7 More Lessons We Can Learn from Millennials

7 More Lessons We Can Learn from MillennialsIn a recent Harris poll, 67% of Millennials (age 18-34) want to start their own business. However, they are also saddled with student loans that have come due. They still want to do their own thing, but for the meantime, they are satisfied with becoming employeepreneurs – working a day job while trying to build something on the side.

As leaders, employers, and managers, with this type of ambition towards work, what lessons can we learn from Millennials that can be applied to every generation in the workplace – Traditionalists, Boomers, Generation X, Millennials (aka Gen Y) – to keep everyone engaged, communicating, and reaching company goals?

Here are the original 7 lessons we can learn from Millennials.


What are 7 MORE lessons can we learn from Millennials?

Ownership – Millennials want to start their own companies because they want a sense of ownership. They want to lead. Colleges and universities are doing a better job of teaching leadership skills, either in the classroom or through extracurricular experiences, and Millennials want a chance to test their leadership skills. By providing an opportunity to lead, be it a project, a presentation, or a sub-product, it gives Millennials and other generations an opportunity to own something without a formal title of a leader, such as manager, director, or vice president. Ownership increases engagement.

Rule Maker – Entrepreneurship in Millennials is strong because they like to set their own rules. They willingly question the status quo and become agitated by “dumb” rules. Questioning the status quo is not a generation restriction. All generations can speak up, hack the rules, and reinvent arcane processes. What rules are waiting to be broken?

Untapped Talents – Millennials look to start businesses to utilize their untapped talents. Chances are there are many employees of all generations in your organization who have underutilized gifts. Discover the additional skills beyond the accounting, coding, or graphic design that they were hired to do. Use those abilities to further the company’s cause. What are your organization’s hidden assets?

Play Big – Millennials want to make a difference in the world. They want to play big. They want to put their own dent in the universe. Some members of every generation want to stand up, point to something, and say, “I did this.” Find those people in your organization who want to do big things. Put them on the important projects and let them do what they do best. Whose number will you call when the game is on the line?

Learn While Doing – Millennials don’t have all of the answers. Really, they will admit it, but it’s often behind closed doors. What they do have is an unabashed passion for learning. They use the Internet, search engines, and YouTube videos to figure it out. They tinker and toil until they get it right. They view a lack of knowledge as an opportunity to learn. All generations can take this same approach. We don’t have to have all of the answers before we start down an uncharted path. All generations are capable of learning, if they are open to it. What do you want to learn today?

Passion – Millennials desire to start their own companies because it fulfills a passion. Unless yours was the only job they could find, they initially had some passion for your company. Some glimmer of hope existed in their soul to want to work with your company. Each employee, of all generations, had some passion for your organization at one point. What if we could tap that passion to put spirit back into the business? What if you could reignite that kindling of passion that you once had for the business? How will you inject passion into your company’s soul?

Recognition – When Millennials’ heroes are people like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg and not pop stars or athletes or politicians, they desire to start their own companies to achieve a level of fame. Recognizing employees, regardless of generation, is critical to engagement. They want to feel the love. They want to know that their work is valued. They want to know that they are not just another number in an HR database. Who are the rock stars in your organization?


(image courtesy of ITUPictures)

About the Author:  Todd Brockdorf, is the author of Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World – (Harrogate Publishing 2012)  

He works with organizations, leaders, and frustrated professionals to stand out from the crowd. Connect with Todd on LinkedInTwitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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6 Better than Average Signs It’s Time to Leave Your Job

Reasons to Leave JobHow do you know when is it time to leave your job? I recently got fired from my day job and I couldn’t be more excited. I knew it was time to go. When I added up all of the facts, there was only one right answer. Here are 6 Better than Average signs that it is time to quit your job.

The Job Fundamentally Changes

The company fundamentally changed the job description from what I originally signed up. That’s fine. If that’s how they want to execute their business strategy, that’s their decision. Good luck to them. If it was a general downsizing – doing more with less people – I’m ok with that. Sure, it would suck (technical term), but I’ve been through that before. But they changed my job role. Will your job fundamentally change?

Ethically Aligned?

Their decision to change the job didn’t agree with my sense of ethics and moral compass. Statistics show that most people don’t like their jobs – I get that. But, if your soul and your job function are not congruent, it’s a glowing, flashing neon sign that it’s time to look for other opportunities. Is your job ethically aligned with who you are?

The Door is Wide Open

They offered a nice package with pay and benefits that would last a while. Rumor has it that it will be the last nice package. The industry is growing and there are other jobs out there. There are also other parallel industries that could benefit from the same skill set. Do you see your window of opportunity?

You Have a Wife and Kids

I have a wife and kids. Most people would view this situation as an anchor to stay in a job. However, I didn’t want my kids to see that I was stuck in a dead-end job doing the same thing from college graduation until they got rid of me when I was old and gray. I want my wife to be in a place where she can choose to work and determine how much she wants to work. I want the freedom to choose. Do you?

Ability to Maintain Your Power

If you choose not to take control, others will make decisions for you. It was my decision to leave, not theirs. I made a choice. Rather than being shocked that a sudden change was coming, I prepared myself. While others had to endure an air of uncertainty as to their fates, I was able to rest easy at night knowing that it was my choosing. Who has your power?

Opportunity, Not Adversity

This situation is an opportunity, not an adversity. When there appear to be greater opportunities elsewhere, it’s time to say goodbye. It’s a chance to test the waters. Put multiple lines in the pond and see which one catches a fish. Keep the other hooks in to keep luring fish. Who knows where you may go?


It was a good run. It was a memorable, rewarding experience. I’m not bitter. It was fun while it lasted, but it was time to go.

Con te partiro.

About the Author:  Todd Brockdorf, is the author of Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World – (Harrogate Publishing 2012)  

He works with organizations, leaders, and frustrated professionals to stand out from the crowd. Connect with Todd on LinkedInTwitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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7 Things Generation Y Can Teach Us about the Workplace

Todd Brockdorf

There are no generational workplace differences. Quite simply, they are a myth. Yes, there are now four different generations working in the same place. However, all four generations still want the same things – respect, trustworthy leadership, stability, feedback, loyalty. See Jennifer J. Deal’s work at the Center for Creative Leadership.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, the question is, what can Generation Y teach us all – Boomers, Gen X’ers, Millennials, about the workplace. After all, the Gen Y’ers are starting to rise up the ranks of the corporate ladder. Or in some cases, are already sitting on top of it (aka Mr. Zuckerberg).

7 Things Generation Y Can Teach Us about the Workplace

  1. Ask Curious Questions – Generation Y is also known as “Generation Why” for a reason. They tend not to accept things as they are unless they understand the back story. In other words, the “why”. If we all asked more “why” questions, we could work to eliminate the ineffective/arcane/stupid processes, procedures, and practices that handcuff our abilities.
  2. Entrepreneurial Thinking – Generation Y wants to move fast and break things. They learn by trying, tinkering, and toiling. A company’s slow pace and bureaucratic overhead are the ball and chain of disenfranchisement. What would happen if we sped up decision making? Might a calculated risk pay off?
  3. Workplace Flexibility – It’s pointless to leave Generation Y trapped in the confines of their four-walled cubicle. They will find a way to bust out – one way or another. As we all try to do more with less, “work hours” are extending beyond 9-5. We can all embrace workplace flexibility. Who cares wherever or whenever work gets done, as long as it is on time and accurate? Who really cares if you are sitting in your PJs when you are responding to email? Do you really need to be in the office to do that? Of course not, and it shouldn’t matter to you if your coworkers do either.
  4. Unified Communications – Generation Y communicates through social media, text messaging, instant messaging, and to a lesser extent, email. Give your people the tools to be successful. Internal social media sites, instant messaging, and presence notifications (on the phone, busy, away from the desk), benefit everyone in the organization through quicker decision making and shared knowledge transfer.
  5. Feedback for Growth – One of the knocks of Generation Y is that they require constant feedback. So? Don’t you want to know how you’re doing? Or is sitting in the dark, stuck in the poop, like a mushroom, really a good way to grow? Feedback should be more than an annual occasion.
  6. Respect for Everyone – Generation Y grew up in a multicultural society. If they didn’t have it in their hometown, they saw it when they got to college. They accept people for who they are. They judge others on their merits, not preconceived notions or stereotypes. Can’t we all just get along?
  7. Expectations of Greatness – Above all, Generation Y wants to be inspired. They want to find meaning in their work. They want to do good. They want to understand a larger connection with the world. They expect greatness. If we all expect greatness in ourselves, our coworkers, and our company, we will find that meaning, the connectedness, and the good that we do.


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
Author, Speaker, Consultant
[email protected]


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Embrace the Off-Season

Those who stand out from the crowd embrace the off-seasonNo matter what your chosen profession, chances are, you have an off-season – a time where work slows down. Those who stand out from the crowd, embrace the off-season.

If you work in a business office, maybe it is around the end of December. If you are in retail, maybe it is around February. If you are a professional football player, it is the summer.

We all have periodic times when our work activity is lighter than others.

What do you do during your off-season?

The Better than Average find a way to embrace their off-season for good. They turn their down time into productive time. They make mole hills into mountains. They work out what needs to be shaped up.

6 Activities the Better than Average Do to Embrace the Off-Season

If you are at a loss as to what to do during your off-season, here are 7 items you can do to get you started.

1.   Strategic Planning Create it, tweak it, dust it off, it doesn’t matter. Personal or professional. Homemaker or home builder. Coach or contributor. We can all have a strategic plan for our businesses, ourselves, and even our families. Get out the crystal ball and project the future – three to five years ahead. How will “it” be if you could have it any way you wanted?

 2.   Annual PlanningAnnual planning is the “let’s-look-at-the-year-ahead-of-us” type of planning. Take those actions from the strategic plan due the next year. Develop greater detailed actions, if needed, to reach the targets in the strategic plan. Add any new items that should be accomplished during the year. As they say, “You can see clearly now, the rain is gone. You can see all obstacles in your way.”  You’re singing now, I can tell. Stop singing and ask yourself, what do I deserve to accomplish this coming year?

 3.   Financial PlanningAnother way of stating financial planning is budgeting. Money. Cash. Payola. Once the annual plan is completed, how much money do you need to accomplish it? Will you be breaking the bank?

4.   Training and Development – Like athletes exercising their muscles, the Better than Average exercise their minds during the off-season. Take classes. Read educational books (click here or here, depending on your preference). Attend seminars and conventions. Learn new skills and refine old ones to stand out from the crowd. What did you learn today?

5.   Network – It is the perfect time to network with others in the field, as everyone tends to have the same off-season. Connect with past coworkers. Reach out to recruits. Say “hi” to the new guy. Who do you need to meet?

 6.   Complete the Odds and Ends – What have you been putting off? Go through the stack of mail. Cross off a To Do item that is starting to go stale and crusty. Call your mother (hi Mom!). No matter how small, you will feel immediate relief of one nagging pain. Take that first step. What do you need to complete today?


(image courtesy of Mr. Cheer or Die at Viking Underground)


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]

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4 Better than Average Ways to be Honest

Abraham LincolnDo you know what’s missing from today’s businesses? Brutal honesty. We’re so sensitive these days that we pussyfoot around the truth. We dance along the margins. We play among the muck.

The majority of today’s businesses and organizations are mediocre because we fail to be honest with ourselves, our management, and our customers.

We say, “Good job,” knowing it’s really crap. We say, “Let’s examine it further,” knowing it will be black holed. We say, “Send me a proposal,” knowing it will be sent to the circular file.

Be honest.

It’s crap. Start again.

It’s not going to work. Sorry.

We’re not interested. Thanks anyway.

Stop pretending to care. Stop feigning interest. Stop agreeing when you don’t.

Steve Jobs would tell you your idea sucks. Not that I knew him, but it seems like he is the type of guy that wouldn’t pat you on the head, tell you that it was a good try, and send you on your merry way. He would be honest. If it sucked, he said so. He wouldn’t raise your hopes, only to dash them behind your back. He would crush your dreams as you held them in your hand. Right or wrong, he gave his honest opinion.

Simon Cowell is another figure who will tell you his honest opinion. Sure, some of it is for show, but much of it is the truth. He does it as a favor to the aspiring starlets not out of spite, but out of compassion so they don’t waste more of their efforts.


Four Better than Average ways to be Honest

  1. State your stance – Verify that the person is open and receptive to your feedback.  Once agreeable, begin with, “I feel…” or something similar. Then give your truth. She can’t argue with your feelings. You feel how you feel. Do you ask permission to provide your thoughts?
  2. Stop the spin – If you see groupthink starting to occur, speak up. When the minions are simply agreeing with the leader, offer a contrarian point of view. Even if you don’t truly believe it, throw it out there as a “what if?” It will help cover the issue from all angles. Did you think of the flipside?
  3.  Establish expectations – If you are in a situation where you want the truth, set rules that encourage it. Guidelines like, “there are no wrong answers” or “we’re not looking to blame anyone, we want to improve” or “I really need your input to make a decision”, set the context so that everyone can dance in their own brilliance. Do you lay the ground rules for truth?
  4. Create a culture – If you want to establish a place of openness, honesty, and truth, create the culture encouraging it. Develop a space that is free from spin, buzzwords, and double talk. Remove any repercussions for truth telling. Hire those who speak their mind. And fire those who don’t play by the rules. What can you do to encourage honesty?

We’re all adults. (I trust that not many children read this blog.) Not everyone gets a trophy. Sometimes there isn’t a cherry on top. And every now and then, tough love is the right medicine.

Stop the bullshit. Be honest. It will save time, money, effort, and dreams.



When was the last time you told someone the truth?


For a list of 16 Easy, No Cost Ways to Express Gratitude on a Daily Basis shoot me an email and you score it for free!


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]

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