My family and I just returned from a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. While I possess a fairly extensive record of international travel, this was my first trip to Southeast Asia. Each trip to a foreign country possesses its own remarkable aspects but the idea of visiting countries as “foreign” as Vietnam and Cambodia came with both excitement, as well as trepidation. Let me just start by saying, it was fantastic! The people, the culture, the history, the food, all of it.
As usual, my family tends to cover a lot of ground, literally, in a short period of time. In this case, eight flights in two weeks. Our itinerary didn’t leave much time for lounging around, we wanted to ensure we packed in as much as we could because each region is so vastly different.
Now for the backstory as to why we headed to Southeast Asia in the first place.
Our 24-year-old son has been living in Indonesia for the past fourteen months as a Peace Corps volunteer, teaching English in a 900-student Islamic school. His journey across the world was prompted after two years working as a Congressional staffer in DC. One day he called his mother and I to inform us that he wants nothing to do with Washington politics. Our children are wise beyond their years at times.
Since he’s been gone, we’ve only communicated with him via video on What’s App – thank God for technology, but it was time to catch up face to face.
The journey to see him was a grand adventure unto itself!
Before you start having visions of luxurious resort locations in Bali, our son lives in the mountainous region of West Java. Exotic, yes, luxurious, no! Bathing consists of pouring a pot of cold water over your head. My son claims that he will never get used to this. Without providing too much detail, there are no flush toilets (there is actually a Peace Corps blog called Poop in a Hole). All the more interesting due to some of the strange cuisine that he eats, such as chicken heads and cow skin. Yum. Oh, and by the way, there is no use of papier hygienique. Who says millennials are soft!
While in Vietnam and Cambodia we ate what most would describe as exotic foods, certainly as compared to most American diets. My son disagreed and claimed that the food was far more mainstream than his daily diet. Come to think of it, he was the only one who did not suffer from some sort of intestinal distress on our trip. I told you it was an adventure!
In all honesty, my wife and I were not quite sure where our son’s two-plus-year stint in the Peace Corps would lead. We have been assured that this is not an attempt to postpone entry into “real life.” In fact, we are now convinced that this experience fosters both personal growth, as well as being a resume builder, especially for someone who aspires to work in foreign relations.
It was great seeing him, and to say we are proud parents is an understatement. I also have a new-found respect not only for him, but for his entire generation. Many are fearless and embrace life for all that is out there. They want to be a part of the process. Perhaps that’s why he thought Washington was a good place to be, but soon discovered he was better served at ground zero, helping people not writing policy.
So, do Millennials have character – you bet. Am I worried about this generation being “in charge”? Absolutely not. My son is not only surviving in a third world country, he is thriving. There’s something to be said for real-life experience, the stuff you will never learn in college.
I’m just going to come right out and say it: I think the younger generations get it. I know, I know there have been countless articles written about the generation divide, the Boomers versus Millennial debates, but I’m going to add one more to the mix. I’m not going to bash the idealism of the younger crowd, in fact, I embrace it and I encourage you to open your mind and put yourself in their shoes for a bit.
If only I had a dollar for every time I conducted a candidate interview during my career and I was asked, “what is the company culture like!” Yes, it is universally the most frequently asked question during an interview, a networking conversation, or cocktail party when discussing where someone works.
“Culture Fit” is a buzz phrase you may have seen and is often heard around the water coolers in any executive search firm or HR/Recruiter meeting. Generally defined as: “The ability of an employee to fit the core beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that make up an organization.”
I have to admit, I’ve always been skeptical of those pop psychology claims of the one thing you need to do to be successful. Most of those claims are simplistic views of the problems we face or a single concept taken to an illogical conclusion. Having said that, I now find myself making a case for what I believe to be the one true key to lasting success. That key is self-management.
Innovate or Die. Often the mantra of CEOs and entrepreneurs. Stagnation of ideas and lack of change leads to lost market share, drop in retention rates in both clients and employees, and simply isn’t smart business. This is also true on a personal level. Nothing happens in the comfort zone – right? When we resist change we get stuck, resulting in lack of forward movement. That comfort zone could also be your danger zone. How often have you missed an amazing opportunity because you were afraid? Missed out on reaching a goal because you didn’t push yourself just a bit harder – a bit outside what you deem “easy”?
In my line of work, I speak with a lot of potential hires on behalf of client organizations, so it’s not surprising that I’ve learned quite a bit about what candidates want and don’t want from me and the companies I represent. We believe that what makes KMR’s search process different from every other firms is our focus on becoming an extension of your business. We learn the ins and outs of your company, what makes you different and unique, so that we can represent your brand and your culture in the candidate marketplace. Beyond the job functions and expectations, we consult with a client organization to fully understand their marketplace, their culture, their pain points so we can provide to you a short list of the highest quality candidates for the role, not a long list of possibilities.
For the first time in history, four generations are working side-by-side in the workforce, including the Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Ys (or the much talked about Millennial Generation) and it’s expected that number could rise to five generations by 2020. Many current leaders are on the brink of retiring in record numbers, and it’s estimated that around 66% of all U.S. businesses are owned by Baby Boomers.
Team building can conjure up visions of high ropes courses and team scavenger hunts that are meant to build teamwork, trust and collaboration among employees. While activities can be useful, developing a team is less about scheduling offsite retreats and more about daily habits that build a strong culture.
A McKinsey study found that more than 90% of CEOs planned to increase investment in leadership development because they saw it as the most important human-capital issue their organizations faced. And for good reason – strong leadership in an organization not only drives results but is critical to a company’s success and overall health.