The Question Matters

Are You Willing to Work So That You Can Work to Live?


Texas Rangers (baseball)

It's Time.


I am the master of my schedule.  If an opportunity to spend some extra time with my family comes up, I will often take it.  If the Texas Rangers are playing (hopefully for a while longer) I’ll cut off work a little early to make sure I can catch the game on TV.  If I’m behind on paperwork at home, no big deal.  I’ll just get that done before I start with my work for the day.  Need a long lunch?  OK, I’m not on the clock.  I’ll take an extra 15 minutes and watch a favorite show on DVR.

My work is too often the master of my time.  If the iPhone is in my pocket, I’m always tempted to pick it up even at family activities.  If I’m watching that Texas Rangers game, it may be with my MacBook in my lap dong a little busy work that didn’t get done.  Did I take a longer lunch?  That probably means I’ll close up shop at 10 that night instead of 9:30.

The notion that we can work to live, not live to work is monumental mental shift.  It may be the biggest shift in workforce dynamics since the labor unions a century ago.  In that time, workers stood up for their rights to a decent wage, vacation time, respect in the workplace, and legal force they did not have alone.  Today, workers are standing up for their rights to choose the times they’ll work, how they do that work, and where they do that work.

James Townsend:

For those of us in Generation X and those in the Baby Boomer generation, we’ve been known to say we “live to work” and often connect our self-identification with our job/occupation.  For those in the Millennial generation, they “work to live” and value time with friends, family over time spent at work.  This generation is more likely to tell their boss when they plan to come to work and when they plan to leave, as there are important things to do outside of work – yoga, exercise, movies, etc…Balancing work and life is vitally important to this generation but not as much for the current generation of office managers and organizational leaders.  The challenge for the Millennial employee is understanding and respecting the structure of the organization

I want that balance in my work life, too.  As a business coach with a passion for younger entrepreneurs, I want them to achieve that balance.  And it must be achieved. It won’t happen by brute force or unreasonable demands.  If the under-30 workforce wants work/life balance, it will have to be earned, either by the slow but steady change of large organizations or by the re-invention of the workplace on your own terms, in your own business.

Either way will require a lot of work.


College Administrator: Millennials Believe There’s Something Bigger and Better

Recently, you’ve read my interviews with a college career coach at Abilene Christian University and a professor at Texas Women’s University who specializes in first year students.  I have to say that my conversations with higher learning administrators and professors is fast becoming on my favorite pastimes in blogging. Here’s interview #3.

James Townsend and I knew one another at Abilene Christian University, where I was a student and he was a recruiter and administrator.  A great guy and a good friend, I’m grateful for the time he’s given me via Skype and by email.  Our conversations touched on the spirituality of college students, how well they’re prepared for college life and learning, and what they can expect as they leave college life for their careers.  Here’s a quick bio of James:

[Even before] graduating from Abilene Christian University in 1989, I began a 24 year professional journey in Christian higher education as an administrator, consultant, and first year experience instructor.  Most of my professional life has included visiting with high school students and parents about the college admissions and financial aid process and the best ways to transition to the collegiate environment. I completed my MBA at LeTourneau University in 2006 and am currently working towards a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership in Higher Education through Grand Canyon University in Arizona.  I’m currently the director of admissions for LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas.

I asked James the following questions.  I look forward to sharing his responses with you in the coming days:

  • Compare graduating high school seniors now to graduating seniors ten years ago when you started at LeTourneau.  What changes have you noticed?
  • How well prepared are students for college?  Where are they well prepared?  Where are they lacking?
  • Share a couple of stories about students who’ve really impressed you.
  • What can this generation bring to any arena of life (work, home, whatever) that’s unique and needed?
  • What are the biggest challenges this generation will face?  Specifically, how are they going to have to grow?

I know James as “JT,” and of everything he told me, one phrase stood out.  This generation has the numbers, the relative youth, and the resources to maybe just maybe be right about this:

This generation always believes there is something bigger and better around the corner.

Ashly Torian, Body Balance

Posted in Coaching,Entrepreneurs,Generation X,Video by treyfinley1008 on September 22, 2010

Many thanks to Ashly Torian, a client for the past six months, who provided this testimonial.  You can learn more about Ashly’s personal training business at

Dan Pink on Motivation

I came across this video on a blog feed early this week.  Dan’s focus is on the problems of a purely “carrot and stick” style of motivation and performance enhancement.  Science simply doesn’t bear that out. In fact, he says, the 21st century workplace has a lot to do with this misunderstanding. The digital age has automated and outsourced many of the simpler tasks of our workplace. Innovative companies desiring to keep pace with the speed of change must maximize creativity. Autonomy, mastery, and purpose are far greater motivators.

In my opinion, these three are key elements for a Gen X and Gen Y workplace.  Here’s the video.  (If you’ve got $60 I can “borrow” for the video upgrade on WordPress, let me know.)

(If you’re in a hurry, watch from 3:00 to about 7:45. If you’ve got a few minutes, watch the 18 minute video.)

Trey Finley, Gleek Extraordinaire

I’m hooked. I’m a Gleek.

“Glee” performs the music of my generation.  For some in Generation X, it’s the music of their high school and college years.  For me, it’s the music of my elementary and junior high years.  Either way, it’s a blast from the past.

The cast of Glee is good.  Really good.  I get chills when I hear Rachel Berry and her mom (played by Idina Menzel, who was part of the original cast of Wicked) sing together.  It blows me away that Cory Monteith–the actor who plays lead singer Finn Hudson–is singing for just about the first time in his life.  Sue Sylvester, the coach of the cheerleader team, has to be the funniest character on TV.  I’d tune in just to watch her banter with Mr. Shuester.

Lest you think the show is pure cheese, there’s a character who’s gay and struggling to relate to his father.  There’s the teacher with a Downs’ Syndrome sister who spends her free time caring for her.  There’s a paraplegic who performs on stage with the other students, but dreams to be free of the wheelchair.  There’s a character who gets pregnant and a character who says “no” when pressured to have sex.  And there’s the glee club diva turned cheerleader (then back to glee club diva) who struggles with her self-image, especially her weight.

Glee, like Generation X, dares you to accuse it of being shallow.  In a recent review of the show by the Los Angeles Times, their TV critic had this to say:

“Glee” is, in many ways, a very modern show, addressing topics usually reserved for serious drama — teen pregnancy, a father coming to terms with his gay son — in what is essentially a musical comedy that more than occasionally borders on camp. Over and over again, the message is: Don’t judge.

Are Generational Descriptions Nothing More than Labeling?

Posted in Career,Coaching,Generation X,Generation Y by treyfinley1008 on June 7, 2010
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Getting back on the blogging horse this week, having been bucked off by what was actually a very encouraging week in my coaching business world.  I’ll start nice and easy with this warning: caution should be used when applying generational descriptions.

Bucking Myths about Gen Y in the Workplace.  If you’re supervising someone under the age of 30, here’s a quick read on some common misconceptions about employees under the age of 30.  Gen X supervisors–this article is an invitation to pursue coaching skills.

The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same.  It’s a long read, but here’s a nugget from the middle that’s important to remember when you’re exasperated by someone under 30–chances are, someone said similar things about you when you were under 30.  Both this article and another by Neil Howe discuss whether Gen Y is less empathetic than other generations.  My two cents–the results of these studies don’t jive with my experiences with middle school, high school, and college students.

Labeling Can Do More Harm than Good. Here’s a cautionary post from a Gen Y writer about the dangers of trying to label an individual with a generation’s traits.  The author overstates his case, in my opinion. However, if someone had preconceived notions of who I am as a Gen X member (aloof, jaded, latch-key, etc.) and made decisions affecting my life based on those preconceived notions, I might respond in a similar way.  There’s a line between generational descriptions and labeling members of a generation.

Gen X can teach Gen Y how to save and spend

Posted in Generation X,Generation Y,Leadership,Next Generation Leaders by treyfinley1008 on May 10, 2010
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Sometimes lost in the Gen X’s frustration over the late retirement plans of Boomers is this eventual complication–Gen Y isn’t saving, which has several potential consequences.  First, it means they could be creating similar problems for the generations that succeed them.  It could also result in a lack of appreciation of how over leveraged, under-funded budgets affect our overall economy.  (Surely anyone paying attention for oh, the last two and half years, should have some sense of this.)   Will they be able to afford homes with their current debt level?  You can probably think of many more.  In that vein, I’ve been saving links for a little while about the finances of Gen Y.  Let me say to my generation–Gen X–that this represents an opportunity: the opportunity to share what we’ve learned with those coming after us.  Here’s a summary of a few articles I’ve read recently.

First, the reality: Gen Y has lots of debt and no savings, and with their excess of debt (short-term and long-term) they do not have good prospects for saving any time soon.  Generation Y’s steep financial hurdles: Huge debt, no savings –

Article 1: My friend jenx67 shared this link today, which put me over the top to share these links I’ve been working on.  Lots of great books, internet tools, and a Gen Y writer’s transparent budget.  The author recently shared his net worth.

Article 2: Written by a Gen Y member herself, this author shares the follow stats while lamenting her generation’s lack of financial savvy.  Try these stats on for size.

  • The median credit-card debt of low- and middle-income people aged 18 to 34 is $8,200.
  • The average college debt for recent grads is more than $20,000 and rising.
  • People between the ages of 25 and 34 make up 22.7% of all U.S. bankruptcies (but just 14% of the population at large), according to a recent report.

Article 3: Here’s an article that’s light on the wrist-slapping and heavy on the practical tools.

Article 4: Finally, this blog subtitle that sums it all up: “Living like no one else so that later we can live like no one else.”

A little transparency on my part: my wife and I started strong in our marriage, quickly getting a leg up on at least 90% of our friends.  That’s much less so now, what with a layoff, two entrepreneurs in the house, and a recession that has restored many of our investments to their pre-2008 state, but still represents two years of stagnant growth (which beats the precipitous drop we saw).  What that stock market return has not done is magically increase our income.  It has taught us to better differentiate what we need to spend vs. what we want to spend.  I’ve got something I can teach my younger friends, and I can teach it as much from my failures as my successes.

Market, Close, Satisfy, Repeat

The “repeat” in the title isn’t an encouragement to “market close satisfy” over and over again.  Rather, it’s a healthy reminder today from a writer at Entrepreneur magazine–the cost of repeat business is a fraction of the cost of finding new clients. It’s much better for your time, your money, and your stress to build a base of repeat customers.   Read the entire article here.  This was a good reminder to me that re-inventing the wheel is almost always a long slow way to make a profit.

The author offers five principles for building repeat business:

  1. Be diligent with your database.
  2. Make your communication personal and personable.
  3. Make it easy for your customers to buy and keep buying.
  4. Decide what you can promise your customers.
  5. Test and measure everything.

The article has me wondering, what does repeat business in the professional services industry look like?  Hmmmmm…


On a different note, you should read JenX67‘s post today about a writer convinced that Gen X is too polite to lead, and that our politeness will lead to Gen Y getting promotions to executive level positions before they’re 30.  In coaching, we call that “distorted judgment,” in essence believing and behaving as if 1 + 1 = 3.

As a voice for Gen X, Jen is annoyed and it’s hard to blame her.  I’ll take a more pragmatic perspective and suggest that, if indeed a Boomer wants to skip over their Gen X employee’s experience, patience, and wisdom for Gen Y’s idealism, youth, and inexperience, they better invest in coaching for those young leaders now.

Generational UFC

Posted in Career,Generation X,Generation Y,Leadership by treyfinley1008 on May 5, 2010
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Generational Battle Brews Over Gilded Baby-Boom Pensions | GOVERNING.

From the Life Course blog…this is a prime example of an opportunity for leaders to be mutually submissive rather than territorial and overly protective.  And that’s true for Gen X and Gen Y in this scenario as much as for Boomers.  The article is six months old, and it’s not new news, really.  Boomers make (or have made) a lot of money, Gen X and Gen Y are in a tough career and financial position, where will the retirement money be, etc., etc.

If you want to see generational dynamics in its rawest form, read through some of the comments on this post.  A skirmish in the “battle” the author refers to takes place in his own article.  Comments in political or financial articles aren’t exactly thoughtful debate, but the raw emotion displayed there is a fitting example of how, when generations disagree, listening goes straight out the window.

P.S.  Thanks to a blogging friend, junkdrawer67, for featuring my blog.

Showing Your Career the Door

Posted in Career,Change,Coaching,Entrepreneurs,Generation X by treyfinley1008 on May 4, 2010
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I’ve been saying this a while: entrepreneurship is scary, fun, exciting, exhausting, and full of surprises.  And that’s just on Monday.  Entrepreneurship, with all its wild emotional and financial swings, will become a more appealing option.  This is especially true for members of Gen X who foresee little future and/or scarce promotions in their current profession. More and more “plateaued” employees will consider entrepreneurship as a viable alternative to their current workplace.

You want to see your passions, your energy, and your job in better alignment.  If you could get the courage and the opportunity to take the entrepreneurial risk, you’ll do it.  Sometimes unemployment is just what was needed–a little push out the door that makes owning your own business more appealing.  You have less to lose, and more to gain.

Business ownership often the next career move for the unemployed | Business Weekly Article | John Gibson | KITSAP PENINSULA BUSINESS JOURNAL.

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