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.


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.

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.

Dave McCleary on Leadership Transition: The Power Grid

Posted in Change,Coaching,Generation X,Generation Y,Leadership by treyfinley1008 on April 28, 2010
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I have a new friend in my coaching cohort at UT-Dallas.  Adam Rico works for the “air traffic controller” of California’s electric power grid.  His company’s job is to make certain that power gets where it needs to go, that each city has the power it needs without shortages and outages.  They monitor where power travels, and they make sure it arrives at its proper destination.

Like electrical power, leadership transitions must have a clear path and a clear destination.  Listen to Dave McCleary’s thoughts on the subject:

“[Boomers in leadership] need to understand sharing power – they need to share the power and the position – this means meeting with their successor several times during the day – this means lots of talking and shadowing and soft-mentoring – this means transition times from 8-24 months in most cases…”

I’m going to go a step further than Dave has with a commentary that may drive Boomer leaders nuts.  Next generation leaders must begin sharing their leadership as soon as they take a position of greater responsibility, with any level of oversight of others.  This is true even–perhaps especially–knowing that Gen Y and some of their slightly more senior Gen X counterparts may bolt with little or no warning, leaving behind a gap in leadership for your organization.  This may feel a waste of time and effort, but it is crucial to passing on strong leadership in the next 10 years.

Having a clear path of power transfer is not–I repeat NOT–a survival tactic for your business, church, or NFP.  If you wait to begin giving it away until you’re certain you have someone who will stick around–that is a greater waste of time than losing someone in whom you’ve invested yourself.  Sharing leadership is a gift, a gift to be given with no strings attached.  And it may very well mean that your business, church, or NFP will look very different in the next generation.  It may even go away.  This is an essential part of selfless leadership–having peace with knowing you’ve passed along a legacy of what is best in you over and above a business plan, a mission statement, or a theology.  The destination is a person, not a place.

Who’s at Bat

Posted in Change,Generation X,Generation Y,Leadership,Video by treyfinley1008 on April 26, 2010
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I Don’t Care (he’s the shortstop) what generation you’re born into, this is funny.

Dave McCleary’s first comment to me about leaders who are planning a transition was this:  “Make your first choice your last – when announcing your successor – do so powerfully, with full commitment and with finality – the work of transition is too valuable to waste on hopefuls.”

Can you describe the next leader in your business/church/NFP?  What does he/she do well?  What skills must be present in order for that person and your organization to continue succeeding?

Don’t leave any doubts about Who’s up next to bat.

Passing the Mantle of Leadership

I just finished reading Dave McCleary‘s book, Leaving Prisons.  This pointed book contains 25 short stories that illustrate prisons which keep us from being truly free.  Accompanying each of these stories are three coaching questions.  In my brief conversations with Dave, he’s confided that he has struggled with each of these 25 prisons at varying points in his life.  Recently, I read an article that Dave wrote about the potential for Boomers to sabotage their successors in leadership.  Dave graciously expounded on those points in a recent email.  I’ll be posting those thoughts in a series of emails next week.  First, here’s the highlights from Dave’s article at Forbes magazine. He lists seven ways Boomers are sabotaging their successors.

1.  They make power scarce rather than sharing it.  (I think this is may be the most important shift.  I wrote on it last month.)

2.  They “flip the switch” rather than doing the hard work of practicing sharing leadership and building relationship over time.

3.  They operate with a short leash, micromanaging rather than allowing the new leader to grow and mature in their own strengths.

4.  They preach but don’t practice collaboration.

5.  They indecisively sit on the fence.

6.  They over-value appearances and undervalue authenticity.

7.  They go through meaningless motions.  Another way to say this: they struggle allowing the new leader to adopt new practices and honestly evaluate and adapt old motions to new contexts.

More next week!

Serial Entrepreneurs

Posted in Career,Entrepreneurs,Generation X,Generation Y by treyfinley1008 on April 19, 2010
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They’re the “Trophy” Generation.  They were given a trophy at every event, coached to believe that we’re all winners, and carefully raised by parents who knew what it was like to not have parents around.  They’re what Howe and Strauss refer to as Millennials.  Born in the twenty year window between 1981 and 2001, they represent today’s 30 and under crowd.  And they’re not waiting on businesses to catch up with the way they like to work.

“The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reported that 18- to 24-year-olds in the United States are starting businesses at a faster rate than 35- to-44 year-olds.  This is further explained by a survey done by OPEN from American Express, which found that 59 percent of Gen Y company owners described themselves as serial entrepreneurs, compared to just 33 percent of baby boomers.”

(OK, so I’ll skip the “great, another article about Millennials and Boomers with barely a mention of Gen X” comment.  Whoops, too late.)

The big point is–the youngest members of our workforce want the opportunity to write their own ticket.  They want their cake and they want to eat it, too.  Who didn’t at 25?  That said, if I were hiring someone under 30 tomorrow, the first question I’d ask isn’t, “What do you have to offer our company?”  It’s, “What can our company do to help you maximize your employability?”

Business is bottom line–and the most important bottom line starts with a P.  No, not profitability.  People.  Generation Y is challenging business leaders to put their money where their mouth is.  They’ve got a nose for hypocrisy, and you’ll see their nose twitch at the first sign of profit over people.  So, business leader, what’s your message to the next generation of workers?  How’s your posture in relating to these entrepreneurial young workers?  Do you know how to attract them?  Keep them?

A coach is a key component of discovering, developing, and retaining your next generation of workforce leaders.  You’ll collect more of these “trophy generation” members with a coach in your business’ back pocket.