Interview with Dan Negroni: Unpacking the Millennial Generation

Dan Negroni is a coach, consultant, facilitator and keynote speaker for today’s critical cross-generational issues, bridging the gap between managers and their millennial workforce to increase employee engagement, productivity and profits. Dan leverages his authentic, no-nonsense approach and a successful 20+ year career as a CEO, attorney, senior sales and marketing executive, to reinvigorate businesses and people. He is the recent author of Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage and Maximize Next Generation Leaders in the Workplace.

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1. What inspired you to write “Chasing Relevance?”

Two reasons both very personal.  First, at home I had to launch my own millennials into the workplace so they could become self-sufficient contributors to their employers and society.  And yet, once I started training my kids and their friends on how to get jobs, I realized how horrible they were at connecting, articulating their value, solving problems and communicating their story and purpose.  I needed to help them develop these skills to make them great prospective employees. If not me, then who?

Second, after managing thousands of people in the workplace, more than half of whom were millennials, my realization was, “Wow, we really suck at connecting with them.”  How can we communicate better, and if we can’t, how will we take care of our customers and grow our businesses?  We need to embrace the next generation of leaders now.

Those two combined experiences got me thinking — how can we solve this problem?  Everyone is complaining about the “problem.” As a matter of fact I haven’t had any audiences or conversations about millennials that start on the positive side. Everyone has a take, and it ain’t pretty.  BUT, no one is really embracing the challenge to create great workplaces that bring together youth and experience. Someone has to; it is our duty to create a legacy by connecting, teaching and guiding the next generation.  Game on.  Embrace. Write.  Edit.  Print.  Share. Impact.

2. What has surprised you most as you got to learn about the Millennial generation?

Their true ability to think deeper and more purposefully and to really care about others.  Also, their desire to learn and grow, coupled with their passion.  However, much the same as other generations it surprises me how few people really take action.  Why wait?  Let’s go get it.

3. What are some of the biggest myths associated with Millennials? How much of it is true or false?

I would say they are both true and false.  The secret to busting myths is to dig in and communicate with each other.  Focus on building authentic relationships that deliver value to the other side.   It is that simple, just not easy.

4. You highlight the importance of working from the inside out. What does this mean?

Love that question.  It means the most important life work skill is relationship building.  Solely because we are human beings, we need each other to win.  You know the whole EQ thing.  The first relationship you focus on is that with yourself.  Truly understand your strengths, values, skills and passion, your brand and how to tell your story to connect.  It is when you understand your own “whole person” that you can impact and empower others.  Hence, start from the inside out.

5. I’ve heard of What’s In It For Me (WIIFM), but not What’s In It For Them (WIFFT). What’s the difference between the two and why does it matter?

Oh yeah they matter.  The world is focused on WIFM, people mostly care about themselves and what they get out of things.  So if you want to win in a big way, change your mindset to WIFThem.  Make it about others. And you will win with clients, bosses, and significant others.  It’s that simple and that effective.  Actually that is another great tip for millennials.

6. You talk about building a personal brandstamp. Why does this matter today?

A brandstamp is your brand, your mark on the world.  It is who you aspire to be.  We like to have you pick three words that define you and that you live by.  Your sort of “credo.”  It is the who you are when no one is looking.   If you keep in mind that this is your focus and message as you go through life you have a mantra and methodology to impact others.  It is super powerful to think about and implement.

7. What’s the biggest advice you’d give to a recent graduate who is in a job that he/she hates?

Their top 3 strengths are (i) flexibility (little judgment), (ii) innovation (questioning) and (iii) the desire for capabilities and learning coupled with a collaborative disposition (team/others).

Millennials lack a true and defined understanding of themselves and their value, the ability to articulate and communicate to connect with others, and an understanding of success as it relates to delivering value to others.  Go acquire the skills you lack, work hard and smart to determine who you are and then share it by delivering value to the world.  Go figure out what makes you happy and be that person.  What happens to you is because of you?