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Episode 100: Navigating the Generational Shift | Stories With Traction Podcast


SUMMARY: In this episode, Dr. Katherine Jeffery and Matt Zaun discuss how to talk to different generations.

DR. KATHERINE JEFFERY BIO: Katherine is a generational strategist who specializes in developing business strategies that help organizations navigate the complexities of having five generations working side-by-side.

For more info, check out Katherine HERE.

MATT ZAUN BIO: Matt is an award-winning speaker and storyteller who empowers organizations to attract more clients through the art of strategic storytelling. Matt’s past engagements have catalyzed radical sales increases for over 300 organizations that range from financial institutions to the health and wellness industry.

Matt shares his expertise in persuasion with executives, sales professionals, and entrepreneurs, who he coaches on the art of influence and how to leverage this for profits and impact.

For more info, check out Matt Zaun HERE

*Below is an AI-generated transcript, which may contain errors.

Matt Zaun 

One of the things that is so fascinating to me is how we speak to different generations and how different generations connect with different stories and messages.

I am so excited for this conversation because today I am joined by Katherine Jeffery, is a generational strategist who specializes in developing business strategies that help organizations navigate the complexities of having five generations working side by side.

Welcome to the show.


Katherine Jeffery

Thank you.


Matt Zaun

It's great to be here, Matt. Thank you for your I'm different organizations that see a need for this, and I really want to talk about what you do, the importance of what you do, and how even going into the future, it's going to remain important, especially as leaders want to talk and connect to millennials.

So before we get to the different generations in different ways to connect with certain generations, how in the world did you get into this field?


Katherine Jeffery 

I love that question. So I used to be in higher education, and I used to teach leadership developments for 10 years, and this is when millennials were in college.

All right, and I'm a Gen Xer, so that's important here. And every year I would ask my students, you know, what is the best form of leadership?

And I'd give them three choices, it was democratic, authoritative, or laissez-faire. And one year, every student raised their hand at laissez-faire.

And being the Gen Xer that I am, I was like, really? you all think you do you leadership is the best way to lead.

And they were like, absolutely. And so I started to realize like what's going on here? Like I'm trying to teach effective leadership, but the way they perceive leadership is totally different, you know, than the way I do.

And so believe it or not, I ended up doing my dissertation research around millennials and their view of leadership and teams.

Because I was fascinated by this and I needed to do something about it. And so I did a huge qualitative study.

I interviewed a ton of millennials. And, you know, when we can talk about this later, if you want, but, you know, basically, you know, one thing that surfaces how do each, how does each generation view leadership?

Right. And so one of the core things a company has to consider is how are my boomers leading? And how is that being perceived by younger generations and is that bringing, you know, tension and vice versa as younger generations move into leadership positions.

And so then I left higher ed and I started working with one of my friends who was doing some consulting and I was doing some leadership development stuff with him and, and I started to realize, wow, this topic.

Like really matters, like people want to know how to do this well. And so then I just started kind of putting stuff out there and having conversations and man, it has taken off.

And now that Gen Zers are in the workforce, I think that it's, you know, it's become even, it's a even hotter, more relevant topic because there's this whole new generation that people assume.

You know, they're like, oh, well, the millennials can work with the Gen Zers, they get them and millennials are like, oh no, they're from another planet like we don't understand them either, you know, so it's just, it's just a continual place where strategy is.

Strategy is very necessary, shall I say it that way?


Matt Zaun 

So here's what I love about what you just said. OK, so during when COVID originally started and in 2020, when we were all caught up in our homes, I read a ton of biographies.

I just I was reading through biographies of high achievers. And I'm sure I have that list somewhere. But I was taking copious notes on what what what what what does it designate someone reaching a peak when it comes to success and then fundamentally changing the world around them.

And the common thread in all of these books was there was a big aha moment that led to an obsession.

So literally, whether it's an innovator or an actor or a musician, there was a big aha moment that led to an obsession.

And what I hear you saying from a story perspective is you had a big aha moment. All your your your students raise their hand with a certain question.

So there was an aha moment that led to an obsession. Dashing with you studying and really diving into what separates one generation versus another.

So I really appreciate you mentioning that. That's really interesting to me. Now, when you were doing this deep dive into leadership as it pertained to millennials, was there some preconceived notions that generations get wrong?

So like when baby boomers say millennials are A, B, and C. What do they get wrong with the stereotypes that they are projecting on millennials?


Katherine Jeffery 

What were the big takeaways as far as the falsehoods, so to speak? Yes. Well, I think, you know, one of the biggest misconceptions around millennials is started with Time Magazine, where literally the front page of the magazine said millennials are lazy, narcissistic, and entitled.

And I think that our world has changed drastically. Therefore, people have also changed. so millennials have grown up in a very different world.

And most of the millennials, I see in the world are killing it. They're working so hard, They're in moving into positions of leadership, if not already there.

And they're like, would you please stop saying that about me, right? And that generational bias that we're bringing into the workplace has a huge impact on how the generations show up.

And I think millennials in particular, I've worked with some who are in healthcare. they say, Katherine, when I go to work, I dress like a Gen X or and I talk like a Gen X or.

And then they say, because I'm afraid if they seriously find out I'm actually a millennial, they're never going to promote me, right?

that's so wrong. You know, there's so many things wrong with that. And so if we're not creating these environments where every generation is welcome at the table, wow, we're really going to miss the boat, you know?


Matt Zaun 

So it's amazing power of media, because you mentioned that time magazine cover, just the sheer power of the perception.

And that we get. And you know, my story is somewhat similar to yours as what I've seen regarding millennials, to my backgrounds in the political arena, I will tell you that everyone listening.

It's amazing the work ethic that I've seen in the political arena, as it pertains to millennials. We're talking about individuals, a lot of which when they were starting out, we're willing to take on absurd internships, meaning unbelievable hours for next to no pay.

Very, very high stress to situations. And they work like crazy. I mean, the grit is unbelievable. mean, I felt bad for some of them watching.

Look at what they're willing to go through to achieve what they want to achieve. It was astounding. So if the perception is what time magazines putting out, what a disservice would have done to a wave of individuals that are doing great work.

So what else have you seen from a media perspective? Maybe it's Hollywood. Maybe I mean, maybe there's a certain

Book, how has media pushed this narrative into culture regarding millennials?


Katherine Jeffery

Oh, gosh. Yeah. Well, I think there's all kinds. Well, I'm trying to think of a specific movie. There's the one with Matthew McConaughey, right, where he's still living with his parents, know, that whole, like, view is out there, you know, but one movie that pops up.

dropped into my head that's counter the stereotype is the intern, right, with Anne Hathaway. And who's the guy? Who's the main guy?

She remember that movie? She's a millennial.


Matt Zaun 

She starts an online like, he's a baby. Yeah, I it.


Katherine Jeffery 

Yeah. did it. did it. You know, she's killing it, building this company, but she needs someone to help steady her a little bit, right?

And he comes in. And it's this beautiful picture of how the generations can offer their strengths to each other, right?

But I think people in general, they do. They have a very negative stereotype of millennials. And I do. I think it goes back to that magazine article.

And it's just pervaded how, even how millennials view themselves. And I, you know, lot of them feel like with their boomer parents, they were actually, they were representing their parents.

And if they weren't successful, they were not only failing for themselves, but they were failing the reputation of their parents.

And so they feel like Push to succeed when in reality there be there again be stereotyped as people who aren't capable, you know.

Another thing that just came to mind is how millennials actually solve problems very differently than older generations. And one of the things I often help people understand is how parenting has shifted over time.

So millennials are actually the first generation to call their parents, their friends. And so, you know, most genexers, we grew up as latchpeek kids, which meant you come home from school, you let yourself in, which is illegal in many states if you're under the age of 12 today, right?

You do your homework, you make dinner, you babysit your siblings. So you are like, if you put a goal in front of me in an obstacle.

Last one. The way, like, I'm going to hit the goal. You know, it doesn't matter. I'm going to go over it, under it, around it through it.

And I'm never going to ask somebody to come help me, right? Where then you fast forward to millennials. And one of the things that exers and boomers feel, and I think this helps perpetuate the stereotype, is, you know, millennials, many of them grew up, they came home from school, they sat around the dinner table with their parents, and they had back and forth, friend-to-friend conversations, right?

Like, they're used to their thoughts, feelings, and opinions, mattering in a conversation. That was really important to their parents.

And they would have, you know, they would come home, they would have soccer practice, dance recital, a play date.

They would then have dinner, take a shower, do their homework, and go to bed. And they were used to having an adult who was...

Right there with them, right? Asking them questions. Well, what'd your soccer coach say? OK, that's great. Keep going. Do this.

And so they're used to having someone there who they can check in with. Right? So even when we talk about managing millennials in today's world, we don't talk about we don't use the word managing.

We use the word coach. Right? They're used to having someone there that they can say, hey, what do you think about this?

How should I do this? How should I hit this goal? Help me understand this. And then they'll go get in their zone and they'll kill it.

But they're used to having those conversations, their Gen X are, they're like, when the millennial asks those questions, they're like, seriously, you want me to parent you right now?

That's what they're thinking in their head. And then they're going, like, that 20 minutes, I just took to explain all that to you.

Like, I literally could have had this done myself, right? And so people start to believe that millennials can't solve problems.

And I've had plenty of Gen Xs say, yeah, that's why I've left. Some of my top millennials go and it's like, no, they can't solve problems, but they go about it in a very different way, right?

And so we have to understand that as extra you had to figure it out. You had to learn to prioritize to survive.

millennials have always had someone there kind of setting up those guard rails and making sure that they stay within those guard rails and they're on the right track.


Matt Zaun 

Wow. Okay. All right. So you gave us a lot to work with here. A lot to talk about. right.

So I want to, I want to throw this out and then I want to process with you different scenarios and how it could be relatable to people listening.

Okay. So people listening can't see this, but right behind me is my grandfather's Purple Heart. Okay. So he received his Purple Heart during World War II because during a combat mission, he was shot.

So he receives his Purple Heart. So he's part of the traditionalist generation. Very, very hardworking. Really got his identity in being a strong individual.

I'm actually underneath that picture. There's a picture of where he worked in the blast furnace in the Bethlehem Steel Company.

So sometimes working double shifts. I mean, you're talking about molten lava to make steel essentially. So very dangerous. At one point, there was tens of thousands of people that worked for the Bethlehem Steel Company and daily someone died.

So it was a very, very dangerous job to have. My father, who is a baby boomer, saw this. Everyone in the family respected my grandfather.

He was extremely influential in my life. literally gave me his Purple Heart right before he passed away and he said, Matt, I really want you to have this because I know you're going to be the one that respects and cherishes this.

So I have a ton of respect for him, my father was like, I don't really want that kind of communication that I received with my father with my son.

In comes me, millennial. And, Even though my father was extremely hardworking in his own right, to paint the scene for people regarding my father, my dad was an Iron Man triathlete.

Actually blew out his hip training for a double Iron Man. So if you want to look up the stats on double Iron Man, how that it's horrific when it comes to athletic achievement and he messed his hips up in a bad, bad way.

They actually had to have a double hip replacement very early on in life. The doctor even told him you're literally bone on bone, you're living in a body that it's almost as if I'm working on someone decades older than you, just because he literally worked his body into the ground.

So very hardworking individual, but him I had collaboration. We collaborated. We processed. really, it wasn't like him talking at me type deal.

went through life together. It was very conversational, unlike what he had with his father. So then to bring it into the business world I'll never forget it.

And one of my jobs, there was something going wrong. I don't remember the particulars, but I remember there was something regarding software that this company implemented.

was very glitchy, very cumbersome. And I noticed that we were losing sales when it came to something that I looked at it.

like, this is a very quick and easy fix. OK? I'm sitting next to a gentleman who was a baby boomer.

So in my mind, again, getting collaboration back and forth with my father, because like, literally, that's how we build consensus.

This is how we solve problems. The gentleman that sat next to me, his name was Tim. OK, so this is the baby boomer, Tim.

I said, Tim, I said, I'm going to, I'm going to email. And I forget the name of the lady, but this lady was the senior VP, basically ran the entire department.

OK? OK, several hundred people under a regional position. So several hundred And I said to Tim, I said, I forget what her name is.

Let's call her Kate, right? I'm going to email Kate and let her know there's a problem in our system that all you have to do is do X Y and Z and we're will stop hemorrhaging money that we're losing because of the software.

And Tim looks at me is like, there is no way you can email her that do you know the position she has.

She's like five levels up above for me. There's no way you can email her. That's ridiculous. And in my mind, like I was so foreign to me that I couldn't email her saying We're literally losing money hand over fist because of a stupid glitch in this system.

So Work with that for a second. do you think when I psycho analyze that for a moment?


Katherine Jeffery

No, I mean, I think that's so Common in today's world right millennials and Gen Zers are like hello We can do this much easier.

can make things much more efficient and they're like they're like if I have I have to hear one more time, well, this is the way we do it because that's the way it's always done, right?

They're going to pull their hair out. know, I think millennials are really helping organizations if they're allowed to and invited to.

They're helping break down those silos because silos don't tend to make sense to millennials because you are that you know you're you're called the collaboration generation.

And you worked with your parents. Your parents cared about your feelings. They cared about your perspective, right? Because I've had boomers tear up when they talk about, you know, I had one, maybe even both of my parents.

They didn't care about my feelings, right? So then to your point, they said, I will not raise my kids that way, right?

So they swung the pendulum all the way to the opposite side and they, you know, than just And pointing their finger at their children, they actually started.

I have conversations. And I often give the example, too, if you think about a baby boomer growing up, children were to be seen and not heard.

And so that's the attitude and the value and belief system, the boomer boss brought into the workplace. I hired you, Matt, to do your job.

I don't need to hear from you. I just need to see that you're at your desk from eight to five or whatever.

Right? Now fast forward, boomers, I'm pausing so you can like edit. Because I'm like, I just lost my train of thought.

don't know how I did that. OK, let me pause first again. was something I was jumping to. Wow. Okay.

So the Bob the Boomer is growing up, right? His dad comes home one day. His dad says, Bob, I got a new job in California.

We're moving next Friday. Bob has no choice, right? He packs his stuff. He moves with the family the following Friday.

Fast forward to millennials. You know, mom comes home one day says, hey, I got a job offer in California.

Do you want to move to California? Right. And how would it expect? How would it impact your college or sports or friends?

And if the millennial kid said, we don't want to move to California, there's a really good chance that they wouldn't move, right?

And so that was a high value from Boomer parents. Right. I want to hear you. I'm being very intentional about this.

I want to know how you. And so one of the things that happens then in the workplace to even build on your example is the Boomer boss is giving the millennial that annual review, right?

Which to a boomer that meant everything, you know, like my career is, is hinged on this, this annual review.

Well, halfway through the review, the millennial will start giving the boomer feedback. And that does not go over well with Boomers, right?

Because in a boomer world, the boss is the boss. Therefore, the boss automatically gets respect, right? You don't give me feedback.

give you feedback. And the millennial's going, oh, my gosh, I didn't mean to blow my performance review. I really wasn't trying to be disrespectful, right?

But for them, you're supposed to have back and forth conversation. Like, let's talk about this. Okay, this is how I'm impacting you.

This is what you would like to see for me. Well, this is what I would like to see from you, right?

And that, man, the sparks. Really fly when that huge paradigm shift isn't understood, right? Because people take it personally and it can cause a lot of issues in the workplace.


Matt Zaun 

So... I appreciate you mention that. Now, think of it this way with the scenario that I gave, though, how much money could have been lost.

when we're talking just surely from my business perspective, the importance of collaboration. So I could have listened to Tim and said, all right, so what do I do, Tim?

Oh, well, what you need to do you need to wait it out for a little bit and then build a relationship with our boss so that you can share it with him so that he can share it with his boss and then he could share it with his boss and then he could share it to her.

All these chains of command up and then by the time it gets to her, it's going to be lost.

It's going be like whisper on down the alley. So it's going to get lost. And then maybe a few months later, because she only visited our location maybe once a quarter, maybe possibly I could pull her aside and say, hey,

Did you realize that we're losing a ton of money on a daily basis because of the stupid glitch in the system?

Now, obviously, I would have said it probably a little bit more poised than that, but I mean, think about it.

Like, it's absolutely ridiculous. And I think what Tim, his thought was, hey, Matt, I'm gonna spare you because this was her initiative to push out this software.

So it's almost gonna be like, you're gonna be coming against her by saying, hey, there's a glitch. So it's very interesting what could be missed.

I think every generation has its strength and weaknesses. I don't know if you would agree with that, but it's almost like we need to fill the gaps with different strengths depending on the role, depending on the situation, so that there are blind spots in business that we could be missing.

So how would you advise a leader that does have multiple generations under them? How would you advise them to, I guess, bring in verbiage from Jim Collins from

Good to great. You got to get the people on the bus and then on the right seats in the bus.

how would you recommend placing different generations? Is there is there such a thing as making sure that you you elevate certain strengths of generations?


Katherine Jeffery 

What would you advise them to do? Yeah, I think looking at the strengths of the generations is huge. You guys had had one millennial CEO.

had 30 millennials or 30 employees in her company. They were all millennials. And by the time we got done with our conversation, she's like, I seriously have to diversify.

I'm missing out on the incredible, like, you know, Gen Xers, typically don't have to light a fire under. You're going to make it happen, right?

And that kind of mindset versus millennials, and they're in crazy sense of collaboration. They want to make sure everybody's heard.

want to give feedback. They work really hard. Yeah, I think capitalizing on that is huge. I think also. One thing for bringing the generations together is listening to everyone's perspective.

If you have an organization and all your decisions are made by extras and boomers, and you're never bringing millennials into the conversation or even now Gen Z's, whether it's your leadership team or your board meetings, and maybe they're not on the board, But are you inviting them into conversations to share their perspective?

Because if we don't listen to everybody, we're just going to fall further and further behind, right? And then I would also look at where are those spaces where intergenerational community is actually happening, and how can you build on that?

And a lot of people, you know, people have mentoring programs. Some people are starting to like do reverse mentoring.

I personally prefer the word co-mentoring, right? We're It's like if I'm mentoring a Gen Zir, that Gen Zir's mentoring me right back, right?

Because as a Gen Xer, honestly, I have just as much to learn from them about where the world's headed and how to navigate it, as they have to learn from me and all the wisdom and experience that I would bring to that situation.


Matt Zaun 

Outside of technology, what is something else younger generations could co-mentor?


Katherine Jeffery

Well, I think even the way communication is technology, but I think one breaking down those silos, what does it look like to even lead from a different perspective, right?

I think we went from traditionalist is very hierarchical, top down, makes a lot of sense. There's a war going on.

Boomers lead by consumers. And then going to get everybody's perspective before they come in the room and make sure everybody's on the same page.

X-ers, it's an art. I learn as I go. I don't know what's going to hit me next, Because, you know, that latch key mindset.

And, um, and X-ers do a lot. Career relationships. Xers learned very early on. They needed key relationships. relationships really matter.

And then millennials, it's all about, you know, shared but equal, right? We should all work out of our best strengths.

And then leadership is more of, like, it's a role that I hold where I'm a facilitator. So right now in this moment, I may have more responsibility than you, but they're very clear just because I have more responsibility.

And doesn't mean I have any more value, right? We're all equals. And that can be a very effective way to lead.

And I think that, you know, I had one millennial and he was taking it. You know, over the, this comes up a lot in family businesses.

He was taking over the family business for his boomer dad. And he said, yeah, we, when we first started, we were in therapy three times a week.

He's like, now we're down to two. We're doing amazing. Right. And so, but I think if, if we don't stop and look at how younger generations respond the leadership, what they need from a leader.

a lot of it has to do with how they were parented. Then I think companies are going to fall.

Further, further, further behind because the companies that are still operating the way they did 50 years ago, you know, they're, they're not going to be the innovative companies that are going to move us into the future and that are going to draw the best talent.


Matt Zaun 

Right. So one of the things that you were saying, I'm guessing you're alluding to this, but I want to talk about maybe specifics with this as you were, you know, you're touting out different.

They're mentioning different generations and then you're. We're kind of connecting it almost to like a big event. So with the traditionalist, we had World War II, and then with the baby boomers, we have, hey, I don't want to do that regarding what my parents did.

So there was a change. So what happened with Gen Xers that was a big cultural change?


Katherine Jeffery 

Yeah, so the divorce rate had tripled. So there were many more women in the workplace, right? So Gen X was kind of like on their own as a generation, right?

And we even used to be called the slacker generation. They didn't think we were going to amount to anything.

And now we're basically the get the done generation, right? Like, just tell me what I need to do. I'm going to go make it happen.

Don't get in my way. know, people younger generations complain about their Gen X bosses emails, right? They're like, yeah, they just tell me what to do in the subject line.

They don't even say hello and the body of the email, right?


Matt Zaun

Because they're just so like, just get it done. I don't want to worry about all that stuff, you know?

I, so I'm I'm laughing because it is amazing. Some of the emails I've gotten from Gen Xers were like, I'm crafting what I think is really well written email.

I'm like, put my heart and soul into it. I'm like, I'm going to do this and that. And then I get like, okay, back or something.


Katherine Jeffery 

Awesome. You're not alone. You're not alone.


Matt Zaun 

All right. So what's the big?


Katherine Jeffery 

What's the big shift with millennials culturally? Yeah. So I think a huge thing with obviously technology, right? But then the way they were parented, I think, is the biggest shift.

And that's even why in leadership, right? There's this hierarchy is being flattened, right? Things are starting to be more casual, right?

And even if you think about like conflict in the workplace, like millennials and ziers are like, we don't really want to do conflict.

know, where boomers Yeah, they might have grown up with. Five siblings in one bathroom in their house. Like they learned how to do conflict at an early age, and they've done it their whole life.

They see it as a way of life. it's not something that scares them or makes them uncomfortable. It just is, where younger generations, right?

As you become more on that peer level, at least in your mind, that's how you see it. That conflict feels more evasive and a little more anxiety provoking, I think.


Matt Zaun

Interesting. All right, what about Gen Z?


Katherine Jeffery 

What's the big cultural shift there? Yeah, so I think, well, there's two things I would say is one is they're the first generation to call their parents their best friends.

And so, you know, you have parents now showing up at job interviews. You have major companies having bring your parent to work day, right?

Like the presence of the parents is unprecedented, right? People who wouldn't imagine going to an interview with their millennial child.

wouldn't have happened. But Gen Z's, it's very different. I think the other thing is, well, technology, so the Gen X parent and the Gen Z parent are the furthest in terms of technology advancement.

So just the parent even understanding the child and having to get on the same page. But then I also think more and more.

We're in this culture where we don't want to feel pain. And we want a quick fix, give me a pill, right?

help me get through this. And I think that, you know, we went from the boomer being the helicopter parent.

And Gen X, you kind of have two main contingencies of Gen X parents as I see it. Like, one is the kid falls.

They're like, get up, get over it. You'll be fine. Right? The second one is being called the drone. So that is the parent that they're going to get in the ditch with their kids, right?

They're going to protect them from anything bad going on in their life. And I think about the University Admission Scandal, right?

If you play that out to the first, like, I want to make sure that there are no obstacles in the way of your life so that you can have it exactly the way you want it, right?

We all know how that ended up, right? And so I think we are... Many kids aren't learning how to navigate pain or hardship when they're in their home with their family that they feel safe with, right?

So then they get into the world and I think it's a much bigger leap for them to learn how to manage a lot of those things and how to navigate, you know, negative events that we all have throughout life.

And so a lot of people will say, you know, I feel like I'm parenting the gen Zs that come into the work.

Well, in many ways, I think we are and we're also asking them, you know, if you've ever followed a zer around for a whole day, the way they live their life is often very different than the way an older someone from an older generation would.

But then we bring them into the workplace and we're like, okay, do the do all these things and they're like yeah but I wouldn't do all these things the way you do them, right like, it doesn't even make sense to me it doesn't translate.

And so I think we have to step back and say, okay, what do our gen Zers need and how can we train them up instead of getting so frustrated with them.

You know, we have to give them space to grow and learn and to understand that the way our world operates is very different than theirs.

And if the two don't start to meet in the middle, you know, again, companies are going to fall further behind.

And I think of this outside this quick story so I was working with this pizza company. This was a.

Nevada and they had all these restaurants around and the older employees were really frustrated with the Gen Zers because they didn't want to pick up the phone and take orders.

You know, we're talking and I'm like, okay, well, how many times has a Gen Zer actually answered the phone and not known who was on the other end?

Never, right? never. They've always had a phone where they know who was calling. And so as a Gen Xer, for me to answer the phone, right?

It could have been my dad's boss, my mom's friend, my sister's boyfriend. Like, it wasn't something that stressed me out.

It was just a part of my day, you know, before a Gen Zer to pick up the phone and talk to someone that they don't even know who you are, that causes anxiety.

And it's not that they can't do it. They're very capable, but they want you to be there with them as they're learning, right?

So we just have to kind of unpack.


Matt Zaun 

Those kind of things a little bit. So here's why what you're saying is so important. And here's what I don't want people to miss this.

So anyone listening that invests financially into whatever, right? You're studying market conditions, you're unpacking elements of research, you're trying to figure out, will this yield results in the future.

I almost feel like what we're doing here, it's like we're doing, you know, study regarding sociology, understanding different elements of culture.

But it's important because how we view the world culturally speaking, when it comes to generations, it could have a huge impact when it comes to business.

So there's something else I want to talk about where we can make predictions, obviously we could get it right, we can get it wrong, but it is interesting you think about.

So the last generation I mentioned was Gen Z. What's the younger generation that I'm missing? We have Gen Z and then we have Alpha.

Alpha. Okay, so I want to talk about Alpha and I want to talk about a particular individual. So, my son who's nine, his name's Elliot.

So, let me take you through Elliot's world and he is not the only human being that has gone through this.

I'm sure a lot of people listening that can can relate to what my son went through. So, the end of his kindergarten year, the world gets shut down due to COVID.

Okay, so his, the end of his kindergarten year, he was on Zoom school. How fun is that for a four year old to be on Zoom school?

It's not fun. His entire first grade year, he's on Zoom school, his teachers are stressed out beyond belief, they're just trying to survive.

And his mother and father are, you know, I'm running a business, wife does amazing what she does when it comes to work, but we're both, we're both working.

Right? now his entire first grade year is on Zoom school. Half of his school year in second grade is on Zoom.

Then he goes back kind of, but it's very interesting how they go back. They're fully masked the entire year.

I'm of second grade and they have the most interesting precautions when it comes to being away from other human beings.

his first, I'm using error quotes, normal year is this third grade year in school. So let's make some predict because that is a big change, right?

I'm not saying it's a world war like like the traditionalist went through, that's a huge cultural change. So I'm trying to figure out what is he learning and the thing that I realized with my son Elliot is he learned I need to survive now.

So I might be able to thrive in the future. So what's interesting is he realized everyone around me is stress beyond belief.

I need to figure out a way to take care of myself. So I'm going to utilize every means necessary to try to figure out how I can be creative to get through this.

my son is the one that would go on YouTube and he would start looking up videos and trying to figure out how do I do this.

So he's the one where he'll say stuff to me and I'm like. Like, we're in the world. Did you learn that?

Well, he learned it because he figured it out. Everyone else is stressed out that he needed to do that.

So I don't know if that's an accurate depiction of what could be coming with this generation. What are your thoughts regarding the COVID years and what it could spur on with the next generation.


Katherine Jeffery 

I love that. That says so much about your son and his own ingenuity and resiliency. I mean, that's incredible.

He sounds like a Gen Xer in terms of like, I'm just going to figure it out. I got to take no one's around to support me.

So I've got to figure it out. So I think you'll see some beautiful things out of that. One thing I think that's fascinating about the alpha is they're the first generation to grow up alongside AI.

So as AI is changing and evolving, they're getting older, right? They're going to have this relationship along the way with AI.

Like, I just read an article the other day about AI becoming nano. And then for children, right? Because they can read the same book to your kid ten times in a day without getting frustrated, right?

And those in how it's supposed to equip parents to have more capacity and things like that. They're also the first generation to grow up as celebrities from a young age, right?

All their pictures being posted on social media throughout their young lives. And then they're also, you know, often many millennials will talk about this concept of gentle parenting, right?

Matt, I don't know if you've heard of that or if that's influenced how you parent, right? But people will describe it as, you know, you don't say no, don't or stop.

You kind of redirect the child, hoping that, you know, it gives them more space for creativity. so a lot of people think out of that, what we're going to see, it's not so much about the exact goal that you hit, but it's the actual journey along the

On the way that matters.


Matt Zaun 

That's fascinating. That's absolutely fascinating. You know, one of the things so you mentioned. So you mentioned Gen Xers as far as self sufficient get it done.

And then you also mentioned earlier in our conversation. How there's millennials that aren't even willing to say their millennials for fear of being stiff, stiff armed or not getting promotion.

And I want to talk about this with you because. This really interesting me. So. I got involved in politics very young.

So in almost every room that I was in, I was the youngest person. And I needed to figure out a way.

To connect with baby boomers and older Gen Xers. Okay. Now, I almost it's very, very, very rare. That I mentioned a certain political leader by name.

So for anyone listening that may love or hate this individual is completely irrelevant. I'm sure. Quickly talking about messaging strategy.

Okay. Strictly talking about messaging strategy. always have to be careful in preface. When I name drop this person, don't turn the dial.

Okay. it's, it's, it's definitely intentional. One of the things that I learned by studying debates because one of, one of things that I did for many years in, in the political, what's debate prep.

So I would get different candidates ready for debate. So I've seen my share of debates tenfold, right? So if you've seen a debate, I've probably watched it, you know, numerous times studying it.

And one of the things that fascinated me about what Bill Clinton used to always do. So to give people a background that aren't familiar with this, Bill Clinton became the governor of Arkansas at 31 years of age.

Okay. So he was also the youngest person in every room. And can you imagine running a state at 31, right?

Unbelievable. One of the things he did when it came to debates is he would figuratively bring Someone up next to him and vicariously speak through them.

Okay, so as an example, let's say he did this all the time in debates and go watch his debates, but he also did it everywhere he went.

So as an example, let's say he was talking to someone in a meeting and this person was a farmer in He's not going to say, I believe we need to do x, y, and z because he opens himself up for debate.

But if he says, hey, yesterday I was just talking to this farmer in Iowa. here's what he said. He said he needs bomp, bomp, bomp.

Now, he figuratively brought them with him and he's vicariously speaking through him or her. And now they need to blow holes in the argument as it pertains to that person, which they were not willing to do.

That's why he was a They were able to do a lot of what he did. So here's why I mentioned that.

I took that and I kind of ran with it because the idea was, if I'm in a room full of baby boomers and I'm in a room full of Gen Xers, I need to find individuals or concepts that they glorify and respect.

And I need to figuratively put it out there and vicariously speak through them or it, depending on what it is.

And they're going to be less willing to attack me, the lazy, according to Time Magazine, the lazy millennial, right?

Because I'm bringing their heroes in the mix as they pertains to my stories. So I don't know if you've seen this messaging technique or if, if anyone that you're around has thought of it, but there's something we said on, if you're talking to a certain generation, what, who are the heroes of that generation or who, what are the concepts that they, you know, lock onto that you can utilize.


Katherine Jeffery 

So now it's like, if they're going to try to argue, they're going to argue against what they. I love that.

mean, I think that that really comes into play for companies when you're dealing with your customers, right? I feel like, well, it's also your employees, but I think the one of the biggest discrepancies is teaching younger generations.

How to interact with an extra or a boomer. Like to your point, you write these excerpts, these long details, emails, you're like, this is all run and they send you back and okay, right?

Because they're just moving on. They're just like, I got the information. I'm moving on. I think with older generations, it's hitting on work ethic, right?

It's loyalty. It's people who are committed and they're in it for the long haul. I hear excerpts talk about, it's all about work.

Boomers were lived to work, Xers Xers were lived were Became work hard, play hard, like we're going to be there, we're going to follow through, we're going to be passionate about whatever it is we're doing, whether we're working or playing.

know, and I think for millennials, it's about collaboration. It's about innovation. It's about being something, being part of something bigger than yourself, right?

doing more good in the world. And then with Gen Zers, I think you have to think about health and wellness, right?

Because they have so much, they feel so much anxiety, and they want to feel taken care of and seen as a holistic person.

And then, you know, they're going to talk about diversity. They want to know that you're being transparent and authentic with them.

And then are my values aligned with yours? And so one of the things I talk with companies about, you know, just got done working with a company, they did a corporate survey, and one of the questions.

As I was around, are our managers displaying ethical behavior? Okay, well, their scores went down. And so we did some focus groups and they were freaking out, right?

These boomers and extras are like, oh my gosh, are they seeing one of our employees do unethical things? know, like they're like, what's happening?

Well, it turns out the word ethical to younger generations means like, are you treating me with respect? Like one person actually said, is your email?

Appropriate in tone to me, you know, like, like, so even pulling apart, like what are the values in your company?

How is your mission statement worded? And how do these words, whether you know it or not, resonate across the generation?

Then you might even have to have groups, know, multi-generational groups that are going, well, this is how I see this, you know, versus this is how I see this.


Matt Zaun 

And then how do you come to something in the middle that may Makes sense across the generations. Wow, that's so fascinating regarding the word play and kind of what it means.

You know, it's interesting. One of the questions I get asked quite often is regarding humor. So regarding stories, how do you bring out humor?

And I consistently share the same thing with it. It doesn't matter what the audience is. I'm always hesitant when it comes to humor, because think of politicians that try to be comedians, right?

doesn't bode well for a lot of them, right? They're not comedians. They get in trouble. They have a tendency to offend certain people, because something that's funny to someone is not going to be funny to someone else.

So I always recommend instead of saying, let me tell you a joke, and then saying a joke that could be offensive or could just fall flat, and now the person looks like an idiot.

It's if you share a story, and one group finds it funny, awesome, and you share the same story and it falls flat, you still don't look like an idiot, because that one group didn't realize that there was an element of humor.

Now, obviously, I'm not encouraging sharing any kind of an offensive story. That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying there are there are times where in a room full of people, I will share a story and I know, hey, typically, if I pause at this way and I look this way and I make this facial expression and more than likely it's, it's, there's going to be laughter and then, you know, laughter is going to build and it's going to be more of like a jokeish type thing, but there haven't times that have done the same thing and it falls flat.

So the beauty in that is you still don't look like in idiot and you're not offending people because you're not having like an off-color type joke that certain, certain generations might find a poor right.

So I think it's really important when it comes to humor back to what you said, I'm kind of extending what you said.

I know if I could share something with a 75 year old person and I could share it with my nine year old son and they both get it.

They both find it funny. There's a universal truth in it. I know more than likely that's a pretty awesome story to share.

So is there a certain, like, Process that you recommend, like doing A, B, and C to make sure that the messaging works across the board.


Katherine Jeffery 

Great question. I think. Well, probably and. I think. Like I think the more you can have conversation around it, I don't know.

Sorry, I'm pausing a lot because I don't like I don't have a good answer for this one. I know it's good to have pauses right when you edit.

Yeah, works for you. Sorry, I'm just like, I'm trying to.


Matt Zaun 

Sorry, it goes back to relationships, right?


Katherine Jeffery 

Yeah, I mean, the biggest thing I would say is like, Like what you're doing, right? You're talking to people from different generations because I think one of the biggest mistakes we make is like we give a group of boomers and extras in a room and we're like, well, yeah, we got to hire a bunch of Gen Zers.

What do we need to do? And it's like, you don't know what a Gen Zer needs to hear. You have no idea.

And so if we're not communicating and being curious about other generations and we're making all these assumptions, you are going to miss the mark.

You know, even if you know you're telling your company, you story just through your reviews, right? Because reviews really matter in today's world.

Well, again, if actors and boomers are writing all the reviews or the responses to reviews, that's probably not going to resonate.

So you don't have these groups of people that you're checking in with. You are going to miss the mark, you know, and the other thing I would say to be super careful about in that process is just sarcasm, right?

Like that does not play the same. Now you pull Sarcastan with the Gen X or they'll get it, right?

You pull it like as you go younger, like they're like, that's really neat, you know, so you just have to, but you know that in stories anyway, right?

but yeah, I think that that's to me that's one of the biggest potholes in the road when it comes to that.


Matt Zaun 

That's awesome. So one of the things I want to mention before we wrap up and before I just mentioned different things that I got out of this is that I was talking with a CEO recently and the person we were talking about story strategy and some of the elements of what you're saying and the person was just, he said, I just want to get stuff done.

don't care about this, that or the other thing regarding, you know, having to listen to people and meetings and like just get to I don't care about your vacation out.

I got to get stuff done. And my response to him was, if you want to get stuff done, you need to be able to connect with people where they are so they're inspired to actually work for you.

He, I'm a big guy grit mentality. Show us that you're actually a big grit guy by listening and connecting with people so you actually can get more done.

And I think a lot of that goes back to what you're saying, where it's like, if you want to achieve certain things, know what you mentioned regarding that, that pizza shop where they didn't want to pick up the phone.

Well, my gosh, if you have orders to take wouldn't it be great to understand why this is happening the way it is like.

That's really important. So I really appreciate this conversation. To me, it's fascinating. We could talk for several hours regarding this.

I'm just so intrigued by this stuff. But there are three things that are going to be my big takeaways.

I really appreciate you mentioning the story regarding your students and all those hands going in the air. There's something to be said that we need to be mindful in life that there are big moments that if we embrace them.

And we start obsessing about what it means. It could change your life in a positive way. So clearly, you had this big aha moment, you started obsessing over different generations and now you're able to help tons of companies, how they can understand this as well.

I think that was huge. The second thing is I really appreciate you saying that different generations solve problems differently.

I appreciate you mentioning the verb is co mentoring. It's really important to recognize. And the third and final piece is you didn't necessarily say this verbatim.

But you kind of alluded to it where you're mentioning the different generations and you're mentioning different cultural shifts that happened during a timeframe that pushed people in a certain direction.

I think as much business study financial aspects and trying to predict what domino effects are going to happen in different market categories.

I think it's really important to recognize that we need to study elements of culture to recognize, hey, if we're going to mention.

Sure people, how are we mentoring them? If we're going to speak to people, how are we speaking to them?

I think all of that is extremely important when it comes to business. So I appreciate everything that you mentioned.

Those are the three in particular that I'm going to take away. And then I'll just ask you, hey, anyone wants to get more information on the services you provide, they want to invite you to come into to their company.


Katherine Jeffery 

Where's the best place that they can reach you at? Yeah, probably my website is just Katherine Jeffery.com.


Matt Zaun 

Perfect. I will include that in the show notes. People could just click and find you there. But thank you again, Katherine.

I really, really appreciate your time today.


Katherine Jeffery 

Thanks for having me.

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