#WorkTrends: Advice for the Next Generation at Work

Karyn Schoenbart

When NPD Group CEO Karyn Schoenbart’s daughter Danielle was 6 years old, she and a friend asked if they could have a sleepover. Instead of saying “yes” or “no,” Schoenbart asked them to give a presentation on why they should have a sleepover.

When your mom is a CEO, sometimes things run a little bit differently. So it’s no wonder that when Danielle entered the advertising industry, she often found herself advising co-workers on how to navigate office politics. She christened her education an MBA — Mom.B.A., that is.

Now Karyn Schoenbart has collected that wisdom in her best-selling book “Mom.B.A.: Essential Business Advice from One Generation to the Next.” Our conversation was enormously enlightening, with insights that any professional can use.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

The Importance of Networking

The first bit of advice Schoenbart says she offers young workers is to be sure that they are networking during their early career. However, workers also need to remember that the worth of your Rolodex — to use an older generation’s term — isn’t based on its size; it’s based on the quality of the contacts that you make. “If you can make a few authentic connections, those can serve you well,” she says.

Of course, putting theory into practice is an another matter entirely. A lot of people dislike networking events, believing them to be exercises in small talk and empty promises. But Schoenbart says that’s the wrong way to approach such events. “It doesn’t have to be small talk,” she says. “It could be thoughtful talk.”

To ensure thoughtful chit-chat, prepare for the event like it’s a job interview. Try to research who will attend. Prepare interesting questions you can ask. They don’t have to be complicated — just asking someone what they’re working on breaks a lot more ice than you’d expect.

Finally, make sure your follow-up is even more thoughtful. “One of my pet peeves is when people follow up on LinkedIn with the generic ‘Let’s connect,’ ” Schoenbart says. Take the time to personalize your message — and never be afraid to ask what you can do for someone. “You never know,” she says. “Sometimes it won’t pay back, but many times it will.”

Rethink the Labels for ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Bosses

We’ve all seen “Office Space” and had bosses who are ineffective and frustrating.

But Schoenbart wonders if our definitions aren’t a bit skewed. “We don’t always realize who’s a good boss and who’s a bad boss,” she says. She cites her first boss as a classic “good boss.” “My boss was incredibly nurturing,” she says, but notes that as she grew in the position his approach actually began to feel stifling. “I ended up having to leave the company because I felt I couldn’t grow.”

At Schoenbart’s second job, her boss was much more emotionally distant. He “could barely give me the time of day,” she says. But the experience ultimately provided a valuable learning experience because it forced her to learn to stand up for herself, become self-motivated and evaluate the quality of her work without the presence of feedback. “Looking back,” she asks, “who was the better boss?”

She says her experience under that second boss provided a foundational lesson that she passed on to her daughter and to the readers of her book: Grow and absorb the lessons you learn working underneath your bosses — all of them. The only way you will grow and prepare yourself for leadership positions is to get out of your comfort zone.

You Never Outgrow Impostor Syndrome

You know that feeling where you think you’re underqualified for whatever it is you’re doing? It’s called impostor syndrome. Even someone as successful as Schoenbart feels it!

The sad reality is that even as we get older, impostor syndrome is one thing that doesn’t fade. Thankfully, Schoenbart has a few suggestions to prove to ourselves that we really do belong.

First, resist the urge to compare yourself to others. “You’re unique,” Schoenbart says.

Second, remember that uniqueness when you think about yourself. Most people are very aware of their weaknesses, but it’s also important to focus on your strengths. “What you’re really good at is also going to be most likely what you love,” she says. “If you can be even better at [them], you can be the best at it then, and that can help propel your career.”

Finally, start a fan file. Whenever you do great work on a project or receive a compliment from a boss or client, put it in the file. Not only will it help cheer you up when you’re feeling down, but it can help you work your way up the ladder. “If there’s an opportunity or a promotion … you can pull out your file and use that to help build your case,” Schoenbart says.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

How to Attract and Retain Millennial Talent

Millennials (members of Generation Y) are quickly becoming the majority of the workforce. Companies who want to stay relevant and competitive should adapt to this influx of new talent and new challenges. TalentCulture has previously addressed this topic in The Five Secrets to Retaining Millennial Talent and we want to continue that conversation. Our most recent survey of millennials in the US and Canada showed that career advancement opportunities, meaningful engaging tasks, and work culture/environment are three of the most important factors that attract Gen Ys to join and stay at a company. While these values are shared amongst all generations of workers, what sets the millennial generation apart from other generations is how they define and understand these key decision factors.

In order to tap into top millennial talent, employers need to understand how millennial experiences shape their perspectives and behaviors. As a generation, millennials have been influenced by the constant influx of new technologies, social networking, video game culture, the internet, and a modernized educational model that develops students beyond the classroom. The result of these influences is a generation of workers that has an expectation of constant self-progression, a need for social and professional connections, and a multidimensional definition of success. These unique experiences and expectations are what set millennials apart from previous generations.

By understanding the experiences that have shaped millennials mental models of the world, employers will be able to adapt and change their work environment to be a place where millennials succeed. Companies that want to attract millennial talent should focus their talent acquisition and retention strategies on the following three key areas.

Millennials Expect: Clear and Consistent Advancement

Our society has undergone an unprecedented era of technological advancement, and millennials have been the first generation to develop in this environment of constant and rapid progress.  Furthermore, their education system reinforced the belief that progress should be continuous and measurable by providing students with quick, frequent feedback. Whereas other generations may have seen the merits of long-term, steady career advancement, millennials pursue growth that is accelerated and concrete. This broad underlying set of experiences has shaped the millennial generation to expect clear and consistent advancement in both their lives and in their employment.

Those in Gen Y want to do quality work and be reassured that they are progressing in the right direction. Their experience with video game culture has shaped this desire. Video games provide an environment of clear, measurable achievement progress in the form of points, leveling up, and badges. Employers can leverage these intrinsic motivators by providing an environment that builds on these ideas.

For example, it is more effective to have weekly, informal, one-on-one check-ins with millennials than the traditional annual performance reviews. The Center for Generational Kinetics reported that 42% of millennials want feedback every week. This is over twice the percentage of every other generation. [1] The focus of these meetings should be specific and actionable feedback for the employee, and should include the business impact behind the critique, regardless of if the feedback is positive or negative. By understanding the why, millennials will be propelled forward by renewed intrinsic motivation and thus will perform more effectively for the business.

Another way employers can utilize millennials’ passion for constant improvement is to offer them new opportunities in the form of new responsibilities, training, time with company leaders, and/or promotions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 45% of millennials who are willing to consider other job opportunities would leave a job if they didn’t see a career path they wanted at the company. [1] Employers can succeed in retaining millennials by providing opportunity beyond financial incentives.

Millennials Expect: Meaningful Work

The internet allows millennials to connect with people and information in immediate ways that were never before available to previous generations. Finding their work meaningful is especially significant to millennials because they view their career as a core facet of their identity.  “Millennials see no difference between work and life…All efforts in both are interwoven in a greater purpose, mission or passion.” [2] They need to relate to their work and work environment and merge that with their self-image.

In order for millennials to feel connected with their workplace, they need to understand how their role and work fits into the context of the organization.They will more easily contribute to the organization’s goals once they have an understanding of how they are assisting to those goals. Impressively, 60% of millennials said a sense of purpose is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employer. [1]

Corporate branding that showcases your company’s tech-savviness will speak to millennials’ identities and garner their interest. Employers must consider how prospective candidates perceive their online presence and job postings. I.e. will candidates be able to identify with your company if they only see your website? Millennials expect organizations to have a strong relationship with technology, so leverage your tech presence to attract them. Show them how your organization is different from others in your field.

Millennials Expect: A Sense of Value

The rise of social networks has enabled millennials to be ever-more connected with their peers. Millennials now want to feel bonded to their coworkers, managers, and workplace. Employers can foster these bonds by creating a welcoming social environment for their employees, and also by placing more emphasis on employee development and mentorship. A sense of value, for millennials, comes from actively being a part of a team, being appreciated for their quality of work, and having strong leaders guiding them.

For example, employers can better help millennials feel connected to their organization by using smaller teams, where peer relationships develop naturally and their work holds more significance. The connections they form will enable them to engage with their assignments on a deeper passion and produce higher quality results. Advertising that your company practices these small group techniques will encourage Gen Y’s to apply to your organization.

Gen Ys want to work in an environment that values their personal growth as much as they do. Employers can differentiate themselves from the competition by providing managers and team leads who act as career mentors. Meghan M. Biro said it best when she said, “having a great mentor is a key factor to improving employee engagement among millennials.”.  TalentCulture provides a guide for how to make the most out of employee mentoring. By connecting with mentors who guide them towards better opportunities, millennials are more likely to stay with a company.

It Doesn’t Stop Here

The insights above have been inspired by our most recent research, including a survey of working millennials in the US and Canada. Other data and support was drawn from the Center for Generational Kinetics article “Unlocking Millennial Potential 2015” [1] We also have delved deeper into this topic on the blog. Send us your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @dreamhireio.


[1] The Center for Generational Kinetics, “Unlocking Millennial Potential 2015, Brand New Insights For Employing the Fastest Growing Generation in the Workplace”, (2015)

[2]  Brittney Barbe, “Is Work-Life Balance Dead? Depends on Which Generation You Ask.”, (August 3, 2016)

Photo Credit: Pexels cco

How To Mentally Prepare For Working Life

It may only be the middle of summer, but for many, this means the beginning of their life-spanning career; their first experience of the 9-5 and an extremely important life transition. I, for one, have just started working full-time after university, and I wish someone had told me these five things in order to whip my mind into shape. But instead, I can help others by running through my top tips on how to mentally preparing for working life.

  1. Get Into An Appropriate Sleeping Pattern

Let’s be honest, moving from student to ‘young professional’ essentially equates to which side of midday you wake up. At least a few days before you start work, but preferably longer, you should start training your body to fall asleep earlier. Ok, you’re not going to get 8 hours of sleep every night, but there’s no harm in trying. Surely you’d rather your body adapts to the working week a little earlier, than spending your whole first week feeling like a zombie.

  1. Pre-Plan As Much As Possible

Be it what you’re going to eat for lunch every day, or a detailed outfit plan for the week, do it now. Of course, not everyone enjoys writing lists and getting organised before they really need to. But if you’re between jobs, or education and work, use your free-time to your advantage because ultimately nerves will be lessened the more planning you put in. And what about the commute? Do you know how long it’ll take? You definitely don’t want to be late on your first day, so either go for a test-run or leave super early.

  1. Do Your Homework

Just like you did before your interview, take some time to clue yourself up on the company’s recent news, any national or international news that might affect your job sector, and even the area in which you’ll be working. Look up some recommended lunch spots, and some local tourist attractions that you can drop into conversation – and visit – but also remember to go with the flow once you arrive.

  1. Write Up A Budget

A quick google search will tell you how much your annual salary will pop in your bank account each month (after tax), and with this knowledge, you can start to work out your budget. How much do you need to save? How long will it take you to eat away at your student overdraft? If you haven’t already, make an excel spreadsheet and make a list of your monthly expenses, including rent, bills, travel, food and socialising, not to mention any wardrobe revamps your company’s dress-code requires. With a rough idea of how much cash you’ll have to play with each month, you’ll be able to start work excited and a bit more relaxed, knowing your debts will soon diminish.

  1. Enjoy some you-time

Trust me, my mere month between university and starting work flew by and I wish I’d spent more time relaxing and enjoying weekdays off. So while I can only look forward to weekends and annual leave, make sure you give yourself a break. If you’ve done all the leg-work mentioned above, enjoy some quality time watching Storage Hunters whilst sitting in just your pants and eating ice cream straight from the tub – not that you shouldn’t do this on the weekends too.


Image: bigstock

5 Important Workplace Factors: Recruiting & Retaining Today’s Young Professionals

The young professionals you will be trying to attract to your organization today are members of Generation Y, also known as Millennials or The Internet Generation. Technology was a part of their childhood and still plays a huge role in their everyday lives. They don’t have many boundaries between work and life, are tech-savvy and innovative, and in high-demand.


Generation Y expects several types of opportunities in their professional career. Number one, they are looking for a chance to grow and excel in a company – somewhere that will give them opportunity for promotions and other perks if they perform well and choose to stay there long enough.

They also are looking for opportunities to be challenged. Millennials aren’t looking for “just a job” or to “go through the motions” everyday – they want a job that will utilize their expertise and education in new, challenging and exciting ways.

Finally, Millennials want opportunity for personal and professional growth. This can be through challenging projects, collaborative tasks, conferences, etc. This generation is easily bored, and you need to be able to retain them through offering these types of opportunity.


Gen Y expects flexibility in their work hours, schedule and work environment. Many Millennials want to telecommute or work remotely at their ideal jobs. Although they expect flexible hours and schedule, this generation is more plugged in than any other –meaning they will likely work after their “scheduled” hours and have less boundaries between life and work.


Since they’ve grown up with the latest gadgets, Millennials expect them in the workplace, as well. They’re used to constant connectivity, and if your workplace doesn’t offer that, they’ll likely look elsewhere.


In order to recruit today’s young professionals, you need to have a great corporate culture that will intrigue them. Think: socially responsible, innovative and great people to work around. Millennials tend to work for companies that they believe in and share in their mission.


Members of Generation Y want to learn something if they work for you. That’s why providing a mentor for each new young professional is vital to keeping him or her at your organization longer. Not only can a mentor aid in skill development, but also they become a personal connection that the employee trusts in your workplace.

With more than 80 million members of this generation, you’ll need to understand them in order to attract and retain them at your company. For more information on Generation Y in the workplace, download an infographic loaded with statistics here.