At The Center for Generational Kinetics, we have three incredible certified speakers in addition to our Co-Founder, Jason Dorsey, whose TEDx talk on Gen Z has over 200,000 views. This is the second in our three-part series in which you will get to know each of our certified speakers and see what they think about generations!
All About: Alicia Rainwater
- Which generation are you in based on your birth year—and your state of mind?
I’m a Millennial by birth year (in the older half of the generation). I used to think of myself as Gen X because that was the generation everyone was talking about when I was an adolescent. In middle school, I was proud of my flannel shirt when it was the Gen X fashion trend (and before Hipsters brought flannel back and made it cool again!). But I’m definitely a Millennial in that I took to heart all the messages I heard in my young adult years encouraging me to “Do what you love!” and “Follow your passion.” I’m fortunate enough to actually have pulled that off in my career.
I also have a lot in common with Baby Boomers when it comes to views on social etiquette. I usually keep my phone on silent and get slightly offended when someone is looking at his or her phone during a conversation. I don’t take many pictures on my phone either (selfies or otherwise).
- If there’s one thing you want people to know about generations, what is it?
Understanding generations helps us dispel the notion that there is one universal norm for how people are going to operate in our work, school, or social lives. It helps us build self-awareness and insight into how people have been shaped by historical events and social influences across different time periods.
- What is the biggest misconception that you think audiences have about generations?
The biggest misconception is that each generation can be defined by a fixed set of behaviors. For every story we hear about an entitled Millennial, we know there are five other stories about Millennials who are industrious, mature, and responsible beyond their years. But, it’s much easier to focus on the entitled Millennial, because he or she is causing so much frustration.
Generations are not static groups either. We see generations changing their group habits and behaviors throughout their lifetimes. For instance, Gen Xers are just as inclined to be addicted to social media as Millennials, if not more. As Millennials age and face more major financial decisions, they prefer face-to-face communication like Baby Boomers.
- Who is your biggest influence or role model?
My parents are easily my biggest influences. My mother was always pushing herself to move out of her comfort zone which gave her a sort of everyday courage and meant she never stopped growing and changing. She lived by the motto “Take one small risk every day.” She was the best listener I’ve ever known. She made every person she encountered feel like they were the most important and interesting person she had ever met. She had a genuine desire to understand people and she asked questions that reflected her desire to make them feel known and appreciated.
My father is a small business owner and he worked incredibly hard to build a successful company, all while balancing that with a rich personal and family life. He is well respected among his peers in his field because he is a man of integrity. He is honest and straightforward and he sticks to his commitments. His motto is: “Sign up, show up.” That phrase has really stuck with me and influenced my decisions over the years.
- What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
I play competitive Ultimate Frisbee! I started out playing on a college club team at the University of Texas and have played in regional leagues since then. Ultimate Frisbee is the perfect Millennial sport because it is it is governed by this concept known as “spirit of the game” which means players self-referee (even at the highest levels) with a priority on sportsmanship and respect for the opponent. In that way, it’s a very democratic, positive, and affirming sport.
BONUS QUESTION: One piece of advice for a manager who has to lead across generations?
You have two options when it comes to your expectations of Millennial employees and building successful working relationships.
- Adapt them as needed by identifying where you can be flexible and make changes in your policies, procedures, and communication to attract and retain this generation.
- Continue to hold the same expectations for everyone and be entirely clear and upfront about your expectations with Millennials by providing specific, observable examples of what you expect.
The difference is on the emphasis in who has the responsibility to adapt. It is most common to expect employees to bear the most responsibility for adapting to the culture and expectations of your organization. However, your willingness to adapt to the different generations and their values and priorities will help you attract and maintain a diverse workforce.
Interested in learning more about inviting Alicia to speak at one of your upcoming events? Email firstname.lastname@example.org!