Am I relevant? And does it matter?

Dear friend illuminates a thought-provoking reality for life and advertising.

Haley Robinson // copywriter

In the advertising industry, the word “relevant” is right up there with buzzwords like “content” and “engagement”. It’s important to brands that they are relevant to their consumers and their target audience, otherwise they fail to grab the attention they need to get their point across. Relevancy is increasingly becoming the golden egg when writing content or developing strategies. What’s relevant to athletic teenage boys? How about households with an annual income of $125K+? 30-year-old stay-at-home moms of kids ages 2-4?

It’s easy to roll your eyes at things like this, but these are serious conversations people in my industry have on a regular basis – and I’ve been the initiator of many of them. And it’s happening outside of advertising, too. Is your resume relevant to the job you’re applying for? Is your hashtag relevant to the tweet you just posted? Are your clothes relevant in light of today’s fashion trends?…

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I Agree with Mark Cuban on This:

As many NBA fans have come to recognize over the years, Mark Cuban is a dynamic guy.  He’s  the animated, outspoken, and quick-to-hug-sweaty-players Mavericks owner.


People know he is a “self-made” business man with oodles of success.  Then came Shark Tank. You can catch it on ABC on Fridays to see all kinds of people present their small business to big-time investors for the chance to grow with financial backing and mentoring.  The prime time phenomenon is bringing families together in front of the television like days of yore.  I’m talking about the 90’s of course:

Of the things listed above, none are commonalities between Mark Cuban and myself.  Not to mention, there is a significant difference in accounting commas between Mark and me.

3 commas

Yet, we are both fans of the Mavs (he owns them, he’s a fan).  Then, I had the chance to listen to the an Entreleadship podcast with Dave Ramsey interviewing Cuban.  I realized we have more in common than basketball fandom.  The following 3 points from their conversation impressed me, challenged me, and made me pump my fist in the cab of my work truck somewhere in West Houston:

  • Businesses can start debt-free.  Once you take out that loan, you work for the bank, and not your customers.  No thanks.
  • The American Dream is not dead.  See SharkTank.
  • Finally, Mark and I agree on the career strategy called: follow your effort.

People are told to, “find what you’re passionate about, then do that.”  Or, “follow your passion,” then give your time and effort to that.  What in your life is requiring most of your effort?  There is a good chance where you are expending effort is what you will become good at (aka practice).  When you become good at it, you just might find your passion.

As millennials, I believe we were fed the “find what your passionate about” or “do what you love” line early and often.  We have followed this advice to an extent, and it has led us into situations where we receive criticism.  Such as, spending more than 4 years on a Bachelor’s or living with our parents while we “figure things out.”

If you feel stuck in any way, I encourage you to follow Mark’s advice.  Get going on something and if you find that it’s not your passion… that’s normal!  Put in the effort anyway.  Your effort just might lead to promotion, new opportunity, or even your passion!

Get after it GenY!  We are the future business leaders of America despite what others may say about us.


College Football Coaches Understand Millennials

For the last couple weeks, the Mothership (ESPN) has been bringing in college football coaches and running them through the “Carwash.” It is a juggernaut of a day which includes coaches being escorted from set-to-set at the ESPN complex to be asked the same questions over and over again. Coaches return the favor with “coach-speak” answers making for a usual programming day of repetition on ESPN.

Full disclosure, I am a football nerd #gocards #L1C4. Professional, college, and even Texas high school football starts to really grab my attention this time of year. Rather than radio surfing in my car, I have loaded my iPhone with football related podcasts (to go along with the leadership and business podcasts of course). In Houston, you end up spending a solid portion of your day in the car.

ESPNU’s College Football Podcast is one of my go-to sources for information. Ivan Maisel and Matt Barrie are a good team.  On the Podcast, which I do enjoy immensely, Ivan has been interviewing nearly every college coach from the Top 5 conferences and asking some insightful questions around the culture of college sports today. What I have come to realize is that most of these coaches understand they as leaders must adjust to the generation they are coaching. In other words, these guys study millennials and even accommodate aspects of their approach to coaching in order to reach these young adults.  To help them.  To teach them.  To relate to them.  To help them grow as people and citizens.  To earn their trust and respect.

To be honest, most of the stuff out there on my leadership and business podcasts is just the opposite. They instruct managers and business owners on how to bring the millennials along to their perception of the business world mindset.  In other words, they are trying to change millennials to fit their mold for the workplace. College football coaches, on the other hand, seem to understand that they need to do some adjusting themselves!

Some of these coaches get paid millions of dollars. They receive some scrutiny on that topic, too. Yet, if you listen to them answer questions about their not-so-successful last season or about coaching their teams, they answer with, “Well, every coach should look at themselves in the mirror first. Ask, ‘What do I need to change. How can I improve my craft?'” Yes please!  Serve me up some of that humble pie!  I want that guy to coach and lead me.

Look, I am not exactly enthused about this next point.  I understand why you might not either.  It is a topic that is beaten over our heads too much.  It’s a worldly truth, though.

The major barrier between millennials and their older managers is COMMUNICATION. This is precisely why coaches are an excellent case study for understanding millennials. A college coach’s job security hinges on their ability to communicate to 18-22 year old young people.  As I mentioned above, these coaches are attempting to help, teach, grow, and earn the respect of their millennial players.

It’s too perfect!  See, college coaches are stuck with millennials (and can thrive with them too).  Older football players are now professionals who aren’t eligible or they are worn-out and of no use (speaking from experience – I am the latter).  They MUST adjust and innovate their communication styles to be heard by their young players.  When they do so successfully, they tangibly win on the football field.  For many athletes they tangibly win in life and career down the road, too.

Should not our business coaches, mentors, bosses and managers want to win with us millennials?  The media wants to say we’ve been dealt a sorry hand.  The majority of the older generation wants to doom us, because they don’t really understand us.

I’d rather focus on winning a bunch of “ball games” during my career.

The Future of Us (Millenials)

A couple posts back, I left an audio link for a debate around “Millennials don’t stand a chance?” If you didn’t listen, explainer below:

Two side were argued – one for “yes, we do” and the other for, “no they don’t.”  An audience vote after 3 rounds of debating said, “Nope.”  In summary, the audience chose the argument of two older-than-millennials debaters’ argument of nay.

My own take on this is going to come from a slightly different angle, but I think the difference is profound.  My vote would be YES, we do stand a chance because we MUST.  It’s really as simple as that.  There in no other option unless an alien race of millennial age land on earth tomorrow.

One of the presumptions I presume people have about our generation or any young generation is the following: they don’t have what it takes to face the future.  Well, if one can tell me what the future will be and what my capabilities at that point in time will include, then I’d just might have to agree with them.   The fallacy here is that no one can predict my future, nor the future.  The history of economic cycles, job rates, national growth, politics or comparisons between my generation and another’s will determine my future.

I heard someone from stage a few years back say, “The past does not equal the future.”  It was spoken with a motivational sentiment, but it’s also understated truth.  Please, anyone out there, don’t tell me or anyone in my generation about our future.  And please do not hold over the heads of millennials that they’ve got to save our nation.

What are we saving it from, anyway?  Being #2?  Or #3?  Are we to save it from government over-spending, taxes, and unemployment?   Sorry, but that bed has been made.   That is not a shrugging off of what troubles this country or any responsibility its citizens have to do something about it.  It’s the reality.  What I am about to say includes no sarcasm.  Each word is to be taken literally:

If millennials do not save America and its future, the world will not end.

I say that not because I am a pessimist.  I am not quitting on America.  I choose to put my hope in something higher than the right to vote, right to bear arms, or a democratic system of government.

Guys Named Tom

My wife and I took a trip to one of our favorite places in the US last weekend.  We absolutely love the city of Louisville, Kentucky.  The restaurants, the University, the parks, the hills, the “Keep Louisville Weird” vibe and the people were great to us when we both lived there.  Now, when we go back we get more of the same.  We stayed with a family with whom we are very close.  I spent all of Friday shadowing the father as we went about his day as owner of a successful local business. His name is Tom.

As I reflected on my notes from that day, I realized, “I know a bunch of guys named Tom.  And, well almost all of them has left an impact on me in some way.  At this point in my life I think I will meet more and more Tom’s.  Even with the ones I’ve come to know so far, I think I could write a book!  A simple post will have to do for now.

My Tom’s:

Tom 1 – Hands down the most influential Tom in my life.  He is my friend and has walked with me through Biblical discipleship for a couple years now.  Without him and his wife, my wife and I would have had to waited longer to get married.  He’s invited me into his life and it has made a huge impact on me.  We meet once every two weeks.

Tom 2 – Louisville business owner, friend, career mentor and one of the truly generous givers out there .  He also played a monumental role in our marriage by offering his home as our venue for the big day.  Love watching this dad interact with his children.  He is intentional, encouraging, and has their respect.  He takes his wife on a date once a week – no matter what. 

Tom 3 – Took a chance on me early in my career.  He saw potential in me and acted on it.  As we grow together, I can see more and more that he is a man of integrity after God’s own heart. 

Tom 4 – Showed me a early-twenty-something can drop the potential personal gain for a meek lifestyle.  And never look back!  He’s a great example for how the non-profit business world can benefit from for-profit-minded people. 

Tom 5 – The native Dallas area Texan who pretty much solidified my decision to play football at Wabash College.  He was a great friend and took me under his wing when I was a clueless college freshman.  Looking back, I should have gone to him for more help.  Did I mention I was clueless?

Thanks to all the Tom’s out there.  Here’s to more Tom’s I’ll meet along the way…