NextGen Episode 2 featuring Howard Behar

Howard Behar: Servant Leadership for Next Generation Talent

Being a leader is really about serving others, not managing others. Learn how Howard Behar and Starbucks harnessed servant leadership to become a worldwide juggernaut.

Howard Behar’s career in business spans over 50 years, all in consumer-oriented businesses covering several industries. He retired from Starbucks Coffee after 21 years where he led both the domestic business, as President of North America, and was the founding President of Starbucks International.

Contact Howard at

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Servant Leadership for Next Generation Talent

Amanda Hammett: Welcome to the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rock star talent or you are in the right place. So welcome to today's episode of Millennial Rock Stars. We have a really awesome, interesting gas to kick off season two. We have Mr. Howard Behar and you know him from the world of Starbucks. So Howard, welcome to the show.

Howard Behar: Thanks very much. Great to be here.

Amanda Hammett: All right, so Howard, what did you tell the audience a little bit about yourself?

Howard Behar: Well, I'm not a millennial or from the other millennium. I am, I was born and raised in Seattle and grew up in retailing and pretty much spent my whole life and consumer services or goods. And so, which, you know, made me have to be a people person, whether I liked it or not. I had those instincts early on. And um, when I was in my mid forties, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. And I met this young guy named Howard Schultz who was about 10 years younger than I was, is the modern day founder of Starbucks. He actually didn't found the company. He asked me to join Starbucks and then my life changed forever after that and it was an incredible ride. You know, you couldn't, you couldn't have predicted it. It's one of those things, it just happens to you. You know, when you're living the life right now. I can't tell you I enjoyed every day of it are pretty much I did.

Amanda Hammett: That's wonderful. Well, I think how is being a little humble here. You actually, you came in to Starbucks as what the VP of sales and operations and then you eventually helped them. You became the president and you eventually help them become the international Starbucks that we know today. They were a regional chain when you came in, right?

Howard Behar: Yeah, a very small, there were only 28 stores when I started.

Amanda Hammett: Yes.

Howard Behar: There are $50,000, like 28.

Amanda Hammett: There are quite a few. But what I, what I love about Starbucks is so you can go to anyone around the world and they have their own little community built on and to the people that go there along with the Baristas and people working there, it's a small like microcosm of a community and it's fine.

Howard Behar: Right? How many stores? Starbucks as it can only be one. It's the one that you experienced. And if that's not right, right. Yeah. So, you know, big is not an excuse for not being good. You know, to take care of each individual human being one, one customer at a time, one cup at a time.

Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. So you are a big, big believer in the idea of being a servant leader. Now, how does that concept come about for you?

Howard Behar: When I was my early or mid twenties, uh, uh, one of my mentors, my most important mentor, a guy named Jim Johnson, who I still know today, and he in our, he gave me this little booklet called the servant as leader, written by a man named Robert Greenleaf, a little orange pamphlet, more than 50 pages. And so I read that book and I probably read it a hundred times. That began my journey because it put into words the things that I felt mattered in my life. I never had a definition for it, never thought of it. And the context of being servant leadership. Um, and so that began a journey. And from that on, you know, I realized that servant leadership was primarily about learning to lead yourself first. And then once you figure that out, then you learn how to lead others through serving others. Not through managing others, but actually being of service to others.

Howard Behar: The people that you work with, people who report to you or, or those human beings we call customers canceling. Servant leadership at its core is really the understanding that our job is to serve other people and their journeys to accomplish and attain the things that they want in their life. And in so doing, we will get what we want to know. But you can't with the other way around.

Amanda Hammett: Correct. That is, that is very, very true. So, Howard, I would imagine that throughout your career you have witnessed and maybe even bit have experienced other forms of leadership now, how did that actually shape your leadership style?

Howard Behar: Well, you know, all the, all those experiences, you know, you observe your, you participate, you're affected by different leadership styles. And, I was never very good with the autocratic leadership style and I would fight back against those things. I had a guy that you're my boss, and every morning he'd come in and he'd say, hi, a dummy. How you doing?

Amanda Hammett: That's terrible.

Howard Behar: Thought he was being funny.

Amanda Hammett: Right.

Howard Behar: It made me mad. One day came in and he was a big guy who's like six foot four. His name was Irwin Greenwalt. Then I went up to him and I got, I couldn't put my nose in his face, so I put my nose in his chest and I pointed out and I said, Irwin, don't you ever call me a dummy again? You know, a month later I was fired, you know, but you know, it's, you know, it's the way things are, right?

Howard Behar: I needed it. I needed leaders that, uh, the gave me opportunity that, uh, you know, explained what the values and the mission of the organization where, and then sent me on my way and left me alone. Nobody would be harder on, on me than myself if I made a mistake right into something, right. I'd be the first one to admit it. But bosses, it, we're always pointing out what I did wrong versus pointing out the things that I did write really affected me.

Amanda Hammett: Yeah.

Howard Behar: I said, I am never going to be like that. And it's amazing how many bosses are like that. They, they, they think that the way you help people improve is by, uh, pointing out what they do wrong so they can correct. But the way you get people to improve is to have point out the things they do, right?

Howard Behar: Because we all gravitate towards that right? So it was that kind of leader, the kind of leadership that empowered me, that gave me responsibility and accountability and then left me alone. Um, yeah, that really made a difference in my life. And I used to say that before I started at Starbucks and my manager, I said, everybody gets to vote in my organization and their areas of responsibility and areas of expertise, even if sometimes it's not, there is a expertise. And when I got to Starbucks, I kind of, different Frazier said, the person who sweeps the floor should choose the bro and essence. I want her to be the kind of leader that hire great people that, that brought him into the organization properly and then send them on their way and helped him whatever they needed help. And so that's where I blossomed and I felt other people would blossom under the same kind of leadership style I was, I was not good under an autocratic leader. Okay.

Amanda Hammett: I, you know, I really don't think anybody thrives as an employee under that kind of leadership style.

Howard Behar: I don't either. Yeah. I don't either.

Amanda Hammett: Yeah. And that is something that I heard in season one of millennial rock stars. Every single a millennial that was nominated to be on the show, they all mentioned in one form or another that they wanted the, the ability to go in and do their job and not be micromanaged and not, and really to be empowered to do what they were hired to do in the first place. And that's where they grew the most. They may have made mistakes, yes, but they grew under that kind of leadership. So I applaud you for recognizing that at a time when probably it wasn't in vogue, he wasn't cool to do it.

Howard Behar: That was 50 years ago, lobby for the millennials were even thought about

Amanda Hammett: Love it. Now, were you ever pressured by a board or higher ups or at any point in your career to focus more on the numbers and less on the people and what was your response?

Howard Behar: Yeah, that was, there was always that perceived conflict, but I was always, I used to give, you know, say back to them, Hey, wait a minute. You know, there's no inherent conflict between achieving results and treating people well. Right. As a matter of fact, it's the opposite way around. So I said, if you don't like around my results farming, but I need to lead the way I need to leave now. And that happened a lot of times. You know, I wasn't a soft later. I wasn't a person that didn't hold people accountable. I did. I hold myself accountable. I hold others accountable. But again, in a way that put people up, not put people down because that's what I needed. Money.

Amanda Hammett: Absolutely.

Howard Behar: That just the way that it was. But that's there all the time. It's amazing how many leaders, how many bosses, you know, think that way. I, I've given hundreds of speeches around the world and how many times people say, well, it's too soft. How do you possibly get results? I said, you, I said, I get it. I said, I'll tell you what. I'm always willing to have a contest with you. What man? Your Organization for a year. And I'll show you what, what, how trading people well gets better results in the way you're doing it.

Amanda Hammett: Has anyone ever taken you up on that?

Howard Behar: Nobody's ever taken me up because they know in their hearts, which, right cause see it's an exact, you know, leadership in organizations. Exactly the same as as relationships and families. Yes. I mean does it really work to come home and tell your wife every day what you, what they did wrong, right or right. It doesn't, does it? No, it does not. Doesn't, doesn't work. Come home yelling and screaming all the time. No it doesn't. Yeah. I used to tell a story about Harris. I used to challenge people. Should I want you to go home tonight, watch on your way home. I want you to buy a really nice bottle of wine. Something that your significant other really liked and then also by two really expensive, right? L glasses. Those are really nice crystal glasses for drinking wine and when you get home, I want you to say, honey, I brought to your favorite wine.

Howard Behar: Come on, let's have a conversation. First of all, she or he will know something's wrong. But because you just did that, let's say you sit down and you pour a nice little sip wine and Annie and you look at and they say, honey, this is your lucky day. This is going to be your annual performance review and you know how to give don some things well and you've done some things wrong and you know how well does that, how well is that going to work as your ass has bounced and out the front door right now? That's not the way relationships work at home or in business.

Amanda Hammett: No, you're absolutely correct. You are absolutely correct. Yeah. So we kind of touched on this before I turned on the recording, but um, in your opinion, what is the difference or what is the influence that millennials have brought into corporate America?

Howard Behar: Well, you know, certainly technology, right? No, they're there a familiarity with, with technology, their understanding of how to use technology, I think has been great. Um, I think, uh, you know, I mean, it's like all new generations, you know, they bring their point of view about the world and where the world is and, and how they think the organization should address the issues in the world. There are much more likely to attach to purpose then I think my generation was, you know, uh, you know, we never talked about purpose. You know, now everything is about purpose. Everything as well about why are we here? Why are we doing what we're doing and are we living up to that purpose? And so I think that's a, that's a big one too. I think one of the things that I think they've brought that I'm not so, I shouldn't say happy about, but, but that I don't subscribe so much to, as this constant focus on the data.

Amanda Hammett: Okay.

Howard Behar: You know, if I had more data, I can make a better decision. You know, there are points in time where you don't need more data. What you need to do is look inside yourself, right? From a human perspective and look at the people that you're serving from a human perspective and say what's good for them. You know at that.

Amanda Hammett: Yeah, I would agree wholeheartedly.

Howard Behar: It's just too much data. Dadda Dadda Dadda Dadda you don't have, your wife comes home one night and says, you know, I'm not happy in my marriage. Do you need any other points of data? That's one point. You just had to listen to your wife. If you listened to your customers, you listen to the people that are working in your organization. You know you get enough data, people get lazy. They want this technology to solve their problems for them. They don't want to spend the time talking to people.

Amanda Hammett: Absolutely.

Howard Behar: I grew up with that data. My data, my data came from having a talk one on one to the people I was serving and to the people that worked in the organization. That's how I got my data and it was much more human and it gave me insights that you could never get by asking people questions on a computer.

Amanda Hammett: I agree. I completely agree and it's really interesting. What I've seen is this generation has actually grown up being studied and you know, taking surveys and the test, I mean from day one and it's really interesting. You can hand them a survey to take, they can hand it back to you and then you can ask them verbally the same questions. And they don't always match up because they, they've been taught to take the test. They've been taught to, you know, they're giving you the information they think you want. But in reality, when you're having a actual human to human conversation, sometimes that can change

Howard Behar: And they're looking at somebody. Yeah. They're in their eyes and you see their face sort down, sort out the wheat from the chaff real quickly. You know what's true and what's bullshit. Right. There was an explosion.

Amanda Hammett: And that's okay. That's okay. So, all right. How would you say that millennials really influenced the workplace? Or how did it change your leadership style or, or did it change your leadership style?

Howard Behar: I don't think it really did. Yeah. I've been, I've been managing organizations for 53 years. And you know, through from my own generation to, to, um, you know, millennials, Steven to generation x. You know, and it did because I, I felt that human beings were human beings and, you know, are there some differences? Yeah. But this generation is much more sensitive to input, you know, they, they tend to see all and put his criticism versus helping. So I have found that I have to do it a little bit differently. You know I have to be a lot. I always was gentle, but I found that I had to ask for permission for him to give input more. And once I got permission, then it was clear. And I do that today. And I do that with everybody now, you know? Yeah. Just these generations. I do it with my own generation, you know, permission to coach. I say.

Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Howard Behar: And that way they, once they say yes, then they kind of open up, you know, or at least there's, they're conscious of where they are. So, you know, I think that's, that's, uh, that's, other than that, you know.

Amanda Hammett: Yeah.

Howard Behar: Hi, just I'm up guy that believes that human beings are human beings and that if I say I love you, you know, people understand that. You know, and if I say I trust you, people understand that and when I don't trust them or I don't love on, they understand that too. And that, you know, so you know, there are there really, you know, and, and it's across, like I said before, it's across cultures. It is, you know, I mean there's much more, a bigger difference across cultures then there is a cross our own culture and the different generations.

Amanda Hammett: Okay.

Amanda Hammett: I would agree. Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

Howard Behar: You know, you learn to deal with that and then you can deal with anything.

Howard Behar: You know, I, um, one of the things when I am leading groups of company leaders, whether it's from a huge fortune 500 are a small startup, one of the most,

Amanda Hammett: okay

Howard Behar: Common things that I bring up very early on in the conversation is this idea of generational strife is not new. Um, I can't tell you how many conversations I've had over the years that are just like, oh, these millennials, they're the worst. Like how do you do what you do? But actually this idea of generational style strife has been around since the beginning of civilization. Others, a lot of famous quotes from Socrates and Plato complaining about younger generations and their lack of respect for authority. And there was a lack of respect for their elders and, and just being too, you know, too much of everything. And, and I just think that it's really interesting as you, as each youngest generation comes through, they are quote unquote the worst. And I just, I think it's

Howard Behar: true. That's, that's fallacy. They're not that different. I agree. Uh, you know, there are some differences and it's good to be aware of it, but you know, if you ask them, they'll tell you.

Amanda Hammett: Okay.

Howard Behar: But I find it's almost individual by individual. When you take this brush and painted across a broad category of people, you're going to make huge years. If you, if you talked to each individual different, uh, uh, on their own, you know, individually, then you learn.

Amanda Hammett: Okay.

Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. You've got to learn to lead the people that you're with and what each person responds to you. Because the way I respond to things maybe completely different than the way you respond to things. Exactly. And that, you know, we have different drivers, we have different motivators and a really great leader can recognize those things and give, you know, help you with those.

Howard Behar: Yeah, I agree. Perfect.

Amanda Hammett: Oh, I love it. So now what are the benefits for leaders? What are the benefits to focusing on the individual development and education of your people on your team?

Howard Behar: Well, look at team is made up of a bunch of individuals. Yes, I'll, I'll try to live their lives. You know, I'll be treated with respect, find love or whatever it is and our or per and find purpose in their lives. And unless you, unless you have individual communication, you don't know what those things are. They're not things that they can put down in a questionnaire and get underneath it all. And you know, you need to know about their families of origin. You need to know about, you know, when I interview people or talk to people, I, one of the questions I ask is if they have a brother and sister, I said, what does your brother or sister like a batch of what don't they like about you? Wish you would have become versus what you've become, you know, uh, you know, uh, you know, who's your best friend and why are they best friend and when, when did your best friend disappoints you and what disappointed you in them and when did you disappoint your best friend and what did you do to disappoint your friend?

Howard Behar: And trying to find out who they are, what matters to them. And then once you do that, then then you know, because they, they respond individually to say one thing to one person that reported to me say exactly the same thing to another person. They'd take it completely differently. Yes, yes. So I had when I retired once from Starbucks and when I came back, uh, to, uh, be present in North America, I had still been on the board, but there was a guy that I inherited from a guy that preceded me and he was in charge of strategy for North American retail and his name was Dan. And Dan was one of those kind of guys that he, his office was right next door to me. He was in my office every day over something. He was the most high maintenance guy I've ever worked with my life.

Howard Behar: And some people just couldn't deal with them. Always believed I wanted blonde hair, brown hair. I want a blue eyes, green eyes. I wanted people that thought differently from the other people I wanted. I wanted real diversity is about diversity of thought.

Amanda Hammett: Yes.

Howard Behar: And so I learned to deal with Dan and I figured out what the, you know, that he was, he was a guy that just needed lots of caring, but he was the smartest guy in my team. Abs without a question. He, he could see around corners like nobody else could see. Really. Yeah. He was the guy. He basically saved the food business. It's Starbucks and you know, he wasn't always the most, you know, people would complain that, uh, that he would, that he would break a lot of glass and he did. It wasn't that he didn't care about people but, but that, you know, he was the only dealt 50 cards and the 52 card deck and the two cards he was missing was where these empathy cards.

Howard Behar: Ah, I had to work with them all the time on the empathy. Did I ever get in perfect. Not while he reported it to me, but I still know him today and he really has moved because he focused.

Amanda Hammett: Yeah. That's fantastic.

Howard Behar: Yeah. He really moved. But he did it because he wanted to. So I had lots of different people and they were, they all were different. And I had to know each one individually what motivated them, what they cared about, where their strengths for where their weaknesses were and that helped them. Absolutely. And I'll be all they can be,

Amanda Hammett: That is fantastic. And what's even more fantastic is that he was able to accept the coaching from you, you know?

Howard Behar: Well, if you do, I want, if you can do, you can say anything to anybody as long as this with love in your heart and with caring and people know that you know it. Do they feel it? Yeah. If you constantly are beating people up, they're never going to listen to you. But you know, and nine times out of 10, the conversations we were having were always positive. So I had a lot of rocks on that scale. So when I said, you know, uh, uh, permission to coach, you know, I had ears open and heart open, which is most important.

Amanda Hammett: Yes. Because he was ready to accept whatever coach. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I love that. So I'm now in the past and I've watched some other interviews that you've done in the past. Um, you have actually said that Starbucks has a really great recruiting program. Yeah. Now, what do you think really sets it apart? I mean, what, what makes it so special?

Howard Behar: Well, we, we lead with purpose, right? So that, that's the thing we talk about first and, and the truth is our recruiting program is our people. Yes. Right. That's what really works. In the early days, you know, we weren't exactly so people focused, and I coined this phrase that we weren't in the coffee business serving people. We are in the people business serving coffee. Yes. It took us time to really bring that into our organization. But once it was there, then you know, like Jim Collins says, you know, people that didn't fit would inject themselves like a virus, that virus and had started to be that all of the people that fit would start applying. And so our organization became, you know, the, the recruiters and, but it really was about purpose. First. It wasn't about skill sets first. And it was about who the human being was first.

Howard Behar: It wasn't about what their skills were, right or not. Because if you don't get, if you don't get to him inside, right, nothing else will happen. I don't care how smart you are. I don't care how technology technologically fit you are a professional. You are, it doesn't work. And we actually, you know, we made lots of mistakes, bring the wrong people into the organization, but the organization moved 'em out because they realized they didn't fit. And uh, that it was all about, you know, at the end of the day how we treated each other. And the first guiding principle at Starbucks is that we treat each other with respect and dignity. And the last guiding principle was we recognize it. Profitability is essential to our future growth and success. That wasn't the first thing was the last thing. That's what came out of all the guiding principles. Yes, yes.

Amanda Hammett: I agree. You know, one of the things, I started my career as a recruiter at a major fortune 500, and it was just, it was amazing. It was all about the skills, what's on the resume, what's on the resume? And I'm like, but if you can't work on a team, if you don't fit, this doesn't, this isn't going to work. And they're like, no, no, just focus on the skill. Um, and it's amazing because it's still like that today. And I've been in the workforce for years and I'm no longer a recruiter, but when I go in and work with these large companies, it's still very much, well what's on their resume? And I'm like, you don't understand. Like you need to really focus on the individual person, not what's on the skillset, but actually the individual person, how are they going to match? How are they gonna mold skills can be developed, but personality and who they are as a human being, that's, that's already there, that's already developed that determines the success or failure of an organization emotionally and what your culture is, you know, because the culture is a reflection of how you act, not what you say.

Howard Behar: And so if you bring people that don't fit into the organization, then people start to think, oh, that's how I need to behave. And then all of a sudden you get to call it. You don't, you know the culture you thought you had. You don't. And it's, there's no question about it. Focus on the people side first. I look, if you're hiring somebody that needs to be technically proficient and it, or accounting or something like that, fine. That that's their right, right. But at the end of the day, it's do they fit on the team and do they have what I need or can I teach, are they smart enough where I can teach them the skills because there's such a good people. I always hired people first. Yes. Always. You know, and uh, you know, and then, and then, you know, if there was something that they technically are experience that they needed to have.

Howard Behar: But you know, I heard a lot of people that didn't have perceived the resumes skills you wouldn't have, you had said, well, Geez, they don't have the resume that I need, but they had the people skills and I hired them and they fit perfectly and they learned the skills. Yes. Yup. Absolutely. So what career advice, because you know, one of the other things that I do a lot of, or I find myself doing a lot of his coaching and helping, uh, people who are earlier in their career. So what advice would you give for an early career employee? So someone who's fresh out of college. Oh Great. That's a good question. Number one, you got to know who you are, right? What are your, what are your values, right? And define those values and how do they inform the actions and the decisions you make in your life that's bad. And then, you know, right. What, what is your mission in life? Remember, all these things are not written in stone. This is not have to be the rest of your life. You know, they're not, they're not the 10 commandments there things that you can change, but you need to know what, why you're here, or at least an idea of why you're here. You know, I want to work, I want to help people. Right.

Amanda Hammett: Okay.

Howard Behar: You know, and I, I want to serve people that are in need, you know? And that helps guide you. And then you use those things to decide what kind of organization that you want to work in. C, we don't need to, we're not after a job.

Howard Behar: You know, we're trying to build a life. Yeah, we're trying to build a fulfilling life, which work is part of. And so you take your values and you overlay your values over the company's values, the organization's values. You overlay your mission over the company's mission and you'll say to these things, at least on paper, do they fit? Then if I paper they fit, then your work has just started because then what you want to do is go talk to people that work in the company. And the first question you should ask is, I, I've read your mission statement and the company's guiding principles or values statement, where, where do they not, where are they? The actions not in sync with the words. That's a great question cause you see it all the time because it's, it's there everywhere has that everywhere. They, even the wonderful Starbucks that I love dearly has that right. And you better when you've done that, then you better say, are these things I can live with or not live with? And another question you should ask is what are the, what are the, uh, what are the rewards, uh, spoken or the intrinsic rewards and what are the intrinsic penalties that happen when somebody does something well and somebody does something wrong? What happens when you screw something up in this organization?

Howard Behar: Oh, it tells us calibrate this mistakes or do they penalize mistakes? Does the organization shove you often in the noodle land, Netherlands and nobody will eat lunch with you because you made a mistake, you know, or did they all gather around and support you? So how do they act as human beings and you, you want to know the good, the bad and the ugly about any organization you're going to go to work with. And then before you go to work, I would not go to work for an organization that doesn't have you interview with your potential boss and there's lots of that do that. You'd never meet your boss until after you've been hired.

Amanda Hammett: Yeah.

Howard Behar: I would never take a job like that because I don't care how good the organization is, you know, or even sometimes how bad the organization is. If you get the right boss, somebody that respects other people and that you can respect and trust you and you trust stamp the world will be right. I agree.

Amanda Hammett: That is that, that was some fantastic advice right there. That was just like perfection.

Howard Behar: I would walk down the street and look at the person walking down the street or say, God, he's good looking. I'm going to marry that person. You know, you might fall in love because of how they look or something like that. Or maybe the clothes are wearing or you might get, you know, whatever. But you'll want to know more about them once. Yah, absolutely. That's what dating is about. That's what spending time together is about. And you find those things out, find the truth out.

Amanda Hammett: That isn't very, very true. Very true. All right, so similar question and this is our last question. Um, what advice would you give to a first time leader?

Howard Behar: I first time later. Don't take yourself too seriously, right? That uh, you know, on both sides of the ball you're not that good and you're not that bad. Love your people. And I mean love them. Use that word love right. You know, help your people be all they can be and you'll get what you need out of them. And they are read all the books you can get on servant leadership. And I, my, one of my favorites is a book from a gym. Uh, Jim James Autry does servant leadership and then get the daily Drucker. It's a book that, uh, that Peter Drucker, you know, it's all his stuff and he was a practitioner of servant leadership. He was a personal friend of Robert Greenleaf's. And use that as your guide and you know, and be willing to make mistakes and be willing to own up to your mistakes.That's number one, be vulnerable, be authentic. You know, you don't need to be the boss. Yes. You know, you don't need to be the boss. Screw up. Be the first one to raise your hand and say, I am sorry. served me well at home and in the office.

Amanda Hammett: I think that being able to own up to your mistakes is a major thing that people are so afraid of. But it's hard to do. It's so important because it builds trust with your, with your team, especially with millennials, they're very, they to have a little tendency to be distrusting. But if you are authentic and you own up to your mistakes, they see that and they build loyalty with that quicker than anything else.

Howard Behar: The boss who takes the bullets versus dodge the bullets, it will be my will be respected and the people will go to battle for them. If you dodge the bullets and let the bullet hit one of your people, they will. They trust me. They will never go to battle for you. And all you have to do is do that once you've totally broken trust and it takes forever to gain it back.

Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Howard Behar: And I've seen it happen so many times.

Howard Behar: Oh yes. It, it does. It happens unfortunately very regularly. Well, Mr be hard. Thank you so much for being on the show. This is, uh, been a wonderful, just chock full of great information both for young know next generation of leadership, but also for the current leaders out there who are looking to learn from one of the greats out there. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for being on the show and we will.

Howard Behar: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. I always late to talk about leadership.

Amanda Hammett: Well fantastic. Well you had so much to share and I appreciate it. Alright, take care. Thank you. Bye. Bye. Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Next Generation Rockstars where we have discussed all about recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent.

Amanda Hammett: So I'm guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's rock star leader and if that is the case, don't keep me a secret, share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward. Now, of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and you will see the next generation rockstars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

S2-EP1: Exploring Leadership Lessons for a Multi-Generational Workforce

Gen Z: Welcome to the Workforce! Now that we officially have 5 generations in the workforce, what strategies do we use to keep our multi-generational workforce engaged and productive? Season 2 will look at the leadership of all levels within companies from the Chief Human Resource Officer to a front line manager of early in career talent. What can each of these leaders bring to the table to help you as you navigate this new frontier in the workplace?

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The Transcript - Exploring Leadership Lessons for a Multi-Generational Workforce

Welcome to the Next Generation Rockstars podcast. If you are trying to figure out how do you recruit and retain this next generation of rockstar talent? Well, you are in the right place. Alright, welcome, welcome, welcome to Season Two of the Next Generation Rockstars.

Now you heard that right, I didn't say millennial rock stars, I said next-generation rock stars. That is because, over our little break between seasons, we decided to do a whole name-change and rebrand so that we could really, fully welcome in Gen Z into the workforce. So now that Gen Z is here, they are starting to make their own waves on workplace culture, and we're really excited to see how that pans out for everyone. But this is a really interesting time to be in the working culture, to see really how all the generations combine and mix together because we do have five generations at work currently.

We've got Gen Z, we've got millennial, we have got of course Gen X, baby boomers, but we also still have some of the silent generations still there in the workplace and really giving it their all, even at this point in their career.

So, now that we're mixing things up, and now that we are all together, what can we learn from each other, what do we each bring to the table? Now it's really interesting because so far early in 2019, there have been multiple studies that have come up, or surveys of CEOs that have been put out asking CEOs, what are their top three concerns? In every survey so far that I've seen, they have listed recruiting talent and retaining talent as two of their top three concerns. Two of their top three concerns revolve around talent. That has got to tell you something. The war for talent is on, and it has been on for years and years, and years.

Now I know that there are people out there that are predicting a recession is coming, and that is very likely based on the cyclical nature of our economies. But what you should know is that that, when there's good talent on the line, there is always a war for that good talent, recession or not.

So Season Two is really gonna look at the development of talent, the recruitment of talent, and we're gonna be doing that, looking at that from the lens of leaders of young talent. So it is, we've interviewed CHROs, like Matt Schuyler from Hilton, I interviewed the Chief People Officer from Cisco Systems, Fran Katsoudas. I also interviewed the former Head of HR at Tesla, Alan Cherry. Howard Behar from Starbucks, former President of Starbucks, as well as numerous other major leaders in the talent development area. But, I didn't just stop there.

I went back to Season One's rock stars, and I started asking them, or I started really going back and looking, who did they specifically mention as people that have been pivotal in their careers? So, I went back and I gathered some of the leaders that made a big impression on some of Season One's rock stars, and I've got them coming on the show giving wonderful day-to-day in the trenches advice on how did they really go out there and developed rockstar talent? So they're in the trenches with them and they can give you some nuts-and-bolts advice. That, maybe someone from a CHRO perspective can give you a wide-angle view, but they're gonna be able to give you that in the job, day-to-day experience knowledge.

So, I hope that you will join us for the rest of Season Two, we've got a lot of wonderful, wonderful interviews, and trust me you are going to want to listen to each episode a couple of times, because some of these are just so chockfull of knowledge that you just need your notebook to follow along. Another thing that you might want to know is that I am listening, I am reading all of your comments, all of your messages. I was inundated with LinkedIn messages last year, I loved it, keep them coming, I want to read each and every one. And actually, one of the listeners suggested that Season Two examine the leadership of young talent, and I felt that that was a wonderful idea so I took it to heart.

So again, I am listening, I would love to hear what you have to say, and of course always, please subscribe, please share this with your friends, make some comments on your favorite podcast platform of your choice, and we will see you in the rest of Season Two.

Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Next Generation Rockstars, where we have discussed all recruiting and retaining that next generation of talent. So I am guessing that you probably learned a tremendous amount from this week's Rockstar leader, and if that is the case, don't keep me a secret. Share this episode with the world, but really share it with your friends, with your colleagues, because they also need to learn how to recruit and retain this next generation of talent, because these skills are crucial to business success moving forward.

Now, of course, I want you to keep up to date every single week as we are dropping each and every episode. So be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast platform of your choice and you will see the Next Generation Rockstars show up just for you.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Delanie Olsen Social Media

21: Breaking Millennial Stereotypes

Millennials are often accused of having zero work ethic. That common misconception drove this young millennial to go out of her way to make sure she was not seen as a "lazy employee". Check out what happens next when she leans into her company's culture.

Delanie Olsen is the Marketing Specialist and Professional Storyteller at Total Event Resources. Total Event Resources is a meeting and event planning agency with a reputation for making waves. An Agency provides expert, award-winning strategic, creative, and logistical meeting and event services to clients who want to maximize the value and effectiveness of communicating in a live event environment.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Breaking Millennial Stereotypes

Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett, and this is the Millennial Rockstar podcast. So, today's rockstar is Delanie Olsen, and Delanie is this amazing, creative marketing and brand strategy just go-to juggernaut. And she is very young, only about three years out of college, and she has had a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, and the reason she was given so much responsibility in my opinion, was that she was very aware from the get-go right out of college, that there were all these negative stereotypes around the work ethic of millennials, and she wanted nothing more than to prove that she was nothing like that stereotype. And I think you'll find that her supervisors and all the people within the company that she was with really understood that she was nothing like those millennial stereotypes. So, tune in and find out what Delanie has to share. Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the Millennial Rockstars podcast. All right, today we have a super-duper special rockstar on the show, her name is Delanie Olsen. Delanie, welcome to the show.

Delanie Olsen: Hi there, thank you Amanda.

Amanda Hammett: So, I have to be very honest with you. There are some people in the business world that I absolutely love and adore. And one of them is from OneBridge Technologies, his name is Daryle Johnson. And Daryle was actually one of two people that recommended you to be on this show. So, Delanie, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Delanie Olsen: So I graduated from Butler University in Indianapolis about three years ago now, and my first job out of college was at OneBridge with Daryle. And I was the Marketing Coordinator to start off with and then I got promoted to be Marketing Specialist. And after two years of living, working in Indianapolis, I decided it was time to go home, my whole family lived up in Chicago, so I ended up finding a marketing specialist role with an events company called Total Event Resources in Chicago, and so I just moved up here about three months ago and started this new role.

Amanda Hammett: Very, very cool. So it's a really exciting time of transition in your career, which is awesome. But I happened to know that you learned a lot in your old role.

Delanie Olsen: Yes. OneBridge was very important to me, the people there were out of this world. I remember being so incredibly nervous and thinking that I was just gonna fall flat on my face from day one, and it was the complete opposite of that, and I grew into this marketing professional that I just never thought I would even become five years from now, let alone a year and a half, two years after first starting there.

Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. Well, that is one thing that Eric told me when he and I spoke about you. He actually said that he had taken over that role, and he said, "You know, it's always worrisome "when you're taking on a new role "knowing that you're inheriting some employees. "I was worried going into it, "but after spending like a week with her, "I knew that this was meant to be."

Delanie Olsen: Yes. I was just as worried as he was. I was really close with my first supervisor, and that was the first person that really didn't treat me like a millennial, and I respected that, so I was a little nervous with the change in positions. When Eric came in, it was the same exact thing. He didn't look at me as a different generation than him, or that I wasn't as experienced as him yet. He wanted to know what I was good at, and then he put those abilities to work.

Amanda Hammett: That's great. That's what a good leader does.

Delanie Olsen: Yes.

Amanda Hammett: That's exactly what a good leader does. Well, fantastic. All right, so I know that you are three years into your career, but I would assume that you have hit some bumps along the road already. Could you give us a little background or a little bit of information about those little bumps for you?

Delanie Olsen: Yes, of course. The biggest one was probably, I was thrown into a very, very large project. OneBridge was rebranding. They were originally SmartIT, and then were transitioning over to OneBridge. It was pretty exciting, because I loved brand marketing, I was super passionate about it, and they wanted the marketing department to take on that responsibility, to come up with this rebrand and put it into action, which was great. But during the rebrand, I had a change in supervisors. So I just remember, I was like okay, they're gonna take everything that I've started and it's just gonna get flipped over and turned around because who's gonna trust the girl who's been out of school for a year and a half to finish off an entire company's rebrand? They hadn't found someone else yet to fill my supervisor's position, and I was extremely nervous about it. I remember I went into my first meeting and it was with Kim, the Director of Employee Engagement, it was the exact opposite of that. She took everything, she said, "Okay, let's lay it out. "What have you been doing so far, "what do you want to do moving forward, "and let's make sure that all of your ideas "and plans get executed like you wanted "them to from day one." And I respected that so much because she wasn't looking at my work as my old supervisor's work. She wanted to know, she knew I had a part in it, and that was that. So I got to move forward with it, but the whole process was a bump in the road because it was scary being that young and being given that role. And then Eric eventually did jump in, and that was a breath of fresh air because I had someone else to help me launch this new brand, so he was there for the last three months of it, and all in all, the project lasted a year. It was a lot of work, we had one company we were working on the website with, and I thought I had nailed down and it was going smoothly, and then a month before we were supposed to launch the new brand and the website, they said "We can't get it done until three months from now," and so we just had to roll with it. It was surprising how many people, no matter what generation they were, they knew I didn't have that much experience, they still trusted me because they knew I worked hard and I really appreciated that.

Amanda Hammett: Now, I have a question here. I love your CEO over there, I think she is phenomenal. We've already talked about it, I love Daryle. But you are young. And that is an incredible, I mean the CEO of there, she has built that up to what, like 50 million?

Delanie Olsen: Yes.

Amanda Hammett: Yeah. I mean, that's not a small enterprise over there and they have some incredible clients, and huge, huge enterprise clients, and for them to make this huge transition in branding, naming, business model, I mean that's a lot to put on your shoulders at 23, 24?

Delanie Olsen: Yes, 23-24.

Amanda Hammett: I'm just curious, how did you get it to the point where they trusted you to do that?

Delanie Olsen: Well, that's funny because Daryle always talks. He says, "You were a flip of a switch." I don't know why but I've always had this. Right when I graduated college, I felt like the millennial stereotype was huge at that time and that was the last thing I wanted. I never wanted to be seen as this lazy worker, or I only wanted to be there for perks, or anything like that. And so I was paranoid about that. So I remember for probably like the first six months of working there, I wasn't really myself because I was like, "I gotta be this person." It wasn't because of anyone I was working with and that they made me feel like I couldn't be, it was just that I felt like I needed to be someone because of that millennial stereotype. And then, I don't know what actually changed, and it was even like how I was dressing and everything, I wasn't really showing my personality in my clothes, and I was wearing all black every day, and I was like, "That's not me," and so something changed and I just started to speak up a little bit more and show my personality in the work that I was doing and just in my demeanor every day, I started to, we had to dress business professional every day, and I kept that up but I was still being myself in how I was dressing. People started to notice. I remember my supervisor at the time said, "I follow you on social media, "and I feel like you're acting "more like yourself now to me." And I don't know what it was, but once that happened, I think people started to realize that yes, I am younger but even if when I am being myself I was still a hard worker, I got things done, and I got them done well. So Daryle even says, "There was this one day where you "just came into this meeting," and he's like, "You just blew me away. "You were talking more than you've ever talked, "and you had ideas and you knew that "they needed to be done, and you got them done." So I think it was a good feeling that other people around me besides just people who are higher up in the company saw this in me and trusted me because they would come to me then every day with whatever it was. So then I think people higher up started to see that, "Oh, Delanie's wearing a lot of hats. "She's helping out people in departments "that probably doesn't even have to do with marketing, "but she jumped in to help out." And so I think that that's what really kind of put the trust in me when it came to that, because they were under a time constraint and they saw that I was getting stuff done on a usual basis, so why not trust that I would get it done now, even though I didn't necessarily have someone directly supervising me. And Kim played a huge role in that. She had so much going on, the last thing she needed to worry about was the rebrand of a company, but she made time for me and made time to hear what I had to say and wanted to know why I was doing something a certain way, and I really respected that. So I think that that helped as well, having her by my side to kind of support me, even though it wasn't necessarily her forte.

Amanda Hammett: Right. That's amazing, and it sounds like, and having just bee a third-party spectator to this whole rebrand, it really really sounds like the communication lines were very open in all directions. Sometimes it's just from the top down, but it really sounds like it was coming out from everyone.

Delanie Olsen: They did an amazing job with that. They told me from day one, "If you're questioning "something about the brand and you "were in a meeting and everyone was one way "but you feel another way, come back to us "and re-present it then. "Tell us why it needs to be that way." And so I really appreciated that because again, they let me have a voice and they knew that it was something that I was passionate about and I was good at, so they let me run with it. And they have an open-door policy there and I know that's so cliche and you probably hear that all the time, but they truly mean it. The CEO sat in the Indianapolis office, and he, didn't matter when it was, if he just got a really important call, he just got off of it and he needed to debrief, no, if you needed something, if there was a concern, come into his office and talk to him about it. I think that that was really beneficial too.

Amanda Hammett: That's fantastic. Especially in a time of these major, major transitions, that's really

Delanie Olsen: Yes.

Amanda Hammett: All right, so we've talked over some stumbling blocks and some lessons learned, but let's circle back a little bit further. You graduated from college three years ago, right?

Delanie Olsen: Yes.

Amanda Hammett: Okay. So think back to Delanie three years ago, pre-work Delanie. Did you have this idea in your mind about what corporate America or the working world was gonna be like? And how does that interface with the realities of working the working world?

Delanie Olsen: So, I had this image that it was cubicles and cubicles, and I was gonna sit there all day and you weren't gonna see the sunlight and you got your work done...


Delanie Olsen: Not that you weren't friends with people, but why would you go out after work with people if you work with them all day? I had that image in my head. I don't know, have you been to the OneBridge office before?

Amanda Hammett: No, I have not.

Delanie Olsen: So, this will change your mindset on everything. I walked into this office, and it's so modern, it's very open and they have collaborative workspaces and they have a huge break room with a ping-pong table, and I walked in there and I was like, where am I interviewing? What is this? And I was so blown away by that and it was funny because my parents, I get out of the interview and I'm telling them all about the office, and my Dad goes, "Well, I don't care about the office. "What about the position? "What about the people?" And I was like, "Oh, you're right." That was bad that I was so concerned about the office, but I think as millennials we kind of have that picture in our head that that's what something's gonna be like, so that really threw me off. But luckily OneBridge doesn't just focus on the perks. They focus on you as an employee first and the perks come second. That is what I've come to love and have looked for in companies, and I know other people appreciate it at OneBridge. So it was different, going into that environment and people said, be like, "How do you get work done? "Like, you guys have a beer fridge." And you know, it's just whatever, but it's there, it's different. They focus on you as an employee and educating you and making sure you are advancing in your career and the perks were just second nature. So I did have a very different thought in my head about what it was all gonna be like, and OneBridge threw all of those out the door. Especially work from home life balance. Sometimes I was like, "Oh, I have a doctor's appointment "and it's an hour across town with traffic, "and then I gotta come back to the office." And they're like, "Well, why don't you just work from home?" And I was like, is that allowed? Can you do that? So that was another one that I kinda had in my head, that you went to work eight to five, and you were there unless your really did have a vacation day and you took it. But they threw that one out the door too. If you were honestly sick or if you just needed to work from home 'cause you needed a different environment, go for it. As long as you're getting your work done and it's done on time, it doesn't matter where you're doing it. I really did appreciate that as well, and that was definitely a change of what was going on in my head when I was interviewing at places.

Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. That's cool. I mean, I am a big fan of the leadership over there at OneBridge. It obviously is well documented, my love for Daryle.

Delanie Olsen: Oh yes. I get that. There was another actually, I guess he would be a millennial as well, that worked at OneBridge. He's still there, he's in the recruiting department, and he wrote a blog post all about how it's not about the perks. That's great, I love them, I love having the snack bar and all that, but I think he said something like great perks should be the symptom of a great company culture, that they can't be the cause of it. That it's...

Amanda Hammett: I like that.

Delanie Olsen: And yes. I'll have to send you the link to the blog...

Amanda Hammett: You know.

Delanie Olsen: their website. But when he wrote that and obviously it came to me first in marketing, and he's like, "What do you think? 'Cause we just won an award for the best places to work and he's like, "Should this be, should we put this on the site? "Should we put it on social?" And I was like, "Yes." Because I think so many younger kids are now seeing all of these perks in these companies and they want to work there right away. And they're like, "Oh, they have a LaCroix fridge." Oh, well, that's great, but are they gonna treat you right as an employee? So I think it's good to have people who are younger already noticing those things. A company might have all those great perks, but if they're not treating you right as an employee and not wanting you to succeed and advance and become educated even more, then there's no point in taking that job.

Amanda Hammett: I agree, and you would be surprised how often you see that.

Delanie Olsen: Yes, I can imagine. Well, even like I said, OneBridge is, I'm sure people walk into there and they're like, "Yup, I'm in. "I'm done. "I'm walking to work here." But you know, it was a good experience for me to take a step back and say, is this actually gonna be a good company for me to work at?

Amanda Hammett: I agree, I agree. With Karen Cooper at the helm, I don't think you could go wrong.

Delanie Olsen: You can't go wrong, I know. She's amazing.

Amanda Hammett: I want to be Karen Cooper when I grow up.

Delanie Olsen: Oh, yes,agree. And I don't know if I'm attracted to this women-owned companies that are just absolutely killing it, but the new company I'm working at is actually a woman-owned one as well and that really stood out to me. And I feel that now that I had that experience with Karen, and had such a strong relationship, and there was a few other women as well that were higher up at OneBridge that just, they beat all of the stereotypes and they really cared about me and my future, and so when I was moving to Chicago I wanted that again. I was lucky enough to find that again, but it's definitely something that I appreciate in an organization.

Amanda Hammett: That's amazing. I love, love, love, love, love that. So, let's take a look back either at OneBridge or at your current company. Is there anything specific, and we've kinda touched on this already, but is there anything specific that your boss or a mentor has done that keeps you engaged and productive and really wanting to work hard? Besides, let's think outside of that whole rebranding experience.

Delanie Olsen: Yes. I definitely say caring about my passions outside of work. And I know that sounds a little like, oh, well work is work and home is home, and maybe that's a stereotype I had as well when I was first looking for a job, but every mentor that I've had either at OneBridge or I already see it now with my current supervisor at Total Events, is they're asking me questions about well, I have a blog on the side. "So, well, what's going on with that? "Let's see it. "How are things going with that?" And I just truly appreciate that because sometimes you do need to take a step back from work. And sometimes you're so stressed out about something at work that I wasn't getting things done because I was letting it clog my mind, but if I could focus on other things and you kind of relax and then you can go back to something. So I really appreciated it because Eric did a really good job at that. He was always like, "What's going on?" He was excited about things I was doing on the side and I really appreciated that. Even my first supervisor, when I first told her, "Oh, I wanna start this blog," she got me a new jacket and was like, "I want to help your passion for fashion, "and I want you to roll with it." I did not expect that at all, and I really appreciated that because then it made your everyday job that much better because people actually did care about you and cared about you outside of work as well. So I definitely think that that helped because work is a lot, and sometimes you're gonna get worn out and so it's good to take a step back and I really do appreciate that from people. And also Daryle did a really good job of this. Even when I know I might be wrong about something, or if I don't know if the idea's totally there yet, he makes me run with it until it gets to that point where it's like, nope, I need to change gears here. Sometimes you have to see something totally through for all of your creative ideas, and just all of that to come out, and I've had people in my life in internships before to talk to those, where they stop you so quickly. It's, "Ah, nah, we did that before "and it didn't work and we're not gonna "let you go there." But someone could bring a totally different experience to something like that, so Daryle did a really good job with always telling me to fully finish something through. If I have an idea, run with it, and wait until it gets to the total end before I say, "Ah, that was a flop."


Delanie Olsen: So he did a really good job with that and I 100% appreciate that. And it was funny because I would see that in him, too. He would come to me with some crazy idea and at first I'd be like, "Wait, I don't know if we got time for this. "I don't know if we should keep talking about this." And then he would keep going more and I'd let him keep going, and it would spin out into something amazing, and I'm like, we should have been doing this a year ago. So I think it's good for a mentor, a supervisor, whatever, to really let you take the reins on a project or just something and let you see it through because you teach yourself a lot in that as well.

Amanda Hammett: Yes. You do, you do learn a lot about the process but also about yourself and your skills and all right, that's not where I need to be going or maybe this is something I need to investigate further.

Delanie Olsen: Exactly.

Delanie Olsen: Yeah, absolutely. But you don't find these things out if you're in this little box.

Delanie Olsen: And I've been in that, I feel like I've been in that box with some internships I felt I was just so restricted. And I get, you're an intern and whatever, but I had an internship where it wasn't like that and it was like go for it and that's when I first realized that I wanted to find a company after college that still gave me that freedom.

Amanda Hammett: Very cool, very cool. All right, so we just discussed the perks that you guys have and I know about the beer fridge, Karen and I had discussed it. But what is it about the perks or the culture, or what is it that just keeps you just excited and engaged and wanting to get up every day and let's do this again, let's fix something, let's do this again?

Delanie Olsen: Oh yeah. I again think it's getting to see a project all the way through. I've even seen this now, so I'm not fully immersed yet in my new company. I'm still getting the hang of things, but my supervisor was helping out with an event and it was finally the day of the event and she was there all day. She got there at eight in the morning, was there until five, and the actual main part of the event wasn't starting until 10:00 at night, but she just had a little girl and so she had to get home, and so she asked me, she said, "Can you be there and can you see this through?" And I saw how hard it was for her to not be there, that that project was her baby and she really wanted to see it all through and I remember feeling that way about certain projects, where you're like, I just need to see this through and I wanna see the end of it, and when you get to see all of that it's the best feeling in the world and that's what gets you go back the next day and then do it all over again for another client or another event or whatever it is. So I saw how hard it was for her and so I made sure I was taking videos and photos left and right because I wanted her to still kind of experience it, but I think that that is one way to definitely keep you motivated because everyone loves that feeling of accomplishment. You don't necessarily need to hear it from everyone, like, "Oh, you did such a great job with this." If you just see it with your own eyes that's the best feeling and then that gets me going again and I wanna come up with another idea and see that one through. So, I definitely think just focusing on just wanting to do things from start to finish and just maybe on your own saying I can handle this by myself and then seeing it all the way through. It keeps me motivated at least.

Amanda Hammett: I think that your answer there really circles back to at the beginning when you were talking about you wanted to prove that you were this hard worker. I think that that answer alone because you're like, I have a hard time giving up projects that I wanted to see to fruition. And I think that that's a sign of someone who has poured their heart and soul into something.

Delanie Olsen: Yes, I agree. I think that also goes back to this millennial stereotype too, because it is the not as hard working as some of the older generations and things like that, but honestly I feel like I worked great with some of the older generations, and they never said to me, "Oh, you're a millennial." People might have made jokes here and there when I did something, and I really appreciated that because they wanted to learn things that I knew about that they didn't know about like social media, and I wanted to learn things that I didn't know either from the beginning. I think it's good to kind of have that mix in the workplace as well, it's important. And I've seen some people of the older generation jump on social media. When we had to do a social media branding for the company, they wanted people to try and be more engaging on LinkedIn and things like that. I had people coming up to me, "Well, I already have a LinkedIn, "I want a Twitter now. "I want you to help me out with this, "and I want to recruit candidates through Twitter." I loved that 'cause it didn't make me feel like the millennial who just sits on social media all day, because they actually saw some value out of it and so I think it's good to have that mix in the workplace. I think it's very important because everyone's gonna bring something else to the table.

Amanda Hammett: That is something that I talk about all the time. We each bring strengths and from our generations to the table, and it's just about accepting them and learning from each other. You'd be surprised how many companies I talk to and they're like, "Yeah, we don't hire millennials," and I'm like...

Delanie Olsen: I would not think that.

Amanda Hammett: I don't understand like, literally, how is this going to work for you.

Delanie Olsen: Yes. And I've gotten since I was going through this process of looking for a job, and I actually remember getting this even before I got my job at OneBridge when I was looking for a company. It was the strangest thing, in an interview I'd sit there for 20 minutes and show in my portfolio or talk about all of my hard work and my experience. And then they would ask me the question, "So, as a millennial, what do you think "your work ethic is like?" And I'm like, "I just told you what my work "ethic is like. Just because you put a name "on it doesn't mean I change my work ethic "all of a sudden, I swear it's the "same that I just talked about." So I always found that question to be so strange in an interview. I just kind of defer it back, and I'd say, "Well, you know, I just went over everything, "and I don't think it changes just because "you put a millennial phrase in front of my name." So I definitely find that weird that some companies focus so highly on that when I think it is important to have a mix of different generations.

Amanda Hammett: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Well, I will tell you that in speaking with Eric and Karen and Daryle, they all will attest to the fact that you have a very, very strong work ethic.

Delanie Olsen: Well, that makes me happy, thank you.

Amanda Hammett: So the next time you need to look for a job, just take this tape I swear, I'm a great hard worker. A CEO and all these other people say that I'm a very hard worker.

Delanie Olsen: I love that. I mean, they were one good company to land after college that is for sure. I definitely lucked out there.

Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. They're fantastic. Is there anything, you've kind of touched on this but I'd like to dig into this a little bit more, is there anything that you wish that companies knew about recruiting younger employees?

Delanie Olsen: That is a good question. Let me think about this one. Definitely the whole stereotype around the work from home, how millennials are the ones who want to work from home and we've got to start to accommodate for that in our organization. Which I think is great if you are starting to like, maybe like a one day a week, things like that, but I think it's funny 'cause I don't think it just has to do with millennials. As I talk to other people, other generations, even my Dad, he's been starting to work from home at least two days a week, and he is all about it. He is getting more done first of all, because he's probably like me and he talks a lot when he's at work. He loves to socialize. But I don't think that the working from home should be a thing that's connected to millennials because I think it's just a fact that we have so much technology nowadays and a lot of positions, some not so much, but a lot of positions you can work from home now and get all of the same work done just as hard as anyone else. So for a company that's maybe trying to appeal to millennials, don't necessarily just throw those certain things out there 'cause you're like oh they'll grab onto that. I think that goes to anyone. If you're wanting to hire good talent for your organization, everyone feels that way nowadays and with all the technology giving them a little bit of that freedom is a positive thing.

Amanda Hammett: Oh, absolutely, absolutely.

Delanie Olsen: That's definitely one of them. Just I love the idea of ongoing education. I'm not saying it necessarily needs to be where you have money set aside, because you may not be at that point if you're a smaller company but still wanting to appeal to millennials. But there's a lot of free resources out there so maybe if it is a class on... There was a class on SEO and I was really interested in taking it. It ended up being a free class in but it was at I-30s and it was gonna take me an hour to get there. So I told my supervisor, "Hey, I'm really interested in this "and I think it will be beneficial for us." And she's like, "Get your butt over there." She's like, "That's okay that you're leaving early." She's like, "This is good for us." So, I think ongoing education, I think it's the CEO maybe of Microsoft that said this. I'm not taking credit for this 'cause I love this quote. But he said, "I'm not a know-it-all, I'm a learn-it-all." I love that because I'm definitely not a know-it-all, I have to teach myself things over and over again, I have a terrible memory. So when I heard that, I appreciated that a lot. I think if companies really focus on just that ongoing education because with technology everything changes so quickly especially in the marketing world that I'm in I swear there's something new every day. Just having that ability for my supervisor to say, "Hey, you should go to this workshop. "I know it's during the day, "but it's free, even if it's not in our budget, "and I think that you're gonna learn from it "and I know you'll provide value to the organization." I just started two months ago at this company, and in the first two weeks the CEO sent me an email and was like, "Hey, there's this social media workshop "downtown, I want you to go to this, "I think it's gonna be great, "it's a women-owned organization and "I know you're passionate about that." And I was like, "Oh, I just started here two weeks ago." So I think that ongoing education should be important to millennials but also everyone, so using that kind of as a way to look for that top talent is super important.

Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. What I see over and over again just in the 20 interviews that I've done for the Rockstars so far, almost everybody that I can think of off the top of my head that I've interviewed thus far has mentioned this need for ongoing learning, this ongoing challenge of what can they learn next? They're not content to just sit in this stationery position day in day out doing the exact same thing. They want that learning because it's challenging to them and it keeps them going and it keeps them wanting to go.

Delanie Olsen: I've had friends who started out as an organization as one position, and as two years pass and they've kind of started to dip their feet into other things and they've got interested in other things, the organizations let them completely switch to a different department. And when I hear that, I love that because again work is kind of lower, life is short and work is lower on that totem pole, and if you know that you're not super happy with something but you love the organization, if they let you kind of flop that quickly to something else and jump into it, I totally respect that. I think that is amazing across the board. And yes it is harder with smaller companies again, but it is probably a little bit easier with the bigger organization but I think that's a really cool trait to have as an organization.

Amanda Hammett: It is. And you hit the nail on the head when you said two years, because that seems to be the magic number, right? In that timeframe we start getting a little antsy, and what can I do to add to my skillset, and yes absolutely.

Delanie Olsen: I do think, give a position or just anything, time because like you said, the two years. I feel like when I've jumped from something, one thing to the other and I didn't give it enough time then I'm mad at myself. Because I'm like what it if was something I would have been passionate about. And that's why internships are always hard for me 'cause I'm like this wasn't enough time.


Delanie Olsen: How do I know that this isn't... I had an internship at a radio station and I was doing live on air types stuff and I loved it but at the same time I was like, "I don't know if this is me," but then after three months, I was gone. And I was like, I don't really have that opportunity again. So internships are a struggle for me because I was kinda mad that it was, it kinda kept me in that short time period and I didn't know if I fully felt one way or another about it.

Amanda Hammett: Oh, that's hilarious. I've actually never heard anyone say that about an internship, I mean I've talked to thousands of people about internships...

Delanie Olsen: Well, this just shows you how weird I am about that. I had an internship and it wasn't like fully what I thought I was gonna be into but after I was done, they were like, "Hey, you were really good at this. "We need to pull our freelancer because "we're still just really super swamped with clients." And I was in college, I was like this is a good opportunity, in the end I'll know if I really don't like this. And my mom's like, are you sure you want to keep going? And sure enough, after about four more months of that, I knew I didn't want to keep doing that.

Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. X that one off.

Delanie Olsen: Yes. I think it's a good chance to keep things rolling. But I guess if you know within a week and you're like, oh no, then maybe it is not meant to be.

Amanda Hammett: All right. Well, there you go. Delanie, this has just been an absolute pleasure. I mean, I knew it would be just based on the two people that recommended you and just how phenomenal they are and just the high praises they had for you. But it really has been a pleasure, thank you so much for sharing with me and our audience, thank you. All right everybody. Thank you so much for joining us in this episode of the Millennial Rockstars podcast. Be sure and check out the next episodes coming live to you, and we will see you soon. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of the Millennial Rockstars podcast. If you are looking for even more information on millennials and some free resources, visit my website at the link is below, it's There you can download a free millennial employee engagement guide that will give all kinds of tips and tricks on how to keep those millenials engaged on a day to day basis because we all know that millennials who are happy at work are more productive at work.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

featuring Jarred C. Morgan

20: Millennials: Learning to Communicate Across Generations

For those who are looking to develop millennials, it is important to realize they value their personal lives. This millennial learned through mentorship that service both in his personal and his professional life not only fulfills him both also those around him.

Jarred Morgan, MBA is a Strategy & Change Management Consultant at Expressworks International. He is also the President and CEO at TechnipFMC. Extensive background in exploring the relationships in data and revealing their stories. A trusted resource of organizational leaders in developing and executing change readiness plans, communications strategies, and lessons learned activities. A well-rounded practitioner of OCM strategies, leadership engagement, SMEs and cross-functional teams.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Learning to Communicate Across Generations

00:05 Amanda: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the Millennial Rockstars podcast.

00:10 Amanda: Hey, and welcome to this episode of the Millennial Rockstars podcast. So in today's podcast, the rockstar we had is Jarred Morgan of ExpressWorks International. And Jarred had, I don't know, so many pieces of great advice throughout the entire interview, but the one thing that really sticks out to me is when he said, "Show up on time, and do what you say you're going to do." And I think that that's fantastic advice. Not only for millennials in the workforce, but for everybody in the workforce. Can you imagine the different world that we would live in if everybody lived by that philosophy? So join me and watch Jarred Morgan as he shares with us even more fantastic information.

00:52 Amanda: Hey there, this is Amanda Hammett. And I'm known as Millennial Translator® because I help companies attract, retain, and engage top millennial talent. And today's episode of the Millennial Rockstars podcast brings us a very special and hard to get rockstar. Today's rockstar is Jarred Morgan. Jarred, welcome to the show.

01:13 Jarred: Thank you, thank you for having me. And I'm so sorry for the constant follow-ups that we've had, chasing each other down. I take ownership for that.

01:24 Amanda: No sir, no sir, this was... We've had some difficulties getting on each other's schedules but I just chalk it up to we are two busy, in-demand people. How about that?

01:38 Jarred: I will not deny that. If that's what you wanna bestow upon me, for sure.

01:41 Amanda: Absolutely. So the interesting thing about this show is that everybody who is a guest on the show has to be nominated by a coworker, a boss, or somebody who can really vouch for your work ethic, who can vouch for the fact that you are nothing like a millennial stereotype of lazy and entitled. And the interesting thing is, is I put the call out to my network and a gentleman in my network put it out to his network. And that's where you came from, you were actually nominated by, anonymously, by an organization that you are very involved with. So you don't know the person. I don't know who it was either. But tell us a little bit about that organization that nominated you, the Emerging 100.

02:28 Jarred: Thank you to whoever felt me worthy to do so. Emerging 100 of Houston is an auxiliary organization of 100 Black Men of America, originally founded about... Over 60 years ago in New York City. And it was geared toward making sure that there was a pipeline of mentoring from many men of color toward boys of color, and it's since expanded to include young girls as well, and even young adult women. So, through the Collegiate 100 chapters that we have across the nation in various universities, it's over 50-something chapters, I think, for Collegiate. Within Emerging, Emerging is really somewhat new. Ties into the aspect of your show. Millennials. So it tries to grab that 35 through 22 bracket and provide them with an opportunity to fellowship among themselves, drive results within the community and without the heavy-handed oversight of, say, differences in generation. So normally what would have happened is someone would apply to become a part of 100 Black Men of America, but now there is an age limit there. And so it allows us to create our own space and be creative in it, and deliver impact to the community.

04:01 Amanda: That is fantastic, I'm always for delivering impact to the community. Whatever that...

04:07 Jarred: Yeah, yeah. I'm a huge, huge proponent of that for sure.

04:09 Amanda: That is amazing, and I appreciate that. So one of the things that they had to say about you in the nomination form was that you put your money, your time, and your effort into where your mouth is. So you don't just talk, you do. And I think that that's important. That action taking, I think is important. And I would imagine that you don't just have that action taking in your outside, your extracurricular. I would imagine you have that in your career as well. So tell us a little bit about your career, what do you do now, what's going on there?

04:47 Jarred: So let me see, the best phrase for what I do... Management consulting is the more, I guess, accepted term but more specifically in that space among those who know about management consulting, I'm in OCM. So people management, behavioral influence, and corporate communications, internally speaking, are the three main buckets of what I focus my nine-to-five skill set on. I currently work for ExpressWorks International. It's a firm of consultants that are located pretty much all over the globe. But specifically with strongholds in Houston, San Francisco, and the Netherlands, England. But that's who I work for. I enjoy it very much. I have been with this firm for the past five months and it's honestly been transformational to my career.

05:49 Amanda: Transformational is not a word that you hear a whole lot in talking about careers and career paths.

05:57 Jarred: So those who don't like quote unquote "empty phrases" from the corporate world, please forgive me, you'll hear a lot of them as I use them often. But what is perceived as to be empty, I try to provide more impact and context around. So I don't just say things to just say it on an email, I say it out into that there's some way you can say that you can see that word somewhere. So I do apologize that I do have some skills in corporate speak, but not necessarily in a quote unquote corporate do... I'm a doer. Or I strive to be.

06:34 Amanda: I picked that up in your nomination form a little bit. So tell us a little bit about... So you were telling me before, we are on the call that you just turned 33. So again, happy birthday.

06:47 Jarred: Are you sure of my age?

06:51 Amanda: Oh, I'm so sorry, you turned 23. I'm so sorry.


06:54 Jarred: How dare you? Okay.

06:56 Amanda: So you just had a birthday, which means that you've been in the workforce for a little while, you have some years under your belt, you're not just new into the career path, into your career path. Now, tell us a little bit about... Have you found anything that has really worked for you in your career? Whether it's a mantra or a methodology or something in particular. What's worked for you?

07:23 Jarred: Well, it sounds weird and not to be a corporate shrill if you will, but we have a saying here that if you show up on time and do what you say, that's huge. I've even had the examples of whether someone will say, "Hey, if I didn't have everything I needed to have," it's a meeting call, "Is it okay for maybe just cancel it? And wait till I have more of it?" And it's important to show up and do as you said you would do. So if you don't even have that, at least have the response of why you don't have it, what are some of the things you need to, in order to get to it, but still stick to those times. Sticking to those times are huge. It's something that I have previously struggled with because I'm such a fluid thinker. I think, is it left-brain? Left brain is the more creative hemisphere? Or is it right?

08:20 Amanda: I always get it confused.

08:22 Jarred: I should know that and especially if I'm bringing it up. But I am naturally that type of person, and so I've had to get better at being hard stopping to dates and times, but it's a priority struggle in terms of understanding that. Especially when you're in my space of being somewhat of a seasoned rookie, if that makes any sense, right? Like this person who has a little bit more experience under his belt but still has plenty of room for growth. So I would say that that one, one of the quotes that I think I have in my signature is "Service is the rent you pay for the space that you occupy on Earth." And so for all the things that you have been given, an opportunity to work for, an opportunity to go out and get, you have to pay it forward. And it feels good to pay it forward. Usually that energy, I think, trumps any personal achievement.

09:22 Jarred: And I'm willing to test anyone on that theory, but I say those two and maybe one more. Keep it simple, stupid. You gotta keep things very simple. I have a tendency to be very verbose and I've had to learn how to narrow that down. And so a lot of times what I noticed is that people who seem to be a little struggling in their career or in general, is that they don't really keep it simple, they think more is better, but a lot of times in more is less. I get lost in translation, I don't see your main points, I'm confused and now I'm immobilized now. So now I'm paralyzed to do nothing for you. So keep it simple. Don't just throw information to just throw it. Data is just data until you give it context and a story, it's just data. No actual items can come from it. So I would say those are the things that I learned, and probably learned a little of it the hard way in the beginning of my career. But... 'cause I... Audiences matter, who's reading, what you're getting and what are their intentions with that information and everything like that matters. I'm one of those people that, you could throw me in front of an almanac and I can read it all day long. Because I'm a fact information-based person, but there are people who are creative, there are people who are listeners, there are people who are visual, and so you have to really understand your audience in order to communicate effectively. So in a roundabout way, everything in my life has been a...


11:03 Jarred: Everything is an example. Sorry, but yeah, I'm passionate about those three things, I think.

11:10 Amanda: That's awesome.

11:10 Jarred: At least today.

11:11 Amanda: At least today.

11:12 Jarred: At least today.


11:16 Amanda: Let's talk about some of the harder lessons learned, some of the stumbling blocks that you've faced. Because I know that I've had multiple, multiple stumbling blocks in my own career. So tell us, give us an example of one major stumbling block that you faced and how did you overcome it? What did you do?

11:38 Jarred: So it was within the gold program at Johnson and Johnson, where I went after graduating from grad school. So it was my first big boy job, if you will. And on my second rotation, I was put in in a Quality Engineer role. Totally outside of my background, I have no background in bio mix. I have very little understanding of engineering outside, say, some high school training. So a lot of that was foreign to me, and a lot of the jobs in which I was responsible for were older. So older generation. And so I got some lumps when I tried to jump straight into work with a... I could pinpoint who they were, right? I could read that characteristics of baby boomers. What are some of the challenges they face? What are some of their communication styles? I can read that. And so I had some of that when I didn't understand how they viewed me. They saw as me as this millennial. And I don't consider myself a millennial, you know what I mean? In different contexts, I think... When I came out of college, I was called Gen-Y. SO I didn't know where millennial came from. But they see me as that because they're continuously seeing it in marketing feeds, you name it.

13:07 Amanda: Yup, everywhere.

13:08 Jarred: One of the millennials. He's gonna rush to judgement. He's not gonna take your opinion into factoring. He's not going to have an appreciation for what you know or what you've taken time to learn. And he's gonna always need constant gratification and re-affirmation of who he is or what he's doing. All of which of knowing me equally. And so when I finally understood that that was how he they were viewing me, I was able to create an environment where we could have some of that real talk of... Back in my day, those conversations and they were realizing how different I was from what they had perceived was huge. And then from then on, I mean we're talking about week turnaround on stuff that I needed when it was taking three weeks or more. I started to get prioritized and the things that nature. Some of it is just truly human interaction. I'm naturally an introvert. So even though I can crack jokes, I can be social, it's been a learned attribute. So if I can sit at my computer and send emails, the natural side of me will be quite okay with that. That's not how people react, it's not how people move in the world. And so, those lumps, I think, were mostly from a social standpoint: Finding how to hear my own voice in a corporate setting, being okay with that voice, and making sure that that was communicated to others. So it took some time to get there.

14:46 Amanda: Oh, that's cool. Alright. That's a very, very good example. And I think that it's something that I hear a lot of, is millennials, younger millennials, are in a position where they're now managing or depending on older generations, and they're being looked at as this kid. And nobody wants to take the kid seriously, and so how do you manage that? And I think that you managed it beautifully, honestly. I know that it was a learning curve for you, but I feel like you did a good job. So, congratulations.

15:19 Jarred: Oh, thank you. And I think sometimes all learning opportunities will be successful. So sometimes there won't be a good result. Sometimes you might end up being let go, fired, etc., but as long you learned something from all those experiences, it's a lesson learned. It doesn't have to necessarily end with a favorable conclusion that you desire, as long as you learn. That's really the key. So learn from all situations.

15:48 Amanda: I absolutely agree with that whole-heartedly.

15:51 Jarred: I think if I didn't have the support of upper management in different spaces that weren't even in that particular location, if I didn't have their support, I might not have been as confident to take the approach that I took right now. We need to kind of step our faith or step out and trust that what sounded good most likely is good. I needed to hear that comforting support. So I don't understate that by any means because I know it helps me still to this day, is support. Support is important.

16:23 Amanda: Absolutely. I don't think that you get anywhere in the corporate world without support.

16:28 Jarred: Anywhere in the world, really. You should have a champion in each and every thing that you do.

16:34 Amanda: I agree. Absolutely.

16:37 Jarred: Someone who understands your core values, understands you beyond the nice little cards and cut-outs that they give for every generation and every personality. Somebody who really gets you, and that takes time to build. I think a lot of times people don't take the time to build.

16:55 Amanda: I agree. I agree. I think that we sometimes rely too heavily on technology and what it gives to us, but it takes away that human-to-human connection. And we're hard-wired for that. And we need it, and we crave it, and it's... Yeah.

17:11 Jarred: Yeah, I know. Just the other day... I don't think they will see this, anyway, but it was on a group meet where someone's suggesting that they use LinkedIn to find mentors, which I think is smart. But they find their mentor and then say something along the things of, "Be my mentor." How many times has this person seen that? How is what you're doing standing out in a real connection? LinkedIn is an aid. It's not the replacement. So you should be leveraging. "Can we meet for coffee?" And pay for it like a responsible adult and earn the time, earn the face time in front of someone. I think sometimes we just think, "I pinged you. I messaged you. So now we have a relationship." Uh-uh.


18:02 Jarred: That doesn't work in people's dating lives, so why would that work here?

18:08 Amanda: Oh, Jarred, we're gonna be friends, I can just tell.


18:13 Jarred: I look forward to it, Amanda.


18:19 Amanda: Alright. Now you have an interesting educational background. You want to Florida A&M, but then...

18:25 Jarred: AMU. Just had to do that, real quick.


18:28 Amanda: Then we... Not we, you went Shanghai University for your graduate. Did you have any of these preconceived ideas about what work or the working world was gonna be like before you left the confines of the classroom? And what were the differences between the idealized version from college and the reality version?

18:57 Jarred: So I felt like I'm pretty good on paper. I'm a masterful communicator in terms of casual conversation, so then by natural ordained, I would become successful. No. Not at all. And I say the real world was just totally different. It's a constant show me, constant proving yourself. And that's okay, because it keeps you naturally growing. It keeps you energized to develop and push yourself to those limits. So I would say that that was... I thought corporate... I thought I could charm corporate America and, naw!


19:38 Amanda: Naw!

19:39 Jarred: And the funny thing is, if I saw myself now, I would either pull myself to the side or totally disregard the person, 'cause I know what that's like now. So it's like, "No. It's too much fluff and probably not enough substance or something," which wasn't the case, but if you're not cognizant of the those things that you give off, it can impact you in how people feel about you. So I would say that that was it, for me at least. I thought you could charm corporate America and charm yourself into a situation. You say, "Oh, I'm smart, so then people will give me jobs and give me promotions." No, no. You got to work, man. There's no substitute.

20:22 Amanda: It doesn't work that way? Man!

20:25 Jarred: At least not in my world.


20:28 Jarred: Well, I don't know if that's working for you, Amanda. By all means, give us the code? What's the key code?

20:32 Amanda: It did not work that way. It did not work that way at all.


20:37 Amanda: So you've been at a couple of different companies throughout your career and had some different positions. Is there been a boss or a mentor, or maybe through the Emerging 100 program... I know that you guys do some mentoring there. Is there anything that they have done that has helped you stay mentally engaged at work, and productive at work?

21:00 Jarred: Yeah, the brothers that I work with, Emerging 100 Houston, are just as accomplished if not more, in really good stages of the their lives, and the fact that they keep grinding makes me wanna grind, so the fact that they work hard. I see them working hard. I'm like, "Oh, I'm sleeping through lunch. I need to work." So it's just different things like that, that competitive juices and competitive nature, and then as far as boss, two people who really stick out to me, TaKeisha Rayson, who was my long-term director prior to me coming to this new firm. And then the current firm that I'm at, the guy who brought me in. His name is William Mouton. Ooh, he's gonna hurt me.

21:49 Amanda: Yes he is.

21:49 Jarred: William Mouten, William Mouten, who I found in my organization. He's a part of the older version of the organization, and just feeling comfort around finding someone who knew OCM work, organizational change management. Who knew OCM work, was familiar with a lot of the hurdles that I had encountered from corporate America space. Also, being from my same... What would you call it? Affinity group I think is the corporate word. But my racial background, we tend to get treated in monoliths whether it be race, gender, age, you name it, right? So to be around someone who had came out on the other side of that navigation was important. So yeah, I would say those two people are huge in terms of where I am today in the last five years.

22:45 Amanda: That's awesome. I love that, I love that. And I love that it was a... That gave you those learning experiences, and I'm sure that they pushed you sometimes when you didn't wanna be pushed. That's what bosses do.

22:57 Jarred: Yeah, absolutely. And when there are times when I see things my way, and I assume that that must be...

23:08 Amanda: The way.

23:09 Jarred: Forgive me, I'm gonna get very real. The black man, 30-year-old way of viewing it, and then when you see someone else not view it that way you go, "Wait." You say, "Am I missing the connection?" And oftentimes you are. You're missing a perspective that you don't see, and they are wonderful at giving it.


23:28 Jarred: They are some of the best at giving it. So yeah, those two people really stick out in my mind. I'd give them an island if I could.

23:38 Amanda: Alright. Well, if you're giving out islands...


23:40 Jarred: I don't know if I say it, because we on day one now.

23:46 Amanda: Day one.


23:49 Jarred: Yeah. Baby crawls.

23:51 Amanda: So let me ask you this. Whether this is your current company or maybe one that you've been at in the past, is there anything about the perks or the benefits or maybe even the culture of the company or the subculture of your specific team that it's just helped you to create a sense of loyalty to the company where you're like, "Man, I got to get up. I want to do awesome by this company today"?

24:18 Jarred: It's interesting 'cause I have this conversation with my wife. And it was along the lines of if an opportunity came along and paid me X, Y, and Z, more, would I take it? And the honest answer is, "No," because this company, even in this short timeframe, has done more for my professional growth in wanting to be interested, invested in me than all the companies I've been a part of. And that's not to knock them. Some of them aren't geared or designed in that way, but it's been much more than a learning factory for me. This has been an investment in seeing me five years from now. And I immediately have seen the payback on that. So I would say that this group is really, really interested in the right answer. I've never seen a company really hone in on the right answer, not who, not where it came from, the right answer, the right solution to things.

25:22 Jarred: And so I've been really diving into that, because it's energized me to believe that the right way can win and that we don't have to enter in all these other factors that have nothing to do with the solution. So yeah. I hope I hit the nail on the head in my subgroup or my sub-project team. Absolutely amazing. Very flexible. I'm going to miss them when I no longer have the project, I'm sure. It's just extremely flexible, lighthearted. We're always joking with each other. There's a huge social connection that we share, and I think it helps us get each other's back. Alright? So, it's because we share those commonalities, whether it's... I mean, it's not... We're not the same background-wise by any means, but because we have those social interactions and joke and we do all these other different things, it makes extra work on a Sunday easier. Makes extra work on a Saturday easier. So I would say those are the things that stick out to me at least.

26:33 Amanda: Okay. So I just wanna clear this one, and I just wanna hone in on it for just a second...

26:40 Jarred: No problem.

26:41 Amanda: On that last thing on the subculture of your particular team. You actually mean the human-to-human connection that you have with these people. Correct?

26:52 Jarred: Yeah. Yeah, there's no other way to explain it. Doesn't necessarily always come through the medium of physically being in front of each other. Sometimes it's...

27:06 Amanda: Of course. Not possible. Not possible. Yeah.

27:06 Jarred: Through Skype and joking in that manner. But there's definitely a human aspect, right, that is not relegated to emoticons and memes and GIFs. It's just genuine conversation with two human beings with similar interests.

27:23 Amanda: Two human beings being human beings together. I love it. [laughter]

27:28 Jarred: So is this your anti-social media manifesto?

27:31 Amanda: It is not. It is not. [laughter] No, no. But it's just, it's really interesting. I think that a lot of people... And millennials definitely do this, but if you go in and you notice that other generations have started tending to do this as well, is that they default a lot of times to difficult conversations, or get to know you conversations are done through technology. And I just don't think that it quite builds the same rapport and relationships with it. That's it. I love technology.

28:05 Jarred: No, I think that's fair.

28:07 Amanda: Yeah. I mean, you know. So...

28:09 Jarred: Yeah. But I think, yeah, and I think to which your point is, naturally, human beings will side with the path of least resistance.

28:18 Amanda: Of course.

28:19 Jarred: So if they have an opportunity to turn a difficult conversation into a tweet, a tweet war, then they'd rather do that than actually deal with the ramifications of impacting someone's life.

28:29 Amanda: No. I absolutely agree. And I mean, there's a whole psychological study on exactly what's going on in your brain when you can do it via technology versus face to face. I mean, there's data out there. So alright. So tell me about this. You have a pretty varied background, both professionally and in your extracurricular activities. So tell us what is it that made you stand out in the hiring process? What was it that made your boss... Well, I know that your boss knew you through Emerging 100. But what was it in maybe another role that made your boss say, "Yeah. We gotta call this Jarred guy and get him in here and interview him." What was it about it?

29:16 Jarred: Personal relationship. Personal relationship. Nothing has superseded that. Sure, once the connection is there, you're put in a certain position to where you can sell yourself. You still have to do that, but I'm 100% confident it's the personal relationship. Without question. I mean, because there are the things that come with it that are unintended consequences like I now can have a candid conversation on the dos and don'ts before I go into an interview. If a person doesn't know you, they can't really give that to you in a very comforting way. So yeah. It, literally, the personal relationship took every other aspect to the next level in terms of preparation.

30:04 Amanda: Very good. Yeah, I think that that's fantastic. So tell me a little bit about... I mean you have been through the hiring process with multiple companies. Is there anything you wish companies knew about hiring a younger employee? Is there anything that you think that they should change or anything that you think they do spectacularly well?

30:26 Jarred: Which industry am I talking to right now?

30:27 Amanda: Any industry.

30:29 Jarred: I want to tell them something. No, I'm just kidding. [laughter] What about young people... Get to the point, ask what you want to know. I think, with young people, if you go in a casual format, it's hard to switch to a very serious tone in terms of trying to extract work capabilities or work skills. So ask what you wanna know. You can definitely open with some light stuff but don't allow yourself to stay in that mode. Allow the young person to actually extract their skills and their talents and don't be so hard on things that you find comforting. So you like to do X, Y, and Z, and what you'll tend to do is then take that with you into the interview and anything contrary to that you don't like the person. But it's the contrary that builds the team. It's what they can see that you can't. And so instead of focusing or what is not the same, talk about how magnificent the differences can be, how magnifying the differences can be, what are the things you are missing that you could be adding? 'Cause if you were everything, then you wouldn't be hiring.


31:53 Amanda: Right.

31:55 Jarred: That's an advice to all my baby boomers out there is that you guys can be really deep into your positions, and you tend to have a larger knowledge base in your generation and so I get why you feel it's a superior conclusion to your counterparts, but still there's an opportunity to learn and don't miss out on an opportunity because someone doesn't mirror how you felt you were at 25.

32:32 Amanda: Absolutely. That is some fantastic advice, Jarred, really, really, that is some fantastic advice. And I think that you have actually given a lot of really good advice in this, what, 15-20, I don't know how long we've been on this call, but in this call, but in this very...

32:46 Jarred: Might have been motivated by these other short phone calls of tough love. [laughter] Maybe I was in that mood today, I don't know. You ask me tomorrow and I might tell you a whole different story. [laughter]

33:00 Amanda: I love it, I love it, I love it. Well, Jarred, this, like I said, has been fantastic. Would it be okay with you if I share a link to your LinkedIn profile on the show notes?

33:16 Jarred: Not at all. It's probably the only way they can even find me on social media. I don't even have most of the other mediums.

33:23 Amanda: Well... [laughter]

33:23 Jarred: I was about to name them then I thought that might be press. I don't want to give them unsolicited press.

33:30 Amanda: No, no, let's... We'll stick with LinkedIn to keep it professional, I will include that into the show notes. But otherwise this has been a fantastic interview and I want to thank Jarred Morgan for being on the show. I also want to thank the Emerging 100 of Houston for nominating him to be on the show. And of course I want to thank the audience for checking us out today. So thank you guys so much and I will see you next time. Bye.

33:57 Jarred: Thank you.

33:57 Amanda: Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Millennial Rockstar podcast. If you are looking for even more information on millennials and some free resources, visit my website at, the link is below, it's There you can download a free millennial employee engagement guide that will give you all kinds of tips and tricks on how to keep those millennials engaged on a day-to-day basis because we all know that millennials who are happy at work are more productive at work.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

19: The Power of Mentoring Millennials

The war for top talent is always going to be fierce. But while some large Fortune 500s are spending millions on recruiting millennials in all the usual places, other companies are finding top talent in unconventional places.

Danae Villarreal is an Enterprise Account Marketing at GitLab Inc. From project planning and source code management to CI/CD and monitoring, GitLab is a complete DevOps platform, delivered as a single application.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - The Power of Mentoring Millennials

00:05 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the Millennial Rockstar podcast. So in today's episode of the Millennial Rockstars podcast, we're gonna hear from Danae Villarreal who's with 511 Enterprises, and Danae shares with us all about the power of mentoring and how one mentor actually found her when she was at her worst early on in her career and how he really has poured into her, and has changed not only the trajectory of her career path, but also the trajectory of her life. So listen in and see what Danae has to share.

00:39 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the Millennial Rockstars podcast. Welcome to the show today. I have a really fascinating rockstar with me today. Today's rockstar is Danae Villarreal. Danae, welcome to the show.


00:55 Danae Villarreal: Thank you, thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure.

01:00 Amanda Hammett: I'm super excited to talk to you. So Danae, tell us a little bit about you.

01:04 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, grew up in Washington, moved to Northern California when I was like 23, did the whole higher education thing. I've been working in sales development for the last year and a half, and I recently started a data analytics program in the San Francisco Bay Area.

01:25 Amanda Hammett: Very cool, very cool. Alright. So I happen to meet your direct boss, I don't know, months ago, at a conference, and he was telling me about the philosophy at your company and all that good stuff, and about his personal hiring philosophy, and so I knew that he was like good people. So I was like, "Oh, do you have any rockstars? And he immediately told me a little bit about you. He didn't tell me your name, that would come later. So, tell us why does your boss, Joe Odell, why does he consider you to be a rockstar?

02:01 Danae Villarreal: That's a great question. [laughter] This is a long story, I hope you're ready.

02:07 Amanda Hammett: I'm ready.

02:10 Danae Villarreal: It was a year and a half ago, a little over a year and a half ago, I was working a pizza job, [chuckle] and kinda went through like a quarter life crisis so I was like not sure what I wanted to do, and that crisis ended up in me getting fired at the pizza job. I spent three months on the couch, trying to figure out what I was gonna do, putting in countless applications, and did everything I could to prepare myself for interviews and everything.

02:41 Danae Villarreal: And just like randomly happened upon a job opening for 511 Enterprises, and I was really not sure of it at first. But I go in for a job shadow, and I meet Joe Odell, and his first reaction to me was, "I looked at your LinkedIn, and I noticed that you have roller derby on there. Is that something you do?" And then I was like, "Yeah," [chuckle] but interview turned into me, inviting him out to my game the following weekend. [chuckle] The thing about roller derby is you can invite people all the time, but most of the time people don't show, and Joe shows up with his whole family that weekend.

03:25 Amanda Hammett: I've met him.

03:25 Danae Villarreal: And I was so impressed. [chuckle] I knew that even if I didn't know exactly if I had what it took to do the whole sales thing, I knew that Joe was someone that I wanted to learn from, and I have been ever since. It's been a year and a half of his mentorship, and it's just completely changed the trajectory of my life. He has championed me like no one else has before. And so, what went for me was a pizza delivery gig. I'm pursuing my dreams because he saw me, and he saw something in me, and believed in me, and has not stopped fighting for me since that day.

04:14 Amanda Hammett: That's an awesome story, and I can totally see him doing all of those things. [laughter] He's just that kind of person.

04:24 Danae Villarreal: Totally.

04:26 Amanda Hammett: So tell us a little bit, I mean, I know that you mentioned you got fired from your pizza job, but tell us a little bit about, in your current role, 'cause you're in a sales development role at 511, tell us a little bit about what has worked for you in your career path and growing, as you have.

04:47 Danae Villarreal: Yeah. So I think that, I personally, I'm in the belief that sales development is probably one of the hardest jobs that is out there.

04:58 Amanda Hammett: I'm out there with you.


05:00 Danae Villarreal: Like we're dealing with rejection every single day, multiple times a day. People hanging up on us, whatever. And I think that for me, the biggest part of my success in the last year and a half has been intentionally pursuing emotional health, choosing to not place my identity completely in the role, like whether or not someone says no to me, and just brushing it off and moving on to the next person and consistently practicing resilience because it's such a practice. Like it's not something that we just have innately within us. Maybe a little bit, but in sales, like you gotta be in that mindset. And so, yeah, I think that that for me has been like the biggest thing, making sure that I'm taking care of myself and just like my, yeah, like my mental attitude in keeping that on board, you know.

06:02 Amanda Hammett: Absolutely, I mean, well there's... And with that resilience there's also a certain level of mental toughness that you've had to develop. And I know that you mentioned taking care of yourself from an emotional level, and that is something that actually Joe and I discussed, is just those roles that you're in, and it's just hard on anybody. And so to make it, and to be successful, you've gotta have those things. So, good for you. Very good for you!

06:30 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, thank you! Yeah...

06:31 Amanda Hammett: No...

06:31 Danae Villarreal: Joe... Also... Sorry...

06:33 Amanda Hammett: Oh, no, please.

06:34 Danae Villarreal: Also has been super helpful for me in that because when I started, I didn't know what I was doing. He has so very graciously led me along the path of asking good questions. And making me actually ask myself like, "What? Like why do I feel so tied to this right now? Am I still gonna be okay if this deal falls through? Am I still gonna be okay and not letting the roller coaster of the sales cycle dictate the way that I feel about who I am or where I'm going? So...

07:09 Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. Very cool, very cool. So is there anything in this particular job or maybe in a past job that has not worked for you?

07:23 Danae Villarreal: Anything that has not worked for me?

07:25 Amanda Hammett: Mm-hmm.

07:27 Danae Villarreal: Oh, that's a great question. I think that... Like no matter the product or whatever, I've had like... The nature of my business is I've had multiple clients over the last year and half. And so, it's rapidly changing and stuff. But I think that as long as I stay tied to the why. The why of like making people's lives better. No matter what the product is. If I am bringing the value and saying, "Hey, I can make this easier for you. I can take away your headaches, whatever." I think that that has been something that I've needed. And to go back to the question that what hasn't worked for me, has been like getting caught up in the small hiccups that happen within the sales process.


08:27 Danae Villarreal: And like, you know like, it's administrative nightmare sometimes. And so, just really keeping my cool and just remembering why, has been something that, like I've realized that that's something I need on the day-to-day.

08:42 Amanda Hammett: It is, and not just in business, I think. You know?

08:45 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, right.

08:47 Amanda Hammett: So in those times when you feel in your current role where you're stumbling, or you've hit like a roadblock or something like that. What's really helped you through that?


09:03 Danae Villarreal: We're gonna bring back to Joe. [laughter]


09:06 Amanda Hammett: Is this like a long Joe commercial? Is this... [laughter]

09:11 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, this is, this is... [laughter] I've approved this message for Joe Odell. No. I think that mentorship, that has been one of the biggest things is, find people that can tell you what is true about you. No matter where you're at in life, we're all gonna hit those hard times or whatever, those stress, whatever. It's so easy to get caught up in lives. But having people around you that can remind you of who you are and why you're doing what you're doing, and to just kind of reset your baselines, that for me has been one of the biggest things. It was even yesterday. I was like, I had like a thousand things on my plate and I was like, had even a moment where I'm like, I feel like I can't get anything done to the level of excellence I want or whatever. And so I just, I called Joe, and I was like, "Hey, these are the thousand things that are happening right now. Like help."


10:09 Danae Villarreal: And he kinda just like he didn't give me the answers like I kinda wanted him to, but he was like... He just did that thing where he's asking good questions, and like, "What are your priorities right now? Remember who you are!" And just gave me that thing where I could be like, "Okay, reset, breathe, start over again." So that's been just... I don't know, I love having mentorship in my life, so...

10:42 Amanda Hammett: Awesome. That's really a... Yeah, a fantastic mentor is always a game changer and a life changer really. So...

10:50 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, seriously.

10:50 Amanda Hammett: Yeah, good for you. Okay, so... You mentioned a little reality check early on in the interview, but you also mentioned a couple of other things. I'd like to circle back to them if you don't mind.

11:08 Danae Villarreal: Mm-hmm.

11:10 Amanda Hammett: And you didn't specifically lay this out, but you... I do know this about you, is that you left college. Tell us a little bit about that.

11:20 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, totally. [chuckle] So I went to college and studied music when I was... I feel like I was young. It's been five years since I left. And when I started, I had all of these ideas about how I was gonna maybe pursue a career in music. And my thought process was, "I'm gonna go learn all of the basics, and then I'm gonna be a rockstar somewhere." Which is hilarious that I'm now in this podcast, but I was thinking a musical rockstar.


11:58 Amanda Hammett: But you are a rockstar!


12:01 Danae Villarreal: Different kind, different kind. [chuckle] And so, I just realized, one, it was naive for me to pursue that particular educational path because it wasn't gonna really get me to where I wanted to be, and then, two, was even if I finish this thing, I don't wanna be a music teacher, I don't wanna be an opera singer, and so I moved on from there and I moved to Northern California where I really did a lot of soul-searching, and I went to a theology school to really explore my spirituality and what I believed about life, and I learned so much about myself. And, yeah, all along that was where I'm working in restaurants, and I'm delivering pizzas and stuff. And so ultimately I'm grateful for everything that I've done because it's gotten me to where I am today. But had I had the choice, maybe I wouldn't have taken out those student loans.

13:14 Amanda Hammett: Oh, those student loans. Yes, yes, yes. Alright, so we've talked a little bit about Joe, just a little bit. [laughter] But I know that there are some other bosses or coworkers that you work with on a very regular day-to-day basis over at 511. Is there anything that they do, besides Joe, to keep you engaged and motivated and ready to take on that next no that you're gonna inevitably hear?

13:48 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, definitely, so I honestly just... I am so honored to work for 511 because I didn't know the level of... Just like champion thing that I could feel from an employer until I started working for them. So the higher up C-level guys are so encouraging, definitely make a point to meet with us on a regular basis.

14:20 Amanda Hammett: So this is like Chad?

14:23 Danae Villarreal: Like Chad, Nicole, and Rick Sbrocca, they have met with me on multiple occasions, helping me figure out what's the next move. What are my goals for the next year? Where do I wanna be in five years? Where do I wanna end up?

14:37 Amanda Hammett: Awesome!

14:38 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, it's fantastic because even if they know that I'm not gonna end up with 511, they're still investing in me, which I'm like, that's crazy but amazing at the same time.

14:51 Amanda Hammett: It is.


14:55 Danae Villarreal: Gotta love those guys. So for instance, I had been with 511 for a year and I heard about this school in San Francisco called MissionU, around, I don't know, it would've been like 10 months ago, 11 months ago now. And it was a data analytics and business intelligence program. It was gonna pull me away from Redding where the offices and stuff, and I was like, "This seems kinda interesting, it seems like a path I could go down at some point. If anything, it'll enrich my career." And I just applied on a whim, and I got accepted and I found out that they only accept like, they accepted 20 of us and there was 5000 applicants or something...

15:47 Amanda Hammett: Wow!

15:48 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, so I find out, and I'm like, "Hey, Chad, I've got some news... " [laughter] And from the get-go, they were so supportive, they were like, "Yeah, we will do whatever it takes to help you make this happen. If this is the path that you wanna go down, we're gonna help you get there." So I tried to search for jobs, couldn't find anything part-time. People don't hire STRs part-time. I'm not surprised by that. But 511 was like, "Hey, you know what, we don't have remote employees, but we'll keep you on. We'll keep you covered until you get through your program." And it's just been... The level of generosity has just been out of this world. So, yeah, I'm so grateful to everyone, all of them.

16:54 Amanda Hammett: That's amazing.

16:54 Danae Villarreal: And even the other management there have been super great about connecting with me, whether it's through Slack or on phone calls and just staying in touch and keeping me, leaving me feeling like I'm still part of the team, even though I'm not in the office all the time, which is, it's just really valuable.

17:14 Amanda Hammett: That's really, really amazing. I didn't know that about you starting that program and kinda how that all went down. That's really... That's really cool, that they're supporting you in that way. I mean... That's amazing. I just don't have words for that, that's amazing.

17:34 Danae Villarreal:Yeah, yeah, it's, [laughter] it's really hard to find, you know? So it's been good.

17:43 Amanda Hammett: Yeah. I mean, when I met Joe originally, I could tell like the culture there was something that was really interesting to me, doing what I do. That's a lot of what I talk about is building that kind of culture and to see it and to see it the way it's grown organically there, has been really interesting to see from my perspective. But Joe is really nice enough to introduce me to Chad and to Rick, and just to hear them talk about it from their perspective, it's, yeah...

18:19 Danae Villarreal: Yeah...

18:20 Amanda Hammett: You're in a good, good place, [laughter] you know... In a very good place.

18:25 Danae Villarreal: I really am. [chuckle] I like, and it's like not even just the... The management is awesome and everything too. But like... When I started in the 511 like I really found... They're just good at hiring good people, you know, like...

18:44 Amanda Hammett: They are.

18:45 Danae Villarreal: We have such great culture across the board on all of the individual projects and teams. It's just like the best, the cream of the crop. [chuckle] So, anyway...

19:00 Amanda Hammett: Well, I mean and I think that their philosophy is, it's culture over skill. And I think that a lot of other companies should adopt a similar attitude, and that's what it is. Joe told me that first night that I met him, he was just like, "Absolutely, I look at culture. Are you gonna fit within our culture? Are you like, that kind of personality that we're looking for that will do well and succeed?" And he said, you had it. And that's why...


19:27 Amanda Hammett: You were like, "I don't know how I feel about this sales thing and everything," 'cause he knew he could teach you and he, I would imagine, is a wonderful teacher.

19:37 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, definitely.

19:38 Amanda Hammett: Awesome, that's really cool, good for you. Okay, so I'm very curious how you went from, you found this semi-interesting job posting from 511, for a sales role, which you'd never really done before. What is it that made you stand out to Joe? Like how did they pick you for this job shadowing day, how did that happen?

20:05 Danae Villarreal: I think it was the roller derby. [chuckle] To be honest, it was actually a combination of things. So it actually wasn't a job posting. It was a Facebook post that someone, like a friend of a friend had posted that like I know, and I was like... They have said that they were looking for sales people, and I was like, "Does selling pizzas count?" [chuckle] So I was at that point in my job search. And then, yeah, Joe had just said, like... He was just super impressed that I was actively involved in the roller derby league and he thought it showed a lot of grit, and I was like, "Oh, I've never thought of it like that before, that's cool." I'm so sorry...

20:52 Amanda Hammett: That's okay.

20:54 Danae Villarreal: Anyway. And then also, so when I initially had kinda shown a little bit of a hesitation like, "Hey, I need to think about this a little bit." He was like, "Okay." And so I ended up doing a mock call anyway and it was terrible, just like awful. I was so nervous and it was not good and he didn't tell me that that it was bad. And I actually like I just thought about it for a couple of days, and finally I was like, I'm just gonna call him and tell him like, I want this job because I... Like I just felt like, I just felt it. I was like, there is something about this, there is something about this that I need, like just for my life, I guess. And...

21:38 Amanda Hammett: Really?

21:39 Danae Villarreal: And so I, yeah, like I just... Just like, I could tell like you could like Joe is good people, and I was like, "I think I need that." Like I need that more but not right now. And, yeah, so I like called him, left him a voice mail. He gave me a call back, he's like, "Yeah, that voice mail was better than your mock call." So we're gonna give you a job. I was like, "perfect." [chuckle] So I think it was like the grit and like the persistence and the pursuit of it, and like actually getting vulnerable and like... I could've backed down to the fear of rejection and been like, "They'll call me," you know, but I, like very specifically was like, "No, I'm gonna... I have this dude's phone number, I'm gonna call him and I'm gonna let him know that, I think that this is a good fit," and so...

22:31 Amanda Hammett: That's really cool. That's awesome. [laughter] That he said that to you. That's terrible.


22:39 Amanda Hammett: So, speaking to our other companies that watch this and listen. What is it that you wish other companies knew about hiring younger employees? Because I would imagine, you said you spent three months on the couch, you said you put in countless applications, like... What do you wish that they knew? If you could speak directly to all HR people.


23:00 Danae Villarreal: All the HRs... Yeah, I think... Oh, that's a great question. I probably should have thought about this a little bit more, I'm sorry. I think that like, one of the biggest things is... For me, when I'm looking for a position or when I was looking for a position, the human factor was super important to me. Like, I... I get that the applicant tracking systems are a thing, and they're super efficient and stuff, but it's like, put a recruiter name on there or give me a way to pursue the lead, like give me, like throw me a bone kind of thing, you know. But also, just like, I think that it's really important, if you are trying to attract young talent, I think these days, we all want the same thing, like we wanna be known and we want the people around us to invest in us, but we also wanna invest in the people around us.

24:17 Danae Villarreal: And so, creating that culture and making sure that that's a new place and just making people know that it's available, and it's not just like... I don't think I could ever go to a job and just like clock in and clock out and that would be it.

24:37 Amanda Hammett: Right.

24:37 Danae Villarreal: I do not go for, you know. Life is too short to not connect with people. And so I think that all of those things combined. Like human connection is like where it's at.

24:52 Amanda Hammett: It is. You're absolutely correct.

24:54 Danae Villarreal: And it covers a multiple of sin, like multiple sins, you know, whatever. [laughter] So, yeah.

25:00 Amanda Hammett: Very cool, very cool. I love that. Yeah, no, I could not, could not agree with you more on that one in particular. Okay, fantastic. So I'm gonna put, if you don't mind, I'm gonna put your LinkedIn profile in the show notes, if anybody wants to connect with you. I will have that in there for them to do so. I hope that's okay.

25:21 Danae Villarreal: Yeah, that's great. I love connections.

25:25 Amanda Hammett: But, do what?

25:27 Danae Villarreal: I love connections though...

25:29 Amanda Hammett: Fantastic!

25:29 Danae Villarreal: Even if it's LinkedIn. [laughter]

25:32 Amanda Hammett: There you go, there you go. Well, thank you so much, Danae, for being on the show and thank you, you guys, for watching and we will see you in the next episode.

25:41 Danae Villarreal: Thank you.

25:42 Amanda Hammett: Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Millennial Rockstar podcast. If you are looking for even more information on millennials and some free resources, visit my website at The link is below, it's There you can download a free Millennial Employee Engagement Guide that will give you all kinds of tips and tricks on how to keep those millennials engaged on a day-to-day basis, because we all know that millennials who are happy at work are more productive at work.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

featuring Mark Owens on Millennial Rockstars

18: Millennials: Bridging the Generational Gap

Bridging the Generational Gap can be tricky under any circumstance, but is especially tricky in the workplace. In order to successfully bridge the generational gap the key to success is to effectively communicate across all generations in order to find common goals and interests.

Mark Owens is a President & CEO at Winston Salem Chamber of Commerce. Greater Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce is to provide and advocate for the best environment for businesses of all sizes– because when businesses succeed, the community thrives. The Chamber represents nearly 1,200 businesses and organizations, convening the community to work together, create together, learn together, and grow together.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Millennials: Bridging the Generational Gap

00:05 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the Millennial Rockstars podcast. So in today's episode of the Millennial Rockstar's podcast, we are learning from Mark Owens, who is the President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. And Mark has some fantastic takeaways that I hope you take some notes on. The biggest one for me was about breaking down the perceptions around the millennial generation. And of course, talking across all generations. Tune in and listen to what Mark has to say.

00:34 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett. I'm known as the millennial translator® because I help companies attract, retain, and engage rockstar millennial talent. And today's rockstar is Mark Owens. Mark, welcome to the show.

00:47 Mark Owens: Thank you so much for having me Amanda, happy to be here.

00:50 Amanda Hammett: Awesome, awesome. So Mark, why don't you tell the rockstar audience a little bit about you, what makes you a rockstar?

00:58 Mark Owens: Wow, yeah, thank you for that. It's a humble term to use; I appreciate that. 33-year-old CEO of the Chamber of Commerce here in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina and went to Presbyterian College where I interned at a Chamber of Commerce. Never knew what that was until I interned there and here I am couple, a little while after that, in a CEO role of my second Chamber. So it opened a lot of doors and has been a great experience. So my wife and I have a 10 month old, just moved here seven months ago and really are enjoying it. And I don't know really what you would say definitely defines me as a rockstar other than other people thinking that which is very, very, very nice to know, but hopefully, we can change the perception of what a millennial is in the work place, a little.

01:49 Amanda Hammett: That is awesome, and yes let's hope that that's what happens, what comes out of this podcast. But actually, so you were nominated to be on the show by a corporate member of the Chamber, of your local Chamber. Someone from, I'll just go ahead and say someone from John Deere actually nominated you. She thought very highly of you and what you're doing there, so there you go.

02:13 Mark Owens: Thank you, they've been great to get to know and going through some leadership programs with her, and they've been great so that was an honor to be nominated.

02:21 Amanda Hammett: Well very good, very good. So you kinda alluded to this, so let's just dive right in. Tell us a little bit about your career path, and what has worked for you? What has helped you move the needle from intern at a Chamber of Commerce to CEO of a Chamber of Commerce?

02:37 Mark Owens: Yeah, it's been a blessing to be able to go on this ride. As an intern, got to know some people, really wanted to just break down the idea of specifically, when you enter a room to be able to go without any fear and go meet people, but do it in a genuine way. So started as an intern, then in 2008, went into an entry level role in the Greater Greer South Carolina Chamber. Greer's better known as the Home of BMW, North America, as a Director for programs and events. Few years later Director of Business Development, into the VP role, and then eventually the President/CEO role of the Chamber there. And I think really what has been something that's been able to maybe have some success for me is the ability to bridge the gap between generations. I think, really an important factor is being able to know people, communicate with people from all different backgrounds, but in this conversation, generation, specifically. Be able to sit down with members in their 70's of our Chamber and the members in their 20's and find some commonalities. In the Chamber world, everybody has a little bit of that greater good for the business community aspect, and I think that's a part of what millennials like, is being able to get involved and make a difference. And so, really all generations wanna do that, it's just, there's a little possessiveness about their age categories. So we gotta break down some of those walls and build bridges instead, I think.

04:09 Amanda Hammett: I love that. I love the way that you just put that. So, your career trajectory so far has just been, it seems to have been very linear actually, which is sometimes not something that we see a lot of in the millennial generation. But, and things have obviously worked well for you so far. But have there been stumbling blocks along the way?

04:33 Mark Owens: Yeah, of course. It's definitely more linear than the traditional definition is it's just linear. We hated to leave a great community in Greer, in the fall coming to a bigger city in Winston-Salem, a wonderful place that we're thrilled to call home now. But along the way there's been times where I didn't know if this is what I wanted to do. I looked at other opportunities, do I wanna change careers all together? But there's always people, mentors or somebody, and it maybe wasn't even that direct, that maybe a small business, a florist for example, that says, "Hey, you really helped me go from being a home-based business to a brick and mortar with three employees. And what you did in this connection made that difference." And as soon as that gas tank started to dwindle, there's some big story, some situation like that, that fills you back up and recharges you. And so, I would say those have been some of the areas that have been kinda challenging. Also just breaking the perception when I'm interviewing as the youngest person on paper. Sometimes there's a minimum amount of experience needed and I didn't always hit that, but that didn't stop me from trying to go for it. I always thought if I could get in front of somebody, I could show who I really was and what the vision looked like. So, I think those have been some stumbling blocks.

05:58 Mark Owens: I interviewed for the CEO role once in Greer and didn't get it when I wasn't really ready. But I knew that if I didn't go for it, what kind of message was I sending for my future there? And so, the second time it came available, was when I was hired into the CEO role. So, I think that was a story that really challenged me to say, "You know what, I know I may not be ready now, but I gotta show that this is what I want. So, sometimes I tend to be more bold in interviews than any other time, so I guess that came out a little bit.


06:33 Amanda Hammett: I love it. Well, let's hope that you continue that on here today.

06:37 Mark Owens: Okay, perfect.

06:39 Amanda Hammett: So, you kinda mentioned this, but I do wanna take this opportunity to really pull that out. You mentioned having some mentors that have helped you through some of those stumbling blocks earlier on in your career. Can you give us some specific examples about, maybe some advice that these mentors shared with you?

06:58 Mark Owens: Yeah, there's one who has been kinda that retired executive community leader.

07:04 Amanda Hammett: Right.

07:05 Mark Owens: Brought me over to his house, out of an office setting and just was playing pool. And just having a conversation about especially working with a lot of different kind of companies in whatever business people are in. People want things out of you or expect things out of you. He said, what really stuck with me was, "If you know what the person's interest is you're working with, you can read into what they're expecting is the outcome and you can help manage that relationship better." And to know that not everybody wants the same thing, or expects the same thing. So he really taught me that, to treat each interaction and each relationship a little differently and manage those expectations to say, "You don't have to be the same thing to everybody. Some people want you to do this, or some people would love for you to do this." And that was something that's really stuck to me.

08:00 Mark Owens: So every time I get to meet new companies or new people, I kinda say, "What are they looking for? How can I help?" and not try to be a little bit of everything to them, but a lot of something to them and make those connection specifically. So, that was definitely one of those mentor opportunities. The other was just having peers that are on that path, that can sharpen each other and can share that day, where you are the youngest person in the board room, and you don't get the respect or the opportunity to talk maybe, as you thought or your voice wasn't heard, that somebody else is going through that in another community or another job or another setting, and you can bounce those off. So I think there's the mentors that are gone through what we're going through. But I think you can also have mentors that are your peers in a way. That can shape that perception going forward for how you wanna do and handle your business.

08:54 Amanda Hammett: I agree. I think that those are both really fantastic examples. But specifically with your mentor and what he said to you over pool, I think that, that's valuable not only just as a community leader, but actually as a leader within your own office, and managing people, because those tend to make the best leaders. Those are the ones that you remember, those are the ones that help you build your career. And so you're right now helping build other people's careers.

09:21 Mark Owens: Yeah, that's a great point. As a former intern, I was given opportunities to grow, right? And so my biggest thing is to try to give everybody the opportunity. My leadership thought for every week is, "Can I challenge everybody in our office, but can I also make sure they have the tools to be successful and meet those challenges?" And the third is, "Will they feel fulfilled when they leave on Friday afternoon?" If I'm not doing those three things, then I don't think I've been a good leader of the organization or our team. So, everybody has a different motivation. It could be an extra paycheck, it could be an extra day off, it could just be a thank you. Instead of trying to make that across the board, I think what you referenced from my mentor was not just on the business side, but in a leadership role. Knowing what each person needs or what their thoughts are on how to be rewarded and trying to make that happen as best you can, individually.

10:19 Amanda Hammett: I agree. I agree whole-heartedly on all of that. That is fantastic. And what you have laid out for yourself every week for your team, that's a tall order.

10:32 Mark Owens: It really is.

10:34 Amanda Hammett: It really is.

10:36 Mark Owens: It is. I'm not successful every week. And that's okay, but it's good to be challenged. I think if you're not being challenged, then you're not reaching your full potential and people wanna be challenged. But make those challenges unique to each individual so the expectations are the same, but it's really my job to make sure they are successful. And sometimes I'm successful at that and sometimes it takes a couple of weeks. [chuckle] So, the fulfilling part is a little bit easier. We make sure each of our staff members have two hours a week to volunteer in the community wherever they'd like to. Our chamber is really involved in reading to first and second graders to help get our grade level reading up in our community. So that's where for most of our people spend their time; some work for habitat. But that's part of the overall concept of just being fulfilled and millennials want to be involved in the community and a lot of people, I think, feel that millennials aren't as committed or they don't check in at 7:00 and check out at 6:00. There's different needs and aspirations, so we try to give that opportunity to everybody.

11:48 Amanda Hammett: I love that. I love it; I love it. Especially the commitment to two hours a week, that is, that is amazing. I'd love to do that myself.

11:57 Mark Owens: Yeah, it's good.

11:58 Amanda Hammett: So, tell me Mark, a little bit about whether it's where you are now, or where you've been in the past, or even about maybe when you were an intern all those years ago.

12:08 Mark Owens: Yeah.

12:10 Amanda Hammett: Tell me a little bit about, was there anything that, besides the mentor that you've already mentioned, was there anything that a mentor or a boss in particular did for you or gave you that really kept you engaged and motivated, and wanting to wake up every day and serve your community?

12:32 Mark Owens: Yeah, it's happened so many times; I don't know if I can tell you all of them. It's not just been great bosses; it's been community leaders that will invite me to do something or really just give me a little bit of motivation. As a starting out as a 20-year-old, as an intern in college, there's no need for these major companies to really interact with me necessarily, like for a need right then. But they knew that they were investing in the next generation. I think that's something that really stuck with me. So, there are motivations along the way, there were times when my tank was emptying and our boss would say, "Alright, great, you've got the microphone at the next events to give me experience speaking in front of crowds and getting over that hump for professional development," or "Hey, I want you to take my seat on this board instead of me because you need to learn how to do that."

13:27 Mark Owens: Those are opportunities that bosses or other members could have been possessive of their roles and their resume building board credentials. But instead, they saw an opportunity for me to be challenged and step out of a comfort zone and start to create a resume on my own that was able to make a difference at the same time. So, there's been a ton of opportunities to do that and options to get involved, but what I really take away from it all is, there's those really direct times like I just mentioned. There were so many days where a board member of a company may just send an email and say, "I heard you were doing this out in the community, great job, keep it up." And that private message, or that private hand-written note means as much, if not more than the public recognition without a doubt. I mean that, those are the things that I try to write forth notes to people in the community every week. Just something to send out, "Congratulations, saw your name in the paper, heard you're doing this" Just to people I have... Some of them I've never even met, but I think it's just a good way to spread that encouragement around.

14:43 Amanda Hammett: That's amazing. I love it. So, can I ask a very specific question?

14:48 Mark Owens: Yes.

14:48 Amanda Hammett: When you were getting those opportunities to build your own resume from other board members or whomever, were those opportunities you were asking for, or were they seeing some potential in you, and saying, "Hey why don't you take this, you might stumble a little bit, but run with it?"

15:06 Mark Owens: You know, it's probably a little bit of both, but like I told you, what earlier, I tend to be a little more bold in interviews for some reason than I am normally. And, I think there was a time where I mentioned to you that I didn't get the CEO role the first time I applied. And my boss that came in, I sat down with him, he says, "Okay what are your goals?" And I said, "I wanna sit where you're sitting, and I wanna be in your role." It doesn't mean I want you not to succeed, my goal is to help you and our organization succeed, but my goal is to sit in that seat when that times come and you've moved on. So, I think setting that tone of what my goals were, like I am on your team. I am 100% behind this organization, but this is where I wanna be, I think laid out the goals. But I was also you know, something that just being general here, millennials wanna get to the top really fast. It's not that you have to buy your time, you have to show your plan, but you have to be willing to work for it. And that timeline can shrink if you really are committed and working hard for that and show that. So, there definitely were times where I was thrown out there and I stumbled a little bit or I wish I could have paused and restarted the presentation.

16:20 Amanda Hammett: Right.

16:20 Mark Owens: But you learn from those, and as long your audience knows that it's not always gonna be perfect, whatever that group you're talking to is. So you learn from it, and it's built a lot of comfortability over time.

16:31 Amanda Hammett: Excellent, that's fantastic advice. So you mentioned one thing that is a perk, so to speak, in your current office, the two hours a week to volunteer wherever you want in the community. Are there any other things that your current employer, so the Chamber of Commerce in Winston-Salem, or maybe in the past that they've given you, whether it's perks, specific perks or benefits, or anything like that, that have really kept you engaged and kept you thinking, "Yeah, this is the place for me; they care about me."

17:03 Mark Owens: Yeah, this isn't in the handbook or any perk like that. But my second round of interviews was supposed to be, we went home from the hospital with our first child on a Friday night.

17:16 Amanda Hammett: Okay.

17:16 Mark Owens: It was to be in Monday morning. And I called and I said, look I need to be home with my family. And they said "Look, why don't we talk again in three weeks? Your family is the most important."

17:26 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome.

17:27 Mark Owens: Last night I was in an event 'til 11 o'clock for work, and I don't wanna miss out seeing my son at one point of the day. So I didn't get to see him much last night, so I came in a little later this morning after getting to feed him his bottle this morning. So our community is committed to family, and you come in fulfilled and wanting to make a difference and really work hard for an organization that understands that. And so, one of the perks I would say is just the flexibility to work in a flexible way to get it done. But that doesn't always mean you literally punch a clock in and out. These days we can pop up a laptop or do it on your phone or iPad or whatever, anywhere we are. So I'm up at with the little one at 6:00 in the morning doing emails, and then I take a break for a little while. So it's just... That's been really great. I think that's been something that keeps you engaged and doesn't make you feel like you're locked in, but you feel like you have the trust and the flexibility needed to be a great husband, father, and employee of the organization, at the same time.

18:36 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome that they gave you that flexibility to spend those first few weeks with your family without making you feel like you were actually missing out on an opportunity with your career. That can be a really tough choice for a lot of people to make. Do I make this sacrifice for my career or do I make this sacrifice for my family? And I'm glad that they gave you; they took that off the table.

19:00 Mark Owens: Yeah, and I can tell you that was the point where I said I'm really interested, to that's where we need to be. And it was probably the best selling point they ever could have for the community was just showing what they truly cared about. And you know you're going to a board that cares about your family. There's a lot of meaning behind that. So you feel like you're really on the same page and you're doing stuff together, instead of just being an employee; you feel like you're working together. So it was really important for us and it's important for my wife and to know what kinda community we're moving to at the same time.

19:38 Amanda Hammett: Yeah, now so a lot of times when I go in and I talk to organizations, they have these values on the wall, but my question is always, "Well, how do you operationalize that? How do you show that? How do you act that out?" And that is always a perplexing question for people. But they did that for you.

19:55 Mark Owens: They did; they showed it. And it's more than just written on the wall. And so my job is to also make sure that that's translated to our staff here. And then it's really translated... We've 1200 businesses that are members of the Chamber, and we try to instill those values to our members any way we can. And there's so many ways that can happen, and you just have to be flexible. I think if we always are stuck to the letter of the paper and policy then you don't have that human element in there. So we try to find ways to... Our thing is we always try to find a way to say yes. It may be a no to the question being asked, but we'll say yes in a different way. So we just try to make sure it's a place that people feel that they're fulfilled like we talked about.

20:39 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. I love it; I love it. So, okay, is there anything that you wish that companies knew when you were just getting your career started from that intern role to that first next step up, is there anything that you wish the companies and organizations knew about hiring young employees?

20:58 Mark Owens: Yeah, that is... Man that's a great question. That is something that we... I talk about all the time. And I talk about trying when I talk to young people coming out of college or school or I'd say, "Let's try to go break the perception." What I would love for companies to hear is that just because a generation, they work differently doesn't mean that they're not as committed. I think that's the biggest single take away is that, well you can be very committed, very passionate, really wanna make a difference. You just may do it a little differently. One of the things I always run into very small, I take notes on my phone that go right back to my computer, but people think you're texting in a meeting.

21:43 Mark Owens: And you have these scenarios, so sometimes I know I need to take a pen and paper to make sure people don't have a perception, but I think there's also that element of saying, younger people, millennials whatever generation we're talking about, as long as they can have their voice heard. My biggest pet peeve is when an organization says, "We wanna engage a millennial generation or a younger crowd so we're gonna create a sub-committee and put them over in this room." You have to allow individuals a seat at the table to learn, be able to have their voice heard so that they stay engaged, not, "They're gonna create another organization over on the side in our world, and we gotta make sure that that separation doesn't happen." So I would just say, if a company is listening to this, "Just because it's done differently, doesn't mean it's not as good of quality, or as committed to the task."

22:41 Amanda Hammett: I love that; I love it. And you basically say everything that I always say to companies as well. [chuckle] So I love it.

22:47 Mark Owens: They should listen to you. Yeah. Right.

22:50 Amanda Hammett: I agree wholeheartedly. Alright. Well, Mark Owens this has been a really fantastic conversation, and I love your take on everything and I love where you are and where you're moving your entire community of leaders to, that is fantastic. And I think that they made the right choice picking you over there at Winston-Salem.

23:09 Mark Owens: Oh, thank you.

23:10 Amanda Hammett: So if it's okay with you, would it be okay... Oh my gosh, I'm stumbling today. If it's okay with you, could the audience reach out to you on LinkedIn?

23:19 Mark Owens: Yeah, absolutely, would love to connect on LinkedIn. Also, we do some Twitter stuff as well, so I'd love to have either of those platforms, it'd be great to connect. One thing that I know is I always have people making connections for me and giving me time when I was an intern or whatever, so that is a big passion of mine, is finding ways to connect, to give back, but also just to make connections. You never know how you can help and make friendships in this world. We can have digital friendships all over the place, so it's a great thing to do, so I'd love to connect with anybody possible.

23:54 Amanda Hammett: Awesome, well, I will make sure that that happens in the show notes here, and thank you guys for joining us and, of course, thank Mark today from the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce. And we will see you guys in the very next episode.

24:07 Mark Owens: Thank you. Thanks Amanda.

24:08 Amanda Hammett: Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Millennial Rockstars Podcast. If you are looking for even more information on millennials and some free resources, visit my website at The link is below it's, there you can download a free millennial employee engagement guide that will give you all kinds of tips and tricks on how to keep those millennials engaged on a day-to-day basis because we all know that millennials who are happy at work are more productive at work.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

17: Attracting Millennials with Company Culture

Company culture is a buzzword that is tossed around constantly especially where millennials are concerned. However, creating a culture that attracts and retains millennials is a lot harder than you may think.

Forest Shoults is an Outside Sales Representative at EJ (Promoted). EJ is a company based in East Jordan, Michigan. The company is a manufacturer and distributor of iron construction castings and infrastructure access products worldwide. In 2007 the company was awarded the National Utility Contractors Association Associate of the year award.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Attracting Millennials with Company Culture

00:05 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett, and this is the Millennial Rockstars podcast.

00:09 AH: Alright, so today's rockstar is Forest Shoults. Forest works for a company called EJ, which is a family-owned company that you probably have never heard of, but you definitely have benefited from their products, because they create those manhole covers that are so important in city infrastructure, along with a bunch of other things that you definitely need when building a city. So as I mentioned, EJ is a family-owned company, and Forest actually shares with us a pretty funny story about when he was initially interviewing for his job at EJ and how that family culture that they have permeates through all of their employees and was very pivotal to him taking that role. So tune in and check out what Forest has to share.

00:54 AH: Hey there, and welcome to this episode of the Millennial Rockstars podcast. Today, we have a very special and young rockstar. We have Forest Shoults. Forest, welcome to the show.

01:06 Forest Shoults: Howdy.

01:08 AH: So Forest, you were nominated. I actually spoke at a conference in Houston, and you were nominated by one of the attendees that I was speaking to from your company. And he was like, "Oh my gosh, I have the perfect person that you need to speak with," and of course, that was you. So tell us a little bit about you, Forest.

01:27 FS: Oh man. Well, man, I am young. I guess you could say as far as in my workplace, I think I am the youngest that I've met so far within the company. We went to a sales meeting back in February, and at the time I was 25, and there was a 10-year margin between me and everyone else, so I was like, "Oh my gosh. What have I gotten into? Much older people around me." But no, I guess a little bit on the personal side, I'm 26 years old now. I was born in Texas, in East Texas, and since then, I have moved I think 13 different times.

02:12 AH: Oh wow!

02:13 FS: So I've lived in multiple different states. I've actually lived in Mexico. When I graduated high school, my dad got the call to go to Mexico to be a missionary, and I had a choice to make whether I was gonna go to college immediately after high school, or whether I was gonna go to Mexico and maybe take a year off to do some non-profit work down there, so I decided to take the plunge and moved to Mexico. I didn't speak any Spanish at all. I walked in there like a clueless gringo. But [chuckle] it worked out. Luckily when we got down there, we were able to connect with some teachers that ended up teaching us Spanish from the most basic kindergarten level Spanish, so I learned Spanish. I got to work with some of the most impoverished people that probably in the world while I was down there. We worked in doing water filtration systems for them down there.

03:18 AH: Oh wow.

03:19 FS: Believe it or not, I actually traveled with a mariachi group in Mexico 'cause I'm a singer, so that was something I did on the side. [chuckle] Not a lot of people pick that up whenever [laughter] I tell them.

03:37 AH: I did not see that on your LinkedIn profile.

03:39 FS: No.


03:40 FS: Yeah. So I was going, "Hey, no profiling. Listen, everybody can do it." But no, so I had a lot of fun while I was in Mexico. Had a lot of adventures while I was down there. It really opened me up as a person. I was, believe it or not, I was much more of a, I guess you could say introverted person, but going to Mexico kind of opened me up, and to the adventure of life, and so I really enjoyed it.

04:05 AH: That's awesome.

04:05 FS: So I kinda made a commitment to myself. I spent a year down there, and then came back to Dallas to go to school, and actually went to music school when I arrived back in Dallas, 'cause I wanted to be a music minister in church, which I have been to this day. I'm a worship pastor and I'm also a youth pastor as well. So I went there then I ended up going to Dallas Baptist University where I got my bachelor's degree in Business Administration, and I kinda cheated because I got a minor in Spanish, even though I already speak fluent Spanish. I just loved it, I wanted to go back through it again. And I worked for Apple for five years while I was in school, which was awesome, 'cause they paid for my tuition, and I got to meet a lot of really cool musicians. The guy that actually produced the song that I wrote, which you should go check out. It's on iTunes and Spotify. It's called "I Love You Back."

04:57 AH: I what?

05:00 FS: It's called, "I love you back."

05:01 AH: Okay. Alright, we'll put a link to that in the show notes for you.

05:04 FS: Awesome, awesome, thank you. I went down and I recorded it in Brazil actually, in Portuguese, and I also have a version of it in Spanish as well.

05:15 AH: Well, aren't you just a surprise.

05:19 FS: Oh man, it has been an adventure. It was fun. That was fun. It was a long process, but after I graduated school, I needed to find a job 'cause music doesn't exactly pay the best. And it can.

05:35 AH: It can.

05:36 FS: Who knows, someday I might break out, and I don't know, become a singer full-time, but for now, I got a job with a company called EJ, East Jordan Iron Works is the name of the company, and believe it or not, they've been in business for 135 years.

05:54 AH: Yes. They've been around for a little while.

05:56 FS: Yes, they know what they're doing.

05:58 AH: They do.

05:58 FS: They've been around, yeah. That's one of the things that kinda attracted me to the company, is that, how in the world could it still be running and family-owned after that long? They must be doing something right. So anyhow, so I came to work for this company and presently, I hold an outside sales representative role, where I cover all the territory from Dallas, Fort Worth, down to the Waco area, out into New Mexico. So I get to see a lot of asphalts, a lot of adventures out there on the road, but I love what I do.

06:36 AH: That's awesome. Sounds awesome.

06:37 FS: That's me, that's me in a nutshell.

06:40 AH: Forest, for those in the audience that don't know what EJ does and sells, can you tell them a little about... Just real quick, what they do or sell.

06:48 FS: Yeah, so East Jordan Iron Works initially, they started out in East Jordan, Michigan. And they cast manhole rings and covers, and as time went on, they kind of developed into... They had a broader range of castings, that they did. So they do valve boxes, valve box covers, they do fire hydrants and valves. So a lot of your infrastructure that you see that goes in before people come in and put houses in, we build a lot of that infrastructure that goes under it. So EJ actually went from being just an American company to... They're now worldwide. So they're all over the world providing infrastructure. And one thing is people are always gonna need sewer, they're always gonna need water.

07:47 AH: Absolutely, I don't think that that's going away any time soon. [laughter] Absolutely.

07:52 FS: Yeah. Lot of job stability in this business.


07:55 AH: Yes, very good, very good. So I know that you mentioned earlier that you've only been out of college and with EJ, for what? Two years? Is that what you said, almost two years?

08:05 FS: Yes, yes, yeah, I graduated in 2016.

08:09 AH: Okay, so, but despite that, you did have five years of work experience at Apple before you graduated from college, which... That was, I'm sure, fantastic experience. So I'm sure at this point you've discovered there are probably some things that have worked for you so far in your career. Can you tell us about one of those things that's worked for you?

08:31 FS: Yes. When I was working at Apple, it was always like this... There were two different types of people that I worked with there. And there were those that saw the position as kind of being like a monotonous, "Oh, I come in every day and I'm the guy that fixes phones and gets yelled at." And then there is the other type, that comes in and it's like, "Dang, you don't know who you're going to meet today or what's gonna happen." This guy came in one time with a computer and it had a bullet hole in it, and somebody had shot a hole through it. And I'm like, "What? Can you explain that? How did that happen?" So...

09:15 AH: I don't think that's gonna get the warranty.

09:17 FS: No, no, it was not covered under the warranty. Now, there was the one that had... There was a snake inside of a computer once. It was dead.

09:28 AH: I don't need to hear that.

09:30 FS: Yeah. That one wasn't covered either. But I think that one thing that's really helped me in my career has been to see every day as an adventure and a learning opportunity. And it's taken away from what could become a monotonous, job situation, which ultimately can become really toxic. A lot of my millennial friends fall into that mistake. And I don't wanna speak too soon about this unless you're gonna ask a question later on about this, but I was actually just mentoring a guy who's close to me, who is working kind of a job that's not really one that you would be... It's valet job and he's like, "Man, I don't have any experience and trying to get into this next position." And I told him, I was like, "Man. Every job that you could have is a gateway to another job at some point." It's a learning opportunity and it's all about how you perceive your job, and how you're gaining experience, and how you perceive what you're learning about your job. 'Cause you're gonna interact with people and that's one of the most crucial aspects of getting a job and developing in a job, anywhere.

10:44 AH: Absolutely.

10:46 FS: So that's one thing that's really worked well for me.

10:48 AH: That's really good. I think that that's a really good outlook to see on things, because you're right, every job has its times where it's a little, can be a little monotonous. And you wonder, What is this really... What is this really doing for me? But to look at it as a learning opportunity, absolutely. When I go and look at my career, I'm a little further down the career path than you are, but when I go back and I look at all of my experiences from day one to today, it's been amazing to see the past three, four, five years, how everything from the first day, has kind of magically collided into this career I now have. So it is what it is, it's a learning experience, it's a great way to look at it. Alright, so with that, having that learning experience, I would imagine that you've also discovered a few things that have not worked for you.

11:41 FS: Oh yeah.

11:42 AH: So to tell us just one of those.

11:45 FS: Okay, so on the same note of what we just talked about.

11:49 AH: Okay. [chuckle]

11:50 FS: Is the flip side. I think that there is a subjective monotony and I think there is an objective monotony.

11:57 AH: Okay.

11:58 FS: I think there's certain types of people that just don't fit in a particular job, because it's... Like I could not be an accountant. That's just, there's no way, and nothing against accountants out there. Honestly, we need you guys, the world would not turn without accountants. But I could not be an accountant. What makes me tick is being able to get up every morning, and I get to go meet new people every day, or I get to see people that I've known, I get to catch up on what's going on. And that could seem daunting to some people. Some people are like, "Wow. You go and you meet new people every single day, and you have to go in and you have to get products specified, and you have to go work deals out and show some prices, and that's kind of intimidating."

12:48 FS: For me, it's an adventure, and I love that stuff. But for me, it's really hard for me to be confined to like a desk and be sitting down, and just answering emails and answering phone calls. So the challenge for me is there is a subjective monotony. I could probably find some sort of adventure out of that, 'cause I had to do that for six to seven months beforehand, and I'll talk about that in a little bit. I don't wanna throw that out of the gun. One thing that I've talked to a lot of millennials about that I mentor, 'cause there's actually a couple of them that I mentor at this point, coming out of college and getting a job, is sometimes you have to suffer the monotony in order to move to the next step.

13:38 AH: Yes.

13:40 FS: It's tough, but you're not gonna get your dream job out of a box. It doesn't happen all the time. Sometimes it can happen, sometimes people get it.

13:50 AH: That's the exception though, it's not the rule.

13:53 FS: Very much so, very much so. Or you could be like my girlfriend who, she's a photographer, and she's very successful now, but it didn't happen overnight. And she works for herself. She had to build her business, she had to build her brand, and it's taken her about a year but now she's got it rolling. But it took a lot of sacrifice. And in my case, I had to go up and live in Oklahoma for six to seven months, in a place I didn't know, with people that I didn't know, and to be honest with you, it wasn't my favorite place to live. There wasn't really anything to do, there was no nightlife, there was no...

14:35 AH: There was no mariachi band to travel with.

14:37 FS: Exactly. There weren't any Spanish speaking people there. I felt away from home. So the challenge for me was balancing that okay, I gotta make this sacrifice to come up here and do this, but with the next step in mind, so thinking like this is just a stepping stone to where I wanna be. Ultimately, this is what I wanna do.

15:03 AH: That's good...

15:04 FS: I just had to, keeping that perspective.

15:06 AH: I like that. I like that you kept that objective in mind, "This is what I have to do now to get to where I want to be." So, how did you recognize that... Okay, you were asked to move to Oklahoma and be there for... How long were you there?

15:22 FS: I was there for eight months.

15:24 AH: Okay, so you were moved to Oklahoma for eight months. You didn't love it, but you did it every single day, and you proved to the higher ups or whoever you had to prove yourself to, that you could make it, and then eventually come home, or come back to Texas anyway?

15:41 FS: Yes.

15:42 AH: Absolutely.

15:46 FS: It was a challenge, it was a challenge. And I wanna add this, I know this is probably not important, in my interview, heading up there to take the position, my car broke down, like 15 minutes away from the interview, like my car committed suicide completely on my way up there. And so I was like, "Is this a sign?" [chuckle] I'm like, "Is this the right thing to do?" But it was. And one of the things that I know is my boss actually came and he picked me up there, and he took me back to the interview, he's like, "Don't worry about it, it's not a problem."

16:17 AH: I need a clarification point here. So you called in before your interview?

16:23 FS: Yes.

16:25 AH: You're unemployed at this point, correct?

16:27 FS: Unemployed, yes. Not an employee.

16:29 AH: And you called him and you say, "Hey, I'm on my way, but my car broke down." How far were you from the office?

16:35 FS: I was probably about 15 minutes away. It wasn't too far down the road but...

16:41 AH: And they came and got you?

16:44 FS: Yes, they did, they did. I was thinking in my mind like, "Well, this is a likely story. He's 15 minutes late for the interview, says it's broken down, of course he is."

16:54 AH: Did he offer or did you ask him to go? I'm just very curious how this came about.

17:00 FS: I didn't ask him. They said, "Hey... " It was actually the branch manager, it wasn't even the lady who was interviewing me at first. The branch manager himself came and picked me up at my car.

17:11 AH: That's amazing, that is not a usual circumstance, I will say that.

17:17 FS: Yeah, no. Lucky me.


17:19 AH: Alright, so we talked a little bit about you've encountered some stumbling blocks along the way, besides your car, and you've managed to get through those stumbling blocks. But when you're thinking about Forest, who had not worked really a day in his life yet, when you think about the ideas that you had in your head about the workplace, what a career was like, what the working world was like, how is that different from what you're facing now? Or how did those views change? Did you have any reality checks that were like, "Oh yeah, this is not what I was expecting"? Tell us.

18:00 FS: I think my perception of my ability to be able to do the job that I have was not... I didn't have the level of confidence that I could do the job that I have now that I can do the job, now that I'm in it. Does that make sense?

18:16 AH: It does.

18:17 FS: Like beforehand I kind of saw the sales manager position would be really daunting, but rather I think people, especially millennials, underestimate themselves substantially and the abilities that they have. And that kinda goes back to, I think, a perception of your experience with people. Before I didn't see myself as a very social person, but you don't have to be a super extrovert or extremely social person to be successful necessarily. You just have to be... Here's a quote that I can live by and it's really enhanced my work, is, and I don't know the name of the guy. You can maybe look up later "There is no such thing as an interesting person or thing. There only exists an uninterested person."

19:26 AH: Really? I've never heard that. I will look that up though. That's very good.

19:31 FS: It's awesome. It really changes your perspective. It's caused me to on a daily basis, not necessarily see myself as having to be fully the best person that could be in a job at that very moment, but always being in a state of, "How can I learn how? How can I soak up knowledge? How can I improve myself in the position that I'm at now?" and then ultimately be able to pass that on to the next person that may be coming in next. So for me, it's understanding, "Hey, I may not have all the answers, but I can definitely find out and I can definitely learn to the best of my ability. And I think that's one of the biggest things that employers wanna know, is that you are the type of person that's gonna be like a sponge and you're gonna be soaking up and actually learning and not just a conduit for stuff to pass through.

20:33 AH: Absolutely, I would agree with that wholeheartedly. So, tell us a little bit about... You mentioned already the branch manager at EJ right now in the whole interview debacle, but is there anything that your company has in its culture, or in your specific office that is a perk or a benefit or just part of the culture that really keeps you engaged than wanting to do a good job?

21:05 FS: There's a lot at my job that really creates almost like a family environment within the team.

21:13 AH: Okay.

21:14 FS: And I know a lot of companies are scared like, "Okay, we can't get too close, because if we're like a family, then it might be a conflict of interest." What's really cool about my team is that we're not on an individual commission basis, it's a team commission basis. And...

21:34 AH: Interesting.

21:35 FS: We're broken up into different territories, so I cover South Dallas down to Waco out to New Mexico; two of the other salesmen cover the northern part, and we have a technical salesman who helps all of us out whenever we need to go into engineering firms and present for civil engineering firms or present to city engineers or city managers. So we all just work together, as a team, and it just flows. There's no competition between any of us on the team. We talk on a regular basis and we share what's going on. It's one of those things that I feel when I worked at Apple... Well, it wasn't necessarily Apple. I just think it's a millennial thing, that we like to text a lot more, and I'm okay with that. That's a great fast way to communicate. But one thing that I have learned, is the art of having a good phone conversation with these guys, and they're all 20 years older than me. Everybody on my team is, and I'm not kidding, is 20 years older than me. And they know how to have good phone conversations.

22:52 FS: And so I think a lot of people that I know nowadays are kinda like, "Why don't you just text me? Why do you have to call me?" It is a lot of value that happens in having a good phone conversation. So we stay very well connected; that's a perk I think I have, is I feel like I have so much trust built up between my team because we talk on a regular basis, and it's so light-hearted, there's no pressure like, "What have you been doing today?" like, "You've been accomplishing something? You probably sleep... You're a salesman, you probably slept in the day 'til 11 today." That's a perk I think for me. Another perk is we get tuition reimbursement which is awesome. They provide us with a truck, a brand new one every year, obviously it belongs to the company but we get to drive it around. They pay for your gas, pay for your food. So as far as the being taken care of as an employee, I feel like it's a great, great position to be in.

24:00 AH: That's awesome.

24:02 FS: Yeah. Yeah.

24:02 AH: That's awesome. I can definitely tell that there is definitely a spin towards family, just from just the story about the interview and the branch manager coming to get you. I was trying to think when you were telling that story, I had a similar situation happen on my way to an interview when I was young, fresh out of college, and it was not the same end results, let's just say that. [laughter]

24:33 FS: Wow.

24:34 AH: So I called as well, but it was just like, "Alright, well, too bad."

24:40 FS: Sorry. Dang. Their loss, right? Their loss.

24:42 AH: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So it just wasn't meant to be, but I think that that's a really good and positive thing for you. And it seems like the older sales reps are also maybe pouring into you a little bit as far as helping and teaching and guiding because they obviously probably have a little bit more sales experience than you do.

25:02 FS: Oh, and wealth. Some of these guys have been in sales... And just to put some of this into perspective for you, when I say a wealth of knowledge, some of these guys have been working in the same position for... When I say same position, were working for the company for 30 years, 40 years.

25:19 AH: Yeah.

25:20 FS: And that's longer than I've been alive.

25:23 AH: Yes it is. Yes it is.

25:27 FS: Man, I tell them all the time, I'm like, "Man, you know I was not born yet whenever you started working."

25:33 AH: Alright, don't rub it in now. [chuckle] Come on.

25:35 FS: But I respect the knowledge a lot, and that's one of the things... I would say this to millennials, my fellow millennials, whenever you get into a position, don't expect them to always have everything laid out for you. 'Cause I came from Apple where I was a spoiled kid. Apple literally has the best training programs in the world. They will train you so well to do what you need to do. And that's not to say EJ didn't necessarily do that, EJ just does it differently.

26:12 FS: When I came into the position, this is hilarious, so when I came into the inside sales position, I walked in and I was so excited, I was like, "My first day at work." And the office manager said, "Well, there's your desk." And I was like, "That's my desk, okay. What do I do?" And she's like, "Well, you pick up the phone when people call and you write quotes." It wasn't that bland, she helped me, but I kinda felt that way when I first got there, I was like, "Where's my... " When I got to Apple, they took us away from the store to this nice hotel, and they had this very skilled trainer who came, then we did shadowing, reverse-shadowing, and they taught us all these steps of service, and it was very well polished.

27:05 FS: So I got to EJ and I was like, "Man, I'm gonna have to put together just a list of questions and figure out from the people around me, what I need to accomplish, and I need to set goals because I thought to myself, "This is no high school job. This is a big boy job, so I'm gonna have to step up to the plate and probably ask some questions to get trained on how to do this position." So that's exactly what I did and what I realized was, the team around me was super ready to jump in and give me help and advise me, and give advice, and that's how I learned so much, oh my goodness. So, here I am now.

27:57 AH: That's great, that's good to know, good to learn. Okay, so tell us a little bit about this. When you were looking to get your job at EJ, what was it that made you stand out, what was it that made them willing to drive 15 minutes to pick you up when your car broke down before the interview?

28:20 FS: Oh man. I think that... I do speak Spanish. And there is a large customer base that they have... An increasing customer base that needs a Spanish speaker. So that was one thing that really stood out was I'm very multicultural. I can relate to a lot of people, I have been in multiple different countries, and so they really liked the fact that I get along very easily with a very broad range of people. It's just something that comes naturally, and that kinda stemmed from being an Apple as well. When I worked at Apple...

29:00 AH: Oh yeah.

29:00 FS: I helped the President of Mexico, the ex-president Mexico once, Felipe Calderon...

29:04 AH: Really?

29:05 FS: I was like, "Why are you here, without bigger security detail?" [chuckle] But I was glad to help him out myself. But anyhow, I was exposed to a lot of different types of people. And another thing that really stood out that they liked at the position I was at is that I was able to handle escalated situations. Apple actually trains their employees very in-depth. It's like deep psychological stuff. I can say that now that I don't work for them. But they teach you what's called the Apple Steps of Service.

29:45 FS: Alright, I'm gonna try and get this. So, it's, Approach with a warm welcome, that's the A. Probe which is ask questions, position a solution. Listen, and end with a fond farewell. So that was the sales side that I learned, which just literally ingrained this sales process into me. But they had another one that was the three A's which is acknowledge, align, and assure. If you have an angry customer that comes and they're like, "Ah! My phone!" They throw it down. And you say, "Well, yep, that's a broke phone. That looks really bad. Man, I hate to see that your phone broke." And they say, "Yes, and I had these pictures of my wedding that my brother filmed with my iPhone." In the back of your mind you're probably thinking, "Why did you film your wedding with your iPhone and not save this stuff?"

30:47 AH: But you don't say that.

30:49 FS: No, you don't. That's part of the training. You align with the customer, "Man, that iPhone needs to be fixed. We gotta figure out everything we can do." That's part of the assure, you assure them. I think that one of the things that my boss was reassured of was the fact that I had a really extensive history of dealing with really escalated situations and repairing... Kind of my deal at Apple was I was repairing relationships with customers and turning them from demoters into promoters of the company. It was just kind of a mindset that I had whenever dealing with the company's customers. So that was attractive to them. And the fact that I graduated with a business administration degree, I have a focus on marketing was also... I feel like it was attractive to them though, not as important as the other things.

31:47 AH: Right, absolutely. Especially doing what you do, I think it's important to have that skill of being able to assure people and understand where they're coming from. 'Cause city planners, bless them, not always the easiest people to deal with, and they shouldn't be, they should not be.

32:04 FS: No. They can be very moody sometimes. You gotta be careful. [chuckle]

32:09 AH: A lot of things riding on their shoulders. A lot of things are riding on their shoulders so I get it, I get it. Is there anything that you wish companies knew about hiring younger employees? Is there anything you wish that they would do better?

32:26 FS: I wish that companies would dig deeper into searching for more meaningful leadership experiences that millennials have had.

32:36 AH: Give me an example.

32:40 FS: For example, I think that a lot of companies base salaries and pay based off of your... Maybe not as many nowadays but I've seen a couple and I have friends that have had a couple that they get based their pay based off of their education. That's what is their ticket to getting in the door to certain places. Rather than a company taking time to really ask specific honed questions related to leadership experiences and areas where this person might be a champion leader that could be a huge asset to the team that they have. I'll give you an example. There's a guy that I work with that is one of the top salesmen in a global... This company's a global company. And he's one of the top salesmen. The guy never graduated college. And he actually started working in the foundry in one of the finishing crew grinding the castings.

33:42 AH: Really?

33:43 FS: He is one of the greatest people persons that I know as far as relating with customers and generating new sales, being able to get specifications with cities, phenomenal guy. His name is Larry Stinson, I gotta give him a shout-out. He's the guy that's trained me to do what I do. The guy never got a bachelor's degree. Actually, part of the requirements for my job, not knocking EJ at all, I love them, they did a great job, is that you have a bachelor's degree but they made an exception for him. Thank goodness that they did because he's one of the best in the company.

34:23 AH: Alright. I like that, I can get behind that. I can stand behind that. I think that's awesome. Especially now that college is expensive to get through.

34:34 FS: Exactly. I think that's definitely increasingly a problem. I talk to a lot of people nowadays that are... Some very intelligent people. My girlfriend, for example, I'll give you an example with her. She's very smart, but she just didn't have the money to pay for the school that she was going to. So she just decided to start her own business. Now she's making almost as much money as I have or as I'm making right now doing her own thing. I don't know.

35:09 AH: Yeah, I get it, I get it. I also mentor a lot of millennials, younger millennials, and I have one young lady that I've mentored for I don't know, maybe five years now off and on. And she is getting her bachelor's degree because her family thinks that education is very important, but she's paying for everything herself, and it's taken her seven years. She works full time and goes to school full time, but she pays. She's taken no loans, no nothing. She's paid every penny. That's a lot, that's a lot. Anyway, alright, well Forest, this has been fantastic and I think that we've learned a lot of really interesting things, not just about you, but about Apple and about EJ and their family philosophy on the workplace, which is really kinda cool. It's very cool actually, but thank you so much for being on the show. Is it okay if anybody from our audience wants to reach out to you on LinkedIn?

36:11 FS: Certainly, yeah. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, or you have any questions about EJ, or you just need advice. I'm here.

36:21 AH: You're here? Alright, cool. So I'm gonna include a link to your LinkedIn profile in the show notes, but I will also include a link to your song, "I love you back" on iTunes and Spotify. I'll include that as well, but again, thank you so much for being on the show and thank you for tuning in.

36:38 FS: Awesome.

36:39 AH: Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Millennial Rockstars podcast. If you are looking for even more information on millennials and some free resources, visit my website at The link is below. It's There you can download a free millennial employee engagement guide that will give you all kinds of tips and tricks on how to keep those millennials engaged on a day-to-day basis because we all know that millennials who are happy at work, are more productive at work.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

16: Developing Millennials as a Corporate Strategy

Millennial expectations of the workplace versus the realities are often misaligned. Hear about how 2 millennial rockstars have found a company culture that brings out and develops the best in each of them.

Ashleigh Skuse is a Director of Inside Sales - Enterprise - North America at Veeam Software. While Stephanie Gilbert is the Enterprise Sales Manager - North Central & Southeast at Veeam Software. Veeam Software is a privately held information technology company that develops backup, disaster recovery and intelligent data management software for virtual, physical and multi-cloud infrastructures. The company’s headquarters are in Baar, Switzerland.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Developing Millennials as a Corporate Strategy

00:00 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the Millennial Rock Star Podcast.

00:04 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and I am the host of the Millennial Rock Star Podcast, and if you're looking at this podcast today, you'll notice that things are a little bit different than what you normally see. And they are different for a few reasons.

00:15 Amanda Hammett: First and foremost, you'll see that I am not in my normal studio office, because I am at the office of Veeam Software who employs my two, you heard that, right. Not one but two Millennial Rock Stars.

00:29 Amanda Hammett: So, help me welcome to today's show, Ashleigh Skuse and Stephanie Gilbert, welcome ladies.

00:35 Ashleigh Skuse & Stephanie  Gilbert: Thank you for having us.

00:36 Ashleigh Skuse: Glad to be here.

00:37 Amanda Hammett: Awesome, awesome, well I am so excited to have you guys here. I will be very honest with you. When I came up with the idea for the Millennial Rockstar Podcast, you guys were some of the very first people that popped in my mind.

00:48 Ashleigh Skuse: Thank you.

00:49 Amanda Hammett: So, I do not know if you remember, but about a year, a year and a half ago, we met each other. You guys came to an event where I was speaking at a women's leadership networking event, and you guys were just standouts. The entire Veeam community. What did you guys come with, 20 women from Veeam?

01:05 Amanda Hammett: Yeah, about 20 of them.

01:05 Ashleigh Skuse: Yeah 20, 25.

01:07 Amanda Hammett: It was. You guys were standouts, and the community and the engagement that you guys had, as employees, just stood out my mind. I secretly will admit to stalking Veeam online.


01:16 Amanda Hammett: Because I just thought it was so amazing what you guys were doing, so I knew I had to have you. So why don't you guys tell the audience a little about you guys? Let's start with you Steph.

01:26 Stephanie Gilbert: Sure. I was born in Tampa, and from Tampa moved to Roswell, Georgia. Which is right around the corner from the Veeam office here and Alpharetta. I went to Georgia Southern University and studied, well originally studied psychology and then decided that was not going to be my path, and went marketing and business. And from there, went into the clothing industry for about five years, was an inside sales rep for a clothing industry and then moved over to Veeam, and I have been here for about five years.

01:55 Amanda Hammett: That is awesome. Now, what about you Ashleigh?

01:57 Ashleigh Skuse: Yes, so, I am originally from Ohio, I graduated from the The Ohio State University. I actually went to school for Sociology, not because I knew that was a path that I wanted, but I knew I wanted to be in sales, and all I had to do was sell my degree. It didn't really matter what it was in. So I just went for something that I loved and I was passionate about people and the study of people. So why not go through sociology, which I really enjoyed and loved that, but knew sales was were I was going to be. Veeam was actually my first job straight out of college. Only job I interviewed for after college and I have been here ever since. So, eight years last month, with Veeam.

02:27 Amanda Hammett: Wow, okay well, that is awesome. I love both of your stories. So tell me a little bit about... Well, let us take a different approach, today since we are in a different place. So tell me what you love about Veeam?

02:42 Stephanie Gilbert: I love the people. I love the collaboration that we have here. Our executive management team is phenomenal. They take time to sit with you, no matter who you are, I mean you could be fresh out of college in our entry level position or you could be another executive. They take the time and get to know you, get to know your ideas and it's one of those places where everyone has good ideas. And it's just now trying to figure out how we take all those good ideas and execute on them. So, I am just inspired by everyone that works here.

03:15 Amanda Hammett: That's fantastic. What about you?

03:17 Ashleigh Skuse: So people is definitely number one with Veeam, right? I knew for a fact we were going to have the same answer to that question, because it is so true.


03:22 Ashleigh Skuse: But it is absolutely people, but also the innovation, right? Not only with our products and the innovation that we have with the products and making them for exactly what our customers are looking for and need. But also the innovation just as being how we promote people within. How, we really work on the people that we have and their leadership skills and their skills on the phones and their skill on kind of selling our products. And how to work with the different communities that we work for and our alliance partners and our channel partners, so definitely the people and the innovation of Veeam. It is just... Trust me, when I started eight years ago it was not this.


03:52 Ashleigh Skuse: Right, when I started eight years ago we were in a different building. We had, when I walked in my first job out of college, there was no cubes, no phones, nothing.

04:00 Amanda Hammett: Wow.

04:00 Ashleigh Skuse: No laptops. I walked in and I was like... What did I get myself into? Right, but it's all worked we've innovated. We've made it to what we needed it to be to that next level and we just continue to keep taking it to those next levels, and that's just so exciting to be on that train. And I am not getting off that anytime soon.

04:17 Amanda Hammett: That is awesome. So all right, let's back up though. So you actually started at Georgia Southern, and so when you were graduating, take everybody back to...

04:27 Ashleigh Skuse: Oh, boy...


04:27 Amanda Hammett: Take everybody back to Georgia Southern, and give us some ideas about when you were looking at your career, have there been any reality checks from the... Stephanie, that graduated from Georgia Southern, 10 years ago, versus Stephanie today. [laughter] What have been some of the reality checks of what you thought you were going to face in Corporate America.

04:52 Stephanie Gilbert: Let's see here, I am going to make my parents proud with this one now. Reality check, you know when I was graduating college and I think a lot of people that come fresh out of college are like... "Oh, well, I can't wait to get that 80k a year job. I am going to have all this flexibility. Such an adult. I am going to live in this high rise apartment in Downtown Atlanta. It is going to be fabulous and me and my fabulous life." And then getting out, I moved back in with my mom, which was fun.


05:22 Stephanie Gilbert: And then looked over at Monster and that was when Monster was popular and just going through all these things that needed, all these years of experience and I didn't have it, I didn't even know the first place to start. And so that, just having that kind of overwhelming anxiety on how... Where do I even start my career when everything seems like it was in the middle, and that if you didn't have at least five years... If you didn't have at least three years. So where do you get your... Where do you start your professional jump, I guess, if you will?

05:52 Stephanie Gilbert: And so I had worked for a clothing manufacturer, for inside sales and learned a lot of great things from a lot of great people there. And then, making my way over to Veeam. It's been amazing how much I've learned in the last five years, really in the last two years, from being a manager. So yeah, I guess considering expectations versus reality. [laughter] Some of the things I think that I would give to somebody that is about to graduate, is never take any experience for less than what it is. Doesn't matter if it's a $10 an hour job or your dream job and you're making that 80K that I wish I had made out of college. Take every single experience, because it's gonna apply in your future, so...

06:36 Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. Absolutely. All right, same question for you, Ashleigh. What's up?

06:42 Ashleigh Skuse: I was just laughing, because...

06:43 Stephanie Gilbert: Take it back to the Ohio State.


06:46 Ashleigh Skuse: I remember when I was a bartender at Texas Roadhouse and what I would tell the bar guests of what I was gonna do. I knew for a fact I wanted to move to Georgia, but I promised my mom I would move home first to look for a job in Ohio. I didn't go on one interview, I didn't even apply anywhere, right? But I was gonna look for a job.

07:02 Stephanie Gilbert: Your mom's not gonna watch this.


07:03 Ashleigh Skuse: No, she knew. We just went shopping and had fun for three months, and then that date hit and I moved to Georgia, and then started looking for a job. But I, like Stephanie, just assumed that I was going to straight out of the gate be this rockstar, making six figures within my first job. Reality hit pretty fast, and luckily, I have... My mother is extremely successful in her career and my brother's also in software as well. And I knew software was what I wanted to get in, so he kind of reality-checked me a little bit, so I had that. But still, it's learning that money is great, and it's definitely what you want and what you wanna strive for, but it's not the key to happiness. The key to happiness is being confident in what you're doing, and in order to be confident in what you're doing is learning from everybody around you. When I was an ISA, which is our entry level position, is where I started out here at Veeam, is... It's a grind. You have to make those cold calls and do all those type of things, and you have to have that mindset where it's only making me better for next year, for tomorrow, for... Looking down the future and knowing that all of that success comes, but you gotta be good at what you do first. And I think that that is something that is very... You're just invincible when you're in college, and you don't realize that it takes a lot of hard work. It's like, "Why don't you wanna pay me this?" "Why would we pay you this?"


08:16 Ashleigh Skuse: "Give me a reason why I should." [laughter]

08:19 Stephanie Gilbert: "I'm so worth it."

08:21 Ashleigh Skuse: Yeah, "I'm so worth it."

08:22 Stephanie Gilbert: But it's harder to see the bigger picture without the experience.

08:25 Ashleigh Skuse: Absolutely.

08:26 Stephanie Gilbert: And that bigger picture comes with it.

08:27 Ashleigh Skuse: Yeah, it comes with that experience, and just... Learning that it was humbling and it took a minute, but once you learn that and you just kinda put that on the back burner and be like, "I'm gonna work my butt off." And one thing that I learned early on in my career and I still try to do it but there's a lot more on my plate now, but it's like, never say, "It's not my job." Just do it. Do it and learn from it and maybe it's not your job per se, but somebody else is looking and watching you do it, and that's something that I think as you grow in your career, the more you do that, the more success that you're gonna have, because you're learning all those different aspects.

08:58 Amanda Hammett: That is a great little nugget there, Ashleigh. Very, very, very good. I love that.

09:03 Stephanie Gilbert: Yeah, I need a nugget.


09:05 Ashleigh Skuse: You'll have one, I'm sure.

09:06 Stephanie Gilbert: Okay. I'll work on my nugget over here.


09:08 Ashleigh Skuse: We'll get you one. We'll get you one, don't you worry.

09:10 Amanda Hammett: All right, so tell us a little bit about... You both had mentioned something about hard work and about learning as you go, and I think that that's something incredibly, incredibly important. So tell us about what were some of those pieces that you learned early on that have made you successful today?

09:27 Ashleigh Skuse: So I think, as cliche as it might sound, attitude is everything. And I've learned that from the time I was... My mother owns a four-million dollar Tupperware franchise, and she's got all of these... It's number one fourth... Number four franchise in North America. And she is just crushing it, but she's always had that attitude. So I learned it from a very young age. Attitude is everything and, if you don't have the right attitude and that mindset... And everyone has off days. Don't get me wrong. We all do. I do, for sure. And that's okay. Just understand that maybe tomorrow... Today you can close the books, but come back with a better attitude tomorrow. And I think that that's one... Don't let the bad days get you down, just make them... It's a lesson in life. Why was it a bad day? What did I do? Was I not prepared enough for my day? Why did I not feel accomplished today? Ask those type of questions and have the right attitude towards that, I think is the huge... Cliche as it is, I think attitude is absolutely everything.

10:17 Amanda Hammett: Sometimes cliches are cliches for a reason.

10:19 Ashleigh Skuse: I know, right?


10:20 Ashleigh Skuse: I didn't make it up.


10:22 Amanda Hammett: Fantastic. Well, what about you?

10:24 Stephanie Gilbert: I had something that I tell my team all the time. Every single day, have a highlight. If there is nothing else, if you are coming in and you are checking a box. "I came in, I woke up, I took a shower, I answered emails, I talked to my co-workers, I made X amount of dials and then I went home." There's... It's yes, you checked a box, you fulfilled your duties of the day, but what did you do that made your job great? What fulfilled you that day? And I think some of that comes from a job that you're passionate about, but even if you're not in the job that you're currently passionate about, if you have that one highlight, you can take that to somebody else and say, "Hey." Share what your highlight was for the day and that might spark something in them, say, "She's gonna be great for this position one day" or "We can prepare her for this" or "Have you thought about X, Y, Z?" Because great leaders should know and be able to identify strengths and where you might fit in the puzzle when you might not even see the puzzle, so...

11:26 Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. That's a great point, I love that.

11:29 Stephanie Gilbert: Nugget.

11:30 Amanda Hammett: Nugget, yes!

11:31 Ashleigh Skuse: Yeah, you got one!


11:33 Amanda Hammett: So since you kinda segwayed into this and I think maybe you were just reading my mind... We'll say that, that's one of your skills.

11:40 Stephanie Gilbert: I'm very... Yes, very...

[overlapping conversation]


11:41 Amanda Hammett: So let's switch over a little bit to Veeam. Veeam has this incredible culture, and I'll just brag on you guys as a complete outside third party for just a second. As a company, one of the things that I noticed is that I'm brought into companies all over the world. And they bring me in and I audit them and I watch and I observe and I interview and I survey them and I just break them down. And one of the things that I noticed is that when you guys went to this luncheon, the group of 20 women went to this luncheon that Veeam sent you to. What I noticed is two things. You guys were... Even though you were outside and it was a social event, you guys were playfully picking on each other and it was all playful, it was it all in good fun, and it was... You could tell that the relationships were real, that was the first thing. But the second thing is, I always heard you guys laugh. There was a lot of laughter.

12:33 Amanda Hammett: And so whenever I'm walking around a company and I hear laugher coming from the cubicles, I know that we've got a good team.

12:40 Stephanie Gilbert: Are you sure that's not lunacy?


12:42 Amanda Hammett: There's a different type of laughter. Good point. No, this was fun laughter. And so I just wanted to take a moment and just point that out to you guys, that you guys have a good thing. What is it that Veeam does that keeps you guys productive, engaged, happy, laughing? What is it that they do?

13:03 Stephanie Gilbert: I'd say there's a lot of collaboration. We have a lot of whether it's gonna be a team meeting, whether it's gonna be a meeting of managers, whether it's just popping into somebody's office or their cubicle, bringing up ideas and sharing ideas. We have one of those cultures where it is something with... People wanna talk to each other, and people wanna share something, or they wanna go out together for lunch, or whatnot, but it is like that collaboration that really does bring that sense of community and people here want to... They wanna hang out after work, they wanna travel together, they want to see their ideas come to fruition but hear other's feedback. I would say that here we probably have a little bit of that thick skin. Maybe that's a natural sarcasm that we have, that's probably also part of the laughter.

13:46 Stephanie Gilbert: But we're a company that can handle constructive criticism and appreciates constructive criticism and then applies it. And I think that's probably one of the things that people learn to trust about each other, is that you're always gonna get something from somebody here, and you can trust the people that you're working with.

14:04 Amanda Hammett: Fantastic. I love it, I love it. What about you?

14:06 Ashleigh Skuse: I think it's a very family, it's a Veeam family. Yes, it's a corporation, yes, we're in the corporate world. All of that is true, but especially this office, and we are a Veeam family, we've all been together a lot of us for a very long time, and the new people that we're bringing on, it's not like... It's not a step-sister, it's like, "Hey, come on. Your in here. You are part of our family. Let's dig in, let's get to it." And everyone is out to help. Collaboration is obviously huge, but if you need help, ask, ask anybody. You can ask from a VP to someone sitting right next to you. It doesn't matter, just ask for the help and if they can't provide the help, we're gonna go find the answers for you, and kinda give you that help. So I think the Veeam family has really done a lot. And Veeam I know we're doing even more to make it more fun, make it better here. Having snacks in the break room and getting a better coffee machine, all that kind of stuff is stuff that we are continuing to improve on.

15:00 Ashleigh Skuse: But family is something that you can't buy or make. Family is just... Family is because of the people that you hire and the people that you put in the seats. And I think that we've done a really, really good job at and going out and getting that great talent to keep that whole Veeam family going.

15:13 Amanda Hammett: So, you brought up an interesting point about the family. So those of us who study workplace culture, we actually call it a clan mentality. So you guys are really competitive within each other, pushing that bar, encouraging each other to be better, do better. But anybody come from outside, and you want to attack the clan, no... So that's fantastic. And those teams tend to be the most productive and they tend to be the most cost-effective long term.

15:41 Amanda Hammett: So there you go, didn't know that. All right, so, you guys mentioned a little bit about developing, so let's talk a little bit about that. What is it that... I've loved hearing about the development that Veeam does, but is there anything that has really stsood out to you in particular that was great for your personal development?

16:00 Ashleigh Skuse: Yeah, so last year, we actually both went to a training in Boston, with the CEO and founder of Leading Women and she really taught us how to think... As a female in this industry, you are very, sometimes you are taught show your personality, do this, do that, but really you need to understand the strategic, the business, and the financial acumen of what's going on. It really taught us to think in those different ways and to thinking into the numbers and tag all the great stuff that we already have and put that down and think more like a CEO versus thinking like an individual contributor.

16:32 Ashleigh Skuse: And I think that that has been great for... Great for our careers and really like light bulbs. Like the whole time we were in that training, it was like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. All these light bulbs going off and just knowing that, "Oh, I already had this in me. It just took someone to pull it out." And now as a leader, I get to pull it out and not just in females, in males as well. I get to help pull that out now that I can pull it out of myself based off of that training that Veeam sent us to. So I think that that was huge.

16:55 Amanda Hammett: That's huge. What about you?

16:57 Stephanie Gilbert: Well, to piggyback off of Ashleigh, Veeam put in an exorbitant amount of money... Not exorbitant, but you know what I mean. They put in a lot of money for this specific training for us leaders. And I think that when a company puts in a financial... Yeah, a financial... What is that?

17:13 Amanda Hammett: Investment.

17:14 Stephanie Gilbert: Yes, a financial investment in their people, it really makes you feel like you are a part of something and on the cusp of greatness. But for me, I think for my... My biggest development has been, and I know I mentioned it earlier in this process is that we have our VPs that give us an open door policy. No matter who you are. And that has helped me out immensely. Having those larger, bigger picture, strategic conversations, understanding the numbers behind something. I am very detailed, so I can go on and on and on about something but in order to kinda see maybe the bigger picture I was missing some of the numbers. I was missing some of the... What percentage of growth... Where did you make this impact and how did you impact your own business. And so it took me... Having those conversations with somebody like that, especially someone that's numbers-driven, like a VP would be. But to bring that back to my team and make sure that I'm holding people accountable in the right ways. So that's been instrumental in my growth, here.

18:17 Amanda Hammett: You know what, you've mentioned this before, and you have mentioned this before, but I love that they're doing... They're taking the time to do that with you.

18:23 Ashleigh Skuse: Right.

18:24 Amanda Hammett: Because, I mean, not only does that help you develop, but it helps you develop the team as well, below you. So that is fantastic, and that's a good sign of leadership, absolutely. All right, so what is it that your direct bosses, your direct managers are doing to keep you motivated, happy, and engaged?

18:42 Ashleigh Skuse: Challenging.

18:44 Amanda Hammett: Okay.

18:44 Ashleigh Skuse: They bring challenges. I recently just moved over. So I used to run our inside channel and one day they decided, "Hey, Ashleigh we want you to run the Inside Enterprise team." And I was like "Great." [laughter] But giving those brand new things that, outside of my comfort zone, right. Your comfort zone is this big, and there's so many opportunities outside of it. And if someone doesn't push you to go out that comfort zone, you're never gonna do it. And I was very comfortable in what I was doing and I loved my job. I loved what I was doing, I loved my team, I loved all, everything about it. But when I got asked to go out of that comfort zone, it was not an easy decision for me. I went home, I went over to my brother house, I called my mom, I called my father in law, I called everyone, I was like "What should I do?" And they were like, "You'd be stupid not to take this opportunity." And it's totally true. And now my new boss, who is really a mentor. I know your boss is supposed to be your mentor, but you know what I mean, it's kind of inevitable, right.

19:35 Ashleigh Skuse: It's just he challenges, but at the same time, let's run me on business. Run the business, see how it's going, come up with your strategies, and then we'll kind of talk about it together. We'll get through it, we'll run through it. Which I think is very good and it's very... You run this business as long as we hit these numbers, you can continue to run this business and I won't get too far into it, [laughter] if not needed. If we're seeing the successes of it. Which I think is a very... It keeps the morale up, it keeps it... We're not getting hound on. Let me hound on my team, right? We don't need you to come, don't skip level, right? There's not very much skip level going on at Veeam, which I think is very helpful when it comes to keeping the morale up and working with the team. And we've got a great rapport and a great relationship and he brings a new challenge every single day and I think that that's a huge... I like a challenge. I didn't know I liked them back in the day, but I do.


20:21 Ashleigh Skuse: You learn that you like them.

20:22 Amanda Hammett: Fantastic. Well, if you didn't like them you'd be at the wrong place.

20:27 Ashleigh Skuse: This is very true.


20:29 Amanda Hammett: What about you Stephanie?

20:31 Stephanie Gilbert: The projects, Veeam leadership has been really, really good at identifying and delegating projects to people that want them. If you want something that's a little bit outside of your realm, then they'll identify, "Hey you'd be really good at X." And for me, I love finding little ways to motivate our entire sales team, not just my own team, but... End of the quarter push, like that end of quarter, if you're in sales, end of quarter is so stressful. But having some of those just fun things in the office, like games and some internal competitions and things like that, to really keep up people's spirits. I love, I love playing that kind of thing and so...

21:07 Ashleigh Skuse: And she's so good at it. Anytime a party needs to be planned or we need some morale boost, it's like, "Steph, where is she?" [laughter]

21:13 Stephanie Gilbert: It's true. I actually, I planned a human Foosball table out here, in the parking lot, yes.

21:19 Amanda Hammett: Interesting.

21:20 Ashleigh Skuse: You missed it.


21:21 Stephanie Gilbert: It is... It was about 20 feet long, but everyone holds on to the Foosball poll, and they run back and forth and try to kick a soccer ball in. And there were bruises, but we had a really good time, so...

21:32 Ashleigh Skuse: Okay. HR is like looking the other way. [laughter]

21:36 Stephanie Gilbert: They were off that day.

21:38 Amanda Hammett: Awesome.

21:39 Stephanie Gilbert: Waivers are great. [laughter]

21:43 Amanda Hammett: So let me ask you guys this, you guys are now in a position to hire, correct?

21:47 Stephanie Gilbert: Uh-huh.

21:48 Amanda Hammett: So tell me, what is it that stands out to you? Because you guys have a very interesting, fantastic, but interesting culture. So what is it that stands out to you?

21:56 Ashleigh Skuse: Personality, 100%. I am a very firm believer on hiring personalities that will fit within your team. Not that every personality needs to be the same, but I could teach a lot of things. I can't teach someone a personality. That's something that your mama taught you that, right. [laughter] I can't really, that... But I can teach and train and coach too, a lot of the things. Like how to sell our products and how to have conversations with the partners, how to have conversations with the end users and our alliance partners. We can teach all of those things, if you have the right skills. Obviously, now that I'm in the enterprise space, there definitely needs to be a little bit more than personality. You need to know how to have that solution sale and like that kind of stuff. But still, personality is gonna get you very far when it comes to interviewing because it just, it needs to mesh, it needs to fit. I need to know that if I leave tomorrow to go travel to Chicago or do something like that, that all the personalities are working. The team is working together and everyone is getting along, and helping each other. If you don't have a helpful personality and you're not a team player, odds are, I'm not gonna hire you.


22:49 Amanda Hammett: All right, what about you?

22:51 Stephanie Gilbert: Being prepared. Because you can bring so many different things to the table if you're coming up for an interview. So if you're prepared and you know exactly what you're going for, you can spin any kind of situation no matter if you come from the IT industry or if you are just breaking out. You can spin your past into something that's gonna be worthwhile here. So as long as you do the necessary research on that and you're not just like, "Hey here's all the things that I'm great at. I can kick a soccer ball, good for your foosball." [laughter] But it's just knowing who you're going into. It's doing the necessary Google searches and looking at, not just the website but going in and looking at LinkedIn and using all of your resources. Because that's a big thing about working here at Veeam, you have to know... We have so many different resources that if you don't know how to actually leverage resources, then that's not gonna be a fit for them.

23:42 Amanda Hammett: That's fantastic. I love it, I love it, I love it. All right, well, you guys, I think you already know I'm a fan. So I think that you guys are fantastic, but thank you guys so much for being on the show you guys are just... You are rock stars, you are definite definitions of rock stars.

23:55 Ashleigh Skuse: Thank you, you are too. [laughter]

23:56 Amanda Hammett: Thank you.

23:58 Stephanie Gilbert: It's true, after your... After we went to your luncheon. She was like, "I want her to be my mentor too."


24:04 Ashleigh Skuse: How do I get on that?


24:04 Stephanie Gilbert: I was like, I bet's she's got a list of people.

24:06 Ashleigh Skuse: I have like a mad girl crush on you.

24:10 Stephanie Gilbert: We're all like, "Amanda, take us."


24:12 Amanda Hammett: Thanks so much for joining for this episode of the Millennial Rockstar Podcast. If you are looking for even more information on millennials and some free resources, visit my website at The link is below, it's There you can download a free, millennial employee engagement guide that will give you all kinds of tips and tricks on how to keep those millennials engaged on a day-to-day basis, because we all know that millennials who are happy at work are more productive at work.


25:06 Amanda Hammett: Well, thank you, I'm blushing, so thank you.


25:09 Amanda Hammett: So thank you very much for joining us for this episode of the Millennial Rockstar Podcast and we will see you in the next one.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

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15: Developing Millennials through Empowerment

As an expert on millennials and the next generation of workers, I am often asked how do you motivate millennials? Many times, the answer is far easier than you think. Millennials are attracted to companies and leaders who value mentorship and empowerment.

Katie Kirschner is a Client-obsessed, Data-led, Results-Oriented Strategy, Marketing + Communications Executive at NCR Corporation. The NCR Corporation, previously known as National Cash Register, and for a brief period known as AT&T Global Information Solutions, is an American technology company that makes self-service kiosks, point-of-sale terminals, automated teller machines, check processing systems, barcode scanners, and business consumables.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Motivating Millennial Employees

Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the millennial Rockstar podcast.

Amanda Hammett: All right. In today's episode of the millennial rockstars podcast, I got to interview Katie Kirschner, who is with NCR Corporation now. Katie has a. She is just a dynamo of energy and you're going to see that in the interview for sure, but she walks us through her career, which although she's only 32 years old, she has a wealth of experience from corporations all over the world and she's bringing everything she's ever learned right into NCR here in Atlanta, but I think one of the biggest takeaways that I walked away with after this interview was when she talked about the best manager she ever had and how that manager actually empowered her and gave her a voice. So tune in and tell me what you think.

Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett. I'm known as the millennial translator because I help companies attract, retain, and engage top millennial talent. And speaking of top millennial talent, I have Katie Kirschner with NCR. Hey Katie. How are Ya?

Katie Kirschner: How's it going?

Amanda Hammett: Well, I'm so excited to have you on. I reached out while back to NCR to one of my contacts there, Christine Bell, nab, and she's like, oh my gosh, I have some one for you to get her coffee, a starbucks gift card for. Fantastic. Fantastic. So Katie, why don't you tell the audience a little bit about you?

Katie Kirschner: Um, sure. So, um, I'll tell you a little bit about where I am right now and then I'll talk about how I got there. So, um, I work for NCR Corporation. Um, if anyone is in Atlanta or if you've seen pictures, we have this massive beautiful glass building right off of the main highway that goes through Atlanta. Um, which I'm super excited about. Not just the building but the company itself. So I've been with the company for a little over a year. It's dynamic in nature. So I've actually changed my role already being in the company that I currently lead, brand and marketing shared services, which is basically brand strategy and governance, industry analyst relations, market insights and business intelligence, consumer and buyer persona development and journey mapping and creative services and marketing agency management. So it's quite an eclectic group,

Amanda Hammett: A very collective group.

Katie Kirschner: Funny about that is I'm not just that this role was kind of created within a certain framework that our marketing leader wanted, but also how it fits in with my background and why am I able to kind of navigate and do this very eclectic set of work. So rewind a couple years back because I'm not that old, but I actually started in the restaurant industry and I worked there for about 10 years and I will say I learned so much learning in that industry. I would highly recommend anyone who hasn't worked in the service industry to do so. Um, it's anything from multitasking to dealing with difficult people. People are different when they're hangry. I think we all know that, yes they are. And not only that, but the dynamics of the different age groups that you work with in the restaurant industry. You have career restaurant tours who are there until well into their sixties to teenagers who are just coming out of high school and they're being hostesses. Right? So I learned quite a bit and the dynamics of how to deal with different types of teams and then also the multitasking, the aggressiveness of the entire sort of industry that, where you're in, you have to think on your feet.

Katie Kirschner: It's very stressful. Um, I loved every minute I will say I loved working in the industry. Um, but from there I decided, you know, I was in school at the time. Most people they have a job or they're in school and um, I was actually a musical theater major and I had this great passion for learning about theater and music and I did quite a bit of theater, um, from chorus to a musical theater all the way to dramas on the stage. And then I realized I also had a great knack for languages. So I started learning languages at an early age. So I am Japanese and Irish. Um, so my, my mom and she grew up a little bit in Japan as well, California. US, my grandmother, straight off the boat. Um, my dad has that Irish Lithuanian background. So he's a very eclectic, funky background.

Katie Kirschner: So I grew up in this multinational sort of cultural home, so by nature I wanted to learn different languages. I just thrived on understanding the culture. So because of that I kind of got drawn into well who, who lets you see other countries and kind of learn about cultures and where would language value in that I fell into business. So I changed my major from musical theater to where apparently you'll starve and it's so hard to get into. And I was like, all right, I moved to business and um, I loved it and I kind of, you know, it's just so funny. You, you, you study theater and you realize how much you'll actually use theater and business. But, um, yes, branding, for example, marketing, a form of form of theater, uh, that should be a play by the way. I'm going to get coined for that.

Katie Kirschner: Um, so I started in the business realm and I'm with languages and with travel. So I also love to travel. I think the only way for an individual to truly learn about the culture that you're going to sell into or do you understand? There are two things you've gotta, um, you gotta learn their language and you got to learn their food. I think that's the basis of every culture, but we'll get into that part. So after that, um, I got my bachelor's in Spanish, Italian and a international business from Georgia State University. Loved the panthers. I'm straight into the city and I actually started college when I was 16 years old, so that was, just, won't go into that AP, finished that needed to go to college earlier, decided to do so. But um, after that I was like, okay, well I'm really loving this business aspect and this was during a time where, you know, I think a lot of millennials can identify if you're in the older realm with the millennials, but recession and hard to get jobs and um, you know, where am I going to go next?

Katie Kirschner: So I actually decided to, um, move into my masters right away. So along with my masters, I, um, um, I studied international business and I had a focus on branding and corporate strategy. Okay. So, um, give me one second, just one second. Sorry. There we go. I just have to move. We have, we have a ecofriendly building here at NCR, so if no one's moving in a room, the lights will go out. So sorry about that. Um, another plus for NCR. But, so after I finished my master's in international business, I, um, I did a couple of boutique consulting engagement, so I first lived in Caracas, Venezuela, and I did it associate engagement there. Um, and then I was like, you know, I want to do consulting and I think when you get your masters or you always think of like this amazing life for everyone travels and you get to experience the cultures.

Katie Kirschner: They always, sometimes you think consulting first. Right? And that's, that's what I wanted to do. I also loved corporate strategy, so I was like, I wonder if this whole thing. And so the dean of my business or the dean of our International Business College actually sat me down and he was like, okay, um, you know, what do you, what are your plans for your life? Basically drew a timeline, which was the most valuable thing this gentleman could do. Um, and he just said, you know, do you want to have kids and get married here and, you know, what are your aspirations, what do you want to learn, et cetera. And so I told them all these things and um, I was just everyone and anyone to do that timeline timeline at least a certain amount of your life, you know, your major goals, you know, what do you want out of your life?

Katie Kirschner: And he geared me, he said, well, based off of that actually wouldn't suggest consulting, but everyone needs a basis in operations, every company needs operation. So it would be, it would be so valuable for you to learn that. Um, and just through connections, um, and a job that popped up with a global logistics company, I got placed there. So, um, that was leading strategy slash marketing for the Americas region for um, one of the top three global logistics companies in the world. So huge, massive company. Um, and that was my first, like, I wouldn't say it was like my real job, you know, you consider, you don't have to sit in a restaurant, a real job. I don't know why people don't because it is a real job or you bolting going around Italy and all over these places, but I'm really getting into that corporate world and then having to explore house.

Katie Kirschner: How the real world does what you learned in your masters, you know? Um, started there. Then I decided through that. I actually traveled the world live in a couple different places. Hong Kong is Argentina, Madrid and I met my husband through that who then encouraged me to go back to Europe to live there and I decided not to move with the company I currently was with, which was a German company. We learned a lot of cultural aspects about, um, and this is the funny part. I worked for a German company in America and then I moved to Germany and I got hired by an American company so, and I actually got hired there because they wanted an individual who could translate why American culture doesn't fit everywhere and why the strategies or the marketing they're going to instill won't work in the rest of Europe or in Germany itself was like, that's really interesting.

Katie Kirschner: So, um, got hired there, moved up the ranks to lead, I'm sales and marketing for the region, more marketing focus this time, kind of cool because I could take my strategy aspects and then apply that to implementation strategy. And then from there, um, we got a new CEO while I was in that position and I guess I made an impression on him somehow and so he pulled me to leading marketing and communications globally for the company. So they say, yeah, it was a, it was a big job. Um, and I, man, it was, I was awesome that he has so much faith in me to do that. Um, I mean I was competent at the same time. This is a four point $5,000,000,000 company, 29,000 employees, but the nine countries. And I'm just thinking, okay, I can do this. Like, and I loved, he brought me into the office when he had first asked me whether I wanted to.

Katie Kirschner: First he asked me if I was interested in the position. I was like, yes, please. Like who's not going to interested in someone's telling you, would you like to leave? Marketing Communications globally for the company, and he brings me in. He said, okay, listen, I want to know if you had one fifth of the resources that we have today within marketing communications. What would you do?

Amanda Hammett: And question? Yeah,

Katie Kirschner: it was a great question because yeah, that's a tough one. Um, so I laid out kind of just off the top of my head a plan and I said, well, I think these are the most important areas to focus it based on what I've seen in the field. And that was important. I had been in the field, I'd seen what wasn't and what was working, especially from a European perspective I had gained. I gained quite a network and some of the other regions just because it became you just start to create it because you're creating fields, kind of marketing elements.

Katie Kirschner: Um, so I brought that to the top and I told him what I, what I would cut automatically where we need to focus as a business. I knew our strategy just because that trickle down quite easily. Um, so then he said that was great and I guess he decided to put me in the position, um, and he said the best thing that I did, because I talked to him later about it when I presented it was I didn't come in and tell him, well, the first thing I would do is, you know, build another empire. I would start again and I would try and build my empire. Um, so it wasn't as power focus, it was more where can we get the best result with the small, smallest amount of resources. And it's not to say, well, I would start building resources again, which apparently it was more, Hey, if I have to be scrappy, like I know how to be scrappy.

Katie Kirschner: Um, I've had a job since I was 15 years old and I've, you know, I know how to kind of build things out without having much. So, um, I guess that helps in that scenario. And um, so from there that company actually got acquired and I decided not to stay on with the acquiring company, um, because it would have had to live in a different country than Germany and I didn't want to move, so it was just this perfect kind of time in my life. I said, you know what, I'm ready to come back to the states. I hadn't been in the states about nine years and I wanted to come back to family. Um, so I interviewed for the position at NCR while I was still in Germany. I had 11 interviews, which is pretty insane, but I'm NCR is they like to know that their people are good people, so I can, uh, I can also say that that's a good thing.

Katie Kirschner: Um, yeah. And then I got my first position within, um, like a portfolio sort of marketing role and then um, marketing change and shift a little bit within our company. We're dynamic, um, with, with the technology industry, you, which is just as dynamic. You also have to be dynamic in nature. So then I'm here I am fantastic.

Amanda Hammett: Oh my gosh, you have had all of these like crazy experiences in a relatively short amount of time. I mean, you've probably had a lot of love momentus different occasions in your career that someone would have over the course of like a 20 or 30 year career. Do you know what I'm saying?

Katie Kirschner: Yeah, I do. And that's why people don't believe me when I tell them how old I am, although I try not to tell them how old I am, but I'm actually serious. I've, when I was, when I first started my leading, I'm leading marketing communications for that company. People would first meet me, they would say, I was just wondering like, how, how old are you? And I said, well, I mean, you're, you're more than welcome. Two guests don't ask a woman her age. Uh, although I don't care, you know, I'll tell him that I said I, I, you know, you can guess I have, you know, I have two degrees. I've lived in seven different countries. You know, I'm married. So I was married or getting married at the time. So I'm getting married at the time, part of my degrees is a masters and they would be like, okay, yeah. So you're like, you just like age really well. So you're like 39. Right? And this is like years back. And I'm like, oh my gosh, like even if you said I aged well and then you told me that you thought it was 39, I don't know, I don't know to take that as a compliment or not.

Katie Kirschner: And it's partly because people, I mean you have people our age who we, we've just, we love to learn and we've been ambitious in nature and um, and it's even the aspect of a collectic learning or focused learning, right? I just happen to learn from many different fields and um, and, and fortunate enough to have learned strategy, which is a science that can be applied to any industry, including marketing. Marketing is also the science. So, um, I just think people don't, they don't match the two to think. There's no way that you can have done all that and have been that young. So, um, I, um, yeah,

Amanda Hammett: that's awesome. I mean, that is just an incredible background of information though, and I feel like what I see a lot of times with my rockstar millennials is that they do have what I call a lily pad of experiences. You're here and you're gaining skills and information and you're learning, but then you're ready to move on when you feel like you've mastered it, you're, you're not willing to sit there and just wait, you know, for the next thing to come trickling down to. You want to proactively go after it and so you do more like lily pad hops. Whereas previous generations were more willing to wait and move up wrong by wrong above singular silo and you, you are not singular in your silos.

Katie Kirschner: I don't know if it's even just that. So I would also say it's, it's the mentality that certain generations have. So I hate when I hate. I hate to use the word hate. I dislike when people say, Hey, millennials, you know, our, our company hoppers or career hoppers and that's just. It may be true in some cases, but in other cases it's simply listened. The, the environment that we live in today, so dynamic in nature that were actually pushed to move in different areas and learn different things. I mean if you look at a marketing role today, you might as well be a technology officer like you're meant to know technologies and data and analytics. You can be, you can run down a data and analytics if you want to. So actually if you had come from a marketing role and then you went into a data and analytics role and you had to go to a different company or whatever to learn that that was the force of the whole where consumer technologies and consumers meeting commerce are changing.

Katie Kirschner: So it's not so much that I'm not loyal to this company, to the company, but just for my own nature to do my, my passion better. So not much, but my passion better. I've got to learn x or I've got to know x and I get pulled in a different direction. Yes.

Amanda Hammett: Fantastic. That is, that is amazing. So Katie, with all of this experience that you have, um, I would imagine that there have been some bumps and bruises along the way. There may be some lessons learned along the way. So, you know, what is the one that immediately jumps into your mind?

Katie Kirschner: Oh, so the top one I would say is if there's one thing I've learned, it's to be, I live by this motto and I tell my team I live by this motto as well and it's to be open, honest and transparent. Um, and I've learned that having those two things at the core of the relationships that you have not just personally but also within business is actually proves to be quite fruitful. So I've learned that the hard way. I've had previous bosses who would think that I was competing with them because I'm just that learn, go theater and always throwing out ideas and challenging things. So I play Devil's corporate strategy. I play devil's advocate a lot when you build strategy to do that and a stress test things. And sometimes that wasn't taken as well as you would've liked it to be. And so I realized whenever I present an idea or I'm forcing someone to push themselves to think differently, even if it's my superior, if it's my boss, I need to also first establish that the relationship is. And this is the second thing that I hold core to learning is, um, my sole goal is actually for my peers, my employees, and my managers to be successful.

Katie Kirschner: That is my goal. So when nowhere is there, my goal is for me to be successful or my goal is for me to find success and move up and move on. Because if I hold dear to say, I want my boss to be successful and how can I help my boss be successful, my employees, how can I help them learn, grow and become successful? By default, I've become successful. But if you, if you change your mentality too, it's about you and it's about you becoming successful. You Act differently. Um, so I've, I've learned that from that experience of former boss who thought, you know, I was trying to take the reins and I wanted their job. I realize now I have to be honest and open like right up front and I need to continually be transparent with these individuals to why am I doing these actions, you know, be transparent into how do I think, you know, how can you interact with me and being honest in, in feedback.

Katie Kirschner: Like if I give individual feedback that there's a direct part, open, honest, transparent, and probably direct would be a fourth one. I would love that back to meet, right? Because I can't grow or change develop if it's not that way. So um, bump in a road is, is people tend to think, or I don't want to say people in general, but individuals may think, you know, I need to guard my intelligence or guard that because I will be, I don't want to be indispensable. And it's like, man, if you just knew I'm putting the team members first and your boss first in success, like it's life changing. It's actually a weight off of your chest to always think it has to be about you reaching that next level. You'll get there. You will and much faster if you're helping other people become successful. Much, much better.

Amanda Hammett: Okay. Absolutely. I mean, for every person that you know will maybe not treat you as well, there'll be 20 others that will be like, oh, you know, Katie did this for me and they'll bend over backwards for you and do even more than you could ever ask. Sorry, I just hit my desk. All right. Fantastic. That's awesome. Alright, so we, it feels like 20 minutes ago we talked about Georgia state and going into the working world now. When you were sitting in class at Georgia state or in your master's program, were there, you kind of mentioned that there were some differences in the, what you were learning versus the reality. So tell us a little bit about what was that reality check like for you? Was it a huge wakeup call or did, do you feel like you transitioned easily?

Katie Kirschner: Um, you know, it was, I just actually had lunch with one of my professors recently. Okay. Master's program at Georgia state. And I told him, I said, you know, there's, I think what they teach you in school is foundational. It's things that you, you, you should know going in, like you should know how to do accounting x and that helps you because you have to apply it to y and Z, whatever that is. There are foundational things to know as a basis. I think the wakeup call came from, um, knowing, understanding how politics work. So politics isn't just in politics. Um, so you're like, hey, yeah, these, these processes, this is how they're suppose this is the ideal. I learned that this was the ideal and this is how you build strategy and this is the reason you do it. And you try and, you know, bring a company out of ailment.

Katie Kirschner: And it's like, yes, but there are also, there are targets and goals that are sometimes unseen that you don't realize until you get in there. Right? So, um, you know, I've been in an, I did boutique consulting, so I've also been in companies that are like, yeah, we want this, we want this to be the goal. And you're like, okay, well I've done the research and I've done the data and actually like this is a better goal. Like this would be the ideal because based on where the market's going or whatever it is, and they're like, yeah, yeah, but we want this to be the goal, so we want you to create data and strategy so this should be the goal and you're thinking your head. That doesn't make sense. That goes against everything I learned like shouldn't you? You should look at the balance sheet and you should do the research.

Katie Kirschner: Right? But they understand like that and it may not that it's a malicious thing. It may be they have a different longterm vision of what they want to do with that company. They want to do something completely different or someone's going to retire and that's going to change the direction of where that company is going to go or or whether they're going to set themselves up for sale or whatever it is. So learning that there is a, there are, there's a politics and be underlining initiatives that don't. Don't pop up in your everyday case study when you walk through your master's program. That's probably the biggest, like, Whoa, okay. So it's not, you mean it's not all textbook

Amanda Hammett: thing. I mean those, those people get in there and just mess things up.

Katie Kirschner: Why would you want to do that? That makes no sense. And then, you know, you never know what it's for. But clients always in it.

Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. So let me ask you this, Katie, um, let's talk about, you know, bosses in the past, mentors maybe in the past or maybe currently that you have, um, what are they doing or what have they done to keep you really engaged? Because I mean, you're super dynamic, flat. You're on your own, so they probably don't have to do a whole lot, but you know, what is it that they do that keeps you super passionate and just like out there asking tough questions and getting that feedback. What, what is it that they do for you?

Katie Kirschner: Oh man, some of the best managers I've ever had, I'm truly lived and not just set it but lived empowerment. So example, the managers that would come to me and say, hey, we need to get, we need to get x done, or we have this chat, Alan Cheer, what would you recommend doing? Or what would you do? I said, well, based off Xyz, I would do this. Okay, go like you go and do it, or you, you go figure it out. Or are not that they wouldn't guide along the way, but that they, they felt that they could empower me to make a big decision or to build something that would actually affect anything in the company. You know, I think empowerment to say um, to not micromanage constantly. Like always worried like, oh, what is this? She's too young or she's going to fail because she doesn't know any of it. She hasn't been in the industry for 30 years. I've had two fantastic manager, actually three fantastic merrick managers are just like, they were like, well, what do you think? And um, yeah, well, if that's what you think, let's go with that. You know, it's, it's the simple trust in I think this because of x. and I just see, you know why, and they believe it and they empower you to go and do it and you know, what, you may fail sometimes, like your, your guests or what you decided to do may not work out. But I've had those same managers come back to me like, you know what? Yeah, that didn't work out, you know, that's okay. So what else would you do if it didn't? If they asked me that didn't work. So what do you think was the challenge in that? Why didn't that work out?

Katie Kirschner: And it made you think, okay, well, if this is why it didn't work, then maybe we can try x and, you know, change some things, some elements to get to the right solution to get it to the target. I'm that afraid to fail. And I know that's so overused. Don't be afraid to fail. Um, but you actually have to have management that is also not afraid to fail and afraid for you to fail. Um, and I love that. And I've had some great managers that they empower you and they're not afraid for you to fail. That's awesome. That is, that's really great and that's a great sign of a wonderful manager or leader because I can tell you that it's not always the case. Now there are people who like to control and there are people who, um, you know, they're, they're scared because their team is a reflection of them and at the same time you have managers who are like, Hey, if we fail, we fail together and I'll take the rap just as much as you'll, you know, you'll get the rap.

Amanda Hammett: So that's awesome. That's good. That's good. And that makes the team want to work even harder to make them look good.

Katie Kirschner: Oh yeah.

Amanda Hammett: So, okay, well good. Now what about any kind of perks for any, any of the companies that you've been with current or in the past that you were just like, man, this is nice. I mean, it doesn't have to be, you know, ping pong tables or anything of that nature, but, you know, extra days off or anything that just pops into your mind that a company has offered as far as benefits or perks.

Katie Kirschner: Oh yes. Benefits, um, keeps you engaged and happy at work. I'm probably the worst at this actually. I'll, if I can give one best I'll give to you. So the first one is flexibility and time. So, um, I think the worst thing a company can do, especially in this day days, age and says you need to work from eight to five, you need to be in the opposite and you need to leave at five.

Katie Kirschner: And it's like, okay, well, you know, if you're more flexible and you allow me to get a better work life balance, you're going to get far more productivity out of me. And I currently work for a company that's like that, that's very like, hey, you know, you don't have to. If you live not in the city and you need to drive all the way down here, comment like 10, leave by two. So you miss traffic, you'll finish your day at home. You may wait longer one day and shorter the next day when they strive for results rather than a time clock. That is one of the best benefits that accompany can give. And believe me, you'll get the results if you don't focus on the time clock. And the second thing is, um, I am a workout masochist. So part of my work life balance is being able to go to the gym and uh, I don't want to.

Katie Kirschner: I'm like NCR, so great. Like come work at NCR. I'm basically trying to get talent. So anyone who watches this, I'm basically trying to get down. Okay, video, okay plug. But we have the coolest Jim ever in this, in our building. And the reason I like that is it's a part of the work balance conversation, right? Um, for them to be able to provide that, to focus on health and to make sure, you know, hey, not only are you flexible for when you're in the office and when you're not, we focused on the results, but we also want you to stay healthy while you're here. Um, and have the ability to work out and they give classes. I'm also on great schedules. They have wonderful personal trainers in there as well. So, um, I love the fact that I can come in really early and I can work out and then I can just go straight to my desk or I can on my lunch break, go and work out and, you know, come back up to the office and I like that flexibility. So that's probably the second coop. Cool perk. Let's say.

Amanda Hammett: That's a really cool. I love that. I, I, that's, that's pretty cool. Very cool. So I assume that you don't go straight to your desk from working. We have an awesome locker rooms. I think that your, your coworkers would appreciate.

Katie Kirschner: I'm always like I did where the. Okay, just making sure.

Amanda Hammett: So, um, I, I know that you are obviously not fresh out of college, but is there something that you, is because you are fairly new, you, you were on the job market fairly recently, so you have a good idea about what it's like being out there looking for a job. What is it that companies need to do a better job of when they're looking at getting more rockstar? Millennials like yourself?

Katie Kirschner: Oh man, you know what, my biggest pet peeve and I am relatively new because I was applying when I was in Germany for the job in the US, you know, I know people want to be very extensive in the hiring process. I think that there are a lot of companies out there that make it so difficult even to apply and I want to say like an application is important, but it only says so much about a person and if you're looking, if he, if the job you're hiring for is a copywriter or a communication person, absolutely.

Katie Kirschner: Then you'll probably want, I want you to write an essay about xY, , Z and I know they're there. You need to weed out some, you know, because they probably get thousands of them. And I know this, I hire people as well. We get thousands and thousands of CD's, but truly I'm talking to somebody is a little bit different than having them, you know, go through this massive application process. And um, I think interviews are important. So I actually love that NCR did 11 interviews to hire me, you know, because it gave me a chance to see all the different people in the company and talk to them. Um, the different viewpoints, what each of them would be asking me, but also it gave, and we do this today, like I don't, I'm not the only one who interviews individuals that we hire my team, I actually have my peers interview them, I have my managers, other people in different areas I know that they would engage with because everyone has a different perspective.

Katie Kirschner: So what, you as a hiring manager, you may know what you want and you're like, I have this vision and the insight you get from someone else looking at that person from a different angle is so valuable and you don't get that from an application because you're not. Or an essay that someone wrote because someone who. So I'll give, I'll give a concrete example. I did horribly on my, like I'm just, I'm not a test. I'm not a standardized test taker. And I literally went to um, to admissions, the head of admissions at Georgia state. I don't know if she remembers this, maybe she will. She ever watches this, but I went to her and I said, listen, I know that my score is not good. I'm not good at standardized tests. I said, you could give me any other tests in the world except for a standardized test.

Katie Kirschner: I will replace it. I said, I guarantee you like I am going to be a great asset to this university, that I'm going to do such a great job. And she said, well, let me have you talked to you know, the business. I'm the Dean for our Institute of International Business or whatever it was at that time. He had a different position. I said, okay, and so I sat down and I said, listen, I'm telling and you know, I, I pitched myself, I talked to them, I told him why I would bring value. I told him how, sorry I didn't score well on it. I did all these, you know, different ways to like, do better at it, but I'm telling you like, these are concrete. I said, you know, how long I've worked and you know, why, what I bring as a value, like just verbally being able to say all that.

Katie Kirschner: Um, and I know some people have started doing videos to do that. I've seen that on the Internet, which I think is funny. But, um, I got, I got in based off of that, like for, for going to a business school, which is mostly people look at your scores. I got in strictly off of an interview or two interviews and then telling why my background's mattered. And I love the example of, um, a cat. Cole, I don't know if you've heard of her. She's a, she's an executive here in Atlanta as well for focus brands and she, um, she also, she doesn't have an undergraduate degree, but she wanted to go into a master's program and so for her to say, Hey, I don't need my undergraduate degree to be able to do this program, I think I'll bring value to it. You know, she went to Ted Turner and asked him for a referral and she's like, listen, like I'm telling you, um, I can really bring value to you by me coming to your program. And I think the same is with companies. I'm not saying interview every single person you have to have a lead out, but don't make your application process like the most horrendous thing are people writing 17 essays, et cetera. I don't think them writing 17 essays will let you know how they're going to be in their job. I would rather, and I actually saw Siemens do this. Oh, I said a name of a company I would see a as is where they, you recorded

Katie Kirschner: video and just talk about yourself. And I was like, that's genius, man. I wish more companies would do that because I'd love to watch the video over. Even me as a hiring manager, I'd rather watch a video than read your 17 essays.

Amanda Hammett: All right, so we've already made a disclaimer that this is a hiring firing for instance. So there you go. Okay, that's really cool. And I couldn't agree more. I actually was speaking at a university recently and a lot of the students, it was right before graduation, a lot of the students were talking about the process of getting a job and you know, they were going onto some fantastic companies like oracle and Cisco and I mean huge brand name companies, but they were all complaining about that initial application piece that one of them said it took like three and a half hours to just get through the process and they're like, and then I never heard anything back and it's like that, you know, three hours I'll never get back.

Amanda Hammett: And I'm like, yeah, that's probably true. Yeah. So I mean, it, it, it is, it's painful universally. I think so. Very cool. All right, so Katie, I mean this has been fantastic. I've learned so much. I mean, I literally, I now want to be your friend and then look like we're going to hang out because we both live in Atlanta, but we do have to wrap up. So is there any last nuggets of advice that you would like to give the audience of the millennial rock star podcast?

Katie Kirschner: Wow. Pressure. Um, you own your happiness, so you choose your attitude and you own your happiness. So don't expect a manager to own it for you. Don't expect a friend to own it for you. Um, you own how you choose to approach things and how what you know is your passion, what's going to make you happy, so focus on you, making yourself happy and less about thinking that other people or things are going to do it for you.

Amanda Hammett: Wow. Wise words, I can't say anything else. So thank you so much for joining us, Katie, and thank you for watching. See you next time.

Amanda Hammett: Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the millennial Rockstar podcasts. If you are looking for even more information on millennials and some free resources, visit my website at Amanda Hamot Dot Com. The link is below. It's Amanda Hamot Dot Com. There you can download a free millennial employee engagement guide that will give you all kinds of tips and tricks on how to keep those millennials engaged on a day to day basis. Because we all know that millennials who are happy at work are more productive at work.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

14: Millennial Friendly Workplace Culture

Building a millennial friendly workplace is many times the goal, but rarely done well. Building that kind of environment along with a leadership structure that encourages and empowers millennials to grow is even more difficult. Today Illinois rockstars with Nia Tate's and Katie Rose Postelle.

Nia Tate is a Digital Marketing Project Coordinator while Katie Rose Postelle is a Project Coordinator at Communiqué USA, Inc. As a 15-year, fast-growing community of marketers, Communiqué USA provides flexible marketing and communications services for corporations in need of relief for their overworked and understaffed teams.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Millennial Friendly Workplace Culture

Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the millennial Rockstars podcast.

Katie Rose: Hi, my name's Katie Rose Postelle. We just got to talk on the millennial rock star podcast so you can check it out.

Amanda Hammett: Hey there. I'm known as the millennial translator because I help companies attract, retain, and engage top millennial talent. And speaking of top millennial talent today on the millennial Rockstar podcast, we have not one but two Rockstars. Can you see that two rocks are looking at them. They're rock stars. So, um, I will be very, very honest with you. I to be on this show, you've got to be nominated by a boss or a current or former boss or maybe even a coworker. So I know the CEO of communicating USA very well. Shawnee. God One, she is a fantastic woman and I was with Shawnee and her right hand Stephanie one day and I was like, Hey, I need some Illinois rockstars and I want to interview them. And immediately they came up with these two ladies right here. So today we have Nia Tate's and Katie Rose Postelle. Hi Ladies. Well, I am super excited to get to know you guys today and I know that the audience is as well. So Nia, why don't you kick us off, tell us a little bit about you.

Nia Tate: Yeah. So my name is Nia Tate. I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I live here. I love it, absolutely love it. But we have enough people. So

Nia Tate: yeah. Uh, I went to Georgia State University, studied marketing, marketing, now we're in the market, so it's really fun just to learn all about the field and especially I communicate.

Amanda Hammett: And what about you, Katie Rose, tell us about you.

Katie Rose: Oh, my journey has been a little more convoluted. I grew up in Orlando, Florida, went to school in Virginia and got my degree in English and have since lived in Georgia as well as Texas and took some time traveling but did not know I would end up in marketing, but I've ended up loving it, especially working with communicate married and have a five-month-old baby girl

Amanda Hammett: and um, right. So I'm going to switch it up and since this is a different interview format, because usually you know, it's just one person. So I'm going to ask you guys to tell us a little bit about your career path. So Katie rose, let's actually start with you. Tell us a little bit about how you went from being an English major in Virginia to working in marketing. No,

Katie Rose: I ended up with an English degree because it was what I enjoyed most and I was in the middle of my junior year and said I should probably declare what I'm going to do exactly. And I love reading and love studying it. So I ended up getting that degree when I moved to Georgia without a job actually because my boyfriend now husband was living here and reached out to a couple of different contacts and just said, hey, these are my credentials. I'm looking for a role. And a friend from childhood actually connected me with Stephanie and the rest is three and a half years of really enjoying just seeing the company grow and learning a lot myself. I never thought I would be in marketing, but I feel like I've grown so much and learned a lot of new things through intentional training as well as through, Oh my goodness, this is a project right now. What can I learn on the fly? And so it's been really exciting.

Amanda Hammett: That's really, really, really, really cool. Alright. So your app, tell us about like you from Georgia state born, raised Atlanta girl too to being where you are now.

Nia Tate: Yeah, so originally when I started college I was actually a nursing major, wanted to be a little different.

Nia Tate: Um, but then when I found out nursing wasn't for me into business and I really fell in love with the marketing classes that I sat in on. So I decided to make a marketing major and then at the time I was working at a fast food chain, just learning about just the culture and everything of that nature. So when I graduated from college is when I really kick, started my marketing career. I'm a law firm so it's really cool to just learn about it there. That ultimately got connected with Stephanie and then connected with Johnny and now here.

Amanda Hammett: And how long have you been at communicating?

Nia Tate: A little bit over a year, so yeah.

Amanda Hammett: Okay. Very cool. And then Katie rose, you said you had been there what? Three.

Katie Rose: Just over three years. Three years, okay.

Amanda Hammett: All right. So very good. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. All right, so I know.

Amanda Hammett: So wait for Nia, be very specific. How long have you been out of college

Nia Tate: for three years. This may for three years.

Amanda Hammett: This may. Katie rose, same time. Five years. Five years. Okay. So you guys are still pretty early in into your career. So I mean compared to myself as an older millennial who is a little more established in her career or let's just say that you know, you, you still have probably been through a couple of bumps and bruises along the road. Right. All right. Well why don't you share this with us? Tell us who wants to go first.

Amanda Hammett: Thanks for being brave, Katie Rather.

Katie Rose: Well, I'm going to be candid to please. I did not have an internship. It wasn't a requirement and so on. This essentially my first full time job when I moved here, it took me a couple of years of traveling and trying to figure out what I wanted to do before I ended up here and not having any corporate experience. A lot of it I feel like I've been learning on the fly. For instance, I called Stephanie before this interview and ask, okay, how do I. what's the proper way and what's acceptable, so I felt like I've been learning corporate behavior little by little as we go.

Amanda Hammett: Well that's. I appreciate your candor and your transparency and I think that our younger listeners, actually I was just at the University of Houston. I think that this is something they would love to hear. Fantastic. What about you, Nia?

Nia Tate: Yeah, I would say it's something that was a huge stumbling block was I'm learning more about different companies, so beforehand I did. When I said I worked for a fast food chain, it was great. Everyone was friendly and bubbly and everyone that we connected with us awesome. And then I graduated and got a real job, quote unquote. It was the complete opposite of everything that I had experienced, which the values and everything was things that aligned with what I believe, which are great. And they always, they always went by those, the different personality types, the dern, um, just professionalism, the manner and everything. They were so serious all the time. So it was completely different for that. I was used to. That was something that I really had to adjust to in that atmosphere.

Amanda Hammett: Okay, that's fair. I think that's really fair and you know, actually, that is something I tend to ask a question on is what kind of reality checks did you have coming out of college and into the corporate world? And I think that you both actually explain that really, really well. So thank you for that. We don't even have to go there unless you have another share, another shared thing that you'd like to your liking. I love it. I love it. I love it. Alright. So I am, I'm a big fan of the leadership at your company. I think that, um, I think that they get a lot of things right as far as the culture is concerned. Um, both the women that I know from there are rockstars. I mean Stephanie is just as sweet and kind and just like, hey, let's just do this and this and this as she can be. And Shawnee is just a mile a minute but at the same time just incredibly centered, which is just fascinating to me. Um, and her story is just, it's just fantastic. So is there anything specific that they do at communicating besides the crazy things that I just talked about as far as the culture there? Or are there specific perks there that, that they have or offer that really make you guys continue to say, Hey, this is the place I want to be every single day.

Nia Tate: Right? We have free parking, free food, and the flexibility to be mobile. One of the things that's really big for me was I love being active in my community. I love pouring into women in my community, but I also love my job. So being able to have the flexibility to be all in at my job and then all in when I leave to go do whatever kind of activity I'd like and to be supported in that was really amazing for me.

Amanda Hammett: That I love. I love that. That's great.

Katie Rose: Building on that, um, communicate has been so intentional with practical boundaries. Like we haven't emailed curfew where clients no should not expect to hear back from us companywide after a certain hour because we want to be fully engaged at work and then fully engaged at home and not trying to be in two places at once and communicate. It's been really good about expressing that can meet that expectation to our clients so that it's not incumbent necessarily upon us to say actually I'm not going to be refined to on weekends and things like that. So I haven't felt supported in that way, that there for us

Amanda Hammett: in our culture today. That is so not the way it is. Um, so I, I love that. And actually Shawnee and I have had a conversation about that in the past, but I'm glad to hear that you say that, but you know, I think it's even more important now that you have a little one at home because it's, you know, you do find yourself, especially at that age, that you're up with them at all unusual hours and sometimes you can't go back to sleep. So it's easy to go and just check your email and I'm glad that I'm glad that that rolls in place. So it just takes it out of the equation.

Nia Tate: Yes.

Amanda Hammett: Good. Good, good. All right. So let's talk a little bit about your direct manager and Tanya and, and what is it that Tanya does that keeps you guys engaged? Or is there any way that she kind of helps you work through problems or. Let's tell us, uh, how great she is.

Katie Rose: Well, I'll start. Hang on. Oh, hang on. She is so good about not just what you're doing a great job. Tanya gets to know you and she encourages you on specific. When we were doing strength a couple of years ago, one of her top strengths is blue, whoa, and it talks about her being able to bring people in to know them individually and she's so good at it, so I feel encouraged often as well as empowered. I've been working on particular projects with Tanya and trying to take some stuff off of her plate as well and just learn from her and she's given me a lot of freedom to be able to work through things and even made a couple mistakes sometimes and then we can learn through that as well and she's just. She's great at empowering us to make us feel like we're able to do these things and learn. Yeah,

Amanda Hammett: I love it. I love it. Okay.

Nia Tate: I completely agree with Tanya is extremely supportive. I will say that oftentimes you will have those moments where you're struggling with the amount of work that you have to do and have someone like Tanya come in and check on you and say like, are you doing? Not from A. I'm watching over your shoulder type view, but a really genuinely caring. How are you? How's life? How's work? How can I help? How can I make things lighter for you? If there's a need, how can I fill that need or have someone fill that need so that you don't feel this way? Um, so just extremely supportive and not only just say it, she actually gets things done. So it's one thing for people to be like, oh yeah, I'll help you. Another thing for them to actually take that action and you can see. So it's really great. It looks on yet

Amanda Hammett: so good to hear. I mean, I, you know, it's funny because a lot of times I do work with executive leadership teams and I'm like, look, the direct leaders are, are so crucial and people are like, oh, but we're going to promote them because of seniority to people that can actually, you know, talk to people and deal with people and treat the people that they're leading human beings. And I feel like in her womb status that she does that in her woundedness.

Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. That's really, really, really cool. Um, alright. So you guys were both still pretty young in your, in your career. So as we discussed, is there anything that, is there anything that you guys feel that made you stand out in the, in to the hiring manager at communique? What, what was it about your resume? What was it?

Nia Tate: Yeah, for me I'd say, and it's my personality and very friendly and bubbly. I think outside of those factors, my competence competence is key for me at least. Just knowing what it is that you're going in there to do the job that you're going to apply for, etc. So my competence and then also my skills and experience of course, having certain skills that are needed for the position that was originally applying for. And then also having that experience, whether it's um, even if you're still in school and you're interning so everyone doesn't get to intern. My internship had nothing to do with marketing, so it was like, you know, having some kind of though experience working with, um, within that field is a hand up. So I did have a little bit after starting at before starting and communicate. I worked for another job. But um, so that was my initial way in I guess.

Amanda Hammett: Very cool. What about you? Rose,

Katie Rose: one of the things that I think helped was I was interviewing with communicating and with the potential client on the same day and which was not stressful at all and when I was interviewing with the client, they were telling me about some of the editing work that was involved in a project that was supposed to take about half my time and I'm very detail oriented and not having a corporate background. I'm not sure now if this was appropriate, but they were talking through some of the edits and some of the visual things and creatively what they'd be looking for. Can you just bring me a piece right now and I'll walk through it with you and we can work. I'm not sure if that was inappropriate, but they said okay. And they brought over a piece and I talked through this, this town, overseer, this visual and just work through it top to bottom with them and what was supposed to take half of my time on my project turned into my full time job. So I think being detail oriented and perhaps without a filter to know, I think stand out in some way to be able to get on that project.

Amanda Hammett: You don't have a filter. I would just say that we're eager to take on the opportunity. There you go. That's how I would put it. Oh, you didn't know that. Now. Um, is there anything that you wish that companies and in, in did that made it easier for millennials as they're being brought into, into the corporate fold?

Katie Rose: I would talk about timelines and communication, hiring process. It has to be big, but to give at least an outline of what you can expect this process to take x amount of weeks or x amount of months. And this is the person who will contact you by this date with a yes or a no. It's good to know either way.

Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. Any other suggestions? Nia?

Nia Tate: Yeah. Following up, making sure that they know. Because you said with the hiring process, right? Yeah. Just making sure that people know if they didn't get the position, that was a huge one for me because um, you're out there to suck. Wondering, did I get it? Did I not get it? I don't know. I think what would be valuable though, it's when, if you are turned down from a position that companies would tell you somewhat of a y so that you can learn and grow so that you're not repeating the same cycle every time. So I think that would be really good. Yeah,

Amanda Hammett: I totally hear that on that actual, the timeline issue. Early, early in my career I applied for a job and I interviewed for it and then crickets. I heard nothing four months. And so I had completely moved on. I was like, all right, well, you know, I didn't get the job. Um, and then they called me and offered it to me after I had been at a new job for two months and I was like, is this a joke? That was like six months ago. And they're like, well we have like a temporary hiring freeze. And I was like, well, you could have communicated that. So anyway, I did not take the job.

Amanda Hammett: It didn't, it just didn't work out. Anyway. Well, you guys, I mean this has just been really fantastic. I've really enjoyed the dynamic between the two of you. Um, I think I mentioned this to you before, but the audience did not hear this portion of the conversation before, before we started recording, but as soon as I was talking to Shawnee and Stephanie, I communicate and I said, hey, I want to have, have somebody on. They were like these two and we want them to gather even though Nia is in Atlanta and Katie Rose is in Texas. They wanted the two of them together. So they said they made it happen so that they could be together when we did this in your view. So I am super grateful to Shawnee and Stephanie car for you guys for making that happen. But you two are, you guys are pretty spectacular. I must admit. I mean, you guys both have some great personalities and I look forward to seeing some big things out of both of you. So thank you for being on the millennial Rockstar podcast.

Nia & Katie: Thank you for having us, Amanda.

Amanda Hammett: Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the millennial Rockstar podcasts. If you are looking for even more information on millennials and some free resources, visit my website at The link is below. It's There you can download a free millennial employee engagement guide that will give you all kinds of tips and tricks on how to keep those millennials engaged on a day to day basis because we all know that millennials who are happy at work are more productive at work.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.