Archive for the ‘New Generation’ Category

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The Millennials

October 27, 2012

Yesterday, the STRIB Business Section featured Coco as the “office” of the future. The accompanying photo caught its “visual” essence superbly; but only if you stop in for a visit, does one catch the positive vibe! I’ve mentioned in the past how much I admire the concept and rennovated space; in fact, if I was not sitting in my home office (read: free space) only 3-4 blocks away, I’d like to think I’d be composing this from there!

However, I think the article focus conveyed a more important message:…the Millennial workforce and the changes they are bringing to the business world.

I have aired some thoughts on this in my August 30 blog, and again last week, I mentioned an inspiring “breakfast with a Preservationist” meeting led by a panel of the “Under 30s”.

Nevertheless, I think Don Jacobson nailed it in his article featuring Coco and why it is appealing to the Millennials. It is because, these Millennials, like the transitional early Boomers, have a very different view ofthe world in which they find themselves…and are clamouring for change. No one my age can honestly say they cannot relate, so my suggestion is we hang on, listen and learn!!

Ponder on these comments by Jacobson and the message from Thomas Fisher, Dean of UM College of Design to a gathering of commercial building owners :

That highly covered corner office may just be more passe than powerful.

Thanks to profound social and economic changes brought on by the Internet, millennials are reshaping the so-called office. They want to do away with the hierarchiacal layouts of the past and build collaborative spaces where they can rub elbows with clients and colleagues.

Millennials…see privacy as a negative…by 2025, “the office” as we know it will probably be gone.

How they use space flips what we have today: Most of an office will be open, flexible and fluid in its use, with only occasional need for private space.

The transformative power of the the Internet on how young workers will do their jobs, has, if anything, been underestimated.

…millennials preferences for live-work hybrid spaces that combine not only apartments and offices, but also small manufacturing functions….

Yes, this paradigm shift poses challenges and threatens city zoning codes, but we cannot rigidly hold on to the past if we want to succeed as a country in present times.

For the millenials, the office space isn’t necessarily a place to do work, it’s a place to network. It’s a place to be with other people and generate as much creative activity as possible.

The audience was also cautioned that places of work within 15 years will need to be accessible by bicycle and mass transit. Firsher cautioned the audience that “If you’re only accessible by car, you’re going to find people starting to look elsewhere.”

These comments so reinforce what I have been observing and commenting on. My regret? I won’t live long enough to see where this generation ultimately steers our world-and I know that will be a bold new world led by Americans fueled by innovation and collaboration and not restricted by the rules and regs we Boomers have adjusted to…that created the stalled and divisive state in which Americans live today.

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THE DECIDING DEBATE…or just more blather?

October 22, 2012

For weeks we have heard the debates don’t matter. Opps…poll numbers started shifting during the first three, and now this final debate is the MOST IMPORTANT thing of the campaign. Who knows what the truth is? All I really know is that we should expect posturing and not truthful thought-out responses.
Yesterday I started a blog that outlined what I would like to hear discussed in the last debate tonight. No, Benghazi was not on the list…contrary to neo-con manipulation of Romney’s impression, Benghazi’s greatest importance was the unexpected loss of American lives-especially one who may have emerged as a knowledgeable and informed leader in 21st century foreign policy-someone who understands the Middle East; someone that could have helped the United States make needed transitions from “War is the Answer” to peaceful co-existence. And, its second most important role was as a demonstration for the American people of just how complex-even murky-an incident like this is. Such an incident calls for patience and level heads, no finger pointing until everyone has the facts, and no posturing for political advantage…especially from a neophyte whose total foreign policy is wrapped up in a father born in Mexico for religious reasons, and time spent as a missionary in France – a country that was then just emerging from post-WWII recovery! While I applaud Romney for his time and compassion, I do not think he emerged a qualified 21st century diplomat based on that experience! And frankly, I shudder to think his neo-con advisors are the very same men and women that manipulated Bush and tricked the world into the wrongful war in Iraq!
But I digress. What I was in the midst of outlining yesterday was my own questions/issues I hope to hear discussed tonight.
• Japan is about to take China’s place as the US largest creditor. What do you see as positive/negative impacts, if  any, on the United States?
• With China’s low profit margins on production of goods, combined with extremely low worker wages, what do you see as impact in the US, of as the Chinese “Boom” recedes? Will there be economic consequences from the many US companies with facilities there? Are the US corporate investments in China significant enough that a collapse there would impact us domestically?
NOTE: This morning STRIB had article in Business Insider Page 1 raising similar question of what will happen as US Corporations ramp up there, expecting China to replace slow markets in the US and Europe.
• What impact to US do you see as the Chinese population growth controls (one child; preferably male) starts impacting the Chinese economy?
I’ve read that traditionally, this male head of family takes on responsibility of support for parents AND parents of spouse. That support of three families on low wages seems challenging; as does the question of whom do these favored sons marry with so few Chinese women in their generation?
The Strib OPINION PAGE added significant “food for thought” this morning by pointing out that the most serious security challenges confronting the US –which come from the Mideast and South Asia- are “so complex and fluid” it is hard to provide clear answers…so at best we can expect posturing by Romney and over-simplification by Obama.
Uggh.
Before the debate, take the time to check out the article “What to hope for tonight at the debate”. The questions raised about the Arab Spring, Syria, Iran, will make your head spin, but every one of them is valid and raises significant issues…just reviewing the questions makes one realize how daunting the situation is.
The author’s last paragraph says it all.
Whatever the weaknesses of Obama on these issues, I’ve heard no clear alternatives from Romney and no recognition of the global changes of the last decade. I hope Schieffer will press both candidates for real, not canned answers. But my expectations aren’t high.
Amen to that….by now, most of you know, my biggest issue with Romney is that he is NOT prepared or even cognizant that we do not live today in a world in which his experience and success in a past century will make any difference. If he does not understand the implications and relationships in the world today, he will not be effective; nor will he be able to lead us successfully into the future. I say again, tomorrow is NOT more of the same. The world has changed.

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EMBRACE THE FUTURE

August 7, 2012

Just last week I was reminiscing with a few old CMG friends about the mid ‘80s and the time I spent traveling to Cupertino to meet with those Apple people I thought were a “cult”.  After all, they thought they could change the world and conquer IBM…and they were trying to do it through a K-12 program in schools … influencing our kids when they were young and most vulnerable! 

And even more out there for a time when we all were “suits with a Hartman Briefcase”, their world was one of casual dress, glass-walled conference rooms, backpacks, and keggers every Friday afternoon as a way to say thanks to their dedicated employees for a good week of work.

Of course, I was a non-believer-after all, none of our Fortune 500 clients were acting this way….in fact, I not long before, I had been part of a long gruesome design study with IBM to develop a single travel application that cut across all of Carlson’s needs- from CMG Travel to Carlson Travel across the country and across the world– agencies and tours, and all the ancillary travel products.  To do what we envisioned, we needed $millions and a major mainframe upgrade….how could Apple even THINK their strange little “box” was the wave of the future? 

Today I look around at the Millennials – those innocent kids in school that Apple was targeting to build their “cult” – and I am envious, as well as inspired by the way they think…let alone, how quickly they adapt to each NEW Apple product!

Last night, having overdosed on too much NBC blather that accompanies the thrill of watching the athletes perform, I took a break from the Olympics and watched “Globalization” with Thomas Friedman – an address taped in 2006, I believe, that predicted not only the world we live in, but also the “jobs” problem we are struggling with today.  So RIGHT ON, and yet, I was reminded of what I thought when I read “The World is Flat”…mostly it was, not so fast, Friedman…normally I track with you, but this time…you might be over the edge.  Ya, sure…just 6 years later, and I can relate to his message.

This morning, a headline in the business section triggered another 1980s memory…the friendly neighborhood ATM.  Flash back again to early 1980s…this time I am in midst of building a cutting edge  “CMG sales tracking system “ to help us better project almost a billion dollars of sales; and we are using a WANG word processing system to host it.  Ugghh!

 Meanwhile, my friend Sharon Wikstrom was leading a marketing team whose client, Security Pacific, was trying to launch a relatively unknown innovation in the banking world– the Automatic Teller Machine.   And once again, if asked, we all thought – whatever – this is not a smart idea…who in the world is going to trust a machine and a “charge card” to give them money.  None of us could imagine giving up the interaction with our friendly bank-teller for the coldness of a machine.   Enough said on that one.

As I sit here drinking my coffee, all kinds of thoughts are racing through my head….typically, new changes coming have me worried….Windows 8 for my laptop and for my phone?  Outlook.com?  But I’ve accepted there is still a bit of fear of change in my attitude, so I can deal with that, get over it, and slowly more forward-accepting,  in most cases,  I will not be the disciple spreading the good news-but I will try to keep an open mind.

But more important on a larger scale, in aggregate, why do we resist new ideas and take on that “Show Me” attitude when at the same time, we are a country of people that have grown, thrived, and led the world in innovation and change?   I get it that it is a result of lack of understanding and a need to be comfortable, but why do we “doubt” instead of embrace, celebrate, and learn?  And why, when half of us are pushing forward, does the other half cling so desperately to the familiarity of what we know and are comfortable with? 

 

 

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THE THIRD INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

May 24, 2012

 Every day, our politicians and press fill our newspapers, radios and TVs with short silly sound bites about the Economy and Job Creation….All we hear is the way to lowering unemployment is through creating more manufacturing jobs and putting people back to work in factories….and the sad story of those long-unemployed that have given up looking.  Sometimes those stories focus on the over 50; sometimes they focus on the 20-30 year olds that can’t find that first job.

And certainly, these are issues, and certainly business and government ALIKE, need to work together to improve the situation.  Repairing our crumbling infrastructure (yes, that means spend money to FUND these projects) make the most sense to me – it helps provide jobs and income for both ends of spectrum  of the unemployed.

But the argument never seems to focus on real questions.  Of those recent graduates, what have they been trained to do?  Can they not get jobs in their field, or at their salary expectations?  Have they been willing to look at other fields and lower their salary expectations? Are those that cannot get jobs holding degrees based on 20th century skills?  Are there options available in other areas? Are they being enabled by parents who in trying to help,  allow them to move home, and not contribute in some way?   Or, how many of those unemployed that have quit looking for work have quit because they have become entrepreneurs and are now self-employed?  Have we honestly looked at education and how our next generations are still being taught by a method developed to prepare them for the manufacturing world of the early 20th century?    I am not questioning the problems, nor the numbers, I am just questioning where we are putting the emphasis when we report it.

And I do so because as you have all heard me say over and over – the world has changed.  The paradigms of the 20th century have shifted.  I hear little discussion on this, nor what we as a people are trying to do about it…other than grieve for the “good old days” , blame the “other side” and promise to bring them back.

So  I was pleasantly surprised a while ago to see the STRIB report on the “Third Industrial Revolution”.  Yes, this is reality!

The STRIB briefly traced manufacturing history from the first “revolution” in late 18th century  in Britain and the mechanization of the textile industry; weavers cottages disappeared and the factory was born with the cotton mill.  The second phase is one we are most familiar with, when early in 20th century, Ford created the moving assembly line and mass production was born.

And now, what I have been referring to as the impact of technology and digital-everything, combined with customization has created a new environment, that we as a people all live in, use, and push for more of the same…and yet, cannot make the connection with what that means for jobs and education!

The article calls this the “Third Industrial Revolution”.  Technologies have emerged with new software, new materials, better robots, new processes and have created a changing definition of Web-based services.    We all know this; we see the impact in each of our lives…and we think it’s a better world for it…we talk about great strides made in our understanding of our environment, our universe and our minds , but no one stops and reflects on what changes occur in the transition – never to be resurrected again. 

 Although this is my passion and my frustration with our transitional world today, I was surprised by one item in the article…”Some carmakers already produce twice as many vehicles per employee as they didonly a decade or so ago”.  Think of that impact without the emotion.  Are we each buying twice as many cars as we did a decade ago?  How does that all reconcile with the expectation that when production goes up/costs go down…and how in the world do we expect that manufacturers will employ the same amount of workers they did even at the beginning of the 21st century-when it takes half as many to do the same job?!! 

 We are balancing on the precipice between two worlds – pushing for the changes and progress of the future, but seeing no connection to what that means in terms of changing needs that made up our 20th century world.    We want the new and we want it cheaper and faster but we still train our kids for a life in the old world; we pick our leaders on who can best argue how they will BRING BACK the old and none of its fits together for a promising future. 

We cling to old educational theories; when we need to think about what we know today regarding how people learn and what the world needs as expertise; then craft a new educational system that works for the challenges that lay before us.

We judge the existing President on what Truman and Eisenhower, Kennedy , Reagan would have done – all of whom lived, learned, and governed in a world very foreign to the one in which we live today; we consider an alternative to run our country whose business experience all dates back to a time when laptops, and notebooks, I-pods and I-pads were not even words in our vocabulary – let alone what they mean and the changes that they have brought to the very “business world” he boasts about.   The list goes on and on.

In all arenas, we continue to give credence to a hierarchical approach that served tribes and families and even businesses well in the old days, but has been replaced.  To quote the title of a book resting on the corner of my desk, “Collaborate or Perish”.  Big Blue had to face that reality and the strides they have made in RE THINKING their world in a collaborative environment put most other major corporations to shame.

And although I know thought-leaders through-out the centuries have all experienced similar struggles as they toiled to bring about change, the difference is that the WORLD is changing at an exponential pace around us.  We do not have time to let the influencers in my generation die off; we need to get with the program.   While we doddle along patting ourselves on the back for what we accomplished in World War II, the rest of the world is moving forward – and soon will be moving ahead without us.  Let’s stop re-fighting old battles of the 1950s and 1960s and focus on how we as the US can contribute and influence the world of the future!

Let’s embrace the Third Industrial Revolution and contribute to it, not try to deny and destroy it!

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GET OVER OURSELVES

October 5, 2009

As I read the title of Garrison Keillor’s Sunday column this week on healthcare reform, I anticipated I would be reading a humorous account of his time spent in my medical mecca, the Mayo Clinic, after he suffered a recent stroke. I scanned his view – waiting for the punch line. When it came, it connected so strongly to something I have been mulling over, I had to sit up and take note with my yellow high-lighter.

“Old men shouldn’t be allowed to doze off at the switch and muck up the works for the young who will have to repair the damage. Get over yourselves. Your replacements have arrived.”

First let me explain – I was born on the cusp of the Boomer Generation – technically a Traditionalist, but with a nod to them for saving our country and for instilling guiding values in all of us that followed them, I thought it was time for them to get out of the way-particularly in the workplace. I bonded with the Boomers, ignored the barriers, worked harder, out-strategized, built a collaborative network of support and succeeded. And I was blessed with results. I became a corporate director at age 28; and became a VP in a second company before I was 40. I left the corporate world as part of an executive team that had taken a sleepy $20 million dollar company to an industry leader with almost $1 billion of sales in less than 15 years. And what was among the motivators for my departure? I had no time for that generation entering the workforce in the early 90s- Generation X – after all, what did they know? Sound familiar? Different times, different terms, different outcomes, but it continues to happen throughout the centuries and we are in the midst of it happening yet again.

Event Marketing became my next life, and to succeed, I had to be open to new ideas, new technologies, and new thinking. Our industry is one of change and new trends and a continual search for what’s new. Most of the stars in our industry, like event marketing itself, are young-with little need to protect how we have always done it because it has not always been done. We all understand, as our objectives and audience change, so too, must we.

That discipline spills over into other arenas – so I have often found myself bothered by the disconnect that is happening in our world today.

After 9/11, we all heard and used phrases such as: “the world has changed”, what is the “new normal”. That, coupled with the exponentially increasing technological advancements in the last ten years, along with the arrival of the Millennials in the workforce, gave rise to “move forward in the 2lst century” and “21st century thinking”. And the devastating recession of 2008 accounts for another major shift as we “reset in the new economy”.

Generally, I tend to be a moderate. I don’t have any right answers to all the issues we face today whether that be the economy, the wars, healthcare, or anything else – all I have is a viewpoint, based on what I hear from the opposing sides. But like every other citizen in 2008, I had to make a decision between Obama and McCain. And I passionately chose change-away from the traditional-to collaboration, citizenship and community. Those were methods of success I had learned in the corporate world which are reinforced in the world of event marketing today. And with that choice, I understood success would come in small steps and would be hard to judge, as we were entering new territory. To achieve change, we would need to monitor and evaluate, adjust and continue to move forward, without digging in with yesterday’s out-dated thoughts.

Yet just eight months into a 4-year term, our hopes for change are being judged harshly, We are quick to question progress and find it wanting, justified because “WE KNOW FROM PAST EXPERIENCE”, as I heard this morning on Meet the Press.

What do we know from past experience? None of us have experienced this before. Nothing we have read, been a part of, or lived through can replicate this new world that is just emerging.

We have become the old men; is it time to get over ourselves. get out the way, and give hope and change a chance to play out?