A Response to Simon Sinek’s Rant about Millennials and the Answer for Generational Issues

September 12, 2017

Simon Sinek blew up the internet with his rant on Millennials.  I can’t tell you how much I disagree with much of what he said.  I’ll take his points one at a time and discuss them.

He said that everything that is wrong with Millennials can be summed up in four distinct areas:

  • AREA 1:  Poor Parenting:  Sinek claims that the parents ruined this generation through entitlement where everyone gets a trophy. I have questioned many Millennials about this and most seem confused.  Many of the ones I talked to did not receive the many trophies that are continually referenced by Baby Boomers.  Do you know any Generation X folks and Baby Boomers with poor parents? Why are we targeting Millennials?  Baby Boomers claim that Millennials are lazy, but many of the Millennials that I know work incredibly long hours, it’s just not during the traditional work hours.  They are constantly working! Some examples of “lazy” millennials from Inc. Magazine’s Top 20 Most Influential Millennials:

1. Mark Zuckerberg

Just about everybody has heard of Mark Zuckerberg by now. The famous millennial created Facebook, the most powerful social media platform ever – and raked in a few billion dollars along the way. Barely in his 30s he’s already spent considerable sums giving back to cure diseases and help civilizations make better decisions across health care and education.

3. David Karp

David Karp created Tumblr, a site famous among many millennials who use the blogging platform daily. The site is normally used for sharing art and images, but it also acts well for short form blogging and sharing ideas.

4. Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp

Continuing the theme of ultra-famous social media and content sharing sites, Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp created Pinterest. Pinterest has grown into a massive business with these two guys at the helm.

5. Jessica Alba

Yes, that Jessica Alba. Actress turned entrepreneur, Alba created The Honest Company. A company that pushes ethical and non-toxic products, The Honest Company is valued at well over $1 billion.

9. Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom

Instagram, created by Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom, is the immensely popular photo sharing social media app. The app has a particularly large audience with millennials and the upcoming Generation Z.

10. Brian Chesky

Founder of Airbnb, Brian Chesky has managed to disrupt and revolutionize the way we approach travel, room and board.

  • AREA 2:  Tech: Sinek says that Millennials are addicted to social media.  Do you know any Baby Boomers or Generation X folks who are addicted to social media?  How often do you check Facebook each day?  Why is this a Millennial issue? I agree that there should be periods where you remove devices from your world for periods throughout your day.  We recommend this to everyone, not just Millennials.
  • AREA 3:  Impatience:  Sinek claims that this instant gratification world translates into Millennials expecting instant career mobility and instant intimate relationships and joy in their life and work. Isn’t this true for our society and not just Millennials? This “chases shiny objects” emotional profile (high flexibility/low impulse control) shows up in some of our participants in our programs and it isn’t just Millennials.  There is an upside to this profile.  These folks are constantly looking for more possibilities and different ways to do things.  Why do we always focus on the negative?
  • AREA 4:  Environmental:  Sinek says that corporations don’t care about these young people and don’t give them the resources (training in social skills) to find joy and fulfillment in their work and their relationships. It’s the company’s responsibility.  That’s the only thing that Sinek said that I agree with. I do believe that most companies care about their people.  The key is to provide these resources and create organizations and projects that are relationship driven and collaborative.

Look at the following quote and try to guess who said it and when it was said:

“Our (sons’ time) was worse than our (grandsons’). We their sons are more worthless than they: so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more corrupt.”

The answer?  Horace, Book III of Odes, circa 20 BC

This is nothing new.  This issue has been going on for millennia!  This is not a generational issue.  This is a communication/people issue.  We have to get to know our employees and co-workers regardless of their age, accentuate their strengths and help them with their development needs. Why don’t we talk about the positive stereotypes about Millennials?  They are incredibly smart, socially conscious, they get things very quickly, they can solve problems and figure out incredibly difficult issues in a short period of time.  They work smarter, not harder. They are great with technology.

Here’s a cool video with a response from Millennials:

My advice to Millennials?  Get off the phone, tablet, and computer every once in a while and seek out some human interaction and face to face discussion. This will help you in your life and career.  (By the way, this will help EVERYONE!)

My advice to the Baby Boomers?  Quit complaining about Millennials.  Get to know them and create a work environment that exploits their strengths. Don’t worry about their time on their phones or Facebook.  Be clear on what you want from them and give them autonomy and purpose.

Stay tuned for our next online course will be a guide on how to handle these generational issues.  Click here to check out our other online courses that will ensure more successful projects.  If you would like two free white papers and two of my bestselling books, go to brentdarnell.com/whitepaper and sign up!


OK, Now Even the Harvard Business Review is Hopping on the Emotional Intelligence Train

August 30, 2017


I’ve been doing emotional intelligence work in the construction industry since 2000.  Think back to the year 2000.  What if I came into your office or on your project back then and talked to you about emotional intelligence and how collaboration and trust is really the best way to approach projects?  What would you have said?  You probably would have thrown me out of the office or jobsite trailer.  Now it seems that every single conference I go to from Construction Technology (AGC IT) to Owners (CURT and COAA) to Sustainability to Construction Research (CII) to Lean (LCI), to academia (PACE at Penn State and Auburn), EVERYONE is talking about collaboration, relationships and trust as foundation for great projects.  The research at CII and Penn State and LCI bear this out.  Relationships are drivers of project performance.  And now we are scrambling to find a way to impart these emotional intelligence and people skills to our people because, let’s face it, it’s not our best thing.

I recieved an email from the Harvard Business Review recently.  The title was How to Be Human at Work.  Here is the text:

Introducing the HBR Emotional Intelligence Series, a new line of books that provides smart, essential reading on the human side of professional life. Each book offers proven research showing how our emotions impact our work lives, practical advice for managing difficult people and situations, and inspiring essays on what it means to tend to our emotional well-being at work. This specially priced four-volume set includes Happiness, Resilience, Mindfulness, and Empathy.

You know you have been legitimized when the Harvard Business Review pays attention to it.  You know it is a hot topic.  Click Here for the ad for their emotional intelligence books.

Emotional intelligence first came to the forefront in the 90s.  Why hasn’t it gone away like so many other management fads?  I think it’s because neuroscience is verifying what we intuitively know to be true every single day.  Our emotional states affect our well-being, our problem solving, our creativity, our ability to be in relationship, and our success or failure in life.  Isn’t it about time you took a hard look at this phenomenon?

If you want to take our free Ghyst Emotional Intelligence Test, please Click Here.

If you want more resources on emotional intelligence and all of the critical people skills your folks need to succeed, click here  for information on our Total Leadership Library.

If you want more free information and resources, download my white paper that includes two of my bestselling books and another white paper on how to build the people before you build the project.  It will give you the tools you need to make your next project a huge success!  Click here to download the white paper.  


Stereotype or Generalization?

August 3, 2017


Let’s discuss the difference between stereotype and generalization.  Stereotype is when you react to an individual or group in a certain way based on your values, how you were raised, or your association with a particular group based on education, geographical area, or socio-economic background among others.  A generalization is your reaction to an individual or group based on your past experience with an individual or group.

A few weeks back, we viewed the clip from Up in the Air:

Click here to view

Is George Clooney’s character racist as his young traveling companion expresses?  He says he learned from his mother to stereotype.  He says, “It’s faster”.  His response to the various people in the security line were generalizations.  They was likely based on his past experience.  He likely noticed that many times, the line with mostly Asians tended to go faster.  So he generalized.  Generalizations can help us.  They can protect us.  But they can also set us up to distance ourselves from people or groups that we don’t need to distance ourselves from.

If you were in line at an ATM and the following people were behind you, how would you react to each?

The first one is a Caucasian, male, biker in full regalia, covered with tattoos, wearing dark sunglasses and has a scowl on his face.  The second is a well-groomed, middle-aged, African American man in a suit on a phone call.  The third person is a young, Caucasian man listening to music in headphones, dressed in the latest Hip Hop fashion, baggy pants, ball cap, sunglasses, and lots of bling.  The fourth person is an elegant Hispanic woman in a business suit.  The fifth person is a Caucasian woman dressed in a maid uniform.

What if you changed their race, age, ethnicity, gender, or clothing?  Would your reaction be different?

What comes into your mind when I say the following?:

Female project manager

Minority Contractor

African American Male Project Executive

Indian Female Structural Engineer

Chinese Male Plumbing Contractor

Female Engineer

Pakistani Male Estimator

Grey-haired Engineer

Are there positive and negative generalizations and stereotypes that come into your mind?

How do these mental models affect your interactions with these folks?  Have you generalized to the point where you don’t give the individual a fair shake?

Our course on diversity and inclusion explores these mental models and biases and gives you tools to be able to overcome them. And if you want even more resources on emotional intelligence and all of the critical people skills your folks need to succeed, click here  for information on our online courses called The Total Leadership Library.

If you want more free information and resources, download my white paper that includes two of my bestselling books and another white paper on how to build the people before you build the project.  It will give you the tools you need to make your next project a huge success!  Click here to download the white paper.  


Are You a Racist?

July 19, 2017

When I made a lunch date with an African American friend of mine, she told me to meet her at 12:00 noon CPT.  For those of you who don’t know what CPT is, you can Google it.  This refers to the cultural stereotype that African Americans tend to show up late.  Is this racist?  I submit to you that it is not.  First, let’s go through some definitions.  Stereotypes are assumptions made about a group of people that is not based on personal experience.  Generalizations are assumptions made about a group of people that is based on personal experience.  Because you have that experience, you have a tendency to generalize a certain characteristic about everyone in that group.  Take a look at the following clip from the movie, Up in the Air:

From the movie, Up in the Air

The young person in the clip tells George Clooney’s character that his stereotyping of people in line for airport screenings is “racist”.  He says he learned from his mother to stereotype because it is “faster”.  Is he racist?  Would the line with people with children, older people, and people who look Middle Eastern have moved slower?  Does this justify his stereotyping? He doesn’t hate these people because of who they are, he has simply learned from past experience which line usually moves the quickest.

I have been exploring these issues over the past year during the creation of my latest online course on diversity and inclusion in the AEC (Architecture/Engineering/Construction) industry.  The basis of this course is that we all have biases.  All of us.  Without exceptions.  Based on our past experiences, our upbringing, where we are from, our social networks, our religious background, and our world view, we all have biases.  The course focuses on recognizing those biases and doing our best to overcome them. And having biases does not necessarily make you racist or misogynist or misandrist or homophobic.

You can determine your unconscious biases by taking various IATs (Implicit Association Test).  It’s available online for many different groups including African American, Muslims, and women.  Through your response times for incongruent photos and associations, the test determines if you have unconscious bias.  Google Project Implicit IAT to take these tests.  It is a good place to start recognizing your unconscious biases.  This is the first step.

The second step is to start having these meaningful discussions around race and gender and other stereotypes and generalizations.  I have been teaching these diversity and inclusion classes in a live format and one common response from the mostly white male audience is that they “don’t see color”.  I’m sure they are trying to be nice and I’m sure they are sincere.  The only issue is that this type of response shuts down the dialogue that needs to be spoken.  A young African American male in the AEC industry can have a very different experience than a young Caucasian male. A female project manager can have a very different experience than a male.  We need to explore these experiences, better understand them, and have some of those difficult discussions about race and gender.  If you are offended by something or having a difficult time because of another’s bias, it is your duty to let this person know, allow them to correct the behavior, move on, and continue to grow through these experiences.

Stay tuned for more discussion on diversity and inclusion in future blogs.

If you want to take a look at this course and the other courses in our Total Leadership Library, click here or email me and I will send you some free demo license keys.

Also, for a free white paper on project success that includes two of my books and another white paper, go to brentdarnell.com/whitepaper


Why Project Relationships Go Horribly Wrong and How to Prevent it

June 7, 2016

a skyscraper with glass walls and the reflection of landmarks on the opposite side

“Building is the quintessential act of civilization.” Tracy Kidder

Think about it.  If three people washed up on a deserted island, the first thing they would do is collaboratively build a shelter.  Unless, of course, the three people were an architect, owner’s rep, and contractor.  Then, they would have to wait for two lawyers to wash up on the beach so that they could proceed with the project.

There is a project that I read about recently where the parties involved hate each other. I don’t say that lightly.  You can tell from their comments that they truly loathe and despise each other.  Here is a link to the ENR article titled  A Hospital Job Dispute Reaches Fever Pitch:


How did this project get to this point?  Could the parties involved have seen this coming?  How did they begin the project, and more importantly, what can you do on your projects to avoid such a fate?

We have created a program called connEx, which creates high performing teams who care about each other’s personal and professional success and well-being.  Click here for more information.

Women in Leadership Roles: It’s about Time!

May 21, 2015

woman leader

“I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading.” Amy Poehler

For all of the women out there that are in leadership roles or aspire to a leadership role in the construction/engineering industry, first of all, let me applaud you.  We desperately need more women in the industry.  This is a new focus for me.  The industry needs more women and minorities or we will not be sustainable.  Women add so much.  And with the focus on more collaborative project delivery methods, more women is critical to project success.  According to my research, women have better collaborative emotional skills than men.  Women tend to score higher in empathy, social responsibility, and interpersonal relationships.  Men tend to score higher in self-regard, assertiveness, and independence.

My idea is a two-pronged approach:  First, provide meaningful training to all of the women and minorities so that they can navigate their way through this predominantly male, white world and be successful.  There are some very successful women and minorities in the industry.  It’s just a matter of tapping into that resource, quantify the skills that they utilized to reach that level of success, and create a curriculum to teach these skills.  And I believe that these intangible skills are teachable and learnable.  Second, provide training for the majority (white males) on how to better work with women and minorities.  We have to meet in the middle, have some difficult discussions, go beyond stereotypes, and figure it out.

Check out more resources on this issue:

Check out my ENR Viewpoint Article on Diversity  (you may need a subscription to ENR to view)

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg:

There is a new course on Coursera on Women in Leadership.  I have taken some Coursera courses, and they are pretty awesome.  And they are FREE!

A couple more articles from ENR:

1,000-Strong Tradeswomen Gathering Sees Future in Doubled Apprenticeships

(you may need a subscription to ENR to view)

Industry Women Tackle Still Nagging Worksite Challenges

(you may need a subscription to ENR to view)

If you have some ideas and/or you would like to help with this initiative, please let me know.