First Impressions

Last month I was honored to assist MTSU with their “First Impressions” event. Local professionals were invited to help coach and interview young students in an effort to sharpen their “first impression” skills.

The results of the event – was I surprised or not surprised?

First of all, only half of the registered students attended. While I know this was a bit of a disappointment to the MTSU administration, it didn’t surprise me. 20 years old or 50 years old, most people aren’t going to subject themselves to constructive criticism. Most people, despite their age or life experiences, won’t allow for that vulnerability.

2017-09-31D MT Engage Sales Workshop

Secondly, those students that did attend were quite prepared – Not surprising.

I have learned (the hard way) that most of today’s young individuals entering the workforce don’t want to be labeled as a “millennial.”

Our younger generation is more inclusive and open minded and don’t appreciate labels. In my professional experience, calling a millennial a “millennial” is not culturally sensitive.

The generation of today’s younger workforce possess some fine qualities. Here are just a few from my observations:

  • Financial discipline – when I was 20 years old and going to college in the 90’s there was a credit card company on every street corner. Many fell victim of this solicitation and practice of “borrow now and pay it off later” (despite income constraints). Today, our youth demonstrates a financial responsibility of using cash and living a modest lifestyle within their means. In 2014 The Economistaccounted for $1.2trillion in outstanding student loan debt. With rising education costs, this will continue to force our young adults financial discipline and budgeting.
  • Technology – I am blessed with an executive assistance in this age range. She is efficient and more capable with all technical functions than I. Rather than being frustrated with this reality, utilize it to the betterment of your role and responsibilities in the work place. Delegate. And don’t make fun of them for their typing skills. Most don’t know typing, but can certainly navigate a key board in their own style!
  • Work Ethic – today, we have a team focused on lending initiatives specific to multi-cultural audiences. Our success with this team has even been recognized at the national level. Extract the two “old guys” that lead the team, there are six individuals (all in their 20’s) that basically do the heavy lifting. They follow direction, hold each other accountable, and are hungry for success. And even more so, they have servant hearts. They are not selfish nor do they conspire with hidden agendas. This team demonstrates many selfless, fundamental disciplines which will allow them to grow professionally, while serving as model citizens to our community.

I am grateful to have been invited to participate in MTSU’s First Impressions event. However, their first and lasting impressions continue to make a difference in my life today. And for those of you in this younger generation working with me, THANK YOU for the example you set!


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