Business Challenges For The Millennial Generation

Found this post sitting in my drafts folder from July 2013. I don’t necessarily agree with the 2013 version of myself but the post was already finished and new blogging ideas are hard enough to come by. Enjoy!


For the past few weeks I’ve been reading “The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century” on the train to and from work every day. Progress has been slow since it is only a total commute time of 30 minutes but what a great book. I originally started it about 2 years ago when a CIS professor (Bala Ramesh) recommended the class read at least the first chapter. So I did and then forget about it until a couple of weeks ago. I could spew out interesting facts to you until your mind blows but I don’t want to ruin any surprises for you. The version I’m reading was published in 2007 and the advances in technology from then till now astounds me.

On the train this morning, the author began discussing VoIP and how amazing and game changing it is. He discusses Skype (pre-Microsoft) and how X Company adopted it and cut their phone bills by 10%. I kind of laughed to myself and thought, “Well duh, of course VoIP makes sense and videoconferencing is important.” As I continued to half read, I tossed around the idea of what challenges my generation will face when we’re CEOs of major corporations or running call centers like Company X.

As of right now, the number of Millennials running multi-million/billion dollar companies is low, but for good reason. With the exception of Facebook and Tumblr, we’re either still in college or just recently graduated. Trying to figure out this big bad world doesn’t happen overnight, so here we are biding our time and gaining necessary experience. But in 20 years we’ll be primed and ready to run these companies, so what will our challenges be?

Great question and I don’t know.

And that’s fine. But I do know what we won’t be discussing and I’ll take a stab at what we could possibly maybe perhaps talk about.

The Non-Issues:

  • Mobile First:  Today’s CIOs should have that nailed down within the next 2 or 3 years. By the time we run big companies, a solidified standard should be in place.
  • Big Data: Ugh, what a painful term. In 20 years “Big Data” will just be “data” and life will go on. So shut your traps about it. You sound like a toddler who just learned a new word.
  • BYOD: Come the next 10 years, OSes will be unified across all devices with just two major players. We will be able to easily separate work and personal on the same device. I think Microsoft with Windows 8 is the first major step with unifying mobile and desktop. Apple will follow suit soon and Android will be the ugly step child that no one knows what to do with but keeps around just in case.

The Issues:

  • Gamify the work place:  Making work into a game rather than a job will improve efficiency, collaboration and morale. All of which increase the bottom-line; the goal of any good CEO.
  • Execute on “data”: Now that Big Data has become just data, businesses will just be tweaking its use cases, like we are with data today.
  • Cut the fat: Businesses need to be leaner than ever powered by improvements in efficiency tracking. You’ll never have to ask yourself, “What does that guy even do?” Corporations run by Millennials will be far more thorough and efficient than ever before.
  • Provide Global WiFi: Steve Jobs’ idea of a perfect cellphone was not connected through cellular towers but over WiFi. Cellular providers will turn into WiFi providers and just charge to access their network, and of course miscellaneous fees. This will open up the internet to billions more users.

Over the past 200-300 years, companies have evolved in how they’ve done business. Way back when, companies only cared about selling their products. They used the lackluster technology given to them to produce their items. Then came the industrial revolution. Technology advanced so quickly, business just wanted to produce as much as possible regardless of how ethical. The most recent generation, the ones currently in charge, put ethics (mostly) first compared to prior years. Now that we can produce a ton of materials in a somewhat ethical matter, the Millennial Generation can focus on efficiency more so than the current generation. Every last function will be monitored, tracked and reported until all systems run at 100% 100% of the time. Since the Millennials will have access to more information than ever imaginable our success all depends on what we do with it.

To really succeed in business, the Millennial Generation will have to out-innovate, out-execute and out-perform the previous generation. Not the most difficult feat ever attempted. It happens every 20 years or so. My advice to the old white guys running companies: put together a nice retirement plan because the Millennials are hungry.

New Adventure: Weekly Flex Trip

Weekly Flex Trip highlights the best flex trips across the globe through user submissions. We aim to give insight into the best places to eat, play and stay in each city we cover.

About two weeks ago I was given Click Millionaires by Scott Fox for some light reading. I demolished the book in three days (lightning fast for me). Both my head and OneNote were quickly filled with business ideas- good and bad. The one that stuck with me is Weekly Flex Trip.

For those who don’t travel for a living let me define what a flex trip is. A flex trip is when you don’t fly home on the weekend but instead you fly to a different city. These are basically mini trips that are paid for by the client.

Here’s my pitch below:

What’s the problem?
Consultants aren’t getting the most out if their flex trips. They’re missing great city features, leaving money on the table, and staying in overpriced accommodations.

What’s the solution?
Provide real insight into these aspects from locals/frequent travelers, offer advice and tips for getting the most out of flex trips, grow community of flex trippers to provide trip reviews.

How’s it different from TripAdvisor?
Targeted advice for consultants on flex trips, a very specific niche, which is not currently being covered.

Overview:

Beginnings

This website initially started out as a noozle or an email newsletter. Consultants would sign up for this weekly newsletter to receive weekly updates about flex trips, cities, travel tips and more. I signed up for MailChimp and began creating my first noozle. Even though MailChimp makes it extremely easy to format your content and information it still required more graphic skillz than I could muster. There was not a good format that could contain all this information that I wanted to share. My next logical step was a blog.

Hosting

I have experience with the free WordPress setup, which is what NikFuller.com is currently leveraging, but I wanted more experience with a hosted WordPress. I volunteer for the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce as their IT guy. They use a hosted WordPress. I figured setting up my own will at least give me more background into how theirs works.

I purchased the domain name late one night and started playing around with hosting it. I chose BlueHost as my host. I saw a lot of ads for them claiming to be easy to setup a hosted WordPress account. Sure enough it was very easy to get going. I did however encounter a few problems with my sites uptime. I kept receiving a “Database can not connect” error whenever I visited my site. I spoke with their tech support on Wednesday evening, the day after installing WordPress, and he finally admitted someone was abusing their server which caused my outage. Two days later the same error started occurring again. I rephoned BlueHost from Hawaii (I was on a flex trip) and was greeted with a much more pleasant tech rep. He gave me some advice on better plugins. My site has loaded quicker without errors ever since.

Collaboration

Every time I have a new idea I can’t wait to share it whether or not it’s been fully thought through or not. I get so excited about it I can’t think of anything else. In an effort to break up the silence in the car ride to a meeting, I began telling my coworker about my latest and greatest idea. She was a fan. I took this as an opportunity to bring in someone else into this new project who had more travel experience and a bigger consulting network. Times were slow on the project so we setup weekly meetings to plan and discuss content, demographic, formatting and overall vision of Weekly Flex Trip. By having a partner in crime this process has been a lot smoother, I think. I’m able to have a sounding board and someone to help me with the less glorious aspects of building out content on a blank site.

Content

We were able to identify four different content types for the site.

The first content type being city maps filled with places to eat, play and stay using Google’s My Map feature. This allows us to easily add new content in an interactive way for our readers. Each city had content filled in by residents of the city and frequent visitors ensuring readers won’t waste their time in bad restaurants or boring museums.

The second content type is user submitted trips. I think this is the most exciting portion of our site besides our expertly curated activities. We encourage our readers to share their past trips for others to see. By seeing and reading about what to do in San Francisco it will make it easier for someone to plan a trip. This makes it more likely they get out and travel. I’m looking to build a contest out of these submissions in order to entice readers to submit.

The third form is travel tips. This is essentially a blog of tips that I think of. After a year on the round I think I provide some advice to newer travelers. Some of the posts are reviews on articles I’ve read while others are tips and advice that I can give straight from the ol’ noggin.

One of the more playful content types is the challenge and it’s the fourth content type. I plan to have  new challenge every month or quarter. Not really sure yet. The current challenge is a drinking challenge for the plane. I figured all these consultants like to drink and talk about so this should be an easy one.

Marketing

Facebook used to allow individuals to promote their posts. I would do it on occasion when I felt particularly strong or positive about a new blog post. They’ve since removed this feature so I started looking into Facebook Ads. Facebook makes it fairly simple to create one but I did hit some speed bumps. I wasn’t aware of the difference between a campaign and an ad. I ended up creating five ads under on campaign with a threshold of $60 per ad over a one month period. Luckily four of the five ads were rejected for some reason or another. This saved me from having to shell out $300 to our Facebook overlords. I’m currently running one ad which received 34 Website Clicks for $39.12.

Monetization

I plan to monetize the site in three ways. Google Adsense, leveraging affiliation programs, creating an affiliation program and content sponsorships are my three main avenues. Google Adsense for the click-through revenue. Leveraging affiliation programs seem like a natural fit for the Deltas and Marriotts of the world. Creating my own affiliation program for AirBnB rentals – every user booked to your unit through my site will warrant a fee. Content sponsorships will work as any other sponsor would.

Struggles:

Just like any new business I’ve encountered some struggles. I could use some advice on them if anyone out there wants to lend a (free) helping hand. From my viewpoint, I need to understand who’s going to my website and what they’re doing there in order to figure ways to get them to come back. I have two analytics tools at my disposal, Google Analytics and Facebook Ad Manager, that I am not yet fluent in. Google Analytics has been installed since day one. In order for this website to succeed I feel I need to understand what is actually driving people to it.

  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook Ad Manager

Conclusions:

So far this has been a fun ride. Taking an concept from idea to reality is really rewarding. I feel this will help me in future ventures. Normally a blog on NikFuller.com takes some strike of lightning for me to write but with Weekly Flex Trip I’ve learned how to knock out content on demand. I feel it will really improve my writing and overall creative process. Please enjoy Weekly Flex Trip and forward it to your traveling/consulting friends.

Thanks!

Lean Packing Methodology

Trademark pending…FoldPackWearLPM

The Lean Packing Manifesto:

 We are uncovering better ways of packing clothes for a four-day travel week by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

  •  Function over form
  •  Overhead space over checked luggage
  •  Light weight luggage over clothing options
  • Planning over procrastination

 That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

Lean Packing Methodology acts as a starting point for travel plans. It is to be used as a framework and guideline for business travel. Practitioners of the Lean Packing Methodology are encouraged to experiment and explore new avenues for leveraging the methodology while maintaining its integrity.

Lean Packing Methodology Checklist (Suggested):

Article Total # Breakdown Reason
Dress Shirt 4 Wear 1 on plane. 3 for suitcase. Business casual.
Underwear 5-6 Wear 1 on plane. 3 for suitcase. 2 for extra. Gotta stay fresh.
Dress Pants  1 Wear 1 on plane. Business casual.
Dress Shoes  1 Wear 1 on plane. Stylin’ profilin’.
Socks  5-6 Wear 1 on plane. 3 for suitcase. 2 for extra. Argyle.
Belt  1 Wear 1 on plane. Match shoes.
Athletic Shoes  1 1 for suitcase. No more excuses.
Casual Shirt  2 2 for suitcase. Relax.
Jeans  1 1 for suitcase. Relaxed fit.
Watch  1 Wear 1 on plane. Bling bling.
Water Bottle  1 1 for suitcase. Hydration is key.
Phone Charger  1 1 for suitcase. Juicin’.
Dopp Kit  1 1 for suitcase. Be clean.

Training Aids:

Please share the new and exciting Lean Packing Methodology with your fellow travel companions. As we grow, we will develop best practices for all genders. Together we can shape the future of business packing. Certifications in development. #LeanPackingMethodology

Landing Pages & Headlines

In an effort to subsidize the costs of WiFi at hotels many have taken to partnering with local newspapers. When a guest checks into the hotel and signs in through the portal with their name and room number they’ll be taken to the default landing page of the online paper. What a great way to learn about the community that many are visiting for the first time.

There’s one problem. Most newspapers highlight the crazy, weird and sad events of the day on their website. So whenever a guest logs into the internet for the first time they’re met with details about a double homicide instead of the kitten rescued by local firefighter.

Below are screenshots of the landing page from the past few weeks. Not really the best representation KSL has to offer. Maybe Marriott should rethink this partnership a little. Work is hard enough with having to read some of the headlines below. Enjoy!

Screenshots captured by @DMcCash.

Screenshot_2014-07-07-19-49-59
What a warm welcome. Glad I’m here too, Marriott.
Screenshot_2014-07-08-09-41-02
Well then. I’ll be sure to stay off the roads.
Screenshot_2014-07-08-19-56-10
Woolen mill fires are the worst.
Screenshot_2014-07-09-20-02-06
West Jordan born and raised. On the playground is where I spent most of my days.
Screenshot_2014-08-04-20-20-30
I can’t imagine the night he had before.

 

 

 

 

 

My Career: What I’m Up To pt. 2

It’s been a year and a half since my last career update. I had just changed internships within the same company and had a solid 5 months until graduation. Those were the days. I’ll cover some of the major milestones in my life since then with some pictures included. I tend to blog more about business so I figured one big personal update could be a nice change in pace.

Let us begin.

I interviewed and accepted an offer from Accenture as a technology consultant in March 2013. I was featured in the school newspaper for complaining about the Career Fair. In May 2013 I graduated with a degree in Computer Information Systems. Good times. Connie and I moved into Post Gardens in Lenox Park to escape 4 years of being Downtown. As a graduation present my parents took us on a trip to Europe. Paris for 3 days, then a river cruise on the Danube. You can see the pictures HERE. I was the youngest person on the boat including the crew. I also bought a car. Pictures HERE.

I continued at my internship over the summer while I waited for my big boy start date. Come August I was a little bored and decided to leave my internship early and just live off my savings until my job started. What I thought would be two weeks turned into 6 weeks. Oops. Close to pulling my hair out, I got a gym membership and started lifting every day and eating protein like these guys. I put on about 10-15lbs over those few weeks. It doesn’t sound like a lot but over 4 years of college I only gained 15lbs. Then I started my job and got lazy.

Provo

My first and current project is based out of Provo, UT. It’s a Salesforce implementation to replace the companies homegrown CRM. I had just enough Salesforce experience from my internship and working at my parents company to weasel my way onto the project. Also, the project desperately needed a warm body to gather requirements.

My role changed throughout the past 9 months with increasing levels of responsibility as I helped build and design the system. I am currently leading the build of a different business unit into our existing Salesforce instance.

Home

On February 28th, I closed on my first home – a townhouse in Brookhaven, GA and we moved in the week after. Not to brag but I’m kind of an expert in moving. 1 truck, 1 trip. Our new home is a beautiful 3 story town home with hardwoods on the main and a 2 car garage. There’s even a pool but being the youngest in the hood makes it a little awkward come swimsuit season.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last 9 months about work and travel. I tried to document some of my “findings” on my blog. HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. Below are some travel stats I just scrapped together:

Lifetime Stats:

  • Delta: 103,140 miles
  • Marriott: 104 Elite nights
  • Hertz: 23 YTD rentals

Donkey Braves

On May 3rd, Connie and I adopted a handsome miniature schnauzer from Furkids Small Dog Rescue. His name is Donkey Wong, although he has been known to go by the following names: Don Quijote, Donk Man 3000, Donk-a-ronk, and Donkster. Isn’t he adorable? HERE is an album full of his pictures and Tommy and Louie, his uncles.

Old San Juan

In late May, we took a 5 day trip to Puerto Rico over Memorial Day weekend, Friday – Wednesday. We only paid for 1 plane ticket. The rest of the trip was strictly on Delta, Marriott and Hertz points. We even got a free upgrade at the Marriott which put us on the 16th floor with a corner room and ocean view. Puerto Rico has a lot to offer but we only attempted a handful of activities. We soaked up an absurd amount of sun and in return I had an intense sun burn. We also kayaked in Bio Bay, hiked a trail in El Yunque rain forest and walked around in Old San Juan. This was intended to be a relaxing vacation and I think we accomplished that nicely. You can see a few pictures from that trip HERE.
PPP I spent the two weeks before 4th of July outside of Chicago at a work training. It was a really neat experience as the other analysts were from all across the US and all across the world. The group I hung out with had two analysts from NYC, two from Germany and one from Tokyo. One Global Network! HERE are some of the few pictures I took on the trip. It was essentially college but we were paid to be there. Also, a lot of volleyball was played. Pretty sure I’m going to play internationally soon.

So. Yeah. That’s been the past year and a half of my life. Hopefully the pictures helped keep this interesting. At this point I’d like to open it up for any questions.

Side bar: I’ll probably deactivate the picture links in a few weeks/months. No need to have a bunch of randos steal my pics.

Consulting 101: Bag Tags

Full disclosure: I’m Platinum.

If you don’t mind, I’m going to make a generalization about all humans. Humans of all cultures have status symbols. Whether you wear rings around your neck or wear a crown atop of a throne made of games, each culture and civilization has some item that means, “I’m better than you. Nana nana boo boo.” The consulting world is just as primitive as the British Royal family but instead of the family jewels we have bag tags.

At each level of your travel  career you’ll hit milestones. These milestones, coincidentally enough, are based on the miles you’ve traveled AKA Butt-In-Seat miles. Only the truest of road warriors can fully appreciate these crowning achievements.

As I stand in line to board a plane, I take inventory of who’s corralling into the inevitable half circle surrounding the boarding door. I immediately start judging people based on the little luggage tag on their suitcase. That little piece of plastic effortlessly creates a caste system in which my fellow passengers fall in. Vacation travelers think we’re all crazy and spend too much time away from home. But while they’re spending money on vacations, we just spend points.

Below I’ve created a comprehensive table of status vs. reaction to status. HERE is some info on each status level.

Status Reaction
Silver Aw. That’s cute.
Gold I remember when.
Platinum Solid. Keep it up.
Diamond Dang son!

Consulting 101: Taking Notes

Throughout my “formative” years teachers would write notes on the board for students to furiously copy down. We would then be tested on said notes every few weeks. Then in college students were expected to copy down the important pieces of information that spewed for teachers like alcohol from sorority girls on spring break.

Jotting down important notes during lessons was never my strong suit. I got through school by paying attention during lectures and asking questions when I had trouble understanding. I felt I learned more by listening and thinking than by having my nose stuck in a 3-ring during class. I may not have graduated from Harvard or Yale but I did manage to graduate with honors and land a job.

As an entry level analyst, you’re expected to take meeting notes while the big boy/girl consultants ask the questions and do the thinking. This is where I struggle in my current role but thankfully this project is flexible enough for it to be ok. I’ll be honest: my meeting minutes are subpar. It’s not because I’m off checking Facebook or writing blog posts (although…), I’m too intrigued in the conversations and issues of the meeting to get bogged down in taking notes. This is not to say that those who are great note takers don’t care about that topics at hand. I don’t learn that way and it’s a tough.

This is an area that needs improvement. To be able to send out key decisions made and assign follow up tasks after a meeting brings another level of skill and professionalism to the table. It’s little things like this that get you noticed and instill confidence in your team and client that you know what you are doing. As I grow in the working world, taking better notes is a skill I look to command.

What areas are you working to improve?

P.S. When I do take notes, it’s in OneNote. What a dream of an application for consultants.