Chester On Point

When Millennials Cry “Don’t Judge Me!” They’re Secretly Hoping You Will

Pizza Expo 2.001Messages about individuality have hit today’s youth nonstop from all directions. They’re constantly reminded that they are perfect just the way they are, that they have to be their own brand, and to never surrender their personal identity.

No wonder your young workers arrive in the workplace thinking, “This is how I choose to look and the way I choose express myself. I shouldn’t have to change for the sake of a job. So hey, boss! Accept me for who and what I am!”

Even if they temporarily go along with the manager’s silly rules for, say, wearing a uniform, chances are, they will twist the logoed hat or turn it backward, sag the pants, and untuck their shirt. Anything to make them appear as if they’re leading your company’s stealth image revolt.

Their message: “I have to make this look uniquely mine or I’ll lose me and become you.”

As millions of Gen Y’s and Z’s seek ways to prove their uniqueness, they expect the world around them to look on with an approving eye. And when they fall short of that in anyone else’s eyes, their obnoxious mantra becomes “Don’t judge me.”

Tattoed girl screamingWhat they’re really saying, or silently shouting at the top of their lungs is, “Judge me favorably. Judge me to be a hip, cool, one-of-a-kind individual. And if you can’t judge me in a positive and accepting light, then dammit, don’t judge me at all!”

In reality, to be judged is exactly what they want from their manager, customers, and especially their peers. But they want the verdict to be 100% positive 100% of the time.

So while they are busy shaping their outer selves with piercings, stretched body gauging, tattoos, and outrageous clothing, they’re also promoting the idea that what really matters is what’s on the inside.

The inevitable train wreck occurs when these workers, whose collective psyche has been shaped by the pervasiveness of be your own brand messages, show up in all their non-conformity for a job where the manager asks them to dress a certain way, speak a certain way, and act a certain way.

Getting the emerging workforce to dress and act professionally is far easier, of course, when you hire professionals from the get-go. But ask the recruiter or hiring manager and they’ll tell you that the labor pool isn’t exactly chock-full of young traditional-minded conformists. To many employers, that pool may seem more like a swamp overrun with radicals determined to rewrite the company’s dress code, not to mentio
n their entire code of conduct.

Your discontent with the lack of professionalism among young workers may have you hiring more and more based on potential. You may have to rely on an online personality assessment to tell you when you’ve found someone who is moldable.

You may feel that if you get a good raw prospect who comes from a “good home” or a “good school” you can get her to model your dress code and then convince her to stop texting when she’s talking to a customer.

However you see it, this issue demands your attention.

ON POINT: In the follow-up post Don’t Judge Me: Part Two, I’ve addressed the solutions and tactics to the “Don’t Judge Me” syndrome and show you how to get better compliance with the professionalism – or the lack thereof – from your emerging workforce.



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Why Millennials Shouldn’t Mix Social Media with Politics

Two of my five adult children (millennials in their thirties) are avid users of Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. Even though I’m writing this advice to them, it’s intended for the masses.
Capitalism or Socialism concept

Hey guys – it’s your old man here with some “unsolicited advice.” If you read it without bias, it could really help you. If you don’t, it could hurt you. So indulge me, if you will.

Anyone who visits your Facebook page instantly knows your political views. While I am delighted that you are passionate about the future of this country, your views and opinions could be considered extreme and quite polarizing to many others who are on the complete opposite end of the political spectrum. And you’re probably keen to the fact that everything you post, share, or ‘like’ immediately goes into the great vault of public information in cyberspace where it will be available for anyone and everyone to see. Forever.

Here’s the thing. Actually, two things you need to consider:

1)  Your real friends (people whom you’ve truly spent time with and could recognize across a crowded room) already know your views; in fact, they very likely share those same opinions. That’s because a shared view of the world is often the basis for a friendship. These kinds of friends do not need further convincing; you’re like the minister who’s preaching to the choir.

There is, however, another and probably much larger group of people who will see these posts. In this group are those who may be a casual acquaintance of yours or of a friend; or a friend of a friend of a friend whom you’ve just happened to accept as your Facebook friend. The people in this group may, or may not share your views, and because they don’t know and trust you as a real friend, your posts have little or no influence on their views. Most likely, they’ve already unfollowed your feed.

But there’s even a bigger reason that you need to abandon your political rants, sharing, likes, etc. on Facebook and other social media:

2) Your next boss, or prospective client, or future angel investor in your startup is going to want to know who you are and what you stand for, and you need them much more than they need you. They are going to do their due diligence to determine if you are a person they want to align with. It’s entirely possible that that key individual sees the world quite differently than you and will thus eliminate you from any consideration based upon your views. I’d hate to see that happen.

ON POINT – This is not some imagined or fictional scenario. It happens all the time much more than you may think. I’m a witness to it.

The bottom line is your posts and ‘likes’ aren’t helping to advance your candidate – or your issue – one iota. Zippo. Nada. Unfortunately, broadcasting your political leanings could end up killing the opportunity of a lifetime for you. Is it worth it?

Oh, and by the way.  This advice applies to all millennials. Even those in their fifties.





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When It Comes to a Compelling Workplace Culture, These Nerds Rule!

Just about every company in existence was started by someone (or several people) who saw an opportunity to make money in the marketplace. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

But one company – a high tech software firm based in Minneapolis – was started by three guys (who each self-identify as ‘nerds’) with the singular goal of creating the kind of company where other nerds like them would LOVE to work. As a result of their simple foundational premise, The Nerdery (age 12) has not only become a frequently awarded ‘Best Place to Work’ by the Minneapolis Business Journal and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, it’s also a highly profitable firm that Inc. Magazine has listed as one of the fastest growing companies in America.

With locations now open in Chicago, Kansas City, and Phoenix, this is one high-tech company that’s firing on all cylinders. The founders and leaders know very well that their booming growth and tremendous success is tied directly to (1) the quality of the people they attract, (2) their proficiency in getting those people to consistently perform up to and even beyond their potential, and (3) their ability to keep those people on their payroll for as long as possible. In other words, they hire, inspire, and retain more than 500 employees who are on fire at work.

A quick glimpse at this fascinating organization reveals how they’ve tipped the old school model of employment on its ear:

• Each of the more than 500 ‘nerds’ at The Nerdery consider themselves to be Co-Presidents. They even wear that title on their company bracelet.

• At the Nerdery, seniority doesn’t rule supreme. In all cases, the best idea wins, regardless of whose idea it is!

• From Gardening to Chess to Bad Movie Night, there are more than 50 social clubs to join at The Nerdery. Each club was started by one of the nerds who had a passion for that interest outside of work.

• The Nerdery has a resident brewmaster, and they keep 4 kegs on tap all day, every day. And they offer free soft drinks, juices, snacks, cereal, etc. in their always-open employee cafeteria.

• To get hired, it’s not about your age, your college degree, or your work experience; it depends solely on whether or not you can pass the N.A.T. (Nerdery Assessment Test).

• Don’t put Fido in the kennel; bring him with you! The Nerdery is a pet-friendly workplace. And everyone knows that nerds love dogs.

Compensation, alignment, atmosphere, growth, acknowledgement, autonomy, and communication. When searching for a company that personifies all 7 pillars of a great workplace culture to conclude my new book On Fire At Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People without Burning Them Out – The Nerdery was a no brainer. (Can you say ‘no brainer’ when you’re talking about 500 brilliant nerds?)

I could go on and on, but instead, follow me on a guided tour of this award-winning workplace culture in this video:

ON POINT – Today’s top workplaces are winning the war for the best talent because they are intentionally focused on being the kind of workplaces that the best talent is intentionally looking for.


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The Secret to Engaging Millennials is Actually No Secret at All

ruby slippersTo get back to Kansas, Dorothy never had to jump through all the death-defying hoops the Wizard put her through.  She had everything she needed (ruby shoes) from the very beginning. All she lacked was the understanding of how to unlock their magical powers.

Since they began making their way into the workforce in the late 90’s, business leaders, owners, and managers have been trying to figure out how to drive performance from their enigmatic millennial employees. As arduous and mysterious as this challenge has been hyped up to be, the answer is surprisingly simple. To unlock their power, all it takes is a one-to-one relationship with a manager who genuinely cares about them.

Many of my clients employ millennials as their front line workforce and the face of their brand.  These organizations are looking for the keys to engaging millennials to get them to perform up to their remarkable potential. Prior to speaking for their conventions and meetings, I conduct interviews with their front line workforce to help take leaders on a backstage tour inside the minds of those people who keep them up at night.  By getting my subjects to completely relax and let their guard down, these interviews become remarkably revealing about what it is that they truly want from their managers.

This 6-minute video montage features interview clips that I’ve recorded over the past 8 years revealing candid comments from millennial employees in a variety of jobs talking about what they love about their managers, and also what they hate about them. (As you’ll discover, there’s very little middle ground in-between.)

If you ask a millennial to describe their job, inevitably, they will begin telling you about the relationship they have with their manager. This comes before they mention how much they are being paid or what their job responsibilities are. The message is obvious; if you want them to work harder, perform better, and stay longer, focus your time and energy on these 3 crucial relationship-building keys:


1. Get to Know Them – You don’t have to be friends with them, but you do need to be friendly. That requires you take an active interest in who they are outside of work. Ask them about their friends, their family, their opinions, their likes and their pet peeves. Discover where their passions lie, and know what they like to do in their spare time.

2. Help Them to Get Where They Want to Go – You have an agenda and to achieve it, you need them to be on your side. They, too, have an agenda, and they need you on their side. The more you’re able to help them get where they want to go and give them skills that will serve them along their career path – even if their job with you has little resemblance to where they are going – the more likely they are to give you all they have while they are on your payroll. (It’s also the right thing to do.)

3. Pay Attention to the Good Things They Do – While your primary job is to stay on top of problems, you can prevent a lot of little issues from growing into problems by calling attention to those things your people are doing correctly–not just those things they are doing outstanding. Don’t wait for someone to be late to work to remind them about the importance you place on reliability; the time to do that is when they arrive early. Don’t just point out that their last report was incomplete without also complimenting them on the three others they did correctly. Change the focus of your energy and you’ll change the culture of your organization.






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The Best Interview Questions to Determine an Applicant’s Work Ethic

Back in 2006, I published a Special Report titled More than 50 Great Interview Questions to Ask a Gen Y Applicant.  The questions were gathered from hundreds submitted by clients, readers of my books, and HR managers from a wide variety of companies and organizations across multiple industries.

Job InterviewNow that the focus of my work has shifted from Generation Why to developing the 7 essential core work work ethic values that every employer demands, I’m going to replace the existing set of questions to one that lists The 50 Best Interview Questions to Determine an Applicant’s Work Ethic (i.e. their aptitude, habits, and behaviors in those 7 crucial core work ethic areas.)

This will be a crowd-sourced project which means that these questions will again come from those who are actively in-the-trenches, recruiting, interviewing, and hiring employees on a regular basis.  When this project is completed, the resulting Special Report will be available for purchase on my website and via Amazon as a downloadable PDF.  ($29).

However, if you contribute a question(s) that is published in this report, you will receive it for FREE before it is offered to the general public!

Play Along!  Submit a question(s) that help you determine whether or not the applicant being interviewed will:

  • show up to work on time (RELIABILITY)
  • be dressed/groomed and conduct themselves appropriately (PROFESSIONALISM)
  • perform any task asked of them with a positive ‘can do’ attitude (POSITIVITY)
  • give their very best to every assignment and always look to add value (INITIATIVE)
  • comply with your rules and adhere to the authority of their managers (RESPECT)
  • tell the truth and act with honor in all situations (INTEGRITY)
  • go out of their way to provide the kind of service that delights every customer (GRATITUDE)


Tell me about a time when you were given a project at school/work that you didn’t fully understand how to complete, or the teacher/supervisor wasn’t descriptive enough on what was expected. How did you go about making sure the project was completed? (Determines initiative, and attitude.)

We don’t allow employees to have a cell phone with them during their shifts. Do you think this is a reasonable request? How are you going to deal with this policy? (Determines their professionalism and respect for rules/authority).

If a customer were to get in your face and scream at you for something that was not your fault, how would you react? (Determines gratitude/service mentality and positivity.)

The report will also will provide suggestions as to what responses the interviewer should be looking for, and what responses may trigger a concern.

PRIVACY – To protect your identity, we will not publish the source of any of these questions.  (Neither your name or the company you work for will be made public to anyone.)

Submit questions via email to:

It will be exciting to see what results this tremendous community creates!





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Money Can Buy Happiness, but Pride Is Not for Sale

Imagine that you are walking alone across a vacant parking lot on a breezy day, when out of the corner of your eye you notice a crumpled-up bill blowing at your feet. You immediately step on it to keep it from escaping, and then reach down to discover that it’s a $100 bill. No one is within five hundred yards of you, and the wind is swirling leaves and other bits of paper around as far as you can see. You couldn’t find the rightful owner if your life depended on it. The bill is yours to keep.

Drawing only on your emotions as they unfold at that particular moment, answer this very simple question: Are you happy?

Of course you are. Unless you’re allergic to large bills, your response is an enthusiastic “yes!”

So here’s the follow-up question pertaining solely to this $100 cash windfall moment: Are you feeling proud?

Unless you’re overthinking this, you’re probably shaking your head or thinking, “No, not really.” You’re happy about your new riches, but you’re not particularly proud. You didn’t do anything to earn this free money other than burn a calorie or two bending down to pick it up. In this scenario, there was no goal, no effort, no sacrifice, no accomplishment . . . nothing to be proud of.proud

You see, while money, wealth, and possessions can make you happy, they won’t make your chest swell with pride if they’ve blown into your life without achievement. And even though money can buy temporary happiness, it can’t buy the pride of a job well done. And that is the priceless feeling all of us want more than anything. It doesn’t matter how deep an individual’s pockets are, pride can’t be bought, sold, or given away. It has to be earned.

The reason so many billionaires (e.g. Gates, Branson, Buffett, Zuckerburg, etc.) continue to work hard every day is because they are motivated by something much more powerful than money or wealth. They are driven by pride; a burning desire to achieve more, to accomplish more, and to make an even larger contribution.

ACTION IDEA: Build into each weekly meeting a block of time where you randomly call on employees to describe a recent work-related activity or accomplishment that they are proud of. Done consistently over time, your culture will gradually evolve to one where people are encouraging each other to improve and to perform at a higher level.

ON POINT: When we allow our kids, or our students, or our employees to separate effort from reward, we may tell ourselves that we are doing them a favor. In reality, however, we are depriving them of what they need the most and impeding their success in the process.

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Try This Handy Dandy 5-Step Formula to Resolve Conflict with Your Employees

When rules are broken in situFightations that don’t call for immediate termination, gain your composure and think “Open The Front Door Now.” This is the acronym for a simple formula that helps you address—and correct—many of the annoying small issues and problematic behaviors of your employees. Treating these problems according to the OTFDN formula will get them back on your team.

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