So little just does, but some things just are

I tend to think a lot in questions of What? & Why?  I have always been so curious to find out why something – anything – works the way it does.  I don’t care as much to know how it accomplishes what it does, but to know what it’s purpose is.

What I’ve learned in the years of asking myself “Why” questions is that while so little in life “just does,” so much “just is.”

C.S. Lewis is one of my examples of a brilliant mind that asks the “Why” questions.  He breaks down ideas into the most basic principles; he was a king of analytics.  But even he makes the statement

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Some things just are.  Like our strengths.  And our passions.  Some things are learned and cultivated.  Others are what we call ‘natural,’ inherent pieces of our DNA.  They just are.

And this is what I feel differentiates me from those who have come before me.  Whatever questions we naturally want to ask, sometimes we should stop asking and accept that we don’t understand.  Only then can we open our ears to counterparts in our lives, in our work, in our office to collectively find solutions and reach decisions that we can’t make when we’re just asking a “Why” question.  Or a “How” question, and so on.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: tomorrow’s CEOs were brought up in an era of innovation and quick adaptations.  And the smart ones know to use the strengths of our culture that have made it easier for us to stop talking and listen.
(Despite the noise, which in itself is another blog post entirely… Stay tuned.)

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Education Advice from a College Dropout

It is not relevant to this post, nor is it important, to know why I dropped out – only that I did.

Many of my peers’ lives revolve around a GPA.  Whether it’s to maintain a scholarship or to simply make it to graduation, for many, every day of class is about getting the grade. Paying attention for those key concepts or formulas that might appear on that test.  For so many of us young adults, the majority of the first 18+ years of life that we can remember are spent in classrooms – absorbing, understanding (and/or memorizing) information.

You go through high school focused on getting into college.  You go through college focused on getting that degree.  And then you get it.

So then you’re expected to practically apply all of those textbook ideas.  And you realize it’s no longer a grade on a paper you’re working toward.  You don’t get 4 tests before you fail.  And you can’t just retake the course.  I mean yes, you get up and try again after you’ve failed, but it’s rarely as simple as re-enrolling for the next semester.  You’re working toward real goals, not grades.  This many sales.  That type of quality.  Relationships with customers; respect from competitors.

There aren’t enough people in our lives telling us that success isn’t in numbers or grades.  It’s in quality and value.

So I’ll tell you: as someone who took education for granted, learn all you can from everyone you meet.

Professors. People who have studied your field for years. People with integrity & passion for what they do.  Ask those people questions.  And listen.  Not for a grade, but to learn.

What The Go-Giver Taught Me about Passion in the Workplace

I am going to start this off by stating that every bit of this simple parable by Bob Burg will feed your mind.  Seriously, go Google the reviews, order it on Amazon, and read it first.  Then you can come back to this one thought that can’t possibly give the entire piece justice.

The idea that resonated most with me was a very simple statement that could almost be buried under the larger points of the book regarding success.  But I felt it was pertinent to the overarching theme that kept coming back to gaining success by maintaining relevancy, reliability, and integrity with your clients.  The idea was this: People work for 3 reasons- to survive, to save, and to serve.

It has stayed with me months after finishing the book because it is something that has become more and more apparent as I move my life closer toward a career.  The truth is- some people live their whole lives surviving.  They make it from paycheck to paycheck, all the while working in a miserable environment.  Others make a very comfortable living and work solely to provide that for their family, while putting money away for the future (kids’ colleges and a comfortable retirement.)  These people may sometimes believe that’s as good as it gets.

But the real jackpot is serving.  If you work to serve, you enjoy your job.  Your contribution is significant; you matter.  You have the distinct pleasure of doing what you love and feeling good about what you do.  When you are happy to do what you do everyday, you can serve your clients, your colleagues, your managers, and the vision of your company. Good luck serving a company, or industry for that matter, that you aren’t passionate about.

Find something to be passionate about, a career that will give you joy and that will allow you to pour joy into it.  And be a part of the lucky few that work to serve.

How could the innovation of entrepreneurship benefit from an attitude of service?

Now That’s What I Call Marketing

Recently, on my way out of Walmart, I saw an advertisement for a CD we all remember: NOW! That’s What I Call Music.
The ad was promoting the 40-something volume. I had Now! 7 back in the day. And I was tired of it in about 5 seconds. Maybe that’s just me…

I can’t help but feel sorry for this compilation CD that will have no chance in a world of iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify.  When was the last time someone asked you, “Hey, did you get the new NOW! CD? It far exceeded my expectations.”  Or even the last time you saw a commercial for it, or heard about it on the radio?   And yet, they’re still in production.

You have to wonder: where did all the compact discs go?  In this rapidly evolving world we moved from vinyls to computer managed music faster than you could say m-p-3.
The majority of CD purchasers these days are either supporting a band or artist that they respect, or they have just not moved into this century.  The chances of either purchaser wanting a mixture of the most recent worn-out radio play are slim.  And when you can just create the same playlist or stream ‘Everything Popular‘ on the online radio of your choice for free, why pay?

In marketing, understanding culture is essential.  Otherwise, how will you know it’s time for your NOW! to become something of the past.  When is it time for a good-or a not so good- product to die?

Millennial with the Microphone

It’s the ever-increasing type of leadership forum: Communication How-To’s on the Millennial species.  From “Dealing with Millennials in the Workplace” to “How to Manage Your Millennial,” they’ve gone above and beyond with the proper ways to care for your millennial.  Water them once a day and they’re sure to flourish…

Okay they’re not all that bad.

But, I’ll share a little secret, straight from a millennial: Give us your expectations, and let us show you how we thrive.  We come from a culture of fast-paced, innovation; we are an eager generation.  Give us room.  Let us prove ourselves to you.

I could never stress it enough, but please don’t treat us like children.  Your children, specifically.  Yes, I’ve heard you time and time again: your daughter and I are the same age, and you know exactly how my mind works; there is little less motivating than not being given the opportunity to be an adult in the workplace.  Treat me like you would have liked to have been treated 25 years ago, or 30, or 40…  Share wisdom, and insight, critique, and strategy for improvement; do not mistake our willingness (and happiness) to learn new things.

It’s more simple than being up to date with all of our interests, and styles of learning, even.  Some CEOs will take their stubborn way of business to the grave with them.  But there comes a time when you realize the whole world has changed around you and you must ask yourself, “If I run my business the way I’ve always run it, will I run it into the ground?”  Or can I accept new input- listen to my employees, of all ages, genders, and races, and trust that what they bring to the table is valid, if not vital?  Can I trust that I’ve built a culture of appreciation for this company that allows them to have meaningful suggestions for its success?  If you can’t say yes to that… you don’t need to spend your time Google searching ways to manage your millennial; you’ve got bigger problems.

We won’t do things the way your founders did things, or even the way you did things when you were our age.  But that’s the beauty behind diversity.  Let us bring a fresh perspective, our perspective.  As much (and there is much) that we can learn from someone who has established reputability in an industry, they too can learn from- dare I say it – a millennial.

The Experience

When I was seventeen, I believed in the world ahead of me.  In possibilities, and opportunities.  In grand romance, and wild freedom.

Three and a half years later, I’ve moved back home.  Things didn’t all pan out the way I planned.  The collegiate experience will forever be the life I only got a taste of.  I went into that life a girl, and in the summer, all those boxes I never unpacked when I came back will be transferred to the house I share with my husband now that I’m a woman.  All of the experience from the past year: my 9-5, The Budget, this sparkly ring on my left hand, the “real world” — none of it can be undone.  It can’t be un-experienced.  Possibilities were narrowed.  Opportunities came and went.  Some were taken; others were not.  And more still will be decided.

I know what people think when they see me as a representation for my company.  I know what marketing blogs and infographics say about companies who hire 20-somethings to fill the rapidly-spreading need to manage social media.  They say we can’t possibly know where to start on a social media marketing initiative; we don’t have the experience.  They say we’re fickle and restless.  But to be fair, those articles and statistics are referring to recent graduates.

I refer to myself as a young professional.  According to the Chamber of Commerce we belong to, their Young Professionals organization is intended for professionals in the area ranging in age from 21-40.  But I guess you can just rule me out of that one.  I don’t qualify.

Yes, I am 20 years old.  I work at an insurance agency managing social media, small marketing projects, web development, answering phones, and the coffee.  I am getting married in 6 months.  I dropped out of college over a year ago because I couldn’t afford it, and I didn’t qualify for any more aid.  I am paying back the loans, as I simultaneously even out the balance I left on my school account.  My parents have agreed to cohabiting while my fiance and I pay for our modest wedding and plan for our first year of marriage.

I’ve had people look at me strangely when I tell them I work at an insurance agency.  I’ve had them make the “were you even born when…” jokes.  People still call me “sweetie” or “hon” when I answer the phone.  I actually had a man at a chamber event tell me getting married was a mistake.  Because I lacked experience.

What exactly does it look like I’m doing, sir?