Win a copy of Young Professional’s Guide to Success. Comment on, tweet about or blog about blog posts posted from today to Dec. 21 to gain points to win. Read the contest rules here. I have three copies to give away!

ScrabbleRyan Kohnen, author of Young Professional’s Guide to Success, compiled advice and stories from CEOs, executives and community leaders for his book. Here is an interview with Ryan, who has donated three copies of his book to give away on this blog.

Is there a trait or attitude you see repeating in the stories that led these people to success?

There are two major traits I saw with these executives and leaders. First, they experienced as much as they could within every role they had. They threw the job description out the window and did whatever their superiors said to do AND more. Far too often, young professionals get asked to do things that they may feel are beneath them or not part of their job description. These were the opportunities that these CEOs and leaders used to differentiate themselves. The worst thing you could ever say is, “It’s not part of my job description.” Not only did these leaders willfully do these small jobs outside of their scope, but they embraced the experience and found learning opportunities in them.

Secondly, these executives and leaders were always extremely prepared. I’m not talking about the big events, such as an annual performance review. I’m talking about EVERY little event. For example, if your boss says you have a meeting in four hours, but does not say what it is regarding, anticipate what it could be about. Show up prepared on a variety of topics and issues. Sometimes you may not guess properly, but sometimes you’ll be more prepared than anyone else.

How can young professionals help set themselves up for success?

Among the other items discussed, I would encourage all young professionals to practice and engage in more face-to-face communication. I’ve noticed our generation is much weaker at face-to-face conversation and communications. The importance of communication, relationship building and public speaking skills is of utmost importance when you are in major leadership role. Go to lunch with your friends instead of texting. Go to a business luncheon and TRY to ask more questions and learn from people as opposed to talking or sitting their quietly. Instead of sending that email, call the person. Ninety percent of most communication between young professionals is through technology. Try to get that to 80 percent and when you’ve hit 80 percent, go for 70 percent and so on.

You refer to Generation Y as “Generation A.D.D.” Why is this and how can millennial overcome stereotypes?

A lot of the stereotypes about our attention spans, communication style and approach to work and life, are true! Yes, I’m part of Generation A.D.D. – and I embrace these things. I have grown up with the Internet, text messaging, video games and extreme stimulation from all angles. I don’t think its about overcoming stereotypes.  It’s about showing the value in our different way of doing things and thinking.

What is the biggest mistake young professionals make?

I would go back to the biggest opportunity young professionals have – experience everything! Young professionals sometimes have a bit of “Entitlement Disorder,” where they feel like they don’t have to do certain things or are “above” performing certain duties and tasks. A lot of us are ready for the next challenge or opportunity before we are actually given the opportunity. This is probably the biggest weakness of our generation. We need to slow down and embrace some of these other opportunities and find the value in it.

10 Comments »

  1. Very insightful!

  2. Very good point about being prepared for every little event. I feel like there is no excuse for not being prepared for meetings, simple conversations with a boss or even suggesting a new idea.

    I would also suggest that when you have scheduled facetime with your boss or supervisor, to really take advantage of it.

    Sometimes you won’t get much interaction with your boss because of how busy he or she is, but when you do be inquisitive and let them know what you are specifically up to. It might spark a new assignment opportunity or at least let your boss know you care.

  3. Thanks for the great advice. I know I tend to suffer from the entitlement attitude at times and so it’s a good reminder.

    As for being prepared, I totally agree. For example, I have a pretty casual relationship with my boss, which is great, but I still try to be prepared when I go to his office. I always remember what I learned from being a waitress “make the most of each step”, so I try to group items together and talk to him about them all at once so I’m not constantly interrupting him. This seems to work out well.

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  9. Your blog posts are always so insightful and remind us of things we often forget or don’t realize. I completely agree that there is so much opportunity out there that we are able to take advantage of and that will set us up for successful careers.

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About

Rachel M. Esterline works in public relations and marketing communications. Her blog, ExPRessions, contains her musings about PR, marketing, career and professional development, Gen Y issues, personal branding and more. Rachel also does freelance consulting and writing. She is originally from Genesee, Mich., and will graduate from Central Michigan University in May 2010.