Ep 266 – When Millennials Take Over, with Jamie Notter

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Successful companies, employers, and solo practitioners are shifting their strategies to embrace four key capacities that will drive future business: digital, clear, fluid, and fast. In this episode of The ABMP Podcast, Kristin and Darren speak with Jamie Notter, author of When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business, about what is happening generationally in the workplace, the characteristics that define generations, and how our awareness of generational differences help in understanding workplace culture, motivation, and client connections.

Author Images: 
Darren Buford, editor-in-chief of Massage & Bodywork magazine.
Kristin Coverly, director of professional education at ABMP.
Author Bio: 

Jamie is an author and growth strategist at PROPEL, where he helps leaders integrate culture, strategy, and execution to achieve breakthrough performance and impact. He brings 25 years of experience to his work designing culture-driven businesses and has specialized along the way in areas like conflict resolution and generations. Jamie is also the co-author of three books—Humanize, When Millennials Take Over, and The Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement—and holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from George Mason University and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown University, where he serves as adjunct faculty.


Darren Buford is senior director of communications and editor-in-chief for ABMP. He is editor of Massage & Bodywork magazine and has worked for ABMP for 22 years, and been involved in journalism at the association, trade, and consumer levels for 24 years. He has served as board member and president of the Western Publishing Association, as well as board member for Association Media & Publishing. Contact him at editor@abmp.com.

Kristin Coverly, LMT is a massage therapist, educator, and the director of professional education at ABMP. She loves creating continuing education courses, events, and resources to support massage therapists and bodyworkers as they enhance their lives and practices. Contact her at ce@abmp.com.


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Full Transcript: 

0:00:00.2 Kristin Coverly: Fascia Research Society invites ABMP podcast listeners to attend the sixth international Fascia Research Congress, September 10th through 14th, 2022 in Montreal. The event includes 8 key note speakers, over 60 parallel session talks and posters, seven full and eight half-day workshops and a two-day Fascia focused dissection workshop. The line up of keynote speakers and workshops is already available on the Fascia Research Society website and the full Congress schedule will be out June 3rd. Register for the sixth international Fascia research Congress today at fasciaresearchsociety.org.

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0:01:50.9 Darren Buford: I'm Darren Buford.

0:01:51.1 KC: And I'm Kristin Coverly.

0:01:53.3 DB: And welcome to The ABMP podcast, a podcast where we speak with a massage and bodywork profession. Our guest today is Jamie Notter. Jamie is a speaker, author, consultant with expertise in workplace culture, generations and growth. Jamie helps leaders unleash the human potential inside their organizations by turning the workplace culture to a tangible business tool that drives growth. Jamie holds a master's degree in conflict resolution from George Mason University and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown where he serves as an adjunct faculty. He's the author of Human Eyes and our subject for today's podcast, When Millennials Take Over. To learn more about Jamie and his work, visit jamienotter.com. Hello, Jamie and Hello Kristin.

0:02:37.3 Jamie Notter: [0:02:37.4] ____.

0:02:38.9 KC: Jamie hello and welcome to the ABMP podcast. Let's set the stage for our conversation today, we wanna talk to you about your book, why understanding generational differences matters and how those differences may affect our listeners practices. I'm guessing people out there listening are curious about how this impacts their interactions with their clients, their co-workers and even their family members, I'm picturing that intergenerational group sitting around that holiday dinner table. Oh, Aunt Agnes... But before we begin to talk about the generational groups, let's make sure we're all on the same page. Here are the generational parameters that define those groups. According to the Pew Research Center, Boomers are defined as being born between 1946 and '64, Gen X between '65 and '80, Gen Y more commonly known as the millennials between '81 and '96, Gen Z between '97 and 2012. And the alpha generation, yes, we've circled back and are starting the alphabet all over again between 2010 and 2025. Although listeners, I think that there is some debate about that, that we're gonna get into a little bit later in the pod, so hang on, we're gonna talk about that in more depth coming up.

0:03:51.2 DB: Jamie you are a Gen Xer and Kristen and I are Gen Xer, and our producer, Colin is a millennial and we're just so fascinated with how generations work together and react to previous generations, so my question is to you, to begin with is, what motivated you to write this book? What was your background that led to this? And kinda what was that aha! Moment?

0:04:08.7 JN: The main motivation for me was I started this 20 years ago, doing research around generations, and it was from going to conferences and listening to people make fun of the millennials, like when the millennials first hit the workforce, everyone freaked out and all the speakers were like, "They're so entitled. They're so informal,"... This is a long time ago, but we used to be outraged that they would wear flip-flops to work. That was like...


0:04:37.8 JN: We couldn't handle that. That was just horrible. And I even saw... I think, a well-respected speaker saying, "You know with the millenials, you have to cut their meat for them in the workplace" And I'm like, this can't be right. Like you can't have a generation that is the worst, and of course, I remember when Gen X hit the scene, remember that folks, we were the cynical slackers.


0:05:01.4 DB: Mm-hmm.

0:05:01.5 JN: We weren't gonna get anything done. But we actually have done everything the whole time and just never taken any credit, and of course, the boomers, I'm like, "boomers, Do you not remember the '60s?" And then I'm like, Well, okay, maybe you don't remember a lot of the '60s, I'm not gonna judge, but they were long haired hippie freaks, they were gonna ruin everything, like we do this every 20 years, and I was like, There's gotta be some good research out there that can tell us really what's going on with this generation, and there actually wasn't as much as I wanted, and so I started doing my own and coming up with my own approach.

0:05:35.4 KC: Jamie let's talk about what's happening generationally in the workplace, what's the percentage breakdown of the workforce right now?

0:05:42.1 JN: Well, right now, and this gets a little bit to the conflict I have with the dates that you started with, but right now, the workforce is mostly Gen X and millennial, and I extend millennials to... What a lot of people call Gen Z, I think are just second half millennials. So there are some... If you use the Pew numbers and I like Pew's research, I'm not challenging it, then there are some Gen Zs in there, but it's mostly millennials and Xers and the boomers are now just sort of at the senior level only, and the previous generation was the Silent generation and they're pretty much out of the workforce at this point, and I don't know the current percentages, but Gen X is bigger than people think, and so... Millennials are bigger than X though, so they are gonna have a higher percentage, and then there's gonna be a small percentage of boomers, and then a small on the younger side too.

0:06:43.1 KC: I'm sure a lot of people are curious about how this millennial group, a really large group of people, and how their influx positively affects the workplace. Like what are they bringing into the workplace, as we're all interacting together in different generations?

0:06:57.7 JN: The millennials, from the research that we have done, I think their biggest impact is on speed, right? And they are known for doing things fast. They are also known for being impatient when we have to tell them, "That needs to go slow." They had the rep of being entitled, which is not true, except, or it's a little true in the sense that if we'd grown up with everything they had, we'd be entitled too. We'd expect things to happen instantly if we had the internet. And the social internet where they can go do things themselves. So millennials as a generation, are sort of optimistic, empowered doers. And I actually think one of the challenges with millennials, is they don't know how to go slow, and sometimes you need to go slow. So, but they bring speed, they bring innovation, they bring diversity. They really expect diversity in the workplace, not just sort of skin color and gender and all that, which they do expect. Diversity of thought, diversity of ideas, they expect people from different departments to be working together, and that's been a challenge for organizations. They'd be like, "No, no, no. You're marketing, you have to stay over there." And so it doesn't make sense to them. And I think they've really pushed boundaries and will continue to, 'cause they're just hitting management now. And so their impact is gonna become even greater, I think, in the next 10, 15 years.

0:08:34.3 DB: So Jamie, I'm curious. So you wrote this book in 2015, so the things that are in there, do you feel like they've come to fruition, or do you look at anything in the book at this point and be like, "Oh, I got this wrong."

0:08:48.3 JN: I feel pretty good about it, actually. I do go back and look, and I'm already starting to look at the generation after the millennials. And to see what's different. The one thing that I might change and this, it was 2015, and I felt like the millenials were too young to say, "Here's the big one thing that shaped it," and I identified four different things, the social internet, abundance, diversity, elevated status of children, I felt those were all important. Looking back, it's the internet.


0:09:23.1 JN: That is the big thing. Yeah. The other ones were important too, but the social internet was such a game changer, it's a structural change. We're never going back to a world where we don't have the internet. So that was the big, big transition that they really grew up in, I think that defined them more than anything else. So if I had to say, in the words of the theorists that I follow, they call it a social moment. The social moment was the internet and that internet revolution. And so I didn't, I sort of downplayed that, 'cause I wasn't sure, but looking back at this point, I think we can name that.

0:10:03.5 KC: In the book, you talk about a digital mindset, and how that leads to really a focus on the customer and individualized customer service. Can you talk to us a little bit more about that?

0:10:13.2 JN: Yeah. This also goes back to the millennials and their, what we call, being entitled. They expect customization. They expect it to work for them, no matter what platform they're using. This is the digital part. No matter what platform you're using, what device you're using, "It should work. And it should work for me, and I should be able to customize my settings." That's just a given. And they're showing up, and they showed up back then in the workforce saying, "Why can't I have a customized work experience?" What's interesting to me, is that the last two years with the pandemic, that has completely accelerated that trend. When we send everybody home, for decades, we said, "You can't do that. It'll never work." Then we sent everyone home and it worked just fine. But the biggest impact was, everyone got to customize their work experience. They work when they want, where they want, however they want, and that one's, I think, another structural change, that toothpaste is out of the tube. We're not going back. And the millennials are just gonna reinforce that. They've been waiting for that for the last 10 years. And now it's just, it's happening, so I think that one is gonna be reinforced, and I think that's true, both on the customer side. Customers expect it to be however they want it.

0:11:29.1 JN: And then, but what we're struggling with, what senior managers are struggling with, including Xers, that they have a tough time with this, is that employees get to customize things. And we grew up not being able to do that, and it feels weird that we now have to let people do that.

0:11:47.4 DB: Can I ask you, from a personal side, Xers are caught between, right? How are they adjusting to the work space? Because the boomers are moving out of the work space, and millennials are increasing the numbers in the workplace, yet the Xers are there, like you said, moving into management positions. How are they navigating all this?

0:12:11.4 JN: So Gen X is again this, I won't geek out too much on the theory on this, although I do love it. The generations tend to alternate between a dominant one and a recessive one, okay? Gen X is a recessive one. It would mean by definition in between two dominant generations of boomers and millenials. There's a number of articles that are like, "We're gonna cover the generations. We're gonna talk about boomers and millennials."


0:12:35.5 JN: I'm like, "Thanks."


0:12:37.6 JN: And whatever. We're used to it, right? We get ignored.

0:12:41.7 KC: The middle child, right?


0:12:43.8 JN: Left alone at home. Like, "Whatever, we can handle it." But it is a recessive generation. And actually, I think one of the characteristics of Gen X that I think is true, is that we are natural bridgers. As a generation, that's our job. Our job is not to be up front getting all the attention. We are behind the scenes making stuff happen. I think that's been true since we were young. And I think that's a good role. It'll be interesting to me, as our generation really moves into almost exclusively senior management roles, how do you be senior management as a bridger? That's gonna be interesting. But we're not fully there. I think there are enough younger Xers still serving middle management roles, and I think that's how we've been dealing with it the whole time, and that's what we're gonna continue to do, is get out of the way, and connect the right people and make things happen.

0:13:38.8 DB: So Jamie, I'm so curious. When characteristics are brought up about generations, how do you do it without falling into stereotypes and cliches, or pitting us against them?

0:13:50.4 JN: Yeah, again, that's one of the reason why I got into this, was the us versus them piece and characterizing generations negatively. The truth about generations is, we all grow up, and what's going on around us, shapes our view of the world. That's just a truth. And Gen X grew up in the, after what I call, the aftermath of the 1960s, right? Boomers grew up in the '60s, we grew up in the hangover of the '60s. Millennials grew up in sort of late late '90s in the internet revolution. Those things effect how large numbers of people view the world. Now everyone's... People come to me and say, "Oh, but you can't generalize about millions of people. We're all individuals." I'm like, "Really?" We need to get over that. The generalizations makes sense. And the way you get around the us versus them is, tying it to what shaped them. So I'm not saying that millennials are entitled 'cause I don't like their behavior, I'm saying, "They grew up with the internet. Therefore, we see these kinds of behaviors and approaches from them." You can call it entitled if you want, it just doesn't help. And so when you go back to the boomers in the '60s and what shaped them, that's why they do everything together, that's why they like the group thing, that's why they like showing up. Like boomers have a tough time with remote work, I gotta be honest, because you didn't have a revolution remotely.


0:15:15.9 JN: You had to be there. You had to show up. You had to walk, you had to march, you know what I mean? So that, not every boomer believes that, like everyone's a unique individual. But it is common, and there's a reason for it. It's because of what shaped them growing up.

0:15:30.0 DB: Yeah. So my next question to follow-up then, do you have generations reacting to resisting some of these definitions that are being cast upon them? Not against the generations, but internally in the generations.

0:15:46.3 JN: There's usually a resistance to it in the very beginning, because what comes out in the beginning is negative. So every millennial I talked to was like, "Please don't call me a millennial," back in the early times. And then there's resistance in the sense of, "Oh, you can't generalize about people," which I think you can generalize, so but within the generation, at least in the... For the millennials, I don't see a lot of divisiveness around it. I think I see more people embracing it than pushing back against it. Again, they'll push back against negative stereotypes like anyone. I push back against X-ers being cynical slackers. I think we're cynical, productive people. So...


0:16:26.9 JN: I have no problem with the cynicism, but so people will pick and choose what to fight against. And partially with the millennials, there's so much data out there 'cause of the internet, and there's so many different ways to slice and dice it, that you get... There's a little more willingness to break it up into small pieces like, "No, I'm this kind of millennial, or that kind of millennial." And now they're even going back and breaking up Gen X and calling people born in a five-year period, Generation Jones, and I push back against that.

0:16:54.7 KC: Oh, gosh, I've never heard of that. [laughter]

0:16:55.6 DB: I've see that, yeah. I've seen that, yeah.

0:16:58.2 JN: And it's fine. The bottom line too is, you can take any group of people born between any two end points and survey them, and come up with a generalization. I just don't call that a generation, that's just a bunch of people that think that way. As I speak to audiences though around the generational stuff, the millenials come up to me and they're like, "Thank you. Thank you for acknowledging that we're not these babies that need to be coddled." Like they've been waiting to be able to say, "We know what's going on, we know what we're doing. Why aren't you taking us seriously?"

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0:18:46.0 KC: Let's get back to our conversation.

0:18:51.0 DB: The research that goes into your book that... You're interviewing, or you interviewed millennials or you're interviewing various... This isn't like you just talk to a bunch of boomers and asked them about millennials, you're actually talking to millennials about themselves, correct?

0:19:06.1 JN: Yeah, we specifically did interviews with millennials about their approach to leadership. Again, this was in 2014-2015. So we're interviewing young people in organizations and saying, How do organizations work? What's good leadership? And that's when we started... We saw there's a whole section of the chapter of the book on transparency. The millennials were like... I had a guy on the phone, he's like, "Hey, wait a minute. You're an old guy. Let me ask you a question."


0:19:37.3 JN: "Why does the senior management team in our organization meet all the time and never tell anyone what they're talking about?"


0:19:46.9 JN: He was legitimately wondering why you would do that. Why would you not be sharing information? You know, and I'm like, I can't answer it, "I don't know, but it's a good point." So what was super interesting about that research was they were painting a very different picture of what leadership and management looks like. And that's really the bigger piece of the message in our book, is that leadership and the management is changing. It's really not about millennials, and frankly it's a bunch of boomers and Xers that are doing the changing. They're the ones in senior management positions of all the organizations that we profiled in the book. So it's not owned by a generation, it's just millennials, because they grew up with the internet, are seeing it and naming it before even we can.

0:20:28.8 KC: And I'm sure it's so interesting for someone say gen-X like us, to see what the millennials are doing and want to take some of that on, want to change ourselves because we see how beneficial it can be. But I'm sure there's parts of us that resist like, "But no, that's not my core belief, and how can I shift and change?" And there is so much we can learn from each other. Let's talk about how having an awareness and knowledge about generational differences can really help understanding each other and working together, either in the workplace or within a family unit, with our client communications and connections. Let's talk a little bit more about that. How do we absorb some of the good things from other generations while remaining true to ourselves?

0:21:11.3 JN: The key piece is learning how to have better conversations about all this. That's our challenge is that... And I don't know if this is an American thing or a human thing, but we like to draw conclusions and then push our conclusions on everybody else. That's what a conversation usually is. "I've decided that this is the truth, or this is the answer, and I'm going to convince you." Again, my original background is in the field of conflict resolution, so this has been on my radar for 30 years. But how do you have conversations where it's based in curiosity? Well, that's an interesting way to approach that, tell me more. You know? Like I do work inside organizations, I'm like, "Hey, take some processes you use in your organization and question why you do them that way." Like performance or staff meetings. You do staff meetings; why do you do them that way? What would millennials say? Millenials would say, "Why am I showing up at a meeting where you repeat information you could have put on Slack?"


0:22:12.1 JN: Right? Why is that not already there? Why did we not read that ahead of time and come here and talk, like what a silly model. But we don't have those conversations, like, I don't know, maybe that won't work, maybe that's a bad way to do it. My point is, it's not just the millennials have the way to do it, we should actually be having conversations internally to make generationally friendly processes. So that the boomers and Xers and millennials can all use them. And that requires a conversation based on curiosity and respect for where the other person is coming from. And I'm sort of making this up, but if the boomer's coming more from a command and control point of view, then like we gotta be curious about that too. One of my core lessons around doing workplace culture work is you can be really traditional in your culture if it works. You know what I mean? But that comes from the place of curiosity. And even if it's the family thing, like I see the no phones at the table rule, I'm like, Okay, so their phones are underneath the table. [laughter] I don't even know if that's worth pushing back. Maybe at the table, again, this is like a traditional thing, "the dinner table, it's so important."

0:23:27.9 JN: What if that's changing? What if the no phones thing should be in the living room when we're talking to each other? You know, like I have no opinion about phones at the table. If you have that rule, that's fine with me. But the point is, we should be kind of questioning some of those ways that we interact as families, ways that we interact with customers, what the rules are? Who's in charge? How you do it? All of these things are being questioned more and more, and the better we get at having those conversations quickly and coming up with new solutions in all those contexts, I think will make a big difference.

0:24:03.1 KC: I love it. I love thinking about how practitioners can apply that idea of having curiosity and conversations with their clients, about, "Well, how do you wanna pay, how do you wanna book, how do you wanna communicate with you?" There are ways that we can open up conversation and start shifting our practices so that everyone feels heard and supported and that it's working for everyone, right?

0:24:26.1 JN: Yeah, absolutely. This goes back to that piece about customization. Like customization is not going away, and the people that get good at it, that's all you have to do, is get good at customization. Which means there's a little more adapting on your end. That's all. There's a limit, you can't customize everything. There's some limits you're gonna draw, but if you embrace that principle... I talk to organizations now that are figuring out how to come back to the office, and the schedule, and letting people work from home and they don't know what to do. I'm like, "Okay, here's your clue; just use what I call principled customization." So there's gonna be a customized work schedule, people are gonna decide when to come in and when not to come in, which is bugging them, but give them some principles to guide when they make those decisions. Like, "Hey, for tough two-hour meetings, they're better in person," so let's try and make sure that when we're gonna do those, let's have people in the office for that. But otherwise, if it's just an update meeting, that doesn't matter. But you give them principles that say...

0:25:37.3 JN: "We want you to customize, but there are some reasons we want you here, but this is what they are," and you gotta explain the why, and I gotta say that's super important for the millennials. Millennials are really like, "Why are we doing it this way?" And every young generation pushes back and says, "Why are we doing it this way?" The millennials got all the answers to every question they asked their whole lives because of the internet, so you can't... When we said Why? And they're like, "Well, we're not gonna tell you," we'd say, "Okay, I guess we don't know." Right, what are we gonna do? You've got the information. Millennials are like, No, I've got... The information is out there, I can find it on my own. If you don't tell me that just means I trust you less, and so I'm constantly telling leaders to explain the why, talking about why this is the new path, why this is the new culture we're gonna have, whatever it is. And I think that's particularly important for millennials.

0:26:31.8 DB: Are you finding that people are receptive to that answer regardless of the generation, that it's more communication, like just explain why you're doing something and people are gonna be receptive to that. I know you talked about it specifically with regards to remote work and hybrid work. Are people receptive to that?

0:26:49.4 JN: I think they are. I've seen it... Half of what I do, although I don't call it that is change management, and people tell me for the longest time, "Well, people resist change." So it's just the way it is, they resist change and I've finally concluded, "No, they do not resist change, they resist doing things they think are stupid." They resist doing things that they think are not in their interests. That's it. So if you say... If you say, Look, we're gonna come back two days a week, they're gonna resist 'cause they think that's a stupid idea. It doesn't make sense to them, it's not in their interest. If you say, We need you to... You can customize your schedule, but I'm probably gonna need you here 8 to 16 hours to accomplish these tasks which are done better in person and help you be more successful in your job, then I'm in. That's it. You just... This goes a little bit back to conflict resolution too, because instead of just banging your position over and over again, you gotta get under the surface and say, "This is why I hold this position, and this is why it'll meet your interests too." And so this has been around for a long time, it has just not been a standard practice in leadership and management.

0:28:03.9 DB: So Jamie, you alluded to it earlier, I just wanna swing back, can you just... How has the pandemic and also DEI or Diversity Initiatives, how has that changed things in the past couple of years?

0:28:17.7 JN: Well, this goes also into the sort of generational formation. Okay, so millennials in my book are born '82 to 2002. Okay, it's about to, most generations are about 20 years, 'cause that's... It's a life stage of youth, right after 20 you're an adult, and 2002 is right after 9/11, that's when things started to shift. Millennials were born in optimism, internet revolution, we can do anything. I've got a teenager in Thailand that is broadcasting the coup live like, Wow. And then after that, we've started drifting into, "Actually, the internet can be kind of bad, like there's cyber attacks and the dark web where you can buy weapons." And now we're hitting really the stage where the next generation is growing up, they're growing up in the pandemic, they're growing up with George Floyd, they're growing up with unrest and tear gas in the streets, they're growing up with the state of politics that we have right now. And so it's changing right now, but it's changing for this next generation, this next generation, this is the post-millennial version of Gen X, they're growing up in the aftermath, and they're very digital, very digital native, I think they're gonna share some stuff with the millennials in that sense, but I think they're gonna be more skeptical and they're gonna be a little more activist, and so I think that's what you're seeing now it's what's really gonna be shaping the next generation.

0:30:02.4 JN: I'm calling them... You don't have to, but I'm calling them the survivor generation, they're surviving all this, and they're gonna focus on survival, and they're not gonna be... We're gonna be mad 'cause they're not gonna be all about unity, we wanna all come together, they're like, "Nope, I'm gonna find my people and we will take care of ourselves." That's my prediction. It's still too early to tell with this group, 'cause they're only teenagers, basically the oldest of them, but I think that's what you're seeing, and I think what's interesting is I think the millennials are gonna do a great job at leading us through this, they will not be creating these conditions, but they will be in leadership positions to make sure we make it through, which... Interestingly, the theorists that I follow predicted this in 1991, they talked about a crisis of 2020, so, yeah. And this has been happening for hundreds of years, it goes on the cycle, every four generations, there's a big transition like this. So it's interesting to watch.

0:31:06.7 DB: Can I ask you, everybody's familiar with the phrase The Great Resignation, but the newest thing I've seen pop-up is the Great Disengagement. Are you familiar with this and do you have kind of a response to why people are disengaging from their jobs or partially showing up or only showing up enough?

0:31:25.0 JN: Well, I do struggle with the term "Great Resignation," I get it, and there's... I could show you... If this wasn't a podcast, I could show you a graph that says, yes, a lot more people are quitting now than they ever have.

0:31:39.2 JN: And that's true. But it's ultimately not about resigning, it's about going somewhere else. Okay? It's not about the quitting part, and the organizations need to stop being so self-centered and saying, "Why are they quitting my organization?" And so, what it's based in, "I'm not willing to tolerate mediocre organizations when my life is on the line." That's what we all experienced. And so, a lot of people are like, "I'm just moving to a new career 'cause it's not worth it," but a lot of people are leaving jobs when they don't have a job to go to. They will be like, "I will figure out how to pay my bills somehow, but I am not tolerating this. You make me drive an hour to go to the office, to open my laptop and to be on Zoom calls all day. I could have done that at home." And the organization response is, "Yeah, but we don't know how to manage that and that's difficult administratively." And they're like, "I'm out." I had an organization where someone said, "I wanna work from home all the time now." They're like, "Yeah, but you live in this town. We have remote employees that live in Chicago or whatever. They can work remote, but you live here. So you have to come in the office." And so, he said, "Fine, I quit." And then they have to hire somebody to replace that position. Well, they hired someone who works in Chicago.


0:32:51.6 JN: Because that takes up [0:32:52.0] ____ someone they could find, right? We aren't getting it. And so, people aren't tolerating that as much. The great disengagement, I haven't heard as much about that. And I honestly... I mean, this is my approach to employee engagement generally is, if you have a really strong culture that makes people successful, they'll be engaged, period. And so, if they're putting in the minimum and then they're disengaging, it's 'cause your culture hasn't adapted to today's reality and you're having a culture that makes people feel like they can't be successful. This was one of the epiphanies for me in writing about employee engagement is, you know who doesn't have an engagement problem? Entrepreneurs.

0:33:35.1 DB: Yeah.

0:33:35.2 JN: People who start their own businesses work too much. We work all the time. We love it. It's like it's who we are, right? And I realized because most entrepreneurs have to be entrepreneurs 'cause that's what makes them feel deeply successful inside. They don't feel successful being a cog in the machine in a big organization. And so, that's why we go out on our own. And so, it's that feeling of success. You design a culture that creates that in every employee and you will be the place that gets written up in the magazines 'cause people would wanna be there. All the great resignation people are gonna flock to your organization. And we don't spend enough time doing it. So that's sort of my culture mantra.

0:34:15.4 KC: I love the culture mantra and I'm guessing it circles back to that message again of having the conversation, asking them, what would make you feel fulfilled? What is success to you? Because that's different for everyone, generational or not, right?

0:34:28.2 JN: Yeah, and I think this is also... I don't know. I don't have data on this one, but I'm expecting the millennials to want to make see all this stuff and make it visible. I wanna know that I'm successful. I want metrics that show that I'm successful in my job even if I'm low on the totem pole. And we're not as... We're struggling with that and I think the pandemic influence is accelerating that as well 'cause now we're not all in the office. We can't talk about it in the hallways. So how do we make visible the progress where people are stuck with the impact of the work that I did? We have technology that can make that all really visible. We're just sort of not skilled at doing it and it's not on people's radar, but I think that's something that would combat the great resignation, is actually really rigorous systems for showing... For enabling people to see, "I did well this week." And it's not like, "Oh, well, we were a $100 million company and I guess we're at 50 million, half-way through. Did I... What did I do for that?" You know what I mean?


0:35:37.9 JN: We do the high-level stuff and we don't create systems that enable people to connect the dots between what they're doing and sort of where we're headed. And again, there are organizations that do that. It's a different discipline that I think we need to expand that.

0:35:54.4 DB: So Jamie, let's bring it on home and let's circle back around to... Tell us the difference, or your thoughts, where Kristin began with identifying the various birth years of the generations. So tell us your opinion on Gen Z and Alpha.

0:36:08.5 JN: So I said earlier, Gen Z for me is... They said, I wrote it down, '97 to 2012. I see that one a lot. They basically carve off people in the mid-'90s. Those people when they were born, they never... They don't remember the time before the internet. The '80s millennials, particularly the early '80s, they do. They're like, "I know what a card catalog is."


0:36:31.0 JN: They experienced that. They didn't have iPads as toddlers, right? And so, they're distinguishing between the true digital natives and the millennials that were, I think, influenced by this digital... I think that's true, but I call that first-half millennials and second-half. Okay? And because the whole... I said earlier, what... Generations are created by what happens around you and at the... But it's not just any year, it's the patterns. There was pre-internet and post-internet. There was leading up into the 1960s revolution and then there was the aftermath, and those are very different time periods. So the years should be based on the historical forces, the historical trends. That's why I cut it off at 2002. Historically, I think we're gonna go back and say that really represents the flipping of the optimistic version of the internet revolution to the more realistic one. And so, you can make your argument that it should be earlier or later, but that's how I see it, so.

0:37:32.9 JN: And more importantly though, I'm Gen X. We were named Gen X because the boomers looked at us and could not figure out what we were. They did not know what to call us, and someone said, "We're just gonna call you generation X 'cause you're so confusing." And we said, "Whatever." Right? 'Cause that's what we always say. So we're fine with Generation X, but there was no Generation W. Therefore, there is no Generation Y. After the Gen X, was the millennials and after the millennials is, I'm calling it the survivor generation. You can pick a new name if you want, but this X, Y, Z, AA thing, I disagree. So I refuse to do that and I think that every generation has a first half and second half. Older boomers were different than the younger boomers. Older Xers are different than younger Xers, right? And there's people who are born around the edges of the generations and they're called cuspers. They're kind of different too. These are millions of people and there are some nuances here, but I think we're cutting it too finally, with Gen Z and Alpha. Oh, and everything I read, including Pew, they said, "Interestingly, there's a lot of similarities between Millennials and Gen Z." That's 'cause they're the same generation. So that makes sense too.


0:38:47.0 JN: Right? So again, you can say, "Hey, these true digital natives, they do have a different approach than this." That's true, but I find that not as helpful in understanding the big picture dynamics and in staying ahead of the change. The goal here is to stay ahead of the change and not be run over by it. And I think we're... In the next 10 years, next maybe three, four years, it's gonna start to come up again. We're gonna start to freak out. This is my prediction, we're gonna freak out about whatever we call the survivor gen. "Oh my God, they're not millennials anymore. They're not optimistic. How do I engage them? They're so annoying." We're gonna have the same reactions. I mean, and then we're gonna call them different things. And staying ahead of that curve means, ooh, this curiosity thing. What would shape them? What is different about now and the last 10 years that... Or the last 15 years, that was different from when the millennials were coming of age. That's an interesting conversation. You have those conversations, you will do fine with the soon-to-be 23-year-olds in your office that you don't understand.

0:39:56.3 DB: I wanna thank our guest today, Jamie Notter. To learn more about Jamie and his work, visit jamienotter.com. Thanks, Jamie, and thanks, Kristin.

0:40:04.6 JN: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

0:40:05.8 KC: Jamie, thank you so much for that great conversation about how we can look at the people in our lives and practices differently through the lens of generations and hopefully create some great conversations for change.

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