Russ: This is The BusinessMakers Show. I’m very pleased to have as my guest today, Amy Mifflin, founder and CEO of Global Collaborations. Amy, welcome to The BusinessMakers Show.
Amy: Thank you, Russ. I’m glad to be here.
Russ: Tell us about Global Collaborations.
Amy: We’re a global consulting firm and we focus on corporate social responsibility, primarily in the energy sector, and we also have a huge portfolio in talent development.
Russ: Ok. I wanted to talk to you mainly about talent development; specifically, that whole new world of millennials. I understand that’s one of your focus areas.
Amy: It certainly is. We have a brand called Millennial Intelligence that we launched a couple of years ago. We’ve been focusing on millennials for about the past 15 years, and watching them come of age, as well as come into the global workplace.
Russ: Ok, how do you, and why do you zero in on that? I mean, did you have clients saying, hey, you know, there’s some new people coming in that are different. Or did you anticipate it and go to the companies?
Amy: Well, we’ve always anticipated. Back in 1995, the first workforce demographics reports came out, and it alluded to the fact that in 20 years we would be seeing some significant changes as baby boomers came of age and started exiting the work place. And millennials, back then we kind of dubbed them as Generation Y, and now their new name is certainly floating around as millennials, and they’re very large, rivaling the baby boomers in number and size. So, they’ll have a lot of influence, especially in corporate workplaces.
Russ: But are they rivaling us in the area of intelligence? I’m just kidding. Just kidding, just kidding. I’ve had several generational experts on the show and it always blows me away, the differences. I believe, in this era, we right now have four different distinct generations in the workforce, right?
Amy: We do. Some organizations do have four generations working collectively right now. We’re seeing less and less of the traditionalists, which are ahead of the baby boomers. And, we’re seeing a mass exodus, especially in the last five years, some companies will lose about 50% of their work forces. So, this becomes a huge challenge in, how do you replace that talent and that institutional knowledge that will be walking out the door, and how do you do it quickly? And so, there’s not enough Gen Xers to actually fill the gaps for corporations in that space to take on the leadership roles, so they’re going to be looking toward the millennials to really step up and perhaps take on leadership roles at a much younger age than we’ve ever seen before.
Russ: Wow, interesting. Ok, so, the older millennials are now what, they’re over 30, right?
Amy: Yeah, so they’re about 34, approaching 35-36 range. So, some of them have had quite a few years under their belt, but they still find it difficult and challenging. So until boomers move out and Gen X kind of moves up, they’re still kind of waiting in the wings to see some of those opportunities, but it won’t be long. As we said, in a short four years now, we’re going to see a massive shift. And that’s very worrisome to a lot of executive teams that are sitting there scratching their heads wondering, what are we going to do and how are we going to do it very quickly?
Russ: Ok, what makes millennials different?
Amy: What makes millennials different? I think what’s interesting is there’s a lot of articles that have been written, lots of books written about the millennials, and sometimes it focuses too much on the negative side of this equation. What’s interesting to millennials is they’re not paying attention to that noise, which, when they’re in the workplace, they’re confused. They’re like, oh, so baby boomers, Gen Xers, you have a problem with us? We didn’t know you had a problem with us.
Russ: They’ve not gotten the word.
Amy: They haven’t gotten the word because they’re not reading that same traditional space or watching new shows that really are focusing on this conversation. And so now there’s a whole different type of awareness that we have to bring to that. What’s interesting is, they’re not that different than the baby boomers. There’s a lot of parallels that are drawn about what their needs are and what they’re looking for. They’re looking for job security, they’re looking for opportunities for advancement, and contrary to popular belief, they are looking to stay and be established within one company. But they often get this tag that they’re job hoppers and they don’t stay very long in companies.
And some companies are trying to figure out, well, do we invest in them or do we not invest in them. And so, there’s all kinds of juggling that goes on until you can really sit and have a good conversation about: what it is that we need, what are those gaps that we’re trying to fill, and how are we going to go about doing it?
Russ: How do they not invest in them? Do they say, oh let’s just let them go by and we’ll pick up a Gen X.
Amy: Well, a lot of it comes down to, you know, in our traditional workplaces it’s been very difficult for companies to sometimes justify expenses, especially when they’re downsizing and laying people off, especially in the economy we’ve had in the last few years. And so they’re trying to be very careful about who they choose to get in that pipeline, but I’m of the, I’m a big fan of, I think you have to look at it in stages and you need to be looking at your full suite of millennials and what they can bring to the table, especially if you want to keep them. I mean, there’s going to be a lot of competition for them, and especially the ones that do already possess great leadership skills, and have some strengths, and collaboration, and communication, and a global work presence. So, I think those things are going to be extremely important to many companies, but there’s going to be a lot of competition for that.
Russ: I remember when they were first coming of age and, geez, this might be 10 years ago, but the word about the millennials was: number one, all they care about is vacation and time off, and they cared about working for a worthy cause, and weren’t real serious; which, you know, it always made me think, I was opposite; I was a workaholic always. I would say, man, I wish I was a millennial. I could have really competed against those guys. But maybe, is that now kind of out of date, that description of them?
Amy: I think that it’s not so much that it’s out of date. I think they just view it differently. They want flexible work schedules; they want to work. They, you know, came of age with technology, as we’re all very much aware. But they feel that they can get that done anywhere. It doesn’t mean that I have to be sitting in a cubicle or in a conference room with you all the time. They want the freedom and flexibility to work in different locations and kind of decide when they want to work. And as we know, traditional baby boomers, workaholics, going to work every day, showing up, having sort of that, you know, visibility inside the company is what their baby boomer managers expect. So right there you start to see the conflict, and if baby boomers are not really using the same technology and don’t feel as comfortable with it, then you also have another void.
But one of the things that millennials often seek and want on a continuous basis is feedback, and that sort of drives their boomer and Gen X managers somewhat crazy, because they’re going, well if you’re not here it’s hard for me to kind of see how to give you that feedback, and structure some of that. So, it’s constant tension and conflict.
Amy: We often look at, in some organizations we’ve been in, we’ve kind of deemed it as intergenerational grudge matches, because people aren’t willing to give on either side. And so, you start to see how that conflict plays out, and then productivity and performance start to suffer a little bit. But I think that there’s no right, you know, way or path. I think each company and each organization has to take a look at it from their own viewpoint and say, ok, what are we willing to compromise on, what are we not willing to compromise on.
And studying the expectations much clearer, and I think that’s sort of the trouble we’ve had in traditional company cultures, is that we haven’t really sat to say: here’s the expectations working in my company, here’s what I expect of you, and here’s what I can compromise on. And I think the clearer that we become in that communication aspect, I think the more exciting it will be inside the companies. And unleashing the talent, I mean, that’s really what they’re there for; unleashing who they are and what their perspectives are and see where that gets you.
Russ: Well, it’s real interesting now to see it kind of evolve, and they are starting to integrate in some categories, but you mention this a while ago, when they don’t know what the word is about them because they watch, and view, and listen to different media. That appears not to integrate anywhere and its kind of a challenge on the other side of the formula. I mean, for traditional companies and their marketing; if they want to market to the millennials (Amy: Big), radio and tv probably doesn’t matter anymore (Amy: It doesn’t). I mean, yeah because they don’t do that.
Amy: Those social outlets are powerful. Yeah, their social outlets are extremely powerful. We talk, and you know, I have a background in marketing and brand and reputation, and it’s very interesting to watch traditional corporations and workplaces kind of gasp a little bit, because millennials are taking the power and control of their brand and reputation out of their hands by putting it into those social media channels. You know, it’s quite funny, there’s an average statistic out there that suggests that a millennial has 2,901 Facebook friends. That’s a lot of power, and every time I ask the question of a group of millennials, more than not, probably more than half the room raises their hand that they have 3,500 friends in that community. But, it’s interesting if we stop and ask them, what do you use it for? And it’s really about brand and marketing and reputation.
They really don’t see them as friends, per se, but they see it as their own collaboration, and community of information, and data, and getting their opinions. I had one young female who I was mentoring, and I was shocked that she hadn’t broke down to buy a tablet yet. And she specifically used the word tablet. She didn’t say iPad, or you know, I’m going to buy this or that. And I said, well what are you waiting for? I would have went in to debt back in your day to own an iPad. And so we were kind of conversing. Through that conversation she said, well, I’m about to send it out to my Facebook community and ask everyone their opinions on what I should buy. And that’s a powerful, powerful network of information and talent.
Russ: What’s interesting, and you talked about you were mentoring her because that reminds me, you also sort of take your understanding of this world and you will teach and help millennials adjust to the real world, right?
Amy: We do. We actually have programs that we’ve been working with several universities on where we’re actually bridging them from university and collegiate life into the workplace, and making that a smoother transition. Many of them have not had many experiences yet in a workplace environment, but there are new challenges; there’s new expectations, and there’s old expectations, and things that they’re not quite aware of. So, we’re really helping them bridge that, and really focusing on skill development as well. It’s one thing to say, I have leadership skills. Well, what does that really mean? How is that applicable to what you’re about to walk into, into a corporate environment, and how can you use that more effectively for yourself?
Russ: Ok. Give us a preview of Gen X. How old is the oldest, leading edge, Gen Xer now?
Amy: Well, I’m approaching that. I’m actually the leading Gen X; about 50. So, the cutoff is about the old, the youngest baby boomer is about 52, so the oldest Gen Xer is about 50, 51. And, so, they have had quite a few years, I mean, at least about 25, 26 years of work experience. So, that’s significant for them to take over roles. But it’s interesting to teach a group of Gen X managers about how to manage and lead millennials. Many of them, you know, start having their own sort of epiphanies and say, gosh I realized I’m really angry. Well, what are you angry about? You’re on the cusp of ready to lead some major companies. And their anger comes from, they’re sandwiched in between baby boomers and the millennials. So, they’re ready for the boomers to exit, but then the millennials coming behind are screaming, what about me, what about me, and its kind of like, wait your turn. We had to wait our turn, wait your turn. So, again, that intergenerational grudge match is alive and well inside of there.
Russ: Ok, well I’ve really enjoyed this. Before I let you go, tell us a bit more about global collaborations. You do things other than millennial?
Amy: We do, actually. So we work in the corporate social responsibility space and, more importantly to that, that’s on a global scale. We’re predominantly in the energy sector in what we do. But we look at everything from, you know, social and economic environmental impacts, human rights, a whole slate of pieces that go into corporate social responsibility.
Russ: Wow, that’s a happening area, all of them are actually.
Amy: It is, it is. It’s a very happening area. And we also specialize in building technologies to play in that space as well. It’s one of those things that has a lot of qualitative data. So, it’s more difficult to capture it, but it’s more and more important to collect that data and put some analytics to it, to make better internal decisions as well as working with your external stakeholders.
Russ: Cool. Well, Amy, I really enjoy you spending some time and sharing your perspective with us.
Amy: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up my discussion with Amy Mifflin, the founder and CEO of Global Collaborations. And this is The BusinessMakers Show.
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