How to turn creativity into productivity

Act like you know what’s going on and people assume you do.

It’s really not much more complicated than that.

I see this almost everyday of my life. For those of you who don’t really know me, I’m going to reveal a secret that I learned long ago (from a Boomer) that can really help you as you assimilate into the workplace.

This video of Brett Cohen has over 3 million hits on YouTube. Go watch it. I’ll wait…

I love the premise. This is the kind of creativity that Gen Y is capable of, yet the frustration for many of our older generations is that we use this creativity on such “useless” things. Why would you spend all that time working on something that wasn’t going to advance your career?

I think it’s a brilliant example of something I learned from a Boomer (my dad) on April 8, 1994. I remember the date well. I was SOOOOO embarrassed!!!

Michael Jordan was really a superstar when I was little. Some say the world has never seen a better basketball player. On that night, he was making his minor league baseball debut here in Birmingham, AL. Somehow, we got tickets.

There we were – my mom, dad, little sister, and I, walking up to a stadium that was buzzing with CRAZY media coverage. As we walked into the stadium, my dad did the usual – embarrassed me to no end – when he said, “hey, let’s go over here and see if we can get in the press gate.”

“Dad,” I sighed, “you can’t do that. Let’s just go get our seats.” (insert multiple eye rolls here)

As if he had some spidey-sense of how to embarrass me, he took off with my little sister in tow. My mom and I went and sat down.

The entire time I sat there fuming about my dad’s attempt to make me the laughing stock of the world and imagining how we’d have to leave after he got thrown in jail, or at the very least thrown out of the stadium.

A few minutes later, to my horror, I see my dad and little sister emerging onto the field from the dugout.

OMG! Can I shrink down into this chair anymore!!!  Continue reading

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Gen Y believes they ARE working hard and proving themselves…

Managing multiple generationsBoomers believe way to get ahead is to outwork everyone else. They’re the first into the office and the last to leave. As a matter of fact, they are there way before we get there…(that’s how they know we’re 5 minutes late).

Heck, a lot of us think they actually live at the office…guess that explains the smell!

As most experts will tell you, one key piece of motivating Gen Y is to make sure they understand how what they’re doing ties in with the overall organizational goals.

I think the problem is that most organizations either don’t think they don’t need to share the organizational goals with young workers, or they think they have.

Both are usually wrong.

So how are Gen Yers supposed to navigate the organizational landscape? How are we supposed to know what it takes to succeed? The Boomers think we’re too young and the Xers think we’re too dumb to ‘get it’. Unfortunately, the way we act often solidifies the stereotype in their minds.

I know what you’re thinking…”That’s BS!!!” “This is the way I am! My parents told me I could do anything I set my mind to and these yoyos are in the way! Seniority is dumb! Promotions should be based on performance!”

It think all 4 of the generations in the workplace today can agree on one basic thing: Performance should determine your success.

The problem: all 4 define perf./success differently.

Traditionalists: Success = fitting in (almost all are military vets)

Boomers: Success = Job security (achieved by working harder than anyone else)

Gen X: Success = Having the most skills so that you’re marketable to many employers

Gen Y: Success = Making the most impact to the organization – RIGHT NOW!

Who knows how this will shake out over the next few years? I certainly don’t. I do know that these definitions vary wildly and cause a ton of headache in the workplace.

Do you agree? Do you fit into the stereotypical definitions for your generation?

Now let’s talk about how we need to act so that all 4 play nice…someone has to be the leader…why can’t it be us?

Millennials, leadership is influence

Millennials in the workplaceSo we’ve started talking about Gen Y (Millennials) leading in the workplace and what that really means. I guess we have to start with the definition of leadership in order to find out how to do it, right?

Leadership = Influence.

I’d love to take credit for that, but really that comes from a guy way smarter than me and even though he’s a boomer, he’s spent his life understanding and studying leadership. I can relate to what he’s selling because unlike many from his generation, he recognizes that we can all learn from each other.

All of our lives, we’ve been directed. We’re told what sports to play, what church to attend, what friends to hang out with, and even what college to go to. Now, we’ve hit the real world and there isn’t someone telling us what steps to take to lead…we have to figure that out on our own.

To me, that’s the fun part. I know that I don’t know everything and want to learn as much as I possibly can so what do I do?

I find mentors. I read constantly. I maintain a social network of experts in various fields I can access to help me. I read constantly. I ask older people what they think. I ask younger people what they think. I think. I read constantly…you get the picture.

The good news is that we are in a generation that is more open to sharing information than ever before and we have the tools to do that faster than ever before. The trick, however,  is sharing the right information and cultivating the right kinds of relationships necessary to be an effective leader.

Whether online or in person, knowing who to go to is very important to getting the job done. That’s a lesson in influence. You can’t get things done unless you know and partner with the key people in any organization.

Sometimes that means…wait for it…EVEN BOOMERS!!! aaaaah!

What can we do to partner with boomers (and Xers)?

Continue reading