Sunday, April 5, 2015

Memories of Easter Past

As one grows older, some of the more simple aspects of life take on greater meaning. I'm particularly grateful to have an appreciation of family traditions and rituals surrounding holidays, seasons and passages of time. Like most families, traditions are passed down through the generations, becoming familiar--almost second nature for each event. Holiday traditions and routines seem to particularly imprinted on my memory. Religious based holidays of course have the spiritual meaning, which are central to my memories. I don't dismiss or deliberately intend to overlook those here. It is interesting to me that my memories of Easter are far stronger than Christmas. Our family traditions around Easter were substantial. Observing Lent for 40 days, leading up to Holy Week liturgical ceremonies, Easter Vigil and of course Easter Sunday service were all heavy emotionally, but highly celebratory for the family. These were occasions that united the extended family, and always involved food--massive amounts of food in fact. 

Easter was an important holiday season. We would always get dressed up and everything just felt special. Throughout my adult life I always maintained these traditions in my own circle. Regardless of whether I was with family or friends, home or abroad, Easter traditions were always maintained. My memories of Easter are in fact, imprinted deeply. I can still see my Great Grandma's rice pies, Aunt Anita's bowl of jelly beans in the living room. Aunt Antonetta's bowl of chocolate covered marshmallow eggs, Aunt Eleanor's apricot cookies, my mom's sweet bread, and grandma Julia's bowl of gum-drop bunnies. Fanny Farmer chocolate rabbits and cream eggs were the very best. Later in life when I worked for Fanny Farmer and Fannie May Candy companies, it was a dream come true.

Even today, my own celebration of Easter continues these traditions, both real and imagined. I believe in the importance of maintaining cultural and family traditions--these are part of society. These are what help give character to us. I am grateful to my ancestors who made the effort to pass down the family traditions, giving me cherished memories. These are the among the greatest gifts I've ever received. Happy Easter. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

The thing is....

A few of my recent speaking engagements have been to "young" business professionals-- more specifically with 'Millennials'. If this is a term with which you are not familiar, Millennials (or 'Gen Y') refers to people born between 1977 and 1995, which within the US accounts for close to 80 million people. No doubt you've heard the term "Baby Boomers" and may be wondering about the other groups. Here is a quick reference: 


Generation Y: Born 1977- 1995
Generation X: Born 1965-1977
Baby Boomers: Born 1946- 1964
Traditionalists: Born pre-1946

If you want to read more about Millennials, check out Jason Dorsey, the GenY Guy. He has books, DVD kits and some really helpful stuff in his online store.

Like every generation, millennials have their own unique traits, and other generations tend to "not get" them, and have subtle differences that can sometimes set them worlds apart. I am a Gen X guy--just barely, which makes me "old" in the eyes of Millennials.

Back to my recent speaking engagements. My consulting firm has hosted a series of round table business lunches across various cities, with me as the headline speaker. These business lunches are designed to facilitate discussion to open dialogue and understanding between Millennials and Generation X business leaders in the workplace. The issue is that Millennials have a sense of entitlement, they crave instant gratification, and they have huge expectations but don't seem to be interested in the time or actions necessary to earn what they want. These traits are diametrically opposed to the traits of Generation X (and Baby Boomers for that matter). The thing is that Generation X managers are having a difficult time managing Millennials, who expect everything handed to them immediately. At issue is this is a similar trait across the generation, so it is pervasive across the workforce.

For old guys like me in executive management positions, it is easy to just dismiss this generation out of hand, lecture them and tell them how hard I had to work when I was their age. That sort of speech really makes old guys like me feel good. "There, I told them, that will fix it." Except it won't. You see, the thing is that if we Gen X managers want to see our organizations thrive and compete for talent, we need to understand how this Gen Y (Millennial) generation thinks, what motivates them. I'm not suggesting that we "give in" or make it easy for them, but the smart leaders will take time to better understand what gets this generation going. We need to understand that this is a generation that has no intention to remain loyal to any single company over their lifetime. They value moving around, to meet their expectations. So instead, my "lecture" is actually to the old guys like me: "Get used to it!".

The objective of my speaking engagements is to open this discussion...get people talking and to interpret. I certainly don't profess to be an expert on Gen Y people, but I've taken the time to educate myself on what Millennials want and how they think. My own trial and error in managing Gen Y employees has been a learning experience for sure. I may not like or truly understand why, but I understand the reality in which we work today. Therefore, in order to survive AND THRIVE in the business world today, it is crucial for old Gen X guys like me to sit down and listen to the seemingly spoiled Gen Y employee. Explain. Communicate. Don't get frustrated when they have their smart phone in their hand the entire discussion. And definitely don't get upset when they check Instagram during the conversation.

Recognizing that I'm ancient to most Millennials, I decided to lighten up and lose my suit and tie for the presentations I've made. I've made a conscious effort to wear cool colors, be more casual, but still professional (like the photo above). Despite the fact that I consider Brooks Brothers to be the model for business wardrobe, I have taken a different approach during my speaking engagements. Heck, during some presentations, I've even sat down on a table, leaning in to make a point and hold the attention of this fickle 'A.D.D.' group of attendees. I have not been offended once when I look out and seen mostly tops of heads, tilted down with faces glowing slightly from their iPhones as they tap away Tweeting, blogging, or taking selfies while I speak. The thing is, by adapting my style as a speaker and business executive I've been able to engage groups of young and old business leaders to communicate.

At times I see looks of bewilderment and the hear the occasional snicker if I make an 80's pop reference of some kind. I do it to amuse myself and keep my peer generational attendees happy. Maybe someday I'll finish the book I've been writing about this subject. For now at least I have the satisfaction of seeing ah-ha moments when these two generations come together, if only for the span of 90 minutes. 


Disclaimers...

This blog is about life experiences & observations and stuff I am interested in. It is simply a side hobby and creative outlet; generally with a tongue-in-cheek tone. I don't take it too seriously, nor should you. I do not profess to represent every point of view. Nothing on this site is a paid post.

It is for entertainment purposes only it, so just lighten up and just enjoy it. Life is short, live in the moment.

As the author, thoughts/views have no affiliation to my clients, business colleagues or my company.