20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don’t Get, But Need to Know!

Jason Nazar, Forbes

 I started Docstoc in my 20’s, made the cover of one of those cliché “20 Under 20” lists, and today I employ an amazing group of 20-somethings.  Call me a curmudgeon, but at 34, how I came up seems so different from what this millennial generation expects.  I made a lot of mistakes along the way, and I see this generation making their own.  In response, here are my 20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don’t Get.

Time is Not a Limitless Commodity – I so rarely find young professionals that have a heightened sense of urgency to get to the next level.  In our 20s we think we have all the time in the world to A) figure it out and B) get what we want.  Time is the only treasure we start off with in abundance, and can never get back.  Make the most of the opportunities you have today, because there will be a time when you have no more of it.

You’re Talented, But Talent is Overrated - Congratulations, you may be the most capable, creative, knowledgeable & multi-tasking generation yet.  As my father says, “I’ll Give You a Sh-t Medal.”  Unrefined raw materials (no matter how valuable) are simply wasted potential.  There’s no prize for talent, just results.  Even the most seemingly gifted folks methodically and painfully worked their way to success.  (Tip: read “Talent is Overrated”)

We’re More Productive in the Morning – During my first 2 years at Docstoc (while I was still in my 20’s) I prided myself on staying at the office until 3am on a regular basis.  I thought I got so much work done in those hours long after everyone else was gone.  But in retrospect I got more menial, task-based items done, not the more complicated strategic planning, phone calls or meetings that needed to happen during business hours.  Now I stress an office-wide early start time because I know, for the most part, we’re more productive as a team in those early hours of the day.

Social Media is Not a Career – These job titles won’t exist in 5 years. Social media is simply a function of marketing; it helps support branding, ROI or both.  Social media is a means to get more awareness, more users or more revenue.  It’s not an end in itself.  I’d strongly caution against pegging your career trajectory solely to a social media job title.

execwomen2Pick Up the Phone – Stop hiding behind your computer. Business gets done on the phone and in person.  It should be your first instinct, not last, to talk to a real person and source business opportunities.  And when the Internet goes down… stop looking so befuddled and don’t ask to go home.  Don’t be a pansy, pick up the phone.

Be the First In & Last to Leave ­– I give this advice to everyone starting a new job or still in the formative stages of their professional career.  You have more ground to make up than everyone else around you, and you do have something to prove.  There’s only one sure-fire way to get ahead, and that’s to work harder than all of your peers.

Don’t Wait to Be Told What to Do – You can’t have a sense of entitlement without a sense of responsibility.  You’ll never get ahead by waiting for someone to tell you what to do.  Saying “nobody asked me to do this” is a guaranteed recipe for failure.  Err on the side of doing too much, not too little.  (Watch: Millennials in the Workplace Training Video)

Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes – You should be making lots of mistakes when you’re early on in your career.  But you shouldn’t be defensive about errors in judgment or execution.  Stop trying to justify your F-ups.  You’re only going to grow by embracing the lessons learned from your mistakes, and committing to learn from those experiences.

1123933You Should Be Getting Your Butt Kicked –
Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” would be the most valuable boss you could possibly have.  This is the most impressionable, malleable and formative stage of your professional career.  Working for someone that demands excellence and pushes your limits every day will build the most solid foundation for your ongoing professional success.

A New Job a Year Isn’t a Good Thing ­­– 1-year stints don’t tell me that you’re so talented that you keep outgrowing your company.  It tells me that you don’t have the discipline to see your own learning curve through to completion.  It takes about 2-3 years to master any new critical skill, give yourself at least that much time before you jump ship.  Otherwise your resume reads as a series of red flags on why not to be hired.

People Matter More Than Perks – It’s so trendy to pick the company that offers the most flex time, unlimited meals, company massages, game rooms and team outings.  Those should all matter, but not as much as the character of your founders and managers. Great leaders will mentor you and will be a loyal source of employment long after you’ve left.  Make a conscious bet on the folks you’re going to work for and your commitment to them will pay off much more than those fluffy perks.

Map Effort to Your Professional Gain – You’re going to be asked to do things you don’t like to do.  Keep your eye on the prize.   Connect what you’re doing today, with where you want to be tomorrow.  That should be all the incentive you need.  If you can’t map your future success to your current responsibilities, then it’s time to find a new opportunity.

Speak Up, Not Out – We’re raising a generation of sh-t talkers.  In your workplace this is a cancer.  If you have issues with management, culture or your role & responsibilities, SPEAK UP.  Don’t take those complaints and trash-talk the company or co-workers on lunch breaks and anonymous chat boards.  If you can effectively communicate what needs to be improved, you have the ability to shape your surroundings and professional destiny.

You HAVE to Build Your Technical Chops – Adding “Proficient in Microsoft Office” at the bottom of your resume under Skills, is not going to cut it anymore.  I immediately give preference to candidates who are ninjas in: Photoshop, HTML/CSS, iOS, WordPress, Adwords, MySQL, Balsamiq, advanced Excel, Final Cut Pro – regardless of their job position.  If you plan to stay gainfully employed, you better complement that humanities degree with some applicable technical chops.

Both the Size and Quality of Your Network Matter – It’s who you know more than what you know, that gets you ahead in business.  Knowing a small group of folks very well, or a huge smattering of contacts superficially, just won’t cut it.  Meet and stay connected to lots of folks, and invest your time developing as many of those relationships as possible. (TIP: Here is myNetworking Advice)

images (33)You Need At Least 3 Professional Mentors – The most guaranteed path to success is to emulate those who’ve achieved what you seek.  You should always have at least 3 people you call mentors who are where you want to be.  Their free guidance and counsel will be the most priceless gift you can receive.  (TIP:  “The Secret to Finding and Keeping Mentors”)

Pick an Idol & Act “As If” – You may not know what to do, but your professional idol does.  I often coach my employees to pick the businessperson they most admire, and act “as if.”  If you were (fill in the blank) how would he or she carry themselves, make decisions, organize his/her day, accomplish goals?  You’ve got to fake it until you make it, so it’s better to fake it as the most accomplished person you could imagine.   (Shout out to Tony Robbins for the tip)

TheClickMomentCover300dpi1Read More Books, Fewer Tweets/Texts – Your generation consumes information in headlines and 140 characters:  all breadth and no depth.  Creativity, thoughtfulness and thinking skills are freed when you’re forced to read a full book cover to cover.  All the keys to your future success, lay in the past experience of others.  Make sure to read a book a month  (fiction or non-fiction) and your career will blossom.

Spend 25% Less Than You Make – When your material needs meet or exceed your income, you’re sabotaging your ability to really make it big.  Don’t shackle yourself with golden handcuffs (a fancy car or an expensive apartment).  Be willing and able to take 20% less in the short term, if it could mean 200% more earning potential.  You’re nothing more than penny wise and pound-foolish if you pass up an amazing new career opportunity to keep an extra little bit of income.  No matter how much money you make, spend 25% less to support your life.  It’s a guaranteed formula to be less stressed and to always have the flexibility to pursue your dreams.images (1)

Your Reputation is Priceless, Don’t Damage It – Over time, your reputation is the most valuable currency you have in business.  It’s the invisible key that either opens or closes doors of professional opportunity.  Especially in an age where everything is forever recorded and accessible, your reputation has to be guarded like the most sacred treasure.  It’s the one item that, once lost, you can never get back.

Cordoba, Buenos Aires and Rio! Birds to Bikinis.

This Spring I took a great trip through several cities in South America. Here are some details to help you plan your trip.

Copacabana Beach

Copacabana Beach

The planning process started for me when a friend of mine purchased a Dove Hunting Excursion at the local Ducks Unlimited fundraiser. I received a call from him letting me know I was needed on the team for this trip to Cordoba Argentina!

The Outfitter is David Denies. You can check them out at www.daviddenies.com

La Dormida Lodge, Cordoba Argentina

La Dormida Lodge, Cordoba Argentina

I began researching dove hunting in Cordoba and soon discovered that this was a premier location for the sport! There are millions and millions of doves in the area attracting people from all over the World.

Now I am not a huge hunting fan. I may go pheasant hunting a few times a year in Nebraska or South Dakota. That being said I would recommend this trip to anyone.

We hunted two half days and two full days. Each day the crew prepared a field lunch with fresh filet mignon, pork and ribs cooked over an open fire. This was served on white linen table cloths with more food than you could ever eat.



Field Lunch Set Up

Every evening we went back to our compound where a chef prepared a wonderful dinner. We sat around the campfire at night listening to music and telling stories from the day.

Dove hunting is definitely a challenging sport. Doves fly very fast and even though there was NO shortage of targets you needed to lead those birds and pick out a single dove to hit one. After the four days I had used over 2,600 shells and shot 1,400 doves! Not a bad percentage for an occasional hunter. Check out this video to get a feel for how the hunting goes. It’s pretty wild! Cordoba Argentina Dove Hunting Video.

The crew would gather up the doves, have them cleaned and send them to an orphanage to help feed the children. The dove hunting alone made this a great trip.

Since I had traveled thousands of miles for the dove hunt I couldn’t bring myself to return home after four short days. My friend and I decided to hop on a plane to Buenos Aires and see what that city had to offer! Buenos Aires is only a short one hour flight to the East of Cordoba.

Buenos Aires is the largest city in Argentina and has a rich and dynamic history.

Park Hyatt, Buenos Aires

Park Hyatt, Buenos Aires

We stayed at the Park Hyatt Hotel on Alvear. Wow, what a killer hotel and location. Everything you need is a short cab ride away and there are many shops and restaurants within walking distance.

I would highly recommend setting up a driver to show you around the city. You can get a lot done in a very short amount of time. We paid $50 per hour for a 3 hour tour. The hotel set it all up.

Try the Palmero area for lunch. This is a nice area loaded with shops and restaurants. Take a few loops around the area and pick something out that looks good. We ate outside at a pizza joint that was great.

Another area you must visit is Caminito. This area is also loaded with bars, restaurants and shops. You will find Salsa dancers everywhere and getting your picture taken with one will give you a fun souvenir to take home.

For dinner we went to Cabana las Lilas at Puerto Madero. This is a great restaurant on the

View from outdoor seating area at Cabana Las Lilas Restaurant

View from boardwalk area outside Cabana Las Lilas Restaurant

water. Sit outside and enjoy your dinner as the people walk by on the boardwalk. This is a must if you only spend one night in BA!

An interesting fact about BA is that there are actually two different exchange rates. The official rate for us was 6 Pesos per dollar. Our driver took us to a place that gave us 9. That’s a big difference if you are planning on making any kind of substantial purchase.

After a few days in Buenos Aires I went onto Rio de Janeiro for a little beach time.

Ipanema Beach

Ipanema Beach

Stay on Copacabana Beach. This is a beautiful beach and has easy access to many of Rio’s attractions. Walk up the beach and around the corner to explore Ipanema Beach, the rock formations and relaxed atmosphere is worth soaking in.

Ipanema Beach

Ipanema Beach

Two places you must make time to visit are the Christ the Redeemer Statue and Sugar loaf Mountain. The views of the city are incredible from both of these attractions. After your visit to Sugarloaf Mountain ask an attendant for directions to the pathway down and hike down instead of riding the tram. You’ll see monkeys, lizards and tons of natural flowers and vegetation.

Christ the Redeemer Statue with Sugarloaf Mountain lit up in the distance.

Christ the Redeemer Statue with Sugarloaf Mountain lit up in the distance.

If you need a little taste of the States try The Clover Irish Pub on Copa Cabana Beach. You’ll think you are in Chicago! This place has a great staff and good food.

From the dove hunting to the cool beaches of Rio this trip was amazing! You have to go…

Open Up and Lead!




Several weeks ago we found out that the federal government tracks every phone call we make. On the one hand, it’s unsettling. On the other, if it helps stop terrorist attacks we may consider it worth it. In some ways what was most disturbing about the revelation was its secrecy. Our instinctive response is mistrust: our government wasn’t being open with us. And we all want open leaders.

That’s the lesson in business for companies that are striving to recruit and retain the best talent. When leaders are honest and forthcoming, people feel respected, engaged and invested in the enterprise. Unfortunately, too many leaders still don’t get it: open leadership is the foundation of 21st century success. We live in the age of the individual (some might say narcissist) and old-style, top-down, command-and-control leadership just doesn’t work. It makes employees feel devalued and wary. Just the opposite of what success demands: active, fulfilled employees who are bringing their full talents to work every day.

How can a leader achieve this open ideal?

1) Open door: Everyone in the organization should have access to their leaders. Leaders who welcome input change the entire atmosphere of an organization. Keep your door open, it’s a powerful metaphor for an open organization. And when someone walks through it, no matter who they are, welcome them.

2) Open mind: Brilliant ideas can come from anywhere in an organization. Open leaders listen carefully, welcome off-the-wall suggestions, and understand that clinging to the status quo will soon leave you behind the curve. Refresh and renew your consciousness. Take a class, talk to a consultant, explore a museum. Stretch your mind – like a muscle, it will grow stronger.

3) Open laptop: Many leaders still don’t grasp the power and necessity of engaging and enabling online. Find ways to integrate social media, expert networks, videos, forums, and blogging into your leadership toolkit. This is where employees live nowadays – open leaders must join them.

4) Open standards: Your mission must be stated, but more importantly it must be lived. You have to treat everyone by the same rules. And when a challenge arrives, keep people informed. Nothing undermines morale more than whispers and favoritism.

5) Open heart: All great leaders transcend the sometimes prosaic demands of their organizations and reach people on an emotional level. Make a list of the five leaders you most admire. Bet they all touch something in your heart and soul. I’m not talking about turning your company into a group therapy session, or saying you have to dispense hugs (though hugs can be a very effective leadership tool if done in a way that makes sense to objectives of course), but open leaders aren’t afraid to show some heart in how they lead.

All five of these Open Leadership tools must be employed with sincerity and follow-through. Paying lip service is worse than doing nothing. It’s hollow and people see right through it.

So open up and lead and build this into your company culture. 


Source: Meghan M. Biro