Millennials and Executive Leadership Break Workforce Barriers, Exchange Insights

By Phylicia Teymer

Phylicia at IGF NA BP Summit

Phylicia at IGF NA BP Summit

I’m one of those, a millennial. I’m stereotyped by many factors, including my age as well as being born with digital technology at my fingertips. Supposedly, the stereotype around millennials (aged 21-34) is that we are “lazy, entitled, selfish, and shallow”.1 Stereotypes consume both our personal and professional lives each and everyday, many of which are inaccurate, including the one stated previously. It’s time to debunk the myths that misconstrue our character and potential before we’ve ever had a chance to speak.

This past week I was honored to have the opportunity to speak at the IBM Global Financing North America Business Partner Summit for a panel discussion on “Millennials as Emerging Leaders Shaping the Future of Business.” Some of the biggest decision makers from multiple companies were in attendance. A very engaged & enlightening conversation ensued as we briefly referenced the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) Executive Report,  “Myths, Exaggerations, and Uncomfortable Truths: The Real Story of Behind Millennials in the Workplace”1 and encroached upon some uncomfortable, but relevant truths. An array of reactions, from humor to confusion and curiosity, occurred during our two-way Q&A panel discussion as we dispelled multiple myths which propagate the current workforce.

Host and Millennial Panel Speakers

Host and Millennial Panel Speakers

Our session started with personal introductions and a highlight of the IBV report. Our host was the Global Program Director of IBM Channel Marketing and Digital Strategy, Deborah Kestin-Schildkraut, and my fellow panelists included, Vice-President of Operations for InfoSystems, Brent Hales, and Digital Media Strategist for Corus360, Haley Schmidt. During the presentation, Schildkraut shared a few contrasting stats and millennial myths from the IBV study, a few which stood out to me included:

54% of Millennials don’t fully understand their organization’s business strategy (for Baby Boomers, it’s 58%)1

This was a startling truth exposed through the report as more than half of the study’s correspondents didn’t fully understand their company’s strategy1, nor their role within that strategy. In a competitive marketplace, it’s crucial for employees to understand their organization’s vision, mission, and their direct impact on it since employees represent and embody the brand itself.

47% of Gen X would leave their current job for another offering more money and a more innovative environment (for Millennials, it’s 42%)1 .

These data points in addition to a few others within the study, such as desiring more work responsibility and making a positive social/environmental impact, refute the myth that Millennials are more likely to change jobs if it doesn’t fulfill their passions.

70% of Baby Boomers don’t think their organization is effectively addressing the customer experience (for Millennials, it’s 60%)1

This uncomfortable truth was one that I feel is within an organization’s control if they determine which areas can become more efficient that directly impact customers, then implement innovative technologies to address those areas more quickly.

After several stats were shared, the Q&A portion of our panel discussion commenced. One of the questions directed towards me enabled me to highlight how a company’s talent search is a two-way interview process.

I was asked, “What would attract you to work for a company?”

I mentioned and briefly addressed the following 4 key areas which attract & motivate me to work for a company, those are:

  • Purpose: I want be a part of something much bigger than myself. I prefer to work for a company whose vision, mission, and purpose are empowering its workforce which drive positive changes on the world in which we live. It’s all about the “why?”. I feel the social media strategic work I do at IBM is changing the way we connect, engage, and market to our customers. By working at IBM (big picture perspective), I’m working for a place whose technology, such as IBM Watson (cognitive computing), will one day help discover cures for the world’s toughest diseases and will change the way we work and play as we know it today.
  • Impact: The roles I decide to take within a company during my lifetime will be those where my actions will make a positive impact on the bottom-line and the way the company does business. Organizational structure and leadership need to be aligned & open-minded enough to test new ideas, fail fast (as its part of the process), and embark on making history.

As IBM CEO Ginni Rometty has said, “Growth and comfort don’t co-exist”. 

  • Growth: I prefer a company who has a vested interest in its most valuable asset – its employees. In order to grow, one must be continually challenged through new experiences and opportunities. I value my education, both through on-the-job lessons and via online or on-site educational classes. I enjoy being able to succeed and try new roles from within different departments to get an enhanced perspective of the business as a whole while increasing my skill set.
  • Social: I study a company, if not more, than it studies me. I prefer to work for a company with a social & digital media presence. No matter a company’s size, social & digital media allow for a direct line of communication to and for its customers. It enables a company to have a level of transparency with all those who want to learn and know more about them. I also find its important to work for a company who is cognizant of what the market is saying about them over digital & social media outlets and they actively participate in the conversation.

This was only one of many questions asked, and one I felt propelled to share. After the panel came to a close, I felt inspired, motivated, and encouraged through the lively interaction with executive leadership, and that they listened and heard directly from us. It provided a pleasant example of how perspectives matter, and how all generations should have a seat at the decision making table. Now, let’s see if we make this step in a new business model – One in which an advisory board comprised of both executive leadership and those at the start of their journey can come together, foster creativity, and bring new innovative ideas to life.

After the panel discussion

After the panel discussion

1 – Baird, Carolyn. “Myths, Exaggerations, and Uncomfortable Truths: The Real Story Behind Millennials in the Workplace.”  IBM Institute for Business Value. 2015. http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/thoughtleadership/millennialworkplace/

TED@IBM Insights Inspire Social Reflections 4.0

By Phylicia Teymer

Imagine, thirty years ago, if I told you within the next three decades you’d witness the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: One in where you’d have limitless and instantaneous connections to the world around you, and at the click of the button via a mobile device, you’d not only communicate with others, but would learn about, and interact within the world around you? At the same time, your device, would learn about you through your digital behavioral data, and through cognitive computing it’d rationalize and deliver a personalized experience in numerous ways.

You first may ask, “What’s a mobile device?”, then proceed to think I was crazy or dreaming. It’s funny when you look at the past in retrospect to determine how you arrived at present-day. If, like me, you’d ask:

  • “What reasons drove the actions that made today possible?”
  • “What was necessary enough then, to drive the current inventions of the present?
  • Essentially, “Why are we where we are today and how will it impact the future?”

This past week, I had the AWESOME opportunity to attend & be a part of TED@IBM in San Francisco, Ca. An event where the relationship between technology and humanity was explored through various highly-accomplished speakers who shared their insights and ideas which impact our world and its future. Through these speakers’ insights, as a Social Strategist, I was inspired to question the future of social media. How would big data, cognitive computing, and the internet of things impact the way someone would interact, engage with, & make decisions via social media? How would businesses adjust to these advances to positively impact their bottom line? What’s social media + business possibilities 4.0?

The questions above helped to spur my insights below, with the inspiration of a few TED@IBM thought-leaders. 

Jared Kleinert, Co-Founder & Co-Author of 2 Billion Under 20, and a 2015 TED@IBM speaker mentioned, “Collaboration has always been an important element of success.” As the lead social strategist for TED@IBM, his statement rang true and clear to me. A lot of time and collaboration went into the preparation for this event. In the creation and implemention of the social strategy, I had to look at the “big picture” and also keep the details in mind. The success of the event depended on a few key factors:

  • Communication & Inclusion: We included social messaging across the company & and had leadership support. Internal & external communications were critical in ensuring our social mission, vision, & messaging were known, and allowed others to be a part of the social action & conversation.
    • Communications & Inclusion 4.0: In the future, given the advancements in big data, cognitive computing, & collaborative platforms, I imagine:  During an event a cognitive computer could listen to both the speaker talking & what’s being said across social media platforms to notate key quotes & derive key sentiments that once approved/signed off on could be shared across specific parts of an organization (or those organizations following via social media) at the click of a button. This would increase real-time engagement, and provide real-time meaningful content to those who find it relevant and necessary. I also see advancements between livestream & social event teams where users could choose between pre-arranged camera angles to view livestreams as they’d prefer, & text messages to notify them when their “desired speaker” is taking the stage, if time is limited. Audience members who’d show a liking towards specific topics/content via the behavioral data from their mobile/computer could also be sent an automated personalized newsfeed of relevant content after the event, too.
  • Collaboration & Teamwork: It took a positive, hardworking team to help
    Our TED@IBM Social Team (not all pictured)

    Our TED@IBM Social Team (not all pictured)

    put our plan into motion and I’m thankful to have had such a supportive group of talented stars working side-by-side with me & inspirational leadership. We united to “get it done”. Our distinct roles for event execution were aligned to our unique talents & skills. Without our collaborative teamwork, our live content creation + social amplification process which enabled others to attend via live stream & participate via social media wouldn’t have happened.

    • Collaboration & Teamwork 4.0: As collaborative tech evolves and becomes more affordable, in addition to cognitive computing’s assistance in chemical/physical compounds to create lighter/faster/more efficient materials, I see more social event teams having “pop-up social surround centers”. Here is where a team like ours could collaborate with very few on-site. Imagine this: A light, rollable, large computer monitor (yes, like paper) that could be unraveled & propped up like artwork. Most team members could work remotely, being able to communicate with those on-site as needed, but do so on video, in 3-D projection, where everyone could work & interact in a real-time 3-D virtual workspace or hub (Adv. Oculus Rift + Voice/Video + Adv. Collaborative Communication Platform). On-site social reporters, if any, would have eye-wear which would allow livestreaming of the event & their actions with the team, & their act of blinking would take a picture or capture video to post to social media or send to their remote team. (I would talk about human-like robots being used for this process & gathering deep audience sentiment info, but wide-spread adoption of it may not happen very soon due to cost & acceptance).
  • Data & Preparation: It was important to understand what was accomplished in 2014, how it was done, and the data derived from the previous social tactics to understand how I wanted to further develop & evolve the social strategy and its execution this year. After looking through the data I knew the metrics we needed to surpass, which tactics most engaged the audience and which didn’t, what type and how much content tended to perform best or not so well, and the areas where we could try out some new innovative ideas. I put together an “on-site/off-site” social media execution plan for the event, as it helped our team know all the essentials, including necessary social info, roles, process, & timeline (I do this for all events).
    • Data and Preparation 4.0: Maria Dubovitskaya, Research Staff Member, Cognitive Computing & Industry Solutions, remarked during her TED@IBM 2015 talk that “Our data can offer all kinds of personalized services for the greater good.” Her insights had my brain spinning with multiple ideas. In terms of the future of social media marketing, I see preparation being much easier and faster – a cognitive computer would rationalize the large sets of data and tell me everything I need to know based on me asking the right questions.  I predict one day it will even let me try out different social strategies and tactics ahead of time with simulation test runs. Much like weather can predict outcomes based on previous & current data sets. If I socially implement x + y, what will z be? Yet, what I’m even more excited & cautious about is the data one will be able to derive from wearable technology about one’s target market audience. Imagine a wearable device, as thin as sticker, which would not only be integrated into the capabilities of your mobile device, BUT it would also take your vital signs for emotional reactions to determine best/worst content performance. Picture this: You’re watching a big event via an app or even TV using this wearable device. It collects, interprets, and sends your vital signs (sweat/heartrate/blood pressure) which correlate with certain emotions over to the company (& marketing) so they could best learn how to adapt their marketing efforts to engage you, their audience. There’s many ways I see data & its usage evolving, but these are only a couple of them.

Perhaps my predictions of coming inventions & advancements sound crazy, but as Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible, until it’s done.” New ideas can be innovative & inspiring, yet at the same time a bit frightening. I was primarily inspired by the variety of speakers, who through their work & efforts, gave me the hope and drive to continue towards understanding social media and to dream BIG regarding its future and potential use. During his talk, Jared Kleinert, stated, “Never before have young people had this much power and opportunity to change the world.” I couldn’t agree more. We have so many ways to connect, learn from, and inspire one another using advanced tools & platforms (in addition to one-on-one communication) that I’m eager to see what the future comes to reveal.

Learn more about TED@IBM – Follow #TEDatIBM and @IBMCommerce & @IBMSocialBiz.

Phylicia Reinvents Old Window Into Coffee Table – See How To #DIY!

Innovation typically leverages something old, and puts a new twist or addition on it to create something new. In my multiple searches across Pinterest, I came across varied examples of using “old windows” to create new works of art which inspired me to create my own version of a multi-purpose coffee table. This how-to blog post will help inspire & enable you to build your own signature piece of home furniture – Pet approved!

Coffee Table

Time Labor for Project: 10 Hours (**Waiting for stain to dry for 2 separate coats – 12 add’l hours – or two days)

What you’ll need: (I found most of my tools at Home Depot, but you can check your local home improvement store)

  • An Old Window: Your best bet? Check your local antique stores as they usually have them available.
  • Work Gloves
  • Protective Eye Gear
  • Basic Mask Respirator
  • Yard Stick
  • Painters Tape (blue)
  • Hammer
  • 1 inch thick pine wood for coffee table sides & bottom
  • 4 pre-cut table legs w/ screws
  • 4 table leg plates (For some reason I had to go to Lowes since Home Depot didn’t have this available in store.)
  • Felt Bottom Round Adhesive Slider (for bottom of table legs to protect your floor)
  • Wood Stain w/ Polyurethane (I chose Espresso – 2 coats)
  • Mineral Spirits
  • Hand Saw (Power saw works too, Home depot can even cut the wood if you bought it from them, too – bring your measurements when you buy the wood)
  • Power Sander
  • Power drill/screwdriver
  • Sand Paper Sponge (80 grit and 220 grit – the higher the grit you use, the smoother your wood becomes)
  • 6 in 1 Painter’s Tool
  • Color of your choice paint (*if desired, buy small tester size)
  • Plastic Floor Cover (I initially used newspaper – don’t do this)
  • 1.5 inch paint brush / 2 inch oil paint brush / 1 1/2 inch regular paint brush (Make sure they are built for OIL/stain – if in doubt, ask – otherwise you’ll ruin your paintbrush)
  • Box of 2 inch nails (For indoors)
  • 2-3 small hinges
  • 1 pack of 4 mini – metal corner frames (optional*)
  • A work table/bench
  • Work light (optional, but I did a lot of work at night – stress reliever for me)

Old Window

Part 1: Measure & Cut Your Building Pieces

First, you’ll want to use your yard stick to measure & note the length and width of your window (not all windows are the same). Once measured, it’s time to cut wood! Make sure you have your work gloves & protective eye gear on. IMPORTANT – Please take into account how you will put the wood together for your base – you’ll want to subtract the amount of the two sides coming together (Example: I had to subtract two inches off the length of each side to account for the two edges (width sides) coming together – based on wood’s thickness). You’ll also want to get a board large enough for the bottom of your base (take your measurements into Home Depot when you buy the wood. They can cut the wood for you if you don’t have a saw and want a nice clean cut).

Part 2: Sanding

Before Sanding

Before Sanding

In addition to your protective eye gear & gloves, please use your respirator mask to avoid inhaling paint dust (lead) and sawdust. Use your 6-in-1 Painters tool to scrape remaining paint off of your old window. Afterwards, assess the amount of remaining paint to determine type of sand grit to be used. I had a lot of

After Sanding

After Sanding

layers of paint left, so I used my power sander with 80 grit to begin with until I removed all of the paint from both sides of the window. (I also sanded the edges of the pieces of wood that I cut earlier.) Once paint is removed, replace grit paper on sander to 220 grit, resand both sides of the window & any wood edges to ensure its smooth. **Watch my Meerkat Video To See Me Sand the Window (Voice/Video off, but still works).

Part 3: Staining

** Make sure you have all your protective gear on and there is proper ventilation.

Protective Eye Gear & Respirator Mask

Protective Eye Gear & Respirator Mask

Avoid staining when it’s very humid or raining. This process will be spread across a couple days, but can be done in a weekend if you have the time to dedicate to it. Important Note – Clear area of sawdust/sand so it doesn’t get in your coats of stain!* Place plastic drop cover down on floor.Line your glass windows with painters tape to ensure you do not get stain on them.

Dip your brush in the stain, drain brush before you begin to coat wood to remove excess stain. Use your 1.5 inch brush to THINLY COAT wood with stain (go WITH the grain, not against). You’ll coat each side/edge of wood with stain and let dry between coats (6 hrs between coats – 2 coats are best) ***(Learning lesson: Do not use newspaper like I did, it will stick to the bottom of your wood and you’ll have fun peeling it off – Use the plastic drop cover)***

Wood & Legs

Pine Wood For Staining

Part 4: The Fun Part: Putting it together! 

This initial part may require another person if you don’t have a vice to hold two pieces of wood together. While holding the wood base and side together – hammer the nail through the bottom of the base through the side piece of wood – evenly space the nails across the bottom as you nail them in. (I hammered the longer sides on first, then did the shorter (width) sides. Make sure you hammer straight to avoid any bent nails coming out of your wood. Once you’ve built your base, it’s time to put on the table leg plates. I measured two inches in from each corner to determine where to put the leg plates. Use your power screwdriver to attach your leg plates. Once attached, screw in your table legs. Take your adhesive round felt pieces and add them to the leg bottoms (1 per leg). Now, FLIP it over! Time to attach your window. Important Note: Take your hinges, screw in one side of each of your hinges to the inside of your window (spaced enough to provide ample support), screw the other hinge sides to the outside edge/back of your table, so it lays flush and no sides of your wood base should show.

Part 5 – The Finishing Touches! 

You’re almost done, and if you’re like me you can’t wait to add the finishing touches so you can get it in the house! Take your 1/2 inch paint brush, and dip in your small container of your chosen color of paint. Use this to paint the inside edges of your window to add some dimension (near the glass – I chose white, but you can choose any color, or stain it all one color). Let dry. Remove painters tape. Screw in your mini metal corner frames at each edge of your window to add character. You may also add your “signature” somewhere special on your new piece of furniture as your “calling card”. Then, before anyone sees your new creation, stand back, and take in all you’ve accomplished! Once you’ve realized the masterpiece you’ve created, feel free to take it into a designated place in your home, add some magazines, or figurines inside and let your house guests ask “Where did you get that table from?” Then tell your story of innovating something old, into something new.

My Finished Coffee Table

My Finished Coffee Table *My Pup Approves*

Shrimp & S’mores: Social Campaign Marks Social Evolution, Spurs Action.

Article originally posted on Linkedin on July 25th, 2015 – 

Shrimp & S’mores: Social Campaign Marks Social Evolution, Spurs Action.

1

On July 21st I witnessed change. I tasted it too. A business harnessed the power of social media, cultivating collaborative action and mass engagement of stellar proportions. I smiled, as it further solidified a social evolution in business. I couldn’t help but reminisce on my 2009 collegiate media studies capstone class discussion with Dr. Bruce Ellingson on one of the keys to social media’s ability to evolve and thrive: human connections enhanced through technology.

It was similar to most Tuesday mornings, except that after an energizing morning workout, prioritization of my to-do list, and a social surf of the latest updates by those I consider “social advisors” (via Twitter lists of people and companies of personal relevance), I came across Applebee’s #TasteTheChange campaign through the news feed of one of my social role models, Brian Fanzo (@iSocialFanz).

I clicked on the Periscope feed and was immediately captivated. The three engaging hosts, Vincenzo Landino, Sunny Lenarduzzi, and Brian Fanzo, allowed me and others to be a part of this one-day-only event. Applebee’s was giving away 2,000,000 special appetizers across their US restaurants: new fan-favorites  Sriracha Shrimp and S’more Churros. Yet, what bears highlighting is how they increased brand awareness and engaged new audiences by connecting the masses via new social technologies. I’ve highlighted the top three reasons why the Applebee’s campaign is a significant example of “social done right” for present day and future:

  1. Social Technology Choices – On July 21st, Applebee’s cornered the social media space by promoting a “way to virtually connect” to their #TasteTheChange experience on all the primary social channels. The ability to join the action via Periscope and Meerkat was advertised not only through Facebook and Twitter, but through leveraging influential hosts’ audiences to help spread the message to their target market.
  2. Authentic Mass Engagement & Feedback – A key point of social evolution” in Applebee’s method was authentic engagement based on open and honest feedback through social technology. The power of harnessing the digital human network was apparent, but what showed further progression of social evolution was the multiple live on-site feeds: “We,” the virtual audience, were taken around the US to multiple different locations, from on the street in NYC, to different Applebee’s restaurants to watch as staff not only told people about their special offer and got feedback from others in the restaurant, but also as they broadcast other customers’ live video feed (via Periscope) as they shared their feedback. This was a bold step for Applebee’s, as what happens live is unpredictable, but it was very entertaining for everyone involved.
  3. Collaborative Execution of Call to Action – When multiple different business units work together, the result can be stellar, which was exemplified by Applebee’s execution of the #TasteTheChange campaign (from the outside looking in). From the virtual advertisements and in-sync web presence to communications to prepare the restaurants’ staff about the special appetizer day, it appeared to go very well. I, as a customer, knew exactly what I wanted to do: #TasteTheChange!

I’d like to give a very big high-five to the Applebee’s social media team and to those who allowed them to embrace new ideas! It was great to watch and to taste the change that evening at our local Applebee’s. The Sriracha Shrimp was my favorite! Thank you, Applebee’s!