Thirty is the New Fifty

I recently came across this fascinating article from Fast Company entitledThirty is the New Fifty”. The articlethat talks about an increasingly common rite of passage, the day you find yourself working for someone younger than you. Given the country’s demographic profile and social-economic and technological trends, this upending of historic age-based hierarchies is the new reality.

It happened to me for the first time just two years ago and while there was the initial shock of realizing I was old enough to be older than someone (if you follow my drift), this evaporated almost instantly. Instead, I feel blessed that I’m working for my favorite type of boss – the one that gives you all the rope to hang yourself but is right by your side to cut it down just before it’s too late. As I read this piece, I realized that not only was I fortunate to be working with Darren Greeno, Executive Dean of Workforce at Skagit Valley College but I was also blessed to see many of the best practices of inter-generational cooperation, friendship and community cited in the article truly alive in the BAS-AM program.

The age range in the program goes from “just turned 21 and celebrated in Las Vegas” to folks with more life experience. Daily, I watch how the program participants embrace the points raised in this article – those with “digital dexterity” support those who are relative novices. And folks with more life experience coach newer workforce entrants on things such as interview techniques, navigating the art of balance and coping with imbalance. I’ve had my program participants coach me on the finer points of bands whose names I can’t pronounce, smile indulgently when I refer to flash drives as floppy discs and listen intently when we enter into lessons learned from actual workplace experiences. It is a wonderful thing when the sum of the parts become greater than the whole. It’s wonderful thing when you experience yet another way the BAS-AM program is enabling all of us to be effective participants in the workforce and life long learners who seize every opportunity for growth.

Equity and Social Justice

It has taken me a while to write with regards to the national public uprising and dialog around systemic racism that has been going on.  The silence is mainly because I have been processing my own thoughts around these complex and multi-faceted issues.  In all candor, I haven’t known what to say or how to express the many emotions I have been feeling.

I am now at a point where I feel ready to talk with others on this topic. But, I have no answers, only questions, with two main thoughts have been bubbling through my mind

The first is that it is my opinion that we have to put the conversation around racial equity and justice into historical perspective.  As the image below shows,  the period in which Black Americans lived in servitude and experienced legal segregation dwarfs the time that they have not.

Given this, don’t we have a social justice obligation to support our fellow citizens with equity-related initiatives so that the opportunity for equality can become a reality?  

The second is that if we believe that equity means meeting and supporting people where they are at, shouldn’t we be respecting people’s decisions to participate in this movement in whatever way they each see fit? The image below shows the different ways that people are acting on the imperative for social justice and it spoke to me.

It is my hope that however you choose to participate, you do so from a way that feels right for you and that recognizes the critical need for every person in society to have the support they need and deserve for success. This tenet is the foundational platform for the Skagit Valley College Bachelor in Management program whose participants give me cause for hope.

Emotionally Drained

“Emotionally Drained” is the title of this great article I just came across from the Harvard Business Review. The article shares some common sense and practical solutions on how to recharge and to persevere in the face of the turbulent times the world and each of us are facing.

When I find myself getting close to empty, I turn to my program participants for motivation. One encounter via Zoom, Slack, text or Facebook is all it takes to rejuvenate and keep going. Thank you Skagit Valley BASAM – because of you, I’ve got this!

Experiencing the Pandemic and Acknowledging our Uniqueness – the BASAM Way

Here’s an insightful blog from Medium, which discusses how each of us are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic in our own ways. I appreciated how the author acknowledges that many of us just don’t have the bandwidth, the interest, the capability, the resources, the whatever to learn a new skill, bake daily, train for a marathon etc.

I also appreciated that the author acknowledges that for so many, survival is the main accomplishment.

Whichever way they are experiencing the pandemic, I am filled with immense pride when I think of every BASAM program member. 23 of them are weeks away from graduating with their bachelor degree, 20 of them are weeks away from finishing the third year of the degree. Another 27 are months away from starting this journey! To all, the heartiest of bravos – you’ve got this!

Getting Unstuck

Check out this article from the New York Times that shares some great perspective on how to keep motivated and get unstuck when world events make you feel like crawling under a rock. I found it helpful in finding my mojo again – what about you? What is helping you get unstuck?

Marketing Adventures

The year three participants in the Skagit Valley Bachelor in Management program have just completed a Marketing course, where they created a marketing plan for the program. 

Check out this four minute podcast made by one group that tells the story of the program through the experiences of a Year 4, Shailene Gronemyer. https://youtu.be/pYKCTZ90u_s

Thank you BASAM people for all you bring to the program.

Guide to Answering: “What are your strengths?”

In the Skagit Valley College BASAM program, we focus on building the banks of knowledge, skills and self awareness that it takes to flourish in a managerial career. Through this two-year course of learning, we discover new perspective on the things we do well and the things that are opportunity areas. It is interesting to me that many of us can recite a long list of the opportunity areas but we often struggle with communicating our strengths in a concise, compelling and evidence-based way. This article from Fast Company provides great perspective on ways to describe our strengths and why certain strengths are those that employers look for. It made my evening to see that all of these areas are covered and demonstrated in some way by the BASAM program. What great evidence to point to the real-life, practical learning experience that this program represents!

www.fastcompany.com/90234552/this-is-the-best-answer-to-what-are-your-strengths

The Art of Listening

One of the things I’ve always struggled with is listening. I think quickly, sometimes too quickly, and there have been more times than I care to admit that my mind goes on journeys while engaging in conversation. It’s not that I’m disinterested in the conversation – it’s just that I take what the person is saying and let my mind go off on the sparks, connections and links it wants to make. And then before you know it, I’m six miles away from the conversation and coming back to it takes more mental gymnastics to cover my mental detour and to rebuild my connection with my conversation partner.

I’ve worked hard at improving in this area, paying particular focus on listening with my eyes and ears and I’m always looking for tips and techniques to build this skill. So, I was intrigued by this essay in the New York Times by Kate Murphy, author of a book You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters. Murphy shares the findings of her conversations with expert listeners such as CIA agents and focus group moderators. The article is rife with suggestions on how to be a better listener and with some startling statements about the ramifications of not listening well. None made more impact than Ms Hudson’s closing line “…to listen poorly, selectively or not at all limits your understanding of the world and prevents you from becoming the best you can be.”

And so on this night on this night before the first day of BASAM classes in 2020, I make my new quarter pledge to focus 100% on every conversation I have. I further ask any of my conversation partners to call me on it if they see my mind starting to take out its passport for its journey to other places.

Countdown to Graduation

Today, the Skagit Valley College BAS in Applied Management Class of 2020 started the fifth quarter of their program. Their classes this quarter include Data (Evidence) Driven Decision Making, Leadership and Organizational Behavior and a project-based internship. I’m excited about the curriculum this quarter; all of these subjects are near and dear to my heart. More importantly, they represent some of the most critical, make or break areas of management.

However, no matter how excited I get about the learning journey we have ahead of us over the next three months, nothing beats the euphoria I felt when I wrote the first assignment of the quarter. Today, I had the great honor of creating an assignment inviting the Class of 2020 to submit their application for June graduation. As I wrote, tears came to my eyes as I thought about the toil, sacrifices and determination this milestone represents for the class. And then I chuckled to myself as I realized this was going to be one of those assignments with a 100% on time submission!

You’ve got this Class of 2020, the finish line is steps away!