Christopher Ruel
Christopher Ruel
Community and Social Marketing, Wiley

I’m an X’er. Members of Generation X were often characterized as slackers, latchkey kids, possessors of bad attitudes, and a bit nihilistic in their cynicism. I am part of the 66 million others known as the “neglected generation” or the “forgotten generation,” and as the citations below reflect, businesses need to pay attention to us, or they’ll miss out on a significant opportunity to grow their revenue, increase organizational performance, and benefit from the generation sandwiched between the Boomers and the Millennials. Here’s why:



  • We’re smart, even though we envied Ferris Bueller and Jeff Spicoli. 35% of us have a college education. That makes us one of the most highly educated generations ever. The research has also revealed that we like to share our knowledge. X’ers make excellent mentors for younger employees and our level of education is reflected in much that we do at work, and outside of the office.



  • We’re innovative. 55% of startups have been created by X’ers. Did you know Elon Musk is an X’er.  Because X’ers are a smaller cohort than the generations we’re sandwiched between, we tend to get overshadowed by the great things Boomers have accomplished and the vivacious minds of the Millennials.



  • We may be self-deprecating, but we don’t like to be ignored by marketers. Traditional media still matters to us, so continuing to place ads in newspapers, on the radio, and on television that are aimed at us isn’t throwing money away. Yes, we like our digital media, but we did not grow up in a digital world.


In the end, identifying those born between the mid- to late-60’s and the early-80’s, is a smart strategy if companies are looking to make revenue targets and increase their organizational effectiveness.


Not bad for bunch of slackers, eh Wayne? Party on, Garth!


For more on managing intergenerational workplace dynamics, check out Unfairly Labeled: How Your Workplace Can Benefit from Ditching Generational Stereotypes.


Image Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock


How to Work With Difficult People

Posted Oct 17, 2017
    Christopher Ruel
Christopher Ruel
Community and Social Marketing, Wiley



Tension among co-workers accounts for up to 80% of all workplace difficulties, but what can you do to improve uncomfortable encounters at work? There are some options. The use of positive body language, keeping control of your emotions, and knowing when to take a stand are excellent starting points. But don’t forget, the colleague you are struggling with has thoughts, feelings, and tensions as well. There are additional skills and techniques you can learn, develop, and improve upon that can your work week more enjoyable, your organization more productive and may grow career opportunities. NetCredit.com put together this infographic with nine practical ways you can learn to work with difficult people. Try out the tips today and see what you can achieve in creating healthy co-worker relationships with open and positive dialogue.


Courtesy of: NetCredit


    Curt Steinhorst

I have ADD. I speak about our distracted world and gen Y. I also help others speak. I’m relationally focused, sports obsessed, spiritually inclined.


I have ADD. As a child, I never took medication. My parents weren’t against it, but they didn’t feel it was necessary. I could work well enough in spurts that my grades were still fine. I learned how to cope.


That is, until I started my first business


A few years out of school, I started a company doing what I loved most in the world: helping people discover, craft, and share their messages with the world. Every day, I worked with NFL players, TV personalities, and Olympians to help them communicate better to their audiences.


(Me with Peyton Manning — yes, that’s actually him and no, I’m not really that short)


Steinhorst and Manning.jpg



It was my dream job. It should have been the best time of my life. Instead, I was miserable.


It wasn’t the work that was the challenge. It was that I’d look up and I would have 43 different emails started, two text threads going, and no clue whether my checkbook was evenly balanced. I couldn’t focus on the things that were critical to creating a successful business.


Communication was my passion, my entire life’s work. And now it was also destroying my business.


Eventually, I hit a breaking point. I was two weeks late on a major deadline I had promised to a client — an NFL Hall of Famer, no less. What’s worse, the Hall-of-Famer was my grandfather’s favorite football player of all time. What’s even worse, is that same Hall-of-Famer had, at my request, just recorded a personal video for my grandmother on her 90th birthday. And here I was ghosting him. This is the third“just checking in” email he sent me — the previous two I completely ignored. It looks friendly — but it was a clear indictment.


email chain.jpg


What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I get the work done? I knew it was either: get a grip on things or move back home with my parents. Something had to change.


Our Entire Workforce Has Issues With Focusing

It turns out, I’m not the only one struggling. Distraction in the workplace is an epidemic.


• The busiest hours of Facebook are 1–3pm during the working day.

• 60% of purchases online are purchased during working hours.

• 87% of people admit to reading and being involved in political discussions on a weekly basis during work.

• People lose anywhere from 1–3 hours on average every day due to personal distractions. In some industries, we lose as many as 6.


And we carry the effects with us, at home and in our bodies. We spend 60% more time connected to digital media than we do in conversation with our significant others. A study on workplace stresses found that the more pressure we feel to be available, the more likely we are to take sick days.


The Way Out

Over the last ten years, I’ve been on a journey to answer the question: what does it look like to thrive in an age of constant distraction?


Using myself as the lab rat, I experimented constantly with new approaches to manage and focus my attention. I spent thousands of hours researching and interviewing CEOs, managers, and employees. I recruited a team of experts way smarter than me: an Ivy League PhD professor, a psychologist focusing on ADD, and a pastor.


Together, we discovered a surprisingly simple but profound truth: we have lost our ability to control where we place our attention. And if we are ever going to recover it, we have to revisit every aspect of our work and life. We have to learn to become wise in the way we allocate our focus — placing the right amount of attention at the right moment and in the right context. It won’t be easy, but it is possible.


On October 9th 2017, my first book published by Wiley: Can I Have Your Attention?: Inspiring Better Work Habits, Focusing Your Team, and Getting Stuff Done in the Constantly Connected Workplace. It’s the culmination of everything I’ve learned about the science of attention and how to utilize it in the workplace: a comprehensive and holistic approach to become focus wise in the way we approach life and work.


Do you battle distraction in the workplace? Share you own strategies for overcoming it in the comments below.


    James Bowen
James Bowen
CEO, Experiential Simulations

crystals.jpgAI system voted Entrepreneur of the Year? Not yet, but recently Alibaba founder Jack Ma predicted that an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system will be voted CEO of the year within 30 years.  But can an AI system winning Entrepreneur of the Year within 50 years? Is that possible or is there something inherent to startups such that an AI system will never win over a human entrepreneur?


AI comes in a few different flavors including machine learning approaches and expert systems. Machine learning tends to work well in environments where it can learn from past data. Typically, it finds patterns in the data and is able to abstract from those patterns, hopefully acquiring the ability to apply the past pattern of action to a new situation. A weakness would then be operating in a situation that is new and unique and thus might not be represented in the data set, thus inferences extrapolated from the data are not applicable to the new situation. A machine learning situation would then evolve its learning.


The questions then become: is it possible to learn from all past entrepreneurial startups such that enough patterns are developed for all future startups? And, is any startup truly unique?


Serial entrepreneurs are sought-after individuals, whose success can be duplicated based on learnings and the ability to reason out new situations.


With large organizations, there is more structure and change tends to be slow. With startups, much is evolving and sharp pivots at times.


Does this suggest that startups are different enough from large companies that an AI system cannot apply its learnings from patterns found in existing data and thus wouldn’t be Entrepreneur of the Year?


With startups, there are always unique elements such as different management team combinations, different business model possibilities, or different technology possibilities. Therefore, the question, which I would like your comment on, is: Will there be some percentage of startups that are truly unique and new such that AI will not handle decision-making or implementation well? Alternatively, does it even matter; can we generalize entrepreneurial insights and models such that an AI system could be Entrepreneur of the Year?


Share your thoughts in the comments below and check out our experiential simulation for teaching entrepreneurship.


Check out my other articles here.


Image credit: PzAxe/Shutterstock

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