Driving last month from Milwaukee to Madison I reflected on how beautifully the harvest sun danced on the corn and soybean fields to produce the golden hues at dawn and dusk. I’ve driven that road so many times to the University of Wisconsin, but now I appreciated the beauty of the farmland. I was excited to meet Dean Shim, and my friends and professors who inspire students to be the best they can be in the School of Retail, and be introduced to ambitious students who want to connect with leaders in the retail field. There were 200 alumni and 40 students during the speed networking afternoon. I met students in small groups, Q&A about their future career plans. I found the students were highly engaged, ambitious, and want to work for the best companies that will invest in them, build the foundation for their future and focus on training and learning. They want mentors that can help them along the way with advice and connections. A panel of top executives (Gen X) talked about their careers and what’s important. They stressed getting 2 internships before graduating, getting experience to build confidence. Find companies that support these values. In the field everyone works in teams, gives presentations, and stressed the collaborative style is necessary to be successful. They suggested how to impress a recruiter; they have to like you, they have to trust you, and they have to think you’re smart. Take a stretch assignment out of your comfort zone to get ahead and go for it. Focus on the end goal and derailing is not an option. If you don’t design your own plan, you will fall in someone else’s plan so get involved and think outside the box. Don’t let things happen to you.
The students can apply for a semester in NYC at the Fashion Institute of Technology and I encouraged that if possible. From my own rich experience working in NYC, I feel that everyone should live or work there at one point in their life! I loved meeting the students and impressed that many were interested in running stores.


Reverse Mentoring-Okey what is that? Last week I participated in a program from The Boston Club, where successful career women, Generation X and Millenials (Generation Y) talked to us Boomers about what they think about, how they communicate, how they live and approach their life. To clarify age, the Boomers (60’s), the Xers ( 55-35ish) and the Y’s (younger than 35). No one size fits all but here are a two examples:
Sue is 41, a CMO and manages 20 Gen Ys. She is motivated to make an impact day to day, shops designer clothes and also H&M and TJMax. Values her time and wants what she is paying to match the quality of what she buys. She often feels patronized in her corporate position and internally says “do you know who I am?”. She recently returned from an Eisenhower Fellowship. She grew up in the hierarchy of the corporate world where you make your boss look good. Gen Y’s have no rules of the game, they are not afraid to address bosses 2-3 levels up, walk into offices unannounced and have no boundaries. That is refreshing, not a lack of respect, just want to be heard. She is dedicated as a leader to stop the long string of e mails and keep the face to face communication which is critical in the workplace. She also wants to pick the best talent of her group and not be tied to hierarchy. She wants the same for herself.
Amy is 40, was impatient in her progress of the corporate world and not getting ahead after 10 yrs so started her own marketing company. She is getting experience working with different companies and executives. She is afraid of the work load that the boomers are providing now, and as they leave the work force ,what will be the effect.  No one seems to be doing a trajectory. The word flexibility is over, it is about  freedom of time. She works hard, on her own time,  and has less salary expectation than her parents. She represents the group of highly educated, under utilized, overworked, busy and bored, and therefore left the structured work force.

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Why Gen Y Yippies are Unhappy  has to be recognized and not criticized. New ideas from this group have to be harvested to match the fast change.  None of the group is looking to Boomers to get their inspiration.  The are looking to those just above them, the Gen Y’s looking to the Gen X’s to be their mentors and give them a chance.  They are impatient, highly capable, and stuck. The Gen Y’s have to be dedicated to this group to figure it out together. Facebook is an inflated version of existence, e mail is for business use and not urgent, and text if for personal and immediate. Good leaders force engagement and face to face collaboration. Derailed by corporations, Y&X’s want to add value, to be relevant, be heard. They can run fast and want to do good work. They network and band together to start new companies and create. Yes they are entitled, we did it to them, but get over it! I am very encouraged.

The aha moment: No one is talking about morale, and how to improve it.  As leaders of this group one has to stop being frustrated with them and making assumptions. What are they thinking about? Ask  questions, keep them highly engaged, not just head down doing their work, get them to participate and have fun at work.  Have their backs. They are more tuned into the new world, can run faster.  Pick the best ones over others! Paying dues is going to loose good talent.

Product update: BRRR its getting cold outside. Do you think the target audience for these hats are Gen Y? I think they are cute! Might have to buy one…$39 at Restoration!