The world is moving at an incredibly fast pace and businesses across the world must learn to adapt to new trends or risk becoming obsolete. The same is true when you’re growing your team and creating an atmosphere that’s conducive to team building and growth. With millennials making an astounding $600 BILLION of purchases a year, it’s imperative that businesses understand how to cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs and team builders. While everyone talks about it, what do millennials really want and how do you realistically reach them?
In this series you’ll hear real life experience and practical ideas by listening in on a conversation which took place with Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary who has invested millions of dollars to help millennials grow their business and follow their dreams, together with Janet Schijns the vice president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions and founder of Tech World’s Half and Phil Burrows- an up and coming millennial currently working as one of the national external communications managers at Verizon.
Here’s how the conversation began:
Social media is everywhere but on a business level what impact has it had on beginning or growing your career?
Phil- Typically when you graduate from college and begin your career, you don’t have a resume with too much previous experience, so being able to network on a place like LinkedIn is extremely helpful. The ability to learn from professionals who lead multi-billion dollar companies or entrepreneurs who are investing everything they have into building their business gives you instant access to real life experiences that can help you grow in your own career. Additionally, you can really start branding your own image on social media by sharing appropriate news taking place with you and your company. I think a lot of people think that you should just post anything and everything about yourself, and as a millennial myself, I absolutely disagree. When you share just about anything it has to be with the realization that you’re building your brand. I think you’ve got to be genuine and honest on all networks. I want people to see everything I’m doing but at the same time I think LinkedIn is more of a professional platform and you should stick to updates that reflect what you’ve learned or experienced from your business related experiences. Posting pictures and vacations are great but I think that belongs more on other platforms like twitter or Facebook. So it’s not just about branding yourself but it’s being smart about how you brand yourself.
Kevin: That’s a great point Phil- and being smart about what you post and more importantly what not to post is critical for your image and ability to grow in the future. Social media has been the ultimate litmus test as a company and as a professional. The channels of communication have been turned absolutely upside down from the way it was in the last 5-10 years. So if you want to reach millennials you’ve got to be where they are- and that’s on social media. At the same time if you lie about your company, about your achievements or growth that really didn’t happen you’ll almost never be able to recover. I’m known as the tough shark on shark tank but that’s because I always tell the truth. I always say that since I always tell the truth I never have to remember what I say. So whether you’re an employer or a millennial looking to grow your company or your career, keep it honest. Over the last five to ten years there hasn’t been one proven way to reach and communicate with millennials ranging from 18-35 years of age. However being able to create a conversation and deliver a message is the best way to communicate with them and at the same time capture their attention. While I’m in the financial investment industry which is highly regulated as far as what you can and cannot say, we’ve been able to articulate our core investment principles, which are centered around three (3) basic philosophies: income, wealth preservation and capital appreciation. Since we began O’Shares we’re beating the S&P by over 10% so we’ve been validated. But like I said, the main thing is to keep it honest.
Janet: I couldn’t agree with you more Kevin and for the record you are my favorite Shark ! I think the temptation people have to just say something to make themselves heard comes back to bite them down the road if they don’t keep things honest and real. Another thing I’ve noticed in social media which is so impactful for millennials, and could even benefit shark tank,is the ability to see if something is a quick fail. The difference between the ones who succeed on social media and the ones that don’t is not how many followers they have, but rather how much interaction they have with their followers. Years ago, people had great ideas but couldn’t afford to leave their jobs to explore their ideas let alone pay for all the costs involved in creating a new product or service. Today you no longer have to spend that kind of time and monetary investment on a new idea and you can engage the crowd right from the start for feedback. Sometimes the biggest favor social media crowds can give you is the knowledge that your idea is not going to work. Rather than spend all that time and money, social media is so powerful you can launch a new idea from your computer, share it online and see what type of reaction it gets and what type of conversation it creates. Sometimes the idea is good but needs tweaking and other times it’s a loser that doesn’t deserve the investment – by harnessing the social media crowd you’ll get immediate feedback regardless which is so valuable.
Phil: If I could jump in for a minute Janet and comment on that thought:-
I think a lot of people think millennials just want to post meaningless updates on social media all day just to stay absorbed in it, but I think what we really want is to join a conversation. It’s to be able to express an idea or join in with a team even though we may not have the same amount of experience. You mentioned about having lots of followers and that’s always cool to see so many people taking interest in your profile and presence, but the biggest thing is to be able to learn from what you see others say as well as be able to add your own value. Based on my experience working in a communications andmarketing role, I can be part of a team that has 15 years of experience or more, but I’m trusted to manage and lead certain projects and held to the same standard and expectations as everyone. At any time I know I can ask for advice and at the same time offer my take or opinion. It’s the ability to create even ground so that titles and senior levels don’t stand in the way of collaborating together. And I think millennials don’t need or even want unrealistic freedom to just do as they please. In fact companies that cater to that won’t see business growth and they won’t really be making the millennials happy either. It’s the balance of providing an atmosphere that you’re trusted to be able to make key decisions on any given project that stimulates long term growth.
Janet: True point Phil and from my experience culture eats strategy for breakfast and it’s clear when working with Millennials it’s not about work flexibility and jeans to work on Friday, it’s about growing for the future. In fact to me there’s nothing worse than an insincere work environment. You don’t need to make yourself cool as a company, your people are what makes you that! What it’s really all about is having a growth focused environment. Rather than judging people on the time they punched in on the clock, it’s about working with your team on their performance. In fact, when millennial workers feel boxed in by the clock it stunts growth and innovation – clearly not the right impact!. Providing a challenging environment that demands the best of people while also allowing them the flexibility to come in a few minutes late (within reason of course) Or leave early for something personal is just common sense. Happy teams perform better – that’s a result we all need to drive for – right Kevin?
Kevin: I like the point you made Janet about growing for the future and as the founder of O’Shares that’s exactly what we believe in. That’s why we provide ETFs designed for long-term wealth management. We believe that a smart investment is one that is simple, straightforward and easy to understand. Millennials are smart and they understand exactly what’s going on. As a company, it’s your job to make sure you reach them and articulate your message clearly. If your message is clear they’ll bite into it, in fact since starting in O’Shares last year on July 14th, over 60% of our investors are millennials which is unbelievable and extremely telling. Being that there is an extraordinary amount of buying power in their hands, it’s our job to communicate with them and make sure they have everything they need to know. Luckily my social media platforms reach an outstanding 7.2 million millennials a week! One of the key messages we constantly reiterate is treat your money like family and learn to take care of it from your first pay check! Take care of it, learn how to grow it, be smart and learn how to keep it safe!