As technology takes us on a magic carpet ride into the future, the generation gap is fast becoming a continental divide. I say things that make me feel old every day in the office. Oh, the horror of the blank looks on my team's faces when I mention pop culture from the 80s.
Molly Ringwald? Nothing. The Outsiders? Flat line. Teen Wolf? Tumbleweed.
I'm 40. What happens if you're 50 and speaking with a 25-year-old? Jokes aside, your old-school gaffes have never been more obvious, and have never been more detrimental to your career.
1. Please put your phone away.
While speaking to a group of young sales professionals recently, I noticed a young man typing furiously on his iPhone. I politely asked him to put his iPhone away. He politely replied that he was taking copious notes.
You can't assume everyone on his or her iPhone isn't paying attention to what's at hand. Next time, assume they're tweeting the great content you're sharing with them. Or maybe they're posting your words of wisdom to their network.
2. No, you can't work from home.
Millennials value an appropriate work-life balance, seeking out fulfilling work environments over monetary compensation. Assuming they'll be less productive in a home environment versus in office work is dangerous.
Empowering them with the autonomy to work from home when needed will elicit a sense of trust previously unimaginable. If they can't perform their work tasks, they'll no longer work at your organization. Simple.
If someone excels from home, you'll have a happy, productive, and competent young executive. Simple and effective.
3. You've got mail!
You may feel like you're being cool when you hear a chime go off in the office and you shout, "You've got mail."
Here's the stark reality.
Millennials were in diapers when the movie came out (1998). They'll have no idea what you're talking about. They also have no sympathy for the plot line. Small bookstore owner battles a behemoth bookstore. Why would they go into a bookstore to buy a book? Amazon, anyone?
4. Don't forget the four P's!
Super. You took marketing 101 and studied product, price, place, and promotion. Fast-forward to present day. What happens when there is no product?
Think of Uber, leveraging the internet to facilitate connections according to need. No product. You can add Airbnb, Facebook, and Alibaba to that short list.
What happens when there is no place? Think of Facebook. User adoption's only barrier is an internet connection. The adoption of social networking in developing nations is accelerating faster than it did here. They're leaving desktop computers and laptops in the dust, going from nothing to iPhones in one giant leap for mankind.
What happens when prices undulate, adapt, and morph owing to want and need? Think Gilt Groupe, Groupon, LivingSocial, and the like.
What happens when promotions lose all meaning? Options for consumers are endless. When consumers connect on their own and define markets, promotions lose all power. Think of decentralized barter and exchange platforms like Craigslist.
The four P's are dead. Deal with it.
5. There's nothing like an in-person meeting.
It's never been easier to conduct a meeting using technology: GoToMeeting, Skype, FaceTime, you name it. Saving precious time on the road can save your company thousands of dollars a year.
Hand-select only the most important meetings to be in person. Saving time and money will trump the false sense of bonding after flying across the country. Focus on your local market, and increase efficiencies with online meetings or calls.
6. You'll get your information on a need-to-know basis.
Transparency wins. The more informed your employees, the better they'll perform for you.
Hiding chinks in the armor won't foster a sense of security. Uninformed imaginations will create unnecessary anxieties anchored in false information.
The moment you become more transparent in your organization is the moment your entire team gets to work solving your biggest problems. If they don't know about the problem, they can't help. If you foster a rock-solid relationship, you forge a rock-solid business.
7. She's a social media guru.
If you ask 100 preteens, "Are you a social media guru?" I bet 99 would say yes. They'd be 100 percent correct.
If your organization isn't leveraging social media in some form, it's doomed. To say that someone in your organization is a social media guru will only make you sound like a dolt.
So ditch the term guru. Sharpen your social media skill set, and realize that the manner in which we get and share information has changed forever.