Attention All Millennials: You Need This Advice to be Successful

Attention All Millennials: You Need This Advice to be Successful

Attention All Millennials: You Need This Advice to be Successful

access_time Aug/14/2017

Over the past few years, I have hired, trained, managed and, in some instances, terminated millennial employees. I have seen the spectrum from creative genius to entitled expectation, and as the future of the workplace is dependent upon finding a common ground with the generation that follows me, I ask for a candid chat.

Millennials, I want you to be wildly successful. I want you to exceed expectations and impress. However, as your employer, I need you to help me to help you.

I am not here to browbeat you because of participation trophies or an inflated sense of self, nor am I here to echo the same criticism every generation has given the one that follows throughout history. That said, it is important to remember that the workplace is, first and foremost, “a place to work.” In order to make your mark in the professional world without creating ill-will in the process, I recommend three simple tips for getting ahead.

1. Find a way to attach yourself.

Gallup reported last year that millennials do not feel close ties to their jobs, with only 29% of millennial workers feeling engaged at work. This sense of detachment causes palpable frustration for both the millennial and the employer. With a feeling of commitment, the employer is more likely to invest scarce resources in a new employee. If they feel you have one foot out the door, an employer like me is likely to send you on your way.

Last fall, as I was having a first meeting with an employee who had predated me at the company and would be one of my reports, I asked her to list her daily and weekly tasks for me, and then to describe which tasks she should be focusing her time on and which should be offloaded to a peer. She came back wanting to offload 100% of her tasks to someone else, so that she could “explore other roles in the company to find her calling.” I gently coached her that it was probably time to move on.

Find something that inspires you (even if the grunt work isn’t generally inspiring). Find something to commit to, and make your world revolve around that project, task or role. Succeed at that one thing first and then, with the newfound respect from your employer who has seen you dedicate yourself, your next request for responsibility will be that much more likely to be granted.

2. Invest your online social skills in a writing class.

Although millennials are generally hesitant or reluctant to embrace employers, their local communities or specific institutions, you are highly connected with the world around them. According to Gallup, 91 percent of millennials own a smartphone, and 71 percent say the Internet is their main source for news and information. This hyper-connectedness has helped you gain a unique global perspective and has transformed the way you interact and work.

With as connected as millennials are to the web, I find that this rarely translates to a social connection with the workplace. Email and writing skills have become alarmingly poor, and a professional respect for business communication has taken a backseat to the 180-character tweet. Social media may not hold you to basic standards of grammar and articulate writing, but your colleagues and business partners do.

In my first job out of college, my boss Steve Stevens strongly recommended that I take a business writing course, which is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received. I find myself recommending the same strategy to each new employee I onboard. Take the time to read what you write, spend the time to edit your work, and ensure that anything you send on behalf of your company is something that you and your boss can be proud of. A few minutes of careful review can save significant embarrassment.

3) You will only receive respect and recognition if you earn it and offer it to others.

Millennials are pushing for change in the workplace and don't accept "that's the way it has always been done" as a viable answer. Typically, millennials demand that businesses approach them differently and adjust the customer experience to meet their needs. You see work and life as closely intertwined and want to have a different relationship with their manager. You want your manager to care about you as an employee and a person. 62 percent of millennial employees who feel they can talk with their manager about non-work-related issues plan to be with their current organization one year from now.

Let me encourage you millennials to treat your boss as a person, and you will be treated as a person in return. In a recent employee interaction, an extremely new hire failed to call in for an introductory call, asking me to instead call his cell phone. When we finally did connect, I asked him to open a spreadsheet I had prepared for him prior to our call to discuss upcoming tasks. He responded that he must have accidentally deleted my email, and asked me to send it to him again. This behavior persisted for weeks...

Respect and trust is earned. You only get as good as you give. If you find yourself frustrated with the lack of respect and/or authority you are receiving on the job, take a moment to appreciate your boss and coworkers. Write a note of gratitude. Invest yourself in your company in the same way you want the company to invest in you.

Millennials will dictate the pace, foundations and metrics in the business world of the next several decades. And for our businesses to succeed, you must rise to positions of leadership and strength. You alone have the opportunity to build upon the world that was crafted by those who came before you. The above tips will have you in a decisionmaking role in no time.

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How to Link From Your Content to Build Leads and Connections

Whenever we create digital content, we reference other web pages, either for further reading or to give a credit. In most cases, we link out in order to create better content and provide the reader with more information on the subject.

But did you know that links can provide further value for your business? If you approach it strategically, linking out can actually bring leads and business contacts. Here are a few ways to achieve more by linking out to external sources:

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1. If you want those links clicked, phrase them accordingly.

A call to action is an instruction to your audience, guiding them towards your goal conversion. Usually calls to action are designed in the form of a button that stands out on your page in order to trigger some type of an action.

A text link can be an effective call to action as well, provoking an immediate response from your reader. It's obvious that if you want your site readers to do something, you'll get better results if you tell them exactly what to do. Whenever you want your page visitor to read further, it may be a good idea to word your link exactly that way -- "Click here to read further."

2. Keep your links descriptive for usability and accessibility purposes.

While a link that says "click here" can be a good action trigger encouraging your readers to actually click, it's a poor way to word your links from usability and accessibility standpoint. In order for "click here" links to make sense, your readers will have to read the surrounding text to put the link into context. This process requires more effort, both in terms of eye movements and mental processing.

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As for accessibility, visually impaired users of your site who use screen readers to navigate your web page will have even more trouble with "click here" links because they will make no sense to them. That being said, there are lots of ways to accommodate both goals of getting people to click and complying with usability and accessibility standards. Here are a few ways to word your links to achieve both:

  • "Click here to read more about ..."
  • "Click here to download the full guide ..."

On top of that, a text link can trigger an opt-in form -- which actually makes it a valid lead generating call to action. These types of lead generation opt-ins are referred to as "two step," and they can be easily built with OptinMonster Wordpress plugin.

3. Link out for relationship building purposes.

Linking to a person is one of the best ways to become friends with them. People love being referenced by other writers, and they usually show up to thank, provide more details and share your piece with their community.

There are a few tricks to turn your linking practices into a relationship building tactic:

  • Reference niche influencers who are active and responsive on social media. These people are more likely to engage with you after you let them know you linked to their content.
  • Use social media tagging to let those influencers know that you referenced them.
  • If you link for relationship building purposes, keep your links as descriptive as you can. Include the author's name, book title, Twitter handle, etc. Many niche influencers use tools to monitor their brand name mentions, so your mention will get noticed. Read about citation tips in a research paper; include "Last Name, First Name. Page Title. Website Title."

Linking out for relationship building is probably only possible for content focused sites (blogs and online magazines). Ecommerce linking is a bit different. But if you have a blog section on your ecommerce website, the tactic will work for you too.

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While links work great for reinforcing your calls-to-action and building relationships with niche influencers, their primary goal is to add value to your content. Always keep that in mind when linking out from your content.

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Should You Actually Trust Your Gut Feelings?

Entrepreneurship often requires risk. You can do all the research under the sun and run the numbers countless times, but a lot of the time your big decisions come down to a gut decision. But how do you know if it’s right?

In a recent study, University of Kent researchers Stefan Leach and Mario Weick sought to understand how the degree of certainty and confidence you have in your intuition impacts the successful completion of the task at hand.

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To figure this out, Leach and Weck tasked a group of 400 people from the U.S. and U.K. to answer questions about how they approach decisions. They asked if they agreed or disagreed with statements such as, “With most decisions, it makes sense to completely rely on your feelings,” “I believe in trusting my hunches” and “I hardly ever go wrong when I listen to my deepest gut feelings to find an answer.”

Then they put the participants through a series of tasks, requiring them to learn associations between random strings of letters and social media profile images and had them try and figure out the patterns that emerged.

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“We found that people’s enduring beliefs in their intuitions were a poor guide to actual performance,” Leach and Weick explained. “In particular, people who were dispositionally inclined to place greater trust in their intuitions did not perform any better in the test phase of the implicit learning task than people who did not place such great trust in their intuitions.”

Specifically, nine out of 10 times a study participant with high levels of confidence in his or her intuition didn’t perform any better on the task than someone with low levels of confidence. Which is to say, just because you’re confident, it doesn’t mean that you’re right.  

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Are You Selling Something Nobody Wants to Buy?

A good go-to-market strategy involves testing product-market fit and validating your idea with a minimum viable product (MVP). So, in theory, you shouldn't ever be fully rolling out a product or service nobody wants to buy.

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Despite that assumption, however, I still see would-be entrepreneurs online all the time asking the painful question: "Why doesn't anybody want to buy from me?"

When sales are slow, a number of different factors could be at play: Maybe your approach to marketing and promoting your product needs tweaking. Or maybe you just haven't built up enough name recognition with your target audience.

Understanding where you've gone wrong means asking several different questions:

1. Do people really want what you're selling?

It's tempting, when your sales are slow, to blame the economy or some other factor outside of your control. But, with Americans spending $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods, according to The Wall Street Journal, there's clearly more at work than personal spending freezes.

I'd argue that, in most instances, the issue isn't that people aren't spending -- it's that you're offering them something they don't really care to spend money on. In an article on the Launch Yourself blog, Melissa Anzman shared her own past experiences with failed launches, writing:

"This is where my failed launches have usually gone wrong. I created content that was amazing and it's what I thought my audience needed (hello - you need it, I'm the expert, listen to me!). But at the end of the day, they could care less about the solution I was selling."

This is where the early market research and validation testing I mentioned earlier comes into play. If, in your product or service's earliest stages, you aren't seeing conclusive proof that people want what you intend to offer, it's in your best interest to keep iterating before investing in a full launch.

2. Are you clearly conveying the value of your product or service?

That said, plenty of situations occur where there's demand for your offering; but people just don't understand what you're selling or why they should buy from you. If they don't see your value, they're simply not going to buy.

Alexander Michael Gittens, in a post on LinkedIn, summed up this scenario well, stating, "No one has ever purchased a product or service. Whether we realize it or not, we have only ever purchased 'value.'"

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Gittens went on to give the example of purchasing food at a grocery store versus a restaurant. If you spend $100 at each place, you'll have spent the same amount of money, but received vastly different value, depending on whether you prioritize your ability to buy food for multiple meals, or the experience of dining at a fancy restaurant.

So, what does "value" mean in the context of your business, and how can you determine whether you're clearly demonstrating it? As a starting point, consider that BigCommerce has reported that, "The top three factors that are very or extremely influential in determining where Americans shop are price (87 percent), shipping cost and speed (80 percent) and discount offers (71 percent)."

These specific variables may or may not apply to your company or your target customers, but if you can't say for certain what those people value, you've got some homework to do.

3. Are people ready to buy when you're reaching them?

Finally, keep in mind that just because someone didn't purchase from you right away doesn't mean that they'll never become a customer. Their reluctance might just mean they aren't ready to purchase yet.

Timing your marketing messaging to your prospect's stage in the buying process is an art as much as a science. So, ask the following questions to measure the response to your sales and marketing timing:

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  • o Are you mis-timing your most persuasive sales messages to top-of-funnel prospects, rather than those further down the funnel?

As Derek Halpern of Social Triggers argued, "Don't be pushy all the time. Be pushy at the right time."

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If you've gone through all three of these questions, made the necessary changes to your messaging, targeting and timing, and still aren't seeing results, it may be time to conclude that nobody wants what you're selling. As difficult as that may be to hear, embrace it. Don't continue to throw time, money and effort at a failed project. Instead, put those resources toward making your next great idea a winner.

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Check Out the Airbnb Camping Experience for Owners and Their Dogs

It should be simple: human and dog spending the night together under the stars. That’s what Michael D'Agostino, who was working at the New York Stock Exchange, figured when he left for a camping trip with his wife and their dog. They were looking forward to some peace and quiet, their dog running free under a sky glittering with stars.

It didn’t work out the way they imagined. Their campsite was right next to the bathroom. On the other side, a rowdy group of campers partied all night. “It was like camping in Times Square,” D'Agostino says. With so many people around, they had to keep their dog in the tent. No running free through the great outdoors. This was not what they had in mind when they decided to go camping.

After a sleepless night, they packed up their tent. They figured they could save their weekend by checking into a local bed and breakfast, only to be told that they didn’t accept dogs. They had no choice but to head back to the city. On the drive back, says Baxter they passed a beautiful field. “I wish we could just camp there,” says D'Agostino.

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“And the idea of Tentrr was born,” says Baxter Townsend, the director of public relations for the company. Tentrr campsites are all dog-friendly and fully equipped on 15 acres or more. The land is private and secluded so that dogs can run free. Each campsite has swimming spots and hiking trails as well as dog-friendly activities nearby. It’s been compared to Airbnb for campers and canines.

Image Credit: Tentrr

Each campsite comes with a large wooden platform, large canvas tent, bed, Adirondack chairs, wood stove, picnic table, dry storage, water gallon sun shower, camp toilet, fire pit and more, says Townsend. The experience starts at $127 per night. There’s even a “glamping” provision. “Many campsites offer extras for a small fee including luxury bedding, cooking and dining supplies, firewood, farm fresh produce and eggs, and rentals of kayas and bikes.” Campsites accommodate up to 12 campers with additional dome tents provided for groups.

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And Tentrr doesn’t just take any campsite. Landowners, called “Prospective Campkeepers,” must can fill out an online questionnaire to determine if their property meets Tentrr’s needs: 10 acres or more of secluded land with swimmable water onsite or nearby and only a short drive to town for restaurants and activities. We’re looking for a “wow factor” says Townsend. “If a piece of property meets those requirements, Tentrr sends a scout out to see the property in person and make sure it'll make for a great Tentrr campsite.”

Of course, dogs are at the heart of the Tentrr experience. “Dogs and owners can go hiking, trail running, swimming, kayaking, mountain biking, and cook hotdogs and hamburgers right off the grill,” says Townsend. Additionally, many of the Campkeepers offer additional guided experiences such as fly-fishing, hunting or hiking trips designed for campers and canines.

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Image Credit: Tentrr

Townsend counsels campers to prepare their dogs for the great outdoors, advising people to put tick and flea protection on their pups and check for ticks frequently during the great outdoor experience. “We encourage all campers who are bringing their pets to purchase a tick twister, which can easily get ticks off their pets.” Of course, humans should also be well stocked with insect repellent.

The majority of Tentrr campsites are two hours from New York City in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. The company does plan on expanding Tentrr sites in the Northeast this summer and in late 2017, rolling out additional sites in the Pacific Northwest.

“Tentrr is all about making the outdoors more accessible,” says Townsend, “and that includes being able to travel with your dog without having to worry about finding dog-friendly lodging or activities.”

Article written by Jillian Blume

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A Good Entrepreneur Evolves Over Time

I've been an entrepreneur for most of my life. I started an odd-jobs business in high school, founded a collectible comic-book business in college and launched my first capital-backed startup -- an adventure-travel company -- in my 20s.

My entrepreneurial endeavors continue today. I'm in my late 40s, running Red Rocket, looking for groups to buy and advising hundreds of early-stage businesses. My approach to managing businesses today is very different than when I was younger. The experience I now bring to the table has materially mellowed me as a leader. But I didn't have that background or that perspective when I was younger.

Experience collects wisdom.

I'm no longer a freshly minted CEO trying to figure it all out and making a lot of mistakes in the process. Decades of battle scars have sharpened my business thinking. With that hard-earned experience, I've accumulated years of learning. Not much thrown my way today is new. Chances are, I've already seen some version of it in the past. I simply dust off the old playbook and adjust from there, without having to think about the challenge as a first-time obstacle.

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Wisdom drives confidence.

Business decisions are like anything in life: The more you've done it, the more comfortable you get. With that comfort comes a sense of confidence that you're headed in the right direction. First-time entrepreneurs often lack that insight and second-guess their paths. Tom Brady didn’t become the greatest Super Bowl-winning quarterback overnight. It took years of practice, memorizing playbooks and logging game-time experience. Those combined effects propelled him to success, and he's now one of the most confident quarterbacks in the game. Entrepreneurship is no different. 

Confidence leads to efficiency. 

The better you know your subject matter, the more efficiently you can execute your plan. I don’t necessarily need to stay up all hours of the night trying to figure out how to do something. I can make decisions faster now, and I know how to best invest my time. I don't get bogged down in the weeds. I've discovered what actions lead to the maximum ROI on my time, research and energy. 

Efficiency thrives on data.

In the old days, I'd get all excited about the features and functionalities of the product or service I was building. Today, the product doesn’t matter so much. I'm more focused on the economics around that product or service. What is my average ticket? Gross margin? Repeat sale rate? Churn rate? Cost of Customer Acquisition? Lifetime revenues? Return on marketing investment

Without solid business economics, the rest is just noise. I've become increasingly data-driven in my decision-making. I'm always looking for the profitable levers that I can pull to help scale a business.

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It all adds up to better leverage.

Age has taught me I'm not in this battle by myself. Surrounding myself with the smartest people I know also will make me a more effective leader and executive. I go so far as to say I hope my direct reports are a lot smarter than me -- and no, that doesn't intimidate me. So many young entrepreneurs need to feel as if they're the smartest person in any room. I empower my team members to do their jobs, and then I get out of their way. I don't need to micromanage every one of their decisions as I did when I was younger.

Most important, I no longer panic when things start to go wrong. Many first-timers sound the alarm early and often. That's doubly unfortunate because panic typically creates unnecessary chaos and stress right when an organization needs to be its most focused on solving the problem at hand. Take a breath. It all will work out in the end.

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Here's my message to all the first-timers: Gather up experience (directly or through mentors) to help bolster your confidence and make you a more efficient, data-driven decision-maker who's comfortable leading a team of wicket-smart and empowered executives. And for goodness sake, don’t panic when things start to go wrong. There's always a logical fix. 

If you follow this guidance, you can stop pulling your hair out in the wee hours of the night. Instead, you'll get that time back and can transition to living a well-balanced existence -- all while watching your bank account grow along with your thriving business.

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