Pay it Forward; Invest in the Next Generation

I have two young children, ages 14 and 8. And like every other parent, I have a long list of things I think and worry about when it comes to my kids: keeping them safe, getting them educated, helping them develop the social and emotional skills and self-confidence they will need. It’s a long list, and one not limited to just parents … grandparents, aunts and uncles, godparents. Anyone who has young people in their lives spends time thinking about these kinds of things.

We all want to see the young people in our lives learn to fly even though our younger generations may not always want, or think they need, the help.

In our house, one of the things that is absolutely on that list is the importance of communication: their ability to speak up on their own behalf. My wife and I spend lots of time with our kids helping them develop the ability to express themselves verbally, and tell their own story. Right now that story might be about the LEGO creation they just made and how amazing it is, or the backyard science experiment that blew up unexpectedly, or the new video game that would dramatically change their lives for the better. At this point, that’s all their communication skills are necessary for. And I love it when I hear them able to advocate for the things they care about.

But eventually those skills become about a lot more than LEGO creations. Some day down the road, this story telling ability will be critical every element of their professional lives, starting with their job search, for the promotion they seek, the business they start, the budget they want approval for, the product or service they are selling. Eventually their communication skills will become a critical tool in their tool box for success, no matter what direction they choose, no matter the industry.

The simple fact is that the ability to tell their story and be heard pays huge dividends no matter what path our kids decide to travel. My colleagues and I talk about it all the time… it is a really noisy world that the younger generations are growing into. And in a really noisy world, the ability to be heard is not just a “nice to have” skill. In many ways, it is a “must have” skill.

So, as we make our way through this holiday season, let’s think about what we give to the next generation, and let’s invest in that next generation.

If you have young professionals inside your company, invest in them, with training, mentoring and learning opportunities.

If you have young people you care about in your life, invest in them with job search mentoring, interview skills, and teaching them how to build and manage a network.

Like any other “portfolio,” not every investment will bear fruit with a “return.” Not everyone you invest in will leverage the investment and maximize it. But regardless, it is still good “policy” to look at the next generation and give them the opportunities and tools they will need to succeed.

Pay it forward. Someone, probably many people, invested in you during your journey. Now is our time to do that for someone else.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.