Why Your Stereotypes About Millennials Are Unfair And Potentially Damaging

Why Your Stereotypes About Millennials Are Unfair And Potentially Damaging

On Monday morning, the CBS This Morning team was talking to a financial expert when one of the anchors insinuated all millennials live in their parents’ basement. The discussion, stemming from this CBS Money Watch article that alludes to the same stereotype, made my blood boil. I am a millennial and I have been living on my own for over 10 years. I have never, nor do I ever plan, on living in my parents’ basement. Moreover, I have been financially independent my entire adult life and I am more financially stable than most people in older generations. How dare they undermine all of my hard work!

Do I know millennials that are not financially independent or do not live on their own by circumstance or by choice? Definitely—but I also know Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers who are in the same shoes. It’s not a millennial thing. It’s a human being thing.

If you know me, you know I rarely write about contentious topics. It’s not because I don’t have strong opinions—I’m a Type A Virgo so you know I do—but because I find little benefit to being openly outraged about most topics. I’m a firm believer that you accomplish more by listening to other perspectives than criticizing, condemning or complaining about them.

But, that’s the thing about the older generations’ overwhelming perspective on millennials: it’s an unfair generalization that can impact our professional careers. You may think your bias is benign, but psychologists have proven your prejudices—no matter how well-intentioned, no matter how subconscious—affect your behavior toward us. They can cause you to overlook us for positions, for promotions or for growth opportunities, the very metrics you use to judge our success (or lack thereof, in your mind).

I am writing this to respectfully ask that you consider the idea that not all millennials are lazy or entitled. We can do better to balance the conversation. We can do better to stop dismissing a group of individuals, whose time of birth—not their traits—brand them as millennials. We can do better to show that, like you, we may not be perfect but we have a lot to offer in the workforce.

Next time you want to gripe about how much time we spend on our phones, pull up this article in Financial Fluency from my colleague Vania, who is in her 20s. She is religious about her credit score and uses her phone time judiciously to keep it in check. Next time you want to complain about how we’re not serious about saving, read this article on personal finance from Man Repeller, a blog started by 28-year-old Leandra Medine that leveraged its captive millennial audience to promote the importance of saving money. Millennials like Vania, Leandra, and I are not as rare as you may think. Please don’t water down our accomplishments with your preconceived notions about our generation.

(Just like not all millennials are the same, I recognize not all non-millennials feel this way about us. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge you for not perpetuating the worn-out stereotypes. Heck, some of you even sing us praises, like Sanjeev Agrawal in this Forbes article. My sincerest thank you to you for giving us a fighting chance in world that tends to think millennials are the worst.)

And now, for your quote of the day:

“Young people are not perfect. We don’t know everything, sometimes we try to move too fast, and in some cases our ideals are at odds with reality. Instead of antagonizing us, listen to us, collaborate with us, and invest in our ideas.” —Tony Weaver, Jr., Forbes, June 7, 2017

Could You Go A Week Without Criticizing, Condemning Or Complaining? I Couldn’t.

Could You Go A Week Without Criticizing, Condemning Or Complaining? I Couldn’t.

Your enthusiasm and positive response toward last week’s Dale Carnegie post blew me away! I am thrilled so many of you read it and took the time to send your comments, questions, and follow-up thoughts in response. Based on the number of times I sent the link to the Southeast Florida in-person training calendar, we will be welcoming several new Dale Carnegie alumni this year.

I was also pleasantly surprised that some of you committed to reading How To Win Friends & Influence People with me and applying one principle a week. I can’t wait to hear your perspective as we reflect on the lessons of each chapter. Everyone is welcome to join us! Simply write your feedback in the comments section of each post or engage with me on Twitter.

Last Monday I read the first chapter, “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive,” wherein Dale Carnegie explains why it is disadvantageous to criticize, condemn or complain. He shares anecdotes of how human reasoning and pride convince even the worst of criminals that their wrongdoings are justifiable. (“Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and and usually makes him strive to justify himself.”) He concludes by encouraging us to try to understand people, instead of condemning them, listing Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin as examples to follow.

I began the week optimistic about my ability to apply the first principle, but by 12:35 p.m. on Monday I was already throwing shade at my parents on Twitter:

Margarita-Wells-Tweet-Parents-Movie-Ticket

Then, at work on Tuesday, I complained for 10 minutes straight about a meddling co-worker before I realized what I was doing and pulled the break. I was so embarrassed at myself afterward that I managed to keep all of Wednesday complaint-free, relapsing on Thursday when Trump withdrew from the Paris Accord and I was swept away by a sea of complaints on both sides of the aisle.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I did pretty well—focusing on praising the good, rather than condemning the bad, and going as far as to share my newfound attitude with the Twittersphere:

Margarita-Wells-Tweet-Praise-Good-Business-Practices

I’m proud to report that I have managed to keep it up through today. Admittedly, most of my success has been in not voicing my criticism and complaints out loud, but shouldn’t we reward my progress instead of punishing my imperfect execution?

Not criticizing, condemning or complaining is harder than you think. In fact, based on my observations over the last week, I suspect it may be our default behavior. It is going to take conscious effort, as well as substantial self-discipline to break the bad habit. If I’m honest with myself, I will probably be working at it for the rest of my life. What about you? Could you go a week without criticizing, condemning or complaining?

Before I conclude, a huge thanks to Dani Veras for the very apropos featured image. It nailed my feelings about the struggle to get through Principle 1. And now, for your quote of the day:

“Any fool can criticize, condemn or complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” —Dale Carnegie

Three Impactful Articles I Read This Week (And You Need To Read Too)

Three Impactful Articles I Read This Week (And You Need To Read Too)

I wake up every morning at 6 a.m. and scan the internets for insightful reads while I drink my coffee. Since my unexpected promotion in February to department director, I’ve kept a particularly watchful eye for articles with tips on leadership.  This week the search of the world wide web was particularly fruitful in that regard, yielding three impactful articles on how to be successful, how to lead, and how to manage:

  1. According to Oprah Winfrey, these are the 4 things you need to know to be successful. In one of the many graduation speeches Oprah Winfrey gave this May, she reminded us (and the graduating class of 2017) just how successful she is. This article on CNBC enumerates the four reasons she attributes to her success, including listening to her instincts, setting clear intentions, being grateful, and allowing the truth to set you free. If they worked for Oprah, they sure as hell work for me.
  2. What Sets Successful CEOs Apart. Being in charge comes with great power and great responsibility. This article from the Harvard Business Review details the four behaviors common to high-performing CEOs, including making decisions with speed and conviction and adjusting to a rapidly changing environment. It’s a good read for anyone in a leadership position.
  3. How Leaders Can Push Employees Without Stressing Them Out. Data shows that leaders are 30% less likely than their colleagues to feel stressed out, which the writer attributes to factors such as status, autonomy, and job security. So, how do you secure the greatest output of your employees without building their stress to the point of diminishing returns? This article shares five principles worth a try.

I hope you found the perspective and tips these articles offer as useful as I did. A huge thank you to my friends and colleagues who posted these articles on social media for me to find! Now for your quote of the day:

“…people who can take feedback well are people who can learn and grow quickly.” —Sheryl Sandberg

I Took A Dale Carnegie Course And It Changed My Life

I Took A Dale Carnegie Course And It Changed My Life

Last Christmas, instead of buying me “stuff”, I asked my parents to send me to a Dale Carnegie in-person training. Dale Carnegie was an American writer and lecturer, who developed now world-famous courses on self-improvement, public speaking and interpersonal skills. His book How to Win Friends & Influence People is a top non-fiction best seller, ranking close to the Bible in number of copies sold since it was published in 1937.

While it makes sense to think his lessons have become outdated in our modern world, its teachings ring as true now as they did in the times of Dale Carnegie. They’re timeless, sure-fire stepping stones to becoming a more efficient leader, a better person. Every successful executive I know either consciously (or, subconsciously) practices the Dale Carnegie method.

I took and graduated from the three-day immersion course this past February. On day one, I had already picked up useful tips to improve my networking skills. For example, my instructor Joe taught me a trick for remembering people’s names (with a memorable name like Margarita and a terrible short-term memory, I used to depend on others to remember mine) and for engaging strangers in meaningful conversation. The remaining two days were no different. I learned how to add energy and clarity to my presentations, how to disagree agreeably, and other seemingly impossible feats I put to the test as soon as I was back to work.

All of my new skills were successful when applied to the “real world”. It was invigorating to watch them in action, especially those that improved my relationships at work. The training seriously changed my life. Unfortunately, in the time since, I have slowly but surely stopped applying the skills that I did not build into habit (i.e., 99% of them). I am determined to get them back and, lucky for me, I have my very own copy of How to Win Friends & Influence People to help.

Each chapter in Dale Carnegie’s book delves into one of his secrets of success. I am going to read one chapter every Monday morning for the next 30 weeks—there are 30 chapters—and actively apply the subject principle throughout the week. I look forward to sharing with you my successes, my failures, and my lessons learned in the process. The goal is to add on a new principle every week until I am actively applying all 30 principles, hopefully engraining them so I habitually use them forever.

Want to join along in my journey? You can pick up your very own copy of How to Win Friends & Influence People here. (Best $7 you’ll ever spend!) I could use a friend to keep me accountable and encourage me along the way. I promise to do the same for you, just leave a comment below or send me a tweet @margaritakwells to let me know you’re in.

Before we kick off Chapter One, “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive”, I would like to thank my mom and dad for introducing me to the world of Dale Carnegie and leave you with the following quote of the day:

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” —Dale Carnegie

I Started This Blog To Pay It Forward

I Started This Blog To Pay It Forward

Hi, I’m Margarita, a 29-year-old environmental professional and writer based in Miami, Florida. In my seven short years in the work force, I have gone from an entry-level environmental scientist to Acting Environment and Sustainability Department Director, from novice blogger (at ThankYouMiami.com) to published author (of The HUNT Miami), and—much to my private sector devotee dad’s dismay—from a private sector consulting job to a career in public service.

I spend my free time running—I’m a born-again runner with intentions of running my first marathon in 2018—and dancing. I also scuba dive, play beach volleyball, and am head-over-heels in love with skiing. I can’t tell if I naturally enjoy being active or if I absolutely need it to stay sane given the demands of my schedule. For your sake and for mine, I don’t ever stop to find out.

My professional (and personal) successes are the result of a great education. (I spent my formative years at Pine Crest School and earned my Bachelor and Masters degrees from the University of Miami—Go ‘Canes!) Inasmuch, they are the culmination of a solid support system, first-class mentors, and a little luck. I started this blog to pay it forward by sharing helpful advice, experiences, and resources I have collected along my journey. I hope they will help you, as they have done me, in reaching your untapped potential.

To start, I will be posting twice a week: on Wednesdays and on Sundays. Sometimes the posts will come as personal reflections, sometimes as recounted conversations with my mentors, sometimes as lists of articles, books, podcasts, etc. that I can’t live without. Please, please, please send me your feedback and leave comments. This is as much about you learning from me, as it is about us learning from you.

With that, I leave you with the following quote of the day:

“If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes then learn how to do it later.” —Richard Branson