This is the post I’ve started to write multiple times. Each time I feel like a middle-aged whiner, so I trash it and go about my day. But I just got off the phone with my Rabbi who put this into perspective (he didn’t realize he was doing so as his quote is completely out of context here, but go with it). He said, “If I were starting a business, would I go to you for advice, or your father?” For some background, I’ve been running this business for 10 years. My father, now retired, ran his business for 45 (that’s a photo of us the day he announced his retirement in January 2015). Of course, anyone with half a brain would call my dad for business advice over me, because he’s seen it all and done it all and he’ll tell you that running a successful business is really just about being able to put out fires. Me? I’m still too busy putting out those fires to tell you that. The point is… life experience counts – A LOT.
This week I had such a difference in the types of conversations I held and this whole thing came full circle. The first conversation is with a new client, an 80-year-old author and psychologist who came to me to help her. She’s interested in learning, she wants to handle the social media for her book launch herself, but wants guidance, education and consultation. She asks great questions in each conversation and she’s open to knowing what she knows versus what she doesn’t know. That has been a great conversation threaded through my week.
Now let’s get to the opposite extreme, and I’m going to try not to get into the weeds too much. I have a client who has hired a college intern for the summer. Like most college-aged people, she’s a regular social media user. A regular user of a personal account is going to know a lot about how the platform functions from a non-business perspective. Posts, captions, tagging, hashtagging, these are likely part of her everyday walk through life. But a business account is different. I feel like I just wrote about this as recently as a year ago.
A few weeks ago, while trying to educate himself, the client asked the intern a few questions which [yada yada yada] led to some detrimental work done to the account by the intern. This included unfollowing strategic partners with whom we regularly engage and deleting a new post which had not yet attained the anticipated reach. For those who don’t work in our industry, the bottomline here is both of those things are bad and will result in penalties against the account. None of that is good for business. I think what bothered me most about this is that no one gave permission for that to happen, and it didn’t fall in line with the years of strategy we had built.
Listen, I’ve been in the workforce since 1995 so I have certainly made my fair share of mistakes. That’s how we learn, right? So giving the benefit of the doubt, I chalk this up to immaturity and our team has stepped in to rebuild what happened here, at no charge to the client.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet this young lady and here’s where I’m going to put my foot down. And yes I said “young lady.” The attitude across the table was insulting, rude and unconscionable. She had the gall to tell me a post [she was not authorized to publish] was “better” than posts my team has crafted and published. If you are an intern, your job is to listen and learn. I’ve been there. I was an intern for multiple companies throughout my college career. Some were paid, some were non-paid. What I always understood in that role was that I’m still in college and it would be impossible for me to know everything, certainly not more than the person across the table who has more than 20 years of professional experience.
So, my message for the next generation of workforce members: be quiet. Learn. Listen. Contribute where it makes sense. Do not insult people. Understand that working on projects for which you were not hired is not your job. Stick to what you’re good at and excel there – let others see how good you are and then move into new positions and up the ladder. You AREN’T going to be the CEO a week after graduation and you aren’t going to move in and take over someone’s job that quickly. This isn’t just about knowing how to use a tool. It’s about professionalism, communication and integrity.
Is this generational? Are people younger than me entitled? Am I too old to have patience? Maybe all of this is true. But maybe not. I do know that as my business continues to be successful, I’ll continue to hire people with years of experience and a proven track record of respecting their elders. As always, thanks to my team of professionals for all that they do.by