019: Teaching Gen Z and Millennials How to Fly High as Young Professionals with Jamie Belinne
After more than 30 years in career services and recruiting, Jamie Belinne finds herself with a wealth of knowledge on how the different generations work, a book helping managers navigate those differences, and many awards and accolades acknowledging her expertise. We discuss how to mentor students and young professionals, why Gen Z is not a generation of narcissists, and why diversity isn’t the norm but will be someday, thanks to the younger generations.
Key Points + Topics
- [1:35] Jamie Belinne is the Assistant Dean of Career and Industry Engagement at the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business. She’s received many accolades in her career, from being recognized by the State Department as a Fulbright Specialist to receiving NACE’s prestigious ‘Professional Change Maker Award.’ For her, it all started back in undergrad at LSU. She majored in PR, thinking she wanted to work with people. She soon learned PR at the time mainly focused on writing, a lot of it. After working with them in PR, the career center hired her as a graduate assistant, and she started her master’s degree in counseling. Before she finished her degree, she got a full-time position at Loyola University and finished her Master’s there.
- [3:35] Jamie found a lot of value in her experiences outside of the classroom throughout her education. She notes her work as a student worker and intern, and her first jobs right after graduating are the times when you don’t know anything, so you’ll try everything. She encourages the students she speaks with to consider more than just the academic work when thinking about their college experience. If you want more than just a piece of paper saying you met the academic requirements for your degree, then you need to do more than just the academic requirements. Student organizations, volunteering, leadership roles, and more can all help you build connections, skills, and a more varied experience.
- [5:50] According to Jamie, a mentor is someone who has understanding and background knowledge beyond your own (in some area) to help provide insight and perspective on your goals and questions. No one is brilliant at everything; it’s all situational and unique to their niche. Mentees learn a lot from their mentors who have had different life experiences than them. Mentors often learn a lot from their mentees as well.
- [7:30] Jamie has had a plethora of mentors over her career. Early in her career, these were mostly colleagues older than her who already had established credibility. That was a big challenge for her when she started in counseling. Nobody wanted to listen to a young woman. Thankfully, she found herself connected to many older, experienced colleagues, specifically older white men, who not only taught her how to speak up for herself but also opened doors for her to make connections.
- [10:10] When she had her first child, Jamie had to transition from being just a professional to being a professional AND a parent. New parents, especially women, often struggle with the balance, thinking, “If I’m being a good employee, I’m probably not being a great mother. If I’m being a great Mom, I’m probably not providing as much value as an employee as I did before.” It’s challenging, and it can help to have people who’ve walked through those changes before. When they return to work, their sleep, hormones, and physical self are often very different than when they left, and they can feel like they’re no longer competent at their job. They should take solace in hearing from their employer that this change in self is temporary. Eventually, your mind will shift back to being able to tackle the many work tasks you did before you gave birth.
- [15:30] Jamie Belinne’s 3 Keys to Mentoring Success
- 1 – Mentors need to really listen to their pupils. Your initial response will be to try to give advice. It’s so important to listen because they’re unique, and their goals and priorities may differ from yours at the time.
- 2 – You must be a safe place for your mentees. If someone tells you of a struggle or challenge they’re facing, you shouldn’t flippantly disregard those concerns or tell them just to struggle through because life is hard. Your mentees need to know they can express their fears and concerns with you.
- 3 – Don’t be the knight on a white horse. When people are vulnerable, your gut instinct is to save them. But you really need to pause, take a step back, and ask them how they want to handle the issue. Additionally, at the end of their journey, even if you’ve been by their side every step, THEY did the work. You have to give them credit and let them own their success.
- [20:42] Jamie has some advice for new professionals. Often, recent graduates and those new to the workforce will have an expectation and image in their mind of what “work” looks like, like what you see on TV. But the reality is your company is made of many flawed individuals with flawed managers. And success starts with learning how to have assertive but respectful conversations. It’s not a skill we often teach and can often be the thing that causes a new employee to stay or quit a job.
- [22:20] Many people will get in their own way regarding job interviews because they’re simply too nervous. Jamie highly recommends practice. Practice with a mock interview with a career counselor or trusted friend with experience in your field. A quick rule of thumb is to look at the job description, not the skills they’re looking for, and decide on one story for each listed skills and then practice those stories.
- [26:30] As part of her role at the University of Houston, Jamie serves as the bridge between companies and their requests for upcoming employees and the school and what they can teach those students. A common request she’s heard in one form or another over recent years is for people to have persuasive interpersonal skills. That is one thing ChatGPT and AI cannot do, and it will be a long time before they can. If you have the ability to sell (even if you’re not in Sales), you’ll likely be more successful and move up through the ranks quickly. Employers also tell her they need people who can tell a story from data. Computers are very good at creating data, but it takes a human to look at it and figure out what it means and if there are any actions or new questions we need to ask as a result of that determination.
- [31:23] In 2017, Jamie published a book, The Care and Feeding of Your Younger Employee: A Manager’s Guide to Millenials and Gen Z. She was driven to do this after her many years in career services and recruiting hearing complaints about Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. To her, all the complaints seemed very similar. So, she wanted to delve into things more deeply to see if these workers really were that different. She discovered that, ultimately, they’re not that different from previous generations. Many of the complaints she hears can be attributed to simply being young. Some things are different about the newer generations because they grew up in different worlds and had different experiences. But this isn’t a bad thing because it makes them more adaptable to the future.
- [33:35] A particular point of her research for her book focused on asking young professionals what top 3 traits they’re looking for in their next employer. They were given a list to choose from, and rarely did anyone select ‘diversity.’ But we know the younger generations greatly value diversity. So when asked about this, they would respond, saying, “Well, you’re going to get that everywhere. Everyone values diversity.” They’ve been living so much of their lives in the online world where diversity is the norm and assuming it’s a baseline expectation of employers to embrace diversity. They’re often surprised and disappointed when they learn that’s not the case. The younger generations also assume they can be a whole person at work. Specifically, younger people are much more comfortable discussing mental health than previous generations. The rest of the world doesn’t seem quite ready for that in the workplace.
- [38:30] When discussing managers’ challenges with younger employees, Jamie said it all starts with humor. She would start her conversations by laughing about all of our generations and the silly things from our youths. Gen Z and Millenials often get flagged as narcissistic due to all the selfies they post on social media. However, it tends to be quite the opposite. As young people themselves, the older generations would often have a location in their town that was the hangout spot: the mall, a parking lot, or an ill-tended cow pasture. In these places, we would interact with our peers, and their reactions would shape our views of the world and ourselves. However, in these cases, the people you interacted with were often very similar to yourself, creating a cultural echo chamber. The newer generations were born into a world where technology comes first. Many knew how to work an iPhone before they could form a complete sentence. Their local hangout is social media. They take a picture of an experience, post it online, and people react. And those reactions, like before, shape our worldview and view of ourselves. The difference now is the source of those reactions is global. And they’ve learned that people from different backgrounds will react to things differently. They’ve learned their words have different impacts relative to people’s backgrounds. So while they may seem to some as if they’re very narcissistic, they tend to be much more aware of the people around them than older generations.
Guest + Episode Links
- Bird Watching Locations
Danny Gavin 00:05
Hello everyone. I’m Danny Gavin, founder of Optidge, Marketing Professor and the host of The Digital Marketing Mentor. Today, I’m super excited for very special guest Jamie Belinne, who’s the Assistant Dean of Career and Industry Engagement at the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business. My all the matter, She’s received many accolades in her career, from being recognized by the State Department as a Fulbright Specialist to being a recipient of NASA’s prestigious Professional Change Maker Award. She’s also been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Bloomberg. And other major outlets. Today we’re going to discuss mentoring college students entering the early stages of their careers and a lot about mentorship in general. Jamie is an expert in this area and has even written a book about it, and I can’t wait to talk about that as well. Jamie, how are you? i’m great how are you doing, Danny?
Danny Gavin 01:11
I’m doing so well and it’s really nice to have you here. As a lot of my listeners know, Bauer College of Business is a really big part of my life, both as a student and as a professor. And you know, we’ve done different things together and I know how much you’re such a wealth of knowledge and it’s just very exciting to have you on the podcast today.
Jamie Belinne 01:32
Well, thank you. I’m really happy to be here.
Danny Gavin 01:34
Let’s start with your educational background. Where did you go to school and what did you study?
Jamie Belinne 01:39
So my undergraduate was at LSU and public relations because I thought I wanted to work with the public. And then I realized it was mostly a whole lot of writing back in those days, which was fine. But I was working in the office of public Relations, and part of my beat was the Career Center and just fell in love with the work they were doing. And so they hired me as a grad assistant in the career counseling center and I got my master’s in counseling, started at LSU, and then I got hired into a fulltime job at Tulane University doing career counseling. So I finished my master’s at Loyola University New Orleans there moved to Texas in 92 and was. Perfectly content. And then COVID happened, and like many and my kids, moved out of the house at the same time COVID happened. So I’m like, now what do I do? So I started a PhD program and I should be finishing my PhD in curriculum and instruction at Texas Tech this May.
Danny Gavin 02:32
I didn’t know that. That’s really exciting.
Jamie Belinne 02:35
Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun.
Danny Gavin 02:37
How does U of H feel about you getting a degree from Texas Tech?
Jamie Belinne 02:41
Well, they really don’t get a vote in that matter, but it was funny. I love you know, I love but I felt like this is something I needed to do that was mine, and I didn’t want to merge these two parts of my life too closely. The Dean was like, why don’t you get a PHD in business? I’m like, because I live here every day. I I’m much more interested in getting. Something totally different and outside of my normal daily life.
Danny Gavin 03:06
I love it. And you know, for me, education is so important. And at a point in time earlier in my life, I wanted to get a master’s in education. Didn’t happen maybe in the future, but I love how you’re going in that direction, right? Because you know a lot about business, but you know, just moving that extra step forward and even like with everything that you do, like just to push yourself to continue becoming an expert and getting better at everything, it’s really commendable.
Jamie Belinne 03:31
Course, I brought it all back together because my research area is on a lot of the programs that we’re doing at Bauer.
Danny Gavin 03:36
What experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, do you think we’re most impactful in directing your path?
Jamie Belinne 03:41
I do think in my early formative years, my work as a student worker, my internships, first jobs out of school, those early formative experiences where you don’t know anything and so you try a little bit of everything are so important. And every time I have parents who have young people that are starting school and they’re like. They need to pick a career. They don’t know what they want to do. And I’m like, of course I don’t know what they want to do. They have no idea who they are or what’s out there. And before you tell them you just need to pick something, they really need to go out and experience as much of life as possible. And I’m not just talking about go travel the world for a year, although that’s fun if you’ve got the resources. But more so volunteer and work part time and try different experiences to start to see what feels right for me and what doesn’t and those early experiences of doing those. Jobs that you know, yeah, they’re not earth shattering, but they’re learning experiences. Those were important to me.
Danny Gavin 04:36
And I feel like a university provides a lot of the opportunities for those experiences. But there’s a certain amount that a student or person needs to do on their own. So how do you find that balance? Like some people feel I go to university, everything should be given to me on a platter. Others are, you know, no, like you’ve got to be responsible. You’re an adult now. So how do you see that balance?
Jamie Belinne 04:57
Well, you know, I tell my students every year if you go to class and you meet the academic requirements, we will give you a piece of paper that says you met all of our academic requirements for a degree. That’s all. If you would like more than a piece of paper, you’re going to have to do more than the academic requirements and that’s kind of the tipping point. So if you choose to do student organizations, then you will have a better network. If you choose to do recruiting events, then you will have more opportunities for jobs available to you. If you choose to do internships and case competitions and volunteering, you will have a broader skill set to present to employers and a better understanding of yourself. But if you choose to do none of those things. You’ll have a wonderful piece of paper made on really good paper that says you earn the degree requirements for the college.
Danny Gavin 05:43
Yeah, I think it’s pretty straightforward. What’s the right path? Yeah, Let’s talk about mentorship. How would you define a mentor?
Jamie Belinne 05:50
Really, a mentor is a person who understanding background knowledge beyond yours. In some area that can help provide insight and perspective on your goals and your questions, I think it’s useful to know that there’s nobody out there that is brilliant and everything it is. It is kind of situational and unique to their little area. So what’s fun is, and I always tell mentors that I’m working with, not only can you learn from the experiences and backgrounds of someone that is has done work that you haven’t. That they can learn from you and the life experience you have in the world that you in are in. So it can be a very reciprocal thing. But yeah, people that have lived and seen stuff that you haven’t, that can contribute to your understanding of your goals and yourself.
Danny Gavin 06:38
And I imagine in the world of college and for young students, it’s really important to have a mentor in their life.
Jamie Belinne 06:44
Oh my gosh, yes. And it’s funny how many people come into college with a picture in their head of what they think a field is or what they think a job is. And that picture just couldn’t be further from the truth. And it’s so important to have people that can tell you the truth. I actually talked to an alumnus today who was coming to participate in a panel in my class. And he said, you know, when I was in your class years ago, I thought I wanted to be an accounting. Because I thought I knew what accounting was, and then I heard the supply chain panel and they talked about procurement, which I’d never even heard of. And I thought that sounds amazing. And then he started talking to people in that field and learning more about it. And he’s very happy working in procurement now.
Danny Gavin 07:26
So before we go deeper into the student world of mentoring, let’s first talk about your mentors. Who has been some of the most influential mentors in your career?
Jamie Belinne 07:35
I’ve had so many because it is, like I said, it’s very situational. So early in my career, I had a lot of much older people that had already established credibility because that’s what I struggled with in the beginning, was that nobody wanted to listen to me, nobody wanted to take me seriously. I was this 20 something tiny girl that I’d walk in the room and immediately be ignored and dismissed. I found some older, and at the time too, it was a long time ago, frankly, some older white men that would take me under their wing not just as mentors, but as sponsors. That would not only tell me here’s how you speak up to be heard, but also they would kind of open doors so people would listen to me and it made all the difference in the world. Without them, I don’t think I ever would have been able to grow in my career like I did.
Danny Gavin 08:20
You know, I think the world has changed a lot since then. But at that time, were you frustrated or was it like this is just how it works?
Jamie Belinne 08:27
It was a little bit of both, and it was funny because. You know, a few people used to laugh that you learn how to work that system. Like, I would go into a meeting knowing that they thought I was dumb and useless. And so I couldn’t come in and say, you know, here’s what I think we need to do. I had to say, I don’t understand why we’re doing that. It still doesn’t make sense to me. Could you explain it to me one more time? I just don’t see why we’re doing this instead of this. I mean, I know you know more than I do. So I need you to help me understand. And I would have to kind of lean into their, you know, preconceived notions about me just to get my agenda. But the rough part with that was. People knew that if I was in a meeting, things got done. They didn’t always realize that I was the one getting them done. So I got invited and I got included a lot. But it took a while for them to actually turn to me and say what do you think?
Danny Gavin 09:14
But I think the best part is you didn’t give up, right?
Jamie Belinne 09:16
No i didn’t. And again, the mentoring is important. It’s certainly gotten better for women, I think. People of color still have a very similar struggle to what I went through. And I think it’s so important to find people who walk that road and can talk to you about how they’ve survived it and sponsor you and open doors for you. Because it’s useful every now and then to be reminded you’re not crazy, you’re not incompetent. You just need to hang in there and you can’t get angry and you know. Pitch a big fit about it, because then they start to dismiss you too. It’s a very delicate dance.
Danny Gavin 09:53
Yeah, it’s really tough, like you said, if you kind of know what to expect and know what, what’s normal, what’s not, sadly, what may be normal, yeah. But at least if you know like what’s the system, what you have to do, it’s a lot easier to be able to navigate it.
Jamie Belinne 10:07
The other tipping point where I really needed a lot of mentoring and this again get kind of gets back to being a woman. But when I had my first children and I made that transition from. I am a professional and I’m very focused on my career and I’m doing all this stuff too. I’m a professional and I’m a mom, and you go through this period. I think every parent, whether you’re a mom or a dad. I think it in my in my era, it was more the moms. Now I think it’s both parents. You really struggle with. If I’m being a good employee, I’m probably not being a great mom. If I’m being a great mom, I’m probably not being. The employee that I was before and there’s not enough to go around and your expectations for yourself professionally. You have to kind of reassess how you see yourself as a professional and what does balance mean and it really helps to have other people who walk through that parenting role before to help you redefine yourself redefine your role balance. Things out to realize which things you can let go and you’re still a great professional. Which things you can let go and still be a great parent. It’s useful to have that kind of mentoring as well, I think.
Danny Gavin 11:14
That is so timely, cuz I actually have two women in my company who are actually pregnant and are about to take their maternity leave. Happens to be there in the same department. So it’s kind of like a funny joke that I think God is playing on me. But I’m very excited to be able to support them through this. But I think it’s a great point like so from an employer, how does an employer approach that right, these two women are going to be coming back to work and yeah, they’re going to have that struggle. How do you think of an employer can help, you know, people who’ve gone on maternity or paternity leave and coming back and facilitate just to help them go through that challenge and struggle?
Jamie Belinne 11:46
My rule of thumb because I’ve had a had a lot of young women in my office that have had children and come back and I’ve had a lot of young men that have had kids too. I do think it’s harder on the women because they have the physical changes as well and the hormonal shifts. And so you come back and usually just because of the way the world works, you may have 12 weeks that are protected by the federal government, but you may not get paid for those 12 weeks. So you may come back sooner than you want to. And frankly, before your sleep pattern has gotten back and whack again, and before your hormones have readjusted and so it could be a very emotional time. You can have a lot of brain fog. Your decision making may not be as strong as it was before. Your response time to things may not be as good. Your critical thinking may be impaired. And so you’re already feeling like, I think maybe I’m projecting. I feel like every new parent, especially if it’s their first child, feels like I’m no good at this because it’s so overwhelming. But then you have that feeling and then you go back to work, I think. And I don’t think I’m good at this anymore either. And I think it’s so important as an employer to really make room for that when they first come back and recognize that this is almost like a shortterm disability kind of thing where you have to give people room and make some accommodation that they will return to the state they were before children. You need to give room for that, though, and recognize that if they’re not exactly the way they were before, that’s not a permanent situation. That’s a temporary situation.
Danny Gavin 13:13
I appreciate that advice and I’m programming it into my mind and making sure that create that situation when they do return. So you’ve been in the position of mentoring others for many years now through your different positions at U of H and obviously other areas. Do you take a different approach to mentoring those within your actual department versus, let’s say, students you’re working with soon we’re going to graduate?
Jamie Belinne 13:34
I mean, if you’re in my actual department, it’s a lot easier for me to do it because I understand exactly what you do, your strengths, your weaknesses, where you want to go and how we can get you there. So I’m able to do more for students and people outside my department. It puts more pressure on them to reach out to me and keep me informed and work with me. I have a vested interest in developing the people in my team, so I will chase them down. I’ve had some employees from like, look. I just found out about this job. You need to apply for it. They’re like, but I don’t want to leave. I’m like, I know you don’t want to leave and I don’t want you to leave because you’re doing a bad job. I want you to leave because you’re ready for this next stage and this is what’s right for you. And so I’ll do that kind of thing with people on my team. But another person that’s outside, unless they are talking to me regularly, I may or may not think to be that assertive with them. It may be whatever we’re talking about we’ll deal with and then we’re done until I hear from them again. So if. And I do this too. I mean, if I want to be mentored, I make sure that they can’t forget me. I kind of keep finding reasons to go to coffee and follow up and stay in touch so that they can’t forget about me.
Danny Gavin 14:39
And being so busy like that makes a bunch of sense. And it’s funny because I think a lot of people feel that, oh, I’m bugging you if I’m going to reach out, but it’s the opposite, right? Like we, i have so much that’s going on in my life and I care about you. But it’s kind of hard to make that space, so you got to follow back up and I’ll be there for you when you’re ready, but I can chase after you.
Jamie Belinne 14:59
Yeah, but follow back up purposefully. Don’t send the random, just check it in. That is a nuisance. But if you’re sending me there’s an article or hey, I haven’t seen you months, let’s meet for coffee. I mean, give me a reason to reach out and then, yeah, it’s good to hear from you. But even then, it has to be kind of measured, I mean. I’ve had a few people that wanted to talk every single week. I’m like, i can’t but every few months, by all means, you know?
Danny Gavin 15:29
So let’s get into what are your three keys to successful mentoring?
Jamie Belinne 15:32
So I think the very first thing is to really listen. And when you’ve been out there and somebody comes to you and says what do you think? The first thing you want to do is give advice and tell them what to do. But it’s so important to sit back and listen because they are a unique individual. And their goals and priorities may be very different from yours, even at that stage in your life. So listening is so important. And along those same lines, you need to be a safe place for them. So if they say something like, you know, hey, I just had a baby and I came back to work and I don’t think my brain works anymore. And I feel like I’m not as good as I used to be. You can’t say, well, you know, buck up, buttercup. Life’s hard. I mean, you have to be a safe place to them to say I’m afraid or i think I may fail or what if this happens in that line. I think what people are vulnerable like that with you your gut instinct is to come in and save them. But the best thing you can really do is to sit back and say, well how do you want to handle that? What do you think you ought to do and have faith in them to work it through with you as a sounding board. And if they ask for advice by all means give it. But give them give them space and faith that they can do it and then lastly when they do get it done. Even if you were there every step of the way and you help them, they did it and give them full credit. And through the years, I’ve worked with so many students and it’s, it makes me uncomfortable, frankly, when they’re like, you know, thank you so much, you made this happen. And I’m like, no, I didn’t. You made this happen. You could have chosen to be that student that met the academic requirements and then just got the piece of paper. But you chose to be the student that did everything that you could and you made good things happen. All I did was let you know it was available and so let them own their success.
Danny Gavin 17:11
It’s very easy to be like, oh, you know, and naturally people like to look at themselves and it’s like, look what I did. But you’re right. It’s like wrapping up this wonderful present with a beautiful bow. And the way you do that is by letting them know, yeah, I was there, but really it was all you.
Jamie Belinne 17:25
And I always say, I think one of the greatest blessings of my career is I get to be part of the journey, you know, and it’s so wonderful because young people, they’re making that move from high school to adulthood and they’re at that stage where. They don’t want to call their parents all the time, even if they don’t really know what to do and they really need somebody to tell them, but they want to prove they’re an adult. So we at the university get to be that person that’s there, this incredibly meaningful time in their lives that they will say, what do you think? Or where can I go? And we get to watch it happen, but they definitely make it happen because we see the ones that don’t make it happen. So yeah, they make it happen.
Danny Gavin 18:04
Along these lines you mentioned, it’s important for students and other mentees to be able to own their success. Are there any particular questions or processes you go through yourself to make sure that you’re just showing them the open doors, not necessarily opening it up for them?
Jamie Belinne 18:18
That’s a great question. I spend a lot more time asking them questions than I do answering them. And even to the point where they’ll say I don’t to do about this, instead of telling them what to do, I’ll say, well, what have you tried so far? Or, well, you know, what do you think you may want to do? Just spend a lot of time kind of pushing back. Because sometimes it’s a case of this is new to them and how do you break down the problem is something they’ve never done before. And so it’s almost like being in a consulting role. If you go into a business as a consultant, you’re not going to come and say here’s your problem, I’m going to fix it. You’re going to spend a lot of time with that client understanding where they are, what they’ve tried, where they’re going, what they’re thinking about it. And same thing as a mentor, you’re a consultant that’s going to listen and help them. Work things through and then they’ll hit a point like, well, here’s where I got stuck and you can say, well, did you try this already? Did you try this resource? And they may say you already did, or oh, I didn’t know that existed. But yeah, it’s more about asking than it is about answering.
Danny Gavin 19:15
It sounds like you’re a natural, but so would you say earlier on, did you like give more answers and then like you learned to? I can’t do that? Or have you always just been insightful about this?
Jamie Belinne 19:26
I don’t know that I’m insightful. I was trained as a therapist and my master’s and I did work as a therapist briefly, so that helps. But I still struggle. I think everyone struggles. I can’t wait to give the right answer, and I joke with my students when we talk about case interviews and consulting from the time. We’re very young, we are programmed and trained to give the right answer quickly, and it’s so much a part of us to give the right answer quickly. But it’s really hard to overcome that. It’s hard with mentoring. It’s hard with managing. It’s the same thing with the people I manage. It’s I have to pull back and not tell them how to do their jobs because that’s a horrible way to stop innovation. And then the same thing with my kids, I have to pull back from telling them how they should live their lives. A, they don’t want to, they don’t want me to. But B, it’s a sure, far way to make them do something opposite, but it’s a struggle to pull back from giving answers.
Danny Gavin 20:14
Yeah, I’m glad that you mentioned that because it is very hard. I guess it is programmed into us at an early age. So it’s just so normal. I know in relationships in particular, especially at in marriage, it’s more about listening than giving answers and that’s something that I’ve got to work on all the time.
Jamie Belinne 20:29
My husband and I have a joke where you know one of us will say something, the other will say Do you want suggestions or support?
Danny Gavin 20:38
I’m learning to ask that question as well. You know, we spoke a little bit about students, but, you know, I’m sure you keep in touch with students who’ve graduated like they’re in their first job. You know, are there any particular strategies or things that you help, you know, students when they’re in the middle of their first job and it’s that first time and opportunity for them?
Jamie Belinne 20:58
I think the biggest thing that I see when I’m working with new professionals is first of all they had an image of work. As being something like you would see on TV and that’s not how work happens. It’s a lot of flawed individuals with a lot of flawed managers. And that doesn’t mean that your company’s dysfunctional. It means that you’ve got human beings involved. So a lot of time helping folks think through. How do you have assertive yet respectful conversations? How do you bring something up with a manager or a coworker when things don’t make sense or you feel like people aren’t being fair to you? How do you talk about that? Appropriately, because it’s not a skill that we always teach. And then you’re expected, just know how to do it. And the alternative is I’ll see people that are just ready to quit their jobs. And that’s usually what they call me. It’s like I’m going to quit my job or God forbid they already have quit their job And you hear why. And it’s like, all right, yeah, your manager isn’t being very nice or your coworkers not being very nice and this isn’t the last time that’s going to happen to you. So let’s talk about how to handle that. So that’s. A lot of it does kind of focus on how do you have those difficult conversations.
Danny Gavin 22:08
All right, let’s dive now into college recruiting. Obviously people go through university. College, it itself can be difficult or hard. Stepping into the workforce or having that first job interview, there can be a lot of nerves. So what advice do you give to people who seem to get in their own way just because they’re so nervous?
Jamie Belinne 22:27
I’m a big fan of practice if you can do mock interviews. And either with a career counselor or a trusted friend who’s also a professional mentor, they can say, let’s walk through this, let’s walk through this and you can. You can usually guess at what the interview questions are going to be just based on the job description. But practice really does make perfect. I mean, you wouldn’t get up to deliver a play without practicing and. An interview is kind of this performance that you should practice. And you know, you certainly don’t memorize the script, but you need to know your stories well enough that you pull the right story and you can tell it very quickly. You need to understand, you know, why you’ve done what you’ve done and why you want to go there next and be able to explain that. And practice really helps with that. And The funny thing is the people that are most nervous. And to avoid the practice the most because the practice is scary and I’ve had to tell a few people cuz like, oh mock interview is just too stressful, I’d rather just do the real interview. I’m like, you really think the mock interview is gonna be worse than the real one cuz I think you may be wrong.
Danny Gavin 23:32
It’s like avoiding the inevitable. Not a good idea, having those stories in your bank. So important, right? I know when I’m interviewing people, if they can pull up stories and examples and they don’t have to think about it like it’s key, yeah.
Jamie Belinne 23:43
And honestly, the trick is you look at the job description, you see the skills that they’re looking for, and you come up with one story for every one of those things they’re looking for and practice that story and you’re ready for the interview because they’re going to ask about that stuff.
Danny Gavin 23:56
High chance, right? Good chance. So many of the positions available to the younger of workforce didn’t even exist 20 years ago. Were you on 10, right? So how do you coach the students to even know what types of positions they should look for and be open to as flexibility especially these days will also be key remote work environment. And you know new career types are developing every year. So how do you instruct your students?
Jamie Belinne 24:17
I am a huge fan of informational interviews, so you find somebody that’s in a job that sounds like it might be cool or interesting. And you reach out to them. And honestly, if you reach out to someone and say your job sounds so cool, I’d love to learn more about it. They’re usually happy to talk to you unless they’re like the CEO and they’re really busy. And then when you’re asking them about the job, how do you get into it? What do you do? What do you like? What do you not like? Ask them what other jobs are like this in your company and how are they the same? How are they different? And they can start to tell you about things you never knew existed that you could say, ooh, can I talk to that person? I’d like to find out about what they do, too. But it really is important to just find out about as many jobs as possible because like you said, it’s a moving target, but there’s some fun stuff happening and the people that are aware and going after them are having a good time.
Danny Gavin 25:05
It’s crazy how our world is changing every minute yes so the only way you’re gonna find out what a job looks like now is if you actually ask someone yes so.
Jamie Belinne 25:14
You note that many employment failures are rooted in poor or miscommunication. What tools or skills do you encourage in your students to help avoid this? There’s actually two books that I like, Crucial Conversations and Difficult Conversations. I love both of those. I’m a certified Crucial Conversations trainer, but I honestly love both of those books. It’s a skill just like any other skill, and we assume that everyone can have these awkward, uncomfortable conversations naturally. But it’s not natural. Nothing about those conversations is natural. Our Deep down programming is to go into fight or flight when there’s some kind of awkward, uncomfortable situation, which is either one of those is the worst thing you can do. To actually stay with that discomfort and work through it in a way that is both assertive and respectful is a skill that takes practice. And so I do feel like the more you’re putting yourself out there and the situations that are just a little uncomfortable and a little outside of your depth. The more opportunity you’ll have to practice working through that effectively and saying what works and what doesn’t work, so that by the time it really matters later in your career, you’ve gotten pretty good at it. Alternatively, everyone should get a counseling degree.
Danny Gavin 26:23
I would imagine a lot of your time as Assistant Dean is spent having discussions with leaders on the industry side of things and see what they want out of the next generation of employees. How do you get those leaders to give you real meat and potatoes insight? That can be truly actionable to the college.
Jamie Belinne 26:38
They have no problem giving us insight and feedback. They’re very quick to say we want this and this and this and this and the bigger challenges is kind of separating what are the types of things that we should be doing in a university environment versus the type of things that should be training in the company’s organization. So that’s a bigger one. But in terms of the big picture stuff, there’s some consistent themes we’re hearing from all of them. And one is that persuasive interpersonal skill set, being able to speak persuasively, because that’s one thing that chat g p t and a I they can’t do that and it’s going to be a long time before they can. So the human beings who’ve got that selling skill, basically regardless of your field, you don’t have to be in sales to need the selling skill. Accounting, finance, supply chain, everybody needs it. But the people that have that are much more successful and they move up more quickly. So that’s one side. The other side is that ability to tell a story from data. So the computers are really good at creating data and saying this data says this about this data and then you can make more data. But then the computer goes and walks away and the human being has to be able to look at all of this data and say, ooh. You know, based on this, we need to think differently or we need to act differently or we need to ask the computer some new questions to find better insights. But that ability to really understand data, tell stories with it, and that ability to talk persuasively with other people that can’t be outsourced to computers yet, it’s something that it’s harder to send it overseas because you need those client relationships for it to be meaningful. And so if you want to have. Growth and success, at least in the near term. Those two broad areas are what I’m hearing again and again from computers. Now with that, there’s some specific skill sets like I’m hearing Power BI and Tableau over and over again with that storytelling kind of thing and that experience working with customer service at some point, so you understand how to work with difficult people. But broadly, that’s what I’m hearing from everyone.
Danny Gavin 28:47
Thank you for sharing those are really great insights. I would imagine that the hiring managers and other industry pros will also tell you of success stories they’ve had hiring someone or maybe adjusting their leadership style based on your advice. Do you have any examples or stories that you can share?
Jamie Belinne 29:03
I’ve also worked with some senior leaders and the two things that I do the most with them that seems to have the most impact for them. One is when you’ve been working your way up in an organization. You move up because you’re so good at your job and you’re so productive with your job. And then there’s this tipping point where you get moved into a senior leadership position where they want you to basically stop doing all the things you’ve been rewarded for and focus on developing other people to be successful at it. And that’s a real difficult transition for a lot of people and so helping people to let go of their own. Performance and outcomes and focus more on the performance and outcomes of the people that they’re working with has been a big area of mentoring for me, for senior people. And it tends to be one of the most impactful for them because once they realize you don’t have to do the work and I know you feel like, but if I stop, what’s my value? Your value is all these other people are becoming more successful because of you. So that’s a big shift for people.
Danny Gavin 30:06
Yeah, I think I see that even my own organization, right, especially like in these analyst roles like. You’ve been doing the work for so long and suddenly as you move up some people, success means becoming a manager. But when they become the manager, it’s like, is this really what I want? I’m not supposed to actually do the work anymore.
Jamie Belinne 30:25
Yeah, and then it’s really hard, because the second thing I’m always having to work with them is you have to let go because they’re gonna do it differently from how you will. You’ve got much more experience. You’re always like, but this way it’s better. This is, I would do it like this and this is much better. You have to let go of all of that and allow them to fall down and allow them to recover and within boundaries and that’s hard.
Danny Gavin 30:45
About a year and a half ago I was struggling with just way too much work and everything, and I hired ACOO and she helped me transition. But you know, for me, delegation was so hard, cuz when you look at someone else, there’s no way that they’re going to be able to do it the same way as you know. So what I had to do was come to terms that okay. If I give it to them, I know it’s only going to be 80 % of what I would do. You know what that’s going to be okay and you’ll see Danny like let go and I did that and it actually worked and it’s been tremendous for me.
Jamie Belinne 31:16
It’s hard though.
Danny Gavin 31:18
It’s very hard even now. All right, let’s now talk about your book, The Care and Feeding of your Young Employee, A Manager’s Guide to Millennials and Gen Z and I just want to say that when I got a copy of your book, the first thing I did was give it to my mom. And I’m like, mom, you’ve got to read this because you need to understand what’s going on here. But yeah, she loved it. The management of Gen. Z Millennials has been a common complaint and discussion point for basically as long as we’ve or they’ve been around right in the workforce. What drove you to write and publish this amazing book?
Jamie Belinne 31:50
I’m so glad you got so I’ve been in some form of career services and recruiting for 30 years now. And I listen to the employers complain about Gen. X and I listen to the complain about millennials and I’ve listened to the complain about Gen Z and the complaints were very similar. And so I really wanted to measure, are they really that different? And what I found was a lot of stuff isn’t a lot of stuff is a factor of being young. Especially the thing about they’re so entitled and they’re not willing to pay their dues. And I’m like, you know, that’s really a perception issue. We forget how we were when we were young. And so we have these rose colored glasses of our awesomeness that we actually developed into overtime. Those are functions of youth. There were things that were different, and it was based on the world that they grew up in, shaping their worldview to be slightly different from the generations before them. Which, again, was not a bad thing because it actually made them more adapted to the future that we’re going into than the previous generations. And so while there are many things the younger generations can learn from the older generations, there are things the older generations can learn from the younger generation. And they try. It’s so cute when they try. And they meanwhile, because they know. They know they have a problem and they know they need to do better and they are making progress. They really are. Especially when there’s just not much change in the people. When you see a lot more change in the people, it’s easier to have culture change. But when you’ve got leaders that have been there for decades, culture change is a tough one. And the other one that I’ll see in companies because I’ll have companies that will bring me in to work on inclusion and things like that. And what’s always funny to me, it’s like we want you to come in and do some training on inclusion. And I’m like, who’s going to be there? And it’s always like, well, the line and staff, like what about the leaders? Oh no, they don’t need to come. Like, no, nothing’s going to change if they’re not there, right?
Danny Gavin 33:33
Was there anything in particular about your research for this book that you really enjoyed or found especially surprising and interesting that you, like, really didn’t know outside? I mean, you did just mention about the concept that all youth are basically the same, but any other interesting points or insights?
Jamie Belinne 33:46
I think the thing that was. The one that I like to point out to people was when I, and this has been consistent over years and years of serving them of what are you looking for in your next employer. And I give them a long list of things to choose from and they choose their top three. But at the bottom of the list every single time was workplace that values diversity. And everyone’s like, but they’re so into diversity in this generation. Like yes, they are. So I did some focus groups and I’m like, you know, tell me more And what they said was, well you’re going to get that everyone values diversity. And so my takeaway was they’re a bit sheltered because living online where diversity is the norm and inclusion is the norm, when you go into a company, it may or may not be the norm. And So what happens is they’re assuming that that’s a baseline expectation of their company that there will be embracing not just respect for diversity and inclusion, but embracing diversity and inclusion. And when that doesn’t happen, it rocks their world. It’s funny because I’ve had companies I was work with. Working with get upset because they had young employees that were on a campaign to have gender neutral neutral bathrooms and pronouns and email signatures and all that. They’re like we don’t even have anybody in our organization that is non binary. And I’m like yeah, but that’s not actually the point. Their point is we want to be welcoming and inclusive enough that if somebody appears we don’t react to that we’ve already made it safe for them. And so it’s that kind of mindset that. Honestly, it’s freaking out a lot of the older guard, but it’s the future and they are going to lead us into the future. But it was funny to me that they don’t realize that their leadership is needed there. They figure we’ve already got it figured out.
Danny Gavin 35:27
I find that so fascinating, right? That it it’s so normal, you’re so used to it, but then you come into an organization and it’s just not there. I mean that shock is, like, frightening, right?
Jamie Belinne 35:40
The other thing that they assume? Is that they could be a whole person at work because they’re told that and the company speak a really good line about we’re all about Wellness and inclusion and taking you as you are. This younger generation is very comfortable talking about mental health in the same way that previous generations would talk about their dental health. I mean, it’s, you know, kind of gross to bring it up at lunch, but it’s not a secret. The rest of the world’s not ready for it right yet and I’ve had students that when they were asked about obstacles that they’ve overcome, would talk about dealing with depression and how they overcame depression. And then they wouldn’t get the offer and they wouldn’t know why. And I’d call the company like, yeah, that’s oversharing. And I’d go back to the student. They’re like, but why I I’ve overcome it. This is a huge thing. I’m like, you’re there and the world will get there, but the world’s not there.
Danny Gavin 36:29
It reminds me something that happened like a week ago. One of my employees came to me and they said to me. You know, I would like to go start seeing seeing my therapist again an hour a week. So the first thing that I react is like, oh, my gosh, is there a problem? Like, are you okay? Is everything all right? And i asked that obviously in a respectful way, but it was like, yeah, Danny, there’s nothing wrong. It’s just this is something that’s part of my life. I’m actually in a really good space right now, and I would like to do that because I think it will help me better, you know? So how can we work? So the question was just. You know, how can I work that with my hours? And obviously I was very flexible and not a problem. But it’s interesting how as soon as I heard that word therapist, it’s like these are a problem. But no, it doesn’t have to be a problem, so it’s.
Jamie Belinne 37:12
Like personal trainer, I go to a personal trainer once a month and I go to a therapist twice a month and this is how I take care of my Wellness.
Danny Gavin 37:19
So powerful. Yeah, I hope. I hope people hear that yeah and I like, again, they are leading us into the future. It’s where we’re going. But we’re not 100 % there yet.
Danny Gavin 37:29
We’ll get there. Yeah, so not to make you hype your book up on the spot, but so many of the reviews of your books say something along the lines of this should be required reading for all leaders. The review also mentions how actionable the advice in your book is. It’s clear the readers and yourself see this book as truly valuable for helping both ends of the workforce. Is there anything you want to do to get your book in front of more leaders you know?
Jamie Belinne 37:51
I’ve been really fortunate that typically every company that I go is it go into just buys one for everybody i guess. Knowing my own style of reading business books just to tell people something, I put a summary at the end of every chapter for people that don’t want to actually read the chapter. So you can go straight to the summary and then decide you want to read the rest of it to have proof of what I’m saying. But I think if you’re frustrated with young people and you’re thinking what on earth is gonna happen to us? It’s a good way to feel better and feel hopeful, and have some not only some context for why things are different, but some suggest suggestions and strategies for how do you leverage.
Danny Gavin 38:25
This Were there any tricks you use to help you balance the line between seemingly potentially being like defensive younger workers versus explaining how managers and leaders can help avoid or conquer generational challenges?
Jamie Belinne 38:37
Humor. I think the more we can laugh at ourselves, the better. So usually when I’ll come in to work with the company 1st, I’ll spend a lot of time where we just laugh at each of our generations in a way that’s nonjudgmental, but just embracing the silliness of our youths and the things that were normal when we were young and the language we used and the things that we thought were important. And when you start kind of with that foundation and then you go to the next stage and then i go specifically to, you know, here’s what we’re saying, but. Let’s put it in context. If we have time, I can give you an example. We talk about how narcissistic this generation is with the selfies, everything. I’m taking pictures of myself all the time and they’re so full of themselves and I always going to say when y’all were younger, depending on the size of your town, my guess is many of you hung out at the mall. If you lived in the city or if you were in a smaller town, maybe you had that one drag by a Sonic or whatever where everybody kind of cruised. Or if you’re in a really small town like mine, there was that one cow field that the farmer never checked and you would just go like have a pastor party and wait till somebody said, hey guys, watch this. And then you knew it was going to be a fun night. But we had these moments where we would gather. And we would say and do things, and our friends would react to the things we said and did. And based on these interactions, we would start to shape our views of ourselves and the worlds around us. And this was a normal developmental part of growing up for a generation that was born into technology, where communication happened with the device before it was verbal. I could use the iPhone before I could speak. So in this case, communication through the device, I have an experience, I take a picture, I post it online, people react, and I interact. I have another experience. I take a picture, I post online, people react, and based on these reactions, I start to shape my view of myself and how I want to be in the world. The difference is there’s so much more feedback, and some of that’s bad. There’s a lot of credible research showing that this trolling and things like that are leading to depression and suicide, and that’s a very real thing that needs to be dealt with at the same time for previous generations, those people you hung out with at the mall or whatever. Probably were people that went to your school, lived in your neighborhood that were very similar to you, and so these interactions could become a cultural echo chamber. But for the youngest generation online, you’re getting feedback from people of all sorts of backgrounds, all sorts of experiences, and you become much more aware of the fact that your views, your words have different impact on different people, which has caused them to be much more inclusive in their thinking and their communication very naturally. Than previous generations, which gets back to that idea of they seem like they’re narcissistic because they’re taking selfies, but they’re actually much more aware of the people around them than previous generations because of this experience. And so we look a lot at the misperceptions and we put it in the context of the world that they grew up and then realized they’re not bad, they’re just different i love that perspective, exactly like a cup, half full or half empty. Both are true. Both are there. But man, there’s a lot of good there. There’s a lot of exciting thing about this generation and all that they see in view. All right, it’s time for Jamie’s top three. For those who don’t know, Jamie enjoys birding or bird watching, and I’d like to do a double top three. Why don’t you tell me the top three places you like to do bird watching here in Texas or could be anywhere in the US And I’d also like to know the top three birds that you like to look out for.
Jamie Belinne 42:03
During migrations, it’s got this tiny little place that you could walk and the and the trees are all low so you can see. I love to go to High Island because they’ve got this raised walkway that’s in the treetops so you can see everything really well. And then Padre Island, because that’s where everybody comes in right off migration. They’re tired, they’re beautiful and they sit right in front of you because like, I’m too tired to run away. So that’s nice. Those are my three favorites for three favorite birds. I don’t know if I could. I absolutely love them all, but I will say. And most people don’t realize it, that we have more migratory birds going through Texas than anywhere else in the US and we don’t always realize just how gorgeous they are. Painted buntings, if you’ve not seen them, they live all over Texas and they just look like somebody sneezed a color palette over a bird. They’re just gorgeous. Those are lovely, Rosie. It’s Spoonbills, which are easy to see all around Houston, which are like the Texas Flamingos, I like to think. And then, gosh, any of the warblers that come through, gotta love them all.
Danny Gavin 43:02
Before we wrap up, what is your next big thing that you’re working on? Next big project outside of your PhD? Because I’m sure that is a big project.
Jamie Belinne 43:08
It is. I’m having so much with my PhD next chapter of my life. I’m really looking at young women and their understanding of their bodies. And so I’m toying with the idea of writing a book in that area. And I’m also getting involved with some nonprofits in the Houston area that help with education for young women to better understand. Their bodies and how to make healthy decisions because it’s one of those areas that somehow we’ve made it not OK to talk about. And I think it does need to be OK to talk about it because we don’t have communication and education, then we make bad choices.
Danny Gavin 43:43
I love that. And if I may ask, like where? Why specifically that area?
Jamie Belinne 43:46
I have a daughter who’s 20, and I found that I was always to this day, I was always the mom that. My daughter’s going to be going okay. So I have this friend and it will legitimately be that she had this friend that couldn’t talk to her own mother but needed honest, accurate information. And there’s so much misinformation out there. Again, we’ve made women’s bodies dirty. And because of that we can’t talk about it. And because of that, we make that choices. And so and I’m not judging choices. I’m saying we’re not making informed choices. And so i really feel strongly that our young women need safe places to ask questions, to get honest. Accurate information because there’s not enough out there. And you know, it’s funny because like I talked about all the women in my office that have had babies, I would have so many frank, indepth graphic conversations about pregnancy, childbirth after childbirth, because sometimes they came from cultures where even their own mothers wouldn’t talk about these things. But I’m like, but if you don’t know, then you feel frightened and alone and you don’t know how to deal with it. And I feel like there used to be a community of women. Where we were all, you know, stuck in The Cave together and there was no hide in anything, and there was open conversation. And over time, we’ve turned these conversations secret and uncomfortable. And i want to address that because I’m all about, whether it be through careers or whatever, people need to make informed choices about their lives so that they can feel good about what they’re doing. Even if they even if they’re going in a direction, they’re like, wow, I don’t like this choice, Okay, Great. Let’s figure out how you got here so you can make a different choice, but it needs to be informed.
Danny Gavin 45:23
That’s amazing. And I can’t wait to see your book because you should write 1. Thank you. So Jamie, where can listeners learn more about you and your initiatives?
Jamie Belinne 45:32
You know, I don’t self promote much. I have my own website jamieblen.com and it talks a little bit about the different things that I do and that’s really probably the best place.
Jamie Belinne 45:42
That’s perfect. All right. Well, thank you, Jamie, so much for being a guest on the Digital Marketing Mentor. This has been so insightful, and I know that whoever listens to this is going to have to take out their notepad because there’s a lot of good information here. And of course, thanks listeners for tuning into the digital marketing mentor. We can’t wait to speak to you next time.
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