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StrategyDriven Diversity and Inclusion Article

6 Things I’m Learning from Millennials

StrategyDriven Diversity and Inclusion ArticleMost of us have first-hand experience with just how ridiculous stereotypes can be.

I, for example, proudly break the stereotype of the reserved British person by being blunt and speaking my mind; seldom will you find me acquiescing about things I’m passionate about for the sake of English decorum.

While politeness is a stereotype that doesn’t personally cause me much grief, it’s important to remember that many stereotypes are actually quite dangerous—even the ones that seem harmless.

Take millennials, for instance. There’s no doubt that millennial talent represents a valuable asset for the continued success of many companies. However, much of the furor around unlocking the mysteries of millennials in order to win their talent does a unique disservice to an entire generation (and, for that matter, the generations of Boomers and Gen Xers as well) by forcing individuals into predefined silos of what broad groups of professionals are supposed to say and do:

  • Millennials are entitled.
  • Millennials can’t thrive in a traditional corporate structure.
  • Millennials can’t make decisions without everyone’s input.
  • Add your favorite millennial stereotype here.

I’m guilty of falling into this trap myself, but daily interactions with colleagues, friends, customers, and job candidates are constantly shaking loose many of the preconceived notions I have about working with millennials. Here are six things I’m learning.

1. Authenticity Beats Formality
I recently interviewed someone for a key role based in Dublin, one critical to the success of a new product. Eventually, the role will grow to cover the whole of Europe. In contrast to many candidates before her, this woman chose to forego a formal conference call or in-office meeting. Instead, the interview was held on Zoom (which the candidate had just downloaded onto her phone) from a cafe in Dublin. I was impressed with her drive, openness, expertise, and energy—the fact that she was in a cafe on her phone was irrelevant to her obvious competence. Her authentic self and desire to win beat any formality that other candidates may have felt were relevant. She got the job.

2. Matrix Beats Hierarchy
Driven millennials are great at getting the right things done through the matrix—no matter what. A colleague in our Atlanta business center recently took the initiative to enable a product feature that will drive more sales. Pulling this off required matrix management across IS, marketing, customer service, product management, and product development. Despite what might otherwise be a complicated juggling act, there was no hesitation or time wasted in waiting for senior personnel to weigh in or offer approval. Instead, the feature’s execution was handled quickly and efficiently, and when it appeared, everyone loved it.

3. Humility and Raw Ambition Go Hand in Hand
I am lucky enough to know a couple of hyper-successful millennials, one in sport and one in media. Both are internationally renowned; both have had almost overnight success; and yet both show extreme humility despite their stardom. Supportive messages from these people on WhatsApp or Twitter are a frequent sight (How can I help you? Is there anything you need? Really appreciate your feedback!). That’s not to say that these guys aren’t ambitious—they want more, they want to win, and they definitely want to earn big and be well known. They just do so in a way that takes people with them, and shows humility and appreciation every day.

4. Winning at Digital is Not a Millennial Thing
I have learned not to assume that all millennials are social media gurus. In fact, working with small businesses (a major facet of my day job) has shown me that plenty of millennial business owners don’t understand how to use social to market their businesses. Additionally, they often ignore digital business tools (like online accounting) that might help them to accomplish more. The truth is that anyone can adopt a “millennial mindset,” and doing so is essential for success in an increasingly digital world. For example, Richard Branson (who is decidedly NOT a millennial) has always been a fantastic example of someone who knows what it takes to build a brand—which today means taking full advantage to technology to transform your business and connect with customers; ignoring this instantly ages people, regardless of how old they actually are.

5. Diversity-mindedness Connects Us All
No-one knows it all. Human hunger for knowledge keeps us sharing, reading, learning, and connecting. Do millennials want to learn from older people more than those in the generations before them? Hard to say. However, an acceptance of people of all kinds—of diversity—is definitely a key component to the millennial mindset. And this open and inclusive perspective is one that can effectively bridge the generation gap between millennials and their older colleagues—provided that a respect for authenticity over formality, the matrix, and engagement versus top-down communication are shared priorities.

6. Transformation Matters, Logistics are Trivia
Job interviews often end with questions to the candidate and closing statements from the candidate to the interviewer. Here are some real examples of things I’ve heard. Guess who said what:

  • The commute is long—how flexible are you to working from home?
  • What is your take on corporate philanthropy?
  • What is your view on the USP that would enable this product line to leapfrog the competition?
  • What books are you reading at the moment and why?

That’s right – millennials!

For all business leaders looking to discover the secret to the millennial mind, here’s my advice: Millennials are just people—there is no special key to winning their talent or unleashing their abilities. The most important thing I’ve learned is that every person—millennial or otherwise—is nuanced, complex, and undeniably individual. Drive, pluck, and determination are ageless qualities, and those that have them are the ones that naturally rise to the top. That is no secret. If you want to learn what makes millennials tick, talk to them; ask questions; be genuinely curious without prejudice. Who knows what great potential you might discover once stereotypes are out of the picture?


About the Author

Nick Goode is the Vice President Product Management — Cloud & Sage One, Sage’s cloud accounting and payroll solution for start-ups and small businesses. Goode is accountable for the commercial, channel, product and marketing strategy for Sage One worldwide. Goode is previously Head of Sage One for Sage UK, and prior to that, Head of Marketing for the Accountants Division at Sage. His LinkedIn can be viewed at https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickgoodeuk and his Twitter handle is @nickgoode.

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article

“Wellth” is the New Wealth

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals ArticleWealth has historically been viewed as financial success in business that translates to success in life. Money, real estate, investments, and “stuff” like cars and expensive vacations – if you’ve got these things, you’re doing well for yourself… right?

Perhaps it’s time we recognized that the wealth game is changing. While money does matter, it’s no longer the foremost defining attribute of personal or professional achievement. Instead, a new focus on happiness and purpose is driving the common consciousness. This shift is due in part to the influence of millennials, whose priorities about work and life are reshaping everything from world economies to the business landscape as a whole.

The millennial mind looks at something like the price of real estate – the financial Everest they would need to climb to achieve some conventional form of “wealth” – and realizes that maybe there are more important things within their reach. Indeed, 53 percent of millennials say they value health more than any other priority besides family. Additionally, nine in 10 say they pursue health in order to be successful in other areas of life. It’s clear that, rather than wealth, this next generation of leaders prioritizes what I like to call “wellth.”

What is wellth? Wellth is the combination of physical, mental, and financial wellbeing that provides a foundation for each of us to strive toward success by living our best lives. Wellth redefines what it means to “arrive” by focusing instead on the journey; it’s about not being a slave to the daily grind; it’s making a conscious decision to live well. And while wellth may seem like some kind of New Age idealism, it’s not limited to vegan yoga students, boot camp evangelists, or spin bike enthusiasts queuing up to find inner strength at studios all over the world. In fact, there is a definite growing awareness among middle-aged professionals and corporate leaders that seeking wellness will help to accomplish larger goals.

Here are three trends that showcase how millennial-minded workers and businesses are switching their focus from wealth to wellth.

Fueling an Appetite for Ambition

It’s true: green is the new black. Just take a look at the many healthy eating gurus who are dominating Instagram feeds and building entrepreneurial empires on the foundation of wellness. Beyond the trendiness, though, this new focus on eating right underscores an emerging understanding and appreciation of how food affects all aspects of our lives.

The healthy food/happy employees connection has not gone unrecognized by most forward-thinking businesses. Research shows that employees with unhealthy diets are 66 percent more likely to experience a loss in productivity than those who regularly eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. This is something most people realize from personal experience without even needing the science to back it up. There are foods that increase focus, concentration, and alertness, just as there are foods that make you feel sluggish, uninterested, and tired—it’s the reason we all silently chide ourselves for reaching for that bag of chips when we’re stressed.

Not surprisingly, Google has spared no expense to ensure their cafeteria nurtures employees from the inside out. That’s because they realize that there’s an integral correlation between health, employee happiness, and the combined effect of both on business success. They value wellth!

Finding Focus in Action

Increasing your heart rate and physically pushing your body isn’t only good for your muscles and bones, it’s also great for your brain. This relationship is why many of the world’s most successful business leaders turn to fitness to help them stay centered. In fact, Sir Richard Branson cites daily exercise as his number one secret to staying healthy and productive.

But it’s not only physical action that makes a difference. In addition to building fitness and wellness programs into their cultures,top companies are also recognizing the impact of purpose on the emotional wellbeing of their employees (and, ultimately, their bottom line). Those that prioritize action in the form of corporate social responsibility and embrace the power of giving back are finding success, both in terms of profitability and in terms of employee motivation, retention, and engagement.

Taking Mindfulness to Work

Balance in life is necessary, and burnout at work can often tip the scales in the wrong direction. Burnout manifests as a lack of interest or motivation, depression, or even physical illness – and 69 percent of employees cite burnout as a key contributing factor to poor productivity.

Along with eating right and staying fit, being mindful of burnout is essential for keeping your wellth account full. This can be as simple as scheduling time to unplug or learn new skills. Even technology – the supposed enemy of peace and quiet – can help. For example, apps like Headspace can act as a personal trainer for your mind and help you achieve your daily 10 minutes of mindfulness.

Businesses that want to help their employees avoid burnout can provide unique experiences, such as sponsoring a company cycling team or organizing regular outdoor retreats. Oftentimes, just getting outside is enough to reset the balance, as research shows that time spent in nature can increase happiness and attentiveness.

Journeying Toward Wellth

These three trends represent the tip of the iceberg for the wellth movement. As the millennial mindset continues to shift wellness from a mere fad into the mainstream, traditional constructs of personal/professional achievement are actively being replaced with a new appreciation of life goals (and how we reach them). The basic tenets of wellth may focus on diet, fitness, and mindfulness, but this movement is about more than just working out and eating berries and kale; it’s a conscious choice to live well.

As motivational philosopher (and friend) Jay Shetty notes, “We are human beings but act more like human doings. Instead of a ‘to do’ list we need a ‘to be’ list. Rather than thinking what we should we do in situations we should think about who we want to be in situations.” Wellth is how many of us are bringing the act of being back into everything we do. It provides a holistic vision of what it takes for each of us to reach higher and go farther, which empowers us to build a solid foundation for attaining success in all aspects of life—including work.

So, how wellthy are you?


About the Author

Nick Goode is the Vice President Product Management — Cloud & Sage One, Sage’s cloud accounting and payroll solution for start-ups and small businesses. Goode is accountable for the commercial, channel, product and marketing strategy for Sage One worldwide. Goode is previously Head of Sage One for Sage UK, and prior to that, Head of Marketing for the Accountants Division at Sage. His LinkedIn can be viewed at https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickgoodeuk and his Twitter handle is @nickgoode.

“Joinership” is the new Leadership

It’s no secret that most companies value leadership over just about anything else. It’s an attitude reflected in our culture and on the surface, it appears to be the key to success. However, in my experience, there’s another component more important than strong leadership—an element that rarely gets the spotlight, because it’s all about not stepping into the spotlight. I’m talking about “joinership.”

A recent survey of over four thousand Ph.D. candidates found that only 11 percent of respondents expressed a desire to be a “founder,” while a massive 46 percent expressed interest in becoming a “joiner.” That’s a difference of over 4 to 1, but is it really that surprising that most people would rather join a passionate team than try to build something themselves from the ground up? Strong leaders may inspire people to join their cause, but it’s those early hires and early adopters – the fledgling community who believes in a company’s ideals – that will make or break a young business.


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About the Author
Nick Goode is the Global Commercial Director of Sage One, Sage’s cloud accounting and payroll solution for start-ups and small businesses. He is accountable for the commercial, channel, product and marketing strategy for Sage One worldwide. Nick was previously Head of Sage One for Sage UK, and prior to that, Head of Marketing for the Accountants Division at Sage.

Can You Really Turn a Hobby into a Business? part 3 of 3

Your ‘Why’ Should Not Be Because You Hate Commuting

In his book Start with Why?, Simon Sinek challenges what and how thinking. While what and how are the yin and yang of everything, why is the driving force. So why didn’t I start the article with the why? Because the hobby-to-business process is agile rather than step-by-step – you need to consider each of these areas over and over; you can refine your why as you go.

But first, ask yourself why you want to make a career out of your hobby? Boil down the essence of your purpose because it will drive you to success. Without identifying the why you will not tap into the real reason you are changing your life. If that sounds bold, it is—you’re changing your life for a reason and you should be able to explain what that reason is; whether it’s to save your health, become the person you were told you couldn’t be, or because the real you is not stuck in a call center, defining the real, fundamental reasons why you want to transform your passion into your business will help you ultimately be more successful. Try to complete this sentence:


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About the Author
Nick Goode is the Global Commercial Director of Sage One, Sage’s cloud accounting and payroll solution for start-ups and small businesses. He is accountable for the commercial, channel, product and marketing strategy for Sage One worldwide. Nick was previously Head of Sage One for Sage UK, and prior to that, Head of Marketing for the Accountants Division at Sage.

Can You Really Turn a Hobby into a Business? part 2 of 3

Business Is Both Fun and Dull All The Time

Fun is a small word with a huge impact on our lives, so it makes sense that we’d prioritize injecting fun into our business lives whenever possible. And, if you’re thinking about becoming your own boss, the ability to capitalize on fun is definitely one of the advantages: you can wear whatever you want, play music while you work, control the tone and presentation of your product—you’ll be in control of a lot of fun, new components of your business.

However, even the most fun business is still just that – a business. There are a lot of decidedly un-fun and dull responsibilities that your business requires to remain successful and profitable. Finance, administration, inventory – these are all things most small businesses owners do not go into business to learn how to do. That being said, there are ways to help minimize the impact of these dull tasks so you can focus on the fun stuff:

  • Get a bookkeeper or an accountant from day one. Explain that you are a very small business on a shoestring budget, and that you don’t need corporate advice – you just want to get the basics right.
  • You’re going to want mobile and online offerings first, so find a bookkeeper who does the same. You’ll get the advice and help you need without spending time and money travelling to meet them in person.
  • Use an accounting app that your bookkeeper recommends. Every dollar you spend on your business counts towards your success.
  • Learn the basics of accounting, invoicing, expense management, tax returns, and cash flow. Accept that your success depends on it. You don’t have to be an expert but you will fail without mastering the basics of accounting.

For everything else you need help with, use sites like www.upwork.com and www.peopleperhour.com to get freelance help. These sites offer experts on demand and at an affordable price.

Do The Math and Get More Help

Fundamentally, every business needs to answer this simple equation to find success: revenue minus cost. To make sure your business is financially stable, start by figuring out how much income you need along with how much product you need to sell, and what your costs are. Then you’ll need to calculate how to manage the cash flow (the money you need to make the business work) as you ramp up. Keep going over these numbers.

If you are useless at numbers, don’t give up—get help! It’s a given that you will be weak in some areas of your business – after all, your passion for your hobby is not enough to keep a business up and running smoothly. The good news is that anyone in marketing, finance commercial management, product management, or your bookkeeper can help you. And don’t forget your friends and neighbours: your community includes people who will do things pro bono, provided that you can help them back. Be open to this. The social-first generation is all about mutual support (and that’s what makes it awesome!).


About the Author
Nick Goode is the Global Commercial Director of Sage One, Sage’s cloud accounting and payroll solution for start-ups and small businesses. He is accountable for the commercial, channel, product and marketing strategy for Sage One worldwide. Nick was previously Head of Sage One for Sage UK, and prior to that, Head of Marketing for the Accountants Division at Sage.