Yep, we’re talkin’ about those damn millennials, again. They are such an important part of society and the economy, yet companies still struggle with how to connect with them as consumers and on the employee side, teaching millennials how to connect with customers.
Dan Negroni, founder and CEO of LaunchBox365, joins Devon and Eric, to talk about the disconnect, the misperceptions, the myths, and the reality of millennials and how companies can maximize employees of this generation and, in turn, how millennials can maximize their experience with employers to attain the skills, mentorship, leadership, and career goals they’ve set for themselves.
Negroni’s book, Chasing Relevance – 6 Steps to Understand, Engage, and Maximize the Next Generation Leaders, is all about connecting the generations. In the book, as with his consulting business, he takes a systematic five-step approach to building getting people regardless of their generation to connect with themselves and then with each other.
Where most generations fail when it comes to communicating is that they rely on the stereotypes, the perceptions, the studies that show X, and the typical “You’re this and you’re that” mentality of grouping people. Negroni argues that it’s not until you dig deeper and start asking the tough, meaningful questions that you start to build understanding.
Companies that enable that kind of open dialogue, they will be able to unlock the full potential of millennials in ways they could not have imagined and the results will reverberate throughout the organization.
Welcome back to SoCap Talks helping innovators built tomorrow today. Here’s your host, Devon Kerns, and Eric Sutfin.
Eric: Wecome back to SoCap Talks, we have the distinct pleasure of having Dan Negroni yet another millennial experts on to talk about not only the consumer side, but the employee side of morals in the workforce. And Dan, you’ve written the book, tell us a little bit about your background, the book and what got you here?
Dan: Yeah, we wrote a book called Chasing Relevance to understand, engage and maximize the next generation of leaders and it’s really a book about connecting the generations. And what inspired me to get here was, we had a workforce of about 4,000, half of which were millennials and I had a couple of millennials coming up through the ranks at home. And it just struck me as strange that we really weren’t figuring out a way to connect with them both in the work side, having them connect with our customers, we were in the RV business and most of our customers were boomers and above and so teaching them how to build relationships, then being younger, the younger generation was a really critical part of customer service, and all those rankings that you see in an automotive dealership. Then at home, teaching my little one town to go get it and no workplace and be themselves and articulate value and make it about others and all the lessons that you spend when you’re a parent, trying to teach your kids how to be great, and create impact for others, kind of all combined to say, let’s take all those years of experience in managing and leading people and let’s create a business and stop complaining about them. You said yet another millennial expert, almost everyone considers themselves a millennial expert, especially if they’re a millennial, but we do it differently. We actually solve the challenge of teaching people how to connect with each other and themselves. And so after 12,000 millennials trained, and after a laboratory where we learned a ton of stuff that’s worked we feared, but, I think we’ve got something here. And I think it’s going to make a difference for people. And and as with all exciting.
Devon: That’s awesome. So I know one of the first things that you really express when we’re having our first dialogue about what makes you different as this expert, you are very, very systematic, and your approach and I love to hear, what is that system? What is it that you bring to the table that really supports these companies?
Dan: Yeah, I love it right into the gusto. Dan, what makes you uniquely different? And what is that gift? And how do you share it with the world and you said it, it’s a systematic approach. And we believe that the system is pretty much a five step system. One, you have to understand the power of relationships, and the fact that it is not about you, whether you like it or not, no matter how old you are, Dale Carnegie said it and How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you can be other focused, if you can be a servant leader, if you could use people’s name, which is their favorite word, if you can use the Platinum rule, which is treating them the way they want to be treated, you will win. So that’s the first part I do I understand myself, my relationship with myself so I can articulate the value I can bring to others.
And once we understand the power of relationships, we go through an assessment, which is what are my strengths? Like, what am I really good at? What my gift to the world and my unique proposition which is what you just asked me? What are my values, my skills and passions on top of that, and what are they going to do for other people? So what’s in it for them in terms of really being able to explain that? What’s my brand? And how do I communicate that, and then the How do I give all that to people like telling stories, telling stories that are connection currency, that Win. So once you follow that trust, and then understand yourself, and able to articulate it in a way that helps others and understand that you’ve unlocked the secrets that it’s not about you, you can sell, you can get the date with the guy or the girl, you can get the promotion, you kind of figured it all out, and we don’t teach it in school. And so our system really is evolved to teach people what they’re not learning at home and they’re not learning in school. It helps them go, I don’t know whether it can save it on this podcast, I would say oh, I want to kick ass. Well, I did it helps them crush it. And when I mean crush it, I mean, really figure out how to connect with the people they need to connect with to make a difference in our businesses or their personal lives.
Devon: You can say anything you want on this podcast, by the way, as long as it’s blunt and serves people and if it if it occasionally needs the accentuation of a fuck or a shift and say it
Dan: I will as as a nation and as a workplace, you know, our employees are overwhelmed. They don’t have time to learn new things. And we really preparing them to be engaged and to communicate and build relationships with both internal peers and external customers. And so that’s a big technical term sucking, but we’re on a mission to change that to make sure that people don’t suck, and they really concrete in back in a way that they want to create them. And, you know, millennials, they’re fantastic. And they’re pushing us harder, push harder to be all we can be, and they are right.
Devon: Absolutely. So thank you for sharing that especially, you know, I wanted to captivate with what makes you different. What I’d really love to dive into is like, What got you here? You’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’d love for everybody to hear a little more about your story and your journey and where this passion to really create systems and not just go out and talk about it came from.
Dan: So, I mean, my least favorite topic is to talk about myself, I’d rather talk about the passion of creating the action. You know, I was going to poor kid which was actually I grew up in the Bronx, I didn’t have a lot of mentorship and leadership. And I was always looking for that mentorship and leadership outside myself, people that would take me away or give me an opportunity to kind of show how smart or how hard I would work or what I could do to create an impact, whether it was you know, going to college on the law school, being working in a law firm, and trying to become a partner at the law firm, taking over business jobs, and running sales teams and all those things really was always looking outside for validation and for how to do that. What I’m realized was the best mentor anyone ever has and it only took me to like 45, which is now eight years ago, the best mentor you’ll ever have is yourself because that’s a person who guides you to attract all those people. And what got me here was shit, I think I figured that out. It only took 45 years. But I figured out it in a way that is clear and concise and bold and full of impact and about other people. Like I don’t do this stuff, because it makes them look good, although, don’t get me wrong, I like to look good. I do it because I want to make a difference. Live. Well, thank you. My hair came out especially good today. But I’m just kidding. Uh, none of that really matters. And actually, there was a point in my life probably at about 45, where I realized the true secret to success was the less I made it about me and the more I leaned in and demonstrated to people that I have their back the more I could create impact for them to change their lives and grow their business practices, and be a better CEO, get to the next level lead people better be a better manager, you know, report better to those people are constituents or stakeholders that had above them, even in the C suite, whether it’s your Board of Directors, by really kind of fine tuning this no bullshit, clear and concise methodology rules are simple.
If we make it about others, what’s in it for them will win every time. And so I the Me is got to go away and it’s got to be replaced with a We and a They and Them and what we’re doing for them. And so those simple principles that were inducted and Jamie diamonds, and Howard Schultz from Starbucks, and Richard Branson date they espouse and they know for some reason, even though it’s super simple to understand, again, we suck at it. And it’s really not easy to deploy. And how do we make it better to deploy this next generation in a way that I would have wished I had when I was younger, which was someone to help me figure out you know, the dot end side because there’s so many dot end side at all these kids are, you know, with ADD and OCD and all the technology, we have so many Dots we could follow. But we’re not teaching about the data side which will attract to the right dot out there in this OCD or techno fast world. And so, um, my journey was the evolution of not having that and then understanding it, and then being able to quantify it in a systematic approach that resonated with people where they said, shit, this is going to work for me, and what he says I want to learn to do, for me.
Eric: So I love that concept. I think that the sooner anyone can realize that, that value of really serving and, and not having to be about you that the more it is about others, and your contribution and you’re just human capital, that you are developing in your various circles of life, from your family, to your work to your community, that that is what success really should be merited on and financial impact will will be a result of it.
So we’re talking about a paradigm shift and a lot of people’s mentality as you understood this and created a whole program around this, there’s often a fallacy or a misunderstanding of millennials believing that they are the ones that have this inherent selfishness that they are thinking it’s all about me, and it’s quite the contrary they are actually are looking for mission based businesses. They want to be able to serve their spending more time and money giving back to nonprofits. How do you work with leadership and millennials included within the workforce to enlighten or illuminate this concept that really more when he was are caring about these things? And how do you shed light on that and work with organizations to help both parties, both generations understand this and then have a conversation around it and unite around it?
Dan: So I love the question I think it’s a great question and the question is, how do you get people out of the perspective which is you’re this and you’re that right? It goes both ways. The millennial think people my age, you know, Boomer age 53 and above our are, you know, set in their own ways don’t like new ideas are not interested in really building relationships, just want to tell you what to do. And we think they’re entitled and lazy and spoiled and don’t care. Most of bullshit, both are completely not true.
Use and experience of two different components and uses us and when you’re younger, and you’re a millennial, your world is all about you and it should. College is a four year degree and you write graduate school is two more years plus in you. And so are we shocked that they talk about themselves? Yes, if we if we ask people questions, and we lean in of anyone, we will see this option. So not to judge a book by it’s cover is so so critical. And it goes both ways. And so what we do is we push people by asking them tough questions like to the boomer really, why would you think that? Have you ever sat and talked to a millennial view? I mean, have you ever do you know what the four things that they want in the workplace, right? Which is mentorship, you know, coaching, they want you they want to learn real skills, and what is your obligation to believe, to teach them that as their boss, or the or the owner of the business? And you follow that? Because if you do that just sticks? Or they’ll stay longer than a boomer actually you’re you giving them feedback? And are you communicating with them? Are you giving them the ability to contribute and be transparent? And in what way? And is it about them? And not about you? Or is it about your customer? And have you spent the time teaching them not and and it authentic, or is it just a bunch of crap, it’s you’re saying that you don’t mean. And so we get in there and, you know, pretty bold in it. And for those people that want to change, they change, they listen, and they opened up very quickly, and they’ll take something away. It’s like any movement, right?
Any early adopter under those people that don’t, they won’t. And the same is true on the millennials. Like when you say, oh, that statement where you’re talking to a young lawyer, let’s say I was at a law firm last week, which shall remain nameless but I was at a law firm last week, a very big one. And all the conversation is about, I don’t get the certain diapers and I don’t get business development opportunities. And I’m not getting enough experience. And I’m not doing this. And I’m not doing that.
Well, the challenges you’ve used “I” 14 times and you haven’t learned how to articulate that you want to do that to make a difference for the firm. So it sounded like hey, I really want to become a partner here. I want to invest my time here. And I’m willing to learn and I would love for you to teach me and here’s the thing that I would love to teach, to be able to be better and to grow and to learn and I’m willing to do it on my own time. It’s just about the conversation of articulating your value in a way that it sprays for the other person to hear it and we call it other focused leadership. And so the answer to your question directly is you got to push hard on both sides to push them out of their their comfort zone, to having them understand that this isn’t about them.
And you know, as human beings, we’re focused in the survival mode and we’re focused on ourselves and it’s a challenge to push people out of it. But when you do, I will say Millennials are actually more apt to be able to shift more quickly, mostly because they don’t have” should have, would have, could have” been my life and all that disdain for what you haven’t created.
Right, dependably, David Thoreau said, “life’s about creating yourself not finding yourself when we’re older”. Well, now mad that we tried to find herself instead of spending the time creating millennials, it’s all about they get creation and collaboration. And so it’s really just looking at the others perspective and, and using words in a way that’s serves them, how are you going to serve your audience same is true with the consumer? And if businesses really understood millennial 75% of the working population in the next nine years, most of our customers 660 billion worth of spend, they realize if I really got and understood my millennial employees, holy shit, that would be a breakthrough of being able to allow us to understand our millennial customers. And we’d make Mo Money and everyone loves Mo Money, so especially when you can give it back and contribute and and have a purpose with it. And so I just think we’re not having the right conversations. We teach people how to have the conversation and feel free to do it in a way that they can respect each other and disagree but yet.
Devon: Agree totally, totally agree. It was really interesting yesterday we were sitting in an event listening to Kevin O’Leary share some data that seemed to be shocking to him regarding the companies he had. And the way he expressed it was I basically have a business now, thanks to Shark Tank in every city across America, and the smallest being 5 million and the largest being 500 million. And when they did an assessment and had an assessment team come in and really take a look at his companies, who were the best and why were they performing and outperforming even companies inside and outside of his investment portfolio?
And what was really interesting was he brought up the fact that today, and I think it has to do with this conversation, the companies that were outperforming the others were led by women, and they had women leadership and or women founders. And do you think, and I would assume that a large part of that is not just because of the women, but maybe the millennials resonate more with their leadership style, what would be your thoughts around? Why that why he seeing that kind of data?
Dan: Yeah, it’s so interesting, like a landmine of questions, right? For her to meet you, man and everything like this. But I’ll say that I love working with women, I think they have a different approach to eat you, right? Emotional intelligence, I think, you know, some of it is genetically inherent in being moms and really wanting to understand and not being, you know, the male Hunter, the agro, and I think they’re there on the whole better at communication and empathy, right. And empathy really is putting yourself in someone shoes in the secret to the Platinum rule, right?
The Platinum rule is, I treat others the way they want to be treated. If you treat your customer, the way you want to be treated by and Starwood has this whole ad campaign, which I don’t understand why they still keep on to it was we treat you the way we want to be treated, to give your shift the way I want to be treated, I treat my wife the way she wants to be treated, I tried for 30 of the 35 years to treat you the way I wanted to be treated, which is just like, hit me in the face with a two by four. But she actually likes me to ask permission before I start talking about things that are important or deeper, all those things. And so I think women just get that universally, and men are much more about contract.
Now, it doesn’t mean women don’t have conquering, don’t have competitive are not super sharp, super smart, but I believe women are better at relationship building, then we are traditionally and that is a stereotype. But I think there’s some science behind all that stuff. And so it doesn’t surprise me one bit and I will tell you this, the others are without women, because there’s such a small portion of the workforce, they are diverse, and they have a diverse perspective.
What scientists showed, and I think there’s a lot of reports on there out there is that when when old white men ruled the world, and maybe they still continue to, but that’s breaking up, diversity was a box we checked, we need a female, we need an Asian, we need a block, right? We need a black female. Okay, we got young people and millennials in general, understand that the cool thing about diversity is that diversity of opinion, create better results, because it pushes us further. And there’s science behind that.
And they’re much more tolerant about sexual preference about religion, about everything, they don’t give a shit. And that’s what’s so amazing about that. They don’t care about black, they don’t see color, they don’t care about age, and they don’t care about culture, they care about human and women have that diverse perspective. That diversity, especially since more of the population, I think by a couple percentages. And in some countries, even larger are women. And there are customers. And a lot of times you’re making buying decisions, especially when it comes to household or consumer goods. So you know, amen to that Kevin O’Leary, I mean, that’s probably the smartest thing I’ve learned.
Devon: Laughs – And what one of the other points you were talking about, you know, a big part of men’s drive is conquering. And I agree, I’ve, I’ve met so many women that are way more competitive than than I am. And I think that’s incredible. However, what I think that competitive nature or that conquering nature led to in some of the data that he gave feedback around was, men have a tendency to set astronomical goals. And it makes it really hard to create a winning team over and over.
Whereas the women in analyzing the data set highly achievable goals. And his reference was, if you’re on a basketball team, and the basketball team as feels like it’s winning all the time, you stay on that team, and with the team that always has this, you know, championship objective, every single time they play, it’s really hard to stay positive, and just want to be on that team. Because you always feel like you’re letting each other down when you can’t achieve those astronomical goals. And so part of his point was, maybe a large group of these Millennials are driven by being on a winning team. But we view them as not actually caring about that when, in fact, they probably do just don’t set these astronomical goals, set something that feels like we’re achieving.
Dan: You know, I think so I love that point, Devon. And I think it’s all about modulation. And the interesting thing to me is I just read an article about the two things that distinguish amazing CEOs from average CEOS and the 2 things where the ability to take risks and the ability to seize opportunities when they come. And if I like in that, you know, just hearing you and experiencing what you’re saying to how women would take risks and seize opportunity, and probably would be much more measured, right. So it’s much more successful, instead of going all the way out, as you know, and then wondering why you didn’t make it, it would be much more progressive. And so it makes sense to me that calculating the risk and calculating how you seize the opportunity at each moment and how you build upon that are probably saying that are much more metric for women. I would say millennials tend to be much more than giving and sharing right and communal as we see some of them really like socialism from a political point, and really wanting to an enough it’s not I don’t have to have all the marbles I can share some of them, so maybe that or they have the data. But again, I would point to no matter what it is, it’s about understanding the people you work with, what they do, what they’re capable of, and being able to implement a leadership strategy around that. And I just think that women are probably, you know, much better.
Eric: So I love there’s the multiple components of the the four threads that you’ve talked about storytelling, leadership, development, and mentoring the like, can you give from your experience and engaging with companies and facilitating these workshops and trainings with them? I want two pieces of advice, one before the millennials that are listening to this about the perspective of the C suite, and how can they understand you’re talking about stories and understanding and asking powerful questions. If you had one piece of advice from your experience, I’m talking with C suite and management, what would that be to millennials? And then on the contrary, for those that are in management, what would you shed a light on or or give them something to chew on around millennials in that perspective, if you had just one, you know, piece from either side of that coin that you could share? What would that be?
Dan: To, to the boomers into the more senior resulting doctors be open, be open to new ideas and collaboration Do not be threatened and welcome information and a progression to what will be because clearly what was relevant 30 years ago is not relevant content. With the exception of what the advice I would give to millennials, which is double down on understanding how to build relationships, I’ll share the most meaningful thing that happened to me this weekend was time I spent with a friend of mine who’s a senior wealth advisor who’s built a huge business billion dollar business and the sales manager in some capacity said to him at the way to succeed is to go go meet rich people.
And the wealth advisor in this particular incident has a very different philosophy. And the philosophy is I treat people the way they want be treated, I see what they’re interested in, I bring value. I focus on kind of the three buckets that Jonathan fields focuses on how to live a good life, Vitality, Connection and Contribution until I approach everything I do enough by going nestling up to I think the rich people are, but understanding what everyone needs from me. And in my particular book, a friend of mine also said, who’s another wealth advisor, “My theory is to help one person a day,” one person a day I’m going to provide value to.
So the senior manager of this the other person I was talking about basically said, “Yeah, I don’t think that’s gonna work, to helping in relationship building, all providing value. It’s more about just going and meeting people.” I’m telling millennials, they have it right. It’s about knowing people, and helping people and understanding the power of relationships,that is the threshold that makes the biggest and best sales people and the biggest and best country realtors and impact players in the world. And so make sure that you have the skills if you’re a millennial to to be able to articulate your story, to get the story out of others, to ask questions and to double down on providing value to other people and making it about that.
Then whatever you do in your career, you will be on your path to learning and growing and getting all the things you want to do and your winning. To the old guys and gals out there that really just see it as just this rubric of we make a certain number of calls, we do the same old bullshit all the time we just meet rich people, are we only people that are going to be able to do something for us, but we calculate every single move is a bunch of crap and over over the lifetime and over the way the world’s working it will not continue to sustain itself.
Will you get lucky at times and other people that are super artful and being manipulative? Yeah, but the more we get technical, the more we can have this talk over Skype the more we’re listening everything and you know and have chips in our bodies to know where we are like the Mission Impossible movie and all that other stuff the more we get like that and more important is to understand that the only difference we will make for each other is not one that’s about being human beings and study that, double down on that double down on being able to do that.
Eric: That is a great perspective awesome philosophy you do public speaking you are all over the world you’re working with companies one on one, how can people find you if they want more information if they want to work with you, what does that look like how can they get in touch with you?
Dan: I am super grateful to be able to speak it keynotes around the world and work with all clients Fortune 100, mom and pop shops and they can find us at DanNegroni.com which is my website we have a company launch box that we work through but you know Dan Negroni I think on Instagram Dan Negroni on Facebook denigrating on LinkedIn and noting and if you need workshops and you need all the training will get you to the right people. We have a great team or 10 or 15 coaches and we just adore and love and as you can tell, are super passionate about not only millennials but the work that we can do it everyone to bridge the gap and create a difference. So, thank you.
Devon: So awesome.
Eric: Thank you. We really appreciate having you on and look forward to continuing the conversation.