What Happens When Echo Boomers Take Over The Workforce?

A funny story came up the other day while I was talking with one of my daughters. We were reminiscing about the first time our home got the internet. When the internet first went mainstream my husband brought home a box and put it in front of my 2 daughters and said,
“Girls, I bought you the internet. It’s in this box. Have fun!”

It just makes us all laugh to think of the internet all contained within a little box. In fact, the product my husband bought was actually called, “Internet In A Box.”

How far we’ve come! Now our kids grow up with access to the internet and other technology at an early age. One colleague actually told me that his kids don’t have crayons, they color on the computer!

What’s An Echo Boomer?

The Echo Boomer generation that started with their internet in a box has bought into the technological revolution hook, line and sinker. They are the largest generation of young people since the ’60s. And they are beginning to come of age. They’re called “echo boomers” because they’re the children and demographic echo of their parents, the baby boomers.

Born between 1982 and 1995, there are nearly 80 million of them, and they’re already having a huge impact on entire segments of the economy. And as the population ages, they will be become the next dominant generation.

Keeping Up With The Dominant Force

That means the shift we are seeing in the adoption of more and more computerized processes within the workplace is going to continue. The up and coming generation practically has keyboards permanently fused to their fingers. Everything is done on some form of a computer. It’s the way they thrive so that is the direction that companies must go in to succeed with the new labor force of echo boomers.

What Does That Mean For The Rest of Us?

So if the world is focusing more and more on computer technology within the workplace we all need to step up and get with the program.

We’ve done it before!

The boomers have whole heartedly adopted the notion that computers can and do make our lives and the tasks we perform more efficient. Heck, the forefather of the technical revolution, Bill Gates, is a boomer. But it needs to go a step further now.

While we’ve accepted that computers are a necessary part of our lives there are still many businesses living in a paper filled world. These paper based practices need to be replaced by technology. As more and more of the labor force is taken over by the echo boomers computerization will not just be a suggestion, it will be a requirement to maintain an efficient business as this generation functions best in a digital world.

Effective Business Networking: How to Keep a Conversation Going

Whenever you meet someone new, whether it’s at an informal gathering (e.g. a party) or at a more formal venue (e.g. a business conference), sometimes it’s hard to know how to start a conversation. Keeping it going is even harder. How can you have a great, memorable conversation that your conversant won’t forget? The good news is that there are two simple tricks for captivating the person your talking to. Keep reading and I’ll explain how.

Trick #1: Turn the spotlight on them, not you. Rather than focusing too much on you, the more you can get your conversant to think about and speak about themselves, the more engrossed they will be with the subject matter of the conversation. Confident people realize that if they listen more than they talk, they will learn more about someone, and in the process, they are able to captivate the talker. In most cases, the talker won’t even realize that he or she is doing most of the talking! This technique works surprisingly well, and even causes you to be more memorable to the speaker. My manager still remembers one conversation I had with him when I first got to know him. He considers it one of our best conversations, but the truth is, I didn’t say much but rather kept the conversation on him!

Trick #2: Echo key words like a parrot. Conversations naturally bounce back and forth between you and the other person. It can be nerve-wracking when it gets back to be your turn, and you don’t know what to say next to keep the flow of the conversation going. Fortunately, a foolproof technique is to identify a key word that your speaker just said, and to echo it back, prompting further elaboration. For example, here’s a sample conversation that makes use of the echo technique to easily keep a conversation going (and even steering it different ways):

  • Partner: “I had a great time at the conference.”
  • You: “Conference?”
  • Partner: “Yeah, food was wonderful, and the keynote speakers were really good too.”
  • You: “Good keynote speakers?”
  • Partner: “Yeah, Bob Johns was there, and Adam Carlson gave a talk on business ethics.”
  • You: “Business ethics?”
  • Partner: “Yeah… [conversation continues].”
  • You (repeating earlier keyword to take conversation a different direction): “You said the food was wonderful?”

Keep these two simple techniques in mind, and the conversations will flow and be more memorable. Good luck!

Your Business Advisory Board

Every business owner benefits from the wise counsel of a select group of experts, who offer a differential diagnosis that brings fresh air and information into the room and drags us out of the echo chamber of our auto-pilot habits and ingrained perspectives.

Fortunately, life equips us with an advisory board, whether or not we recognize it as such. Unfortunately, most of the advice we receive is bad, starting with what know-it-all cousin Howie and meddlesome Aunt Sheila have to say (those two will have you broke in six months!).

No, our real advisory board must be carefully curated. One must know whose advice in general should be heeded and whose should be ignored. The advisory board that we create can be informal. It is not necessary to charter a formal board unless the business demands it. We should consult our advisory board regularly, to find out what is new on the horizon, figure out how to solve problems faster, brainstorm intriguing new ideas and overall learn how to work not just hard, but smart.

Clients

As numerous experts repeatedly recommend, listen to your clients and receive a wealth of information. Customers give the outside-in, other side of the desk view and what they value most is sometimes surprising. You cannot always fathom what customer priorities will be and you won’t know until you let them tell you.

Customers are vital members of our advisory board. They represent the marketplace and when the market speaks, business owners must listen. Ask for customer feedback in the form of evaluations, surveys, or plain old Q & A over coffee. Ask what they like about your products and services; ask what would enhance the experience of doing business with you; ask business clients about upcoming trends and challenges in their organizations and figure out what you can monetize.

Employees

If you have employees, seek out their insights and advice on how your business protocols might be improved. Employees are in the trenches and often know better than the owner about how the business is perceived by customers. Employees are uniquely positioned to give very valuable feedback. Owners and managers should be smart enough to listen.

Likewise our accountant, attorney and other professional service providers, through the unique prism of their specialty, may offer useful advice that can have a positive impact on the business. A wise business owner creates an environment where employees and customers know that their opinions and advice are welcomed, respected and at least occasionally implemented.

Competitors

Do speak with experienced people within your industry, including competitors. Many will be happy to share a few pearls of wisdom with you, especially if they operate in another geographic locale. Marketing tips and other promotional strategies can be good topics to discuss, as could the types of services that resonate most with clients these days.

Roundtables

Additionally, you may find it useful to have also a structured advisory board experience and for this I recommend membership in a peer group, also known as a CEO forum or roundtable. Groups consist of perhaps a dozen business owners in non-competing industries. They are often segmented by number of employees and annual revenues and usually meet monthly for about 2 hours. The idea is to assemble a group of business owners who share a similar profile and who therefore have the perspective to offer relevant advice and support to fellow members.

When properly facilitated, group members function as each other’s board of directors. There is guidance and support on decision-making. Members celebrate successes. New ways to view and resolve business challenges are put forth. Opportunities may be discovered, goal setting is encouraged and members hold one another accountable for progress and achievements. Peer roundtables can provide a welcome source of support and inspiration and do much to overcome the isolation that many business owners experience.

Thanks for reading,

Kim