To Better Understand Gen Z, Take a Look Back

As a reminder for everyone, the “context” around you affects everything else.

In the case of this post:

  • My wife and I are Baby Boomers (born in late 50s)
  • My four children and their spouses are GenXers and Millenials (born between 1981 and 1992)
  • My six grandchildren are Gen Zers (born between 2008 and 2020)

Generational cohorts (like the above) are a source of never-ending curiosity for me. From being in the largest group (Boomers) to having kids at the end of one cohort (Gen X) to the beginning of the next (Millenials) to having grandchildren born in the middle of the next cohort (Gen Z), just observing and interacting with my immediate family has been fascinating.

Increasingly though, I am being drawn to GenZ; specifically, this generations’s defining moment.

And to no surprise, virtually everyone is pointing to the COVID-19 pandemic as the defining moment of GenZ.

As The Center for Generational Kinetics defines it, a defining moment:

Takes place at the right time in a generation’s coming of age experience. The event or external influence needs to occur at a formative time in a generation’s coming of age experience, which is usually an age range from childhood through early adulthood. The key is the generation needs to be old enough to deeply experience the event while at the same be in a young enough life stage where it can significantly impact their views, beliefs, and attitude toward their world and their future.

Creates a powerful, unforgettable emotional impact, usually tied to fear and uncertainty caused by the event and its aftermath. These moments tend to make a generation feel vulnerable and look at the world differently than they did before, such as the way 9/11 impacted Millennials or how the JFK assassination affected Baby Boomers. 

More from CGK:

For Gen Z, COVID-19 has upended almost every aspect of their life. For younger members of Gen Z, they no longer go to school with classmates, see their friends in-person, or work part-time jobs. Instead, they are confined to their home, with a parent or other family members, and trying to continue their education at a time when many schools do not have an effective distance learning program. These same Gen Zers are seeing their parents struggle financially, including job losses, inability to pay rent, and tension between adults within their household as everyone deals with this new reality and the close quarters of being quarantined.

Gen Zers from the class of 2020 in high school saw standardized testing canceled, no graduation ceremony, uncertainty about college options, financial pressure, and no ability to play competitive sports or drive academic achievements or progress that could change their future. These Gen Zers are telling us they worry if college will even take place in the fall. Will they move out of their family’s home this year? If college is all online, how will they have a traditional college experience? While the COVID-19 experience can vary widely based on our interviews with Gen Zers from different socioeconomic, geographic, and other factors, the result continues to be a real question mark about what will happen after their senior year of high school.

At the same time, Gen Zers who are in the workforce are disproportionately in the service industry, hourly workers, in entry-level jobs, or are young professionals as they are typically on the very front end of their careers. These same Gen Zers are often the first to get laid off or furloughed as many industries contract. Gen Z can also suffer from the “last hired, first fired” mantra of years past. Put all this together, and Gen Zers already in the workforce are feeling a massive reset at exactly the time they should be starting to build their independence and self-reliance. 

Gen Zers who are in college are often experiencing a hybrid of the newly upended work and education reality. Some colleges and trade schools have moved quickly to cancel all on-campus classes and move to online learning while others are struggling under the weight and scale of the change— as well as the practical limitations of specific learning activities, such as scientific lab access. Add to this mix the unknown about whether or not colleges will refund room and board, whether international students who had to go home will be able to return, and the overnight change of having tremendous freedom taken away as they move back in with their family. There is a lot for Gen Z college students to worry about besides just finishing their classes.

On top of Gen Z’s work and school impacts from COVID-19, add all of these significant stressors: the heavy external influence of daily death counts and mortality rates, fear of losing their parents, grandparents, or friends, and the endless social media echoing how bad the world is around them. It’s easy to see why COVID-19 is a Generation Defining Moment for Gen Z—and the impact gets deeper the longer the event is extended and the more uncertainty, fear, and difficulty it creates. 

from “The State of Gen Z 2019-2020,” The Center for Generational Kinetics

Wow – is that heavy, or what?

And yet, I have reason to hope. Reason based on the fact that while we may live in a very tumultuous time, and uncertainty is a constant, all this is not new.

It’s highly likely that some of the best understanding of the future can be gained by studying the past.

And that past reveals – going back hundreds of years, and a couple dozen generational cohorts – is that generations have a cyclical pattern.

What Gen Z is experiencing today – not the specifics, but broad understandings – can be unlocked by looking at a prior generation.

The farther you look back, the farther forward you are likely to see.

Winston Churchill

My grandchildren may well be shaped by circumstances and events like their great-grandparents, born in 1925-1942.

More to come!

Four Core Guest Experience Behaviors to Practice

First impressions are automatic – taken in and recorded by our senses, often registered for later recall. More often than not, they make an immediate impact on our decision to participate and to return – or not. We may not agree with it or not, but the consumer mentality of the world we live in has moved full force into our church world. Our churches don’t compete with the “world” so much as the experiences of the world.

As you live your life day in and out, you are living the life of a consumer.

  • Where do you consume?
  • Where do you shop?
  • Who provides service for you?
  • Most importantly, why?

You may stop at your favorite coffee shop for a good cup of coffee – and the conversations you have with the barista and the other regulars in the shop. Your supermarket always has good value and a wide selection of the food your family likes. Clothes from a particular shop just fit better – and the sales associates are always helpful with suggestions. The point is, you have established expectations of each place and the people who work there.

Is it any different for Guests and attendees at your church?

If your goal is to create a space and an experience that will positively impact people, you must first plan and evaluate it from the perspective of its quality. You start that process by examining the daily places and routines in the offices, retail, and recreation spaces of the people you are trying to reach. The homes they live in, the offices they work in and the stores they shop in all communicate a level of expectation they have for their space.

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the last time you truly had a great experience with a company as a consumer, an experience that captured your heart, soul, mind, and spirit. What about it was special? Call it “X” – that “je ne sais quoi” that makes something so special.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A by Steve Robinson

The longtime chief marketing officer for Chick-fil-A tells the inside story of how the company turned prevailing theories of fast-food marketing upside down and built one of the most successful and beloved brands in America.

During his thirty-four-year tenure at Chick-fil-A, Steve Robinson was integrally involved in the company’s steady then explosive growth from 184 stores and $100 million in annual sales in 1981 to more than 2,100 stores and more than $6.8 billion in annual sales in 2015. As a member of the marketing team and as chief marketing officer, Robinson was both a witness and participant in the company’s remarkable development into an indelible global success. Now he shares the story of Chick-fil-A’s evolution into one of the world’s most beloved, game-changing, and profitable brands. From the creation of the “Eat Mor Chikin” campaign to the decision to stay closed on Sundays to the creation of the company’s corporate purpose, Robinson provides a front-row seat to the innovative marketing, brand strategies, and programs that created a culture customers describe as “Where good meets gracious.” 

Drawing on his personal interactions with the gifted team of company leaders, restaurant operators, and Truett Cathy himself, Robinson explains the important traits that built the company’s culture and have sustained it through recession and many other challenges. He also reveals how every aspect of the company’s approach reflects an unwavering dedication to Christian values and to the individual customer experience. Written with disarming candor and revealing storytelling, Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A is the never-before-told story of a great American success.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The famous “My pleasure” response of Chick-fil-A team members arose from an experience by founder Truett Cathy in 2000. In 2003, Truett and his son Dan co-wrote the following leadership message, entitled, “My Pleasure”:

“My Pleasure” is more than just an operating standard and more than just a personal request. “My Pleasure” is an expression from the heart where team members, Operators, or staff members literally show that they want to go the extra mile – that they truly care about the other person. They have enough value in the other person to exceed expectations.

It was a transformative moment, charting a course to a place where a warm greeting would infuse every Chick-fil-A restaurant and create a culture of genuine hospitality.

As we began the journey to create an entirely new service model without the constraints of the fast-food tradition, we asked customers “What makes you feel most cared for? What made you want to come back to Chick-fil-A?”

More than 90 percent of guests answered, “When someone smiles at me, looks me in the eye, and lets me know I’m being cared for and treated with excellence. That’s above and beyond what I expect at a fast-food restaurant.”

If these were the desires of our guests, then we needed to package them in a way that made them easy for team members to remember. So we created the Core 4:

Create eye contact.

Share a smile.

Speak with an enthusiastic tone.

Stay connected to make it personal.

These were the four behaviors we wanted team members to extend whenever they were engaging a guest in a restaurant. When we packaged the request that way, it was amazing to see how teachable it was. Team members got it. The requirements were not lost among the other requirements in the quality guide.

We didn’t want to stop at “smiling and eye contact” and “my pleasure,” so we explored what we might add to take us into the second mile, and we selected three additional behaviors:

Carry eat-in meals to the table.

Check in with guests for any needs.

Carry large orders, such as Chick-fil-A trays, to the car.

These simple, proactive behaviors became our “recipe for service.” As the name implies, this recipe consists of ingredients that are as critical as the ingredients in any of our menu items.

Steve Robinson, Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A

A NEXT STEP 

It’s time for a field trip! If you are lucky enough to have a Chick-fil-A restaurant nearby, take your team to lunch. As you prepare to go, instruct the team to be on the lookout for the specific behaviors described above.

If you are not located near a Chick-fil-A, take your team to another local restaurant. As you prepare to go, instruct the team to be on the lookout for specific behaviors mentioned above that may or may not be present.

After lunch, gather your team together for a debrief session. On a chart tablet, list comments by your teams during their experience. Underline the positive ones and circle the neutral or negative ones.

After everyone has had a chance to list their comments, lead a discussion about how the experience may prove instructive for developing your own “recipe for service.” On a separate chart tablet, list the ideas of your team that might comprise your “recipe.”

Review the list, and agree on no more than five actions that you will put into practice immediately. Assign a champion to create and deliver the “recipe” to your hospitality team leaders, and work with the leaders to implement across all teams.

After a six-week period of following the “recipe,” bring all the team leaders together to evaluate, and if necessary, revise the “recipe.” Continue to follow the “recipe” for the next six months, and revisit it again at the end of that period.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 124-2, released August 2019.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

Leading Forward by Looking Back: The Leadership Lessons of Walt Disney

Courage is the main quality of leadership, in my opinion, no matter where it is exercised. Usually it implies some risk – especially in new undertakings. Courage to initiate something and to keep it going – pioneering and adventurous spirit to blaze new ways.   – Walt Disney

Walt Disney – and the company he founded in 1923 – was no stranger to adversity and even failure.

The setbacks, tough times, and even failures of Walt Disney are well-documented. In every case, he led the company bearing his name to greater success in spite of adversity.

Today is a sobering, disconcerting time to be a Cast Member of any Disney organization. In the last week I have had several conversations with both current and former Cast Members, and to a person, there has been one trait that stands out.

Optimism.

Even when it is hard to see in the increasing numbers of Cast Members laid off, the curtailment of operations, the postponement of work in progress, and the likely cancellation of future planning, optimism is the underlying strength of the Walt Disney Company.

So where did that come from?

Jim Korkis is a Disney historian and long-time writer and teacher about Walt Disney and the organization he created. Who’s the Leader of the Club: Walt Disney’s Leadership Lessons is a departure for Korkis in that his usual subject matter is about the culture and history of Disney, a topic which he is uniquely qualified to write about.

As a boy, he grew up grew up in Glendale, California, which just happened to be located next to Burbank – the home of the Disney Studios. Korkis was an inquisitive and undaunted fan of Disney who not only watched the weekly Disney television series but took the initiative to write down the names he saw on the end credits.

He matched passion with inquisitiveness and began to look for those names in the local phonebook. Upon finding one, he would call the individual up and ask them about their work. Many were gracious enough to invite Korkis to their homes where he spent hours being enthralled by their stories of their work at the Disney organization.

Fast forward decades, where you will find that Korkis relocated to Orlando FL to take care of aging parents. In his own words,

I got a job at Walt Disney World that included assisting with the professional business programs, where I met many executives who had worked with Walt Disney and been trained by him.

I was often called on to research, design and facilitate customized programs for different Disney clients like Feld Entertainment, Kodak, Toys “R” Us and more that touched on both the connections of the individual companies to Disney history, as well as how Walt did business.

I was tapped to do this work because of my knowledge of Walt Disney and his approach to business.

I got the opportunity to meet with some of Walt’s “original cast.” I was enthralled by their stories and experiences and took detailed notes. Hearing stories about how Walt led and how he expected others to lead with compassion, integrity and common sense made a huge impact on me.

Twenty years later, the result is Who’s the Leader of the Club.

Korkis goes to great lengths to use Walt Disney’s own words, from a variety of published and unpublished interviews, as well as the words of those who personally experienced him in action, to help elaborate and describe the basic concepts.

In doing so, we have delivered to us a refreshing breath of fresh air – a business book using the words and actions of a rare genius that are glaringly absent from most organizations today.

Five decades after Walt Disney’s death, his achievements and legacy continue to inspire new generations.

In my case, it’s actually to re-inspire old generations. As a Baby Boomer, I grew up with “The Wonderful World of Disney” as a weekly television show. As a child, I was taken to see most of the Disney films of the 60’s and early 70’s. As a teenager, I took myself – and then, once I became a father, took my family to see those movies. Though I only visited Walt Disney World once as a teenager, I maintained a fascination with the Disney organization that has continued to grow through the years.

In the early 2000s my vocational role as a consultant to churches took on a specific niche – a focus on guest experiences. That lead to a Disney immersion of research, books, films, on-site visits, and conversations with Disney Cast Members past and present. Over the past three years alone, I have spent over 70 days on Disney properties from coast to coast – and on the oceans. My Disney library numbers over 400 volumes – the oldest released in 1939; the newest coming hot off the press next week.

Vital to that immersion was the work of Jim Korkis – through his books and writings by, for, and about Walt Disney and the Disney organization.

By his own admission, Who’s the Leader of the Club was the most difficult book Korkis has ever written. That may be true from his perspective, but the words and stories flow off the page and into the reader’s conscience in an almost imperceptible manner.

Leaders of any organization would do well to settle in with Who’s the Leader of the Club, and be prepared for a story-filled journey of insight into one of the most creative geniuses of recent history.

Along with the stories the reader will find seven “lessons” about Walt Disney’s leadership. Best of all, Korkis concludes each of the “lesson” chapters with a one page checklist called “What Would Walt Do?” summarizing the key points in the lesson and a space to write notes.

Of course, when Korkis wrote the book, he could not have anticipated the  uncertainty caused by the disruption to the Disney “kingdoms” around the world by the pandemic.

Disney will emerge a greatly-changed organization – and future generations of families – and leaders – will benefit from it. After all, Walt Disney himself went through countless setbacks, and even failures, before the launch of the Walt Disney Company in 1923…

…and look what that has brought to the world in the almost-100 years since!

What are you waiting for? It’s time to join the “club!”

For more on the book by Korkis himself, see here.

Who's the Leader of the Club

Improve Your Ability to Connect with Others by Focusing Less on Yourself

Many, if not most, church staff leaders consider themselves good speakers. The basics are simple: leaders speak, their audience listens, and then they act on what was said.

Church leaders also know that rarely happens, and that there’s really much more to it than that. While it may be easy to speak to groups of all sizes and on many diverse topics, one critical question remains: “Are we connecting with our audience?”

To fully connect with an audience, leaders need to understand “empathy.” While you may not equate the word empathy with excellent communication skills, it actually is the secret to connecting with your audience. 

When you are able to put yourself in another person’s shoes, and try to see things from their point of view, their world, and their perspective, you will have a greater chance at both reaching and connecting with them.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond by Jay Sullivan

Simply Said is the essential handbook for business communication. Do you ever feel as though your message hasn’t gotten across? Do details get lost along the way? Have tense situations ever escalated unnecessarily? Do people buy into your ideas? It all comes down to communication. We all communicate, but few of us do it well. 

From tough presentations to everyday transactions, there is no scenario that cannot be improved with better communication skills. This book presents an all-encompassing guide to improving your communication, based on the Exec|Comm philosophy: we are all better communicators when we focus less on ourselves and more on other people. More than just a list of tips, this book connects skills with scenarios and purpose to help you hear and be heard. You’ll learn the skills to deliver great presentations and clear and persuasive messages, handle difficult conversations, effectively manage, lead with authenticity and more, as you discover the secrets of true communication.

Communication affects every interaction every day. Why not learn to do it well? This book provides comprehensive guidance toward getting your message across, and getting the results you want.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

All leaders aspire to be better communicators. And most times, leaders feel that better communication starts with them. While not wrong, it would be a mistake to think that the focus needs to be on ourselves.

If we put the focus on what the other person is trying to gain from our exchange, we will do a better job communicating, because we will select more pertinent information, drill down to the desire level of detail, and make the information we are sharing more accessible to our audience.

If we want to improve our ability to connect with others, to understand them and to be understood more clearly, the easiest and most effective way to do so is to focus less on ourselves and more on the other person.

This is the single most significant differentiator we can apply to our communication skills to improve our effectiveness.

Your message to the world is, of necessity, your message connecting you to the world.

Your Content: the substance of what you want to convey.

Your Oral Communication Skills: the way you convey your substance.

Your Written Communication Skills: the way you represent yourself when you’re not physically present.

Your Interactions: the settings in which you engage your audience, whether it’s an audience of one or one hundred or one thousand.

Your Leadership: the way you set the tone and relate to others.

Jay Sullivan, Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond

A NEXT STEP

Set aside some time for personal reflection on your ability to connect with others by focusing less on yourself and more on the other person.

Using the five statements above, rate yourself on a scale of one to five, where one equals “I really need help in this area” and five equals “I am consistent in this area.”

Use the following suggestions from author Jay Sullivan to improve in each of the areas above in which you scored yourself anything less than a three.

Your Content

  • Convey a clear message
  • Tell engaging stories
  • Organize your content

Your Oral Communication Skills

  • Make the most of your body language
  • Listen to understand
  • Deliver from notes and visuals
  • Respond to questions

Your Written Communication Skills

  • Edit for clarity
  • Structure your documents
  • Create reader-friendly documents
  • Write emails that resonate

Your Interactions

  • Conduct effective meetings
  • Delegate successfully
  • Share meaningful feedback

Your Leadership

  • Lead others with inspiration and influence
  • Show vulnerability

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 129, released October 2019.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

Looking Through the Generational Lens

One of the consistent lenses I use to view life through is that of generations.

It comes as a natural part of my curiosity of life, as I am interacting with 5 generational cohorts in my family: my parents and in-laws are from the GI Generation; I am a Baby Boomer; my oldest son and one daughter-in-law are Gen Xers; my other three children, two daughters-in-law and one son-in-law are Millennials; and my 6 grandchildren are Gen Zers. Even though we are spread out across three states (and occasionally, around the world) and do not get to interact as much as we would like, the personal level of generational differences is obvious.

Take the same dynamics as above – 5 generations – and move them into the institutional world, say a church setting, and it won’t be long till you have a generational collision.

If you are a leader in ChurchWorld, how do you deal with the fact that, for the first time in our history, we can have five separate and distinct generations working alongside each other in our churches? The 5th generation, born since the mid-2000’s, is not far behind in taking up a leadership role.

Generational differences are important, but it is all too easy to stereotype these differences. The only way we’ll ever build bridges between generations is to stop stereotyping and get to know who these generations really are and why they are that way.

An interesting book on the subject: Sticking Points – How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart, by Haydn Shaw. Here’s a teaser:

For the first time in history, we have four different generations in the workplace (and five in families). These generations might as well be from different countries, so different are their cultural styles and preferences. Of the four approaches organizations can take to blending the generations, only one of them works today. Focusing on the “what” escalates tensions, while focusing on the “why” pulls teams together. Knowing the twelve sticking points can allow teams to label tension points and work through them—even anticipate and preempt them. Implementing the five steps to cross-generational leadership can lead to empowering, not losing, key people.

How many different generations do you regularly interact with?

How’s that going?

Encourage All Generations on Your Team to Connect Through Real Conversations

In 2020, 25 percent of the labor force will be over the age of 55 – and they’re not retiring anytime soon. These projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the US Department of Labor indicate that not only will Baby Boomers continue to work alongside their current Generation X and Millennial colleagues, but that they will still be around when Generation Z joins the workforce.

The result? A clash of cultures that will require a new management approach.

Gone are the days when people entered the workforce as young adults, worked until their late 50s, and then moved off into retirement while younger generations took their place. Instead, the average retirement age has steadily been creeping up in recent decades as older employees – in particular, the Baby Boomers – stay in the workforce either by choice or by necessity.

Of course, the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic are still reverberating across home, work, and church settings, so everything is up for grabs!

Before we dive into the discussion, here’s a brief recap of just who comprises the generational cohorts mentioned above. While there’s no set standard, the following descriptions are generally accepted:

  • Baby Boomers – born in the years 1946-1964, numbering about 76 million people
  • Generation Xers – born in the years 1965-1980, numbering about 66 million people
  • Millennials – born in the years 1981-1997, numbering just over 83 million people
  • Generation Zers – born in the years 1998-present, numbering over 80 million and still growing

THE QUICK SUMMARY – You Can’t Google It! The Compelling Case for Cross-Generational Conversation at Work by Phyllis Weiss Haserot

Much of the learning, skills and perspective people of all ages need to succeed long-term in their careers is not found in data on the Internet, but rather in conversations and personal relationships with the people they work with.

Tech tools have trained us to search the Internet for answers to everything, but we can’t find most of the non-technical or non-data-based answers we seek there. Learning about perspectives, relationships and experiences comes best from conversations.

In most organizations there are three, four, or even five generations working together with differing expectations about how things are done and by whom. People of different generations are increasingly isolated physically, functionally, or emotionally from each other both by communication styles and media and lack of the perspective that would help them understand why people think and act as they do. You Can’t Google It! facilitates action to promote and foster cross-generational conversation in organizations on both the parts of management and the multi-generational teams that are increasingly the key to productivity, profitability and sustainability.

You Can’t Google It! is a tool to help organizations and individuals remove the stress, frustration, and negative energy that often arises from working with people of different generations, so they understand and are able to accomplish their common goals―faster and profitably. It is about the implications of different generations, and how to move towards closing that gap.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Author Phyllis Weiss Haserot pulls no punches in establishing the issue of cross-generational conversations:

  • As an established professional, do you question the work ethics of young employees and co-workers?
  • As a young professional, how do you deal with resistance to your ideas from Baby Boomers who think their experience and seniority mean they know it all?
  • Will your organization be threatened because key personnel will soon reach traditional retirement age?
  • Are you wondering how to transform intergenerational challenges into an asset for your organization?

Much of the learnings, skills, and perspectives that people of all ages need to succeed – especially in working with each other – are not found in data on the Internet but rather in conversations and personal relationships with the people they work with. The new multigenerational paradigm is meaningful cross-generational conversation.

GENgagementTM can be defined as the state of achieving harmony, mutual involvement and cooperation, flow, and ongoing absorption in work with people of different generations.

GENgagement means getting all of the generations to understand each other, their influences, and their worldview so they can work collaboratively, loyally, and productively.

It is integral to the mission of transforming workplaces into engaged and productive environments for solving problems and being great places to work. Equally important, it helps individuals and organizations develop closer rapport and loyalty bonds with clients and other external stakeholders – the bedrock of any mission-driven organization.

A satisfying and perennial recipe for GENgagement contains these ingredients as integral to the experience for all personnel:

Defining the big picture for everyone

Having a clear purpose and mission

Visioning – what achieving the mission and purpose will look like

Communicating the importance of each person’s role

Living a culture that respects the values of and promises to employees, clients, donors, alumni, etc. every day

Enabling multigenerational input to organization and and market strategy and service delivery

A sense of joy and continuing curiosity at work

Phyllis Weiss Haserot, You Can’t Google It! The Compelling Case for Cross-Generational Conversation at Work

A NEXT STEP

Distribute the following questions from author Phyllis Haserot to your team in advance. After they have had time to read through them, gather the team for an extended conversation about each question.

  1. Help me understand your perspective on work and the marketplace outside of our organization. What factors influence your worldview, the attitude you bring to your work, and your interactions with colleagues?
  2. What would you like to see changed about how our work is done, and how can you help make it more effective? How important is hierarch to you? When is years of experience very important in your role, and when are other factors equally or more important?
  3. What is getting in the way of a more productive and satisfying working relationship? How can I as your teammate help you learn how best to work with me?
  4. What would you say are your core values? Do you think they are significantly different from my generation’s core values? How can we jointly overcome intergenerational tensions?
  5. What strategies for impact and influence at work can we learn from each other?

Use these conversations as a springboard to ongoing cross-generational conversations as a regular part of the leadership development process in your organization.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 127-3, released September 2019.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

The Class of 2024 Arrives (Online) at Campus This Fall

An annual tradition, starting at Beloit College in 1998 and now residing at Marist College, is the mindset list of the incoming freshman class – the graduating class of 2024.

They were born in the aftermath of 9/11 and have entered college during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this year’s incoming group of first-year college students, going to college might even require staying home for remote classes; some may simply be taking a gap year.

While the class of 2024 might be questioning what the future holds, one thing is certain: this group of students is living through an unprecedented start to their college careers and their first 18 years have been bookended by key world events.

For a taste, here’s a couple to think about:

  • The necessity of personal protection equipment (PPE) will drive fashion trends for the next couple of seasons as young designers in the class of 2024 adapt face masks and other PPE into functional objects of personal expression.
  • The class of 2024 (and, often, their teachers) expect and embrace a richer diversity of voices in the books they read, and their enthusiasm for young adult (YA) literature has led to the emergence of vibrant new voices such as Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give), Marie Lu (Legend), and Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone). In addition, these students are shaping American literary culture like never before, by contributing commentary and adaptations in online forums such as GoodReads, Reddit, Twitter, and fanfic sites.

Here’s the full press release.

 

About the Mindset List

The Mindset List was created at Beloit College in 1998 to reflect the world view of entering first year students. Developed by Ron Nief, Director Emeritus of Public Affairs at Beloit College, and Beloit Professor Tom McBride, who later collaborated with Beloit Professor of Sociology Charles Westerberg, the list has garnered national and international media attention. In 2019, the list moved to Marist and became the Marist Mindset List. Read more here.

Act Now – It’s Time to Put Yourself in Your Own Story

Information overload.

You live it every day – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. You’re more informed and connected than ever.

Yet, if you’re honest, you’re probably feeling more distracted than ever.

More lonely. More restless.

According to studies done by Barna Research:

  • 71% of people feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they need to stay up to date.
  • 36% of adults stop what they’re doing to check a text or message when it comes in.
  • 35% of adults think their personal electronics sometimes separate them from other people.

Being hyperlinked changes every aspect of our lives – and often, not for the better.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Someday is Not a Day in the Week by Sam Horn

Are you:
• Working, working, working?
• Busy taking care of everyone but yourself?
• Wondering what to do with the rest of your life?
• Planning to do what makes you happy someday when you have more time, money, or freedom?

What if someday never happens? As the Buddha said, “The thing is, we think we have time.”

Sam Horn is a woman on a mission about not waiting for SOMEDAY … and this is her manifesto. Her dad’s dream was to visit all the National Parks when he retired. He worked six to seven days a week for decades. A week into his long-delayed dream, he had a stroke. Sam doesn’t want that to happen to you. She took her business on the road for a Year by the Water. During her travels, she asked people, “Do you like your life? Your job? If so, why? If not, why not?”

The surprising insights about what makes people happy or unhappy, what they’re doing about it (or not), and why…will inspire you to carve out time for what truly matters now, not later.

Life is much too precious to postpone. It’s time to put yourself in your own story. The good news is, there are “hacks” you can do right now to make your life more of what you want it to be. And you don’t have to be selfish, quit your job, or win the lottery to do them. Sam Horn offers actionable, practical advice in short, snappy chapters to show you how to get started on your best life ― now.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

According to author Sam Horn, you don’t need to quit your job, win the lottery, or walk away from your responsibilities to make your life more of what you want it to be.

There are things you can do right here, right now, to be happier, healthier, and more fulfilled.

There are steps you can take to make your life more fulfilling.

It’s time to hack your life by tapping into proven best practices, expedite results and discover a shortcut to success.

Make your “one day” Day One.

The Ten Life Hacks are actions you can take to create a more fulfilling life, sooner, not later. Please note: These hacks are a framework, not a formula. 

LIFE HACK 1:  Evaluate Your Happiness History

LIFE HACK 2:  Generate a Today, Not Someday Dream

LIFE HACK 3:   Abdicate Outdated Beliefs and Behaviors

LIFE HACK 4:   Initiate Daily Actions that Move Your Life Forward

LIFE HACK 5:   Celebrate What’s Right with Life, Right Here, Right Now

LIFE HACK 6:   Affiliate with People Who Have Your Back and Front

LIFE HACK 7:   Integrate Your Passion and Profession

LIFE HACK 8:   Negotiate for What You Want, Need, and Deserve

LIFE HACK 9:    Innovate a Fresh Start

LIFE HACK 10: Relocate to Greener Pastures

Sam Horn, Someday is Not a Day in the Week

A NEXT STEP

According to author Sam Horn, the best way to make progress in making your “Someday” is to ask probing questions that prompt you to change – for good.

Listed below are sample questions for each of the ten Life Hacks listed above. Schedule at least thirty minutes a day for the next ten days, and reflect on the questions listed.

LIFE HACK 1: Evaluate Your Happiness History

Play hooky for a day.

  1. How would you spend your free day or afternoon? What would you do if the people you’re responsible for would be taken care of, and there would be no repercussions?
  2. What are three things you would not do on your day of hooky? Why?   

LIFE HACK 2: Generate a Today, Not Someday Dream

Put a date on the calendar.

  1. What would you like to experience or achieve by the end of this year? What is your Today, Not Someday dream? When will you launch it? What “do-date” did you put on your calendar?
  2. Now, start filling in the W’s … where, when, who, what, and why. Who will you discuss this with so they can help you fill in the blanks so your dream goes from vague to vividly clear?
  3. Where will you post your dream so it stays “in sight, in mind,” and you are constantly re-inspired to do what you said you wanted to do?

LIFE HACK 3: Abdicate Outdated Beliefs and Behaviors

Let it go, let it go, let it go.

  1. How do you feel when you walk into your home? Where would your home rate on the “Clutter (1) to Clean (10) Scale”? How does that affect you? Do you feel guilty, stressed, or frustrated with how things have piled up? Or do you feel proud and at peace with how well-designed, organized, and beautiful your space is?
  2. How much time do you spend cleaning, repairing, buying, renovating your stuff? Is that a source of enjoyment, a burden and chore, or something in between? Explain.
  3. Are you ready to downsize your home and/or release some belongings? How will you do that? Who else does this have an impact on? How will you negotiate this with them? What could you do with the resources that would be freed up when you have less to take care of?

LIFE HACK 4: Initiate Daily Actions that Move Your Life Forward

Honor the nudges, and connect the dots.

  1. Do you make room for whims? Why or why not? When was a time you honored a nudge and acted on your intuition? What happened as a result?
  2. Do you think this is a lot of hooey? Does your intellect override your instincts? Or, do you agree that if we have a sixth sense that alerts us to what’s wrong, we also have a sixth sense that alerts us to what’s right? What are your beliefs about this?
  3. How will you honor the instincts that have your best interests at heart? How will you connect the dots, act on “coincidences” that beat the odds, and align with congruent individuals and opportunities that “feel right”?

LIFE HACK 5: Celebrate What’s Right with Life, Right Here, Right Now

Get out of your head and come to your senses.

  1. When was the last time you saw something as if for the first or last time? Describe what happened and what it felt like.
  2. Do you have a busy, stressful life? What is the ongoing impact of rushing, rushing, rushing— and always feeling “an hour late and a dollar short”?
  3. Would you say you have “juice” in your camera? Do you look at the world with fresh eyes? When, where, and how will you get out of your head and come to your senses?

LIFE HACK 6: Affiliate with People Who Have Your Back and Front

Launch your ship in public.

  1. So, what is that venture you want to launch? Who has supported you, cheered you on? What have they done to help you achieve your goal and do what’s important to you?
  2. Who has cautioned you, told you (“ for your own good”) that what you want to do won’t work or isn’t a good idea? What impact has that had on you?
  3. How will you take your dream public and give others a chance to jump on your bandwagon? Will you create a vision board and/or host a Today, Not Someday party? Where did you post your vision so it stays “in sight, in mind”?

LIFE HACK 7: Integrate Your Passion and Profession

Don’t wait for work you love – create work you love.

  1. Do you love your job? Do you feel you’re adding value and contributing? How so?
  2. If you don’t find your work satisfying, why not? What talents or skills are you not having an opportunity to use or get credit for?
  3. What are your Four I’s? How could you leverage them into a paying career where you get paid to do what you’re good at? What is your next step? Will you visit crafts fairs to see how other people have turned a passion into a profession? Elaborate.

LIFE HACK 8: Negotiate for What You Want, Need, and Deserve

If you don’t ask, the answer’s always “No.”

  1. When is a time you asked for something you wanted – whether it was a promotion, project lead, or pay raise? How did you prepare? What was the result?
  2. When is a time you waited for someone to “do the right thing,” act on your behalf, or give you what you deserved? As Dr. Phil would say, “How’d that work for you?”
  3. What is a situation you’re unhappy with right now? Which of the Four A’s have you used? How will you alter the situation by using the Five P’s of Persuasion to increase the likelihood of improving this situation?   

LIFE HACK 9: Innovate a Fresh Start

Quit watering dead plants.

  1. Is the majority of your life out of your control and not to your liking? How so? Does this challenging time have a timeline? Can you “make your mind a deal it can’t refuse” so you are able to keep things in perspective?
  2. What do you currently do to maintain a positive perspective, to have something to look forward to in bleak times? How do you stay focused on what you can control?
  3. Are there dead plants you can stop watering? What can you quit that is compromising your quality of life? How can you innovate a fresh start if you are going through dark times to keep the light on in your eyes?   

LIFE HACK 10: Relocate to Greener Pastures

Come full circle.

  1. When was the last time you were in your hometown? What memories did it bring back? Did you reconnect with people that influenced you? Did it catalyze a new creative direction that could be a satisfying full-circle way to come home to who you truly are?
  2. What used to light you up but now feels like it might be a retreat or regression to “go back there”? Do you worry it’s thinking small instead of thinking big? Could it actually be you’re going “home” to who you are at your core, your best self?
  3. Do you agree that we can be “at home” wherever we are and that “home” is a mindset, not a location? Where do you feel most at home? 

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 126, released August 2019


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

How Environmental Immersion Leads to Creative Inspiration

One can be inspired by research as well as immersed in it for inspiration.  Rhonda Counts, Show Producer, Walt Disney Imagineering Florida

How you do research is dependent upon where you are in the process. Disney’s Imagineers value the story’s intent and the importance of being surrounded with or immersed in the story’s environment.

Here’s an example from one of my projects:

As you can see, there’s a definite pirate’s theme going on in part of my office. It’s both from previous work and work in process. I’ve used the theme of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” storyline – both the attraction and the movies – to develop training resources and presentations in the area of Guest Experiences.

Specifically, I created a tool – the Guest Experience Compass. And how better to demonstrate it, than using Jack Sparrow’s compass? I also created the Guest Experience Code – and based it on the storyline of the Pirates Code. Of course, both of these tools had to be introduced and used by a pirate – the Navigator – in a fully immersive learning environment. The result?

As a result of my pirate “adventure,” I created a blog series which you can read about here.

And it doesn’t stop with pirates.

There’s the Disney wall in my office…

 

It’s continually changing as I acquire new books and other “resources” that help my inspiration.

It’s no secret that I am a Disney fanatic of the first degree! I had an early start in the 60s, both from watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” and benefiting from my father, who as a Gulf gasoline dealer received many promotional tie-ins from Disney movies.

Anchored by a Disney library of over 400 books (and growing!), I am literally immersed in all things Disney. As I research and work on various projects – especially Guest Experiences – I find great inspiration through the many resources at hand. My immersion is not limited to the visual and tactile – at any given time, the soundtrack of a Disney movie, or the background music from one of Disney’s theme parks is playing in the background.

Here’s how Disney Imagineers recommend immersion into an environment:

Select a project that you want to immerse yourself in. Make a list of all the elements of the project and find samples (the larger the better) that represent these elements. Find a place in your surroundings to display the samples so you can immerse yourself in them.

For example, if you wanted to fix up a vintage car, surround yourself with large detailed pictures of its original interior and exterior, very large color samples for its seat cushions, dashboard, etc., and exterior paint job, pictures of various locations you would drive to, and of course, spray the space with new car scent.

Research leads to inspiration.


part of a series of ideas to help shape and tone your creative muscles

Inspired and adapted from The Imagineering Workout

written by The Disney Imagineers

Manage Yourself to Achieve True and Lasting Excellence

Tom Paterson, brilliant consultant for decades and creator of the StratOp strategic system for operating and growing your organization, passed away on September 3, 2019.

As a non-profit group, Auxano has the largest team of theologically trained, pastor-experienced facilitators in the country in the process developed by Paterson. Each of our Navigators feels the impact of the tools developed by Tom Paterson in their daily work with churches across the country.

To honor the legacy of Tom Paterson on the anniversary of his passing, this excerpt from SUMS Remix 128 is based on one of Paterson’s friend and collaborator Peter Drucker’s books.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker is widely regarded as the father of modern management, offering penetrating insights into business that still resonate today. But Drucker also offers deep wisdom on how to manage our personal lives and how to become more effective leaders.

In these two classic articles from Harvard Business Review, Drucker reveals the keys to becoming your own chief executive officer as well as a better leader of others. “Managing Oneself” identifies the probing questions you need to ask to gain the insights essential for taking charge of your career, while “What Makes an Effective Executive” outlines the key behaviors you must adopt in order to lead. Together, they chart a powerful course to help you carve out your place in the world.


A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Tom Paterson was a long-time friend of Peter Drucker. Drucker often referred to Paterson as the “Process Practitioner.” In turn, Drucker was known as the “father of modern management.” Because of their friendship, the third excerpt of this SUMS Remix comes from Drucker’s thoughts on “Managing Oneself.”

According to Drucker, the concept of managing oneself is increasingly important as each one of us becomes solely responsible for the trajectory of our ever-longer careers.

He believed that only when you operate with a combination of your strengths and a disciplined self-knowledge could you achieve true and lasting excellence.

Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong. More often, people know what they are not good at – and even then more people are wrong than right. And yet, a person can perform only from strength. One cannot build performance on weaknesses, let alone on something one cannot do at all.

The only way to discover your strength is through feedback analysis. Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen. Nine or twelve months later, compare the actual results with your expectations. I have been practicing this method for 15 to 20 years now, and every time I do it, am surprised.

Practiced consistently, this simple method will show you within a fairly short period of time, maybe two or three years, where your strengths lie – and this is the most important thing to know. The method will show you what you are doing or failing to do that deprives you of the full benefits of your strengths. It will show you where you have no strengths and cannot perform.

Several implications for action follow from feedback analysis. First and foremost, concentrate on your strengths. Put yourself where your strengths can produce results.

Second, work on improving your strengths. Analysis will rapidly show where you need to improve skills or acquire new ones. It will also sow the gaps in your knowledge – and those can usually be filled.

Third, discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it. Far too many people – especially people with great expertise in one area – are contemptuous of knowledge in other areas or believe that being bright is a substitute for knowledge.

Peter Drucker, Managing Oneself

A NEXT STEP

Work through the following blind spot exercise to discover potential blind spots in your understanding of your strengths.

  1. On a chart tablet, write a list of your strengths (up to ten), and arrange them in order of your certainty of that strength. In other words, the strength you feel best reflects you should be number one, and so on.
  2. For each strength, write down and number elements that are assumptions or uncertainties.
  3. Think about what would happen (consequences or risks) if the assumptions for each strength were wrong or untrue. Write down and number the consequences and mark their impact as high, medium, or low.
  4. Count the number of assumptions/impact per strength. Select both the strength with the lowest score (least assumptions/impact) and the one with the highest score (most assumptions/impact).
  5. Select the three strengths with the highest score, and develop ideas on how you might reduce the assumptions and impact, and therefore make them stronger.

The above exercise adapted from “75 tools for Creative Thinking.”

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 128, released September, 2019.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<