Another Stereotype Hits the Dust

Working with Age Brilliantly and teaching the Psychology of Aging, I have the opportunity almost weekly to see current data destroy a stereotype. This week, I read one that affects the workplace – an increasingly important part of this industry  — as people plan to keep working in current jobs or new (full-time, part-time or volunteer) ones into their 70s+.

Harvard Business Review (February20, 2018) reported on a study conducted by Adam Grant and members of the Facebook to discover basic motivators for people at work. Focusing on three big “buckets”: career, community and cause, they found that Millennials, GenXers and Baby Bookers had the same core-values – and in the same order.  In other words, Millennials “want essentially the same things as the rest of us.”

What surprised the authors was that “contrary to the belief Millennials are more concerned with meaning and purpose”, there were virtually no differences among age groups. They actually found tiny differences: Millennials cared slightly less about cause, and slightly more about career than “older” people. In fact, adults 55 and over were the only group at Facebook who cared significantly more about cause than career and community.

For those of us focused on how our sense of purpose and passion changes as we age, all of this makes sense. Most prior studies reporting contrary data on Millennials, did so years ago, when they were in their late teens and early twenties. At that time, they were in school, lived in parents’ basements, and  had fewer obligations making it easier to focus on the bigger social issue. Today, they enter their thirties, more often buying apartments and houses, and getting married. Not unexpectedly with greater financial and social responsibilities, comes a shift in motivators.   Similarly, as older adults start shedding some of their responsibilities (e.g., kids through college, mortgages paid down further, sometimes completely, they can focus on the bigger picture.

So the stereotype of generational differences needs to be dropped; the more accurate approach is to understand the life-stages of people and their priorities. As the authors conclude (and we concur), when it comes to an ideal job, most of us are looking for a career, in which we’re hoping to find our what, who, and why.

What are your thoughts? Share them!

Presenting Personalized Purpose Increases Success

As Simon Sinek tells us, to motivate people you need to go beyond telling them WHAT they should do to giving them a WHY. And the WHY needs to be more than logical facts; it needs to have an emotional content for the audience.

Adam Grant, a Wharton professor, demonstrated this fact in a controlled study involving fundraisers. All of the university fundraiser were given call lists and were armed with reasons that people should donate: they’re raising funds for scholarships to help students who need them.  Some callers were able to share with the recipients a five minute story by a scholarship beneficiary. These recipients spent more than double the amount of time on the phone – but generated triple the donations as compared to the recipients who had no contact with the beneficiary’s story.

In other words, these callers had a double-emotional tool to help them with the calls: the callers were charged as they “felt” why their jobs existed and the recipients could identify with the beneficiary. In all probability, the success is synergistic 1+1=3, because they caller feels more involved in delivering the story.

This double-impact phenomenon is key to the success of many presenters. When a presenter designs a presentation to include personalized appeal – stories, graphic images, pictures and videos – two things happen: the audience connects better with the content and the presenter becomes feels more engaged with it as well. Again, a 1+1=3 synergy takes place because by taking the time to find just the right content to connect with the audience, the presenter’s authentic passion is heightened.

So don’t cut corners when delivering messages. As we discuss in our training/coaching programs, take the time to find compelling stories, pictures and quotes; your involvement in finding the right material increases your energy and power when presenting, and produces more winning results! What’s your experience in personalizing a presentation to make it more powerful?  Share with us.

Leadership Speed – Where Do Your Executives Stand?

In today’s fast-paced VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world) making correct decisions relatively quickly is important. It’s important for all members of the executive team, especially those who might advance to top positions in the company.

Zenger and Folkman address the issue “leadership speed” in Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution They created a “speed index” which focuses on the leader’s ability to:

  • Spot problems or tends early
  • Quickly respond to problems
  • Quickly make needed changes

They found that leaders in the top quartile of the index were rated substantially higher in their overall leadership skills – rated at the 83rd percentile on effectiveness; those in the bottom were rated at the 18% percentile. (You can assess yourself at

Most important, these leaders displayed eight sets of behaviors which accelerate pace. They are:

  • Innovating – a willingness to change; refusing to settle for good enough
  • Exhibiting strategic perspective – keeping the focus on high-priority goals and objectives
  • Displaying courage – standing up for needed
  • Setting stretch goals – focus on ultimate goals and inspire others to try to achieve them
  • Communicating powerfully – sharing ideas, encouraging engagement and listening carefully
  • Bringing external focus – participate in your and adjacent industries, expose yourself to new ideas
  • Taking initiative – with rock-solid integrity and high standards, focus on delivering results
  • Possessing knowledge and expertise – constantly be learning for continuous improvement

Are you looking for these behaviors when hiring key executives? Are you seeing superior performance by those who engage in these behaviors?  Share your experiences.

It’s the Relationships that Count


As part of the coaching and mentoring I do for young people entering the workforce (see, I often have to broaden their perspective: success takes more than competence with technical skills; it requires building effective relationships. (See blog last month on a study conducted at Google.)

When I heard that Warren Buffett credits 12 lessons from “How to Win Friends and Influence People” for transforming his life, I began re-reading Dale Carnegie’s book and recommending it.

I thought I’d share the lessons (as noted by Richard Feloni in Business Insider), since we can all learn from them

  • Avoid criticism, condemning or complaining
  • Praise others’ achievements
  • Be empathic
  • Know the value of charm
  • Encourage people to talk about themselves
  • Know when to use suggestions instead of direct orders
  • Acknowledge your own mistakes
  • Respect others’ dignity
  • Don’t try “winning” an argument
  • Be Friendly, no matter how angry the other person may be
  • Reach common ground as soon as possible
  • Get others to think your conclusion is their own

Which ones stand out for you? Why?  Share with us!

Tips for Delivering Bad News


For many people, December was mostly filled with good news: holiday cheer, raises, promotions, etc. Life isn’t always like that, and there’s bad news. A contract is cancelled or the new budget requires eliminating jobs and you need to let people know they’re out of a job. Unfortunately, two colleagues presented such cases last month, and asked me for advice.

In November, Entrepreneur magazine featured an article on the topic, “How to Give Bad News”. Vanessa Van Edwards, founder of Science of People advises four guidelines.

  • Stay Positive: No one wants negative feedback which is viewed as a personal attack, rather than a constructive aid. One way to reduce the often automatic defensive reaction is to deliver the information is a positive tone and frame the information as an opportunity for growth.
  • Focus on the facts. Most negative feedback is backed by verifiable reasons for it; therefore use facts to deliver the bad news. By reducing the emotional aspect of the message, the listener’s defensive radar doesn’t rise as quickly. The conversation then shifts to what actions are now possible, rather than dwelling on personal loss
  • Show you care. Take time to think through what you want to say; don’t rush into it. In one case, the decision was made to not notify people about the contract loss the day before the Xmas holiday, but to wait till after the weekend; in the other case, the presenter spent time identifying new ways the recipient could move forward before having the meeting. Ask sincere questions about how the recipient is experiencing the bad news. Then focus on solutions to the problem that are viable.
  • Help them get better. After delivering the bad news, promote a growth mindset by encouraging the person’s belief in their own ability to move forward and help find support. If the news is really bad, the person may need time to recover from the shock, so help the person have reasonable time expectations so they can bounce back. Most people are resilient, when they realize they have the capability of moving forward.

What’s your experience being the barer or recipient of bad news?  Share tips with us!

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