My favorite sales book is Chet Holmes The Ultimate Sales Machine. Anyone familiar with this masterpiece probably also knows that Chet Holmes died at an early age of 55. What many people don't know, however, is that his daughter Amanda Holmes, became the CEO of her father's company, Chet Holmes International a year and a half after his death.
Here's why this is an incredible story. Think about this for a moment. You're 24 years old having been graduated from USC just 2 years earlier with a music degree (and a promising performing arts career) and you are faced with an incredible decision to "stay the course" with your original career path, or pivot and become the CEO of your father's incredibly successful multi-million dollar enterprise with more than a 100 employees--most of whom are older than you and have been with the company for several more years than you.
Stepping-Up And Building The Future
So I asked Amanda Holmes how she felt about this incredible situation. To which she replied, "It was daunting at first. Who was I to come into this company and attempt to fill my father's incredibly large shoes? So I just went to meetings and listened. I did a whole lot of listening for several months. Then I started asking questions. People would tell me to keep asking questions because my questions were really good. And so I did. Eventually it became clear that I was, in fact, best suited to be the CEO of my father's company as I had spent so much time with him and understood his vision and how I could play an important part in that future."
And it is at this point that I want you to think back to when you were in your early twenties and ask yourself if you were that in tune with how to come into an established company, listen deeply, ask great questions and decide how to build the future of an already successful company. I'm sure it helps to have an incredible mentor like Chet Holmes in your life, but as we know great advice only gets you so far. You have to be willing to take massive action on great advice in order to reap any actual benefits. This is what gets me excited and why I believe Amanda Holmes represents a mastery that is not typically associated with the Millennial generation.
Breaking Down Stereotypes
Last week while I was in LA, I attended an event hosted by METal, which is "an exclusive gathering of and for dynamic entrepreneurs and change-makers in the media, entertainment and technology space." This was my first event and the founder, Ken Rutkowski, was not at this event. Instead there was a guest MC who showed an Official Comedy clip called Millennials in the Workplace Training Video. It's a spoof training video about "...a new type of worker has entered the workforce. They are called Millennials and they're terrible. Today I'm going to teach you about this new breed of worker so that you can avoid misunderstandings in which you feel the need to fire them immediately."
What struck me about this video is that I'd heard that story before about my generation, Gen-X. It seems that every older generation feels that the up and coming generation is entitled and without the work ethic that got their generation to their desired rung on the corporate ladder. In my previous article, Growing and Thriving in the Age of Mediocrity, I surface a scary statistic that "workplace incivility is costing U.S. companies $300 billion a year and that 1 in 4 Americans have quit their jobs because of incivility at work." A lot of this incivility comes from office stereotypes such as the ones called out in the Millennials in the Workplace Training Video.
One reason why Amanda Holmes' story is such an incredible inspiration is that it highlights such a contrast to the millennial generation stereotype. As Baby Boomers retire and it becomes painfully obvious that there aren't enough experienced Gen-Xers to replace them, it's people like Amanda Holmes that illustrate that there are plenty of Millennials who have mastered business at a young age and are ready, willing and able to take the reins of established companies and help them grow and thrive. Amanda Holmes has a unique perspective on this:
"There is a lot of talk about how large the Baby Boomer generation is, but few people talk about how Millennials are actually bigger than the Baby Boomer generation. There has been plenty of complaints from the Baby Boomer generation that Millennials cannot be hired because they're lazy and disrespectful. But I see there are a lot more similarities than differences between these generations. It turns out that Millennials and Baby Boomers have the same values including family, friendship, and respect. It's just different how each generation expresses these values. Baby boomers show respect with titles like saying, "Sir" or "Ma'am." Whereas Millennials show their respect by giving honest feedback and speaking their thoughts. Same values, just a different approach to honoring these values. Since there are so many Baby Boomers in the workforce, Millennials will have to start taking over companies at an earlier age to account for the massive number of Baby Boomers going into retirement."
And Amanda Holmes should know as she's done just that. I feel very fortunate to have met Amanda Holmes and look forward to learning from her as she flexes her business muscle and takes Chet Holmes International to new heights.