Father’s and Mother’s Day are great American traditions, but I’m not sure I like them. Unhappily, I have a really big problem with these days because I don’t have the goods. My mother and grandmother who were such loving figures in my life are gone. My father, who I take after in so many ways, is gone, too. I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself. My children live far away but will no doubt call or send a card. I’m grateful for their love but I would really like to call my own parents. Just knowing they were around made life balanced and feel more secure.
Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”
–Larry Fink, CEO, $6 Trillion BlackRock investment manager in his 2018 advisory letter
Mr. Fink’s extraordinary, yet seemingly common sense conclusion is that we need to consider caring not only for shareholders but also for stakeholders, especially employees. But is that a likely shift?
Here’s what teenage global leaders-in-training had to say when asked what a young global leader should know. The words of wisdom come from high school and middle school students participating in the American Diversity Report Youth Global Leadership Class. Enjoy their timeless advice and then read what leadership experts said about preparing the upcoming generation of leaders.
For perhaps the first time in the post-industrial organization we have four different generations working side-by-side in the workplace. The increasing diversity resulting from this mix of generations, coupled with an increased mix of cultures, is forcing a seminal shift in both personal and organizational world views. As Millennial expert Lindsey Pollack recently put it: “Stereotypes are silly for lots of reasons, the key one being how quickly they can change given history and context. Years ago it was those hippie Baby Boomers stirring up trouble, and now it’s the “entitled” Millennials overtaking the workplace. Of course, no generation is one monolithic group of people who all behave exactly the same way. So why are we so hung up on generations in the first place? It’s actually important to consider what makes them tick…. In my opinion, learning about people’s different potential identity markers can be a helpful way to better interact with each other. And members of each generation do have traits that differentiate them — a combination of characteristics largely based on the circumstances in which each cohort came of age.”
On special occasions, Veterans & Memorial Day, I reread this letter from a young soldier, my father, Aaron Levine to his dear wife. On the verge of being deployed to Europe during World War II, he wrote this 1944 note. He writes my pregnant mother who came to NYC to see him off, but missed him. My father didn’t see his son until he was one year old. Aaron Levine passed away at age 84 and worked on community projects even on his death bed. Literary, practical, loving, and compulsively methodical, here is his WW II good-bye letter …
Small children have big dreams. As a kid I wanted to be everything from a NASA astronaut to a Major League Baseball star. Yet as most people age and mature their dreams tend to evaporate and morph into something more practical and attainable. But impractical does not mean impossible. That is, if you’re ready and willing to work for it and go the extra miles. As a Gen Xer, I want to share some professional advice for young people who are pondering their dream jobs, preparing to start new jobs, or trying to climb the career ladder at a young age.
It’s no secret that building a strong work ethic helps lay the foundation for future success. But it’s also worth noting that early career success is usually earned incrementally, starting from the bottom up.
In 1986 colleagues Barney Olmsted and Suzanne Smith asked me to join them at New Ways to Work, the original flex think tank, in a national campaign to promote “equitable flexibility.” It was one part response to the promising emergence of Job Sharing, Part-time, Telecommuting – and possibly Phased Retirement – as scheduling flexibility in a range of corporations steeped in industrial habits.
And it was another part defense against the growing popularity of the “contingent workforce.” This strategy of creating a ring of benefit-less part-time, temporary and contract workers surrounding a core of “regular employees” offered companies staffing flexibility – but it was flexibility at the expense of employees. (The DNA of these practices seems emergent on steroids in today’s “Gig economy.”)
As a nation, it is imperative that we make science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education a top priority to address the national STEM workforce shortage and to remain competitive in the 21st century economy. A constant supply of well-trained STEM workers is essential to meeting the goals of finding ways to multiply the impact of investments, supporting organizations that assist underserved populations and use technology in innovative ways to scale their reach to more people.
From the earliest blogs and profiles on Millennials – and there have been thousands – they were described as the anti-formal generation. Popular images painted them as innovating from Starbucks and boycotting performance reviews. No rigid flex options, no packages of stale annual feedback for them.
Times and preferences change. Millennials are quickly becoming the workplace norm, not the newbies. Many seek advancement rather than “job hopping.” This adventurous cohort is forming families in earnest, and with record percentages of dual earner couples. They face challenges that are both considerable and growing.