people go to friends or family for recommendations. But those under 35 years old are more likely to be influenced by articles and videos on websites, as well as posts on social media.

    Connection Trumps (Almost) Everything

    WiFi is a life source for Generation Y and it is expected in hotel rooms where our multiple devices can be hooked up immediately. Gen Yers appreciates services and mobile apps that make everything accessible at once. Some of the younger part of the generation would consider a hotel having high-speed internet a bigger priority than great food. Once again, a trip isn’t a trip without posting a few vacation pictures for your followers to gaze at. In an attempt to capture a perfectly Instagram-able photograph, we Gen Yers are all about sharing every detail of our well-planned adventurous holiday. That being said, switching off doesn't necessarily mean logging out. 

    ****

    So as Gen X, Y and Z travels, we'd like to remind you to look up once in a while, we want you to remember some of your vacation. Make some phone limits while on vacation if you or your travel mates are addicted. However, if the family is on social media the whole time, why pay for the trip? Get some comfy couches, gourmet food, play waves on the audio and lots of phones – this is a lot cheaper.

    Happy holidays, ya’ll!

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    June 26th, 2015 - Generation Talk in the Workplace: What Are We Thinking?

    Granted, these are just two unscientific opinions... but here is what different generations think about each other in the workplace - provoking and uncensored!

    From a Gen X perspective...

    Baby Boomers - Enough Boom Already

    To the 1.2 billion Baby Boomers around the world: While we admire your hard work ethic, historical knowledge, flamboyant success and intense commitment, please consider retiring because we want your big wig role, NOW! You climbed the ladder to the top and have had many years of corporate pampering, so please throw in the towel and give Gen X a chance to join the C-Suite before some tech-savvy Gen Y steals our spot!

    It’s time for some rest and relaxation, travel the world, enjoy life, take a break from moving, shaking and schmoozing your whole career. I bet your bank account is so high, it’s in some Caribbean island, that’d be a perfect place to visit. You've worked incredibly hard your entire life, while raising some pretty, let’s say, interesting heavily indulged Gen Yers, who could use your attention.  I think now is the right time to retire and spend time with them.

    Why do we ask? Many Gen Xers have kids to put through college with n0 funds saved and no athletic scholarships on the horizon. If you stay, can you at least donate to their college fund?

    Generation X - The Sandwich Generation (Again!)

    Here we are again, sitting in the middle of 3 generations trying to juggle work and family while trying to get attention from our Boomer bosses, or really attention from anyone.  At 1.9 billion globally, we too are a large generation, yet so unnoticed.  Most of us are in the same job that we’ve held for over 15 years, staying put because we crave our paychecks, fear the unknown from the 2008 recession and heck yes, we’re beyond comfortable with our work-life-balance. Finally someone, some organization, has recognized our needs such as flex time. Why leave?

    But Gen X needs to get out of their comfort zone before it’s too late, before they are glued to the corner desk to ride out their career.  We should consider looking for jobs in new organizations, taking a risk with the intent of moving up.  We’re scared but we’re also talented and experienced enough to lead Gen Y and Gen Z.  Boomers ain’t movin’ out, so let’s find a new sandbox to play in.

    Gen Y - Why Not Me

    Gen X is celebrating your maturity, and as a result we are beginning to enjoy working with you despite our different styles. We have learned to embrace your enthusiasm and zest for life even though your uppity lack of commitment continues to annoy us. As latchkey kids, Gen X was ignored in childhood and it’s a struggle to accept your younger Gen Y peer ignoring you. While Gen X appears to be unemotional, we are probably the most emotional of all generations due to what we’ve endured and how intensely we’re raising our children. So try to think about someone besides yourselves, you could learn a lot from us, especially about raising kids, holding a job and settling into a stable life.

    We realize Gen Z is riding on your coattails and soon you will have to share the spotlight which may be very hard for you.  Look out for Gen Z – they have all of your strengths and then some. Gen X is going to bond with Gen Z and Gen Y could feel left out for the first time ever in their lives. So Gen Y, please come back down to earth and try a little harder to get along with everyone.

    Gen Z - Stand Back for Z, Everybody

    Wow Gen Z, we are blown away by your enthusiasm and motivation to work here, to work in the corporate world. But really, are you sure this is what you want? We’ve been here 20 years and believe me, it’s not that exciting (though Gen X is quite cynical). But we’re glad you find it amazing – and congratulations on your position. Did your Gen X parents make you do this, did they get you the job like Ms. Millennial’s parents did over there? It’s impressive that 60% of Gen Z wants internships, so congratulations on getting in. 

    So what do you want from Gen X? Just email me a list because we’re exhausted by our own Gen Z kids and really don’t want to deal… unless you can share some of your social media skills, so I can stalk my kids and make the company look good. See all the people here that look like your parents? We’re waiting in line for a promotion, waiting for the even older people to retire. But in the meantime, because we care about our kids, and kids your age, we’d like to become your mentors.


    From a Gen Y perspective...

    Baby Boomers - The Boomers Are Bombing

    When I think of the baby boomer generation, I think of Donald Trump. “Mr Donald”, as Donald Trump proudly calls himself, is the quintessential example of the baby boomer: competitive, workaholic, influential, non-conformist, independent and goal-oriented. As you may know, he recently stood for presidential candidacy but his pride and ego got the better of him when he sparked global headlines with the derogatory statements he made towards Mexican immigrants, causing him to lose not only the public’s respect but also his television shows with NBC.

    I get the feeling boomers are at the point where they are just hanging around because they’re bored. Retirement and down-time doesn’t seem to be a personal option for them yet. Over the years, baby boomers have created a legacy of wealth, financial and commercial security and then some, paving the way for younger generations, but ladies and gentlemen - whether you like it or not - it’s time to follow suit and time to make space for other generations to move up the corporate ladder.

    Generation X - Sorry Guys...

    I feel sorry for Generation X. They had no path to pave or mark to make because the baby boomers stole their limelight. Generation X comes across as very hard working, quite insecure with their talents, and as if they rely solely on their ability to commit to their jobs and work long hours without complaining. I’d be the same if I worked under Donald Trump’s regime!

    I get the feeling that if Gen Xers were given their chance to take the lead they would rise and shine. Unfortunately, with the onset of majorly populated and on-trend Gen Y and Z it might be difficult for Xers to get that opportunity. Whilst it may be challenging for Gen X to work with Gen Y, they should give Gen Z a try. They’ll make perfect partners because they’ll be able to teach each other a thing or two about past and present ways of doing things, yet Gen Zs won’t be as over-powering and uncommitted as Gen Ys.

    My thoughts are that if Gen X wants the life they have always dreamed of, then go and create it for yourself. You may not want to take that risk but for us younger generations, you are a mentor and a true example of corporate integrity. Step it up a notch and chase those dreams!

    Generation Y - Commitment With Heart

    It is easy for us to throw around big words and big ideas without any knowledge of how to achieve them. This may hurt or help Generation X! Being the kid of boomer parents, we believe anything is possible yet (embarrassingly enough) we lack corporate commitment and struggle to finish things. We so badly want to do it but with our creative minds and technologically adapted habits we can be a little socially awkward. Our overly zealous attitude towards life can get us in trouble sometimes.

    From Generation Y onwards it is a completely other ball game, purely from a technological and social standpoint. We are exceptionally well educated, enthusiastic, and keen to join the party but unlike baby boomers and Gen Xers - it is difficult for us to stay committed… unless we really love what we do! If we agree with your company’s mission statement be ready to be surprised. We come with that edgy, innovative and inventive flair that previous generations hardly placed emphasis on.

    Luckily for Gen X, we have the patience and desire to involve you and teach you about being tech-savvy. Give us a call if you need some digital copywriting done or websites created!

    Generation Z - A Tsunami of Brand Ambassadors

    Go go gadget! I get the feeling society is judging and labelling Gen Z before they have even gotten a chance to prove themselves. However, off the top of my head I get the feeling they will be outshining every other generation in the upcoming years, even my own generation. Being the most advanced and modern generation definitely puts Generation Z at the forefront of leadership, making them more connected and informed that any other generation.

    From what I have seen on social media, Gen Z’s are rocking it! I find myself saying: “I wasn’t so put together or sassy at 15!” Somehow, Gen Z’s are mature beyond their years. I have a feeling they are going to fashion our future. Embracing technology and consumer empowerment, their excellent sense of self-awareness and self-expression online makes it easy for corporations to tap into their needs and wants. According to US-based agency Sparks and Honey, Generation Z is a "population tsunami" whose mission is to synchronize brands with emerging culture: "We notice very strong shifts in how teenagers see the world compared with Millennials."

    * * *

    So what about you, what Generation Talk do YOU hear in the Workplace?

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