An Open Letter to Gen Xers, Boomers, Echo Boomers, etc.

Oh Experienced Ones,

In the past few weeks, I have seen several posts directed to my fellow Gen Y’ers when it comes to conduct in the workplace, the search for employment, the sense of entitlement, or “laziness.”

What I haven’t seen, is any feedback or discussion from my peers. Of course, there’s that one millennial blogger on AdAge (I forget her name but she does a fantastic job), but other than that, the Marketplace for Ideas is filled with people twice our age. The battleground is skewed.

I will try my part in doing some leveling.

First off, I think that I can speak for all of us when I say that there are a few of you that have gone completely out of your way to set us up for success. We thank you for that. The mentoring, the feedback and knowledge the few have set before us will never be forgotten, nor under appreciated.

Though look at the business models and the shape several industries are in. The traditional newspaper model is on the brink of collapse, the public is beginning to see how conniving (yet brilliant) the financial elite are, and the level of sexism and racism in the marketing and communications industry goes not unnoticed, but nearly untouched.

You have left us quite the mess.

You cannot blame this mess on us. You cannot merely say these changes came “unforeseen.” Give me a break. Your generation(s) brought us into the world as it is today. There’s no use arguing about that.

The Gen Y and millennial crowd are a bunch of entitled, confident, smart (overall, and in the sense of receiving education) and generally more accepting than ever before. But look at how we were raised! Your crowd gave us no other incentive not to come out the way we did.

But now, with the Great Recession looming behind us, things are beginning to change. There are some Gen. Y folks ready to chase you guys out of power.

You see, I can understand where you all are coming from. First, it was the “don’t trust anyone over 30”, and when you crossed that plateau, it was “don’t trust anyone under 30.” Funny how a paradigm can shift so quickly.

Shift quickly.

You all love to be in charge, and you all get indignant when you see us younger professionals barging in like we own the place. “Where is your experience, kiddo?” “Oh, you’re still a little green behind the ears.” “Once you’ve been around a while son, you will understand how it goes.”

In many situations, experience is needed. Though as we see the business environment now, it is those ones with experience that seem to be messing everything up.

I’m not trying to be all blame-y, I am trying to show you where we are coming from- if you care to listen.

Many of my peers will go to work with you. But be aware, they will either accept your philosophy to survive, or reject it because they think it’s dumb.

Many others will go the route I am, and create and support a new wave of industry. Sure, you all will try to learn and adapt to the new ways of today, and some of you will succeed. But you’ll be painting on an already used canvass.

While our canvass is fresh and new.

This has been more of a ramble, but the point I want to make clear is this: stop trying to change the mentality of my peers, old guys. Your way of doing things are over. Adapt, let us lead, or get shoved out the way. Accept new ways and lifestyles. Put more women and minorities in the workplace- and in power. Eliminate all the red tape and bureaucracy and politics in doing business. Rely on skill and talent, not on who people know and where they come from. If the person is good, and the service/product is good, then there shouldn’t be an issue. I am simply sick of all the trashy marketing, creative, political and business activities out there. Give it up.

Okay, I’m done.

For now.

Dwayne Jr.

Never Under-Value Your Business

No one wants to turn down business. But sometimes, doing just that will help in the long run.

Working within someone’s budget is one thing, but busting your butt for an account that doesn’t warrant it is another. It is important that you can make the distinction.

Also, during these “turbulent” times, many businesses are waiving membership fees, or offering outrageous discounts, just so they can get people through the door. In many cases, that tactic is beneficial. When the business needs a more diverse customer base, offering discounts and specials are a great way to attract people that may not have otherwise stopped by.

It becomes an issue when those discounts and specials are expected by your normal base.

Protect the Brand

Each time the price of your good or service changes, you are also changing the value. How does that reflect your brand? Acknowledging the hardships of your customer base is commendable, but if good times are right around the corner, how will they react to a price hike? Does your brand flow with economic activity? If your brand is elastic, then discounts and specials to fight off competitors is worth it- as long as it is for a limited time. If the brand is inelastic, then changing the price and messing with the value is unnecessary.

Harder to Sell Value when Dropping Price

There may be times when people will walk away from your good or service. That’s okay. We had to learn that too. Some people will not perceive the value of what you’re offering, and others will. But stay strong to your loyal customers, because they can tell you why they think it is worth it, and you can capitalize.

If you chase those customers you lose because of price, you may start to alienate your current audience. If you are so willing to drop the price, or offer discounts, why did they agree to pay what they agreed on in the first place? No business owner wants to have that conversation. It is much harder then, to climb back up to where you were, and it is usually an even less fun of a trip.

If the Product/Service is Good, then the Customers Will Come

In summary, don’t jeopardize de-valuing or under-valuing your business by chasing bad customers. If what you are offering is good, then the business will come. Campaigns that include discounts and promotions are great to attract new business, but those campaigns should be used seldom and wisely.

Getting customers is always wanted, but you want good ones.

Hope this helps.

Young Professionals of Energy, Charlotte Chapter

Charlotte Happy Hour on Wednesday, May 19 2010 6:00 PM

Greetings Ladies and Gentlemen of Charlotte.

If you are serious about helping Charlotte become the New Energy Capital…

If you are serious about meeting the bright-eyed professionals wanting to make a difference…

If you are serious about creating a city and changing an environment that will be here for our children…

We’ll see you there.

Thank You, Afshin Ghazi

You will rarely me utter that phrase, so drink it in.

So why am I thanking him? Because he does what it takes to stay consistent with his brand. And it ought to be commended.

The Charlotte Business Journal recently published an article about Ghazi being issued a violation for potentially operating his drive-in without a license.

Not only was he unavailable for comment, he’s leaving the Char-Meck authorities to his lawyers.

Beautiful.

I like how Ghazi rolls.  Because not only did he just do what he wanted, it doesn’t really seem that the Ghazi company cares. I love it. It is exactly how I would think the owners of Suite, BlackFinn, Strike City and Mez would operate.

Brand consistency at its finest.

Also, like Ghazi, I believe that one can only be successful in the “system” if you know how to use it, and if you are not afraid to bend (or break in certain instances) the rules associated. His apparent disregard shows that he is going to do what he wants, and because that’s the case, and there is a following of people that likes what he’s doing (the drive-in), he’s probably going to get it. Your move, system.

Balls.

What’s the moral of this story? If definitely not that Charlotte needs more Afshin Ghazis (please, the NC Music Factory is already barking up that tree), but Charlotte needs more businesspeople like Afshin Ghazi.

A mover. Someone who is willing to step on some toes and disrupt a system so he can benefit the community. It takes one person to go to Suite and act important, but it takes a whole other person to build a place where Suite wants to be, and continue expanding.

And certainly not least, he stuck with the brand. He’s not going to issue an apology (at least, a sincere one), and he’s building places where everyone is going to tell others where they are. Though his places attract a mixture of real folks and others, he’s going in accordance to his brand image.

Well played, sir.