Category Archives: Millennials

Stopping Stimulant Abuse among Young Workers

prescription drugsMillennials are experiencing work stress and burnout at disturbingly high rates. Previously, career burnout was a midlife issue. Now it is happening early on, at the beginning of people’s careers.

Young workers are showing signs of burnout by asking for time off or reduced work hours, or are opting out altogether and moving back with their parents. There is also a trend for young people to start their own companies that have more relaxed work schedules. Other signs include the increased use of alternative relaxation methods, such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. These are the healthy ways to handle stress.

The problem is, a growing number of young workers are not handling stress in a healthy way. They are turning to drugs—namely performance enhancement drugs, such as Adderall and other stimulants. In recent years, use of A.D.H.D. medication has almost doubled among adults 26 to 34, according to a New York Times investigation. And this is only measured as prescription use.

Many young workers are getting drugs illegally. In prescription form, young adults are getting rapid and incomplete ADHD diagnoses to procure the drug and are sometimes going to multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions. In non-prescription form, young adults are buying it from dealers. Either way, they are taking too much.stress

Young workers report high performance expectations and levels of competition are reasons for turning to stimulant abuse. Abuse of performance enhancement drugs has been going on in colleges for a while. These same students are growing up and continuing the abuse as they enter the workplace.

Burnout and drug abuse are caused because healthy coping mechanisms are missing. One contributing factor is that the millennial generation has been raised by overprotective parents who have not given their kids opportunities to develop resilience and coping strategies. Instead, they have placed high levels of stress and extraordinary expectations for achievement on their children.

relaxNow that millennials are grown up, it is time for them to develop healthy coping mechanisms for work demands and stress. Running away and turning to drugs won’t fix the problem. Developing resilience and setting reasonable expectations for success will.

Good Writing is Still Important—Really. Guest Post by Adrienne Moch

AdrienneMoch2012_07dThe statistics are quite sobering: a high percentage of college graduates have subpar writing skills, according to those who hire them. Full disclosure: I’m a Baby Boomer (at the tail end!), so when I went to school writing was a big deal. Given what I hear from my teenage niece and nephew, it’s still part of the curriculum, but for some reason students don’t seem to think it matters as much as it once did.

How sad.

I see evidence of poor writing everywhere—from company websites to billboards to news crawls at the bottom of a TV screen. Given my profession as a writer/editor, that should not be a big surprise; my antenna is probably more attuned to such faux pas than the “common man.” However, I’m far from alone in noticing and being mildly disgusted by the rampant botching of the English language.

I can only speculate that those much younger than me, especially the Millennials—weaned on electronic communications—don’t see why anyone should care about basic grammar mistakes. You’re or your; its or it’s; their, there or they’re—as long as the message gets across, who cares about the details?

It’s enough to make an English teacher shudder. (And me too!)

The fact is, poorly written copy can have a domino effect. When those who read it are unimpressed, that can lead to a number of bad outcomes: sales aren’t made, projects aren’t won, promotions don’t occur and jobs are lost.

Even more horrifying than bad writing—at least to me—is the fact that so much copy is seemingly not proofed before being published. Many people rely on spellcheck as a proofreader, but that’s only a partial solution; a computer program will not tell you that you used “pubic” rather than “public,” for instance. (I recently corrected that typo in some website copy.)

For my entire career, I’ve earned a nice living because I have a better grasp of the English language than most other people. I have a way with words. I don’t anticipate demand for my services will plateau or decline anytime soon; in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see writing and editing become hot professions—due to the fact that so many people are deficient in those areas.

English is not an easy language to master, even for native speakers. For that reason, those who either have innate talent or have worked hard to hone their writing abilities should never have to sing for their supper, so to speak. Their skills are in high demand because communicating via the written word is something that will never go out of style. The delivery method may change, but the need to create compelling copy is here to stay.

Writer/editor Adrienne Moch is passionate about words. Her focus is ensuring copy isn’t just competent, but compelling. Adrienne uses the skills she developed as a journalist, corporate communicator, and PR professional to provide writing and editing support to business and author clients. To learn more and sign up for her monthly newsletter, The Write Stuff, please visit http://www.adriennemoch.com.

Emotional Intelligence Improves Millennial Communications at Work

babies crying

By Joanie Connell

A mom confided in me she had gotten so frustrated with her 7-year-old daughter that she started crying. She said that once her daughter saw her crying, her daughter immediately stopped misbehaving and came over and held her to comfort her. The mom was beating herself up for letting that happen, but I offered a different perspective. Look at what the daughter learned from that experience. Her behavior frustrated someone so much that it led them to cry. When someone cries it’s good to comfort them. And, the mom got over it and was fine after that. How empowering to the daughter to see how someone can get upset and get over it. How educational to understand how her behavior can affect the emotions of others and vice versa. Continue reading Emotional Intelligence Improves Millennial Communications at Work

Breaking Away: Is the College Transition Harder for Parents or Students?

waving goodbyeBy Joanie Connell

College is a transition period between living at home and living independently. At college, emerging adults tend to still be dependent on their parents financially, but the idea is for them to start to figure out how to live on their own. They have to manage their schedules, get to and from classes, eat either in the dining facilities or prepare meals on their own, and figure out how to navigate life without their parents at hand.

Millennials have been preparing their college applications (or their parents have been) since they were toddlers. They are more educated, coached, tutored, and accomplished than any previous generation. You would think that would make them even better prepared for college, but that is not necessarily so. Their over preparedness is missing a key ingredient: independence. Continue reading Breaking Away: Is the College Transition Harder for Parents or Students?

The 12 Days of Back-to-School

The Twelve Days of Back-to-School
(sung to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas)lockers
By Joanie Connell

On the first day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
The best decorated locker.

On the second day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
2 musical instruments andteen flute player
The best decorated locker.

On the third day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
3 club sportsteen baseball player
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the fourth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
4 AP classesteen studying
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the fifth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
5 best friends!teen friends
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the sixth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
6 private tutorstutor
5 best friends!
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the seventh day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
7 ettiquette lessonstie
6 private tutors
5 best friends!
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the eighth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
8 college visitscollege buildings
7 ettiquette lessons
6 private tutors
5 best friends!
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the ninth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
9 designer backpacksteen with backpack
8 college visits
7 ettiquette lessons
6 private tutors
5 best friends!
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the tenth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
10 test prep classestest answer sheet
9 designer backpacks
8 college visits
7 ettiquette lessons
6 private tutors
5 best friends!
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the eleventh day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
11 service hourscommunity service
10 test prep classes
9 designer backpacks
8 college visits
7 ettiquette lessons
6 private tutors
5 best friends!
4 AP classes
3 club sports
2 musical instruments and
The best decorated locker.

On the twelfth day of back-to-school my mother gave to me
12 therapy sessions!therapist

Generation 2 Nice?

By Joanie Connellsmiling young woman

In the recent New York Times article titled Generation Nice, author Sam Tanenhaus talks about how nice the Millennial generation is. While I agree, I simultaneously wonder if we all might suffer from the Millennials being too nice. In other words, might we be better off if they toughened up a bit?

ANTI-BULLYING TO THE RESCUE

The movement to use culturally inclusive and gender-neutral language (a.k.a. “PC movement”) started at about the time of the Millennials. A huge amount of good has come out of being inclusive. But, like so many trends in the U.S., people seem to think “if a little is good, a lot must be better.” We’ve gone from avoiding discrimination to encouraging fragility.

Banning words like “stupid” at school, including gossip as a bullying behavior that can result in a call to Child Protective Services, and suspension for pointing a finger like a gun are, well, stupid.

I in no way condone hurtful behaviors and am in complete agreement that action needs to be taken when life threatening orfragile extreme cases occur. But mild bullying starts right at home—with siblings—and continues through school to work, to international politics. Recent accounts of Putin and Kim Jong-un’s bullying are prime examples. If we protect our kids by banning any and all bullyish behaviors entirely in schools, our kids will grow into fragile, helpless adults. And where does that leave our nation in a few years? Do we really want softies competing for global market share and standing up to nuclear threats?

 DO-GOODERS: ANOTHER NICE MILLENNIAL BEHAVIOR

Obviously, we want a nation full of do-gooders. But people don’t always have the opportunity to reject corporate life and “riskily pursue their own ventures” by “working out of their parents’ basement.” Thesmiling selfie Millennials—or more precisely the middle class Millennials—choose where to shop and work because they can. They have cushions (i.e. parents) to fall back on if they opt out of a job offer from a profitable enterprise. They have parents to subsidize their sustainable, organic, local vegetarian eating habits. It’s great to force business in America to be socially responsible. I am all for that. But I wonder if allowing the Millennials to choose to be socially responsible by living off their parents is the right way to go. I mean, how socially responsible is that really?

LESS IS BETTERstrong compassionate man

It’s great to be nice, but too nice can be a detriment. It may hinder not only the Millennials, but also the rest of our society as Millennials move into leadership positions. It might be better for Millennials to strive to be a strong and compassionate generation.

Bill Treasurer: 5 criteria for evaluating whether a risk is right or wrong for you

BBill Treasurerill Treasurer is an expert on Risk. He has graciously shared tips for assessing whether taking a risk is right for you. Millennials, especially, consider Bill’s advice. Women too. You have been raised in a risk-averse environment, but risk is actually a good thing if done right.

Bill Treasurer: 5 Criteria for Evaluating Whether a Risk Is Right or Wrong for You

When considering a risky move, most people resort to simple math, asking “What will I get and what do I stand to lose?” But big moves need to consider more than just gains or losses. It takes more than simple math to judge whether to take a risk. As explaiRight Risk book coverned in one of my other posts a Right Risk is one that is congruent with your deepest held values. It’s a risk that should help close the gap between who you are and who you aim to be. What matters most isn’t how much you stand to gain from the risk. What matters most is whether the risk is true for you. Risk should be about more than compensation. It should be about destination. Not, “What will this risk get me”, but “Where will this risk take me.”

Here are 5 criteria that you can use that will help you access your risk at a much deeper level than just jotting down a pro and con list. Using the 5 Ps won’t guarantee that your risk won’t be a wipeout, but they will increase the probability of success.

Passion: A Right Risk is something we care about intensely. Right risks are often ordeals, and ordeals involve suffering. The word “passion” comes from the Latin verb pati, literally translated as “to suffer.” By arousing the strongest, most untamed parts of our nature, and stirring up the wild mustangs in our soul, our passion gives us the raw energy and wherewithal to suffer through the anguishing moments that often accompany right risk. Ask, “What about this risk energizes me?”

Purpose: A Right Risk is taken out of a deep sense of purpose. Purpose serves to harness our passions and give them direction. Right Risks are rich with meaning. They stand for something beyond sensory or ego gratification. Ask, “How will this risk make me a more complete person? How will this risk further my life’s purpose? How will it help me get to where I want to go?”

Principle: Right Risks are governed by a set of values that are both essential and virtuous. As mentioned, risks are essentially decisions, and when facing a decision of consequences, principles form a set of criteria against which the risk can be judged. The principles that right- risk takers often use as the basis of their decision-making include truth, justice, independence, freedom, mercy, compassion and responsibility. Ask, “By taking this risk, which of my deepestly held values or ideals will I be upholding?”

Prerogative: Right-risk taking involves the exercise of choice. Right-risk takers view the power to choose as a privilege, and then honor it as such. By consistently making choices at a conscious level, they are better able to make superior judgment calls at an instinctual level — in fast-moving situations. After all of the input of naysayers and yea-sayers are considered, the Right-risk taker makes the final judgment as to whether the risk is right for him or her. Ultimately, a Right Risk is an exercise of free will. Ask, “Am I taking this risk because I have to, or because I choose to?”

Profit: A Right Risk should come with a real potential for gain. Risks are, well, risky. And in exchange for assuming the potential risk of hardship, you are entitled to some real and unequivocal upside gains. Notice, however, that Profit is the fifth “P”. It’s the criteria that should be assessed last, otherwise you’ll be in danger of getting too enamored with the pot at the end of the rainbow, which can distort your decision-making. Ask, “What gains do I hope to reap from this risk?” and “How enduring are the gains likely to be?”

Bill Treasurer is the author of Leaders Open Doors, which focuses on how leaders create growth through opportunity. Bill is also the author of Courage Goes to Work, an international bestselling book that introduces the concept of courage-building. He is also the author of Courageous Leadership: A Program for Using Courage to Transform the Workplace, an off-the-shelf training toolkit that organizations can use to build workplace courage. Bill’s first book, Right Risk, draws on his experiences as a professional high diver. Bill has led courage-building workshops for, among others, NASA, Accenture, CNN, PNC Bank, SPANX, Hugo Boss, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. To learn more, contact info@giantleapconsulting.com.

Don’t Fall Victim to College Burnout!

By Joanie Connell

burnoutCollege students, beware! Make the most of your summer break and take care of yourselves when you go back to school. There is enormous pressure on you to continue exerting exorbitant efforts to maintain your academic competitiveness, after nearly killing yourselves getting into college to begin with.

Overachievers burn out young. On Harvard College’s Admissions website, there is an article written by the dean of admissions and other Harvard educators that advises high-achieving students to take time off to avoid burnout. The letter starts out by describing the over-stressed lives of children who are pressured to achieve. At Harvard, they know about college burnout and they have noticed a definite increase from one generation to the next. Harvard is not alone in seeing the correlation between high achievers and burnout; the mainstream media has noticed as well.

“It is common to encounter even the most successful students, who have won all the ‘prizes,’ stepping back and wondering if it was all worth it. Professionals in their thirties and forties – physicians, lawyers, academics, business people and others – sometimes give the impression that they are dazed survivors of some bewildering life-long boot-camp. Some say they ended up in their profession because of someone else’s expectations, or that they simply drifted into it without pausing to think whether they really loved their work. Often they say they missed their youth entirely, never living in the present, always pursuing some ill-defined future goal.”

It’s not just the high achievers who are at risk of burnout. The kids who do not have high grades can be at risk of college burnout too. Some of the top predictors for college burnout, according to UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute and the Koehler Center for Teaching Excellence at Texas Christian University, include a low high school GPA and a lack of comprehension of the material. In other words, if students are pushed into achieving a higher level than they are able to achieve, such as getting into a more difficult school than they can handle, they are more likely to burnout and dropout.

A major problem for young people in the workplace is that they are burnout 2already burned out before they get there or crash and burn shortly after they arrive. Even if they do not burn out, they feel they are entitled to greatness after all the effort they put into getting there and all the promises of sweet nectar from the heavens they have heard from the adults in their lives. Don’t work yourselves so hard that you crash and burn—either in college or when you start working. Pace yourselves. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Millennials: Your Reputation Is Key

By Joanie Connell

Last week I received a call from a lawyer who wasreputation up in arms about a Millennial he had just hired. But don’t stop reading because this is not a Millennial-bashing blog post. Millennials, this post is for you, to help you develop one of the most critical pieces of your attractiveness as an employee—your reputation.

The lawyer is a solo practitioner and he hired a college grad who is interested in going to law school to assist him. Literally, on the first day of work, the young woman said she was interested in other opportunities to get more experience in different types of law. When the lawyer questioned her further, the woman said she was, indeed, looking for other jobs and she might move home (to a different city) in a couple of months if she couldn’t find a good apartment here.

The lawyer hadn’t offered her the job lightly and he had said he was looking for a 1-year commitment. It was a big decision to hire her over anyone else and he had a big need to fill, being a single-person firm. He was investing a good deal of time in training the woman as well. To have to replace her within a few months would impact the business significantly.

It’s no secret that Millennials have a high turnover ratesome reports are as high as 60%. Others report that Millennials measure their job tenure in months, not years. I’ve also seen the Millennial work ethic described as a “self-centered work ethic.”  No matter how you put it, Millennials are seen as having one foot out the door.

The problem for Millennials is that you only have one reputation to maintain and you are getting a bad one. This is not only an overarching view of an entire generation, but a view of you, yourself, individually. If you switch jobs capriciously and mistreat employers in the process, you will lose credibility in the workplace. Reliability is a deal breaker. I, personally, don’t care how smart, well-educated, or experienced someone is if they are not going to show up. Seriously, what’s the point?reputation 2

The point is, it’s not only about you. Millennials, I know you get this because you have the reputation of being the most socially responsible generation yet. You understand that you are part of a larger system of Mother Earth and what you eat, buy, or do affects people on the other side of the planet. What you do also affects people closer to home. And despite what you think, people notice what you do (even if it’s not posted online).

Given the high turnover rate among Millennials, the lawyer in this case wondered if hiring a new college grad was the way to go. He also wondered if hiring a new college grad from a good university was the best idea. He contemplated hiring someone from the local community college who might need the job more and appreciate hard work and commitment. He observed that the privileged woman didn’t have a solid work ethic, need for a job, or understanding of the big picture. (The woman also asked, within 3 weeks of employment, if she could take a vacation day to go to the beach.)

This is just one lawyer, but he is not alone in his experience. I have numerous stories like this one. Millennials, take this as a wake-up call. You need to build your reputation to be employable. I can tell you right now that the young employee in this story won’t get a positive recommendation from her current employer. After a point, college grades and letters of reference from professors don’t carry any weight. It soon becomes all about what you can produce, the quality of your work, and how reliable you are in getting things done. Your reputation is key.

Stereotyping is bad and ageism is illegal. Hopefully, employers won’t base a hiring decision on a generation’s reputation, but they will base it on yours.

Joanie Connell Interview

This blog is actually a vlog about my new book.  Spend 2 1/2 minutes watching this short video interview and help me come up with a new title for the book.

I’ll have more information on the book available soon.  If you have suggestions for a catchy title, I’d love your ideas.  The current working title is “Lessons from the Workplace: What Parents and Schools Are Missing.”