Episode 12: Multi-Generational Leadership Featuring Tyler Jones, Millennial

The Leadership Habit Podcast is excited to launch a new special series of episodes focusing on the multi-generational workforce. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be interviewing Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers to find out what challenges they face, what stereotypes they deal with, and understand how we can all work together more effectively. Our first guest in the series is Tyler Jane Jones. Tyler is a millennial defined as someone who was born between 1981 and 1996 she is an innovative thought leader that is inspired to bring about positive growth from within the healthcare industry in Denver, Colorado. Enjoy.

Full Transcript Below:

Jenn DeWall: Hi, everyone. It’s Jenn DeWall, and today I am here with Tyler Jane Jones, and she is here with us as part of our generational series that we are doing. For those of you that don’t know and you’re just tuning in, what we’re doing is talking to individuals in different generations to understand how we all come into an organization and work and collaborate together. And Tyler is part of the Millennial generation, which means that she was born between the years of 1981 to 1996. Tyler, thank you so much for joining us. We are so happy to have you on The Leadership Habit Podcast.

Tyler Jones: Thank you so much. I’m really jazzed to be here.

How Do You Define Leadership?

Jenn DeWall: So Tyler, one of the questions we’ve been starting out asking people– because we want to understand the generational perspective is– how do you define leadership?

Tyler Jones: I define leadership as helping a group of people reach a common goal. So that could be either helping out your clients or getting a new agile batch going forward, something along those lines, but not necessarily pulling that group towards a win but helping push from inside. And that’s when I’ve worked with different leaders who kind of take that approach. I see it as being most impactful, and that’s also kind of how I tend to lead- both as a traditional leader and then even as a nontraditional leader. And so someone who doesn’t necessarily have that role but still is able to take on a little bit of a leadership role.

Jenn DeWall: That’s great. Now, we talked a little bit offline how about the fact that you and I are at different ends of the Millennial spectrum. I was born in ’82, so I’m just closer to that Gen X, and I’ve been in the career space for a little bit longer. And you’re closer to 1996. So tell everyone that’s listening what your career experience has been and how long you’ve been in the workforce.

Millennials in the Workplace

Tyler Jones: Yeah. So I guess I would consider myself as being in the workforce for the last five to six years, but I’ve been out of college for the last three years. So, that’s been a little interesting. I’ve had three different roles in the last three years at my huge corporate company, and to see how my view on the company, the business, and different leaders, and how my career trajectory has changed in the last three years– I think is really interesting. But also I can definitely see how people see Millennials as changing way too fast or moving from one thing to the next- because that’s kind of the route I’ve taken, I guess.

Jenn DeWall: Yeah, you move fast, right? And there is a lot that’s attractive about moving fast because we get those new challenges and we have unique opportunities to learn and develop ourselves, which I think is a very exciting thing for Millennials. And it’s something that we really aspire to. Not saying that other generations don’t aspire for that, but it is an important thing for Millennials. When you think about your generation in the workplace, what do you notice as some of those perceptions or labels that Millennials get?

Tyler Jones: I think a lot of it is moving quickly, really wanting to come in and jump full force ahead. And sometimes the older generations will be, “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa; you still have a ton to learn, calm down, slow your roll.” So definitely see that aspect, and we still have a ton to learn in terms of life experience, but I think we also come in being a part of the internet generation coming in with a lot more, even a lot more in school and we have better resources I guess in a lot of ways. So it’s interesting to see how that partners with some of these older generations who learned a lot of what they learned just by putting in the time. So that’s definitely an interesting aspect.

Millennials and Technology

Jenn DeWall: Yeah, that’s, I mean the technology piece is huge, right? It’s, and it’s something that I think, you know, Millennials get the bad rap, they think they are moving too fast, or they want to systematize things, or they want to make them more efficient through technology, and you know, as a result of their appreciation for technology, sometimes people make some judgements about them. Right? So maybe it’s the judgments, we had talked about this earlier, judging them for being lazy, for maybe wanting to automate something that in their experience using technology, they know that there’s an opportunity to make a process efficiency. But yet to others they think that the dependency on technology means that they’re lazy. 

Tyler Jones: Think of people who have, I think of a lot of the people I work with who have been in very similar roles for the last 30 years of their career. They’re just on the edge. So those Baby Boomers who are on the edge of retirement and they see automation as “I’m losing my job”, where I look at it as “I don’t want to do an extra task that takes extra work if I can just plug it into Excel and have a macro do that versus me sitting there and doing it manually”, that doesn’t make sense for me, and it’s really easy for me to make that Excel macro and make those changes. And I feel there’s that aspect of job security, but then also we were taught how to do all of this since elementary school. We were taught how to automate processes or use the computer as a tool so that we can spend more time being creative and client-conscious– or what’s the word–looking to customize things for our clients. Because I’m not spending time doing all this manual work, so that’s definitely something that I think is slowly being taken off of all Millennials because it’s just something we need in the workforce. But definitely something a lot of people see as that stigma that Millennials are lazy.

Jenn DeWall: Right. You brought up a really important point.  Millennials using and adopting technology was something that was ingrained throughout your whole education, starting at a young age. Whereas Gen X and Baby Boomers didn’t have computers to help them learn. Right? And it’s not right, wrong or indifferent, but it’s understanding that each generation comes to be as a result of our environment as a result of historical events, technology, how we’re parented, for so many reasons. And this is just one where, you know, if we don’t recognize that Millennials have been immersed in technology, then we can judge them unfairly. I would add because it’s also just understanding that we grew up in different times. I love to kind of dispel some of the Millennial–I guess judgments– it can add a lot of miscommunication or disconnects at the organization and so it’s not serving anyone when we’re trying to bridge that multigenerational gap. So technology is one of those labels, right? That we’re so dependent that we’re lazy. That’s stigma. What other stigmas do you notice, or did you feel you had to kind of prepare yourself for when you were early in your career in the workforce?

Communication Across Generations

Tyler Jones: I think communication’s another one. A lot of people see Millennials as they can only communicate through text messaging or emails, or we can’t communicate face to face. I don’t think that’s the case at all. I, it’s at least with the people I’ve interacted with as Millennials. There’s definitely , it’s a skill that you need to learn, but when I was going into the workforce and starting to work with these teams of people that had literally as many generations as you could fit into a team sitting on this, I made a point to make sure I communicated verbally with every single one of them or to almost help solve those problems too because it’s very easy when you’re sitting behind a computer, especially working, virtually to never pick up the phone, never have a video conversation, anything that, where that’s still going to help bridge those generational gaps more than anything.

Tyler Jones: And bring those people together to let them know, Hey, I’m not just some newbie coming into the office thinking I know it all thinking that technology needs to take your job. Cause that’s not the case at all. But, I’m here to learn, and there’s a lot to learn from these other generations. Right? And how do we help bridge those gaps between them? And so I think, I guess it is a stigma that Millennials don’t have strong communication skills, but then how do we flip that around and use those communication skills to really work with those different generations in bridge all the teams together?

Jenn DeWall: Right. Well, and Millennials, again, it goes back to technology. They’ve had options. Yeah. They’ve had options. It could be email. It could be face to face; it could be a text message; it could be social media. There are a lot of different options for communicating. And so I think it allows for some different, not necessarily a strategy, but a different point of view. Who am I trying to communicate to? What am I talking to them about? What’s the best mode? Whereas earlier generations weren’t necessarily– they didn’t have email. And so face to face or phone calls were always the easiest way. And so it’s not that Millennials are averse to them and don’t want to embrace them. It’s just that there have always been these other options for communication. It hasn’t been consolidated into only two main modes. We’ve had choices.

Tyler Jones: Absolutely. And when I think of growing up, I had all these different outside voices coming in trying to communicate with me, whether it was my phone, whether it was the TV, whether it was a radio station, all the way to email and then your teacher sitting in front of you talking or the book you had to check out of the library. And so we’ve kind of had been forced to learn how to balance all of those, I think. And there’s definitely a lot we can still continue to do in terms of learning that balance. I think as a society as a whole, but then to help almost, I feel that’s an opportunity for us to help other generations kind of learn how to balance all of those and learn that maybe email is the best way to get this written out or maybe a phone call is the best way to get this information out. 

Jenn DeWall: Well, and even thinking what can companies do to best support Millennials, right? Because college does, you know, Millennials are very educated, and many of them have a four year or two-year degree, whatever they have, but sometimes those degrees don’t necessarily prepare for the soft skills, which is another area where Millennials get dinged, right? They think that their communication or the reliance on how they want to manage a project through technology or how they want feedback and knowing that you will still need guidance. Right? Just because you went to school, does it mean that you feel you’re ready to take on the world? And I think sometimes people forget that those basics, those soft skills are something that you learn in the workplace. They’re not necessarily something that you’re learning in college. You’re not learning how to handle when you get feedback that doesn’t make you feel good, or you’re not learning how to respond urgently, or you’re not learning to look at each employer’s situation to try and understand what the cultural norms are. Right? We’re not learning those strategies to be able to probably show up in the way that people all of a sudden expect Millennials to show up when they walk in the room.

Tyler Jones: Yeah. And there was, I think initially a lot of Millennials were known as, “Hey, we’ve got this figured out” because we do have this other book-smart information. But even to think in the last three years, how much I’ve grown in terms of those soft skills. And I almost look back on myself three years ago or even some of the new interns coming in and being, Oh, that’s something I guess you didn’t learn in college, you really should have worked on that. Or, that is something that you need to continue to work on. And I see that in myself even every single day. I’m sure. But how to help, I guess employers could do a really great job, and there’s a lot of opportunity for learning those soft skills but then also leadership programs that they have of new and upcoming early-career people coming into the workforce or mentorship programs. A lot of those mentorship programs, we grew up getting feedback instantaneously, you were saying, and that’s, I know another stigma, but how do we work with mentors to kind of help process that feedback? And continue to grow off of that.

Are Millennials Too Needy?

Jenn DeWall: I want to dive into the feedback piece because I know that that is a very big kind of frustration by some of other generations about Millennials. Oh my gosh, they need feedback all the time. You need to tell them what to do. You need to tell them they’re doing great. Give them a pat on the back. They’re used to, everyone gets a trophy, and there is just so much judgment laced in the desire of Millennials to need feedback. But if we take a step back, again going to the fact that technology is something that Millennials are so much more immersed in, social media provides instant feedback, right? You can go on to Facebook or Instagram, and you know instantly whether your friends think that what you’re doing is great or they’re just saying good job, or they’re sad for you, they’re happy or even down to your email. You have access to information a lot quicker. And you also, many Millennials have parents that are Baby Boomers who do want the best for their kids. They tried to do so much. They want to shield them from pain. So they were very accessible, right? And so they did. There were kind of your North star and so it’s the environment that you are used to that doesn’t make it right wrong or different for those that are judging that. But it is, you know, it’s kind of understanding their perspective and how they come to the table. That feedback is something that they really depend on because it’s useful to help them know if they’re on the right path.

Tyler Jones: Absolutely. And you think even if I wanted a recipe to learn how to make something new, trying to learn how to use my kitchen a little bit more, I could instantly look that up. I don’t have to look through a cookbook. I’m trying to use more of those traditional homes that are cookbook methods. But I’ve always had that, and I’ve had that literally, I remember even printing off MapQuest for my mom to drive us somewhere because we had, we didn’t have to look at a map to do that even. So that instantaneous of this is where we need to go. And that, and then also in college, we were literally taught to ask for feedback every time we met with our boss or a mentor, as that’s an opportunity for you to show that you want to learn, you’re showing that you want to continue to grow and that you’re open to that change. And it’s not just, Hey, it’s my way. I’m doing it right, yeah, you can thank me later kind of thing. Cause that’s not it at all. It’s I’m going in asking for that feedback as I’m making myself vulnerable so that I can continue to grow and hopefully be as great as you are one day. And if I’m asking for your feedback, I respect you as that person. And so I kind of wish older generations would recognize that because that’s the place I’m coming from. It’s not necessarily the, well tell me how great I am because that’s not it at all.

Jenn DeWall: Right? You’re not just looking to be showered with praise. You’re not helping me because I want to learn, and I want to be as successful as you are. And how did you get there? I want to know.

Tyler Jones: There have been very few times in my life where I’ve been, what I would consider absolutely bored and not moving forward in any way. Normally, if that is the case, I have either the internet I can go to, which is never boring, or I can change jobs or whatever that is to make sure that I am constantly challenged or constantly stimulated. And all that information again, coming in from a million different places. And so how do, when I’m sitting there, and I’m asking for feedback, a lot of times I’m, all right, what can I, what can I tackle next? What’s, what’s my next challenge? Or what’s something I can continue to work on that?

Jenn DeWall: Okay. Well, which goes into one of the judgments, right? So we talked to someone that represented Gen X,  and what he wishes of Millennials is about their urgent ambition. Meaning, okay, I’m here now. How do I get to there? Now, how do I get to there? Now, how do I get to there? How do you do there? And that is a label that I think there are absolutely some Millennials that definitely are very, you know, they want to go, they want to succeed, they want to grow, grow, grow and hit these milestones. But what this Gen X person was saying is he, he does wish that people would just slow down and kind of smell the roses. Think about all the developmental opportunities that you have in your role. How do you feel about Millennials being labeled as being too ambitious or they want everything yesterday? How does that feel?

Tyler Jones: So that hits very close to home. That is me in a nutshell, and I know it, and I try to be very aware of it. Yeah. And literally my mom and grandma could tell me every single day you need to stop and smell the roses. It’s fine to be in this place of just uncomfortable in between and not be chasing after the next thing. And literally, I can remember back to even middle school, Oh this is kind of hard, but high school is going to be better next year. Or, Oh this is kind of hard. Senior year is going to be better cause I can drive or you know, and I’ve been doing that since I was young. And so I, it took probably until about last year when some different life events happened to really have that humbling moment of okay, how can I sit in this? How can I be uncomfortable in this? And that was my entire learning year of focus on that really hard work, I know I’m not going to be my boss tomorrow because as much as I think I can do his job or whatever, obviously I can’t, he has a lot more experience and a lot more a bigger picture that I don’t see yet. And so how can I continue to learn from him? How can I be a fly on the wall and almost seek out those opportunities versus just constantly being, what’s next? And I think it’s definitely something that Millennials that we do struggle with, right? I will 100% raise my hand with that one saying that’s where I’m at, but.

Jenn DeWall: I am right with you. And then my bosses from when I was in my twenties were listening to this. They’d be, Jenn, you better say that too because of we absolutely you know, you talked about something, and I would call it in a different way cultural rites of passage or those milestones that we’re supposed to achieve in life. So you know, going from middle school, then going to high school, then go to college, then get the job, get their rings, you can get married, then buy the house, then have the kids then get wherever you want to get a dog in there, whatever that is. But we have all of these milestones, and there’s a point when in early adulthood where when we’ve accomplished those, it’s hard to find then where is our due North, where are we going? And so then I think that the career becomes the place that we invest in, want to accelerate more milestones because we’ve lost some of those big external ones.

Tyler Jones: Oh, absolutely. And I think social media has something to do with that too, right? You look on social media, and you can probably tell me five people who just announced they’re pregnant or five people who just bought a house or five people who just got a new job , and we see that on the daily and so when we aren’t bringing something to the table, and that’s probably again a societal fault with social media, right? Everyone’s struggling with that. But when we aren’t bringing something to the table saying, Oh yeah, I am married, or I have checked off all these boxes, or I am getting a new job because I only stayed in that last job for a year. Any of those aspects, it’s just you feel uncomfortable. You’re okay, so what’s great about where I’m at right now? And almost looking for that validation again, it flips even to that extreme.

Jenn DeWall: Great. That feedback, that validation, social media has become something where I think early generations weren’t as impacted because it wasn’t in your face that Susie Q just bought this amazing house that you’re just struggling to afford and they didn’t even have student loan debt so we can go down that way. [inaudible] Yeah, it’s, you know, it is really difficult when you have social media in your face and whether that’s in the professional form of LinkedIn where you’re then able to see, Oh who got a new job, who got a promotion, where are they going? And then you’re comparing yourself that way, or it’s going on to Instagram and saying, Whoa, you get to travel to all these great places or Oh, everything great must happen to you. It really does pose a unique challenge for, I mean everyone that’s on social media, but especially with the Millennials and Gen Z, knowing that that is such a piece of how they build their community, how they share their experiences and that they do spend more time on it than other generations just because it’s what they grew up with. That it does take its toll, and it does create that anxiety that in some way I am not getting my stuff right or I need to be doing more, which is then put into the workplace.

Tyler Jones: Oh yeah. And that’s part of our brand too, right? I was taught my LinkedIn, my Facebook profile; everything should be reflective of my brand. So if my boss were to look at it or if someone hiring me where to look at it, they would get a sense of who I am, and that’s how I’ve always done things. And so to not have– or feel there’s something missing– or something’s not as sparkly and shiny on it as we think that Susie Q’s is that that’s hard and it’s hard to accept. But then also through even the last three years, it’s been kind of crazy to have that humbling notion that, Hey, everyone feels this way and everyone is in the same walk of life. Everyone’s going to be challenging on that or have challenges on that journey. And I think that’s something that we as Millennials need to really take some time and kind of come together and help support and lift each other up with that instead of necessarily, well because Susie got this, I need to get X, Y, and Z.

Jenn DeWall: Well, and I think also creating that maybe that opportunity to bridge the gap with generations by just being open. Hey, I’m new here, and you already think that. I think I’ve got it all figured out. But really what I want to hear is about the opportunities that you failed or that you didn’t know what the heck you’re doing. Because in my perspective, being new to my career, I think that you guys have all of your stuff together cause that’s, I don’t have any other way to look at it because I don’t have all this experience and data to look at it any other way. But if an employer could open up that positioning of being more vulnerable and just saying, Hey, you know what Tyler, I didn’t have that right the first time. And the fact that you’re making mistakes, that’s wonderful. That’s how you’re going to continue to evolve and progress in your career. You know, if we had more of that openness and then it wouldn’t necessarily, I think warrant all of the feedback if we just had people that were all so open about their expectations or how the heck they got there. Because people hide the struggle or they hide the challenge, and then it’s harder to learn from, and it puts more pressure on you to feel you have to get it right somehow. Some way, you just have to have it right on your first try.

What do Millenials Want out of Work?

Tyler Jones: Have it right always, because that’s how we come off. Yeah, totally. And to think when I’m going into a new role, right? I started a new role two weeks ago, and so when I’m going into that and asking those questions of, okay, a where do you come from? How can I potentially learn from you in the future? But then also what have, what has your experience been working on these projects, and what has your experience been working with this process? And if I come in and instantly say, well, that process doesn’t look right. Obviously it should be automated, or it should move faster, shouldn’t have to go through all these hoops. There’s probably a reason why it has to be there. There’s probably a reason why it was created that way. And so how do I continue to grow and learn from that and be given that information. Maybe not given, but not the right questions to ask to get that information.

Jenn DeWall: Great. That’s where mentors are huge, and having people that can give you insight that will help you grab at that bigger picture, which is the bigger picture is always can be a very challenging thing to adapt when you’re going from college and then going into your role. And I think that this is for any generation, it’s very easy when you’re just starting a job to look at your role and only see your responsibilities, but not necessarily connect them to why your job matters to what the company is doing. And not a lot of companies do a great job of providing that attachment or said in another way, creating that opportunity for Millennials to feel meaningful work. This is what you’re doing, and this is why you matter. And I love this about Millennials because they are challenging companies to say, why does this matter? Why do I have to care? Because if you want us to work hard, it’s not saying that we won’t work hard, but we will work hard when we’re more connected to it. So instead of thinking that we’re trying to rebel or not respecting it, help us get on the same bus that you’re riding, and we want to know, we want to see why we’re doing things because we to be a part of it. And the more that you can bridge that, you know, that sense of connection and collaboration, the more that you’re going to, I think see your Millennials or people that are early in their careers start to really connect with your organizational mission because they feel they’re not just there to get a paycheck. And do these, you know, maybe more entry-level tasks, they’re there to create this higher-level impact to the organization.

Tyler Jones: Hundred percent. Absolutely. And I think all Millennials come into their role and they’re, okay, how am I going to change the world? Because mom and dad told me growing up that I could do anything. I wanted to change the world. And so how do I do that in these roles? And a lot of times I’m, I haven’t been told this, sit down and say, you still have a lot to learn. Even if you are making an impact right now, you can’t see that strategy yet. And so something I’ve really challenged myself with, and I think it was even one of my words for 2019 was seeing that strategic, bigger picture. And really pushing myself not to just say , okay, so I have to do tasks A through B, or task A through D, but I need to, there’s a reason why I’m doing this and how does maybe my boss or my director or my VP see that and how does it impact them? And then ultimately how does it impact our clients, our patients, our customers, any of those people who I’m coming in to work for and I’m in this workforce and this industry for a reason. So how do I connect all those dots and be inspired to do that because I think Millennials have a really high drive if it’s connected with passion. So I just listened to Daniel Pink- his book Drive, I love this book-It’s an older book.

Jenn DeWall: Oh yeah. All about motivation. I bought that one.

Tyler Jones: I listened to one of his talks on that this week actually, and I think it, it was spot on because yeah, sure, money’s influential to me. Being an influential person is influential to me, but really what gets me jazzed about getting up in the morning and really starting out on a project is I know what I’m doing is making a difference or I am doing something that’s going to revolutionize something. And that’s hard when you’re three years into your career. And yeah, most of the tasks I’m doing probably aren’t revolutionary. I don’t have that kind of impact yet, but how do I continue to change my vision towards that? And not just from the almost intern mindset of I need to complete these tasks because this is what’s on my list,

Jenn DeWall: Right? It’s not just a to-do list. You’re learning everything so you can grow into that leader that you ought to become. I love that you brought up motivation because a lot of the organizations today will label Millennials as job jumpers, or you have to work to retain them cause they’re just going to leave. What do you think is important? I know we just talked about connecting with the mission, with what you’re doing with the purpose and getting that, but what do you think really keeps Millennials happy in a company? I know you’re not answering for every Millennial. So this, I know this seems a huge question, but in your opinion, what do you think really keeps someone as a Millennial happy in their company? Maybe through your friends, so your coworkers, what keeps them there?

Tyler Jones: I think culture has a really big thing to do with it. We see, especially in Denver, right? We see all these really super sweet startups who have great break rooms, and they work hard, play hard, and yeah, they’re working 60 hour weeks, but then they are doing impactful things every single second of every single day and they feel important. Right? And so that’s a hard, hard gap to bridge for bigger companies because they’re employing tens of thousands of people. And so to not have, you can’t obviously tell everyone, yeah, sure, we’ll put a foosball table in a break room. Everything will be great. And, we’ll have these big inspirational speaker days, they can’t take that entire workforce out of it. So how do you create that almost internally and make it where again, those Millennials just feel impactful. They feel they’re doing something great. And they, they see where they’re able to go there I think is another part of it. As a Millennial, to be able to look and say, yeah, sure, I don’t know-how, what jobs B through E are going to be, but I know what jobs Z and A kind of look because that’s what I can see right now. And I’m hoping to continue to learn to widen my view so that I can kind of learn those little jobs in between. But the company I work for helps me see that as well. Right. They help me see what may be jobs C, E, and F look versus, I don’t know, they helped me kind of bring that whole vision to actual fruition. And again, it probably has a lot to do with mentors or management.

Jenn DeWall: Absolutely. It’s what you just said. So the culture piece is huge, right? Wanting to go to a place where people are connected with the mission. It’s fun. But you know, one of those things is that is also important to Millennials is being able to see the future and set in a different way. They want a clearly defined career path. What am I working towards? I want to be motivated. I want to inspire, and they know that that also then can cause a little bit of that conflict in terms of then adding urgency. It’s, Hey, I got to A, now how do I get to B now? How to get to C and how to get to D. But companies I think cancel that down. But it’s still important to recognize that Millennials want to be able to see their future. And if they can’t see their future with you, they can’t see future growth or opportunity. They are going to look at other ways because they do value making that impact continuously, learning your lifelong learners. And so if they don’t see that, and if you’re not setting it up, then chances are they may start to consider other options where they can, where they’ll be able to receive that for themselves.

Tyler Jones: And you think a lot of Millennials, I think even with Gen Xers is they, they don’t stay in a job for longer than three, four, maybe five years, right? To stay in one role. If there’s opportunity within a company to maybe say, all right, here are some different rules you can pop into as well, because then you can kind of against continue to learn and really stay fresh. Because mostly I’m not going to stay at the same company for the next 35 years. That’s hard for me to visualize. And I think that’s almost a societal shift, but a lot of that had to come from Millennials at the beginning. And so how do companies kind of help prolong that experience, I guess, and maybe keep them there for 15 years where they have eight different roles over that time. That’s, that’s very appealing to me.

Jenn DeWall: Yeah, that’s feasible. Yeah. Right. But yes, it’s, I mean to say that people are staying in careers typical Baby Boomers, some of them where it’s 30 year anniversaries there it is societal, there’s so much that has changed that has brought a decrease into the amount of time that you spend with an employer — even looking at 30 years. We know as Millennials that initially they had lovely set of benefit packages or additional retirement options that were very appealing. But with the recession, all of that was taken away. But that was a very strong motivation or motivator to stay with an employer. But now that we can’t even bank on that, that’s one less lever that an employer has to pull to keep us there. And so it’s not that we’re averse to that. It’s just we didn’t have as enticing offers. We know we don’t, but he saw it and we saw what happened with the reception that our perception with the recession that things are just not planned, or we can’t take everything for granted because and at the drop of a hat something can happen where either we’re losing our jobs, and many Millennials struggled even to get a job because they were graduating rate when that started and graduated with so much college debt.

Jenn DeWall: Right. Having and I myself have around $30,000 of college debt, and it’s insane. I am almost 40 I don’t want to continue to pay off my student loans, but it is a reason that does come into work with me. It does make me want to ask for more in terms of salary so I can be able to afford the life and then paying off these loans, which is, you know, I think something that not a lot of companies had to consider in terms of what quality of life is for a Millennial. Knowing that, especially in a place Denver where we already have a high cost of living, but then we have the burden of additional expenses student loans that make it harder for us to be able to then be those responsible adults and go and buy a house when we’re just trying to figure out how we can pay that back and when we can pay that back. We’re not necessarily on the, well I want to buy a house. I mean, we want that, but it’s just not as accessible as it was earlier generations.

Tyler Jones: Oh absolutely. And I think our, our world of shrunk significantly, right? What we see in terms of new social media, everything I can communicate with someone. Heck, my husband lived in Japan for three years when I was in college, and I was able to talk with him on FaceTime every single day. And so to have that wider breadth and understanding of what’s around us, I think that’s everything from, yeah, the world’s a big place, but also I could go get this job over here in New York City because it looks super cool because so-and-so that I connected with back in college is now showing up telling me about it on LinkedIn. Right? It’s all connected. And so as Millennials, I’m not really wanting to sit still and just sit in that same job for 35 years because there’s a lot of other really cool things I can go do. And I’m now aware of it where I think older generations weren’t as aware of that. Because they saw what their newspaper put out, right? Maybe that evening news,

Jenn DeWall: They didn’t have the same access to information and globalization wasn’t necessarily what it is today to them. And so knowing that, again, Millennials have different choices, and it’s the challenge back. Who’s to say that if you were in our shoes and saw this amazing job opportunity when you were my age, that you wouldn’t leap for it? Right? So it’s, you know, some of that is there’s just that exposure, you’ve always had options and so you know that it’s not just, you’re not stuck in one place. You can see the options

Tyler Jones: And something I think companies can also do is provide that flexibility, right? There’s a very high chance that maybe one day we want to pick up and go live overseas for a few years. Can I still work my corporate job just remote from Europe? Yeah. In a lot of ways, I totally could, and my company actually supports that where I think some of these other companies have, you need to be in the office every single day or you need to be filling a seat. That’s just not feasible anymore. That’s not something that is going to keep. Millennials don’t want to come in and just warm a seat. We want to be, again, doing something impactful every single day, and I only have 24 hours in my day, and there’s a lot going on. I’d to be able to get my job done and then be able to go do whatever else I need to be able to take care of for the day.

Jenn DeWall: Yeah. Which brings up that you don’t live to work, which is a phrase that can be associated with the Baby Boomers you work to live and even just those remote options or that flexibility does allow you to be able to live more. You can still give to your employer, but then you can still, you know, invest in your life outside of work. I would say that Millennials are still very, very, very willing to put in the long hours, but it has to be worth it. I think sometimes there’s the misconception that Millennials just want to come in at eight and then leave, you know, right at five or whenever they’re supposed to leave. But it all depends on how much you’re connecting that purpose and how much you’re giving that flexibility because Millennials do realize that life is short. Everything that we worked for our parents worked for wasn’t necessarily granted to them with the recession and everything that they lost. So I’m not going to spend my time just working and hoping that this is going to work out. I’m going to maximize the short life that I have. There’s just a different shift in terms of Holy crap; things can change in an instant.

I want to make sure that I’m really enjoying this. There’s also the pressures though I think on the flip side of yes we enjoy this, but yes, a lot of Millennials are still very hardcore perfectionists. They have a high need for external validation, and so they will do whatever they can to make their boss happy, their peers happy. They want to do their best. Yeah. We want the flexibility. We want to do our, and so yes, we still think are very similar but different from our Baby Boomer parents,our counterparts that we want to work hard. The difference is we just need more of an understanding of the connection to us. Whereas maybe some Baby Boomers were taught you should just be happy you have a job or look at these benefits that you have. And Millennials are, well, if I don’t have this job, there are others, I have the internet, I can see all of these other places. I could also move to another place. We’re not as geographically fixed as some of the preceding and earlier generations.

Tyler Jones: Oh, absolutely. And kind of was thinking about this as you were saying all of that, I think because of what we were taught growing up, right, we were taught I statements and how does that make you feel? We’re probably a little bit more emotionally attached to everything in our lives in terms of, and I could be offending a million people saying this, but I do not intend that at all. But when I’m going into work, I want it to make me feel good. I want to be doing something with that impact, with that passion. And I’m very aware of that. Instead of just, I know if I clock in from eight to five, then I’ll get that retirement package at the end of all of us. Because again, we weren’t promised that mostly with how today is society’s going. We aren’t going to get anywhere close to that. And so having those two different balances, but I think the flexibility for that is key. And then just having that passion behind it because I want to do other things, right? I don’t want to be necessarily a stay at home mom; my grandma and mom were, which was great that they had that opportunity. But that’s not again also feasible in today’s society. So how can I have it all almost especially as a woman in the workforce?

Millennials and Money

Jenn DeWall: Yes. And it’s the have it all, and things have changed. It’s not as easy to be a stay at home mom as it was back in the day because life is more expensive. We have more debt that we have to pay off. That has now a luxury to be able to go into that. And also in some ways it’s not reflective of, I would always say the need to have maybe that collaboration, feeling that Millennials love of feeling connected. It’s a little bit more isolating I’m sure for the stay at home moms when they don’t have that. I’m not a mom, so I could definitely be talking out of turn. But we’ve talked a lot about, you know, what Millennials want. They want flexibility, and they want a clearly defined work path. They want a culture that they work for that they love working in. Where do you think money falls into that?

Tyler Jones: And that’s hard. I think I struggle with that personally. I don’t talk about money with people. It’s just uncomfortable for me, probably partially because of the recession. Right? I saw all of that huge thing explode. But at the same time, I see all my friends doing really super cool things and buying houses and going on amazing trips. I need to be able to afford my lifestyle. And that’s something, and I don’t necessarily have the experience in being able to ask for either. And so a lot of those money conversations I have, I’ll pass by a mentor or my dad or someone beforehand to be, okay, as an older generation who’s going to be receiving this conversation, like my boss or my manager, how do you take this? Because I know how I feel money definitely needs to fall into that, but it’s not the top of the line either. But it’s still that uncomfortable feeling of yeah, I know we have to talk about it, but it’s probably not going to be my favorite day of the week, and it’s going to be really super uncomfortable, and I need it in order to afford living in Denver. But I don’t know how to bring that up either. So it’s something that I’m continuing to learn about. But it, I said it with all those different factors, I don’t think it’s top of the line. It’s not bottom of the line either, but it’s on that list.

Jenn DeWall: I think it’s important. I think it’s a necessity based on even just the debt, right? For those that have student loan, it’s a necessity, but it’s still not necessarily the number one reason Millennials will even drop a job to be doing something more exciting and get paid less for it.

Tyler Jones: Yeah. You think of all the entrepreneurs, my sister has started up her own company, and she completely quit everything and was, all right, this is what I’m doing. Had no, set up clients at the very beginning and just said, I’m going to figure out a way to make rent this month and doing what I love, and she’s killing it. I’m so proud of her, but that’s a huge option right now. We’re able to do that, and we see people doing that again with the social media aspect, but how do we make all that work and how to companies bring that into play when they’re recruiting Millennials as well, I think is it’s, it’s not something that they need to be advertising top of the line, you’re going to be paid this much. Yes.

Jenn DeWall: It’s still something to bring in. And I think that there’s a baseline understanding with all, with how tech-savvy Millennials are and then how many companies actually provide salary data, on Glassdoor or you can go on, and you can see what someone’s making and you’re looking at that. And so there is an expectation also when you go to the negotiating table, you want to understand how this is a baseline and where you fit into that. Or if you’re not at that level, what is it going to take to get there? Because you know what’s achievable because it’s on their company. What parts on, you know, a review of from former employees that have worked there. So it’s, it is interesting the way that, you know, money plays out, and it’s, I love that money is something that’s still a, it’s just a learned skill of negotiation I think is something that at levels, I don’t even think that’s a generational issue so much as talking about money as hard.

What do you Love about Working in a Multi-generational Workplace?

Jenn DeWall: And that requires us to really think about our worth and our value. And you know, it’s, there’s just a lot of emotions wrapped up into money sometimes. Yeah. And on the flip side, you could also just say money is money, right? Hey, I want this. If you can’t offer it, I’ll go find something else. There are those efforts too. We’ve talked a lot about what Millennials want. We haven’t maybe talked as much about what do you, about what we love about all the other generations. And so I want to give some love because I don’t want to make it sound like Millennials don’t appreciate the other generations because we absolutely do. And we all need to work together to create a common goal. It’s just about understanding that we all came up in different ways, in different backgrounds and experiences, technology, economic events, historical events. But what do you love about a generationally diverse workforce?

Tyler Jones: Everyone comes in with those different views. And that’s something. I think it took me a little while to understand where that was coming from. But I highly value that. So when I think of the job, I actually just accepted and started in a few weeks ago. Part of the reason why I picked that team was that we had people on the team of all different ages. They all came from different backgrounds. They didn’t maybe necessarily all grow up within my company. And so because of that they’re coming into these project management kind of tasks, and we’re all working together as a team to say, Hey, what’s the best way we can do this? What’s the most efficient way we can do this? But I’m not going to have the same life experiences that my peer has, who is 20 years my senior, but also has done all these really super cool jobs leading up into this.

Tyler Jones: And I’m just so excited to sit back and soak up a sponge. All of this knowledge because I know that all have something to bring my opinion. Still value, well valuable. But there’s so much still to learn from these other generations. I think of Baby Boomers; for instance, they often are those people who can really put their heads down and do really hard work but walk away. And I think they’re probably from the Baby Boomers. I know there are some of the happier people who are just really happy with simple things, and that’s amazing. I, I strive to have more of that, or I think of the GenXers and watching them just have so much, again, wealth of information in terms of experience, but then also they’re helping bridge that gap between us and the Baby Boomers. I don’t think I had the opportunity to work with all those different generations up until joining the large company I work for. And now I’m thinking moving forward in my career, I’m going to need some aspect of that at all times because it’s just so valuable to me. In solving those problems and I tend to be a problem solver. That’s what I to do. So I need those different people to work with to continue to grow on that.

Jenn DeWall: Yeah. We need diversity. And that is the beautiful thing about multigenerational workplaces, that we do all have different backgrounds and experiences and ways of approaching things. And instead of saying, Oh Baby Boomers are awful at this, Millennials suck at that. They’re not great here. What are the ways that we can come together and learn from each other and appreciate our differences or how we look at things? You know, I do love the Baby Boomers that have a really strong and compelling work ethic to say we can get these things done, and here’s what you have to do. It is very heads-down, and they’re drivers, and they can accomplish so much. And I also love the Gen X approach, where they are a little bit more hands-off. They want their independence, they want to do what they’re doing, and they are in leadership roles, but they also allow people, I think especially those that report to them, they allow them opportunities to have more independence and autonomy, which I think looking at a lot of Millennials that report to Gen-Xers. That’s something that’s really nice because when we have more autonomy, then we have more opportunity to connect what we’re doing with that purpose and meaning for ourselves because it’s not restricted with red tape or expectations and expectations are there. But the red tape right there giving you more jurisdiction over how to problem solve. But knowing that problem solving in general, everyone’s going to approach something differently. And the, the deep institutional knowledge that someone has after being in a company for 20 plus years is invaluable in terms of what that does for any type of conversation and how they see things, how they can, you know, their strategic thinking skills that are so much more accelerated because they have that big-picture view, and it’s, you know, Gen X too of just kind of playing that they do play off of Baby Boomers and Millennials. I think that we all are a little bit different where there’s a lovely way that we all can agree to disagree or bring up different points of view and still get in there. And I think Gen Xers are still comfortable being in that middle. I mean, they’re the ones that don’t necessarily get the glory because they’re the smaller generation in between the two. But they really are that stability, right? They are very independent. They’re very self-sufficient. They can do what they need to do, but we need multi-gen and we also need to appreciate everything that every generation brings. And you know, really looking at it as every person you meet, regardless of their age or generation, is your teacher and your student. You can teach them something, and you can learn that. You can learn something from them. It’s not just a one-sided that just because you have this in-depth knowledge that I guess we all have to look at you. There’s just different ways that we approach things, and you know how we look at a problem and that we can all learn from each other.

Tyler Jones: Yeah. And I think when you were saying all of that, I think most of my mentors right now are about Gen X or the end of, or the start of Millennials. And because of that ability to give the autonomy or give that independence, I’ve probably learned my most from them right now, but that’s just because of those people that they’re the people I’m working with where when we bring in all three of those generations together and pretty soon, if not already, I’m bringing it in Gen Z into the workforce. Right. They start this year, last year, and to get that, that wide variety of views is just so impactful, and I think it’s going to accelerate whatever company product that we have on the marketplace.

Jenn DeWall: Great. You’ll be more innovative and more disruptive, and it’s the power of numbers.

Tyler Jones: Yeah. All those great words.

Jenn DeWall: You can do more when you have all those perspectives. Whereas if we limit ourselves to thinking that, you know, even if organizations limit themselves to just the boomers that are sitting in a room to make a decision and it’s not necessarily boomers, it could also just be people of a certain level. They’re missing out on the point of view that people have within different operational points of the business and how can we continue to open up a dialogue or create lines of communication between everyone so we can grow and we can become even more interconnected and stronger together.

Tyler Jones: Yeah, and most companies and their clients are customers are multigenerational for the most part. And so how do we, you’re going to need something from a marketing standpoint that appeals to Millennials, which is going to be very different than what appeals to Baby Boomers. You can’t only pick one of those for the most part unless you’re AARP.

Jenn DeWall: Right. Where you’re serving the retired people.

Tyler Jones: Serving one specific generation. But when you’re serving today’s work, a world of so many different generations, how do we bring all of those people? It’s only beneficial for those companies to bring everyone together.

Jenn DeWall: Yes. Well, it did pay attention to the fact that they are different. Market segmentation is a must to stay relevant because we don’t want the same things because we haven’t all had the same experience. And so it’s, it’s on, you know, it’s not probably the best business decision to treat us all the same because we have very different ways of looking at the workplace, which, so this is the leadership habit, workplace or leadership habit podcasts and talking about leadership, what do you think is important to, in a leader of a Millennial, what do you think that you need from a leader?

Tyler Jones: I need that inspiration, which is probably asking for a really tall order, but I do need someone who’s, this is our big picture. This is why what we’re doing is super cool or going to change the world. And that’s, again, putting in a really tall order. But I need to kind of see that I need to have someone who tells me when there’s an opportunity for me to grow or, and maybe just answers my questions when I’m asking for that feedback, but also allows me to say, all right here, I understand you’re wanting to continue to learn. Here are some ways that you can continue to do that. I think those are the two most significant things I need to have that drive or passion behind it, and I need to see a direction forward than if I have a leader who can kind of do that and allow me to grow and allow me to see that amazing picture. I’m, I will do whatever I can. I said to work super hard for you because I know I’m waking up every morning doing something great.

Jenn DeWall: Yes. Make the why connection, build the why and I love what you said because I think oftentimes they think that Millennials are just anticipating what their next move is they’re going to go but really know if you connect me with what we’re doing, and I can see how I play it, you know, a part, whether it’s big or small, that excites me. That makes me want to work harder for you.

Tyler Jones: Yeah. That’s awesome.

Jenn DeWall:  If you can find that in any different industry and an organization cause we are all different and motivated by different things. I have plenty of friends that think that leadership development is not necessarily as compelling and exciting as I do. But you know, at the end of the day, whether you are whether you’re a real estate agent or whether you’re working in healthcare or any industry, it’s connecting to what you do because then in many ways we are all making the world a better place through our organization. But sometimes the employer just has to do the due diligence to kind of create that story and start connecting that and infusing that into their organization so people can be united towards that time. And that common goal because I think it is important for Millennials to feel a part of something. I want to feel I’m a part of creating change or making acts impact. And so the more that employers can do that upfront in anticipation of that new Millennial that’s coming in, the more likely that they’ll have at retaining and engaging that Millennial. 

What is Your Leadership Habit?

Jenn DeWall: Taylor, I’ve loved our conversation today. It’s been so fun. And I just want to ask you one final question that we ask everyone, which is what is your leadership habit for success?

Tyler Jones: So my leadership habit, I see it as a very beneficial, sometimes other people around me will say it’s kind of obnoxious. But again, growing up with all these different sources coming in with information coming at me from all these different places, I struggled to remember what all we needed to get done for the day, whether it was everything from work to personal to what I needed to buy from the grocery store. And it was, if anything, every single new piece of information that would come in, I would forget everything else. And it drove me bonkers. So I literally do the old fashioned thing and write lists all over. I have a notebook that never leaves my side. And even if I’m in the car and I come up with a thought, or I’m getting ready for the morning, and I get hung up with the thought of what needs to happen again, continue to make my impact on the world for lack of better terms. I need to have that all written down so that I can really focus on actually using my brain for good. And if I have those lists of things that either need to get done or I need to keep somewhere where it’s safe. So that’s my leadership habit. I keep a notebook and write a list every single morning. And that’s my start today. 

Jenn DeWall: That’s awesome, though. I mean, it does, it can reduce your stress because you know what you’re supposed to do instead of trying to remember or jog your memory to recall that. And so it’s a lovely habit, right? Prioritization. That’s how we can accomplish great things. We have to keep our, make sure that we’re getting those small tasks that lead up to those big things. Exactly.

Tyler Jones: And to make sure that those are off my plate so that I can focus on some of those bigger things too. I do not have to remember going to the grocery store because I know it’s already in my calendar in my notebook, but I can then

Jenn DeWall: You can just tell Alexa now.

Tyler Jones: I could, I have to work on that! And then actually be able to be present in those conversations that we’re having at work.

Jenn DeWall: Yeah, and that’s great. The overstimulation is real, so whatever we can do to ground ourselves in our moment.

Tyler Jones: Absolutely. 

Jenn DeWall: Thank you so much for being here, Tyler. I really enjoyed our conversation, and I hope everyone else enjoyed this too. If you want, you can connect with Tyler on LinkedIn, and you’ll find that contact information in our show notes. Thank you so much, Tyler.

Tyler Jones: Thank you so much. This was so much fun.

Thank you for tuning in for our discussion with Tyler Jane Jones, about her experience working as a millennial in the workforce today. Tune in for next week’s episode. When we talked to Gen Xer, Manny Martinez, president of Relentless Leadership, LLC about how working with different generations can be a positive and rewarding experience.