4 Insights on How to Take a Seat at the Table

My fellow corporate millennial divas, we often think it takes an executive title to empower us to take a seat at the table. I want you to know that you have the power, the voice and the means to take a seat at the table now. To quote the Glinda, The Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz, “You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

At one of my previous employers, an SVP advised our team, “You have to take a seat at the table and then earn it.” Over the years I’ve lived by this motto. It has led to my presenting to CMOs, regional presidents, obtaining sponsorship to attend an international meeting with marketing partners, being appointed to work on corporate strategic initiatives, and many other opportunities.

As we all know, female representation at the highest decision-making positions is low. So, how do you take a seat at the table when you are not invited to the meeting?

You can take a seat at the table even if you don't have an executive role

You can take a seat at the table even if you don’t have an executive role

Four insights on how to take a seat at the table

1First, get out of your own way. At this very moment, stop giving life to the emotions you feel in connection to not getting the invitation to take a seat at the table. As Melissa Raffoni wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “Check your ego at the door.” The emotions cloud the actions you need to take to grab your seat at the table.

Let’s face it, when we don’t get an invitation to a meeting where our hard work will be shared, it’s inevitable to have feelings of rejection or of not being up to par. The lack of an invitation, however, could be due to reasons completely unrelated to us. For example, that the presentation is to a senior executive who only wants direct reports. The truth is that you will seldom find out the exact reason why you were left out, so don’t dwell on it because your emotions can hurt you from being a regular at the table.

The negotiation book, Authentic Negotiating: Clarity, Detachment, & Equilibrium, by Attorney and negotiating strategist Corey Kupfer, explains that even major deals are lost because emotions get in the way.

Best thing you can do is prepare for when you take a seat at the table so you can take advantage of the opportunity.

Best thing you can do is prepare for when you take a seat at the table so you can take advantage of the opportunity.

2Prepare to take a seat at the table. To take your seat at the table, you will need to have a conversation with the organizer to understand the details of the meeting and your role in it. Be clear and succinct with your points. And be sure to do a bit of prep work. According to Corey Kupfer, the majority of people bypass this preparation which is a mistake as it will keep you grounded on the message you want to communicate. You will avoid filler words and, as Kupfer says, ‘with preparation you’re much less likely to get triggered into emotions.’

Take a moment, even if it’s 10 minutes, to objectively write down the reasons why you think you should be part of a particular meeting. I have no doubt there are dozens of reasons why you should have a seat at the table, but you need to narrow them down to your top three. The point of this exercise is not to email your top three reasons to anyone. The point is to give yourself clear, concise talking points when you speak to the meeting organizer.

Here’s a great piece you may want to check out on moving from peer to team leader

3Time to Speak up. Once you have your top points reach out to the meeting organizer for a quick chat. Do it in-person if you happen to be in the same office. When you speak to the organizer, ask questions to understand what’s going on in the meeting. For example, what’s the meeting agenda, what is the main objective and expected outcome, who will be present, etc. Once you’ve heard the answers, you can begin to raise your talking points. Speaking up does not always guarantee you’ll take a seat at the table. The reasons why you may get turned down are too broad to even suggest here what to do if that happens. When I’ve gone through the above steps and was still told I could not attend the meeting, I took a step back to evaluate my next move.

FYI, in one case, I went through the steps I listed above and the business partner told me that the senior executive only wanted direct reports. But there have been other occasions in which the business partner “assumed” the senior executive only wanted direct reports, which turned out not to be the case. So after a little insistence on my part that this assumption be clarified, I was able to go.

Make your opinions count. No sense in taking a seat at the table if you're not going to use it to propel your career forward.

Make your opinions count. No sense in taking a seat at the table if you’re not going to use it to propel your career forward.

4Now you’ve got a seat at the table- It’s time earn it. Once you have the seat at the table it’s time to speak up – ask questions, share your point of view. If you are like me, a woman and Latina and non-senior executive yet, you might find yourself as the minority at the table. Now, in a room where 75% of the talking during an average business meeting is done by men – what are the odds you’ll feel confident to chime in?

I was fortunate to have a mentor a few years ago within a former company who helped me breakout of this fear. The mentor was a senior executive and Latina and her words of advice were: “prepare, stay grounded on the facts, you were not invited to look pretty.”

So I share the same advice with you. Once you take a seat at the table you can’t waste the chance to let your voice be heard. You must do it not just for you but also for all the other women, particular non-white women who are out there without that opportunity. And for the benefit of your organization which can sure use a wider diversity of thought. If you stay quiet or just focused on fitting in all of your efforts will have been worthless. Ready to take your place in writing the next chapter of your organization?

If you’re ready to move to the next level and need a bit of help, check out the Red Shoe Movement Step Up Plus program. That’s what they do best!

3 Reasons to Sign up for More Business Trips

Business trips may not be as glamorous as you imagine, but they offer a great chance to network with colleagues and vendors from other areas and to help you develop some critical skills. Read on and you’ll be signing up for the next business trip before you finish this post!

The impact of business trips on professional development

Business trips are on the rise, especially among Millenials. While most people take 6.8 business trips a year, Millenials take 7.4 trips and plan to increase their travels. This is according to a study conducted in 2016 by MMGY Global among 1,007 U.S. residents who took at least one domestic or international business trip in the previous 12 months.

What’s driving the desire to travel more for work? For some, it’s the perception that business trips are just an all-expense paid trip for a couple of meetings, leaving ample time for sightseeing. The reality, however, is that most business trips are filled with meetings leaving you with little personal time. But the true value of a business trip goes beyond the immediate perks and it’s much longer lasting than a day tour of the city you are visiting.

Business trips increase cultural intelligence

Business trips increase cultural intelligence

1Business trips help to increase your cultural intelligence, particularly international ones

Cultural intelligence means having the ability to recognize and respond to cultural diversity and to make better decisions based on that understanding. My experience in traveling globally and domestically for work has raised my cultural intelligence and ability to connect with people. It will do the same for you, regardless of the number of trips you take each year.

Think about the business trips you have taken and make a note of what you recall were the differences and similarities of the intercultural exchange. Keep in mind intercultural exchange does not only happen when you travel abroad. It also applies to when you travel domestically. It’s very likely that the vibe, energy and culture of your office in LA is very different than the ones in your office in Dallas or New York.

Possessing cultural intelligence today is more important than ever as globalization has made companies more complex and competitive. So make the most out of your business trips by increasing your cultural EQ. Employees who have a high level of cultural intelligence play an important role in bridging divides and knowledge gaps in an organization: educating their peers about different cultures.

Taking a business trip on your own can build your confidence.

Taking a business trip on your own can build your confidence.

2Traveling for work will help you breakout of your comfort zone

Business trips will help you break you out of your comfort zone, leading to personal and professional growth. When you travel for work, for the most part you will be traveling alone and navigating through a new city or country on your own. That means, learning to use a public transportation system, figuring out certain customs, perhaps learning a few words in a different language, and a million other little details that have likely become second nature to you at home. Having to manage these new experiences on your own may be hard at first but they’ll make you stronger. So regardless of where you travel or how long the business trip is, the experience will leave you feeling more confident.

On the other hand, you will also be representing your company and team, so you have to present the best version of you. Which means that you’ll do your best not to appear insecure, or tentative in this new environment. Even keeping your composure in a new circumstance will build your character and stretch you out of your comfort zone.

Business trip inspirational quote

Business trip inspirational quote

3Business trips lead to stronger working relationships

Every business trip that I’ve taken has led to improved working relationships with old and new colleagues. It’s an opportunity to nurture relationships with business partners (suppliers, clients, etc.) or colleagues you’re traveling with. It’s a particularly good chance to have some face time with partners with whom you collaborate remotely to fine tune any challenges you’re confronted with when working in different locations.

As you prepare for your business trip set up time to connect with your partners outside of business meetings. For example, schedule coffee, lunch or dinner, if possible. A former boss gave me the best piece of advice, “Teresa, during your next business trip your days need to be spent having face time with local suppliers, insight partners, and marketing partners.” She was completely right and taking her approach helped me establish strong relationships. I still keep in touch with some of the former business partners in other countries and we don’t even work in the same company any more!

Each business trip is an opportunity to gain cultural intelligence, to break out out of your comfort zone and to nurture relationships within your business ecosystem. To make sure you take advantage of all that a business trip has to offer you must do your part. This means, you must go beyond making logistic preparations for your trip and being present at the scheduled meetings. You should go with an open mind, ready to listen to people who might be very different from those in your own office, and seek to learn from everyone you meet.

Sexual Harassment: A Companion Guide for Millennials

A few of my high-power girlfriends came over for dinner recently and by the end of the night we shared stories of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The question that led me to this post was: How do we prepare the next generation to protect themselves against it? Here are a few answers.

This is an unprecedented time. Not a day goes by without another top executive, celebrity, or powerful man being fired for allegations of sexual harassment. Yet, we all know this is just the tip of the iceberg. In a very large number of workplaces across the world, very regular people commit the same kinds of acts and don’t make it to the front pages of the New York Times or even to social media through the #metoo hashtag. And for each one of those cases that has not seen the light, there are victims, often women, who suffer in silence. Who think there’s nothing they can do because they’ll lose their jobs or their promotions if they make a sexual harassment complaint.

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC First Part

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC First Part

Definition of Sexual Harassment

First and foremost, let’s clarify what’s sexual harassment. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

“It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.”

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Second Part

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Second Part

A guide to sexual harassment for the new generation

You may have recently graduated or in the workforce for a few, short years. You may be thrilled to have a job and do what you like. How do you distinguish between teasing and sexual harassment? When does teasing become inappropriate behavior and how do you deal with it? Because, although the law is on your side, we all know that few things are simple. And if the person making you feel uncomfortable has the power to fire you, or get you fired, you’ll likely think twice before filing a formal complaint.

Here are some of the things that go on in most workplaces and that are usually okay

1Harmless teasing. Generally accepted by all employees as being well intentioned and light that doesn’t repeatedly offend someone, or a specific group.

2People commenting to each other how great they look. As long as the comments are intended as a nicety and have no sexual undertone.

3Depending on the culture of the individual, there may be a bit more touching while people speak. For example, Latinos are known for being a more “touching” culture. So as people talk, they’ll touch your arm to make a point, for instance.


Here are some of the behaviors that cross the line and would constitute sexual harassment

1Telling you how hot you are, or how hot you look in this or that outfit, or bending over to pick up something on the floor.

2Insinuations that if you were willing to do certain things for this person you’d be promoted or given special treatment, privileges, etc. (quid pro quo.)

3Open threats that if you don’t do some sexual favor you won’t get Y. Or worse, that you’d be fired.

4Someone exposing their genitals or masturbating in front of you.

5Insistent invitations to “go home” with someone after a professional function once you’ve turned them down. Or, such an invitation from a superior when there’s no mutual interest or consent.

6Insinuations that other women have accepted to do certain things in lieu of getting opportunities and because you don’t do the same, you’re being left behind.

7Inappropriate touch. Meaning, touching that makes you feel uncomfortable. This doesn’t necessarily have to come from your direct supervisor. It still constitutes sexual harassment if this unwanted touches come from a supervisor from a different area, a colleague, a client or someone you have to work with who doesn’t work in your own company.

8Ongoing sexual jokes that make for a hostile work environment.

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Third Part

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Third Part

How to Deal with Sexual Harassment in Real Life

You probably don’t work in Hollywood or in a large media company dealing with a celebrity. You’re just dealing with your colleagues and bosses in the place where you work day in and day out. So how do you distinguish whether what’s happening to you are normal, everyday interactions at work or sexual harassment? How do you stop it without losing your job despite having the law on your side?

Signs to look for

  • Repeated behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Others experience similar behavior from the same person. (But remember that you may be the only target of the inappropriate behavior, so don’t rule it out because nobody else seems to be experiencing the same.)
  • Sexual jokes are made at your expense privately to you, or in front of others.
  • The person implicitly or explicitly threatens your career or your job at your organization.
  • You feel unsafe at work.
  • Your promotions are stalled because you haven’t accepted open or implicit advances.

What to Do

  • Record in writing with as many details as you can, every situation of sexual harassment you are a target of or that you witness in your workplace.
  • If possible, talk to the perpetrator and make it clear that the behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable.
  • If the perpetrator is not your supervisor but it is part of your team, speak to your supervisor.
  • If you can’t talk to the perpetrator, and /or to your supervisor, approach your HR team and file a formal complaint. Ask for the employee manual and review the policies there. You might find additional steps that you can take.
  • File a complaint with the EEOC. Depending of where you work, you have 180 or 300 days from the time of the sexual harassment took place to file a complaint with the EEOC.
  • Talk to your friends about it. It’s important to have a support system, as being the target of inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace can be very stressful and impact your self-esteem.

The alcohol effect

It’s a fact. Alcohol has the effect of loosening inhibitions. The amount of alcohol someone consumes before crossing the line of becoming inappropriate or abusive depends on many factors: your biology and your temperament, among others. What’s important to notice is that sometimes, people who are drunk (slightly or completely) may behave in very inappropriate and even criminal ways. Whether they realize it or not, it’s a different story. So two recommendations here: If you are on the receiving end of a drunk perpetrator who harasses you, the behavior still constitutes sexual harassment. And if you are the one drinking in a work-related function, be aware that you may become inappropriate with others without you even noticing. This behavior may affect your personal brand and future opportunities at a minimum and have legal consequences at worst.

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Fourth Part

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Fourth Part

One poignant sexual harassment story

I will keep real identities and employers out of this post and the next one that I will write with your stories on sexual harassment, to protect those who haven’t come out with them. The names below have all been changed.

Mary’s Situation

Many years ago, when she was twenty something, Mary worked at XYZ TV. At a company party, one night, Joe, the Media Director of their Biggest Client’s Media Agency (and the Biggest Client’s Account Executive,) came up to Mary. He opened the V-neck of her dress and peered inside while making a comment: “Just making sure everything’s in order.” This was done in front of a group of mainly women, all of which stared at Mary waiting for her response. Horrified and terrified, Mary froze and couldn’t say or do anything.

How she dealt with the sexual harassment situation

Mary brought up the issue to her boss and to the President of XYZ TV. The answer she got from both men was: “Sorry, Mary. Joe’s a big executive at our Media Agency. He leads our Biggest Client account and we can’t do anything about it.”

Frustrated, Mary called Jackie, a woman she had met once before at the Biggest Client. She was the head of marketing. When Mary told her the story, Jackie knew immediately it was true. Not only did she believe Mary’s sexual harassment allegation, but she had also heard other women complain of Joe’s behavior before. Jackie went to her HR department and told them she wanted Joe fired as their Account Executive. A few days later, the CEO of Biggest Client’s Media Agency (the company for which Joe worked) called Jackie. And here’s how Jackie easily convinced him to fire Joe. “Look Mr. CEO, this is bad business for you. We don’t want to be connected to a company that makes our colleagues feel unsafe. And you really don’t want to face a lawsuit by an employee at one of your Biggest Clients or at one of our media partners.” Joe was fired.

Summing it up

It’s often hard to talk or react at the moment when sexual harassment is taking place. It can be a paralyzing or embarrassing situation where you may freeze as Mary did. What’s important is that you don’t let it slide. That you don’t feel that you did something wrong. Mary was the victim in this situation, but she didn’t remain as a passive recipient of this inappropriate and illegal behavior. She took action and kept at it until the perpetrator was fired.

She spoke the day after it happened with her boss. When she didn’t find the answer she was looking for, Mary tapped her network. She built rapport with a woman who worked with one of the interested parties. In this case, it was not even the company where the perpetrator worked. Jackie knew the best way to get this taken care of quickly was to build a business case. Unfortunate but true, many times this is what it takes to stop sexual harassment in the workplace. When people understand it’s bad for business, they tend to act faster.

Above all, avoid thinking that you’re being harassed because you’re too attractive or not attractive enough. That this is happening to you because you’re being punished for whatever reason. Or that you have to suffer in silence. Sexual harassment has nothing to do with your appearance and a lot to do with power. And most importantly, it’s a crime.

I’ll write a Part II with your own anonymous stories and how you dealt with them. The more we share, the quicker we’ll all learn how to make our workplaces safer for everyone. So please send your stories in!



Young Managers of Older Employees – 4 Secrets to Success!

Are you among the group of young managers whose reports are much older than you? Then, these 4 secrets will make you wildly successful (and popular!)

Two things often happen when millennial managers are in charge of older employees. One, young managers feel they are not taken seriously. Two, they feel like they have to pretend to know things they don’t. The truth is that when you are a young employee and you have little life and work experience, the idea that you have to fully fit in your managerial role from day one can be daunting. It can make you behave in ways that are completely unproductive and that will likely achieve the opposite results than what you seek. (Like constantly questioning your judgement, for instance.)

So to help you avoid falling into a trap, here are:

Young Managers of Older Employees – 4 Secrets to Succeed from day one

Young Managers of Older Employees - 4 Secrets to Success! Read on! | Featured here, Jenny Gracia a young manager, and a RSM Ambassador at a Red Shoe Movement event.

Featured here, Jenny Gracia a young manager, and a RSM Ambassador at a Red Shoe Movement event.

  • Accept that you’ve got what it takes. If you were given a managerial position, it’s because your boss saw something in you besides a degree that qualifies you for the job. You’ve probably had enough volunteer experience with the Peace Corps or helping Habitat for Humanity build homes in Guatemala. Or you led enough student councils, schools newspapers, and debate clubs. Or you might have created your own small business, led a fundraising effort for a school in Africa, or simply impressed your boss with your passion for your community. Bottom line, as a young manager, you bring to the table specific skills, common sense, problem solving, and very possibly, an ability to inspire others. That’s why you were chosen. Embrace it. Remind yourself of your value daily. Create a mantra around it so you can repeat it in times of self-doubt. And believe me, you’ll have a few of those along the way. (I.e.: “I’m a young manager and I’ve got what it takes to succeed.”)
  • Get to know each individual. Leave any preconceived notions at the door. Establish individual relationships with your older reports so that you learn as much as possible about each one of them. Approach the relationship without preconceived notions of how flexible or rigid, outdated, or in need of training this person is. The reality is that people will often surprise you. Show your true self, be transparent in your purpose and you’ll get the best out of every one. And while you’re at it, check with each person the preferred method of communication (email, text, phone, in person, etc.) to be as effective as possible when communicating with your older reports. Successful young managers are known for their flexibility and this includes, using a variety of communication vehicles to deliver their messages.
  • Be humble and assertive at the same time. If you master this fine line you’ll have your job cut out for you. Be humble in asking for the input of your older employees. They are knowledgeable about the job, the company and the industry. Consulting with them will save you headaches, time, and money. The more you make them feel included in the decision-making process, the better they’ll respond when you make a decision. Be assertive in making decisions after weighting pros and cons. Managers can have a democratic style but in the end a decision needs to be made and the responsibility of the outcome will fall on your shoulders. So make a decision behind which you can stand.

    The 4 Secrets to Success for Young Managers of Older Employees | Mindalia de Jesus, a RSM Ambassador and young manager, featured at a RSM Event.

    Mindalia de Jesus, a RSM Ambassador and young manager, featured at a RSM Event.

  • Be the young manager everyone wishes their kids were. I’m always thrilled to meet amazingly bright young managers who are wise and mature beyond their years. They project a sense of calm and collectedness that mark them as clear leaders of their organizations. They inspire others to do their best, to give their all. They make everyone wish they had been that well-put-together at that young age, they make everyone wish their own kids were this smart. Be that person. How? By following the previous three secrets. And by:
  • Asking lots of questions
  • Encouraging curiosity, exploration, risk-taking
  • Acknowledging that you don’t know everything and you’re always learning
  • Readily admitting mistakes
  • Honestly praising the work of your team
  • Offering recognition for older employees who do a great job, and
  • Making people feel significant about their contributions and their role in your team.

Introduce a mentorship program: Whether its the older employee’s mentoring younger ones or interns. You can even partner with organizations and schools, if the employees are willing. Not only is their experience being put to good use, but the company would also build some good karma. – American Express Open Forum

Young Managers of Older Employees 4 Secrets to Success: If you are a young manager, you were chosen for a reason. Own the gifts you bring to the table!

Own the gifts you bring to the table!

If you love learning and you love a challenge being a millennial manager of older employees can be an extremely rewarding experience. If you take it seriously, it will propel your career forward at amazing speed.

Share your own advice here. What works and what doesn’t work for you? What suggestions do you have for your colleagues?

Inspirational Quote | Young Managers of Older Employees - 4 Secrets to Succeed from day one

Inspirational Quote | Young Managers of Older Employees – 4 Secrets to Succeed from day one


How to Manage Gen Y Staff: One Thing You Didn’t Expect

Managing Millennials is not a simple task. Read on to discover the one thing you didn’t expect on how to manage Gen Y staff!

The story of the Red Shoe Movement is not logical. I didn’t sit down to think about what the Red Shoe Movement was going to be or how we would become a valuable professional development platform. (Much less how to manage Gen Y staff!) When I first blurted out the idea at my book launch and then on national TV, I had no clue what we were going to do. I just knew it was due time for a women supporting women platform geared to Latinas and other multicultural women.

Book Presentation at McNally Jackson boostore: Find Your Inner Red Shoes, by Mariela Dabbah | Find Your Inner Red Shoes book presentation

Book Presentation at McNally Jackson boostore: Find Your Inner Red Shoes, by Mariela Dabbah

Then, I was approached by Teresa Correa, who immediately appointed herself as Head of Ambassadors. That’s really how it all started.

Read Managing Generation Y in the Workplace: How Can Managers Motivate Their Employees?
Teresa Correa, RSM Head of Ambassadors, who at the time worked in Consumer Insights at Avon

Teresa Correa, RSM Head of Ambassadors, who at the time worked in Consumer Insights at Avon

She was in her late twenties, with a sharp career focus and a hunger to empower women, particularly young Latinas. The Red Shoe Movement took over her life outside her full time job in Consumer Insights at Avon. (She is now Manager Global Consumer Insights at Coty, Inc.)

As I would soon discover, every time I talked about the newly-born platform, young, motivated, passionate women would ask to be part of it. I just connected them with Teresa and she built the tribe.

A few months after we first met, Teresa announced that the new team of  Ambassadors she had built was meeting for a drink. I was thrilled and still not paying much mind to the fact that I would very soon have to figure out how to manage Gen Y since all ambassadors belonged to that generation. My head of Ambassadors had everything under control.

When the Red Shoe Movement first started, I had to figure out how to manage Gen Y. Little did I know that they would end up managing me!

How to manage Gen Y in the workplace when they are actually the ones managing you

The group of six professional women met for the first time in October 2012. All in their twenties, all working full time jobs in large corporations, they decided early on that we needed to put on an event. A day when our motto of women empowering women for career success would become a reality. I had toyed with the idea of an event, but we were literally only a few months old and I had to focus on other priorities. (Like putting the cart behind the horse, for example!) But this group of women convinced me that the event would be our official launch, and I believed them.

Read 10 Successful Tactics for Motivating Millennials at Work
Learning how to manage Gen Y staff at the First meeting ever of potential group of RSM Ambassadors.

Learning how to manage Gen Y staff at the First meeting ever of potential group of RSM Ambassadors.

RSM Ambassadors weekly meetings | How to manage Gen Y Staff

RSM Ambassadors weekly meetings

Meeting weekly over a five-month period, and true to our motto of mutual support, our team put together the first RSM Signature Event at the New York Times. And what an event that was. They had planned for 120 participants and we had over 230 people show up!

Under Teresa’s leadership, the team assembled 24 additional volunteers for the event, and together they ran it as if they were trained PR pros from a top firm. I remember some of the most senior attendees commenting that they had never seen an event run so smoothly. The most amazing part? It was all run by volunteers who had never before done something like that!

The RSM Signature Event launched at the New York Times. The senior Ambassadors convened a total of 24 other volunteer Millennials for the event.

The RSM Signature Event launched at the New York Times. The senior Ambassadors convened a total of 24 other volunteer Millennials for the event.


You’d never expect that how to manage Gen Y will become how to let them manage you! This might as well be the Yes Generation of entrepreneurs.

The RSM Signature Event launched at the New York Times. The senior Ambassadors convened a total of 24 other volunteer Millennials for the event.

To tell you the truth, I practically showed up as a guest. They had made all the arrangements with the New York Times Conference Center and our sponsors, figured out a very complex registration system, and even created the Power Point presentation that was projected during the opening and closing portions of the evening. So the question remains, how to manage Millennials when they seem to know how to manage anything you throw at them?

It’s not so much about how to manage Gen Y staff as it is about how to keep them engaged with your organization over a long period of time

What I learned in the process is that this is a generation of entrepreneurs. Of people used to coalescing over a project as if they were a film crew. They come together, get to know each other, use their best talents, reach out to their vast networks to find any additional skills needed, and boom! The project isn’t as mind boggling as it might have seemed to someone of an earlier generation. They are able to work the same way they used to play online — with a remote cyber-buddy they probably never met before. At the core, this might be the Yes generation. There’s nothing they can’t do. Or that they think they can’t do. That’s the power you want to harvest.

Granted, not everyone in this generation is so entrepreneurial and self-directed. For those cases, I suggest your read my blogs Managing Generation Y in the Workplace and 10 Successful Tactics for Motivating Millennials in the Workplace, both of which are chock full of specific tactics that will engage them and keep them around.

What I learned in the process of figuring out how to manage Millennials

It’s the excitement of finding a Teresa Correa or an Annerys Rodriguez (our current Head of Ambassadors, who was part of the initial team of six and works in Diversity & Inclusion at MetLife) that can hide the fact that like all generations, Millennials are not a monolithic group.

Annerys Rodriguez, current RSM Head of Ambassadors, works full time in Diversity and Inclusion at MetLife

Annerys Rodriguez, current RSM Head of Ambassadors, works full time in Diversity and Inclusion at MetLife

Generalizations will only take you so far. So along the way, you will find that how to manage Gen Y staff depends on the makeup of your team. The younger, early twenties members may naturally need more supervision and handholding to complete their tasks on time. As they cross their mid-decade they may have tested their skills enough to have gained a lot more confidence and the necessary work-ethic to carry out their responsibilities to the very end. Judge each case individually, but use this as a guideline. If you don’t tell them they can’t do it, they won’t believe it themselves. And they will surprise you every time.

Engaging, retaining and promoting talent

Engaging, retaining and promoting talent