Author Archives: millennialcareeradvice

Flip-Flops at Work: Millennials Finally Get What They Want

Great article on the comeback of the Millennials and how they are shaping the future of the workplace!

Business & Money

In a way, Baby Boomers caught a break when the economy fell apart five years ago: Millennials were just starting to assert themselves in the workplace, and then suddenly jobs were scarce and for many young people there was no workplace. So we all went to meetings and logged long hours at the office for another half decade, just the way Boomers like it.

“We were back in Boomer land with Boomer rules,” says Haydn Shaw, author of Sticking Points: How to get 4 generations working together in the 12 places they come apart. “The reset worked in their favor. But it’s starting to change again.”

Shaw is an expert on cultural differences at the office. New generations all experience the same resistance in the same basic pattern, he says. For the first five years at work their style and preferences are ignored. There aren’t enough workers this age…

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hello Millennials,

I saw this article on LinkedIn and thought you would enjoy the content. What is in a title? The takeaway is anyone can have a fancy title, but your personal brand speaks with much more authority.


How To Keep Your Title From Holding You Back
September 04, 2013
I don’t like job titles. Never have, and probably never will.

I once visited a company with 9 Vice Presidents: There was a VP of Marketing, a VP of Sales, a VP of Engineering, a VP of Finance, a VP of Operations…you get the idea.

Funny thing was, the company only employed 10 people. “Why so many VPs?” I asked the only non-VP. (He, of course, was President and CEO.) “Clients, suppliers, vendors…everyone wants access to people who can make decisions,” he replied. “I make every employee a VP so they will be taken seriously.”

Job titles are often meaningless except for convenience and coarse classification. Job titles don’t describe and they definitely don’t define employees, much less what employees are capable of doing. We’ve all known programmers who do much more than program and salespeople who do much more than sell… and, conversely, managers who barely manage to manage, much less lead and motivate and inspire. And, don’t even get me started on directors, VPs and other hierarchical designations.

I’m disappointed when short-sighted people judge someone on their title and think “She’s a director, not a VP, she can’t be that important or influential.”

So don’t let your job title hold you back. Don’t let your job title define you as an employee or as a person.


1. Never view your job title as a ceiling…

Your title should never act as a limit to what you want to achieve. Never think, “I’m only a manager… that’s something a VP should do.”

If what you want to do helps the company, and you have the skills or talent to do it – do it.

Wait. Let me rephrase that. If it helps the company, do it – because chances are you can do it.

2… And never view your job title as a floor.

Think you’ve already paid your dues? Think you’re too good to get your hands dirty?

No matter what you might have done or accomplished in the past, it’s always a good thing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. At my company, HubSpot, we believe no matter what your job title is — everybody does real work and gets their hands dirty.

The best people never think a task is beneath them.

And, it’s not just a matter of humility and teamwork (both of which are important). Staying plugged in to things that are not necessarily “your job” is a great way to be even better at your “real” job.

3. Never view any task or project as “above your pay grade.”

Some people wait until they have the job – or the salary that goes with it – to perform some of the duties of that job. Ever heard someone say, “If they promote me then I definitely work harder”? Or, “If I got paid more, then I would do more”?

The best way to earn a promotion is to do more than is expected. The best way to earn a raise is to first deliver greater value. Every successful person I know feels that hard work comes before the payoff – not after. The surest way to get a raise in the future is to do things now that are above your current salary.

Most people expect to be compensated more before they will even consider doing work above their pay grade. See compensation and promotion as the reward for going above and beyond, not the driver.

4. Never assume that job titles translate across companies or industries.

The world is starting to figure out that job titles have very different meanings. You might be a manager at your firm, but are qualified to be a VP at another firm. A supervisor at one company may have the responsibility and authority of a manager at another company. In some ways job titles are like college degrees; sure, you might have the diploma… but what did you learn and, more importantly, what can you do with what you learned?

Don’t assume that an “inferior” job title disqualifies you from an opportunity. Smart companies hire based on the skills, abilities, experience, work ethic, and talent you bring – not just your previous job title.

5. Never see a title as “compensation.”

In the startup world, prospective employees look for salary, benefits, stock… and job titles. Some entrepreneurs think the cheapest thing to give a new employee is a lofty job title, because a job title costs nothing.

In most cases a job title is also worth nothing, especially to you. Authority, responsibility, control, freedom… those things matter, but those things are not automatically conferred by a job title.

It’s fun to have a resume that shows a consistently rising trend in terms of job titles, but what really matters is what you accomplished in each of those jobs.

A job title isn’t the icing on the salary and perks cake. A job title is like the candle – because while you can eat the icing, you can’t eat the candle. Then again, maybe job titles are not even the candle — because they don’t add much illumination either. Have I mentioned I don’t like job titles?

6. And if you’re an entrepreneur…

If you’re just starting a company, avoid formal titles as long as you can. Arbitrary titles, and the implied hierarchy they create, are simply not worth it. I’m all for clarity in roles/jobs: “Hey, you should be responsible for making sure our database cluster stays up.” That’s much better than “Hey, you’re VP of Database Operations”.

In the first few years at HubSpot, when people introduced themselves to each other inside the company they didn’t use titles. Instead of saying, “I’m the VP of Marketing,” they said, “I work on the marketing team.” Though outside the company we sometimes needed titles, internally we didn’t pay them much heed. We just focused on getting things done, because what a person does matters a lot more than, say, who a person manages.

Focus on developing skills and fostering achievement, not on job titles.

Focus on helping great employees earn greater responsibility and the rewards that come with it.

For more on my take on company culture (including job titles), check out the slide deck “Culture Code” included below.

The Difference Between Your Identity and Your Professional Brand

So, what is the difference between how you are known in your industry, or in my terms, your Professional Brand and your identity? Most would think they are similar as it relates to the different aspects of your personality, but in reality they are formed in different ways.

Your identity starts forming from the time you are born and is formed and developed from life experiences, Usually in a subconscious context…in other words your identity emerges without much conscious consideration and perhaps much of our behavior arises out of what you are not aware of about yourself and is outside your control. This is important because your subconscious motives are implicit, very powerful, and directive. This is true for all of us and well beyond theory; this is now a proven truth.

In respect to your identity in your industry or “professional brand”, no doubt some of it is also made up of motives and desires unconsciously, most of it is made up (or should be) developed with conscious effort. Making choices about how you want others to see you and relate to you. An example would be Bill Gates who always wore a sweater with a button down shirt underneath according to Mark Wilson of Men’s Vogue or Steve Jobs and his ever present black turtleneck and jeans look. Granted, this was probably done out of convenience, but also are examples of consciously chosen self-branding whether they call it branding or not. And their brands parallel perfectly with the identities they created, their recognizable image; their unique selves.

How do you express yourself? More succinctly, how do you want to consciously express yourself? Do you do it by your style of dress? What about your personal expression? Are you energetic and extroverted; quiet and introverted? intuitive and authentic? Step back from yourself and see you as others at work and in your social circle see you. Even if you change hairstyles every so often, or go from wearing professional clothing at work to relaxed, dressed down jeans and torn converse shoes on your off time, then that is what you will be known for; and that will be your brand. There is no getting away from branding, good or bad….but that choice is up to you. That’s how we identify and connect with one another.

So start today on your brand…be aware and authentic in who you are and do what you have to do to be recognized and known as YOU…as defined by you.

How do you start? Stay tuned and more to come on that, but start thinking consciously about who you are, what values do you hold and what your friends, work associates and others would say about you. Compile a list of these and be ready!

Back in the early 90’s, the “Elevator Pitch” was a must have with up and coming professionals. If you couldn’t describe what you do to a person/client/prospect in 90 seconds or less, you were not on top of your game. I have never been a big fan of any type of pitch unless I am at a baseball game. The very word “pitch’ as it relates to the business community makes most people recoil in horror that they are about to be sold something by the archetypal slick salesperson who is only interested in how big your wallet is. Why would anyone these days want to memorize a “pitch” when the very idea of pitching yourself annotates the feelings of insincerity; comes off as disreputable, imposing and fake; or if being pitched to also gives you the feeling that you’re being glad-handed, worked over or set up for the close.

If you still use this word in your vocabulary, STOP immediately and wipe it from that hard drive in your head, the brain. Instead, think in terms of your “Personal Brand”; a more professional, authentic description of who you are. Self Branding can be a powerful tool when done in a concise, to the point description not only with words, but in how you present yourself in mannerisms, how you dress, how approachable you are, Be authentic when shaping yours; take your time creating it, bounce it off your friends, work associates or a mentor (you have one right??). Once you have formed it, improved it, and refined it further to the point you are comfortable with it, it will become the signature statement of who you are – much like the Coca-Cola signature writing or the thumbs up on Facebook, your Personal Brand will immediately be identifiable and familiar to those around you.

As well, your online brand presence through various Social Networking sites like LinkedIn, Google+ should also reflect your uniqueness and coalesce with “Brand (insert your name here)”. Just be sure that all there are no misspelled words or grammatical errors and leave no content out, especially on LinkedIn as future employers and recruiter’s will review your profile with a critical eye.

Above all, again, be yourself and authentic in your Personal Brand and on your terms as only you can define who you are…

Motivation vs. Inspiration

Dear Millennial friends, I have been spending a lot of time with the ideas of motivation and inspiration and through the years, have experienced both. To give you an idea, motivation is external. It’s something outside of you that compels you to DO something. Your boss/sports coach/parents making certain demands of you may motivate you because you fear losing your job, privileges, etc… you fear losing that big promotion, or you fear losing your status. A fire will motivate you to leave a burning building, right?

Inspiration is internal. It’s something inside you that compels you to BE something. Inspiration is you making demands of yourself. It’s acting congruently with what you say you want to be, what you want to do, and who you really are.
A motivational speaker does not really motivate anyone. All a motivational speaker can really do is speak to the person inside each member of their audience and try to inspire that person hidden away inside of each of us.
As a career coach, when I look at a person’s calendar, I see all of the commitments that they have made to other people; No one would dream of breaking those commitments. But I never see the commitments they make to themselves. Those commitments don’t make it on to the calendar, and they don’t carry the same weight as the commitments we make to others. WHY??? The commitments we make to ourselves are easily and often broken, are they not?
You can wait for other people to motivate you. You can wait for people to make demands of you. But you’ll never reach your full potential by waiting for other people to provide your motivation.
If you really want to produce the results you are capable of, you have to provide your own inspiration. You have to decide that you are going to be something more, and you have to demand more from yourself.
Is your vision of your future self big enough? Does it inspire you to take the actions that bring that vision to life?
Are you goals so big that they inspire you? Do they frighten you? Are you excited to get out of bed each morning to chase down your biggest goals?
What are you demanding of yourself now?
What must you start demanding of yourself right now? What must you start demanding of yourself today?
A good coach doesn’t motivate you by demanding more of you; a good coach helps you to see that you aren’t demanding enough of yourself. A good coach can see what you are really capable of and can push you to demand more from yourself. They can help give you a bigger vision of yourself. That’s what I hope to be through this post: a good coach.
i welcome your comments and your ideas about motivation and inspiration (I hope you’re inspired). Re-blog this post to someone you know can benefit from this idea.

Millennial March

Here we come! Make way for the Millennial’s as they march toward rewarding careers in the coming years. When I was younger, as long as you performed your job well and added value as defined by your employer and every measuring stick and career move was mostly about salary, not necessarily the meaning behind the work. For the most part, the reward was the job and there was not as much desire to change the world or make a difference in people’s lives for most of us. Of course, there were the famous geniuses we know today that built Google, Netflix, Amazon and the like, but they were the exception, not the rule. We didn’t think in terms of personal branding ourselves as individuals in our professional life, but defined ourselves as an employee of the company we worked for at the time.

Today, all of that has changed as far as what defines a “great career” in the minds of the digitally raised generation. Millennial’s bring a whole new dynamic to the workforce like no other generation before them. They are unique in the way that unlike their parents and especially their grandparents, they inherited and embraced the connected, digital, online world we live in today. from an early age, there were immersed in technology and took to it like water to a sponge. Millennial’s want their work and career to mean something, to make a positive impact and be recognized as the individuals they are. Millennial’s are poised to pursue career paths distinctly different than prior generations as they enter the workforce. Studies suggest that they believe that they must have a higher education than their parents, obtain a variety of skills to adapt and compete in the ever changing landscape of technology; they are right. Along the way, it is of vital importance that also start working on building their own unique brand, one that stands out among their peers and get’s the attention of the companies they want to contribute to. Stay tuned to this blog and learn what it takes to be successful in the age of social networking, building a positive, professional brand and how to differentiate yourself to have the life you want!