We dropped the ball at midnight on New Year’s Day. The moment was merry and joyful. We even danced (terribly).
I didn’t enjoy the moment for long, because my anxiety about my “to do lists” never retreats . . . I worry more about forgetting to do something than just about anything else.
I have to stay ahead of my anxiety to keep all of the balls in the air. This year, I resolved to embrace the new technology available that can help prevent me from spacing on an appointment or to complete a task (at least once a month I have a dream that despite all my best efforts I show up late to The Five and miss the show. Greg Gutfeld wishes that it would actually happen!).
Just as I try to find ways to be more productive every year for myself, I also look for tips to pass on to young professionals. Here are my top five for 2017.
Come on, millennials – this is your year. Let’s do this!
Dana’s Five Mentoring Tips for 2017
1. Perfect your Poker Face:
You can tell a lot about a person just by watching their facial expressions. But there are times when it’s best to hide your feelings, especially at work.
Here’s an example: Once when my aide and I were traveling on business, we had to spend the day in a car that smelled strongly of smoke (the driver was a heavy smoker). It was bad – and too cold and rainy to put the windows down without being completely obvious about our discomfort. We didn’t want to be rude.
You could read how my aide felt about the situation. It made an awkward situation even more uncomfortable - she looked like he was going to suffocate! I had to hold back laughter, but then I realized we were at risk of offending the driver. I felt awful, and so did she when I brought it up afterwards. Lesson of the day? Keep a smile on your face and deal with it in order to keep the day on a positive note. And remember to request a non-smoking car when you book!
There's another reason for this, especially if you're in management or leading a team. If you are trying to get people to work on a problem together, it’s best if they don't know where you as the supervisor/manager stand on the question. I learned that from former Vice President Dick Cheney. He said it is best to keep your thoughts to yourself, maybe ask some questions to help drive the discussion, but not freeze out a healthy debate if the staff thinks they need to be on the side of the boss. Because the boss needs to hear all sides and she may change her mind to agree with you, too.
2. Resist Up-Talking & Apologizing
Many young adults I have communicated with – both in-person and over email – constantly apologize before stating their idea, or finish each sentence with a question. Unfortunately, doing so in business puts you at an immediate disadvantage with your boss and work colleagues. Here are some ways to fix this bad habit:
A. Stop ending your sentences with a question (Sorry if you think I’m a broken record on this...but it is so important): “Up-talking” is a common way millennials communicate with peers, but it reduces credibility in the workplace. Instead of talking in that high pitch voice that gets higher at the end of a sentence (like THIS!), find your strong voice. Speak slowly, and deeply from your diaphragm. Think before you speak. And never question what you are saying while you are saying it – have confidence in your idea!
B. Remove the words “just” and “that” from your emails: By removing these two words from your email lingo, your correspondence will become more direct and assertive as a result. It’s an easy fix, but difficult to implement.
C. Stop apologizing to your boss for doing your job: Often, younger professionals offer an apology when they present something to their boss such as, “Sorry if this article is not what you want – I can easily re-do it.”
If you apologize when you send an email or present your product, it immediately sheds doubt on your work before your boss has even seen it. It also comes across as insecure – not a trait you want to portray in the workplace.
Be confident in what you do and take pride in it! No more apologizing for doing your job.
3. Make Posture a Priority – Seriously.
I’m becoming a nag about this. Young adults are going to have neck and upper back problems as a result of constantly leaning down to look at their phones. Good posture is not just professional, it is also important for the health of the rest of your body and muscles. Trust me, I have experience with this from my days at the White House -- my back has never quite been the same. Good posture simply must be a priority. Period.
The best way to correct posture is through exercise and good practice of holding yourself properly. But lucky for you, I have a secret weapon: posture correctors! This is an inexpensive tool you can order online that I wear on every flight - there are all different styles and brands. Mine easily fits into my bag, so I take it everywhere.
Traveling is a good opportunity to correct your posture for an hour or two. When I’m wearing the corrector on a flight, the few people who've asked me about it have been road warriors who realize their lifestyles are contributing to their bad posture - it's happening all around us.
I promise you will thank me in five years (or ten…) - correct your posture while you still can.
4. Leave Your Home Office
In the age where working remotely from home has increasingly become the norm for many adults, and where “the office” is now centered around your mobile phone instead of a physical building, there are costs as well as benefits to employees.
Managers should require these “remote employees” to attend at least one networking event per month. The reasons are simple and more important than you may realize.
The more time we spend alone, the more we get comfortable with it. Networking is a muscle - it needs to be worked. Don't be left without any support from colleagues and friends - make a point to expand your work/friend circle. You will notice a positive difference in your workweek right away. It’s important for career growth, job satisfaction, and personal fulfillment.
The way to combat this in 2017 is simple: Sign-up for a young professionals group, an art class, or hit up a local seminar or event that sounds interesting to you. Get out there and meet some people.
5. Stretch & Save Your Dollar:
Are you sick of being told you need to have more money in your savings account? Too bad. Because you do.
When it comes to money, millennials have some of the highest student loan debt rates of any generation in history. The average millennial has roughly $30,000 in student loans. That’s like trying to run a marathon wearing thirty-pound ankle weights.
A recent survey finds that 40 percent of millennials don't have a retirement savings account at all (46 percent of women and 33 percent of men), and 73 percent don't know their net worth.
America’s largest generation in the workforce cannot afford to gamble their retirement. Time to make saving a priority and take control of your finances. As difficult as it may be, it is absolutely crucial. Take it from a Gen X’er.
Whatever you need to do, whether meeting with a financial advisor, using mint.com to manage your spending, or utilizing technology and mobile banking to control your debt and savings, make it happen this year. Your savings cannot wait until tomorrow; start now.