Featuring Eric Welken on Millennial Rockstar

13: Building Loyalty Among Millennial Employees

Loyalty in the workforce today is almost unheard of...especially among millennial employees. Yet, some companies manage to do it and do it well. For many millennials, company loyalty is where they want to be, but in order to do that...they must feel that the company is loyal to them as well. This particular episode showcases how company loyalty can be built in even the most difficult of life's circumstances.

Erin Welken is a Manager, Business Improvement at John Deere. John Deere is the brand name of Deere & Company, an American corporation that manufactures agricultural, construction, and forestry machinery, diesel engines, drivetrains used in heavy equipment, and lawn care equipment.

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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 - Building Loyalty Among Millennial Employees

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

Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett. I am known as the millennial translator because I help companies attract, retain, and engage top millennial talent, and my top millennial talent of the day is coming to us from John Deere. Her name is Erin Welken, Erin. Welcome to the show.

Erin Welken: Hi everyone. I'm like Amanda said, my name is Erin Welken. I have been with John Deere and numerous different roles and all different functional areas for the last 10 years, so I'm super excited to be here and to share some of my experience with Amanda. I was honestly really surprised that I met her and she informed me that I was a millennial, so I didn't know that was the case. So now that I am, I guess I'll just embrace that and maybe try to change the perspective a little bit.

Amanda Hammett: Well, that's awesome. That's exactly the whole point of this entire podcast. We can just shut down right now. Perfect. Pointed that out. Awesome. Awesome. Well, I will say that the first time I met you, we were at a woman in manufacturing event and I was just really taken with you and your story and just your poise and just everything. Um, and so I'd love to chat with you all through that. Again, just this time for the audience, but let's, let's get started. Can you, can you give me an idea about, you know, were there any, when you came into the workforce from college, were there any reality checks that you face where you thought, you know, coming out of College, Oh, the working world is going to be this way and then you got there and it was like, nope, not like that at all.

Erin Welken: Yeah. So I think the biggest thing for me was realizing that it's not about what you execute but how you execute it. So I kind of came in and was less of a job that I knew nothing about. And so I was learning and then I gave a list of things that I needed to drastically change, which is super fun because everybody loves change and then I just tried to execute that list and it did not work at all. So that was one of my key takeaways is that it's not so much what I do but how I do it and how I engage people. And so it ended up being a fantastic learning opportunity. But that's been something that's stuck with me for my entire career is that I have got to work with others and I have to have a really compelling why the why is this important, why am I trying to change it? And so as I've kind of built my career, I've built myself on being able to work and collaborate with others.

Amanda Hammett: That's really cool. So the way I would spend that to a company is that this is the way you have built your personal brand within the company. You're like, you're known as a collaborator. You are known to, to build that in to everything that you do. And I think that that is so important, especially the way that the economy is changing and the workplace is changing. That's going to pay dividends for you long term.

Erin Welken: Yeah.

Amanda Hammett: Well very cool. So, um, what is your current role with John Deere?

Erin Welken: So I'm the manager of business process improvement and so my focus areas on supplier quality and I'm actually in the supply management organization, so it's a little bit of, it's actually a role that I was probably given because of the collaboration skills. Um, so the supplier quality lives in one buckets in John Deere and site management has its own bucket. So I support all of our ag and turf business, which is about 80 percent of our suppliers globally for John Deere and help collaborate between our supplier quality organization and our supply management organization.

Amanda Hammett: Wow. That is, um, that sounds like a very small job to do with 80 percent of all of John [inaudible] worldwide business. Okay. All right. So now moving into this role, I mean you said that you probably got this role because of your collaboration experience and all that good stuff.

Amanda Hammett: Did you find in this role or in other roles that there were any sort of stumbling blocks are learning curves that you really, really had to face and, and how did you do that? How did you manage it?

Erin Welken: Yeah, so my background, my degree is in sports medicine and athletic training, so athletic training and duology. I was a premed major. So now I'm in John Deere supply management. So let's talk about learning curves and roadblocks and whatever else you want to talk about. I got a whole dirty for you. So every job I've ever had in John deeres than brand new to me and not what I went to school for. Um, I actually got accepted in medical school, decided to wait a year because I was getting married, started at John Deere and just loved it. Um, so I know you've got questions probably later, but what I loved, but, um, I, I convinced them that I could do safety because I knew about injuries and the factory that I started at had an injury problem and they'd never had a safety person. So they posted for it.

Erin Welken: I'm not sure that they exactly know what they wanted, but I convinced them that I was there girl, because I could do injuries and new ergonomics. I didn't know anything about Osha. I had never worked in a factory. I mean, not that I grew up on a farm farm kid, so I knew about John Deere, but that was the extent of it. So I went from there and then actually became environment health and safety manager. So again, environmental, EPA, all of those calculations totally different. So again, another learning curve. But one thing I've gotten really good at throughout all of my experiences is not being afraid to step up to the challenge. So I know one of my strengths is that I'm actually really good at learning. Like I love the challenge. I love to learn, just throw something at me that I don't understand and I'm going to dive right in and be happy about it and as long as I have the autonomy to kind of make it my own.

Erin Welken: But I did that and then it went into a labor relations role that was focused on like a human psychology. So how can we use like by people make errors and study that and improve our processes with engineering to improve that? Um, so again, something completely different, but it's also shaped how I worked. And from there I went into a operations, basically an operations project manager side is strategic planning for the factory and you just reported to me, did some continuous improvement things, worked with the operations team developing that type of thing and then into lean manufacturing that initially it was us and Canada and ended up supporting a lot of factories even globally.

Amanda Hammett: So. Wow. So is that five or six roles in 10 years?

Erin Welken: You know, I don't know. I've never of probably five or six,

Amanda Hammett: a few. But I mean, I, I love the progression and I think that this is something that we're starting to very commonly see is millennials have this, there's this issue that people are saying, oh, they only stay. They don't even stay two years. It's awful. But what I've heard from you and what I've heard from every other rock star I have interviewed to this point is that they've actually had long tenures at companies, but they have moved, whether it's a lateral move or a slightly, you know, advanced move, but from area to area because they love that learning challenge. Whereas in previous generations you go into a company and you move just up. But millennials tend to move in a very like lily pad from, you know, a frog jumping from lily pad to lily pad. And that's what I've seen with you.

Erin Welken: That's right. Yeah. And one of the things I look at is what are the competencies that I want to gain? So I have a list of here's what I perceive are my strengths, here's what are my weaknesses and here's what I think I'm is untested or unproven at John Deere. So I always picture of people aren't a talent review and they're having a discussion about me, there's going to be people in the room and they're going to say, um, she hasn't demonstrated this. So she hasn't done that. And maybe I have that experience outside of John Deere that tells me that I could do it and I can be good at it, but I might not have had those specific internal experiences. So when I pick or consider next jobs, I mean, there's a lot that I consider about one of the key drivers for me are what are the things that I haven't shown yet, because eventually I want to get to the point that people have enough trust and also build my network as I go through all of these areas.

Erin Welken: But, um, I don't look at job titles, I don't look at pay actually. Um, I really look at it for myself, what am I going to learn from this job? And then how does that ultimately, um, enhanced my ability to be successful in my kind of end future job that I really want. And so what competencies do I think I need? What are my gaps? What can I continue to build? Um, what am I known for, what's my brand? Um, all of that. And it's really kind of helping me be really flexible with what the company needs. Um, I haven't boxed myself in which I think is really good and eventually it should lead to some of the roles that I'm really curious about or that I'd like to achieve in the future.

Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. So I got, I've got to ask at this point, I mean you, you talked about, I mean you seem incredibly self aware about, you know, what are your strengths, but you also mentioned what are your gaps are do you have other people that are giving you input as far as you know, hey Erin, I've noticed, you know, you could use some work on Xyz or those mentors or those bosses who was helping you with this process?

Erin Welken: So I wouldn't say I've been really blessed with informal mentors, so I've had reached out and I was doing my mba. I actually reached out and got a couple of formal mentors in some of the areas that I just wasn't, didn't know anything about like marketing. So what do we do for marketing at John Deere? Okay. I can read about in a book or you can tell me. So I did that, but honestly, just in meetings, I had the opportunity to present quite a bit, you know, on records and different things. And I had some leaders say, hey, you know, I'd like to have a career discussion with you. Or I've reached out and said, you know, I really liked what you said in that meeting or I went to this panel discussion that you were talking about. Would you mind if I set up a 30 minute meeting with you?

Erin Welken: So I've really advocated and in so some people have known me for a couple of years and others maybe saw me present for 10 minutes or maybe talk to me in the hallway for two minutes, you know. But I always go and say, here's my resume, here's who I am. But most importantly, here's what I perceive are my competencies that have gained out of each one of these and here's what I think are my gaps. And I put out there and then they've given me feedback and said, well, this might also be a gap based on your, um, jobs. This might also be a strength or this is one thing that I see about you, and so over time I've had probably four or five of those really in depth discussions with leaders from different functional areas, but I'm initiated it, no, a couple of times offered, but I had to take the step forward and actually do it.

Erin Welken: Um, and I had to go to them very organized so I didn't want to waste their time and I really wanted some good feedback from them and that's really helped. That shifted my thinking from what job do I want next to what competencies do I want to fill? If I wouldn't have had those discussions, I don't know that my brain would have connected the dots to competencies and kind of backing off on that focus on grade levels or job titles or things like that. So those discussions really helped shape some of the decisions that I've made.

Amanda Hammett: Wow. Okay. So I just want to be incredibly clear for our younger employees that are listening. When you say you go into these incredibly organized, break it down for me. What does that mean for tio?

Erin Welken: Um, so I take at least half an hour to an hour and really get what are my three to five he items that I want to get out of this meeting. What are some ways that I could potentially help that person? So what are some of their challenges that they may have in that role? Like what can I offer back kind of to reciprocate to them, you know, so I try to offer that back and then like I said, I just, I sent my resume in advance so at least a week in advance or I put it right in the meeting notice and then I also let them know here's my strengths and weaknesses and some have also some of the jobs that I would consider for a next job and what my ultimate job would be. So if I could pick an ultimate role in might not be the job title, but where do I think I want to go? And then that helps shape the whole conversation for them because they can see where I want to go. It much better informs where my gaps are and gives them an opportunity to give me better feedback,

Amanda Hammett: That is amazing and I love that you're doing that and I love that you're advocating for yourself that a lot of times especially we tend to see this a little more in women than in men, but they're just not willing to speak up and they keep saying, I want to let my work speak for itself, but at the end of the day, it's the person that puts forth the effort and puts forth the, Hey, look at me, you know, this is what I want. Those are the people that tend to get it.

Erin Welken: Yeah.

Amanda Hammett: that's awesome. Um, all right, so I've got, I've got a couple more specific questions about what the inner workings of, of what you do. Is there anything that your current boss or past bosses or coworkers have done that really keeps you engaged and wanting to be productive at work and moving John Deere forward?

Erin Welken: So the biggest thing for me right now, so single mom with two kids, it's flexibility. Just the fact that John Deere is super flexible with me, so I've got a job and they trust me to do it and get it done and I've got some flexibility that I can, you know, go pick up my kids from school if I need to. I don't do it every day, but you know, when I need to, if I've got a babysitter conflict or whatever, I can do that. I don't have to take vacation to do it if I need to, if I do that now I want to make it up after they go to bed. If I need to finish out my day, that's okay. So to me, just being able to, I don't call it work life balance, I call it work life management, but being able to actually manage my life and some weeks it's, you know, 70, 80 hours of work and other weeks if it's a little less than 40, okay.

Erin Welken: In the end it, it has balanced me and that's probably the most important. Um, the other thing is just the environment I think that John Deere creates is really, really positive. So it's a very, um, kind of, I don't know what the right word is, but brought together culture so it's not highly competitive and it's really collaborative. So for me, I always enjoy meeting new people and I almost always have the feeling that we're mutually working towards a common cause and that's awesome. So I don't feel like, so he's going to undercut me. I mean it's, there's been maybe one or two in my, all of my time at John Deere that I've met people that you're like probably wouldn't trust you, but for the most part our leadership and the people that I get to work with are just phenomenal. So having that collaborative where you actually feel like you can make friends is really important to me.

Amanda Hammett: So would you say it's more of like a, almost almost like a family type environment?

Erin Welken: Yep, for sure.

Amanda Hammett: And is that something that you think comes down from the c suite down or is it like your direct leadership or what do you mean?

Erin Welken: Um, you know, I think it really starts from the top of our company to be completely transparent. There isn't a leader in our company that I wouldn't feel comfortable with. I mean just two or three weeks ago I was in the elevator with our presidents of level number two right below the CEO, two presidents. So we're, you know, how's North Carolina, things like that and it's just not weird. And they, they smile and they take the first initiative to say hello and it makes it okay for you to have a conversation and say, you know, even if it's just a nice to meet you as you go down one floor or something like that. But they, I think they do a lot to try to open the door and to give you face time and opportunities to meet with them, which is really nice.

Amanda Hammett: You know what I love that I was, I was just having a conversation with a major corporation recently and we were talking about getting the CEO out there more like with the, with the employees and, and he really was struggling because he was like, I'm, I'm very private. And it's like, well, even when you're in kind like the cafeteria, the Commons area you need, you need to be approachable and so we need to do something to bridge that for you. Um, because you know, it, it counts when it comes to turnover, when employees feel comfortable and when they feel like everybody is working with them, there are more, more likely to be loyal, they're more likely to be engaged and they're more likely to be productive. And that's a bottom line issue right there. So I love that. I love that. I love that a lot actually. So, and what gets me is that, I mean, you're a woman, you're at John Deere and, and you don't typically think of John Deere is this passion of women. But, but you had told me before that you were actually very involved with the, the women Erg Group.

Erin Welken: Yes. Yeah. We have a women in operations erd group, which I'm the vice chair of. It's actually led by a male right now. So we've been rotating that I'm female. But it's really interesting because for us, most of our leaders are male and so we're trying to get women in there, but we've realized that we need to have men as partners with. And so our women in operations group is really focused on trying to understand why women don't want to come into operations. And some of it is, it's very structured. It's not talked about flexibility just a little bit ago that is not typical operations, you know, you've got a production workforce that reports to you and things like that. Um, as women I think we put up a lot of barriers, so a lot of automatic barriers and says I can't because. And as I started talking to women about being an operations or operations jobs, which I think are phenomenal, I started hearing a lot of I can't and nothing drives me more crazy than I can.

Erin Welken: Even if I hear myself say I can't, then that's exactly what I want to do because it drives me crazy. And so the women in operations group has really been great for that. I would erds in general at John Deere are amazing development opportunities. And a good way to build your network. Um, even when we just moved to North Carolina, the first people that I reached out to you, what were the people that I met in women in operations because it, hey, I'm moving right now. I've got a job that travels about 50 percent, which I could do from North Carolina. So that's awesome. I had a boss that was like, you know, you've already got a network. I trust you. Um, we can, we can work with that. That's fine. You can work from there. But in the end we had kind of been working on a transition plan and what's next for me, which is another thing that transparency.

Erin Welken: Um, but I didn't wait for him to figure it out for me. I reached out and just the, hey, no, I move in if you guys know of anything or anyone let me know as I found jobs that were actually posted that looks interesting to me. So again, I took a little change from my traditional path, but hey, this one looks interesting. Who Do I know that knows that hiring manager? And it was my network that I built through our women in operations Erg, found a couple people. I don't know if he got really annoyed or decide I have to hire this girl because no, you know, these people aren't going to forgive me. My friends aren't going to forgive me if I don't know. But that's, that really helped me quite a bit. So the, whatever your passion is, having those Erg groups in that network that you meet, that you went to bed otherwise, that you would have never gotten to work with and then prove yourself to them as lead it, it builds a lot of bridges for you in the future.

Amanda Hammett: Yeah. That is amazing. And I love that you've had all these opportunities because yeah, your network, it speaks volumes about you. Um, alright. Is there anything that um, John Deere, you feel, just the environment that they've created, the culture that they've created, is there way you feel that they're really supporting you and behind you and really encapsulated that family feel for you?

Erin Welken: So. Well, one of the things I've been really lucky to have some amazing bosses. So first and foremost, they focus a lot on development. So I can go, we have a whole John Deere University go and take courses. We have individual development plans that you can get alignment from your manager on what are the things that you want to do, what are the things you want to do to develop yourself that. So just knowing that I have a lot of control over what I do and how I choose to develop myself as the first thing. Um, the second thing is I know that they're having talent are you views, so I know that the concept of you're going to be stuck in any job for five or 10 years is pretty low unless you want to. And there are definitely people that want to, which is fantastic, but just knowing that it is part of a regular cadence and review and you don't know what goes on behind closed doors or who says what, but you know, that people are talking and it gives you the thought that there is an opportunity for you tomove up.

Erin Welken: Um, but I also think it kind of goes with who knows you, you know, so if you've got people in the room and only one person's ever heard of you, yeah, absolutely. It makes a slop. And who wants this person or you know, who could use this doesn't work really well. I think all of the ways that you can, can generate that and build those relationships helps a lot and it would also within John Deere then with the erds and with the different conferences that we have and just different ways to meet people and get out there and get visibility to leadership is huge. I feel like you're part of something important and you feel like you have an opportunity.

Amanda Hammett: Very cool. Now there is something I do want to discuss and I do want to to put out there is that you actually do some really interesting work outside of John Deere, outside of all of your responsibilities with John Deere and your family. You, you actually are doing something else really special. And I'd like for you to share. I'd like for you to share with us what that is.

Erin Welken: So I was widowed at the age of 29, so I had married my best friend who was also my coach and my mentor. Luckily he was like personality opposite of mine, so we matched really well. Um, but he passed away in a car accident unexpectedly and we had, I have two daughters they work for and two at the time, so I was, you know, gone half the time with work and really career focused and I had to put the brakes on and try to understand who am I now and what, you know, what's really going to work and how do I do this. And so, um, on the career side it was a, you talked about learning curves and I could talk about that, but you know, how do you build resilience, how do you reshape your career and understand how to be a single mom when you were in a, a household, all of that stuff.

Erin Welken: It took a little while and I'm forever grateful to John Deere for all of the help that they gave me, which is another. I'm, I was really loyal before, but I think it even went up more, not just because of how amazing may were in the challenges that I had, but anyways, fast forward a little while and I realized that my biggest fear for my kids was their ability to have a good education, um, with me trying to work and trying to do everything. It just knew I couldn't be super woman. So how, how was I going to help them get an education so they can be successful and I'm lucky that I do have a good job, but not everybody does. In fact, I'm over 40 percent of widows under the age of 45, live in poverty, less people that have kids. So you thinking about those kids now I lost a parent, now they're in poverty when maybe they weren't before and we're expecting them to study and do well.

Erin Welken: So I just felt like there was a huge opportunity for these kids to fall through the gap. And so I created the young living foundation and what I do is work to bridge the gap for kids in there and meet their educational needs. Whatever age they are, so it's pretty exciting. It's really my passion to do that. And then to help fund that. I do some speaking around planning for the unexpected and even resilience at work and things like that. Basically talk about anything if you will give me a donation to help these kids. So, um, so that's what I do and that's really my fun thing and I schedule it early mornings before work and at lunchtime and after work and make it work. But at the same point John Deere is also really supportive of that. So volunteering in the community and getting out to the schools and things like that are all things that they very, very actively support through a number of different programs. And so, um, I really appreciate that. And we have a John your foundation that provides donations through multiple different avenues. Nails provide matches for us. So we feel like no matter what your passion is, you can make a difference in Dundee was there to help you.

Amanda Hammett: That's amazing. I love that. I, I do, I. That was one of the things that I was so taken with when I met you was just that, I mean that is, that is something that for a lot of people is such a scary thing, but you, you made it through that and obviously you had a wonderful support system, but you're like, you know what, not only did this happen to me, but I recognize this could happen to others and how can I help? And that's amazing. I mean, that's, I think what we're all here to do in one shape way or another. Well, fantastic. Well, Erin, is it okay if our audience wants to reach out to you on Linkedin?

Erin Welken: I would love it.

Amanda Hammett: Perfect and perfect. Well, is it also a, would it, would it be okay with you in the show notes if I also include maybe a link to your foundation?

Erin Welken: That'd be awesome as well. Yes.

Amanda Hammett: Perfect. Perfect. Well, thank you guys so much for joining us for this episode of the millennial rock star podcast and Aaron, thank you so much for being on with us and for being a rockstar. Of course. Thank you guys again and we will see you in the very next episode. Bye. 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 AmandaHammett.com. The link is below. It's AmandaHammett.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.

featuring Morgan J. Ingram

12: Motivating Millennial Employees

How do you motivate millennial employees? That is a question I get all the time. Fortunately, this episode goes into detail about motivating millennial employees. Guest, Morgan J. Ingram is such a motivated millennial that he created a youtube video that shared the tips he used to get himself promoted. That video would eventually lead him to get a job offer out of the blue!

Morgan J Ingram is an Empowering Sales Teams To Become Prospecting Rockstars @JBarrows and the Host of #TheSDRChronicles. Check out his LinkedIn Profile here >> https://www.linkedin.com/in/morganjingram/

Share the LOVE and TWEET about this episode.

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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

00:05 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the Millennial Rockstars podcast. Hey, good morning. This is Amanda Hammett. I'm known as the Millennial Translator®, because I help companies attract, retain, and engage top millennial talent. And today's super millennial rockstar is Morgan J Ingram. Morgan, welcome to the show.

00:25 Morgan J. Ingram: Happy to be here.

00:26 AH: Hey, alright. So, Morgan here is a millennial rockstar through and through from the word go. I met you one time and you just like, blew my socks off. Just I was sitting in the back of the room and you were actually on a panel discussion, that's how you were the stand-out of this panel discussion. So Morgan is actually with JBarrows Sales Training and he is the Director of Sales Execution and Evolution. Did I get that right?

00:54 MI: You got it, you got it!


00:56 MI: You've got it. Congrats!


00:57 AH: I totally thought I was gonna butcher that, but okay.


01:01 AH: Alright, so Morgan. Tell us a little bit about you. What makes you a rockstar?

01:06 MI: Well, that's a very loaded question in itself. I would probably say it's my consistency to do what I need to do on a daily basis. I feel like that's what the summation of how I've gotten to the point where I'm at today. It really is just a lot of things that I've just done that a lot of people would never really know about, and if they asked, then I probably would tell them, but there's so much behind the scenes work that comes into getting to this level of just consistency. So I would definitely say it's just my intrinsic motivation and my drive, which stems from a lot of different things, and then also just showing up every single day, knowing that, "Hey, these are things I have to do, even though I may not like doing them sometimes."

01:43 AH: Oh that... And don't we all? We all have those things that we have to do all the time that we just don't love, but we gotta do it, man. You gotta bite the bullet.

01:51 MI: You have to do it.

01:52 AH: Alright. So you've touched a little bit on this, but I really wanna dig into this. What is it that's really, you have found has worked for you in your career path so far? 'Cause I know you're very early into your career path, correct?

02:06 MI: Yeah, yeah.


02:09 MI: So I gotta ask a question on top of that, so...


02:12 MI: But no, because it's like what exactly is that what the question is? Is it what's helped me out this year, last year, when I first started out, when I was in college? 'Cause there's all different types of answers for that one.

02:23 AH: Absolutely, so that's a fair question. So here's the thing that the audience probably doesn't know about you, is that you are a massive reader. And not only are you a massive reader, but you also take what you read and you actually implement which I think actually makes you different. So tell us a little bit about what's working for you right now, and then we'll backtrack in just a second and talk about what really, at the very beginning when you were leaving college and going into your career, what actually set you up to succeed. What's working for you now?

02:54 MI: So right now, there's two things. One is my attention to detail and my process and organization. That's one thing that I really have struggled with a lot in the past, 'cause I don't really... I don't too much care for it. I just wanna do what I need to do, but I've realized that now there's so many different things I have to hit that I can't do them without any organization or process. So I'd probably say that's probably led to a lot more of my success, and then also leveraging different factors to get things done. So I have different people that I could talk to to give me advice. So I have a personal trainer, and so he'll tell me like, "Hey, these are things you need to do." 'Cause for me to go figure all that stuff out, I could figure it out, but that's a lot of time for me to figure out workouts and then figure out like, "Okay, what do I need to eat? How do I need to continuously have a lot of energy?" I could go look that up, but that's a lot of time. So I have someone who helps me out with that.

03:43 MI: I also have... I go look at different types of content and I can aggregate it with maybe some people may help me out with that, like, "Hey, look. This is how you break down this content," with different tools that maybe I don't actively know where they're at, but I always ask for help. I feel like that's one big thing that's helped me out a lot, is just that number two point, finding people who can help you out with certain things that are gonna basically help you moving forward 'cause you're not spending a lot of time doing things that don't matter, and also asking people for help who've already done it. So for example, I just had an Amazon Alexa Skill drop. I wanted to do that for a while, but me going to figure out how to develop it would have been a disaster. So I had a friend who develops Alexa Skills and I was like, "Alright, I got the content. Just help me out." So we developed the skill, and it's things of that nature, like trying to figure out all different types of things on how I can focus on the things that matter the most, and then find people who can help me with things that would take me a long time to figure out who already know the answer. So I think those two things help me out a lot.

04:41 AH: Absolutely, and I think that that goes in nicely with your t-shirt that you're wearing today, "Staying Focused." Yeah, 'cause man, you gotta focus on what you're good at, and let your other people that you know, you gotta leverage their skills and let them do what they're good at, like your friend with the Alexa Skill.

04:54 MI: Yeah, exactly.

04:56 AH: And we're gonna actually put a link to your Alexa Skill in the show notes, so that other people can experience it as well.

05:03 MI: For sure.

05:03 AH: Alright, so let's backtrack then, and say this is what you are doing now that's been helpful, but what was actually, when you were leaving college, so... And how long ago was that? Not very long.

05:16 MI: Three years ago.


05:17 AH: Alright, three years ago, Morgan is leaving college. What was it that set you up for success in those last days of college into your very first six, nine months into the working world?

05:30 MI: I think it's because I just got really crazy. And so, what... [chuckle] This is what this means. Everyone's like, "What the heck does that mean?"


05:36 MI: So, what it means is that I just started doing everything that I thought I could do. So I just started going out there and executing. And I feel like that's what set me apart from everybody else. Everybody else was waiting or had a job, and they didn't feel like they could do anything. I just told myself, "I don't care what anyone says. I'm gonna do some crazy stuff, and we're gonna see what happens." So that came to creating content. Periscope back in the day, live streaming, did a ton of that, going to different conferences and just soaking information from the speakers, just trying to do public speaking, like reading tons of books that I probably didn't have the knowledge going in to reading those books that I could actually absorb that information.

06:15 AH: Right.

06:16 MI: And then just reading, like you mentioned, I read a ton of books, and just like if it said, "Do this," I would go do it. I never questioned the author or the video and I feel like that's... A lot of people do that. A lot of people question the author, a lot of people question the video that they're watching and then they don't execute. But my thing was like, they're talking about something they have more success than me, so like... And I don't have anything right now, so I might as well take action on it. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, but if it does, it puts me ahead of everybody else. I was willing to not listen to everybody and just do my own thing, which has cultivated to where I'm at today, but I think that's a lot... I think that's hard for a lot of people to move past the... I like to call it the... Not the fans, but the audience. This goes back to sports, a lot of people don't understand how hard it is to be an athlete, especially at a college and pro level. I've never been at that level, but I know hard it is 'cause I've friends who are in the... Both those levels and the work that they put in is way more work than most people realize, it's not easy as most people think.

07:11 AH: Oh yeah.

07:12 MI: And so, but you also have to realize that those people who are in the stands are gonna say certain things because they're not in the playing field. So I think it's the same thing applies to when you wanna go do something, for me. There was a lot of people in the audience who were like, "Oh, that doesn't make sense. I don't get it," da, da, da. But I had a vision and I knew if I just executed, eventually some things would pan out and they'd work, and so that's where... That's where I stand today.

07:32 AH: Absolutely, I couldn't agree with that more. There's so many times where in my career, people have been like, "Why are you doing that? That's ridiculous." But for me, the path didn't always make sense to other people and it was never exactly linear, but it was just little bits of pieces of information and experience all along the way, that has built to where I am today. So it's been incredible. So yeah, absolutely do that, do that, 100%.

08:00 MI: Exactly.

08:01 AH: Fantastic. Alright, so, Morgan, you mentioned this just a second ago. You found out something, like you watched a video or you read a book and you tried things. And that's what I love, is that you are trying things and you're putting things out there. But you also mentioned that there were some things that maybe didn't work. So give us an example, what did not work for you? Not that it wouldn't work for someone else but maybe what didn't work for you?

08:27 MI: So when I started a company in college, hosting video game tournaments on college campuses, I found myself as a CEO. I had no idea what that even meant, but I thought it'd be cool, so that's why I did it. I was like, "Let's just try it, like I don't know what's gonna happen." So I didn't have any funding advisors, mentors, board of directors, nothing. It was just me. And so obviously, when things started to scale and work, people wanted to join the team, and I feel like biggest mistake that I had is I wasn't a good leader back then. I got people to buy in the vision, that was very easy for me to do. But I did not let people do what they did best. So if someone did something and I didn't like it, I'd be like, "No, okay, I'm gonna take over this now. You go do something else". And so it eventually got to the point where I was doing everything and I was complaining about it, but I wasn't giving people the chance to actually do the things that I told them to do, because I wanted everything to be perfect, 'cause I used to be a perfectionist. But I'm not like that anymore, but I used to like, every single thing had to be perfect, or I'm upset, and I'm stressed out about it, which is probably one of my biggest drawbacks, 'cause I want everything to work according to how I see it.

09:33 AH: Course. I mean, I think that's... That's human nature, Morgan, I know. [chuckle]

09:37 MI: No. Most people aren't like that. Most people are like, "Whatever." Me, it's... It's more deep than people realize. It gets like, these are not to the T of how I mapped them out, then I'm upset and that's how it used to be, but I had to get over that, so. Yeah so that was a big mistake. I think another thing is going to networking events and immediately trying to push my business card on people. I tried to do that initially 'cause I was like, I'm... Especially when I was in college, I was like, I'm at these things, I'm at these events, and I'm the only person in college here for the most part, so I feel like the only way people are gonna recognize who I was is if I immediately push my card on them. But at the end of the day it doesn't really work, it's... The big thing is building the relationship, and now what I do is I don't even pull out my business card until, unless someone asks or I'm leaving and I didn't get contact information, then yeah, I'll ask. But for the most part, I build that relationship first to feel like the reason I can ask for that business card, that next step or whatever we're trying to do moving forward. So really those are things I definitely made mistakes on. I think those things can mess you up drastically because if you keep doing those things over and over again, it's gonna affect you in the long run and people won't wanna work with you and then people don't wanna connect with you.

10:41 AH: Oh, I agree with you whole-heartedly. I actually... So I created a training series for college and early career people. And one of the big things is we talk about is in-person networking, and not just throwing your cards out, to actually build that relationship, have a conversation and create a reason to follow up with people. Just a reason why they would wanna follow up with you. And it's just, it's amazing, I still see adults well into their career just coming up and just throwing cards and I'm like, "I'm gonna remember you, but it's not gonna be for anything good."

11:19 MI: There's another big thing too. This is what I had to realize really quick, which I don't have this anymore, but I used to watch videos and I used to read books, and because I can absorb information so well I would started mimicking that person. So I would start saying stuff that they say, and I would start having the verbiage and the attitude and the tone that they have. So, like my... So, making videos or making any content, I used to write and do videos like other people.

11:42 AH: Right.

11:42 MI: Because I didn't know my own style yet. And I feel like that's so... That's really dangerous, because obviously, people are gonna see you as that person and you're not gonna be able to reach the real level that you're supposed to reach. So that's one thing I had to completely flush out. All the stuff I do now is completely innate and originality of who I am as a person, but before I watched those videos I was like, "Oh that's amazing!" And I'll like have this same attitude and approach as it.

12:05 AH: Wow.

12:06 MI: And looking back on it, it's kind of bad, but you're gonna have to move past that point. I think a lot of... That stops a lot of people from going forward.

12:12 AH: Yeah, I think that's a big deal, because you actually... So, I want brag on Morgan for just a second. He's not bragging on him, this is me. But Morgan actually has a video series that comes out through LinkedIn called "The SDR Chronicles." And he goes in and he talks about various things that he does as an inside sales rep to build up these different skills and trying new things. And I don't know how often you put them out, but I see them on LinkedIn quite a bit.

12:44 MI: So I did... When I first started it was four to five months every single day I did it, and then... [laughter] Guys, I'm crazy, guys. [laughter] And then after that I slowed down because there was a... I got promoted and I had a different initiative. So I only do it... I only do it weekly now, because there's lots going on now. But it's every single week something's coming out.

13:04 AH: That's awesome, and it's fantastic information and it's just little bits and pieces, and sometimes a lot of times in those roles in particular, if you can just tweak things in just the tiniest way, it makes all the difference in the world.

13:17 MI: Right, exactly.

13:18 AH: That's fantastic, that's fantastic. Alright, so we might've touched on this before, but I want to really like dig in, especially for a younger audience member. Were there any major reality checks that you faced moving from college into the working world? Like the way that you saw how your career was gonna be, and then you got into the real world and you were like, "Oh that's not how that is."

13:44 MI: So for me, there was not a lot of blindside-ness. And all... This is the reason why it wasn't a blindsided as most people are, is because I had informational interviews almost every single day for the most part, or almost every single week from my... Yeah, from like my spring semester of my freshman year all the way to senior year.

14:06 AH: Oh, wow.

14:07 MI: So what that means for people who don't know what I'm talking about, is it's when you reach out to someone that you want to talk to, and you say, "Hey, can I get 15 to 20 minutes to just talk to you about your job?" And then you have questions before that. So the very first personal development book I ever read, my mom gave it to me and it was called "How to Get Your Dream Job" by Pete Leibman. The book is still out there. I'm pretty sure Amanda will put it in the show notes, so you guys can go read that, but it has templates in there of how to reach out to high-level executive people, to get 15, 20 minutes of their time. So, for those of you who are like, "Oh, this doesn't work, Morgan." It does work. So these are the people I talked to, and I still have no idea why they even answered the e-mail [chuckle] but they answered. So the owner of Atlanta Hawks, the General Manager of Fox Sports South, the Vice President of Sales at the NBA, and the President and the owner of the college football Hall Sports Of Fame. And there's a ton of other... There's tons of other people I connected with along the way because they were like... They introduced me to other people, but the reason I say that is because they gave me so much advice on how to be successful and so much advice on how to start my career that when I got in my first job, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I knew the steps I needed to take, I just needed to execute. If I didn't do it, it would be on my own.

15:15 MI: And they said, "Hey look, we're gonna give you this information... " And part of the reason why I create content was like, "If you don't share the information that we're giving to you, this conversation is a waste. We're actually going to be really upset with you." So I was like, "Okay, I don't want these people to be upset with me, I want to be able to give out advice here," so that's why I create a lot of content. 'Cause I have just been given so much knowledge from people who were way more successful than me, at this current point in their careers, and that's how I got myself in... That's how I, when I got in there. And I think the biggest piece of advice for a lot of people is that you have to talk to everyone in your organization, and you just have to be willing. What are those extra projects that people don't want to do that you can take on? And that's what I did when I got to Terminus, I just... I knew... I talked to every single person, CEO, CTO, co-founders, all the directors and the executives. Obviously, this was start-up so it's different for most people, but what I'm saying is that you have to take the initiative to go talk to those people and figure out what they want, and then just execute, and then do something outside of work that's gonna catapult you to where you want to go. So that's just kind of the advice I got before I even started any job.

16:15 AH: That's amazing. That is amazing. Good for you. Good for you for, again, reading those books...

16:21 MI: Reading the books.

16:22 AH: Executing on implementing what is suggested.

16:26 MI: Yep.

16:26 AH: Because, again, I think that that puts you in like the five percentile. Only 5% of people will do that, I think. That's crazy. Good for you, good for you. So is there anything, either at your current company right now, which is JBarrows Sales Training, or a previous company, is there anything that they have done that keeps you motivated and engaged and wanting to be productive? I mean today, we're talking, it's 8:00 AM on a rainy, rainy Monday.


16:52 AH: What is it that drives you to jump out of bed and be like, "Hey let's... Let's do some sales today!"

16:58 MI: Yeah. [laughter] So, for me there's nothing, honestly, anybody can do externally to motivate me any more than I'm already motivated right now.

17:06 AH: Yes.

17:07 MI: My internal motivation is just off the charts. So...

17:10 AH: It is.


17:10 MI: But the thing is, it's not going to be like that for most people. And I 100% understand that. So the answer to your question, like, straight up, is like, no, there's not much anyone can really do to motivate me anymore. I know my goals, I know what what I can do. It's really up to me to figure out where I'm at if I'm not motivated sometimes. I would say, from... The biggest thing for me, though, is when people allow me to just do my thing. And that means that if I have an idea, they let me execute on that idea. Now there are some ideas I have that are really not that smart, and people have to talk me out of doing them because they're like, "That's actually," either, "Too much energy and time and you're thinking way too complicated about it," or like, "That's just not a good idea at this moment. Let's revisit it." But I would say a good amount of the time, John, who's the CEO, he allows me to do a lot of creative things moving forward.

18:00 MI: So like the Alexa Skill that I just dropped. He was the person that I was like, "Hey, look, let's drop an Alexa Skill, I can figure it out." And he was like, "Yeah, go ahead and do it." Most... Many, most managers, most leaders, most CEOs would not allow you to do something like that, 'cause it's like, "Oh, that's not what we're focused on right now." But he was like, "No, that's actually something that we can focus on and I want you to go ahead and figure that out and do it." So there's a lot of ideas that I have that he allows me to do, and that makes me more motivated to be more creative, 'cause what ends up happening is that if you have a lot of creative ideas and people keep shutting you down, you're not gonna share those ideas anymore, and you're probably gonna go execute it by yourself, which can cause conflict internally with the organization that you're at. So I'm just really fortunate that I have someone who allows me to continuously do that. For me, again, it's intrinsic motivation, so there again, there's not a lot that people can be like, "Oh, Morgan, we're gonna give you this," like, I'd be like, "Okay, cool." Like, it doesn't matter to me 'cause that's not what I'm motivated on, I don't need that.

18:51 AH: Right. You know, you said something really interesting and I just wanna commend your boss. I don't know him, but I just wanna commend him from here, in that he saw something in you and he saw that you are an innovator and that you see the world a little bit different and that you're willing to think outside the box, and he's continuing to encourage you. A lot of times, what I see is the opposite. It's like, "Oh, we want these millennials because they're innovative thinkers," but then they want to form-fit them into a box and then they wonder why they're not innovative or why they're leaving and becoming innovative somewhere else, and it's like, "Really? Is this your question?" [chuckle] So yeah, I'm just super thrilled to hear that not only did he see that in you, but he's allowing you the bandwidth to do that. That's fantastic.

19:41 MI: Yeah.

19:42 AH: Because if he didn't, I mean you'd just go somewhere else and do it.


19:46 MI: Yeah, probably so.

19:47 AH: I mean, I'm just... I'm being real. He knows what he's got and he's protecting it, basically, in a lot of ways. He's giving you the runway.

19:57 MI: Yeah.

19:57 AH: And that's fantastic, I love that. I love that, that's what good bosses do.

20:01 MI: Yeah 100%.

20:02 AH: Alright, so what is it that actually made you stand out to your current boss when you were... When this position opened that you're in currently, what was it that made you stand out in the application?

20:16 MI: Yeah, so he can tell you, he'll tell you himself if you ever get a chance to meet him. He did not want to hire anyone. He actually... This was a thing that he did not want to do at all. He didn't wanna do it.

20:26 AH: Wow.

20:27 MI: So it's kind of intriguing, 'cause I wasn't actively trying to go work with John Barrows, so it wasn't even on my radar. Like, I tell loads of people I'd probably still be at Terminus today if John hadn't reached out to me, I'd still be doing my thing, 'cause I really enjoyed working there and I had a lot of great friends there, and it was a great environment to be a part of. So, yeah, this wasn't something that... He didn't send a application out, there was no interviews, we didn't... It wasn't even really an interview process, it was just like, "Do you wanna do this or not, and how can we make this work?" This was like no... There was no resume, there was no interview, it was just trying to figure out how we're gonna make this work, 'cause there's so many factors that go into this 'cause it's a completely different career path. So big thing that stood out to him was that I was consistent, one, so he didn't... He doesn't have to worry about my work ethic, 'cause he just saw that I kept showing up and showing up, showing up. But big thing was a video that he found through YouTube. So he found me, there was a video when I got promoted, so it was February 1st of last year, and it was a video of me explaining, "Here are the five things that I did to get promoted, and this is what everyone else can do to accelerate their career."

21:29 MI: So, I did this video, and it's a pretty lengthy video but it's probably one of my most watched videos because it's just, I go into detail of like how this actually all came to be. And so he watched that video, it really resonated with him 'cause he has core values, and the things I was talking about aligned with his core values. So he was like, "I guess I might have to hire this kid. I might have to go talk to him." So we ran into each other at a conference, we had a conversation about it, and it all came down to be like, this is a good opportunity for both of us, and that's what happened.

22:00 AH: That's amazing. I mean, you got him to go from, "I don't wanna hire anybody," to, "I gotta hire this kid."

22:07 MI: Yeah. That's pretty... That's how it all panned out. [chuckle]

22:10 AH: That's awesome. I actually... I want to include a link to that YouTube video that you just referenced on the five things you did to get promoted. I think that that would be... I think that'd be good for everyone to see.

22:21 MI: Yeah. Yeah.

22:21 AH: Fantastic. Oh, that's awesome. That is fantastic. Now, since you are on the younger side of the... In the work world, in the working world, what is it that you wish companies knew about hiring younger employees?

22:38 MI: I think it goes back to what I talked about with what I just said with John, I think people just need to understand that there's a lot of great ideas out there and you need to flesh those out and figure out which ones are good and which ones are bad. Again, not every single idea that I say is gonna be great. I know that, there's some terrible ideas that I've come... That I was like, "Oh, this is amazing," and it's like, "No, that's not." So you've to, as a leader, you have to be able to shift it out, but I think you have to allow people to have that voice, have that vision, because, again, what ends up happening is that there's always gonna be someone who's gonna allow that person to do what they really wanna do, and then that person's gonna leave your organization. And then you're like, "What happened?" It's like, "Well, you should have been paying attention to what's going on." So I think you just have to soak in what they're saying, take it in stride, and then figure out how you can empower them.

23:17 MI: And then a big thing is that everyone just wants to feel like they're wanted. That's really just a big thing with the younger workforce, they want to be able to have a voice, and when that voice is heard, they're... Someone's actually taking action on what they're saying, or they're being allowed to do whatever gratifies them at the end of the day. I don't know what that is, but there always is that one thing that they wanna do. Maybe that is a part of the workplace, but it's really not at the same time. I think you just have to be able to let people do what they need to do and not pigeonhole them to one thing.

23:47 AH: Absolutely. Absolutely. Not put them in that little box and keep them there.

23:50 MI: Yeah, no, that's not what you need to do. [chuckle]

23:53 AH: Yeah, absolutely, fantastic. Well, Morgan, I just wanna say thank you so much for being on the show today. You've included a bunch of fantastic little nuggets of information, and for those of you guys watching the video today, we're gonna be including in the show notes everything that Morgan had referenced, whether it's the Alexa Skill or the YouTube video that got him his current job.

24:17 MI: Yeah.

24:18 AH: Or even, I think he mentioned a book about how to get your dream job. We're gonna link over to that as well. So Morgan, thank you, thank you, thank you so much for being on the show and thank you guys for watching and we'll see you next time. Bye.

24:32 MI: See you guys.

24:33 AH: 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 amandahammett.com. The link is below. It's amandahammett.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.

Featuring Rakhi Voria

11: Millennials: Where Passion Meets Drive

Every company realizes the importance and impact of the millennial generation. And every company wants to hire ROCKSTAR millennials. But at the end of the day, is your workplace culture truly one in which millennials can be successful?

Rakhi Voria is a Director at IBM Global Digital Sales | Forbes Contributor | Speaker ~ Passionate about advancing women & millennials in the biz. She manages a team that is responsible for the strategy, implementation, and revenue of the Digital Development Representative sales function globally. These are digitally enabled sellers that drive client engagement, deal progression, and closure of select deals.

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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 - Where Passion Meets Drive

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

Amanda Hammett: All right, so today's Rockstar is rocky for from Microsoft, and the thing that you're going to notice right off the bat with rocky is that she's incredibly intelligent, articulate, and passionate, and one of the things that Microsoft has done for her is that they've given her a platform in which, which to share her passions, which happened to be women and millennials. So tune in and see what rocky has to share with us today. Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and today's episode of the Millennial Rock Star podcast has a very special guest because this is Rakhi Voria on the rock star podcast. Rocky, welcome to the show.

Rakhi Voria: Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.

Amanda Hammett: Awesome. So Rakhi actually is coming to us from Microsoft's headquarters in Seattle right now, correct?

Rakhi Voria: Correct.

Amanda Hammett: All right, so you're actually at home and not traveling the world like normal.

Rakhi Voria: Yeah, for once.

Amanda Hammett: Wonderful. So Rocky, why don't you tell the audience a little bit about what makes you a rockstar.

Rakhi Voria:Sure. Okay. Well, a little bit about me and my background. I grew up in Colorado, went to Colorado College, and then I went to the University of Oxford for graduate school and it was there actually that I came in contact with a Microsoft recruiter and now I'm working at Microsoft for six years. So I'm like many millennials. I didn't really know exactly what I wanted to do after school. All I knew was that I had an interest in business and what I loved about Microsoft was that it offered so many options and experiences. I mean, there were product spanning across consumer and enterprise. There were offices all over the world, there were jobs in every business function imaginable. And so as someone starting off fresh in the working world, all of those options and experiences were just different possibilities for me, which was really exciting. Um, so I've been at Microsoft, as I said now for six years, I've worked on three different teams.

Rakhi Voria: I started in a licensing role, then I moved to a business development role supporting the financing organization. Um, and today I'm a chief of staff to our corporate vice president of inside sales, which has been a lot of fun because it's an exciting part of the company. It's pretty much a brand new organization. I was one of the first employees two years ago and now we have 1800 people globally across eight different sales center, so it's been an amazing experience for me as someone who's relatively new to the workforce to be part of building something new and having the chance to see all the nuts and bolts of running a business.

Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. That's been a really major build that you guys have done and I've been really impressed kind of watching from the outside what you've done. So on top of everything else that you're doing at Microsoft, you also have some side hustles that you're doing, so why don't you tell us a little bit about that?

Rakhi Voria: Yes. In addition to my day, I'm. The first is I coach here, the women at Microsoft board, which is basically our company wide women's organization here, which is focused around attracting, advancing and retaining women. I'm super passionate about advancing women in business. It's been a common theme throughout my life. I grew up with my single mom. I spent time in India during my undergraduate, um, researching on women's empowerment for my college thesis. I wrote my master's dissertation on Female Employment Policies in China and India. So basically leading women at Microsoft has been a great way for me to continue exercising that passion internally at Microsoft, but it's also given me a really great platform to create connections across different companies to help move the needle for women. So that's the first one. My second side hustle, I guess as I write regular articles for Forbes, I'm, I'm a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. And so as part of that I provide some quotes and expertise on sales and business development topics and I also have the opportunity to write my own articles. So if you look up you'll see that they're primarily focused on actually tips for millennials and for women. And so it's been a lot of fun. I encourage people to read and comment and share.

Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. Absolutely. I actually, I shared one of your latest articles about why more women need to get into sales on my linkedin profile and I had, uh, several young women that I mentor or that I've met throughout the years, reach out to me and say, Hey, can we talk about this? And I'm like, yes we can. So thank you for spring that conversation. That's awesome. So, all right, you walked us through kind of high level your background. So tell us a little bit about what's worked for you throughout your career so far.

Rakhi Voria: I would say that there are probably three specific things that come to mind here. I think number one, one of the first things that's worked for me is I work for a company that doesn't require me to leave my passions at home. You just heard a little bit about what some of those are. It's a advancing women and millennials. It's writing and as you heard, I've found ways to be able to do those things in addition to my day job, both inside and outside of Microsoft. And I've also had managers who have supported these efforts and I think that's something that's really important to millennials because unlike previous generations who wanted work life balance and the separation, millennials actually want work life integration. We want to bring our whole self to work. We want to have personal relationships with our coworkers. We want to share our passions in the workplace.

Rakhi Voria: So I think it's really important for companies to find ways to foster an environment that's really conducive to that. Um, the second thing that I would say is, um, I think what's worked well for me is I haven't been shy to kind of leverage my unique qualities and use them to my advantage when I first entered the workforce. Actually, there were certain people who told me, you know, maybe you should hide your age to gain credibility, um, you know, act like a man because technology is such a male dominated field. And I sort of asked myself why, what's so bad about being younger? What's so bad about being a woman? I mean, I think, in fact, those qualities actually have helped me contribute even more at work. Um, so I, I think that, you know, as a millennial who's relatively new to the workforce, I actually offer a really fresh perspective that allows me to change the business and look at things differently and that's what I've done over the past six years at Microsoft.

Rakhi Voria: In fact, we actually started a cross generation mentoring program which we proactively pair of millennials, what senior leaders for this very reason and we've all heard the statistics that millennials are going to make up 50 percent of the workforce in the next two years. So I think it's about time we start to really understand what are some of the millennials strengths around being well connected and tech savvy and energetic. And then I guess the last thing that I would say that's worked well for me. I think it's all about being really proactive in learning the jobs that I've had. Networking, building my brand. I think in my first year at Microsoft I did probably a hundred different informational meetings with people, so probably one to two meetings with different people every week. And I just wanted to learn more about what do they do on a day to day basis and what's their background and walk me through your career development and not only did I learn from those meetings, but um, it really helped me get a chance to meet with a lot of different people across different parts of the company in the world. And those are relationships that I've definitely leveraged as I've sort of continued in my career path. So I always encourage people that I mentor, um, be really proactive and get out there because it's super easy to stay siloed within your organization. But it's way better for the long run if you kind of take the initiative.

Amanda Hammett: That's great. Well, I can just speak from my experience with you is that you have, you and I have been involved with the same organization that's international and you have leverage that and you are incredibly networked within that organization. And when I first came into it everybody was like, Oh, have you met rocky? And I'm like, I haven't, but I. But your, your reputation preceded you things. So, um, obviously you talked a lot about some things that have worked for you. I would imagine there might have been a bumper to in the road so far these six years in. Tell us about that.

Rakhi Voria: Definitely. Um, you know, I would have to say that I think what hasn't worked for me actually is saying yes to everything. So millennials we're known for seizing opportunities, right? So I would definitely say that I was like that earlier on in my career and I still am. But back then I would say yes to everything. If there was a stretch project and the organization, I would raise my hand for that. Uh, if the team needed volunteers for a special assignment, I will raise my hand for that. So I was just super eager I think, and I wanted to get involved in everything so I could learn as much as I could and be someone who was known to be willing to do anything to help contribute to them. And then I suddenly saw myself getting pulled into everything and I got some really good coaching for my manager at the time, about a year working into Microsoft and he told me, look Rakhi, when you're doing a good job, everybody is gonna want you to help and to be on your team like you've proven yourself now you get to decide what you take on the really strategic about the give get.

Rakhi Voria: And you know, if someone asks you to do something it's okay to first say, what am I going to get out of this? Or at least think through it. Right? So this coaching is something that I am so thankful for it. I think about it even today because you know, he was right. I mean now I'm not, I'm not saying if you're a millennial, 60 days into role, if your manager asks you to do something you should say, what am I going to get out of it? I mean, you definitely need to use your judgment, but I think his principal, right? And I wish I had kind of learned that a little bit earlier because you know, it would help me be a little bit more focused and understand where I was spending my time and put it in the right efforts.

Amanda Hammett: Oh, that is such good advice. I mean, I think that there are some people further along in their careers that could use that advice. So. Fantastic. Alright. So you mentioned a little bit about this particular manager and how he, he saw you potentially struggling a little bit and so he helped you through that. Were there other, any, any other mentors or managers that you've had that have helped you or have done anything in particular that really keeps you engaged and motivated and ready to wake up every day regardless of what country you're in saying, all right, let's, let's move Microsoft forward.

Rakhi Voria: I mean, as it relates to your question around mentors, for me, I've definitely surrounded myself with a really solid set of mentors. I kind of have a board of advisors that I call them, consists of a mix of people. Of course it's my formal manager, but then it's also a set of executives across the company who I look to for career advice or peers that I looked to for on the job advice or some days it's my mom who grew up in a very different world and started her own business or a friend and a completely different industry to provide just a completely new and different perspective. So I can't stress the importance of having all of these people, I guess, in your inner circle to guide, provide counsel as you navigate through some of the stumbling blocks. Um, one thing in particular actually that's been really valuable to me over the past year is having a formal executive coach.

Rakhi Voria: So about a year ago, um, Microsoft invested in me having an external coach. So this is a professional who is trained in coaching. I'm emerging and senior leaders and it's made a pretty impact I'd say on me because my coach has so much experience just helping people negotiate, communicate at the highest level. So, um, you know, since working with her I've been promoted, I've moved into people manager role and I think part of it it's just she's really helped me have the right conversations with my manager in order to make these things happen and you know, it's great to have a variety of mentors in your life that this is actually the first time I've had a formal like external coach and it's been really valuable to have someone with an outside perspective and also the formal training to help me navigate through some of these issues and challenges.

Amanda Hammett: That is fantastic. I have a bunch of questions that I'm just like, oh, which one do I go to first? Okay. So let me, let me circle back for a second before I go to your executive coach. Let me circle back to your board of advisors that you mentioned a few obvious people like your mom and, and, and people like that. Um, but what about the people within your, within Microsoft that are senior leaders, how did you approach them to walk us through what that looked like and how did you put this together?

Rakhi Voria: Yeah, definitely. I mean I would say that I just sort of reached out to people really if there's a funny story that my first boss always likes to tell, he's like rocky's not afraid to ask anybody for time because when I was at Microsoft when my first week I actually ran into our chief marketing officer, like literally physically ran out into each other, walking out of the bathroom, just randomly struck up a conversation. He was extremely kind and welcoming, knowing that it was my first week at the company and at the end of it, you know, he kind of said, well, if you want to chat about anything or need any advice, feel free to reach out any time. And I'm sure that was just sort of like a nice blanket thing that he says to anyone. But I said, well, he offered me his time, so why don't I just reach out to him?

Rakhi Voria: So I did. I sent him a note and I said, you know, thanks so much for the quick chat. I would love to pick your brain. As I'm new to the company. I want to learn a little bit more about how I can make an immediate impact and get your coaching since you've navigated well through your career. Would you mind if I grab 30 minutes of your time? And he said absolutely. Yeah. And I think it's just, it's a funny story because I mean like wide eyed millennial. I didn't even think like, oh, this guy is our chief marketing officer. He's totally out of reach. I just thought, you know, this is someone who's clearly spent some time, I'm investing in others and it sounds like he's open to a conversation. So why not seize the opportunity? And I think that's one of the things that I've just sort of done along the way as I mentioned, being proactive. I mean, um, it, it definitely, I've definitely noticed there are a lot of people at Microsoft who are very willing to give you their time and people outside of Microsoft to all you have to do is ask. And I don't think I've ever been told no to a meeting. So I've really encouraged. A lot of people just don't be afraid. Take the risk, ask them for a meeting if they say no, whatever, they're probably not going to remember you anyways, but at least you tried.

Amanda Hammett: That is such great advice. I that. I love that. I love that. I, I do hear a lot, especially when I'm on college campuses and I'm talking to students about, hey, you know, why don't you set up some informational interviews, you know, as you're, as you're getting going, oh, I don't know. I don't know, and I'm like, you need to this, this will help you. I promise. So I thank you. I'm gonna. Take that, snip it out. Not going to send it to me.

Rakhi Voria: Absolutely.

Amanda Hammett: So tell us a little bit about the culture within. I'm Microsoft, I'm obviously everybody hears all the stories and reads the articles, but tell us a little bit about the culture within Microsoft as a whole, but also I'd like to hear a little bit about the, the interesting culture or subculture that your particular team has.

Rakhi Voria: Definitely think there are a couple of. There are a couple things that probably come to mind here. For me, as I think about Microsoft first, Microsoft is a really great job of reminding me that what we're doing is truly changing the world and that's really important to me and most millennials because we really want to make a difference. There was a recent study by a group called the intelligent group. They focus on youth preferences and it showed that 64 percent of millennials say it's a priority to make the world a better place. So, um, it's definitely something that I thought about is I was exploring company is straight after graduate school and I wanted to work at a company that was changing the world and I saw that Microsoft was technology. So I think it's really important for companies to, to really tie their mission, I guess, to societal contribution and for managers to constantly remind millennials that the work that they're doing actually ties to something that is making a difference.

Rakhi Voria: So that's one of the things I've really enjoyed about Microsoft. I think the other thing I would say is, is really variety that I think has kept me engaged. Um, as I mentioned earlier, I targeted a job at a company like Microsoft because I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do and Microsoft offered a plethora of options and experiences and uh, when I first started here I very quickly threw out the idea of a career ladder and I instead focused on gaining a set of skills and experiences that I think would set me up for the long run. Um, and so as I mentioned, I've been able to differentiate my experiences by having rules and sales and business development and finance and I've sort of almost been able to create kind of like a liberal arts experience for myself here at Microsoft and sort of a portfolio career I guess.

Rakhi Voria: But you know, millennials, a lot of people refer to us as the job hopping generation. And I think just having this type of environment where variety is offered is really important to us because we want to take on new challenges. We sometimes want to take on horizontal challenges but still grow vertically at the same time. And Microsoft has done a great job of kind of allowing me to do that. And it's really interesting because I think as I think about some of the previous generations, a lot of people just sort of chose a career path and they work their way up, but that's not really of interest to most millennials, I'd say. I think we'd want to differentiate our experiences, we want to try new things, develop new skills, and Microsoft has really fostered a culture. I've been able to do all of those things.

Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. So talk a little bit now about your particular team and what you guys have built.

Rakhi Voria: Yeah. So inside sales, as I mentioned, it's a brand new organization at Microsoft. Um, much of our workforce is actually millennial. Much of our workforce is also senior, so we have a pretty diverse mix of people all over the world. Uh, I think what's unique about inside sales actually is that 70 percent of our organization was hired as externally. Um, so we had just an amazing opportunity to really build a culture from scratch by taking all of these experiences from people who have worked at some of the best companies in the industry, bringing them here, taking some talent who have been at Microsoft for a long time and then thinking through like, what do we want to do with all of that and how are we going to build the right culture? And um, fortunately I work for a leader who's really passionate about this topic as well.

Rakhi Voria: And so, um, we spend a lot of time thinking through how are we making inside sales the best place to work and grow. And we have a lot of people related initiatives, many of which I actually lead myself. So I started a group called the people first ambassadors where we have basically different inside sellers and managers all over the world who are representing the voice of inside sales. And like I said, just making it a better place to work and grow by developing different initiatives and plans and programs and offering different perks and experiences. But it's been really amazing because I think I'm,

Rakhi Voria: I think it could have gone one of two ways. Um, you know, you hire all these people and you don't give them the right infrastructure. Support may not pan out as you would have liked, but I've had the chance to go to all eight of our sales centers over the past six to eight months and I can definitely say that the culture is the same everywhere. And I think part of that it's just really intentional about it, which is exciting,

Amanda Hammett: but is that, is very exciting. You know, one of the things that I would love for you to share, and this is, um, for other companies that are looking to build, even if it's not inside sales, another, a new division or they're looking to start their culture over from scratch. One of the things that I really appreciated is that you guys had a major focus on diversity and even when you were told, oh no, that can't be done. You guys didn't take no for an answer. So can you walk us through a little bit of that?

Rakhi Voria: Yes, absolutely. So, um, you know, obviously when you're hiring 1800 people at scale, there are tradeoffs that you used. Supposedly captive diversity was not one of them. For us, it's, it's really important and I think there were challenges definitely along the way. I mean, but our goal was to have 50 diversity within inside sales. Now we're not there 100 percent across the globe, but there actually are places like in Asia where more than 50 percent is email as an example. And Asia in particular is actually a really challenging place to hire talent for tech and that are female. And so we've been really proud of some of the work that we've done and the culture that we foster. But I think part of that is just pushing her to have, have that conversation. I mean, I think there were definitely times, as you said, where people said, well, the talent pool isn't there, and the reality is it is there.

Rakhi Voria: We just have to make more of an effort and there are things that you need to do in order to do that. So specifically for women as an example, we've all heard the statistics that, uh, you know, I think it was by IBM, they did a report a few years ago, they said that women only apply for the job when they meet 100 percent of the qualifications, whereas men apply for the job when they think they meet 60 percent. And so we need to be really thoughtful about the language that we're using in job descriptions. Even for inside sales team. I mean, you know, do we want to use words like Hungary and competitive and, and things like that, or do we want to use kind of a more softer language that my cater to more women. Um, so those are the things that we've had to be really thoughtful about just to widen the pool as much as possible and push our hr teams to lead to this outcome.

Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. I love that story. That's one of my favorite stories because not only did you guys hit enormous numbers and just hiring over a very short amount of time, but you guys did it in a very thoughtful way, which is usually okay. So I, I'm perfectly appreciate that. Um, so for our younger audience members, is there anything that you think made you stand out in the applicant pool back six years ago when you're fresh out of grads? What was it about you that made you a rockstar on, on resume paper?

Rakhi Voria: I think part of it was just demonstrating a track record of success. I mean the reality is most millennials are not going to have the previous experience that employers are looking for. So I think we instead just need to show that our past experience, whatever it may be, whether it was sports, whether it was internships, whatever, that all of those results were actually the same regardless of what the task was at hand, that we were able to demonstrate success, see things through. And I think that's what I did. I mean I had never worked at a major tech company, but I had some great internships across various industries. I performed well academically. I want full rights to school. I mean, I think all of those things kind of collectively, hopefully showed Microsoft that I was someone who was willing to learn who had somewhat of an aptitude to be successful. Um, provided I was given the right training and skills development opportunities. So yeah, that's what I. Fantastic.

Amanda Hammett: So is there anything that you wish other companies knew about hiring millennials? Is there anything that you, you hear complaints about or is there anything you just, you just wish the thing new?

Rakhi Voria: Yeah. You know, I think the first one I would say is don't underestimate the importance of giving some of your younger millennial employees flexibility. Millennials really want flexibility in how, where and when we work. I mean there was actually a really great millennial study that Deloitte put out last year which shows that 75 percent of millennials, they want the ability to work from home or somewhere other than the office and they think that that's where they can unleash more creativity. And the study actually found that in most markets, worklife balance came before career progression when evaluating job opportunities. So we shouldn't underestimate how important a flexible lifestyle is for this generation. I think the other thing that I might add is like, we hear a lot about these whole employee perks and I think that's a really funny topic because people always say all millennials, they want Free Food and candy and bean bags and nap pods.

Rakhi Voria: Otherwise they're not going to be happy. And I think those things are all great, but there's actually no formal data that shows that's enough to retain your millennial employees. Right? And I think it's kind of a generalization that's been driven by movies like the internship and stuff like that. And um, for me, the number one thing that I've seen personally as a millennial and then also through a lot of our millennial workforce here at Microsoft is they want to have differentiated experiences, which I talked about a little bit ago, but I think companies that win with millennials are those that offer experiences. So, um, as an example, the topic of how millennials are approaching business travel has become really prevalent recently. So I'm, you know, I'm definitely one of those people, but in that same deloitte study, actually it said that 78 percent of millennials intentionally carve out personal time during a business trip. I do that myself. I mean, I think in the five continents and 20 countries over the past time that I've been at Microsoft, but um, I'm always looking to turn those business vacations into workstations I guess, because I think it makes my trips more balanced and memorable. Um, so I think those are some, some things that a lot of people probably don't really know about when they think about millennials, but I would encourage people to look at that. Deloitte study actually their whole. Yeah,

Amanda Hammett: that is a great study. That was actually one of my, one of my favorites. Um, so. All right. Is there anything, just one last thing, is there anything that you think that you wish the company did to make it make the hiring process easier for millennials in particular?

Rakhi Voria: here are two things that come to mind for this. The first one was what I mentioned earlier, it's just being more cognizant of the language that's used on job descriptions. Most job descriptions say that you need two to five years of experience, even jobs that are targeted actually toward university and graduate higher. Say this for some reason. I think it's just standard verbiage that's often included, but a lot of people take those job requirements quite literally and they hold themselves back unfortunately because they don't think they'll be considered. And as I mentioned earlier, women in particular have that issue. So you compound, you know, being a woman and being a millennial, that's a whole pool of really great talent that you might miss out on if you're not being thoughtful about the language and the job descriptions. The second thing that I would mention is, um, you know, I would love to see more bigger company is targeting smaller schools actually as they think about university hires.

Rakhi Voria: Unfortunately, a lot of the big companies like the big tech firms, procter and gamble and Mckinsey, et Cetera, they target some of the tier one school. So Basically Ivy Leagues and Great Liberal Arts Colleges including the college that I went to for Undergrad that unfortunately those students don't really get access to some of those top tier companies. And so I, uh, it's a conversation I've even had internally with some of our Microsoft hr teams because I think we needed to be a little bit more open minded and thoughtful about how we're recruiting so that we're not missing out on a great talent pool.

Amanda Hammett: I agree. I could not agree with that more. I love it. I also went to a small liberal arts college. I hear you. I completely hear you. And I have those conversations a lot as well with company. So. Well rocky, this has been fantastic. I mean you are just, I mean I already knew you were a rock star, but now everyone else will get to see that you're a rockstar. So thank you so much for being here and thank you so much for bringing so much knowledge and passion to this interview.

Rakhi Voria: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

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 AmandaHammett.com. The link is below. It's AmandaHammett.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.

featuring Maria Banjo

10: Creating Loyalty Among Millennial Employees

How do you create loyalty among millennial employees? And why are millennials not automatically loyal employees? Disloyal and lacking empathy are two ways millennials are often described. However, after meeting Maria O. Banjo you may need to revisit those descriptions. Maria is a DeKalb Co Elder Abuse prosecutor. Which means she spends all day, every day building and trying cases against people prey on the most vulnerable members of our society the elderly. However, you will see it is not just the need to protect others that keeps Maria up every day engaged and fighting for what is right. Maria’s boss has figured out a formula for keeping her employees in fighting form….and it is easier than you think!

Maria O. Banjo is a Victim-Centered Prosecutor, Former Public Defender, Criminal Justice Reform Advocate. She is recognized for demonstrating a natural aptitude for advocating on behalf of the voiceless, as well as for providing team leadership, driving performance, program improvement, and quality initiatives, I have a verifiable history of contributing directly to organizational growth and efficiency throughout my career.

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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 - Creating Loyalty Among Millennial Employees

00:05 Amanda Hammett: Alright, in today's episode of the Millennial Rockstar podcast, I have the fortune of interviewing rockstar Maria Banjo, who happens to be an assistant district attorney here in Atlanta, Georgia. Now, the wonderful thing about Maria is that she is incredibly passionate about helping other people. And you're going to see that passion really truly come through in the interview. And one of the things that you need to know about Maria is that she is smart and she's collaborative, and she uses that to help out some of the oldest and sometimes most vulnerable citizens, the elderly.

00:38 Amanda Hammett: Now, one of my big takeaways from this interview with Maria, was that Maria has this incredible sense of loyalty to her boss. Now her boss actually works specifically in order to develop that loyalty not just with Maria, but among all of the employees in the District Attorney's office. And man, that loyalty really shows with Maria. Join in and see what she has to say.

01:02 Amanda Hammett: Hey there, this is Amanda Hammett. I'm known as the Millennial Translator®, because I help companies attract, retain, and engage top millennial talent. And today we have a very special millennial rockstar on the Millennial Rockstars podcast. We have Maria Banjo. Maria, welcome to the show.

01:19 Maria Banjo: Thank you.

01:21 Amanda Hammett: Alright. So what you guys don't know is you're looking at Maria and she looks very nice, and very kind. But man, you get her in a courtroom, and not so much.


01:34 Amanda Hammett: Maria is an assistant district attorney for a major county in the Atlanta area. So, yeah, a little scary, right?

01:42 Maria Banjo: You know, I do what I can.

01:45 Amanda Hammett: Well, alright, so tell us about your current role in the District Attorney's office.

01:50 Maria Banjo: Well, I am currently in the Elder Abuse Unit, so I prosecute cases against elders and those adults who are also disabled. And so, we basically investigate the case from beginning to end, including trial.

02:08 Amanda Hammett: Nice, nice, nice. Okay, fantastic. Now, Maria is a very special rockstar to me, mainly because she and I attended the same college, and not at the same time because one of us is older.


02:25 Amanda Hammett: But I had the pleasure of meeting Maria at an alumni event, and it was just amazing. Your passion came through, you're just... Your knowledge and just general, just, "This is how it is, this is what we're gonna do," and just your command of a room in that alumni event, this all came out. [chuckle] It was amazing to see.

02:46 Maria Banjo: Well, thank you. Thank you, thank you. All I can do is be me. And I think that's what everyone should really try to do, Be yourself.

03:00 Amanda Hammett: That's very, very true. Okay, so tell the audience a little bit about... Because you've had a really interesting career since you left law school. So, tell the audience a little bit about your career path. How did you get from college undergrad to your current role as Assistant District Attorney?

03:21 Maria Banjo: Well, let's see here. So, I knew early on I wanted to be a lawyer. Decided I wanted to help people, and the way I wanted to do it was by being a lawyer. And so after my time at Agnes Scott, I went to John Marshall Law School. That was a very difficult process because I ended up having a really low score for the LSAT. As a result I applied, I think to 15 law schools and only got into one. And I thank God everyday that I ended up at John Marshall Law School in Chicago 'cause it ended up being one of the top 10 schools for legal writing, and as well for trial advocacy. And so, I graduated in January of '09 in the midst of the recession, which was very difficult for a lot of us attorneys. So, as a result, I ended up opening my own law firm. I grew up, my parents owned a business, so I always had entrepreneurial spirit.

04:24 Maria Banjo: And so I figured if there isn't a job out there, I'll create one for myself, and so that's what I did. And I had my law firm for a year, and then I was still looking for a job. And what I did was I opened up Google Map, the map of Georgia, found all the counties, and started going one by one to each county and applying to the jobs. And my goal was to apply to all 159 counties in Georgia for a public defender job.

04:57 Maria Banjo: And so eventually I got an offer, or an interview in Covington, Georgia. I didn't realize it was just in the Covington Highway in Stone Mountain. There are two Covingtons. When I opened my GPS I realized it was a little further east. [chuckle] So, anyways, I got there, and at the time I had a semi-fancy vehicle, so what I did was I hid it, I parked two or three blocks down the road 'cause I didn't want anyone to see the kind of vehicle I was driving and make an assumption about how much I needed the job and what kind of work I would do.

05:42 Maria Banjo: And so for me, I got hired before I even made it back to Sandy Springs, I got a call from them giving me an offer, and I took it. I spent about three years over there, three and a half years, and I ended up defending those charged with serious felony crimes including murder. And then it got to a point where I got too comfortable, I was like, "I wanna try something new, challenge myself." And so I was like, "I wanna switch sides." And so, I had my current... Or my boss then, was helping me with my job search. I asked him a few times to make some phone calls into the offices that I was interviewing, go in through the back. In addition, the prosecutor that I was working against, she specifically wrote me a letter of recommendation.

06:36 Amanda Hammett: Wow.

06:36 Maria Banjo: She sent me a recommendation letter saying that they should hire me. And as a result of that, I ended up getting hired as a prosecutor in metro Atlanta area.

06:50 Amanda Hammett: Awesome.

06:52 Maria Banjo: And honestly, I would say, throughout my legal career so far, it's the things that you can't really put to paper that make people wanna speak on your behalf, as far as your ethics and your loyalty, and the kind of person you are. And with the legal field, it's very small, and one of my early mentors said, "All you have is your good name," and that is so true. And so, I work hard to keep that good name untarnished.

07:31 Amanda Hammett: Well, I can't imagine you ever doing anything that would tarnish that name.


07:38 Amanda Hammett: Alright. So Maria, tell us a little bit about... You walked us through your career path, and so how long have you actually been practicing law?

07:47 Maria Banjo: Almost 10 years now.

07:49 Amanda Hammett: Okay, so just a little bit of time.

07:50 Maria Banjo: Just a little bit of time.

07:52 Amanda Hammett: A little bit of time.

07:52 Maria Banjo: Just a skosh. Just a skosh.

07:55 Amanda Hammett: So, tell me a little bit about, I know that there's obviously been some ups and downs, I mean with any career there's ups and downs. Tell us a little bit about what things have worked or have not worked for you in your career so far?

08:11 Maria Banjo: I would say, maintaining the status quo..what's always worked. I think a lot of times, whether it's in private sector or especially in government, sometimes people like to... Or they get too comfortable in what has always been. Things has always been doesn't mean that you continue. I discovered early on that I can't help myself but fix things. No matter where I'm placed, I'm like an issue spotter. 'Cause I like to do things and make things more efficient, but to that end, also that doesn't... That rubs some people the wrong way.

09:07 Amanda Hammett: Okay. Absolutely.

09:09 Maria Banjo: For sure. But I think I'm not being afraid to speak up when things don't make sense. But it's not an easy thing to do, for sure, but I think trying to maintain any kind of status quo or shrinking yourself... Shrinking yourself is something that I think, especially women or younger people discount their own experiences and what they can bring to the table. So I think doing things like that is not... One, it's not helpful to you personally, but also it's not beneficial to your boss. Because they're looking for talent and they're looking hopefully for you to be able to push them forward.

09:58 Amanda Hammett: Right. I would agree with that wholeheartedly. And that's one thing that I think that we see a lot of, is a lot of times I'll talk to organizations or teams or divisions and they're like, "We want innovation." "Innovation", that is the buzzword of the day, but then when they bring people in that are supposed to be innovative thinkers, they wanna put them into a box.

10:19 Maria Banjo: Right.

10:21 Amanda Hammett: That's not how innovation works.

10:22 Maria Banjo: No.

10:23 Amanda Hammett: Innovation is, you gotta have the rough edges and you gotta deal with them because from those rough edges, you get these crazy ideas that you can take to the bank.

10:34 Maria Banjo: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think having brainstorming sessions that are unfiltered... My coworkers know that I will have off the wall ideas and with those ideas, and I know that some of them aren't practical. But you have to shoot big and see what you can do, instead of starting out small and already saying no.

11:00 Amanda Hammett: Yep.

11:01 Maria Banjo: Yeah.

11:02 Amanda Hammett: I agree with that. Absolutely. Now, tell us a little bit about, and you've told us a little bit about what doesn't work for you, or what has not worked for you in your career. Can you tell us a little bit about a specific stumbling block that you've had?

11:26 Maria Banjo: There are a lot. I would say there are a lot of stumbling blocks, and it comes in the form of... When you're a trial lawyer, you have the judge, you have 12 jurors, you have the defense counsel, you may have an audience, you have the clerk's office, you have the bailiffs, right?

11:46 Amanda Hammett: Okay.

11:47 Maria Banjo: These are various organizations that are judging you every day. And so, as a lawyer it's virtually impossible to know the answer to everything or anticipate everything. Sometimes you will forget things, but unlike other jobs where if you forget something that happens, silo or whatever, so various times that I have, whether I've forgotten a key witness or forgotten how to swear someone in. The very first time I had a motion, this was six months into my new job, four months into my new job. And I had four motions scheduled, motions to suppress, and I had my head elected official or appointed official, at my table.

12:36 Maria Banjo: And I got up to get my first witness ever, ever, ever, ever. And the judge was like, "Ms Banjo, you gonna swear in your witness?" "Judge, I don't know how to do that, I don't know those words to swear in." And so, he swore in my witness. Next case, 20 minutes later. "Ms Banjo, you gonna swear in your witness?" I went, "Judge, between the first time and the second... Now I still don't."


13:11 Maria Banjo: Third time my boss had to write it out, on the table, and I ended up reading it. The very next day, one of my clients called the office, "I want a real lawyer," you know, blahzay blah blahzay blah. I was like, "Oh my God, I'm about to get fired. I really don't know this basic stuff." And I ended up winning one of the most difficult hearings that day, and then because of my performance on that particular day, I got a promotion two months later to do the drug, guns and alcohol cases because of my legal analysis. And the judge in that courtroom fell in love with me, 'cause he saw how I just kept going forward. I may not know something, and you may feel personally embarrassed, but I did not let define me, and so... But, it just took me that one day. After that day, I knew how to swear in a witness. [chuckle]

14:10 Amanda Hammett: You can probably do it in your sleep now, right? [chuckle]

14:13 Maria Banjo: Yeah. So things like that happen all the time where you're really going to look crazy. That's what I call looking crazy. So I always prepare to make sure that Maria does not look crazy.


14:27 Maria Banjo: But those times when you do look crazy, it's important to really take full responsibility, your failures, and then learn from it. Because I will tell you there are some people out there who will say, "Well you know, in other counties, 90% of them, the bailiff will always swear in the witness." Your boss should have told you that and prepared you for the hearing. That could have been true, right? But, at the time, you as a lawyer, you know every single courtroom is gonna be different. You need to do your homework. I should've asked, "Hey, what do I need to do? Are you guys gonna swear in the witness or do I need to do that?", beforehand.

15:06 Maria Banjo: So I think in any situation there's always gonna be someone to scapegoat. But relying on other people when you can take ownership of your own learning, is the way to avoid. And that goes into what I always say, you need to create your own standard for yourself. So it doesn't matter what kind of boss or supervisor comes in, your standard will always exceed anyone else's standards, and you're not going to have to shift it based on where you are. If that makes sense?

15:45 Amanda Hammett: No, it makes complete and total sense. I think that's probably a type A personality rule right there. [chuckle]

15:53 Maria Banjo: Maybe. Maybe.

15:56 Amanda Hammett: But one of the things that I really love that you pointed out in that story and I really wanna emphasize it for just a second, is the fact that you took responsibility for your not knowing, for your mistake, whatever, and you were embarrassed and you totally admit that. But you did not let it stop you, you did not let it affect your performance for your... In that courtroom, and to protect the people of the county.

16:26 Maria Banjo: Absolutely. Absolutely.

16:27 Amanda Hammett: As a resident, I appreciate that.


16:32 Maria Banjo: Well, you're welcome. I think people have this idea about lawyers and you being self-centered, but there's a lot of folks out there like myself, who put people first, and so no matter how I'm feeling, I'm having a good, bad or whatever day, I need to make sure I preserve, whether it's a defendant I'm defending or victim I'm trying to be an advocate for. And so getting into, I know I'm segueing into other things, but getting into fights with opposing counsel, act in an unprofessional manner with the judge, whomever, is not beneficial. One, it looks bad on you, looks bad on your boss, and it doesn't move the ball further down for your case or anyone in the future.

17:24 Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, 'cause at the end of the day, you've already said this, the legal field is a very small field, and you're seeing these judges all the time, you're seeing these opposing counsel all the time, and you have to work with them, sometimes in opposition, all the time.

17:43 Maria Banjo: All the time. Yeah, for sure. And I think there's a lot of principles that you can really apply in other industries. Because the legal field is so contentious, you would assume that we are constantly working with people on opposite sides, but being able to find a middle ground where both parties can be somehow happy, I think is a skill that it would be applicable to other fields and industries.

18:20 Amanda Hammett: I would agree with that wholeheartedly. So Maria, let me ask you something. Being a millennial, millennials are known for their collaboration abilities. Do you find that that's been helpful for you in this field doing what you do, having to constantly pull in people from opposing sides?

18:38 Maria Banjo: Yes, yes, I'm a major collaborator. When I deal with a case, I have a victim advocate, I have an investigator, and they have their own things that they're focusing on. I have my own role. There's a lot of vintage ways of doing things where the attorney is hierarchically up high, and I can do all these things, I don't really need you to do this. And I think it works to the detriment of the victim, and really the citizens. So I make sure I stay in my lane. I can do a lot of great things, but I know that there are skill sets from other people. And so whenever I'm doing something, even if it's purely legal, I ask my victim advocate, "Hey, what do you think about this? Does this makes sense? Does it make common sense or not?"

19:40 Maria Banjo: My investigator... And honestly, I've had a few of them say, "I've never been asked to give an opinion on this," and I'm like, "Well, you are an ordinary individual, right?" Sometimes we can get in ourself and really heady and use all this verbose terms and think we're just super smart, when we're trying to talk to real people, and so they have... Being able to appreciate the different things that people can give makes collaborating very useful, 'cause I don't know what they know, I don't know how they're gonna be hearing the information and receiving it. And so, through collaboration, they've saved me from looking crazy, multiple times, multiple times.

20:25 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. That's awesome.

20:26 Maria Banjo: Collaboration is key, it really is, with anything. And instead of... People have titles in organizations, whether IT professional, that we have in our organization or what have you, but no matter what someone's position is, they have an opinion on what it is you're doing. And so I think just bouncing things off of people from different aspects is really helpful.

20:57 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. That's really good advice, I think. So let me ask you this, you've been the assistant district attorney now for how long, three years?

21:12 Maria Banjo: I was a solicitor general downstairs doing misdemeanor cases for about three years, and then I moved up here in January of 2016, and then promoted nine months later to the Elder Abuse Unit.

21:25 Amanda Hammett: Okay, alight. So a little over two years, you've been there.

21:28 Maria Banjo: Yes.

21:30 Amanda Hammett: Now, what is it that your current boss or maybe a previous boss has done that really keeps you motivated and engaged and wanting to every day, wake up, come into the office and help the citizens of DeKalb County?

21:48 Maria Banjo: I think at the end of the day, my bosses have earned my loyalty...to do things throughout. I would say, most importantly, asking what I care about, asking how they can make me happier at the current job, what upcoming issues you're seeing in the current job. Investing in me, viewing my personal success as their success. So in my current office, there's this thing called "boomerang," right? Someone will work here or work for her for a few years, and they will have to move on. She will do what she can to help you get a new job, but they always come back. People boomerang back, 'cause... And it also is, there's a certain level of self-awareness. One job can't be your everything. It'd be a situation where you need to learn a particular skill set or hone a particular skill set, and you're able to do it in a different office. And once you have done that, then you can proceed to a different position that you're looking for.

23:17 Maria Banjo: So I can tell you right now, 10 people that have boomeranged back to work for my current boss. And I mean, I'm lucky, beyond lucky, to work for her. To give you an example, she had recommended me recently, a few months ago, for this leadership academy, sent me an email, "Hey, are you interested? You should apply." I applied, I found out two weeks ago, I got into the WIN List 2018 Leadership Academy, and they... Thank you. They train women to run for office or work on local campaigns.

24:00 Maria Banjo: And so just yesterday, we had a little reception. And I have three young women on my current campaign that I'm managing. One goes to Clark Atlanta University, one to John Marshall Law School. One's about to graduate in May in law school, and the other one is a 2.0. I invited them as well as one of their mothers to come, and they were my guests yesterday, and were so inspired by the women and they were just elated. And I learned that from my current boss, because she's in circles that I can never get into.

24:43 Maria Banjo: There are opportunities that will come to her that won't come to me, but if she has an opportunity to give me an extra seat at a table or an opportunity, she is going to pass it along. And so, but for me asking these young women to come with me, they would never have been at this golf course eating this food, meeting these people. And so, investing in your employees' happiness. With globalization, as well as the internet, employees have options, and I think employers need to accept and know that. Employees have options, very good options.

25:29 Maria Banjo: So it's not enough to just win an employee over once you hire them, you continue to invest in their future and see that when they're happy, they're more productive. When they feel like they're personally growing, it's beneficial to your bottomline. It's not a short-term, you're not gonna see how your money or profits tomorrow, but it will definitely help you out in the long run. That's what I think.

26:03 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. No, and I love that your boss is invested in you, and has one long-term loyalty with you through just small investments of time and effort and energy. It wasn't necessarily big investments of money.

26:21 Maria Banjo: No, no.

26:22 Amanda Hammett: Maybe it was just like, "Hey, I see this opportunity. I think it would be great for Maria. Let's pass it along." And I love that. I love that you've been the beneficiary of that, but I love that she's doing it. And I think that that's something that millennials, they want and they desire, and a lot of companies get, or organizations as a whole, get all caught up in like, "Oh, how much is this gonna cost me?" Well, it cost your boss, what, 10 minutes?

26:52 Maria Banjo: Right. And most people don't realize there's a lot of perks that are really either inexpensive or free, that you can do to encourage or make a connection. I always start thinking about, "Do you like your employees?" I think that's important to ask yourself, "Do you like your employees?" If you don't like your employees, you need to figure out who you're hiring, and what kind of environment and culture you have at your office, 'cause that could detrimentally affect the productivity. So I think it's a two-way street.

27:29 Amanda Hammett: Absolutely.

27:30 Maria Banjo: When my boss first took office last year, the employees who weren't used to her kinda leadership. What to do? She would, my boss would send emails like, "Hey, the first five people get free tickets, or can join me for this." And I'm telling people, "This is not a setup." [chuckle] It's not a trick question. This is real. I gotta... [laughter] But that's the thing, a lot... And I would say it's not a... It's unfortunate that people are surprised when the boss is asking you to come for lunch, or to come after work, saying, "That's not really work-related." But I, well I said, "You got to, it's a two-way street, people need to get to know one another, and people are going to help people they like." It's not just about money, 'cause you can get that anywhere.

28:31 Amanda Hammett: No, absolutely, I love that. And I love that your boss has invested in finding people that she likes, and has... And you like her in return. And so, I'm guessing, I'm gonna do some math here, but I'm guessing she likes you, you like her.

28:47 Maria Banjo: Right.

28:47 Amanda Hammett: And you have already said that you are very loyal to her, which means you would go above and beyond, above and beyond that 40 hours, above and beyond what's actually laid out in that job description.

29:00 Maria Banjo: Absolutely.

29:01 Amanda Hammett: You're gonna be way up here, when it comes to getting what needs to be done, done.

29:07 Maria Banjo: Absolutely. I think becoming the person that your boss can turn to in a crisis, is very important. And you can only be that person when you've demonstrated the ability to go above and beyond. Because you're willing to roll up your sleeves, do what's needed, try to fix a problem before they even think it's a problem. It's always, always going above and beyond. I've heard people say, "Well, that's not my job description. I need to do this, I need to do that." And you have to do things that are within reason.

29:47 Maria Banjo: I firmly believe in a good work-life balance. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a very hard worker, but I also really enjoy my personal time. In order to do that, you have to be really organized and you have to really prioritize, but by going above and beyond, you're willing to do that when you work for a boss you like, when you work for a boss who respects your opinion and is invested in your success.

30:21 Amanda Hammett: Right. I heard some really good millennial buzzwords there, in that last piece. I heard you feel heard, and I heard that you feel loyalty and going above and beyond, and I feel like there's a third thing that I'm dropped out of.

30:39 Maria Banjo: I can't remember.

30:42 Amanda Hammett: Well, regardless, you had some good quality millennial buzzwords. But that's the thing, you are a rockstar at what you do. Above and beyond, you are not a stereotypical millennial. You are this literal, legal rockstar. Legally, you are. [chuckle] And so...

31:00 Maria Banjo: Thanks.

31:01 Amanda Hammett: But your boss has done a really good job, has really done a good service, not only for you, but also for the entire county, because you guys are protecting us in a lot of ways. So by her pouring into you, and I'm assuming it's not just you in your office, it's a bunch of other people. She's like that with all of you...

31:20 Maria Banjo: A bunch of other people.

31:22 Amanda Hammett: Yeah. As much as I love you, Maria, I don't think that you're her teacher's pet.


31:27 Maria Banjo: No.

31:29 Amanda Hammett: I'm sure that attention is paid to other assistant district attorneys in that office, I assume.

31:38 Maria Banjo: Yes. Oh, yes, oh, yes. You're absolutely right, absolutely right. And I know, I think trainings as well is super, super important. I can't say how many times people are like, "Oh, my God, I've never been to a training. I'm just a legal assistant," or, "I'm just a secretary. What could... " There's always personal development training. Whether it's Word, whether it's Excel, whether it's you wanna learn how to manage people. We're asked, "Okay, within five years, where do you wanna be in the beginning of the year?" And it doesn't matter if where you wanna be in five years is not in this office, 'cause wherever you're gonna be, it's gonna look and reflect well on my supervisor and my boss.

32:24 Maria Banjo: So that discussion, honestly asking... I kinda think of how it was before, when you have people working for you for 30 years, and they didn't go anywhere so you don't have to really ask, "What do you like?" Because, well, there weren't options. There wasn't the internet where you can find another job that's going to actually make you happy.

32:45 Amanda Hammett: Right.

32:45 Maria Banjo: Right? So this is the... Where we are now, and I think that you can no longer ignore the personal desires of your employee.

32:56 Amanda Hammett: Yeah, no, I agree with that. And I think a lot is to be said with how connected we are. It used to be, you would walk out the office 5:00, 6:00, whatever it is, you'd shut your door, and there was the physical disconnect. But with technology, there is no physical disconnect from the office. You have to actually make that conscious choice. There's no door to shut, 'cause your boss can ping you in the middle of the night on your cellphone or call you in the middle of the night on your phone or email you, or whatever. And so you have to make that choice. And it's a really important decision to make. What was that? What was that? [chuckle]

33:34 Maria Banjo: I was gonna say, you would say your boss can call you in the middle of the night or whatever, whatever. I've never gotten a crazy... A work-related call at an inappropriate time. I'm friends with a lot of my supervisors, and if it's after 7:00 or 8:00, it's another personal issue, like a personal text message or call, not work-related. And I think that goes to respect, again.

34:04 Amanda Hammett: I agree.

34:05 Maria Banjo: Respect of my time. I think it would be awkward for me to get something, a message or whatever, from my boss after 6:00, that's work-related, unless it's something super, super pressing, emergency, urgency. And just wanna know something right there and then doesn't mean you're gonna take... Yeah, that was just, I could not...

34:30 Amanda Hammett: Oh, no. I agree, I agree. When my son was little, I had a boss who, I had to call in sick because my son was sick, I had to take him to the doctor that day, and he called and emailed me while I was sitting in the pediatrician's office. And he knew what was going on. This wasn't a surprise. And it wasn't an emergency on his end. He was just like, "Hey, I needed to know this." And I'm like, "Are you kidding? Is this for real?" [chuckle]

34:58 Maria Banjo: Right, right. Usually, with my boss, you have to fight with her to stay in the office. If something happens personally, she's aware of it, you're virtually pushed out, like literally, "Get out."

35:12 Amanda Hammett: Oh, wow. That's nice.

35:14 Maria Banjo: Yeah. Having that work-life balance is like... Don't even call it work-life balance, it's just being reasonable.

35:22 Amanda Hammett: It is.

35:24 Maria Banjo: Reasonable and caring and nice and stuff. That's why people are trying to flock here, honestly.

35:33 Amanda Hammett: Yeah. It sounds like a fantastic place to be, honestly. If she is that caring about her employees and about their life outside of work, she knows that eventually... I'm sure this is not why she's doing it, she sounds like just a wonderful person, but she knows eventually that productivity and everything will come back to her benefit.

35:55 Maria Banjo: Totally. Totally.

35:56 Amanda Hammett: I'm not saying that that's why she's doing it, but... [chuckle]

36:00 Maria Banjo: Of course. And that's kind of, when things go left and you're put in a bind, and being able to have people available in time of need is really about how you live your life, and that's kind of what happens when you are this kind of a person, and that's what I try to do, is making sure that you continue to be there for people when... 'Cause a lot of times, you have something that someone else doesn't have, and you're able to just give it to them really easily, as far as price or connection, or what have you, and that people remember those things. People remember those small things that you think, "Oh, it's just an email," or whatever, but it really means a lot to someone else.

36:48 Amanda Hammett: It does, it does. No, you're 1000% right. When your employees like you as a person, they're far more likely, the statistics are just through the roof, they're far more likely to stay long-term. I wanna say it's close to 86% or something like that.

37:03 Maria Banjo: Right.

37:03 Amanda Hammett: It's unbelievable. Alright, Maria, how can our... Can our audience get in touch with you through LinkedIn, if they wanted to connect with you further?

37:14 Maria Banjo: Of course.

37:15 Amanda Hammett: Alright. Perfect, perfect, perfect. Well, we are going to wrap up. Maria and I could probably stay here and talk and you guys would get bored at some point, I'm sure. [chuckle] But thank you guys so much for joining us today on The Millennial Rockstar podcast. And thank you so much to Maria Banjo of the DeKalb County Assistant District Attorney. Thank you.

37:39 Maria Banjo: Thank you.

37:41 Amanda Hammett: Alright, everybody, thank you so much for joining us in this episode and we will see you in the next one. Have a good one. Bye.

37:47 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 amandahammett.com. The link is below. It's amandahammett.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.

featuring JW Kiser

09: The Longterm Value of Hiring Millennials Right the 1st Time

Hiring Millennials is not like hiring employees from other generations. All too often companies wait until they are desperate to fill a position before they begin to seriously recruit for it. By then, they are willing to accept the first person whose resume says they fulfill that need. But if you are hiring millennials, they want and expect more than just a job. They want a career with a company that is a cultural fit.

J.W. Kiser, MBA is a Senior Commercial Officer and First Senior Vice President of New People's Bank. The Bank offers savings, loans, deposits, cards, mortgages, checking accounts, certificates of deposit, money market, commercial lending, and online banking services. New Peoples Bank operates in the States of Virginia and Tennessee.

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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 Longterm Value of Hiring Millennials Right the 1st Time

00:01 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the Millennial Rockstars podcast. Hey and welcome to this episode of the Millennial Rockstars podcast. Today's Rockstar is JW Kiser, who happens to be the chief loan officer for New Peoples Bank. And one of the things that I took away from the conversation with JW was the importance of hiring right the first time. And JW actually gets into some really interesting things where he talks about how it may cost you a little bit more upfront but it's so worth it in end, so check out what JW has to say.

00:37 Amanda Hammett: Hey there, this is Amanda Hammett, I'm known as The Millennial Translator® because I help companies attract, retain, and engage top millennial talent and today on the Millennial Rockstars podcast we have JW. JW, welcome to the show.

00:51 JW Kiser: Hey, thanks for having me.

00:53 Amanda Hammett: Alright, so JW, you were actually nominated by someone that I know from my personal life, she and I attended college together and let me tell you, she has been someone who has always, always impressed me, so when I reached out to her and asked for a nomination and you were the immediate first person that she was like...

01:13 JW Kiser: Wow.

01:14 Amanda Hammett: This is who it is. I was like, "Alright, I've got to have him on the show." So tell us a little bit about you JW?

01:20 JW Kiser: A little bit about me. Well, first I may question that person that nominated me but it's very flattering and I greatly appreciate that. Now, and so a little bit about me, I live in Abingdon, Virginia, and I've got a beautiful wife and our 10-year-old daughter and I work for a great company called New Peoples Bank and and I'm a Senior Commercial Loan Officer so I think my exact title is Chief Commercial Banking Officer. But I think in banking, they give you these really long titles so they can pay you less, but, you know, that's what it's about.


01:52 Amanda Hammett: Fantastic, fantastic. Alright, so you and I discussed this a little bit before we turned on the recording but you are an older millennial, correct?

02:04 JW Kiser: Thank you for reminding me, but yes. I'm in the '80 birth date I think.

02:09 Amanda Hammett: Yes, yes, yes, yes, so you're right at the top end of the age range, which has given you a good bit of work experience correct?

02:18 JW Kiser: That's right.

02:18 Amanda Hammett: Okay, fantastic. So tell us a little bit about your career path. How did you get to being that Commercial Bank Officer?

02:27 JW Kiser: Let's see. Like a lot of kids I went to college and as I was getting ready to leave I wasn't a 100% sure what I wanted to be and I think I wanted to be a pharmaceutical guy at one time and I saw my buddy and I had a few friends that did that and there was nothing like running around in the car and playing golf all day and selling drugs and making lots of money but at the end those jobs were pretty hard to get then and so then I thought of being a stock broker and I realized I didn't wanna do that. But kind of how I ended up in banking, a gentleman that I really looked up to that was one of my instructors, a guy by the name of Dr. Steve Bourne, he was an advisor for a local bank and he asked me if I would have some interest and go on and talk to those guys and they were trying to hire somebody that was fresh, that didn't have any preconceived notions on banking or any good habits or bad habits 'cause I didn't have any good habits either since I wasn't a banker but they wanted somebody they could train and kinda run around the bank and bring it up the way that they wanted to.

03:30 JW Kiser: And so I started there, and from there, I worked in Princeton, West Virginia, for a little bit and moved to Wytheville. We had a bank in Wytheville that was struggling and I was just a young kid at the time but they kinda gave me a chance. And so I went to Wytheville and had a really good run working at that bank and although I had some success at that location, and then there was another guy in town who would later become my future boss, a guy by the name of Jim Grubbs. At that time, it was just me and Jim that really loaned money in Wytheville and he said, "Hey, you know, rather than us beat each other up all the time, why don't we just work it out." So again, I kinda ended up in another bank and from there I moved to Abingdon to fix another bank and when I left there I moved to another bank to fix it and ended up here in New Peoples.

04:20 Amanda Hammett: So really what I just heard is that your title should be bank fixer.

04:24 JW Kiser: It actually should be bank janitor, but yeah.


04:27 Amanda Hammett: Fantastic, fantastic. So in all of that time, I would assume that you have learned some lessons about yourself, about how you work best and just things that you figured out over the years. So tell us a little bit about what you have figured out for yourself that works really well for your work style or your work environment, things like that?

04:52 JW Kiser: Probably the thing that works best for me is to really be open and honest with everybody you do business with and that's very generic but it's very sincere. I heard a phrase one time that was called under-promise and over-achieve. It's always important to be... Whether you're trying to deliver to a new client or get a new relationship to say what you're gonna do and do what you say. So for me that's probably the biggest lesson that I've learned and the one trait that I still hold close to my heart. And just good communication and being able to deliver.

05:34 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. So does that translate not just to the client world but also internally to fellow bank employees?

05:43 JW Kiser: Sure, yeah. I think my employees have heard me say, you know, I kinda wear everything on my sleeve and what you see is what you get. I'm very truthful and very honest.

05:55 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome.

05:56 JW Kiser: And to the point, I'll be the first one to pat you on the back and tell you go have dinner on the company and I'll be the first one to kick you in the rear and give you a coaching lesson. So, but I think that's what people want. I know that that's what I want as an employee, and the millennial employee. And I just want good clear direction and great goals, and to be held accountable to those goals and have great things said about me, when I deliver and coaching when I don't.

06:26 Amanda Hammett: Absolutely, well, I think that that last phrase, the coaching when you don't, I mean that's one of the things that I work with a lot of companies on is this idea of radical transparency and you actually exhibit that. You may not exactly call it that, but you're the first person to admit to, "Oh, I messed up."

06:42 JW Kiser: Yeah.

06:43 Amanda Hammett: And I think that's important for a boss, for an employee, but also for a boss just show their employees, "Hey, I mess up, too." So it makes them more comfortable that like when they mess up, that they can come to you and say, "Hey, help me fix this."

06:57 JW Kiser: Yeah, it's way better than trying to cover it up. I mean...

07:00 Amanda Hammett: Oh yeah. [chuckle]

07:01 JW Kiser: You don't wanna go that route.


07:01 Amanda Hammett: And it's a lot easier.

07:02 JW Kiser: Not in what we do especially so.


07:04 Amanda Hammett: Yes. It's a lot easier to fix when you goof up before you start messing it up worse.

07:09 JW Kiser: That's exactly right.

07:11 Amanda Hammett: Alright, well, so with all of those wonderful things that you've learned about yourself, I would assume that there's also some things that you've learned that haven't worked so well for you. So any kind of stumbling blocks that you've seen throughout your career, any life lessons, we'll call them that you've learned over the years.

07:28 JW Kiser: Well, since we're talking about age, we'll probably hit that one to age. When I was... Even though I'm a younger millennial, when I was younger in my career, or older millennial when I younger in my career, doing what I do, it was hard to get that first shot. I mean, you're trying to loan a guy a million bucks or five million bucks or whatever it is, and you're a 27-year-old kid that, thought you knew a lot, and I thought I was a great banker, and delivered great service, but yeah that was probably the first part. It was tough to crack in to doing some of those bigger deals, with a little older generation that maybe they had a preconceived notion about the millennials. I'm not sure, but...

08:10 JW Kiser: So that was probably my stumbling block one and it's from a life lesson standpoint the thing that I've learned that's been most true and held true to this day is, surround yourself with great people. Take the time to hire the right person. And pay that person what they're worth. I mean it's, at the end of the day, that investment, I see so many people, and I see it even happen in our organization sometimes. It happens everywhere. We look at that other $10,000 that you're gonna have to pay in salary, and we go just a little bit lower and your return is so much better hiring the right person the first time and hiring a person that has the experience and the qualifications that you wanna see in an employee, even if it costs a little more upfront.

09:01 Amanda Hammett: No, I... Listen, I am a former recruiter. [chuckle]

09:04 JW Kiser: Okay.

09:05 Amanda Hammett: I know you are preaching to the choir here, I get it. I think that that's so important is to slow down in that process and actually pay people what they're worth, not just browbeat them on dollars.

09:20 JW Kiser: Yeah, that's a lesson that I've learned. I mean, when I was younger, I probably fell into that trap some and would hire, I don't wanna say the first person but the first person that I thought would be right, instead of waiting for the person that I knew was right. And the turnover is more. You gotta spend more training. It's not the way we go. And so that's, by far, the strongest lesson that I've learned. And we have a great team and I've been able to build a great team at this organization and surround myself with great people. And so...

09:51 Amanda Hammett: Okay, but yeah, I know. I mean that is a wonderful, wonderful lesson that you've learned. And unfortunately, I see companies making that mistake over and over again, and they just... They're like, "Well, we don't understand why we have high turnover." And I was like, "Really, you know." So...

10:07 JW Kiser: If you want greatness, don't hire average.

10:10 Amanda Hammett: Yes, yes, yes, that is fantastic. Yes, that is perfect. So let me ask you... Let's go back to college JW for just a second, so let's think about you getting ready to graduate, and you said that when you were leaving college, you weren't exactly sure what you wanted to do, you had a few things that you were interested in. When you were thinking about you, back in the day, and the way that you saw corporate America before you experienced it or the working world or the real world before you actually experienced it, did you... Do you remember hitting any major stumbling blocks or reality checks as you moved and transitioned into the real world?

10:53 JW Kiser: Yeah, yeah, you know. When you say that, I'm smiling, you know. When I went to college, I mean I did pretty well in college. Made mostly A's, made a B or two here and there, and when I thought that I graduated, I thought people would just be dying to hire me. I thought that, here's a guy that did great in college and... At least I think I can talk to anybody. And I thought I would just roll out and people would have their checkbook and just be dying to drag me over. I'm being a little sarcastic, but that's not really the way it worked. And you kinda gotta earn your way regardless of what it is. It doesn't matter if you're laying bricks for a living or you're in the business world, you gotta earn your way. And so, I can remember my first salary, starting out, I wanna... I was like, "Man... " I just thought it'd be different. So yeah, that was probably my first stumbling block was trying to find my way into the real world and what it meant to have a W2 versus what you thought your W2 would say.


11:56 Amanda Hammett: Oh yes, yes, yes, yes. I very much remember getting that very first paycheck and thinking, "Well, where did all my money go?" [chuckle]

12:05 JW Kiser: Where's the other half at? They took half. They took half of virtually nothing but... Yeah, so that was probably my big stumbling block. I thought that they just be lined up out the door and I'd have no problem getting a job and paying out the wazoo. But you gotta earn it, you gotta earn it.

12:22 Amanda Hammett: Well, yeah. That's the tough reality a lot of us face, leaving college, for sure. So, let's talk about you throughout your entire career because you have mentioned one or two people thus far that have kind of given you an edge throughout the years. But when you're looking back, were there any bosses, current or former, or mentors, or anyone like that that really helped you stay engaged, stay productive, even on those days where you're just like, "Man, I cannot go back in and face this today."

13:00 JW Kiser: Sure. I've had so many wonderful mentors, just kind of starting there. Even I can remember when I grew up. I was just a kid and I played golf every day. That's what I did, and lived in this little small town and my dad would drop me off at the crack of daylight and then he'd pick me up at dark. But there was so many people there that I looked up to, and I played golf with a lot of grown men that kinda took me under their wing and kinda taught me how to be a man, and be responsible and be polite. And so, it even goes back that far. And my dad was a phenomenal father. He was very demanding and wanted me to do great and be successful in life, and be respectful. So even back to the early days, yeah, I have a ton of mentors and I literally couldn't name them all. Probably my first and best mentor was a guy by the name of Mori Williams. Now, Mori actually works at our bank. When I got out of college, Mori was my first boss.

14:00 Amanda Hammett: Really?

14:00 JW Kiser: And in banking you have, usually before you go start a new branch like you see these big nice million dollar branches were, usually before that you go in and you do what they call loan production office, which is basically, you send a lender over there and he tries to beat up some loans before you open your branch because the branch is so expensive you want some loans to help offset some of those bills. So we were getting ready to build a new branch, and they put Mori and myself and his assistant in this little tiny house over in Princeton, West Virginia. It was this little house office. And our offices were so close that, me just being a young guy straight out of college, I could listen to Mori's conversations, as bad as that was. But by listening to how Mori talked and interacted with people, I really learned how to talk to people. Even when he was in a bad mood that morning, when he picked up that phone, he was smiling. And it was all about them.

14:54 JW Kiser: So even though we were in a super tiny office and bathroom was beside everybody's offices, which is a different story, but it was great to be able to hear those conversations that he had. And he would take me on a lot of joint calls, and so he was my first mentor that really taught me how to interact in business. I knew how to interact with people, 'cause I'd had mentors my whole life, growing up with people that demanded respect, but he was the first one to be able to convey that to a business, for certain.

15:27 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. I wouldn't think of it as like eavesdropping, but really, that was a wonderful growing and learning experience for you to have, especially at that critical juncture of your career.

15:38 JW Kiser: It was. Yeah, and now Mori works with us. We parted ways years ago, and he went to a different bank, and I went to a different bank, and he joined our team, our commercial team, about three or four months ago.

15:51 Amanda Hammett: Really? Oh that's just a wonderful circle.

15:54 JW Kiser: It's amazing how people come back. Yeah.

15:55 Amanda Hammett: That is fantastic. Have you ever shared with them about kind of the impact that the listening in on those conversations has had on you in your career?

16:04 JW Kiser: Probably some. I probably never divulged that I was eavesdropping on every conversation he ever had. But I assume if he was gonna talk to his wife, he'd shut the door, but just a small office.

16:15 Amanda Hammett: Well, you'll have to forward him a copy of this, this podcast.

16:18 JW Kiser: There we go.


16:19 Amanda Hammett: So is there anything at any of the banks or any of the organizations you've worked with or been a part of that they gave as far as perks or benefits, or even just the culture within those organizations that has really made you say, "Man, these are my people. This is where I wanna be. This is where I need to be."

16:43 JW Kiser: Yeah. I've been very, very fortunate. I worked at two or three organizations, I guess about three organizations and they've all really believed in education. And they believed in investing in people. And for me, I've always wanted to continue to grow, and I read a lot. And I went back to school and got my MBA and all that stuff. And in banking, there's so much to learn, and you learn every day, and I'm sure it's like that in every field, it's just this is the one that I know. So I've always had great employers that were willing to invest in me.

17:19 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome.

17:19 JW Kiser: And I wouldn't work somewhere that wasn't willing to invest in me. I saw a post on Facebook one time, that said, "What happens if we invest in this employee and they leave?"

17:35 Amanda Hammett: Yep.

17:36 JW Kiser: Well, what happens if you don't invest in them and they stay? You know, it's worse. So I've always had great employers that believed in education and training people right, and doing things the right way, and I've been very fortunate there. Perks, I've never had a boss that micromanaged me. And, yeah, I know, it's hard to believe. It is hard to believe.

18:00 Amanda Hammett: I can't believe that. [chuckle]

18:03 JW Kiser: Back to probably my first real... I mean, not my real job, but my first real challenge was when I was at First Bank, and I went to run an organ... A new branch... Or an old branch that was losing a bunch of money. I had a boss by the name of Jim Grubbs, and Jim kinda sent me down there, and he said, "Hey, I don't care how you do it, I just want you to make money." And it was losing a bunch of money, and he didn't call me every week, wanting to know what my seven-step plan was, and he wanted to look at the numbers.

18:35 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome.

18:39 JW Kiser: That's very important. And even my current bank president, he's the same way. He don't care if I work 60 hours or 40 hours, or if I leave here at three o'clock and go play golf. It's... Did you do your job? Did you deliver on the results that we agreed that you'd deliver on? And I think that's what millennials want. I know that's what I want. I don't wanna be micromanaged. I've had times in my career where I've worked 80 hours a week, and I don't wanna do it. I wanna have a healthy work-life balance, and at the end of the day, I'll do what it takes to deliver. Sometimes that is 80 hours, but sometimes it's 30.

19:17 Amanda Hammett: Yeah. JW, that was very millennial of you to say that.

19:21 JW Kiser: Oh, thank you. Thank you.

19:23 Amanda Hammett: That work-life balance idea, that's something that I hear a lot of complaining about is like older generations sometimes just don't get that. But of course, we were the ones that introduced the concept of being a workaholic.

19:37 JW Kiser: Yeah.

19:38 Amanda Hammett: So I guess that's probably why. So when you're looking at hiring a young employee, is there anything in your mind that will stand out, whether it's in a resume, whether it's in the interview process, is there anything that really stands out in your mind that says, "This person is going to be a rockstar. This person, like I gotta have this person."

20:03 JW Kiser: I want somebody that's confident. First and foremost, I tell everyone the same thing that, I hire you for this, what we're doing right here. I hire you... If you can communicate, that's kind of the part one of what we do. If you have great conversation with great people and ask for business, you'll be very successful. But the second part of that is, I want somebody that's driven and I want somebody that's not driven by dollars. Dollars are the worst motivator ever. If you give somebody some dollars, it's very short-term performance driven. It's not what people think it is. So I want someone that, first and foremost, can communicate. And then second, the success that they wanna have comes from within, not an external reward.

20:51 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome, but I love that. I love that a lot. So is there anything... Is there anything else that you think that organizations need to know about hiring millennials, whether they're the younger millennials or the older millennials like yourself.

21:06 JW Kiser: Yeah, thanks for reminding me again.

21:08 Amanda Hammett: You're so welcome.

21:10 JW Kiser: You know, I do think millennials are a little different generation, and it's no different than what I do or what you do. If you go to one organization or another one, you've gotta kinda tailor your pitch a little. It's the same if I'm going to see a farmer, or if I'm gonna see a 30-million-dollar customer, you gotta change a little bit, and you gotta have some flexibility. And I think millennials probably demand that more than ever. I mean, I don't think that they're... I'm not saying previous generations are just cookie cutter. I'm not saying that, but I think they want some flexibility. I think the perks that they want are a little different. So to me, when I try to hire someone that's younger, I wanna figure out what their hot button is.

21:56 Amanda Hammett: Yeah.

21:56 JW Kiser: What do they want the most out of this? Is it... Do they value the vacation, do they value the dollars, do they value a Country Club membership? What is it?

22:07 Amanda Hammett: And how do you find that out JW?

22:08 JW Kiser: You gotta ask great questions. It's no different than... If you'll talk to someone, and you get somebody talking about themselves, they'll love to keep going. So you ask great questions, and don't be afraid to ask those questions. So, I think you figure out what the hot button is and you play that card. Because ultimately, that's what's gonna drive their decision, and make them happy and content with where they're gonna work.

22:34 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. That is fantastic advice. And I think that that's something every leader needs to hear. At the end of the day, we're all hiring, we're all looking for that next person that's gonna help us push to the next level. But you gotta hire right to do that.

22:50 JW Kiser: That's right.

22:51 Amanda Hammett: Well, fantastic. Well, thank you so much, JW, for being on the Millennial Rockstar podcast. Is it okay if our audience wants to reach out to you on LinkedIn?

23:01 JW Kiser: Sure, that'd be great.

23:02 Amanda Hammett: Fantastic. Well, I will share a link to JW's LinkedIn profile in the show notes. But thank you guys for joining us today on the Millennial Rockstar podcast, and we will see you next time. Bye.

23:14 JW Kiser: Thank you. Bye.

23:16 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 amandahammett.com. The link is below, it's amandahammett.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.

featuring Janet Hart

08: Fighting the Millennial Imposter Syndrome for Career Growth

Millennials as a generation of kids grew up hearing they could do anything they set their minds to. Now they are questioning that ability. Now millennials are facing the Impostor Syndrome especially at work and it is affecting their career growth and trajectory. Meet a millennial rockstar who has successfully used mentors and colleagues to help her battle the Impostor Syndrome.

Janet Regal Hart is a Sr. Manager, Product Management at Amazon. Amazon.com, Inc., is an American multinational technology company based in Seattle, Washington, that focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence. It is considered one of the Big Four technology companies along with Google, Apple, and Facebook.

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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 - Fighting the Millennial Imposter Syndrome for Career Growth

00:01 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett, and this is the Millennial Rockstars Podcast.

00:05 Amanda Hammett: All right, so in this episode of the Millennial Rockstars Podcast, we are going to meet a rockstar, Janet Hart, who's coming to us from Amazon. And so Janet actually shares with us a story about one of her early, early mentors and how he actually helped her to learn to tie her outcomes to financial results for the company and how that has made all the difference in her career. And then she also gets pretty vulnerable, and shares with us the story about how despite all the successes she has seen throughout her career, how she still, to this day, sometimes struggles with the impostor syndrome. So tune in and listen to what Janet Hart has to share.

00:43 Amanda Hammett: Hey there, this is Amanda Hammett. I am known as the millennial translator® because I help companies attract, retain, and engage top millennial talent. And speaking of top millennial talent, today, we have Janet Hart, who comes to us from Amazon. Janet, thanks for coming on the show.

01:00 Janet Hart: Hi, it's nice to be talking with you today.

01:04 Amanda Hammett: Well, great, great. So here's the thing, this show is all about you have to be nominated to be on the show and you have to be nominated by a former boss or a former co-worker, or a current boss or co-worker, and you were nominated by somebody that I actually respect and admire tremendously. She could not say enough good things about you. Let's just put it that way.


01:30 Amanda Hammett: Now, tell us a little bit, Janet, about your career.

01:33 Janet Hart: Well, so I started my career in 2001, at a company called Blackbaud, in Charleston, South Carolina, and I was there until about 2014. In my 13 years there, I had seven different positions and so I moved every two to three years roughly to a different part of the company. So I started working with third-party resellers and then I moved into a year where all I did was data analysis on sales performance metrics, diving deep into really interesting things. And then that prepared me to lead the global operating plan development and the regular operations of the sales work, did that for a few years, and moved into marketing. Learned a lot there, really focused on marketing automation, which was emerging at the time.

02:29 Amanda Hammett: Cool.

02:30 Janet Hart: Yeah, actually I really had a good time in that position, because we had put out some very large, and this was roughly like 2011-12. So we were looking towards 2020 as like, "What is our big goal for 2020 and how are we gonna get there?" And I thought we're not gonna get to this goal of acquiring customers if we're gonna call every single person individually, we need a better way to reach our market and a better way to talk to them with personalized messages. And so we... I led my team and we brought in marketing automation to Blackbaud for the first time and it has become an engine for them, which is super exciting. For me, even though I'm not doing that anymore, it's had a lasting impact. So I did that for a few years. And then, I moved on to a role where I was the director of operational excellence and led a major project for back office transformation.

03:23 Amanda Hammett: Cool.

03:24 Janet Hart: Where I had been on sales and marketing, then I moved to like, well, how do we iron it all out so that a customer and a contract comes in at the front of the business and goes all the way through to recognition smoothly. So that was...

03:38 Amanda Hammett: Wow.

03:38 Janet Hart: Yeah, the last thing that I did there. And then I was at a point where I was ready to do something new, take on a new challenge and I had to ask myself some tough questions: Do I wanna take on a new position here? 'Cause there was still more for me to learn. Or, do I wanna go and try to tackle a challenge at a different company and get a different perspective and way of thinking of things? And that's what I did. And so I ended up joining Amazon in the create space division here in Charleston and I'm a senior product manager and I have a team of product managers and I find it really fun work, very customer-focused like working backwards from opportunities to develop solutions and the work is very different than what I was used to before. The mental model is different in that you know... I just, I think it's been fun, so like that's the nutshell.

04:39 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome. I mean you've had a really fascinating career. And one thing that I really wanna point out to our listeners who are leaders of millennials is that you mentioned, and this is something I've seen consistently. You mentioned that every two to three years, you were ready for a new challenge. But the fact of the matter is, is you stayed put at one company for 13 years, and millennials do not have a reputation for being long-term employees, when actually that is, that's false.

05:15 Janet Hart: Yeah, I think I was lucky at Blackbaud to have good leaders that I worked with, who recognized that I needed that change, and that I was flexible enough to be able to move to different competencies or functions in the company, learn about them, figure out what could be improved, or what needed to be started and didn't exist, like tackle something. So I think that that is one of my sort of super powers is being flexible, because I bend, I can bend in a lot of different directions, but I don't break easily, so I'm really up to kind of a variety of challenges. And I had one mentor there who I was lucky to work for twice. He helped me think about my career differently. I think in a way, we were of different generations, and so a little bit of friction and frustration that we had when we had career development conversations, is he was like, "Well, what do you wanna do long term? What do you wanna do in 10 years?" I was like, "I don't know." I really can't think that far in advance. I'm much better at saying this is what I don't wanna do or this challenge seems interesting, and maybe only thinking three years in advance. And so he's like, "Alright, well, then, we're just gonna put you on this tour of different parts of the company."


06:45 Janet Hart: And he really helped me think about the skills that I was gaining with every job. And I think at one point, he had a finance background. He used an example of, there are multiple different types of accounting, or tax or parts of financing. You can specialize in one part, but it's really still accounting, and so what do you wanna add and build to your skill set? And his concept was, "You could do it again, but it doesn't make your check mark any darker, really." So...

07:17 Amanda Hammett: I love that.

07:21 Janet Hart: Yeah, think about the breadth of what you wanna learn and survey opportunities from that lens.

07:27 Amanda Hammett: I love that he was very aware of that. And do you mind me asking what generation he was from?

07:33 Janet Hart: I think he is in his mid-50s now.

07:38 Amanda Hammett: Okay, alright.

07:39 Janet Hart: Probably a baby boomer, I think.

07:40 Amanda Hammett: Yeah, so I love that he said that about the check mark not being any darker because previous generations, they always thought of their career is very much a ladder and it's always the upward movement. But millennials really look at their career, I consider it more of a lily pad, so jump laterally to laterally. And you're picking up skills along the way, and yes, you're moving up a little bit, but not these one wrung after the other. So I love that, and I've never heard the check-mark thing so...


08:13 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome.

08:14 Janet Hart: He has really stuck with me, and I have said it to more than one person on my team, and it helped me provide coaching guidance to other people like, "Well, what do you really wanna get out of it? Let's think about the components of the job, and not just could you do it every day, but what is gonna be the outcome and benefit to you." So yeah.

08:32 Amanda Hammett: That's so fascinating. So let me ask you this. You mentioned a little bit about your mentor, and I would like to circle back to him or maybe another one a little bit later, but let's talk a little bit about your career and what kind of stumbling blocks have you seen and what... How did you get through them?

08:55 Janet Hart: Yeah. I would say learning, there's always... When you take on something new, there's always a learning dip, and so it's like you go down a little bit and you have to climb back out of that dip. I think that one of the things that I've learned is the importance of perseverance and tenacity and continuing to push through some of those things. Where you have road blocks it's in many of my jobs, it's been about solving something or building something, and so every setback is I have taken the approach of, "Alright, well what are the new conditions? How does that change my thought process, and how can I adapt to that?" And that's something that has really served me well, especially as I've grown in my career, because it's never a hard no, or a total dead end. There's usually a way out or around something. You just gotta be persistent. So that's been a good thing for me. I would say a personal stumbling block, probably has to do with self-confidence, and I have seen other people who have been a little bit more aggressive in pursuing their next career step, going maybe bigger and higher instead of my of zig-zag approach. And I think we talked about this with some of my co-workers on my current team, is that I think it's called the impostor syndrome.

10:30 Amanda Hammett: Oh yeah.

[overlapping conversation]

10:32 Janet Hart: Yeah, and so one of the women in our office went to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Technology, so Grace Hopper was a pioneer of tech. They have this conference annually, and she attended a session about the impostor syndrome. And she came back to our office, and she's like, "It has a name." She's like, "Everyone, it has a name." And so you could see collective sighs around the room. We're all like, "Yes, okay. We all suffer from this," and it was a great moment for everyone to say, "What do you mean? You do? I never would have thought that you would have self-doubt, or be super hyper-critical of your own work in that way, because it's amazing." So we unofficially formed this network just to be able to talk about it and it was really nice. But I'm still working through that stumbling block.

11:25 Amanda Hammett: Well, honestly, it is something that I have struggled with, and I'm sure that men face this as well, and I know that they do. But I feel like women face it at much higher rates and are a lot more self-critical of themselves. That was... Sorry. But what have you guys since within your team, you have noticed this and you've discussed it, or do you find yourself calling each other out saying, "Hey that was awesome. Don't worry about that," or what are you guys doing about it?

11:57 Janet Hart: We do. So we haven't developed a really formal mechanism to address it yet, but... You know, little things, like in written and email communication when people say, "For what it's worth, this is my opinion," just being able to recognize that even that is a confession to someone else that your opinion's not valid. So it's small stuff like that, that maybe you don't realize is in there. And so, I will say, the woman to the conference, she's like, "You guys should all just read your communications, write them, read them and look for these trigger words, and try to remove them." And it's interesting.

12:37 Amanda Hammett: It is.

12:39 Janet Hart: Surprising.

12:40 Amanda Hammett: Actually, on this same very topic, I interviewed someone earlier this week and she is a sales leader and she's managing a team and one of the things that she had to learn early in her career is to stop apologizing. And she's like, "I teach that and I coach that to new sales reps all the time." She's like, "There's obviously a time and a place where you do need to apologize," but she's like, "You're walking down the hall and somebody's looking on their phone and not paying attention, they bump into you, you don't need to apologize for that." She gave three or four other examples and I was like, "I do that, I do that." [chuckle] So, yeah, I love it. That's fantastic, that is really fantastic. So you mentioned earlier and I'd like to revisit your mentor or another mentor or boss. So is there anything that your boss, current boss, old boss, mentor, co-workers have done that have really kept you engaged and productive and wanting to just keep driving forward?

13:42 Janet Hart: Yeah, so I will say the mentor that I mentioned previously, he was very good about helping me understand the connection of my work to the long-term impact on the business. So not only was I able to learn and add skills but also demonstrated proof and evidence of additional incremental revenue I was able to drive or cost savings and efficiency, and really being able to quantify things.

14:11 Amanda Hammett: That is fantastic.

14:12 Janet Hart: Yeah, and so everything I am doing, it does matter and here's how. Here's how we can show that. So that's what has been really important to me, I really love to see that my work at the end impacts the customer or the company ideally both to the mutual benefit. And I'll say something else that I think is important in my current team is really flexibility. Understanding that life is more integrated with work. And so, sometimes you have appointments with children, and you're taking care of that, but then you're getting online whenever you can. You're getting the work done, and that is what matters more than clocking in at particular times. That's one thing, and then I'll also say, more importantly than that is really safety, to be able to experiment and fail at things and really try and grow. Everything doesn't need to be studied until you know it's going to be perfect before you do it. Some things we should probably just go ahead and do it and see what happens. And so I think that that's a great culture where you can learn, and you might have some positive surprises that you if you had studied further wouldn't get. I'd say just to recap, like tying my work to impact, flexibility of schedule, and safety to experiment and fail, or really succeed.

15:43 Amanda Hammett: That's awesome, I love companies that really encourage that failure piece because, honestly, that is something that millennials did not grow up with in their educational experience, and our culture just didn't support that, that thought process. But now, in order to be successful, in order to innovate, we've got to do that and you guys are the kings and queens of innovation over there. So [chuckle] you gotta expect this is... You're gonna have some great successes and you're gonna have some failures, and that's okay.

16:17 Janet Hart: Yeah.

16:18 Amanda Hammett: I love it.

16:19 Janet Hart: Yeah, failure's scary, it's not fun, but you don't learn, really, if you don't try.

16:26 Amanda Hammett: No, yeah, you're absolutely correct. Alright, I gotta ask. You've worked for some really fantastic companies and you've had multiple jobs, especially at Blackbaud. When you were going through that interview process for any of those positions, do you feel like there was anything in particular about you or a way that you talked about yourself or anything, your resume, whatever, is there anything that really made you stand out to a hiring manager?

17:00 Janet Hart: Oh, that's interesting. I'll say at one point now, because I've had so many different positions. On the plus side, I think people look at me and they're like, "Wow she could do a lot of different things." Someone on my team last year said, called me a Swiss Army knife. Like, "I can ask Janet just about anything and if she doesn't have that deep experience, she knows someone who does." So in a way, I think that that helps me stand out, but on the other hand, I think it can also make it difficult for hiring managers to know exactly how they should use me. It's not as clear that I've had a 15-year career in marketing, therefore I'm gonna go run a demand generation program. There are pros and cons, I think, of my background, but more pros.

17:50 Amanda Hammett: Yeah, I would think so. I would say so, yes.


17:55 Janet Hart: I think, too, as I mentioned, tying my performance to impacts, those are all on my resume. And I think that that helps. And then I can easily sort of peel the onion back and talk about those, like what was the context of the situation, what did I do, how did it work out, you sort of present the full picture of the accomplishment.

18:16 Amanda Hammett: Absolutely, I think that there's... Especially in those of us that have careers that are more squishy like mine where there's no hard and fast numbers, I think being able to tie numbers and events to what you have brought to the table is phenomenal, and that is something... I've noticed when I sit down with CEOs and I say I bring out dollars and cents, their eyes and their brains start thinking in a completely different direction. They might have seen me in one way but now they're like, "Oh, okay, this is what we need." So, I love that. I love that your mentor really taught you to do that, that is something I feel that's gonna serve you well.

19:00 Janet Hart: Yeah, I don't think it was his quote originally, but he said it often, what gets measured is what gets managed.

19:05 Amanda Hammett: Yes.

19:06 Janet Hart: And so that was drilled in.


19:11 Janet Hart: Never forget that.


19:14 Amanda Hammett: Were you repeating it in your sleep, was it like that?


19:17 Janet Hart: Yeah, I say these things to my daughter.


19:22 Amanda Hammett: I love it.

19:23 Janet Hart: Yes.

19:23 Amanda Hammett: Awesome. Okay, so now, is there anything... You are on the older side of the millennial generation. Is there anything that you're seeing now that you're bringing in new younger employees, is there anything that you wish that they knew as they're starting out their careers?

19:47 Janet Hart: Now that's an interesting question. I think it almost depends on where they are starting their careers, like if they're starting their careers in a role that allows them to have project work and kind of get to a point where they can demonstrate some of that impact versus someone who's starting more in like a frontline role like in customer service for example. I guess I would say no matter what your job is, there's probably opportunity to improve it. And so, being curious about how things work or how things could work in representing that to your leadership team like, "Hey, I identified something, I think this could be better. Here's how I think it could be better." Those are the kinds of things that I think will get associates noticed. It's like someone with some initiative, drive, curiosity, and who wants to add that value. It's more than just coming in and doing the job. Those are the things that I would recommend.

20:49 Amanda Hammett: That's I think really awesome advice, really, really awesome advice. Actually, I'm getting ready to go talk at a university and they always ask me questions just like that and so I think that that was a perfect answer.

21:04 Janet Hart: Okay.


21:05 Amanda Hammett: Perfect, I might borrow from you.


21:07 Janet Hart: Sure.

21:08 Amanda Hammett: I'll totally give you credit.

21:09 Janet Hart: Yeah, no worries.


21:11 Amanda Hammett: Well, wonderful, wonderful, Janet. Well, we're gonna wrap up, but if anybody from the audience wanted to reach out to you on LinkedIn, would that be okay with you?

21:19 Janet Hart: Yeah, definitely.

21:21 Amanda Hammett: Perfect, perfect. Well, I will include your LinkedIn profile link into the show notes and otherwise I thank you guys so much for joining us for another episode of Millennial Rockstars, and of course with our lovely rock star today, Janet Hart. Thank you so much.

21:38 Janet Hart: Thank you.

21:39 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 amandahammett.com. The link is below, it's amandahammett.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.

featuring Danny Schneider

07: How to Hire a Millennial Rockstar

How do you hire millennial rockstars? Every company goes into the hiring process hoping to find a millennial rockstar. Unfortunately, most of the time they simply find someone who can do the job. But what if the aim became more to find the "right" person instead of any person? In this episode, you'll learn about how this millennial's manager knew she was hiring a millennial rockstar.

Danny Schneider is a National Inside Sales Supervisor, 3PL at Saia Inc. Saia is an American trucking company, or a less than truckload trucking company, that originated in Houma, Louisiana in 1924. With original operation occurring in Louisiana and Texas for the first fifty years, expansion came after 1980 when coverage began reaching into more states within the South.

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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 - How to Hire a Millennial Rockstar

00:02 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the Millennial Rockstars podcast.

00:06 AH: Today on the Millennial Rockstars podcasts I interviewed Danny Schneider. And Danny is a rockstar. And this episode talks a lot about how do you spot that rockstar before you even hire them? Now, funny thing is, Danny was nominated by Jamie Salter who I interviewed a few episodes back. But she knew when she saw his resume and when she met him for the first time that he was going to be a rockstar even though he was A, still in college and B, guess what? Danny had zero work experience. But Jamie knew he was gonna be a rockstar, and guess what? She was right. So, tune in and check out this episode with Danny and you can learn how to spot a rockstar for yourself.

00:51 AH: Hey there, this is Amanda Hammett. I am known as The Millennial Translator® because I help companies attract, retain, and engage top millennial talent. And today, you're with us on the Millennial Rockstar podcast. And today's rockstar is Danny Schneider. Welcome to the show, Danny.

01:06 Danny Schneider: Thank you Amanda. Thank you for having me.

01:09 AH: I am super excited to talk to you. The person that actually nominated you is really awesome and she's a really awesome Rockstar Millennial herself. So, Danny tell us a little bit about you.

01:22 DS: Well, don't tell her that too much. It's just between me and you. [chuckle] Like you mentioned or I don't know if you did actually, so I work for Saia LTL Freight. I have been working here for over two years now, actually. I graduated from Western Carolina University and was hired by that person that you talked about Jamie Salter. She brought me on to her team and little work experience actually, pretty much no work experience. And I've been working with Saia ever since. And I had a couple of promotions along the way and yeah, really enjoyed my time here. Been kind of a brief career but just getting started.

02:03 AH: That's awesome, that's awesome. Well, Jamie had nothing but just high praises to sing about you. So, when she started talking about you I was like, "Alright, I've got to have him on the show as well." Alright, so tell us a little bit about your background. You mentioned that you are a fairly recent to the career. Tell us a little bit about what... You're in sales so tell us a little bit about how you went from college into sales?

02:27 DS: Yeah, so it's an interesting transition. So, like I mentioned little work experience that's really throughout my life. I was actually an athlete for the majority of my life, throughout high school I played three sports. And then I got to college and played collegiate baseball. So, that essentially in itself a lot of college athletes out there then, they know that's pretty much a full-time job. So, did that for four years and had a great time. But then it was the shoulder kind of blew out a little bit and it was time to move on to the, I guess real world you could say.

03:00 AH: Okay.

03:01 DS: So, I was fortunate enough to get in contact with Jamie and Saia, actually the summer before I graduated. And we had spoken about an opportunity that didn't go through actually. They had filled the slots out by the time I interviewed so that was actually my first little rejection. But it came around and by the time I graduated I got back in contact with Jamie and her... And then also the manager there, Mike Basso. They brought me on board and that transition from going to no work experience at all to come into the corporate lifestyle and I'm working in sales. It was different. I didn't know what to expect. But I actually quickly found, Amanda, that a lot of my traits and things that I've picked up in sports translated over and translated over into sales.

03:57 AH: What exactly were those? What do you think really helped?

04:00 DS: I can say definitely this is a combination of just how I am and then what I've gathered from sports. But competitiveness is definitely number one. Especially in sales you wanna be the most competitive person there. You want to win and that's really what I try to bring every day. It gives you a lot of tools in college baseball specifically, preparation, understanding really what work goes into being successful, trying to do more than the person you're competing against. So those are some of the top two things that I've taken away. There's other thing, teamwork. That's also extremely important. Being able to be coachable which mostly cause...

04:44 AH: That's a good one.

04:45 DS: Yeah, I think that's been real big for me coming into the work space and like I said a little experience so try to be as big of a sponge as possible.

04:55 AH: That's awesome. That's great. And I really think that that coachability takes... Will take any employee really really far even employees that maybe don't have that natural knack or talent for whatever the role is. That ability to take in coaching not take it personally and just say, "Okay, how can I improve?" That is one of the main things that I look for when I go into a company and say, "Okay, these are kind of the skill sets you need to be looking for in the interview process." That is in the top five.

05:23 DS: Yeah. No, I've found that to be extremely helpful. I mean in my industry there's people of a lot of different ages and actually most people I deal with have been in the industry probably as long as I've been alive. But what I've found is that you've never been around too much as to kind of learn new things. We have our annual conferences or whether it's gonna someone fairly new like me or someone that's been around and for 30 years, you can always learn new things and taking criticism or taking coaching the right way can definitely translate in a good, in a positive manner.

05:57 AH: I agree. I couldn't agree more. So let's talk about... We talked a little bit about what things have worked for you so far and granted you're pretty young in your career, which is awesome. That you're already... Have some rockstar status, but have you found that there's certain things that just have not worked for you in your career? Whether it's just certain work styles, management styles anything like that.

06:27 DS: As far as management styles go, I haven't run into that quite yet.

06:32 AH: Good for you.

06:32 DS: And no that's not just 'cause Jamie is probably listening or other managers are probably listening [laughter] but going back to the sports back, you're used to different coaching, different management styles so you adapt to that and again you try to take the positives out of that. Really, I guess the road block that I would say that I've run into alludes to what I was talking about earlier is dealing with people with experience and overcoming the thoughts of, "Okay. You have inexperience, you're young." That type of deal, "You really don't know what you're talking about," or, "I might be better suited off with someone that's been working in this industry a lot longer." Something along those lines. That's something kind of how I struggle or not struggle, but I run into with my customers versus more internally and adjusting the corporate or the work lifestyle.

07:27 AH: Okay, I mean that's totally fair. And to be completely honest with you, I am way more advanced in my career than you are and I still run into that.

07:38 DS: Exactly. And I hear that with my direct manager right now. I think he's technically a millennial, as well, but one of the olders I guess you could say, but he ran into that in his career and that was something he had to overcome. And I've gotten that objection quite a bunch... A bunch of times. So it's something I'm still learning to work with something I really can't control, and to be honest, but just finding other ways to work with customers and get them to understand that. I'm in my role for a reason, and the position I was given people are trusting me to do the job. So if we can move past it, let's go for it.

08:20 AH: Awesome, awesome, alright. So let's go back to Danny in college and Danny thinking about going into the working world and into the real world when you go back and you think about that time and the way that you envisioned corporate America or the working world, is there a difference between the way you envisioned it and the reality of the working world, and what was that difference?

08:50 DS: So the main thing is going from a college, college student, a college athlete on the demand for it. So, like I alluded to playing college baseball was a full-time job I feel like and it required a lot of hours, but really getting up doing your 8:00 to 5:00 or even later getting... Some days I'm here 11-12 hours in this office kind of that demanding and being able to function and get in the zone and work that long that was something that honestly, I was not really... I didn't know how I would handle it. Again, I felt pretty confident in myself at first, because of my background and just maybe more of my personality, but that was one of the things that I had reserves about is just, "Hey, can I get to work and be functional by 8 O'clock?" That type of deal. And then also just stepping into an industry like freight which I had no experience in, had no family or anything like that in the freight industry and learning everything that I can. Obviously, there's so much out there with this industry that I could be in it for years and years, and I'll still be learning things.

10:05 AH: Yep.

10:06 DS: But specifically to this industry is understanding what I'm selling, understanding how I can best help my customers and turn it around into something that'll be... That'll work out for my company and their company. So it was all brand new to me. So kind of a long answer short, just everything was new Amanda and I had to get used to that and any time you do something new, I guess, inside, whether you admit it or not there's reserves or you're gonna have some questions but it's 'cause overcoming this.

10:40 AH: Okay, that's awesome, alright. Now let's talk a little bit about your boss.

10:45 DS: Okay.

10:45 AH: Or your old boss Jamie.

10:48 DS: Okay.

10:49 AH: Feel free to just go there about them. [laughter]

10:51 DS: Oh I'll be honest.

10:55 AH: Is there anything that your current boss, your old boss Jamie or maybe a mentor has really done to keep you engaged to keep you productive and to keep you driving forward? Because sales can be, it can be rough.

11:10 DS: Yeah.

11:11 AH: And so is there anything that they've done that really has helped you just keep going?

11:16 DS: Yeah, I'll go on both. I'll talk about former management, Jamie and then a gentleman by then name of Mike Basso that I referred to earlier. Talk about what they did. They got me to where I am and then what my current manager does.

11:30 AH: Okay.

11:30 DS: So as far as Jamie goes and Mike goes. I think what helped me the most was just a belief, like I told you, I've showed him a resume and it said it, sports essentially. And then I could turn that into an interview, but having the thought of alright we see that you're worth this investment, and bringing you on board you know we're size a billion and a half dollar company, so it's a big corporation. There are a lot of plans here, but to trust in me like that and not just, "Hey, we're gonna bring you on board." But continuing, as I was working there, as I had questions, and I ran into things, both Mike and Jamie did a great job of believing me. And then the position that I'm in currently, which is a national account representative, I went from the sales development side, and then I took a brief little project promotion type deal, and then when Jamie was the head of the department for a little bit, I was stuck is because the project had run out and I had done a fairly successful job as a sales development rep, so Jamie approached me as far as this position. It had been something that was open. And some of the executives at our company here, really wanted to push this position as something that could be important for our company.

12:53 DS: So Jamie approached me, and I really hadn't thought of applying for this and said, "I really think you should take a look at this. I really think you'd be a good fit. You've done a good job and other things." So it really was her approaching me and then realizing, "You know what? Yeah, I can work with some of these companies that are doing millions of dollars of revenue a year. I can take this step." And so having that confidence in me, I think from a coaching, from a management standpoint, that is definitely something that's worked and so with my current management, we've... Jamie, of course has gotten another opportunity and isn't with Saia, but I have someone in here that worked with Jamie. He's been around the industry for a while, and then we also have a new director in town.

13:43 DS: So I have two bosses I say I work closely with. But from that standpoint, well works for me and I enjoy challenge. Competitiveness, like I referred to earlier, they're always willing to lay down a challenge and it's while I may... I had a great year last year. And while they're praising me for that it's like, "What are we gonna do in 2018? We have goals and gotta step it up a little bit." So it's a contrast of throwing those challenges at me and knowing that I can take those in stride and be coachable in what I have to do to hit my numbers, but that's something that I really enjoy, is not over-hitting on it where it's, you need to be at this number, if not, there's some pressure on it, but great job last year. Now how are we gonna turn this into more? How are we gonna grow more, get more rep? But, and the same goes with this current management that Jamie had with me, is the belief in me, giving me different capabilities and being flexible with my position, letting me do things that will help me out. That's along the lines.

14:57 AH: Okay, that's really cool. So would you say that your current management, they're putting out these challenges to you and really appealing to that competitive nature within you, but are they also helping you along the way, or is it just like, "Hey this is what it is, go for it." Or are they giving you that...

15:16 DS: Oh no doubt. Yeah, no doubt. There's help along the ways, and I'm glad you're bringing that up 'cause again, that's something that can go towards your last question. The manager that worked with Jake more directly, he has more experience and he's becoming more hands-on my accounts. If I ever need to bring someone in on conference calling. I'm trying to maybe close the deal, just to have the manager on the phone or have the manager on the call. That presence can go a long way, so Jake's very hands-on with that. And then any time I really have a question, like I said, coming brand new into the industry, the more you're in freight, the more you realize you don't know. [laughter] So just being open to advising on what I need to know mainly about the industry, mainly about experiences that they have had in the past. I think that's something that really helps me out.

16:15 AH: Perfect. That's awesome. That's really good. So is there anything that Saia as a company, or the culture within your team, is there anything that they do, whether it's perks, whether it's benefits or it's just that team culture that they do that really helps you to create the sense of loyalty to Saia and to your team?

16:38 DS: Yeah, well it's the fact that you have the opportunity. Like I mentioned, it's a very large company and they've been around for over 90 years and still growing pretty fast, actually. A lot of expansion here lately, so it's the fact that you have that opportunity to grow. There are endless possibilities. Right now I'm in sales. I started off in the sales development role in inside sales, an entry level job, but there's a ton of different directions that I'm able to go.

17:11 AH: Okay.

17:11 DS: My particular position, is the only one within our company. We have over 9000 employees, and I have the only national account representative position that works with just third-party logistics companies. I have that, and so it gives me the flexibility while I'm in a corporate office with four floors of Saia members to individualize my role. So I get to do things my way. I get to bring new ideas to the table and help expand on that. And Saia again, for an old large company which you don't normally see, they have the flexibility to say, "Yeah, that makes sense. That would actually help us out," whatever it might be. You can do it on the environment.

17:57 DS: Within my department they really do a good job as far as keeping everyone engaged, setting goals for everyone. It's not just me they're challenging. We're bringing on new position, always thinking of new ideas, different ways to service our customers. And so that really keeps everyone on their toes, I guess you could say. And the demographic that they've gone after in the past is more recent out of college, or into the mid-to-late '20s type deal. So a lot of millennials in my department as well and inside sales specifically is an extremely part... Or extremely big part of what we have going forward in 2018.

18:43 AH: That's awesome.

18:44 DS: Yeah.

18:45 AH: That's really cool. So you mentioned something. I'd like to circle back to it in this last question. You mentioned something when you have an idea, you bring a new idea to the table, they're like, "Alright, let's go for it." So do you find that they are very open and willing to not only take new ideas and run with them but also to help you brainstorm and think outside the box? Are they willing to think outside the box?

19:09 DS: Yeah. I think if... From my perspective, 'cause if I bring it to my direct manager, and a lot of times it might mean getting something approved, getting something... Investing a little bit more money. Like, for instance, this new laptop I was telling you a little earlier about, things like that. But they do as long as it makes sense, as long as I can present it. And the fact is, "Hey, you know, I'd really think this would good for me or this would be nice to have," or something like that. If I can present it in a fact of, "This is the return that we're gonna get as a company, and this is what I see helping us improve or the benefits to Saia as a company and to me and my numbers," that's something they're very receptive to.

19:57 AH: Alright. So as long as you can build the business case, they're willing to back you up?

20:01 DS: Yeah, it goes like that as far internally and with my customers. 'Cause if I'm just sitting here saying, "Hey, we can get you a little better price, or we can get you in the ball park," that's really not gonna give me a ton. Or it's not really gonna go a long ways. You wanna show what the value is, the... Your people all the time talk about ROI, things like that, but it goes internally and externally, as well.

20:23 AH: I agree. I agree wholeheartedly. Alright, so you've touched on a few of these things, but I want you to spell them out. And Jamie and I actually had an offline conversation about this before when she nominated you. So I already know what you are...

20:39 DS: Alright. [laughter]

20:41 AH: But what is it that you think made you stand out? Because you admittedly came into the workforce with a resume that was basically I was a college athlete with no work experience, whatsoever. But Jamie, from my understanding, like knew immediately you were a rockstar, and she was determined to get you on her team. What was it that made you stand out? What do you think?

21:06 DS: I joke with her too, 'cause like I said, the first time we talked she rejected me. So then she came back and asked me to be on board. And it's like, "Is she gonna just bring me in again and tell me no?" So I always joke with her about that, and she'll tell me she is like, "I really wanted to have you. I really wanted to have you." But I can really say, Amanda, what sets me apart, and I think I briefly mentioned this earlier, is the work that I wanna put in, the work as far as learning my position, learning my industry, working for my customers. This is not really an 8:00 to 5:00 job. And that's what I brought to the table as far as my athlete background. I know how to outwork my competition. That's something you don't just show up whether it's baseball, whether it's your job, whatever it is, you don't just show up and outperform someone. You have to put in the work.

22:01 DS: So whether, like I said, just being willing or willing to invest in myself, in my career, that's something that Jamie and Mike Basso really installed in me. But the hard work, working sometimes till 10 o'clock at night, not just, I'm not here working for 16 hours a day or whatever it might be... But I really need to get this proposal in on time, or I really need to check the statistics for one of my customers to see how we've been doing as far as the service goes so I'm prepared for that 8:00 AM call. That is really something that I can really advocate for myself is I'm gonna outwork anyone.

22:47 AH: Okay. That's perfect. And so what do you think it was on your resume that really stood out that Jamie was like, "I need to call this guy out of all the hundreds of other resumes." What was it?

23:00 DS: Yeah. I don't know if it was something on my resume, but the fact that what Jamie was looking for as far as in inside sales and my first conversation was over the phone and what the job they're looking for me. It was essentially cold-calling, a lot of over-the-phone stuff. So it's how I sounded to customers, how I was able to speak. Being confident, I think that's another big trait that comes into play, whether you're new to an industry and a job or not, but to have the confidence in yourself to know that you can get the job done. I think that's something that Jamie would have picked up on right away. And that's another reason she would have had me come right back in for the interview. I know the second interview process was very, very short because it was Jamie getting me back in here and it's like, "I liked what I saw in the summer. We didn't have room, but now we do. Please, we would like to have you come on board." And again, the confidence and knowing my abilities and trying to grow as a salesman, grow as a professional, that's something I think Jamie would have picked up on.

24:08 AH: Alright, so is there anything that you wish... And I don't know how many other companies you interviewed with, at any point, but is there anything that you wish that companies knew about the interview process, and hiring younger employees?

24:25 DS: So I did not really get to interview with too many other companies.

24:29 AH: Okay.

24:30 DS: To be honest I was... It was like a week after I graduated.

24:34 AH: Okay.

24:34 DS: I got fortunate there.

24:35 AH: You did [laughter] You got...

24:36 DS: Yeah I know and two and a half years later on going on three years, it's worked out. But something I think just to not overlook you look down, you see that like I said, you see the lack of experience, you see someone's maybe inability or someone's inexperience in a particular industry, not just a job but to not overlook someone kind of their characteristics as far as who they are and what they're willing to do. And you can kinda tell, 'cause I've actually had the ability to interview people to come work for Saia so the ability to sit on the other side of that chair. But when someone says, "No, I'm willing to work hard." You can take that in stride but when they can tell you, "I know that preparation goes into this, I know that sometimes I'm gonna have to work longer or do more than what's expected of me." You don't wanna just be at status quo, you don't wanna be at goal, you wanna be above goal.

25:39 DS: So the ability to judge a person and how far they're willing to go, and what they're willing to do. I really hope that that's something that companies aren't overlooking because otherwise, if you're looking at someone's experience, you're looking at a resume you're really just looking for something to wow you before the interview then that's not gonna work too much, but and I'm sure most companies aren't that way. And like I said, my own experience, maybe coming here as far as how much I've interviewed, it's mainly been internally with Saia, but just trying to judge a person's character more than their actual profession.

26:21 AH: Alright, at the end of the day, when you're hiring young employees who are fresh out of college, they're not gonna have a ton of experience they might have a bunch of part-time jobs or they might have a bunch of internships, but you know...

26:35 DS: Yeah.

26:36 AH: What are you gathering from that?

26:38 DS: Like I technically had an internship in college. It was through one of my senior classes it was one of those deals but that didn't define me too much as far as my professional life.

26:51 AH: Absolutely, absolutely, well, fantastic Danny, this has been really awesome. And I think that this will give a lot of really great insight into... For other companies when they're looking at hiring millennial rockstars themselves. So Danny is it okay if our audience wants to reach out to you on LinkedIn.

27:07 DS: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Connect with me, ask me any questions. More than willing to talk and meet new people.

27:13 AH: Fantastic, well I will include a link to your profile in the show notes for the show. Well, thank you guys so much for joining us for this episode of Millennial Rockstars and Danny Schneider thank you so much for being on it.

27:25 DS: No thank you Amanda, I appreciate it.

27:27 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 amandahammett.com. The link is below, it's amandahammett.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.

featuring Jordan Donovan

06: The Value of Millennial Mentorship

Mentoring Millennials is regarded in corporate America as a "nice" thing to do, but often is overlooked in the controlled chaos. However for millennials, mentorship is a way to help them translate what they learned in college into real world experience. But the benefits of mentoring millennials does not end there. Studies have proven that mentors who are 86% more engaged in their own role within the company.

Jordan Strait Donovan is a Business Support Analyst at Valvoline Inc. Valvoline Inc. (NYSE: VVV) is a leading worldwide marketer and supplier of premium branded lubricants and automotive services, with sales in more than 140 countries. Established in 1866, the company’s heritage spans more than 150 years, during which it has developed powerful brand recognition across multiple product and service channels. Valvoline ranks as the No. 3 passenger car motor oil brand in the DIY market by volume.

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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 Value of Millennial Mentorship

00:00 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett, and this is the Millennial Rockstars podcast. Alright, in today's episode, I have Jordan Donovan, from Valvoline, and she's gonna break some major millennial moulds right up front, because she has been at Valvoline since the day she graduated from college, 13 years ago. So I want you to listen in and find out how Jordan learned to step up and make herself known instead of just waiting and hoping that her hard work was gonna get her the recognition that she deserves. Join us in the episode.

00:31 Amanda Hammett: Hey there, this is Amanda Hammett, The Millennial Translator®. Thank you so much for joining us today. We actually have someone also from Valvoline. This is Jordan Donovan. Jordan, how are you today?

00:43 Jordan Donovan: I'm good, thanks for letting me call in.

00:45 Amanda Hammett: Oh you're so welcome, thanks for coming in. So tell us a little bit about you, Jordan.

00:52 Jordan Donovan: I have been working for Valvoline for about 13 years in a variety of roles. I'm a Lexington, Kentucky native, so I've pretty much been here since high school, and college, just a short 20 minutes away.

01:05 Amanda Hammett: Oh, nice.

01:06 Jordan Donovan: Yes, I'm a mom to a five-year old little girl and three-year old little boy.

01:10 Amanda Hammett: Oh, fun, fun, fun, fun. So, alright, I know that you've done a variety of things since you've been at Valvoline. Tell us about that very first role transitioning out of college in the classroom into the real world, so to speak. What was that like? What was that first role, and what was that like for you?

01:36 Jordan Donovan: Well, when I left college, I came over to Valvoline and started working in customer service. And my father had also worked for the company so I kind of got my foot in the door to get some jobs, and just some good experience working in customer service learning how to deal with conflict management and problem solving. So it was a very good experience. I worked for there about a year and then was able to be promoted into some additional roles.

02:04 Amanda Hammett: That's really, really cool. I love that you did the customer service route because I think that a lot of times people come in and they're like, "Oh I don't wanna do customer service, that's not cool," or not whatever, but I really think that customer service gives you a good broad view of the company in general, but also dealing with the general public. Because end of the day, you gotta do it. You know, you've gotta...

02:27 Jordan Donovan: Right. [laughter]

02:27 Amanda Hammett: Deal with the general public. So that's really, really, really cool. So now you've been again with Valvoline for quite a while. The national average or millennials are often made fun of for job hopping. 13 years is not exactly what I would consider job hopping though.

02:47 Jordan Donovan: That's true.

02:47 Amanda Hammett: So you've [laughter] been there a little while. Have you had any stumbling blocks so far in your career, in those 13 years?

02:58 Jordan Donovan: If you look at my resume, most of the jobs I was in for about three years before I moved on. Some of those, I definitely think, gave me the skill sets that I was able to use for future roles, but I think some of my mentality for the first few years was my work will be my track record and they'll see that and promote me. But the last probably, couple of years, as I've built some mentor relationships, they've been teaching me, you gotta own your career, you gotta get out there, put your foot in the door and try to get a head above everyone. So having mentors, I think has definitely helped me with some of the stumbling blocks that I faced in prior years just because I have champions now who are bringing my name to the table in some discussions and giving me project work or working with my current supervisors to just showcase some of my skills. So that's probably helped me in the last few years where in past, I probably was like, "I'll just work really hard, and they'll promote me eventually." That didn't always work, I think.

04:00 Amanda Hammett: Oh, that's wonderful. I'm sorry you had to go through that experience of not figuring that out, but I'm so glad that you did figure out this getting a mentor. I think mentorship is one of the things that I advocate most for. I think, that is incredibly important on both sides of the table, whether you're the mentor or the mentee. But tell me, Jordon, how did you get this first mentor? Tell me how that came about.

04:25 Jordan Donovan: So my boss in a former role, she kinda moved into a different role, and we started a mentor program here. So we kinda kicked off a pilot program, and they matched people up with skill sets. So one of the things I wanted to work on was command skills. Just being able to present in front of an audience and have confidence. And there was only one person that also checked that as a strength. So we got paired up and just through conversations, they helped provide a little bit of feedback on opportunities I could work on for my command skills. It's always a work in progress for me, but I definitely think they've helped strengthen that skill set.

05:03 Amanda Hammett: That is amazing. I love that you knew this about yourself, and that you did something about... To further that skill, regardless of the fear because I know that the thought of presenting in front of people is scary to most people. I do it a lot, so it's different for me but most people, it's a major fear. And I'm glad that you attacked it head on. That's really cool. And I think that that's really good for your career as well. Have you noticed a difference now in your growing comfort level with giving presentations in front of people, have you noticed a difference? And I don't really know the right word I'm trying to use here, but have you noticed a difference in how you feel like you're perceived by other people, especially the people above you?

05:52 Jordan Donovan: Yes, and I think just kind of owning my work and presenting it too. Where, probably in past years, I'm like, "I'll do this presentation. I'll do this analysis, and I'll hand it off." I've been trying to take those opportunities to say, "Can I go present that? Can I have that experience?" And I probably stumbled through several of them, but I think as I said, I'm getting better and more confident with each one. So continuing to volunteer for those opportunities when they arise.

06:18 Amanda Hammett: And there is no substitute for that face time because a lot of times when people above you, when they're thinking about a presentation, even if it was a group effort, they tend to remember the person that actually presented it; whether they did none of the work or all of the work, that's the person that they most associate. It's that's facial recognition, and they have put that face with that group. So good for you for stepping up and for going forward with that. Now, have you had any other relationships with mentors, or is it just this one?

06:50 Jordan Donovan: So like I said, this year, I sat with my mentor and I was like, "I kinda wanna branch across. I thought maybe I'd like some marketing or some digital experience in my next five to 10-year career plan." So about a year ago, I added an additional mentor in the marketing department. So she's director of one of our brands. So we meet quarterly. We've been busy. There's been a lot of changes going on this year, so we probably haven't met as regular. And then, I added in a VP as well. So we were gonna meet quarterly, twice a year. We were gonna try to meet occasionally. He ended up leaving the company, so I'm kind of searching for that again. But just getting their feedback, how they kinda navigated their career paths, some stumbling blocks they may have had to watch out, and just getting their feedback on things they may have learned from that I can use to my advantage.

07:37 Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. I think that that is... I think that you're doing it; that's fantastic. The feedback that you're willing to take, and just putting yourself out there in new and different roles; that's serious growth, and that's where a lot of things start. So I feel like women in particular tend to be a little more, "Oh, I'm gonna let my work speak for itself." And although you might be the best person at this particular job, sometimes it's the person that puts themself out there that is the one that gets the promotion or the one that gets the recognition. So good for you. Good for you for doing that. I love it. So now... Is there anything that... We've talked about the mentors. Is there anything that a particular boss in the past, and in your various roles, or maybe even a co-worker has done that really keeps you engaged, or keeps you really wanting to get out there and do good work for Valvoline?

08:38 Jordan Donovan: I've been fortunate that I've had great leaders in most of my roles, and as I've kind of made efficiencies and processes and had additional bandwidth, I can reach out to them to say, "You know, I'd really like to cross-train on a different product line, or pick up some project work." So they've always been open to that. Our company is great; they do tuition reimbursement. So I had worked here about a year, and I decided I'd like to go back to school and they paid for my MBA. So they're amazing about those opportunities. And then, most jobs, there's been certifications or skillsets that we can do. So I did my... When I worked in pricing, I became a certified pricing manager. When I was in supply chain, I worked on my APICS certification. And then right now, we've been having some negotiations, looking for opportunities to certify some product line management. So they're always willing, I feel like to go the extra mile to train us to be more proficient in our job.

09:31 Amanda Hammett: That's really cool. Now, besides the additional training, and continuing education, and the tuition reimbursement, that's fantastic.


09:40 Amanda Hammett: Is there anything else that you can think of that Valvoline offers, as far as benefits or perks that has just been... That makes you feel like, "Hey, they see me as a human. They want me to do my best." Is there anything...

09:56 Jordan Donovan: Well, like I said, if you look at my resume, I've been here 13 years. They typically promote within, when possible, so I feel like that's kind of a leg up over external candidates. The tuition reimbursement. We're heavily involved in the community; we do the Habitat builds every year, the Big Brothers Big Sisters. They offered a SOAR programs. So I did a shortened version of the SOAR women's leadership training. And then, through our women's networking program here, I've been able to attend several conferences for Women Leading Kentucky, and so forth. So just to network with women outside the organization. So just trading stories and successes, so that's been good too.

10:36 Amanda Hammett: Oh, actually, that's how I came into Valvoline, was through your women's group. So it's a great little group. Not little, actually, it's not little at all. [chuckle] But it's wonderful. You guys do a lot of really fantastic things at Valvoline as far as just building company loyalty to the company with the employees, and things like that. I noticed that when I was walking around that you could just see a sense of people were happy to be there. That's not always the case.

11:08 Jordan Donovan: Our new building is fabulous. So it's very modern and high-tech, so I think everyone's loving that too. [chuckle]

11:15 Amanda Hammett: It is. It is quite beautiful. It's quite beautiful actually. So now, is there anything that... Obviously, you've been there a little while, but is there anything as an older millennial that we...


11:31 Amanda Hammett: Is there anything that you wish that the younger millennials or even up-and-coming Gen Z, is there anything that you wish that they knew as they were matriculating into the workforce?

11:40 Jordan Donovan: I think, just take opportunities, volunteer for things. When you come in, just have an open mind and a good positive attitude. I think that's gotten me pretty far. I think I'm easy to work with, I think people can approach me for questions, and if I don't know the answer, I can try to help them, or navigate them to someone who might. And like I said, probably three of my five roles here have been brand new to Valvoline, so no script was written, but I was willing to walk in and develop that so it was a learning together with my manager. But just being open to that.

12:15 Amanda Hammett: And this is totally kinda plays into that. But did failure and just trying to figure things out as you went along because if it was completely new and there was no script, there probably were some things that didn't work out so well, right?

12:31 Jordan Donovan: Right. So I guess I kind of developed that playbook by trial and elimination. So there's definitely things I learned from to avoid and you make mistakes as you're learning. They were new jobs so I think people were a little bit more open-minded, but it has, like I said, developed me and strengthened me for future roles just having that learning curve, I guess.

12:53 Amanda Hammett: I love it. I love it. I love when you're in and you have an opportunity to actually fail and sometimes that's the most freeing thing because you're like, "Alright. Well, that didn't work, so let's just get up and brush ourselves off and keep going." So gotta do it.

13:06 Jordan Donovan: Yes.

13:08 Amanda Hammett: That's fantastic. Well, is there anything that you wish that companies did that made the hiring process a little bit better? But let me actually change that up a little bit. The hiring process as you guys are bringing in new people, how it affects you. Is there anything that you wish that Valvoline, for instance, knew about that, how that affects you as a clerk?

13:38 Jordan Donovan: I think for us, just in some of the interview process, some of ours can be formal, they're more panel interviews. So I think sometimes we've been steering those away and point even more towards looking at their skill set, looking at their work experience or their past experiences if they're an internal candidate and just trying to leverage that more than just how they might interview or how they may look on a resume, how they work in real life situations.

14:05 Amanda Hammett: Right. And you guys do so much internal promotion, which is just phenomenal. I love it. So very cool.

14:14 Jordan Donovan: And for millennials, I think we have so many coming in. I laugh, I used to be the young one here and I'm like, "Now, I've been replaced by this whole new generation coming in." But I feel like they have so much insight and new ideas and they're just like a fresh breath to some... A lot of us have been here several years, so I think they can offer some unique perspective. I also laugh because I feel like so many of them that have these awesome internships they've had and this higher education. They come with so much to the table from the beginning.

14:43 Amanda Hammett: Yes, I know exactly what you're talking about. [chuckle] Later today I have a meeting, there's a university here in Atlanta that is doing a study on women entrepreneurs, and they reached out to me wanting me to be one of their study subjects and I was like, "Oh." And I was expecting this was like a graduate study. No, this is a first semester freshmen students. [laughter] I was like, "Okay." Well we'll just...

15:14 Jordan Donovan: Like I'll look at some resumes of who we've interviewed. And I'm like, "They have amazing experiences already."

15:20 Amanda Hammett: Yeah. Absolutely. It is amazing some of the things that they're doing before they even get into the workforce, so it's just what can they do once they get there?

15:31 Jordan Donovan: Right. Yes.

15:33 Amanda Hammett: Wonderful. Well, Jordan, I really appreciate all of your insights. I love that you have had all this wonderful longevity at Valvoline. Very much breaking a stereotypical millennial mold there. So thank you, thank you, thank you for that and thank you for sharing with our audience about all of your experience and the ups and downs, and the not so fun parts of growing in your career. I love it. Is it okay if our audience reaches out to you on LinkedIn?

16:05 Jordan Donovan: Yes, I would love that.

16:06 Amanda Hammett: Well, perfect. I will put a link to your LinkedIn account in the show notes, but otherwise Jordan, it has been my pleasure. Thank you.

16:14 Jordan Donovan: Thank you so much. [chuckle]

16:16 Amanda Hammett: Bye. Thank you.

16:17 Jordan Donovan: Bye.

16:19 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 amandahammett.com. The link is below; it's amandahammett.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.

featuring Anna Turner

05: Why Early Career Mentoring is Critical to Long Term Success for Millennials

Mentoring Millennials is now more important than ever. The fate of our economy is focused on the transfer of knowledge from older generations to the millennial and gen z generations. That transfer of knowledge can easily be passed from Baby Boomers and Gen X'ers through mentoring millennials and Gen Z's. A good mentor relationship is a major foundational step to the long term success of our next generations.

Anna Burkhart Turner is a Product Leader at Ultimate Software. She has experienced product management leader with expertise in building market-leading HCM products and growing strong product 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 - Why Early Career Mentoring is Critical to Long Term Success for Millennials

00:01 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the Millennial Rockstars Podcast.

Hey and welcome to this episode of the Millennial Rockstar Podcast. Today's rock star is Anna Turner, who's in product development for a technology company. Now this is a super fantastic interview that I really, really enjoyed, because one of the best stories that Anna shared with us was about a mentor that she had early on in her career, and actually the lessons that that mentor taught her are still lessons that Anna uses today in her career. Now, not only that, but there is... She also shares with us a story about a boss who came later, who showed Anna an incredible sense of grace and flexibility when Anna really needed it the most. You see, Anna at the time was a mom to two young kids under the age of two and we all know when you're trying to deal with two kids under the age of two, you're basically just trying to survive. So Anna tells us all about that, what that time was like for her in her career and how her boss used that opportunity to instill a sense of loyalty in Anna. I can't wait for you to hear all about it.

01:06 AH: My name is Amanda Hammett, I am known as the millennial translator®, because I help companies attract, retain, and engage top millennial talent. And today, speaking of top millennial talent on the Millennial Rockstar Podcast, we have Anna Turner. Anna, welcome to the show.

01:21 Anna Turner: Thanks Amanda for having me.

01:23 AH: I'm so excited to talk to you. Anna, why don't you just get us started, tell us a little bit about you.

01:29 AT: Sure. So, I'm Anna Turner. I work for an HR technology company, and I have been in software for my entire career, so I've been in high tech and have been in a role called product management and our role is really to figure out what types of things we want to build, new features, new products and to make that happen.

01:51 AH: That's really kind of an important but awesome role all at the same time. So tell us a little bit about how you... How did this come about, I mean when you were in college did you say, "Man, I wanna develop software".

02:06 AT: No, I did not. I, coming out of college knew that I wanted to move to Charleston, South Carolina, which is where I live now and at that time, the company that I was looking at, I was thinking about going into sales back then. The company here that I was looking at was called Blackbaud and it is software for nonprofits and that was my first job. So I actually ended up going into HR as a recruiter and while I was in HR as a recruiter doing college recruiting, so we hired about 80 to 100 new college grads every year to come work for our company as software engineers, or sales people, or consultants, I had an opportunity to learn about what product management was and why it's an important role in software and fell in love with the idea of working in that job and eventually got an opportunity to start as a junior person in that department.

03:00 AH: That's really cool. Now was that also with Blackbaud?

03:02 AT: Yes.

03:03 AH: Awesome, awesome. Now, I will tell you that of course to be on the show, you have to be nominated by someone that you have worked for or with or maybe someone you've been in a vendor relationship with. But the person that nominated you actually was from your days in Blackbaud and she is somebody that I respect tremendously but she... She had so many great things to say about you. I couldn't even... I think you would be embarrassed if I sat here and listed them out for you. [chuckle] But I just, I loved what she had to say about you and just the fact that you are so detail-oriented and that you were just a real... You just get in there and figure it out.

03:45 AT: Well, thank you. Yeah, that person, Maree McMinn is absolutely amazing. She was a huge mentor for me when I moved into that role, it was my first time in product management. She is a rock star herself and pretty brilliant and so she was amazing because she kinda took me under her wing and led me through that role. But she also took the time to sit down with me and teach me things. She's a pricing expert, she's been doing it forever, she's unbelievable and she actually took the time to sit down and explain with me why she did things the way she did, and taught me some of her methodologies and I absolutely loved that. It was a huge growth opportunity for me, to be able to learn from someone like her and for her to stop and spend time with me to teach me. And I still use a lot of the things that she taught me, even today, which now a decade later from that job, and I still use what she taught me.

04:42 AH: That is awesome. I'm gonna have to make sure that she sees this when it comes out, because she is, she is a rock star completely, totally. And now let me... You mentioned this a little bit about... She took you under her wing and she mentored you a little bit. Was that something that she had to do or was it just something she chose to do on her own?

05:03 AT: She absolutely chose to do and I think saw an opportunity to help me. I mean, honestly, it was my first time in that role, it was kinda the first time I was seeing just some of the things that you see at work, like how to navigate, how to meet with executives, how to do different things, and she had done that. We were also good friends, so it wasn't just that, but she was really pretty amazing and pretty critical for me early in my career.

05:36 AH: Oh, that's awesome, I love it. Now, I would assume that... How long have you been out of college and in the professional world?

05:43 AT: About 15 years.

05:45 AH: A little while. Okay, so I would assume that there have been maybe a few stumbling blocks along the way. Have there been any stumbling blocks or we'll call them learning curves that you've had to face so far and tell us about those.

06:03 AT: Yeah, I feel like there's a lot of those...


06:08 AH: Just one.

06:11 AT: Yeah, always learning, right? I had an opportunity about, now it's been almost about two years ago where the start-up that I had been at for six years, I was at that point, the Vice President of Product Management and we decided it was time to sell the company, and so I had lots of stumbling blocks during that process 'cause I had never been through it. It was incredibly challenging. I had to do things that were outside of my role, outside of my skillset, that were way above what I thought I could do and I had a lot of moments where thank goodness for some of the other amazing people I got to work with that they kind of stopped me and said, "Okay, you need to take a breath, you need to take a walk, you can do this, right, you've got this. And we're gonna get through it together." So a lot of times, I think it was actually me but the people around me that rallied around me to help me get across the finish line. That's how we did it.

07:13 AT: And that I really appreciate those people, whether it's me standing up in front of an entire executive team giving a technical overview, I'm not an engineer by trade, so that's quite a stretch. And for them to think that I know what I'm talking about, enough to buy our company, things like that were really hard. But I had people meeting with me after hours and on the weekends, trying to get me ready, so I'd be okay to do that. It was because of those people that I got across those stumbling blocks but a lot of it was actually kind of me.

07:45 AH: Okay, very good, very good. I love it when a good collaborative team effort comes together to pull everybody across the finish line. I mean, you see that in the best of scenarios. So I love, I love to hear that, that's great. Alright, now, let's switch gears just a tiny bit and we kinda touched on this, but I really wanna dive deep and this is more specific for our younger fresh out of college audience. You mentioned earlier that when you came out of college, you were looking originally to go into sales, but you didn't end up going into sales. So, were there any major reality checks that you faced coming fresh out of college and into the professional world? What you thought was working was gonna be like versus what it was actually like?

08:37 AT: Yes. I think for me coming straight out of school, I had amazing professors that definitely built all of us up that we could do anything, and the types of things looking back, that I was applying for coming out of college were definitely not jobs, I was equipped or able to do from a requirement standpoint, right? Coming out with a marketing degree I believed I could lead an entire marketing department. Well, that actually I have a marketing degree and could work in a marketing department, but probably not lead an entire team of people. And so I think for me over the years, especially coming straight out, I kinda had... It was a struggle of trying to reset that. Okay, this is a process. Just because I have gone to school doesn't mean that I actually have the expertise I need to do some of these jobs and I should be taking every opportunity to learn and that experience does matter and that it is, it is important to have not only the soft skills and degree but also the experience that comes with it.

09:46 AH: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Well, we see that all the time, all the time. So okay, fantastic. Now, is there anything that your current boss or former boss or maybe even a mentor outside of Marie, is there anything that they're doing or have done in the past that really has kept you engaged and kept you motivated and kept you being productive?

10:10 AT: Yeah, I think for me, a lot of the people that I've worked for, that I have really wanted to go above and beyond for, I think a big piece has been that they have embraced and respected me, not only at work, but outside of work. So I had a amazing woman that I worked for named Kay Lucas, and she also had been through the stages that I was in at that point in time when I worked for her. My two children, who are now four and six, right? They were 15 months and a brand new baby. She always was really respectful about flexibility and very supportive and also kind of knew the struggles that I was going through. So that for me, just the grace that she gave me during that time in my life when things are really hard made me want to do whatever she needed, I would go to the ends of the earth for her because of how she treated me and took care of me during those kind of times where I needed a little extra grace.

11:19 AH: Oh [chuckle] yes, any time you have one child under two, much less two kids under two, you need a tremendous amount 'cause you're not sleeping and you're just trying to get through the day.

11:32 AT: Yes. So I think that's one. And then the other was just... I love when the people that I have worked with or that have been mentored me have given me opportunities to do things that are stretches, that maybe it's to come present to the executive team on something, and to actually have me present, and it might be a little rocky right but to give me that opportunity for growth. That's the other thing that Kay not only did but lots of people that I've worked for and it's so helpful as I'm trying to grow, to have those opportunities and I try to do the same thing for my team now.

12:10 AH: That's awesome. That's really, really, really awesome. So now you do have a team, and so you're in the position where you are doing the hiring. Is there anything that really makes an applicant stand out to you that makes you say, "Alright, this person is going to be a rock star."

12:28 AT: Yeah, I think a lot of it is soft skills for sure, how they interact with people, references, and a lot of it is hunger to learn. I look for people who are always wanting to learn. They don't think they're done.

12:48 AH: That's awesome. Now, when you say soft skills, what exactly do you mean?

12:54 AT: Yeah, so, in what we do in my group right there is a lot of managing up. You might be reporting out to executives. There is gonna be a lot of negotiation. There's a lot of partnership across different departments in our company, and so you have to be someone who can kinda navigate all of that, and a lot of that is the soft skills that come with it.

13:19 AH: Absolutely, absolutely, and that's something that I hear a lot of is that there is a real need for soft skills that come out of college and they're prepared with hard skills, but their soft skills tend to be a little less or a little more shaky, I guess.

13:34 AT: Yes.

13:34 AH: Okay, fantastic. Alright, so is there anything that you wish that younger employees knew, as they were going through the hiring process?

13:45 AT: That's a really good question. [chuckle] I think one of the things that is really important is to see everything as an opportunity. It might not be the exact job coming out with your degree that... Your dream job, that it might take you 15, 20 years to have that perfect dream job. But that every step along the way is a learning opportunity and you have to embrace it and see it as that and that even those very first jobs they matter so much to who you're gonna be and what you do and what you learn and to not lose sight on that, even if it's not your dream job right out of the gate, that's okay.

14:26 AH: Right. I'm so glad that you said that and you put it in such a beautiful way that I literally just wanna put that on an Instagram. [laughter] Because it is something... When I speak in colleges and universities still today, it's just like, "Well that's not my dream job" and it's like, "Wow, your dream job is not necessarily gonna come right now." [chuckle] I don't care what your professors or career services says.

14:55 AT: Exactly.

14:56 AH: Yeah. Alright, now is there anything that you think employees or employers, or companies in particular, is there anything that you think that they need to do to make it easier or better for the younger employees as they're coming through, as they're matriculating through the entire system?

15:21 AT: Yes, I think there's definitely, and even if it's not at the employer level things that managers can do. One of the things they can do is spend time with their team, just understanding what is that career goal that that person is trying to work towards, and then being able to write as assignments or projects come up. As a manager, you can do a much better job of helping people get where they're trying to go just by knowing that and sometimes people don't ask "What are you trying to do? What's your end game?

15:54 AH: Right.

15:56 AT: "How do I make sure that I'm helping you on that journey during your time with me"? So I think that's one thing, helping managers see how they can do that. I think for employers overall, one of the things that has been really important for me that I have really cherished and valued is flexibility. So in my current role, I work from home 75% of the time, which is a lot. At other companies I've been from home at least one day a week. Having flexibility with things from a corporate standpoint of PTO, unlimited PTO. I've had, at several companies, that's really, really nice as well. So I think some of those things that just really help you manage what you need to for who you are at work and who you are at home is the same person is really something that goes a long way for especially young working moms like me, that really does matter a lot.

16:54 AH: It's funny. You are out of all the people that I've interviewed so far, I think almost all of them have mentioned that flexibility piece. Almost every single one, especially the working moms, it's a challenge for sure, for sure. Fantastic. Well, Anna, thank you so much. I mean, this has been just bits and pieces that are just something to sink your teeth into, which I love. So is it okay if anybody in our audience wants to reach out to you on LinkedIn?

17:25 AT: Absolutely.

17:27 AH: Fantastic. Well, I will include a link to your profile in the show notes. But Anna, thank you so much and thank you guys for joining us for another episode of The Millennial Rockstar podcast. See you next time, bye.

17:41 AT: Bye. Thanks, Amanda.

17:44 AH: 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 amandahammett.com. The link is below, it's amandahammett.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.

featuring Caterina Malerba

04: Why Communication is KEY to Building a Strong Millennial Team

Communicating with millennials is the key to success on any team. Learning to communicate with millennials and all other generations take special skills. This Millennial Rockstar, Caterina Malerba has built her career on making herself the go-to person for everything from team communications, to project management, problem solving and everything in between.

Caterina Malerba is a Program Manager at Cisco. Cisco Systems, Inc. is an American multinational technology conglomerate headquartered in San Jose, California, in the center of Silicon Valley. Cisco develops, manufactures and sells networking hardware, telecommunications equipment and other high-technology services and products.

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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 - Why Communication is KEY to Building a Strong Millennial Team

AMANDA HAMMETT: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett and this is the Millennial Rockstar podcast. Join us with this rock star, Caterina Malerba, where she shares with us why communication is key, especially when you're dealing with teams. And how leadership can actually use communication to build trust and loyalty among us millennial employees. Hey, this is Amanda Hammett, I am the Millennial Translator because I help companies attract, retain, and engage top millennial talent. And on today's episode of the Millennial Rockstar Podcast, we have Caterina Malerba!

Caterina, welcome to the show!

CATERINA MALBERA:Thank you! I'm so excited to be here, thank you!

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Fantastic! So, Caterina works for a super-high-tech company that you have all heard of, I am totally sure, but Caterina, tell us a little bit about your role right now.

CATERINA MALBERA: Sure, so as you mentioned I work for a large IT company as a project manager in the virtual sales, I support the Americas, which include Canada, Latin, and the US. I've been with this particular company for just over three years, and... every day is a new challenge, and I'm so excited to be in virtual sales, where it's the digital motion, a lot of millennials and a lot of... Creative space to see, y'know, all great things that are coming out of it.

AMANDA HAMMETT: That's awesome, that's awesome. I think that you're in a really, really interesting, cool, but fast- moving space.

CATERINA MALBERA: It really is. Every day is something new, and, y'know, new direction, it's just really cool to be close to that pulse.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Very, very, very cool. So tell us a little bit about your career path. How did you get from where you are, 'cause how long have you been out of college?

CATERINA MALBERA: So University... so I'm located in Canada, where, it's been, oh my gosh. Is it approaching 20 years? Almost 20 years. You're aging me.

AMANDA HAMMETT: Oh, I'm so sorry.

CATERINA MALBERA: That's okay. So I started actually in the banking industry, doing account management, and I realized that I really loved, although I loved the client interaction, I liked the behind-the-scenes, putting projects together and moving things along, and it really, but the sales experience really did help me sort of see things start to finish. From there, I just progressed into a services-based industry for a family-run business, which I got to really experience different areas of a corporation that maybe you don't get to in a larger business. And I got to wear a lot of hats, and I really learned quite a bit there. I was there for seven years, and you really just, you learn the ins and outs of how a business runs, and that brought me to my current company. And I've been a project manager now for over ten years, three years with the current one, and it's just been, I've had three roles in three years. And it's, every... You bring the same skill set to it, but it's just a different way to approach things, and different projects, and every day is a great day. For me anyway.

AMANDA HAMMETT: That's awesome, that's awesome. So tell us a little bit about some of the stumbling blocks, because I would imagine that going from banking to this smaller family-run business to this huge juggernaut that you're with now, I mean, there have been probably some ups and downs. So can you give us some examples of some of the stumbling blocks you faced?

CATERINA MALBERA:  For sure. I mean, I look at... So, I never say no, that's sort of my thing. I don't say no to any opportunity. Which, sometimes you get ahead of it, or you just don't have the skill set, or the know-how, which I didn't in certain situations. So you really do either fall flat on your face, or you learn from it, and it works. So, those are the stumbling blocks, kind of knowing when to say no, or be like, can I find out more information? But I just always want to learn, and always want to be involved in things. And I just feel like from those experiences is when I learn the most.


CATERINA MALBERA: When y'know, things didn't go right, and you'll never make that mistake again. I look at it as learning experiences, not really stumbling blocks, but...


CATERINA MALBERA: I mean, my workload is high! But it's good.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  That's awesome, yeah, I have uh, I know your boss, as you know. And yes, he did have some, I actually saw him at an event yesterday, when we were in Houston, and he had just praises for you. Just about--

- Oh! Thank you! He's--

AMANDA HAMMETT: Just about, you are just like, go gogo, all the time.

CATERINA MALBERA:  Yeah, and he, y'know, just to fan-girl for a minute, I do work for Sylvain Tremblay, and Yong Kim. And they're both, there's fire drills feels like every, every other day, and we've got a few hours to complete it on time, and they really just taught me, sometimes even though you don't know everything, just pull in who you need to do it, and we just get the job done. I've learned so much from them in just under a year of being with this team. He just, he's just hilarious the way that he can just picture it, and you learn so much, and he presents on four slides, but he's got 80 in back-up. He knows that it could go any other way, and those are just experiences that I learned so much from, and it really prepares me for the next fire drill that we usually get every day.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  That's awesome, I can totally see him doing that.

CATERINA MALBERA: Yep. He, I mean we, that's just how we approach things. And it serves us well, I have to say. And I've learned so much from him. Cuz it really, the conversation never stays on track. It always veers to the left or the right, and it's good to have those back-ups.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  No, absolutely, and that's the thing that we mentioned earlier, that you're in this incredibly fast-moving space, and you don't really know what direction it's going from one day to the next, I mean you guys are leaders in that field, by far, but it's still up to you guys to chart the part for everyone else to follow.

CATERINA MALBERA:  I mean we hope so right? It's exciting. It's exciting to be like that, and like I said, I don't like to say no to anything, because you just never know where that path will lead you.


CATERINA MALBERA:  So it's really, really cool.

AMANDA HAMMETT: Very cool, very cool! Well since we brought up your boss, your bosses, tell us a little bit about what your bosses current, or maybe in the past, do in order to keep you motivated, to keep you productive, because you do have an incredibly heavy workload. I mean, I know just from knowing what your team does and accomplishes, and who your leadership is, I know that that workload is just through the roof. So tell us a little bit about what they do to keep you productive, to keep you engaged, and to keep you waking up going, yay!

CATERINA MALBERA: For sure. So I've been pretty lucky working for this company and working throughout my career, I've had great managers and leaders that, that I have worked for, I did start at the current company working for Jason Bedinger, and I only worked with him for a few months but he, in those few months he kept me engaged, gave me creative, a little bit of creative space to make a work stream of my own and sort of take off with that. So I really learned a lot. Working with Sylvain and Yong, they do that and more. They really just... They let you just go out and do what you need to do to come back, and then we work together and they have different perspectives on it, and it's just something, that sense of purpose?


CATERINA MALBERA: That keeps me engaged, and knowing that what I'm doing counts to move the needle, or tell the story, or whatever it may be. And that's what I love about them, it's not a check a box, it's not a "okay, "give me this data, but I'm just gonna file it," it's really keeping me engaged and, I mean, if that's not there for me, it's not a self-motivator. If my work is not, doesn't have a purpose, it just isn't self-motivating. So that's what they do to sort of wake me up in the morning and keep me up at night!

AMANDA HAMMETT:  That's awesome.

CATERINA MALBERA: Whichever way you'll go, yeah.

AMANDA HAMMETT: That is so true, I can totally see that. I've mentioned this to you before, but I'm gonna tell you this, and actually, your boss, Sylvain and I were on a panel together a couple days ago in Houston and I actually said this out loud, and I think he was a little embarrassed, but I'm gonna say it again because it embarrassed him. But when I first met him months and months and months ago, I really got the impression in having conversations with him that he viewed his success through the successes of his team and their individual successes and them being proud of those successes. Now, I didn't get the impression that it was all about his ego, it was more about the team and how it made the team members individually feel, because at the end of the day, we all know that's gonna turn around and make the team even more productive.


AMANDA HAMMETT: Yeah. So it's just--

CATERINA MALBERA: I mean, this team, I've seen opportunities where they've passed up because they're just not ready to leave under his leadership and see where he's gonna take the work direction.


CATERINA MALBERA: So, it really is a testament to him, whether he knows it or not, he is really a great leader, and he does invest in his people. And we want, in turn, to do right for him. Everything we're doing is to make him look good.


CATERINA MALBERA: And working for Yong as well, who is his Chief of Staff, you really see that camaraderie and that collaboration, and it's really just great to see when everyone's on the same team. And working toward the same goal. So yeah, definitely fans of both of them.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  That's awesome. Well, I got to hear a lot about Yong on this trip as well, so I'd love to meet him in person too.

CATERINA MALBERA: Yeah! Oh great, yeah, we're setting it up.

AMANDA HAMMETT: So tell me a little bit about, is there anything as far as company perks, or anything that your current company or one in the past has done, that makes you think, man, that makes me feel special, that really makes me feel good, is there anything you can think of?

CATERINA MALBERA: Um, for sure! I mean, the company does have global give-back days. They let us volunteer for causes that are near and dear to our hearts and they pay for you to go to that. Like, they give you the time off, and they pay for you to go to that, or they match it, which is, for a large corporation that is global, they have no relation to where I personally am at London, Ontario, but it's just a great thing to see that it sort of comes home, and that's a great perk for me. Personally, I get to work from home, just because of my location to the hub. And that to me is really important, at this stage in my career, just that I'm able to be home and get to pick up my kids, but also I'm working. Just to have that ability to do that and still do my job, for me is, loyalty right there.

AMANDA HAMMETT: So you mentioned a few big buzzwords in the millennial world. You mentioned loyalty, which, y'know, millennials are often accused of not having. But you also mentioned, you didn't use the word, but you mentioned the ability for flexibility and some work-life balance.


AMANDA HAMMETT:  I mean that is, just for me, that is amazing that you have that opportunity, but it is so, so important especially as we change as a society to, everybody's pretty much a dual-working family these days, and you have kids, they have needs and wants!

CATERINA MALBERA: Yep, and it proves that you don't have to be seen in an office working the traditional nine to five to be able to do your job. And I think that has a lot to do with the trust that my team and my managers and leaders have in me, and they know that I'm not sitting here in front of a TV doing that, that's what-- or going to the gym, that is the traditional mindset but you really do, it's almost like, you just make the most of the time that you can sit in front of the laptop and you get things done. And then you also have that family balance, so.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  That's awesome.

CATERINA MALBERA:  Balance, I am still working on, admittedly, I mean I would love to just sit here and do all the work, we're getting there.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  It's always a work in progress.

CATERINA MALBERA: Yep. Yep. There are times I'm still up at the late hours. But it's also a passion project for me. I love, it really is, the loyalty comes from the engagement and from my leaders and from my team, and it doesn't feel like work for me. So.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  So you actually mentioned a little something I'd like to touch on, and it's a little skew off of something, but you mentioned that they have trust in you. They trust that you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. And obviously, they can see what you're producing, and things like that. But I feel like trust in a team is super important. And that's something I talk a lot about, and spend a lot of time with people helping them develop, but you guys have it. What do you think was that, what do you think it is, that has really helped that along for your entire team?

CATERINA MALBERA: Communication. Absolutely. If there's a lack of communication, or you're not collaborating well, then things tend to be disjointed, and it just doesn't work, and I feel that when... Even when you're on different views, or whatever it may be, you leave them at the door, and you just kind of collaborate and come to a mutual project conclusion, or whatever it may be. And that, I think, in turn, builds trust. If you didn't have that, I have worked on project teams in the past where the communication level was low, and things were just disjointed, and it just didn't work. Everyone is busy, but we really do need to communicate, and also you do need that time together as a team. We're pretty lucky, we get to meet at least once quarterly, and really bond and have closed-doors planning sessions, and it really, just having that trust level amongst each other, we really do work together, even though teams are so sporadic, some in Latin America, some up here in Canada, and some throughout the US. So just being able to come together regularly, and work together, but then in the interim, having that open channel.


CATERINA MALBERA:  Regardless of how that may be.

AMANDA HAMMETT: Right, awesome. So since you guys are all spread out, do you guys do like a lot of video chatting, or how do you guys do that, handle that?

CATERINA MALBERA: Absolutely, yep. Video chatting or calling, there is Jabber, I'm a caller. I love to pick up the phone.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Very un-millennial of you…..

CATERINA MALBERA: I know, I know! Sometimes to type, I'm like, ugh! Just one more word, but I do love that facial interaction, as soon as I call someone it is on video, which is nice. Just to be able to see that. And sometimes you need that, to go beyond written word, is to have that emotional connection that you can, you can communicate on things.

AMANDA HAMMETT: Absolutely! We are hard-wired as human beings to create that human connection, and sometimes you just don't get it in email, or any kind of instant messaging.

CATERINA MALBERA: No. Absolutely. Especially, y'know, it's a pet peeve of mine when you're working through a session or whatever and someone answers, "K." Like oh my gosh, what does that mean? So yeah, so communication is absolutely key beyond the K.

AMANDA HAMMETT: I'm gonna write that down.

CATERINA MALBERA: It is so true! It is beyond, it just makes me laugh every time.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Okay. Is there anything-- that is hilarious. Is there anything that you wish that companies knew about hiring younger employees?

CATERINA MALBERA: For sure. Definitely give them the benefit of the doubt. Let individuals prove what they're worth beyond, you know, as stereotypes. Give them the creative space to own a work stream. Don't make it so prescriptive, definitely give general guidelines of what's expected but let them own it. I feel that a lot of times people have different ways of approaching things, but when you're pigeonholed into just doing it one way, it really stifles you, and that's when you tend to lose top talent, at least that's what my experience has been. So definitely just give them a little bit of rope. Let them make things their own. And you'd be surprised, I mean, I've been able to work on different projects with-- the same projects, but different teams, and it's the same milestones. And the way some people approach it is unbelievable. It's just like, oh my gosh, that's really great. We get to the same outcome, just different ways, and it's really, really great to see.

AMANDA HAMMETT: That's awesome. I so love that, I so love that. Perfect, well, this has been a fantastic discussion, thank you Caterina, thank you so much.


AMANDA HAMMETT:  If possible for our audience, if they wanted to reach out to you on LinkedIn, would that be possible?


AMANDA HAMMETT:  Okay, perfect! Well, I will include the link to Caterina's LinkedIn profile in the show notes, but thank you so much for being on the show, Caterina, and thank you to our audience! And we will see you in the very next episode. Bye!

CATERINA MALBERA:  Thanks, everyone, thanks Amanda.

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, get some free resources, visit my website at amandahammett.com, the link is below, it's amandahammett.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.