Is Your Business Prepared for the Future?

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Remarkably health-conscious, radically inclusive, highly entrepreneurial and competitive. These are just a few of the buzzwords floating around when it comes to typifying and categorizing Generation Z. These characteristics are important to recognize when considering Gen Z’s overall impact on the workforce, but it is also important to consider what other traits they exhibit that could considerably jolt an organization. This generation is already larger in number than millennials and, therefore, is truly the future of the global economy, an economy that is already at our doorstep. Is your business prepared to attract, retain, develop and engage them? What makes this population so unique, and what does this mean for your company?

Generation Z is the purest of pure digital natives. They can’t fathom a world without technology because they never lived without it. Rather than seeing separate worlds as many others do (the “digital” world versus the “real” world), they see a new integrated world where technology, life and work meld together to construct an entirely new reality. Having lived in an atmosphere with Wi-Fi, iPhones and apps for as long as they can recall, these “native speakers” of the digital language can learn new platforms and trends at the drop of a hat, and 92% of them already have some sort of digital footprint. According to a recent article, their relationship to technology may be “even more instinctual than that of a millennial in their late 30s,” as over one-third state that they use technology as frequently as possible, are eager adopters of wearable technology and aren’t the slightest bit intimated by job automation and AI.

The impact? Companies will be forced to adapt to a more “pragmatic, tech-savvy generation that isn’t easily wowed or won over,” if they don’t want to fall behind, according to VisionCritical. This group’s shrewdness in the digital sphere is certainly something organizations need to consider and embrace if they want to engage and retain this generation. Sources note that because this group is so technically competent, they are able to “pick up on some aspects of the job more quickly than their counterparts,” which could be a major benefit. This can be a double-edged sword, however, as they may also be “ill-equipped for jobs requiring high customer interactions and may require more training in this area” due to that saturation in the digital world.

Garrett Gatlin, leadership psychology and life design expert, states that this group of individuals has a “dramatically different world view than previous generations, as they have been able to construct multidimensional identities and pursue self-directed and broad-ranging experiences.” Their world no longer operates under limitations and boundaries and, consequently, employers need to “reimagine opportunities and structures” that support a diverse set of career experiences.

“Where baby boomers, Gen X and millennials (to some extent) entered the workforce with traditional pyramid structures, modern organizations are moving toward inverted pyramids with fewer and fewer opportunity for entry-level jobs,” he states. This shift is deeply impacted by technology advancement and automation, and employers must reimagine what is possible for entry-level work to create experiences that secure the future talent pipeline.

“While Gen Z are the most equipped to lead into a disrupted technological future, there are skill gaps that will need to be addressed, such as social and emotional intelligence, fluency and originality of ideas and complex problem-solving,” Gatlin states. According to a recent study, over 90% of Gen Z and HR leaders view these social and emotional skills as a pressing area for development. Forbes echoes this as well, noting that management should be “actively involved in the progression of their careers,” developing opportunities for mentorship, sponsorship and one-on-one guidance from leaders to ensure those soft skills are groomed.

Knowing how to develop Generation Z is cardinal, but how do you get them in the door? A recent article states that showing commitment to a social ethos, developing a culture of entrepreneurship and having a mental health support system to combat their technology tether can be major incentives. Gatlin’s top tip for attracting and retaining Gen Z is having the creativity and, even more than that, courage, to rethink the traditional paradigm of talent and work. He recommends shifting from careers to experiences such as stretch assignments, gigs, job rotations, and learning assignments. By focusing on broad experiences, he states, you “speak Gen Z’s world without boundaries and, in the process, prepare the future professional with knowledge and skills to be adaptive in a disrupted future.”

Interested in hearing more tips? Gatlin is hosting an entire workshop on how to manage the future Feb. 13 at CU South Denver. Learn more and register here.

Is Social Media Replacing Traditional Advertising?

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We hear it all the time: the Internet has overhauled everything. The fear is that the rise of digital media is eradicating our face-to-face, interpersonal relationships and turning us into social-media-obsessed robots. Being a social media maven myself, this conversation continuously pops up in the office, particularly in terms of advertising. “Social media is the new advertising,” “Digital marketing has eclipsed traditional methods,” and “The entire world is online now” are statements made, doused in confidence, on an almost daily basis in my world.  

Is it true? Has social media overrun and, even more so, outshined traditional methods of advertising? It’s a hotly debated topic, and for good reason. With social media consumption now accounting for roughly one in every three minutes spent online, you have to wonder. Has society lost their appetite for physical, printed content? Are marketers shying away from magazines, billboards and radio ads? I reached out to digital engagement expert and top social media geek, Matt Kaskavitch, to feed my curiosity.

“I don’t believe social media is replacing traditional advertising, but it is certainly augmenting it,” Kaskavtich notes. Traditional advertising is not going away, he states, but the budget is being reduced due to the allure of affordable impressions.

“The real value is the cost of social media … The greatest expense is time and people, and you can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in media value for a fraction of that when it’s done right,” Kaskavitch says. When you layer more traditional tactics with social media, you can build even stronger brand awareness and advocacy for your company for a significantly cheaper chunk of change than typical methods used in the past.

“You have to do it in 2019, otherwise you are being left behind,” he states. HuffingtonPost backs this stance too, stating that “traditional media has been undergoing a sea of change for quite some time now.” The way that business was conducted 15, 10, even just 5 years ago is “gone for good,” according to this source, and smart marketing must not simply “throw the baby out with the bathwater because they no longer believe in the tub.”

Based off of my own experience in the marketing realm, I think a mix of both traditional and digital/social advertising and promotion is a sound business decision. I still seem to observe, however, many companies who shy away from leveraging social media for advertising purposes, which poses a major question in my mind. Why would organizations not adopt this marketing tactic

According to InTouch-Marketing, it’s multifaceted. Some of the leading reasons include the belief that social media marketing is too much work, that only young people engage in it, that it opens businesses to criticism, and, probably more prominent and relevant than all, people just plain don’t understand how to use it. While these remarks are valid, it doesn’t lessen the danger of avoiding social media as a marketing tool.

According to Fortune, “Not incorporating Twitter, Facebook, and other social channels into your strategy is roughly the equivalent of insisting the web was just a fad a decade or so ago: backward-looking, blinkered, and above all, a serious business liability.” Kaskavitch echoes this claim as well, stating that, “Not including social media advertising as part of your marketing plan is a huge missed opportunity.” With almost nine in 10 companies using social media for marketing purposes in the United States, it’s a wonder why any organization would opt out of social media marketing, unless they genuinely don’t know how to use it.

Kaskavitch is hosting a social media boot camp series to help businesses overcome any hesitation or uncertainty in regard to social media marketing. This series boasts workshops on developing a social media content strategy and mastering key channels including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Learn more here.



The Monetization of Motivation

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The recent uptick in #MondayMotivation posts in social media feeds seems to pose many questions. Is it really just an inescapable fact that Mondays are a downer for everyone? Do people need (and crave) a weekly pick-me-up when facing their jobs after the weekend? Why do low levels of motivation seem to be on the rise in the workplace? There is a fair amount of research that implies there is indeed a rising problem.

A recent Gallup survey found that only two in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that truly motivates them to do outstanding work. More so, 52% of the current workforce is “not engaged” (AKA: performing without enthusiasm or care for their work), and Forbes reports that employee engagement is on the decline across the globe. They also noted that only 30% of employees strongly agree that their manager or superior involves them in goal setting, and only 14% deeply believe that the performance reviews they receive “inspire them to improve.”

The aftermath of these rampant humdrum emotions? Between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion in lost revenue per year due to a lack of retention, with turnover costs estimated to be 100% – 300% of the base salary of the replaced employee. That’s a massive impact on your bottom line, and takes an even weightier toll on team dynamics, business outcomes and employee satisfaction.

Luckily, this goes both ways. Sources have found that a five-point increase in employee engagement is linked to a three-point increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year. Tamara Moore, engagement expert and CEO of Relevel, LLC., reinforces this fact too, stating that compared with business units in the bottom 25%, those in the top 25% of engaged and motivated workers realized substantially better customer experiences, higher productivity, stronger employee retention, fewer staff health issues and higher profitability.

So, hypothesis confirmed: Employee engagement and motivation is dwindling, and the effects of this are brutal. But, the question remains. Why is this happening? Is it due to our decreased attention spans, job insecurity, rising levels of stress, laziness, complacency, or a hodgepodge of it all? How can only 20% of working professionals feel engaged at their job?

Moore notes that it isn’t always the most obvious answer. She says that the rapid pace of change in the world, coupled with a disgruntled job environment, can deeply and detrimentally affect employees’ engagement and motivation levels.

“Lack of communication about goals and expectations, negative coworkers, salary disparity and low levels of confidence in leadership are all reasons we see this decline,” Moore says.

She commented that more than half of employees are searching for new jobs or watching for openings and team leaders are the ones who have a huge impact on whether or not they jump ship. They are the ones who truly influence “whether workers are able to use their strengths to do what they do best, give team members recognition for good work and hold ongoing conversations to coach employees and connect them to their purpose.”

So, how do you remedy this dilemma? HuffingtonPost published an article stating that some of the most effective ways to motivate your employees include communicating better, empowering them and offering opportunities for advancement. Does that sound like exactly what you’re already doing? Moore provides some insightful, easy-to-remember tips that may prove to be useful to you and your team in ensuring you see some results.

  1. Hear them. Take time to actively listen and make effective use of one-on-one time and team meetings. It is also about learning to ask powerful questions and utilize that feedback to shape the future. For example, consider posing thought-provoking questions such as, “If your success as an employee was guaranteed, what one bold thing would you try in your position?”
  2. See them. Notice details about their work and take time to truly recognize their efforts. Is there something that would improve their schedule or working conditions? Are you regularly taking the time to acknowledge and appreciate their accomplishments?
  3. Connect them. Connecting employees to their purpose is a game-changer. Passion is fuel; it motivates employees to be creative and work through whatever challenge they may be facing. Through her work at the International Conscious Business Institute, Moore witnessed incredible results at companies when employees connected their individual purpose to their position purpose, and then to the overall purpose of the organization.

Want more? Moore (no pun intended) is holding an entire workshop on this topic on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at the University of Colorado South Denver. Learn more and register here.

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Croc's CEO and CU South Denver Leadership

CEO of Crocs Shares Leadership Lessons

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CEO of Crocs, Andrew Rees, inspired and empowered over 250 individuals last night during a fireside chat at CU South Denver with Lone Tree Mayor, Jackie Millet, where they discussed leadership lessons he’s gleaned over the years. From questions on his proudest accomplishments to how his high school teachers would describe him in a nutshell, Millet dug deep to gain an in-depth insight into Rees’ personal and professional triumphs, challenges and lessons learned along his path to success.

Following the intimate, hour-long discussion, Rees took on-the-spot questions from the audience, many of which revolved around what advice he had for individuals considering leadership roles themselves and what key takeaways they should know for success.

Rees advised that leaders should empower, and delegate responsibility to their teams, providing a better outcome than what the leader could deliver alone.

He also emphasized the importance of listening as a top leadership skill, noting that it is vital to identify the question behind every question in order to understand the core intention of the inquiry. If you listen well, Rees said, you will have a competitive advantage and can truly understand what your consumers desire. This can be translated to the workplace as well — listening to, and genuinely understanding, what motivates your employees will enable you to help them achieve and surpass their goals.

Touching on the importance of values, Rees stated that integrity and respect are attributes imperative for everyone.

“Companies and leaders must have absolute values … They must keep these values front and center at work every single day and not waiver from them,” Rees said.

Other takeaways included loving your brand and instilling that love in your employees, appreciating and celebrating your teams for meeting goals or working hard on projects that don’t always succeed, embracing decision-making and taking ample time for yourself, family and other parts of your life that are meaningful to you.

Missed the program? CU South Denver will be featuring additional C-Suite luminaries in their 2019 portfolio including Steve White, president of Comcast’s West Division, Kent Thiry, CEO of DaVita and Mary Rhinart, CEO of Johns Mansville.

Stress on the Rise?

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According to a 2017 Gallup survey, about eight in 10 Americans frequently or sometimes encounter stress in their day-to-day lives. Not only does this impact one’s emotional and mental wellness, it takes a massive toll on the body too. The American Stress Foundation states that stress can cause a number of physiological effects in the moment, such as tense muscles and rapid breathing, but it can also impact you long-term. This is seen in certain disorders such as insomnia, hypertension and increased susceptibility to infections.

With medical knowledge and technology advancing at a historically high rate, why are individuals still suffering from lofty levels of stress? What are the top catalysts of these ever-so-present emotions? Studies show that health, finances and safety rank number one, with interpersonal relationships and politics following. These all seem pretty intuitive – life is expensive, bills stack up faster than we can handle, and the political climate can cause a lot of uncertainty too. Still, should these levels really be upsurging?

Karen Gorton, assistant professor at the University of Colorado College of Nursing, has a unique stance on this topic, stating that in our technology-saturated world, stress boils over now more than ever.

“Our access to knowledge is instantaneous and we are being inundated by it,” Gorton states. She notes that in the field of nursing alone, “an individual’s knowledge base is doubling every 12 months.” This large influx of new knowledge can create a lot pressure to keep up. And, as technology continues to advance at an incredibly high speed, it can become increasingly difficult to fully unplug.

“We have come to expect an immediate response from people; that’s the new norm,” Gorton states. She says that “society has lost the boundary of personal space and time because we have social pressure to always be connected” and that can be a huge source of stress for people. Learning how to bounce back from stress, having the capacity to handle it in the moment without tipping over the edge, and learning self-management skills is paramount in the chaotic world we live in today.

What are some of the most impactful ways to manage stress? Gorton says that “If, and when, you are feeling stressed, take 10 deep breaths and spend some time asking yourself ‘what has pushed me to this tipping point?’” She also notes that it can be effective to actually tell those around you that you have been pushed past your limit and need some time to cool down. If you are able to, remove yourself from the context, and allow yourself some time to reflect. These simple actions can make a profound difference in your overall response to stress.

Additional research shows that listening to soothing music can wind down your heart rate and blood pressure, some of the most common symptoms of stress build-up. Any form of physical activity, including walking, yoga, and stretching, can be beneficial as well because it releases feel-good chemicals into the body and allows you to actually practice managing stress. So, lace-up those running shoes, take a moment to deeply inhale and exhale, or turn up your favorite tune, even for just a moment. You may find that your feelings of being stressed and overwhelmed are able to subside.

Gorton is hosting a series on building your personal and professional resilience starting Sept. 28 at CU South Denver. She hopes to teach individuals how to better cope with stress through an internationally recognized system of practical solutions called HeartMath. There are two session options, or individuals can choose to attend both. Participants will discover what depletes and renews emotions, heart-focused breathing and more.

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Mining Data: Turn Trends Into Opportunities

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According to the Harvard Business Review, almost 50% of Fortune 1000 companies state that their firms are achieving significant results from their big data investments. In fact, 49.2% of executives from these companies note that they have effectively decreased expenses due to their big data investments.

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How Can Schools Adapt and Succeed in the Digital Era?

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Lone Tree – The world has changed dramatically in the last 50 years, with the American economy evolving from a heavy focus on manufacturing and agriculture to one dominated by digital technology. According to the National Education Association, the U.S. system of education has not kept pace and is failing to prepare students to solve the greatest challenges of the day. Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., associate professor of educational leadership at the University of Colorado Denver, agrees, saying that schools need to adapt—and fast.

McLeod has worked with school districts, K-12 schools, colleges and universities around the world to help them assess where they’re falling short in producing future-ready students and make essential adjustments in their school systems. “We live in a global innovation society, but the majority of the schools in the U.S. meet the needs of an industrial society that no longer exists,” he says.

On June 15, 2018, McLeod will deliver a full-day workshop in Lone Tree at the University of Colorado South Denver, titled, “Our World is Changing. Is Your School Future-Ready?” He will cover the six relevance gaps between schools and society—including information literacy and new forms of learning—as well as the four big shifts that he sees certain “deeper learning” schools making—cognitive complexity, student agency, authentic work and technology infusion.

“The first step in making change is recognizing that many schools are comfortable with the status quo model of education,” McLeod says. “It’s what many of us grew up with, but it is clear that there are big gaps between the skills needed by today’s workforce and the skills students are being taught in school.”

Workshop participants will also review the 10 building blocks that leading schools are implementing to design meaningful learning experiences for their students. The goal, McLeod explains, is for school leaders to develop a sense of urgency about the need for change.

This CU South Denver workshop will be the first of a six-part series. Future Leadership Academy workshops will delve into the action steps that leaders can take, including the inception of project- and inquiry-based learning, empowering uses of technology and implementing blended learning models. McLeod will teach one workshop a month from October 2018 to March 2019.

McLeod joined CU Denver in August 2016. He is the founding director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education, the only academic center in the country dedicated to the technology needs of K-12 school administrators. He spent his prior academic career at the University of Kentucky, Iowa State University, and the University of Minnesota. McLeod received the 2016 Award for Outstanding Leadership from the International Society for Technology in Education and recently published his latest book, Different Schools for a Different World.

“As a faculty member, researcher and consultant, my focus is always transformative school environments,” says McLeod, who has studied hundreds of pioneering schools and leadership practices. “There will always be funding challenges and state standards to work with, but the key is inserting innovative learning methodologies into traditional programs. Schools that are willing to put in the effort can get there and learn from one another to ensure students are building 21st-century competencies.”

Our World is Changing. Is Your School Future-Ready? runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, June 15 and is open to superintendents, principals, school board members and any other education leaders. Registration is $159 and space is limited.

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Media Contact:

Sarah Erickson (CU South Denver)

Kyla White (CU South Denver)

What is the ROI of Fun at Work?

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Some 77 percent of CEOs struggle to find the creativity and innovation skills they need, according to a PwC study. But those very skills are cultivated in fun company environments, says University of Colorado Denver Director of Academic Technology David Thomas, who researches the theory and design of fun objects, processes and places. Read More