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To My Fellow Millennials

Hello, dear friends. I am proud to share this generational title with you, even though we often receive backlash — both warranted and unwarranted. We are a generation full of dreamers, doers, overachievers, and risk takers. We are young and full of life. The world is our oyster!

However, before we get too high and mighty, let’s get back to reality for a second. Yes, we are the newest generation in the workforce. Yes, we are more connected and technologically savvy than any generation before us. And yes, we can work quickly and multitask. All of this may be true, but when it comes to the workplace, it doesn’t matter. Without being a team player and understanding that we still have so much to learn from our older colleagues, we are setting ourselves up for frustration and failure.

Through my work, I have interacted with professionals of all ages and how workplaces can best bridge generational gaps where everyone feels heard, needed, and relevant. I am “team Millennial,” so I want you all to succeed.

Here are a few ways that you can work with your Generation X and Baby Boomer coworkers better.

  1. Put your phone away. One of the biggest frustrations I hear about our generation is that we are too dependent on our phones. Let’s not give them more reason to feel this way. When you have a task in front of you, finish it in a timely manner. When you have completed it, instead of pulling out your phone immediately, ask your supervisor what you can do next. Believe me, this simple act will be noticed. This shows you take your job seriously and you are focused on your work and your future. Also, before a meeting begins, use that time to interact with your coworkers and build relationships, not check your Instagram. Building relationships will help the team value you more.
  2. Listen. This sounds easy, but we all know it is not. If you want your ideas to be considered, you have to consider others’. Taking the time to listen to your older coworkers and leaders will show that you are open to learning and growing. By listening, you are giving your colleagues an opportunity to share their thoughts and hopefully in return, ask for your thoughts as well.
  3. Show up. You may be the low man on the totem pole, but you’re still on it. When your workplace offers events, socials, or team building initiatives, do them. This will help build comradery, respect, and trust with your fellow coworkers. Be appreciative of the time and effort your organization is putting in to make your workplace a positive one. (And if your organization isn’t doing anything specifically to enable a beneficial workplace for all generations, ask to spearhead it. You can help create a positive generational change!)
  4. Be adaptable. Take advantage of your youth and learn as much as you can in your current organization. Your older colleagues have put in years of hard work to be where they are today. Although it may be challenging sometimes, you can’t change all the rules. To thrive, you must be flexible.

To all you millennials out there, I am proud of you. Keep chasing your dreams. But remember those who came before us. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

 

Best,

Amelie 

Dear Generation Xers

Dear Generation Xers,

Thank you for being a trailblazer. Every new generation introduces new ideas that help those who follow them not be totally lost.

Although your generation may be small and you are often dubbed the “middle child” of baby boomers and us millennials, we need you. You have been placed in the middle of two generations known for their size and the changes they are making in the workplace, but you are just as important.

Right now, you are in the trenches of your profession. You have worked diligently to climb your chosen career ladder and you are finally getting to reap some of the benefits. However, you are finding yourself in a strange position. Being Generation Xers, you are not the most experienced in the office and you’re not the youngest. The newbies (we Millennials) are coming in to the workplace and switching things up. Some say Millennials are wrecking the ecosystem that you have finally adjusted to. (And being a Generation Xer, you probably didn’t complain about it.) We just want to be a part of the team.

If you are finding yourself frustrated with the Millennials in your office, here are a few suggestions:

1.     Capitalize on your independence, but recognize our need for team projects. As Gen Xers, you are known as the latch-key kids, since the divorce rate and single parent homes skyrocketed during your adolescence. At a young age, many of you came home from school to an empty house and had to fend for yourself until your parent(s) got home from work. This has made your entire generation in various ways more independent than Baby Boomers and Millennials. By showing how you can independently get your work completed, the Millennials around you are able to watch and learn from a different working style.

However, keep in mind that Millennials were often encouraged to work in groups at school. Understanding the differences in generational upbringings can help you better work with your younger colleagues.

2.     Implement multi-generational groups. You are the generation that can bridge the Baby Boomers to the Millennials. Taking the time to implement organization- or department-wide multi-generational brainstorming groups can help every voice be heard. Millennials and Baby Boomers are more likely to welcome this invitation from Gen Xers since they are closer to your age.

3.     Be vocal and let your Millennial coworkers know how the organization has been running and the changes you have seen implemented during your time there. By explaining the transformations you’ve seen, you are showing you are aware and open to necessary adjustments to help promote growth in the workplace.

Gen Xers, I am sorry if you often feel lost in the generational shuffle. You are seen and needed. We Millennials look up to you and your incredible work ethic. Don’t give up on us yet! Our time is coming to better understand your position as Gen Z workers start entering the labor market: I bet they’ll give us a run for our money and question our approach, like Millennials have challenged your generation. As they say, “What goes around comes around.”

Best,
Amelie

Dear Baby Boomers

Dear Baby Boomers,

Congratulations! You have worked hard, paid your dues, and are in the home stretch. According to AARP, or the American Association of Retired Persons, all baby boomers will have reached the average retirement age of 65 by 2029. (According to Forbes, the average age of retirement in Brazil is much earlier.) As Millennials flood your workplace and change the rules of the game, it may feel like your dedication has been forgotten. But it hasn’t.

 

Speaking as a millennial, I can honestly say we aren’t trying to make you feel irrelevant. The world has simply changed a lot and we are maneuvering as best we can in this new economy.

But, as everything shifts around us, Millennials and Generation Xers still don’t have your experience. You are the experts. You know why things happen and can often anticipate cyclical changes before others. It is comforting to have seasoned leaders in our midst. Boomers, you are valuable and needed in your workplace.

If you want to get the most out of working with your youngest colleagues, here are a few suggestions:

1.     Share your insights. Many of you have a strong sense of loyalty that far surpasses younger generations. If you have been with a company for a while, let your younger cohorts know what has enticed you to stay for the long haul. Also, let HR know what has worked and not worked well in the past so that future colleagues won’t encounter unnecessary hurdles. This is a great way to help your organization attract and retain top talent.

2.     Mentor a younger coworker. Meet with your mentee monthly over coffee or lunch. This will help you stay connected with the happenings of the office. Also, you could think about creating a reverse mentorship. While you are meeting with your younger mentee, they may have tricks and trades to help you in your work. It’s a win-win for all.

3.     Create a multi-generational conversation. During meetings, encourage collaboration by asking the opinion of someone from every generation. This will show you are open to different views and it will help bridge generational discussion gaps.

4.     Not to be too trite, but what will be your personal legacy to your organization?  By positively influencing younger workers, your impact on a few key leaders could truly change the culture of your work unit and department, and potentially the organization. Think about how that could not only affect us younger workers, but also our families and communities in the years to come. 

Use your experience to build a stronger workplace for all. We Millennials need your help. Thanks for forging the path for the generations following you, and helping us be successful in the future.
Did I tell you that I appreciate you and you are awesome?  (You know us Millennials….we are all about affirmation!)

Best,

Amelie

IMG_9133 chicago millennial consultant & expert

An American Millennial in Brazil

In September, I had the pleasure of being one of CONAREC’s International Keynote Speakers at the 15th Annual Congress held in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  This was my first international work trip as well as my first trip to South America. Besides my speaking engagement, I also wanted to make the most of my time there. While I had only had 48 hours in Brazil, I felt like it was 48 hours well spent.

Here are some highlights from my experience.

  • Learning about Millennials in Brazil. Since I was speaking on Millennial mindset and knowing not all Millennials are created equal, I first had to learn about Brazilian Millennials. Many of the basic trends of Millennials in the USA and Brazil are similar. However, the Brazilian Culture differs, which ultimately is reflected in the difference between Brazilian Millennials vs. American Millennials.  For example, Millennials in Brazil want their organization’s manager to serve as a role model for them. Whereas, Millennials in the USA want a manager who empowers their employees. 

 

  • Getting a Visa. Several of the wonderful people at the Chicago Brazil Consulate and I developed a lovely friendship. (I had to make several visits in order to finalize my Business Visa.) I now have a great appreciation for the patience of those employees. I’ve been told you have one chance to make a positive impression. Your countrymen at the Chicago Brazil Consulate made a great first impression on me about your great country.

 

  • Flying to Brazil. To get to Sao Paulo, we flew Aero Mexico from Chicago, to Mexico City, to Sao Paulo. As we made our way farther south, I loved hearing how the languages and people began to change. Having taken Spanish classes in high school and college, I went from completely understanding the flight attendants in Chicago, to somewhat understanding the flight attendants in Mexico City, to not at all understanding flight attendants in Sao Paulo. Chicago is a “melting pot” city. Yet, it did not prepare me for the language difference of Brazil.

 

  • Arriving in Sau Paulo. Once my cousin, who traveled with me, and I arrived we made our way to the TransAmerica hotel where the 15th Annual CONAREC Congress was being held. The drive to the airport was an adventure. I was amazed at all of the motorcycles and how the rules of the road seemingly didn’t apply to them. They zipped past us, hanging on tightly to their bikes. Once settled at the hotel, we went to Feijoada do Bolinha for their famous Feijoada. It was wonderful! These two Americans were delighted to have such delicious and local food. Sao Paulo food is full of flavor, color, and textures. I loved discovering the Brazilian cuisine.

 

  • Speaking at the CONAREC Congress. The CONAREC Congress was an incredible speaking engagement, and also a wonderful experience. This Congress was unlike one you would find in the states. Everything was grand. Speaking in the main theatre in front of 1,200 people was an amazing experience. Those who did not speak English wore headphones. A translator translated English to Portuguese for them. Working with a translator was a new experience for me.  As a presenter I had to try and bridge the translation gap. The attendees were kind and gracious and I loved sharing my Millennial insights with them.

 

  • Serving on Panel Discussion at CONAREC Congress. With the CEOs of Pepsi Co Brazil and Whirlpool Brazil, the tables turned when I served on a panel with them. These two leaders spoke about the incredible things they are doing to keep their companies fresh and multi-generation friendly. I wore headphones so a translator would translate Portuguese questions back to me in English. What a gift she was!

 

  • Exploring Sao Paulo. After the Congress, my cousin and I used our remaining time to explore the great city of Sao Paulo, thanks to our wonderful driver and our Translation Apps. We ate Pao de Queijo, bought Havaianas flip flops, walked around different malls, and  saw sights all around the city.  My biggest take-away was how large Sao Paulo is. We drove through the city for an hour and it still seemed that we were in the heart of the city.  The size of Sao Paulo was something I had never experienced in any of my U.S. and International travels.

 

  • Flying home to Chicago. With sad hearts but full stomachs, we boarded our flight back first to Mexico City and then to Chicago. I felt like a new person. I had fallen in love with the city and people of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

 

I had a fantastic trip.  Millennials love to travel and adventure.  Sao Paulo, you have fed my heart and soul. I look forward to my next trip to Brazil! Obrigada!    

-Amelie

This Millennial’s First Podcast

 

Last month while in South Carolina for work, I had the pleasure of meeting Creating Space owner, Wes Knight and his business partner, Lo Myrick.

PodcastPhoto-2 chicago millennial consultant & expert

After chatting about our respective jobs, it was clear we had much in common about interacting with people and our passion for our work. Wes invited me to be a guest on his podcast. Here are a few thoughts from my first podcast experience:

  • Good questions. In interviewing, whether written or verbal, good questions are key. Wes did a great job asking me both easy and challenging questions. This showed me that the interviewer’s skill of asking questions is vital to the overall theme of the interview.

 

  • Passion. Passion is a great connecter! I immediately saw how Wes and Lo’s passion for their work seems to be a driving factor in everything they do. Saying “yes” to sharing your mission, vision, and passion for your work helps bridge gaps to create and build new friendships and ideas.

 

  • Technology. Technology has drastically changed interviewing. It was amazing how simple it was to connect and record this podcast while halfway across the country from one another. Moments like this make me truly appreciate the technological advances my generation takes as the norm. A few simple clicks helped memorialize our conversation.

 

  • Authenticity. Being someone who always prefers the art of the spoken word, I really enjoyed the freedom that came with our conversation. The more we shared, the deeper and more truthful the conversation became.

 

  • Our stories. We all have a story. This is something I continuously go back to, but in working with my podcast and listening to others, it becomes even more apparent. Each one of us has a story and voice that is reflected in who we are. Sharing those stories brings people together. It diminishes walls and builds community.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my first podcast experience. Feel free to listen to our conversation by clicking the picture below. Hope you enjoy!

-Amelie

Amelie-Karam-300x300 chicago millennial consultant & expert

Millennial Mindset- We All Have A Story

We All Have A Story

What event or “story” has changed the way Americans live? In December 2016, the Pew Research Center conducted a study that asked over 2,000 people (from various generations) which top 10 national events had impacted their lives.

Each generation- the Silent Generation (ages 72-89), Baby Boomers (53-71), Generation X (37-52), and Millennials (20-36)- had a list comprised of different happenings throughout the respective generation’s lifetime. Coincidentally, the most life-altering event experienced by each generation was September 11th. The tragic events of that day united our country, those both young and old. This event and “story” shaped us.

We all have a story. Each one of us has had unique experiences that shaped us into who we are today. These experiences range from medical issues/events, divorce, abuse, loss of a loved one, and so much more. Each experience leaves a mark on a life like a scratch on a record. (Non Baby Boomers- think CD.) No matter how hard you try to go back to the time before the scratch happened, you can’t. It is permanent; the record is changed. Understanding these changes is pivotal in relationship building.

Millennials (20-36 year olds) are big fans of “the story.” We are a generation that is connected through social media and instant news, which makes things feel much more personalized. We crave community and personalization in the workplace. We seek the connection in everything we do. To help connect with your Millennials, create a work environment with open communication. By sharing events that shaped you and asking your coworkers what shaped them, you are opening the door to a workplace of better understanding and stronger relationships.

Your Millennial colleagues want to be connected. Workplace relationships built on understanding and open communication will help create a positive environment where Millennials will want to invest time and energy. Life is all about relationships. Take the time to tell your story and listen to your coworkers’ stories. We all want to be heard. We all have a story.

What is a millennial?

Millennials, also known as Generation Y or the Net Generation, are the demographic cohort that directly follows Generation X.

What, exactly, is the Millennial generation?

The term Millennials is usually considered to apply to individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century. The precise delineation varies from one source to another, however. Neil Howe and William Strauss, authors of the 1991 book Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069, are often credited with coining the term. Howe and Strauss define the Millennial cohort as consisting of individuals born between 1982 and 2004.

Other proposed dates for Millennials:

  • According to Iconoclast, a consumer research firm, the first Millennials were born in 1978.
  • Newsweek magazine reported that the Millennial generation was born between 1977 and 1994.
  • In separate articles, the New York Times pegged the Millennials at 1976-1990 and 1978-1998.
  • A Time magazine article placed the Millennials at 1980-2000.

Overall, the earliest proposed birthdate for Millennials is 1976 and the latest 2004. Given that a familial generation in developed nations lies somewhere between 25 and 30 years, we might reasonably consider those the start and end points.

There is a great deal of variation from one individual to another within any generational cohort. Nevertheless, the particular environment for any generation affects those individuals in ways that are observable as broad tendencies. This definition of the term discusses those reported tendencies for Millennials in the workplace, Millennials and technology, Millennials and culture.

A snapshot of Millennials, according to their press:

Millennials grew up in an electronics-filled and increasingly online and socially-networked world. They are the generation that has received the most marketing attention. As the most ethnically diverse generation, Millennials tend to be tolerant of difference. Having been raised under the mantra “follow your dreams” and being told they were special, they tend to be confident. While largely a positive trait, the Millennial generation’s confidence has been argued to spill over into the realms of entitlement and narcissism.  They are often seen as slightly more optimistic about the future of America than other generations — despite the fact that they are the first generation since the Silent Generation that is expected to be less economically successful than their parents.

One reported result of Millennial optimism is entering into adulthood with unrealistic expectations, which sometimes leads to disillusionment. Many early Millennials went through post-secondary education only to find themselves employed in unrelated fields or underemployed and job hopping more frequently than previous generations. Their expectations may have resulted from the very encouraging, involved and almost ever-present group of parents that became known as helicopter parents.

Understanding the Millennial Mindset

Check out a recent radio interview with Technori Live:

http://wgnradio.com/2017/02/14/millennial-specialist-amelie-karam-understanding-the-millennial-mindset/

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