Freaked-Out about Technology? Lesson I learned from a Gen Y

I remember when I first started putting Power Point into my keynotes. I freaked out  when projector couldn’t find my my Mac and I had to go it alone …Then I added music and I freaked out when the sound was so soft the audience strained to hear Ice Ice Baby …Then I added video to the Power Points and I freaked out about the quality of the movie…

I guess I am a technology freak.

Then, last year I started working with Crystal Washington, a Gen Y social media and marketing guru creating Socialtunities workshops, and I learned that at times technology fails…get use to it! If you don’t try new ways of doing your presentations and keynotes you are not growing. Today the audience is forgiving when it comes to technology. Everyone knows that at times technology will fail. – Just keep on learning, growing, and trying new technology! Thanks Crystal…

BTW Crystal is offering an advanced Social Media Webinar for business owners, sales manages and professionals who  want to learn  how you can better leverage social media to connect with powerful influencers, attract clients, and get sales. Read all about is here – just click on classes…Crystal has helped so many grow their business with social media that she now has her own segment on Fox. She is the real deal!

New Hires Miss the Mark- Many are not job ready when they graduate from college.


Gen Y, the good news is that the hiring of college grads is up this year. The best opportunities for new graduates are in the areas of business, engineering, computer sciences, and accounting. The bad news is that many employers are finding that their new hires are not job ready. The new world or work needs good communicators, team players and engaged employees. Watch the video to see what’s up.

My Dad, 104 Years Young – Mike’s 10 Tips for Staying Young and Lively


Mike Speranza 1906-2011

My dad, Michael August Speranza- Mike, lived to be 104 years young.  My parents were “older” when I was born and as a child and teen I always considered them in the category of my friends grandparents…they were really old in my young eyes! It wasn’t until my dad turned 80 that I started noticing that he was so YOUNG and COOL! I love you so much dad!

This is what I learned watching you live your long and beautiful 104 years of life.

Lessons learned from Mike!

1.  Exercise! Exercise! Exercise! My dad never missed a day without doing his hour routine in front of the full length mirror in the hall bathroom.  Push-ups, leg-lifts, squats…I think he was doing Pilates  before it became popular. When he and my mom moved into Independence Village (he was 95 when they left their home) he walked a mile a day-every day until he was 103…then he slowed down.

2. Get excited about something. Have passion! and then PRACTICE-PRACTICE-PRACTICE. Mike loved golf and he was really good at it.  There is a  Cleveland Plain Dealer article here in my office with the headline, Par for the Course…Lyndhurst golfer, 85, shoots a 72. That Lyndhurst golfer was Mike!

When I was a kid, my dad would have me chip 9 iron shots aimed at a box maybe, 15 yards away, and give me a quarter for every shot that made it into the box!

3.  Eat healthy and when possible grow your own tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers and swiss chard! Every night in the summer my mom would go out into the small garden and pick the lettuce and tomatoes for that night’s salad. Salad and vegetables every night! Swiss chard was not my favorite but Dr Oz says it’s a must! I have decided to start a garden this fall in honor of Mike!

4.  Fill your life with friends and when you get older it’s a good idea to start hanging out with younger people. My dad was very social and both he and my mom did something almost every weekend with friends.  When Mike turned 90 he was still golfing almost every weekend.  That’s when he started hanging out with  the young  70 year olds because people his age weren’t golfing!(and they weren’t living)

Mike is the second one in- He looks pretty darn good for age 90!

5. Nothing good happens after midnight! “Get 8 hours of sleep- God love ya!”

6. Laugh and lot… have fun everyday and don’t take yourself so seriously. Here’s a picture of all of the guys in our family with Tony Soprano… my dad is “Junior” sitting next to Tony! Mike loved a good cigar!

(picture taken from Cigar Aficionado – family photos superimposed)

7.  Keep learning and growing…never STOP! When Mike was in his early 80’s he was offered a job at Beachwood Place Mall near our house.  Mom and Dad’s neighbor was the manager of the mall, and he hired my dad to work form 8 AM – noon each day making sure the plants were watered.  Looking back on it, I am sure that this was an innovative  marketing idea. My dad was so cute and friendly he became the mall mascot. People would come by just to see Mike!  I remember that  was when he  bough his first pair of Gap jeans, a baseball jacket, and Nike’s…!

8.  Everything in moderation!

Mike second one in age 92-Cheers Dad!

9.  Don’t explain and don’t complain. No excuses ever!  Need I say more!  I can’t remember ever hearing either of my parents complain about life, aches or pains, or anything!  Now that doesn’t mean that they didn’t argue…hey, we’re Italian!

10. Dance like nobody’s watching. My dad was a dancer and he had a beautiful partner for over 76 years.

My mom Rose Speranza

Mike and Rose you are so loved! Thank you for all you have taught us!

BTW…I took a test on the internet to see how long I would live.  I typed in both Mike’s and Rose’s ages and it said that I might live to 118…So, I started smoking!

Gen X is the Bridge between the Boomers and the Y’s

Generation X (those born 1965-1979) were raised to  operate independently. Women were leaving the homemaker role behind, and heading off to work. The working mom in the 70’s  had no daycare or nannies to watch over her children.  Many Gen X preteens/teens  were now in charge! Boomers dubbed them the “latch key kids”-  with no parents hovering over them Gen X became independent. They developed traits of  resilience , creativity, and adaptability. So, they don’t want you or anyone micromanaging them. They were raised to operate independently.


Tips I Gained after a Gen Y Night- or #IStillGotIt

No one wants to look or feel old and outdated, but let’s be honest, it can happen even to the most hip among us. I know this firsthand because it just happened to me. Last week I attended a huge after-work networking event where it was specified on the invitation to wear business attire. I walked in armed with my black suit and my Boomer self-confidence, but as soon as I entered the ballroom and saw it filled with mostly people under 30 (yup, the Gen Yers), I started to feel old.

Then I heard that, critical little inner voice whisper in my ear: “whoa, you’re outdated!” Over the years I have learned that the key to avoiding this feeling and silencing the voice in the future is to learn from the experience … So, I decided to jot down a few tips I acquired that night while taking in the behaviors of the mostly Gen Y attendees.

Here we go:

  • Forget the explicitly stated dress code, ladies … always wear a one-shoulder or strapless little black cocktail dress.
  • Talk fast and laugh often.
  • Have a really cool and totally unique business card.
  • Take a ton of photos of yourself – that is, you with everyone possible. You can do this by asking a (preferably old and outdated) passer-by (Me) to snap the photo and share it on Instagram. Better yet, just take a #selfie (for anybody over the age of 40, a #selfie is the kind of photo you take your yourself with your iPhone). Or for a little fun, why not photobomb ( That’s where you hop into a picture before it is taken like President Clinton is doing to Kelly Clarkson…Hey isn’t he a boomer and she’s a Y?). But whatever your tactic, above all, do not forget to add the hash tag when posting it on twitter.
  • Skip the dinner. Just come for the cocktails.
  • But if you stay for the dinner make sure you snap a photo of your food. (#whatiate, #foodporn, #yummy)
  • Eat gluten free
  • While the speaker is presenting keep your eyes on your phone and tweet as often as possible.



Seriously, the #1 thing I got out of the night was that they showed up and they showed up with confidence- they smiled, they laugh and they were not afraid to show their star-power! They were there, connecting with each other, laughing and networking. They showed up and they showed up happy!

Sure it might be easier to just poke fun at this generation. But that behavior will hold you back. The world is changing. And it’s fast becoming their world. So, it may be time to rethink a few things. Sometimes we have to open our eyes to Listen-Up.

Gen Y is writing the script for their generation and it’s different from mine, as mine differed from my parents. They text, they photo-journal their adventures, they tweet and share their experience with those who couldn’t make it. They care about their health and what  they eat, and… they dress up!
Hey…I get it!
Some of us may not be under 30, but no need to feel old and outdated. If we are open to new ways of doing things, if we bend a little, and are open to change, if we can be more interested and more engaged- we too will say- #IStillGotIt!

Can Too Much Praise Actually Hurt Self-Esteem- and what about trophies?

I believe it may have been Oprah (lol) who started the self-esteem movement back in the 1980s (around the time that Gen Yrs were being born). Following her lead, a California task-force brought the movement into our schools, declaring every child is special. It was around that time that the word AWESOME crept into our vocabulary, along with “super,” as in super-smart, oh and amazing.

The trophy epidemic soon followed where every child who was on the team, no matter if they played in the game or not, was a winner. Everyone got a trophy just for showing up. Our hearts were in this movement because we love our kids and we just wanted to ensure they had sufficient amount of self-esteem, something we did not get growing up.

So if a little bit of sugar-coating is good, is a lot of the sweet stuff even better? Research says, No. In fact, we are over-praising our kids and it is hurting their future.


When we continually praise children, we may think that we’re building their self-confidence, but experts have discovered that too much praise can actually have a negative effect – making them self-centered, praise-dependent and risk-adverse. It can also diminish their work ethic.

One of the dangers of praising a child too much is that a child may begin to behave explicitly for the praise and for the applause, rather than for the experience of what the child is interested in doing or learning.

In a study of 400 school-age children, one group was praised for being smart and the other group was praised for working hard. What might surprise a lot of us is that the children who were praised for their intelligence fared really poorly later in life. They didn’t want to learn things that might lead them to make mistakes. They were afraid to take a risk and appear to be not so smart after all.

Lesson learned: Praise a child for effort not for smarts or talent. 

So, saying to a child “you are really smart”, “you are brilliant”, “you are so talented”, and so on will not actually grow her self-esteem. But praising a child on the effort it took him to succeed – such as: “WOW, I can see that you really tried hard” encourages him to keep trying, working and growing.

Need more proof? Here’s a little something from the research in Tim Elmore’s Three Huge Mistakes We Make Leading Kids… and How to Correct Them.

Dr. Carol Dweck wrote a landmark book called, Mindset. In it she reports findings about the adverse affects of praise. She tells of two groups of fifth grade students who took a test. Afterward, one group was told, “You must be smart.” The other group was told, “You must have worked hard.” When a second test was offered to the students, they were told that it would be harder and that they didn’t have to take it. Ninety percent of the kids who heard “you must be smart” opted not to take it. Why? They feared proving that the affirmation may be false. Of the second group, most of the kids chose to take the test, and while they didn’t do well, Dweck’s researchers heard them whispering under their breath, “This is my favorite test.” They loved the challenge. Finally, a third test was given, equally as hard as the first one. The result? The first group of students who were told they were smart, did worse. The second group did 30% better. Dweck concludes that our affirmation of kids must target factors in their control. When we say “you must have worked hard,” we are praising effort, which they have full control over. It tends to elicit more effort. When we praise smarts, it may provide a little confidence at first but ultimately causes a child

Focus on the effort your child makes and then praise the effort. And…as far as the trophy thing goes – time to rethink how we are rewarding participation. Why not celebrate the end of season game with a fun party, where you continue building camaraderie and friendships. Think about saving the trophies for the most improved player, maybe the most enthusiastic, and the team that wins the most games (if you are keeping score). Encourage and praise the values of what it takes to win, including self-discipline, self-control, perseverance, dedication and practice. I believe that if you teach your children these traits and self-esteem will take care of itself.

The Power of Your Smile


“I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish.” Mother Teresa


Did you know that something as simple as a smile can improve your life? Yes, it’s true! Repeatedly, research proves that smiling and living a longer healthier life go hand in hand. In the TED Talks ,Ron Gutman shares that the span of your smile relates to the span of your life – folks with beaming smiles actually live longer.

Smiling has been found to also:

Improver your personal brand

Increase a persons trust level

Make one more forgivable

Reduce  stress

Lower blood pressure

Increases your “attraction factor” (great if you are in the dating phase of life)

Makes you look more competent

Gives joy and a feeling of satisfaction

And smiling can help you get hired!

Attracting and Keeping the Talented Gen Y Employee…Are You Open to Change?


Most of us are aware that Gen Y employees, and even some Gen Xers, are not “Lifers” when it comes to staying put at their jobs. They have been known to jump ship! A study published this summer in the Harvard Business Review confirmed that young top performers—the workers that organizations would most like to stick around—are leaving in droves.

Researchers found that high-achieving older Gen Y’s (30ish) with great school and work credentials, are leaving their employers after around 28 months in the job. In addition, over two thirds of them admit to sending out resumes, contacting search firms, and interviewing for jobs at least once a year during their first employment opportunity. 95% said they regularly watch for potential new employers.

Employer…What changes are you willing to make to keep the talent?

Learning new skills, growing expertise, and feeling valued are key to what people want and expect from work these days. Heads up employers who would like to hire and retain the best talent…it  would be wise to create an environment in which learning and collaboration are fostered.

Marketing to Gen Y- Microsoft gives it a try!

Microsoft wants Gen Y to use their browser Internet Explorer AKA The Browser You Love to Hate! Forget Safari, Foxfire, Chrome…and click on Explorer. Their campaign taps into the nostalgic 1990’s, when Gen Y was just a kid.

If you watch the video (it’s good) you’ll see games, Hungry Hungry Hippo…I just bought that for Campbell and Connally- Now they call it the Hungry Hungry Herd, the bowl/shaved hair cut, and 56K modems. Microsoft created the tag line- “You grew up and so did we!”

Will it work? Take a look and let me know what you think.

Gen Y is Changing the World of Work- 3 Articles

Is Gen Y changing the world of work?  Last month I was preparing a keynote for a new client and I did some research on how Gen Y will be changing the way we  work. Here are a few of  the top articles. If you are interested, read on  and then you be the judge! Will Gen Y change and conform to the workplace or…will the workplace change to attract and keep the talent?


Article#1: CNN-Generation Y’ Set to Transform Office Life                                        by Susanne Gargiulo

By the end of this decade the demographics will shift and by 2025 gen Y will be 75% of the workforce. Gen Y wants more choices, new ways to communicate and wants out with old meeting rooms and in with new social spaces – Generation Y is transforming the way we work in the next 10 years. Read the CNN  article



Article #2: How Is Generation Transforming the Workplace? by Leigh Stringer

      In this article several Gen X and Y’s share their opinion on the new world of work- When the author of the post, Leigh Stringer  saw the above article  CNN article about Gen Yers transforming office life, she admitted that she  couldn’t help but reach out to a few of the Gen Y’s at HOK to ask for their      reactions. What she  found was a fascinating range of opinions… Read Article




Article#3: Microsoft-What Does the New World of Work Look Like by Klaus Holse Andersen – Vice President, Microsoft Western Europe

The three dimensions around the new world of work are people, places and technology. Read On