They Want (You) to Be Awesome

You want to know how to attract the best talent? Here’s a newsflash:

Millennials are no different than the Baby Boomers, Gen X or Gen Y’s youth of yesterday.

 

No, the difference is in the world they are living in — the world we created for them. We all wanted to matter, but we were just cogs in the wheel, and we detested it. We couldn’t stand the BS that we were required to do to get somewhere. We didn’t like it, but we didn’t have any choices. Today’s youth understands that they have choices. And, they should.

They deserve to be:

respected
seen
valued
invested in
cared for
listened to
encouraged

They deserve this, because that is how we create a future of leaders that will:

respect
see
value
invest in others
care
listen
encourage

Today’s workforce is seeking something more because they can see what is possible — we made this happen, and now, we need to realize that the job is only half done. We need to lean in and cultivate this generation of leaders and not leave them stranded, like we’ve been feeling with the state of our society that has been handed down to us. The most talented applicants are not looking for a job. They are looking for an organization that will provide them a platform for making a difference.

Your Job is a Platform for Generosity

Today, “a job” is way to make your dent in the universe. To do the things you were put on this Earth to do. Finding a job that makes someone capable of being more than a cog in the wheel is what it is all about — for people who want to be awesome.

The skills aren’t what makes someone awesome. No, it’s more than that. If she is going to bring her best self to the job you are offering, you are going to need to see beyond her resume. You are going to need to see her as a human being, with the gifts that can make a difference within your company. If you can’t or won’t see this, she won’t stick around very long. But I hope you’ll begin to see that it’s not her — it’s you that needs to change.

When I was a kid, I wanted something awesome too. I settled for the status quo and, I was miserable, contributed very little to the community, and, depending on how you look at it, I wasted all that time being mediocre. I choose to see it as my path. But that’s because I am an optimist, and looking backwards isn’t going to take me forward. I didn’t know any better and there weren’t many other options. I didn’t have YouTube, GitHub, or TED Talks to inspire me.

Today’s candidates see beyond this. They know what is possible. They know you can do and be more. They want you to see them. If you can’t, or won’t, they won’t settle. They may take the job today, just long enough to find the next place that might see them, value them, appreciate their contribution. You might see this as disloyal, entitled, but they see it as necessary for their survival. Didn’t we all at one point in our lives? We gave that up along the way. But I hope they won’t. I hope they keep challenging you, (and me) to be better, to build our companies for people first.

Status quo, hourly wages, and a job that just requires them to “show up” isn’t going to help the most talented candidates achieve their dreams. But taking this job now is a part of the process. You are a stepping stone, unless you choose to be awesome. The game has shifted, and, I for one am glad to see this happen.

Awesome organizations recognize talent, and invest the time and the energy in seeing — that not only their employees, but also their customers and vendors are people. Not just an expense, investment or cost of doing business. “Awesome” is in every action, iteration and correction — the human-ness in a business allows people to enjoy coming to work.

And, isn’t that something worth working toward?

Awesome isn’t for Everyone?

Someone might argue that not everyone wants to be awesome. Some people just want to show up. They want to clock in, clock out, and stop thinking at 5:00pm. They don’t want you to rely on them to think. They don’t want to solve problems or stay late, or do anything more than they are told. There’s still a market for employees who aren’t awesome, but are these the kind of employees that awesome organizations hire? No.

The number of mind-numbing jobs that are sought after by talented, brilliant, passionate employees is shrinking. Talented candidates of today don’t need to settle, but if your business isn’t making adjustments to attract and retain these candidates, they might need to move away from your town — and, in 10 years when you’ve exported all of the talent from your city, who will be left?

If you’re afraid of the young kid with ideas, maybe you aren’t ready to be awesome. Don’t expect to have a line of talented, brilliant, passionate people lining up to work for you any time soon either. No, those candidates are looking beyond you, possibly with more than mild annoyance. They don’t need you. They know you don’t “get it.” It’s clear to them that you aren’t going to appreciate them —so why would they bring you their best? They’ll save that for their side job — they’ll go home and log on to their online network and they will build their future — a way for them to feel good about the work they do — a way to make an impact and leave their mark on the world.

There’s a world of opportunities out there — the companies that have embraced this new economy are growing in numbers, and stealing your talented graduates, and creative thinkers. Local community leaders are noticing this: Businesses in small towns who don’t recognize that the connection economy is not shrinking the world, it is expanding the horizons for all future leaders. Eventually, there will only be room for what the people want — and the people want Awesome, Remarkable, Special, Unique — and more than the status quo. Because, at the end of our lives, we will look back and ask ourselves:

did I respect? was I respected?
did I see? was I seen?
did I value? was I valued?
did I invest in others? did others invest in me?
did I care for others? did others care for me?
did I listen? was I listened to?
did I encourage? did others encourage me?

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