On this episode Josh speaks with Adam Mendler, CEO of The Veloz Group and host of the “Thirty Minute Mentors” podcast. They talk about things to keep in mind when managing Millenials and Gen Z.

Adam Mendler is the CEO of The Veloz Group, where he co-founded and oversees ventures across a wide variety of industries: Beverly Hills Chairs, the leading seller of refurbished Herman Miller Aeron chairs in the country; Custom Tobacco, a one-of-a-kind e-commerce platform where customers can create fully customized, private-label cigars in real-time; and Veloz Solutions, a technology consulting and software development practice.

Adam is also a nationally acclaimed thought leader, writer, and speaker on topics including leadership, entrepreneurship, and management. Adam is the creator and host of the podcast Thirty Minute Mentors, where each week he goes one on one with one of the most successful people in the country on how they got to the top and how listeners can too.

In today’s episode you will learn:

  • How to manage Millenials and Gen Z
  • What’s the difference between the millennials and Gen Z
  • How business values and mission reflects on millennials
  • Why you should set core principles that are important to you

Transcript

Narrator:        Welcome to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where you’ll learn what it takes to create enough cash to fill the four buckets of profit. You’ll learn what it takes to have enough cash for a great lifestyle, have enough cash for when emergency strikes, fully fund the growth program, and fund your retirement program. When you do this, you will have a sale‑ready company that will allow you to keep or sell your business. This allows you to do what you want with your business, when you want, in the way you want.

In Cracking the Cash Flow Code, we focus on the four areas of business that let you take your successful business and make it economically and personally sustainable. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning, and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable and allow you to be free of cash flow worries.

Josh Patrick:   Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick and you’re at Cracking the Cash Flow Code.

And, today, my guest today is Adam Mendler. And he has, you know, kind of an interesting background. He’s the CEO of VelozGroup or Veloz Group. I’ll probably get that wrong as usually do. He has a ton of overseas ventures. And he does stuff with Herman Miller chairs which I love. And he has a custom tobacco company which maybe we’ll get into, maybe we won’t, but that’s always kind of an interesting thing. So, instead of me yammering on, which is one of my bad habits in the world, let’s bring Adam on and start the conversation.

Hey, Adam, how are you today?

Adam:             Josh, I’m great. Happy Friday. Good to be here with you. And good to be here with your audience.

Josh:                Yeah. Well, thanks so much. This podcast actually goes out on Mondays but we’re recording it on a Friday, so I guess it’s going to be Friday.

Adam:             Oh, okay.

Josh:                But it’s not going to go up for quite a while.

So, Adam, I want to start off with something which I find really kind of an interesting thing which is one of the things I found really attractive is managing millennials, Gen Z. I have two questions. First, how do you do it, in your opinion, and, two, what’s the difference between the millennials and Gen Z because they are different cohorts?

Adam:             Great questions. And I think the first thing that all leaders should understand is that no matter who you’re leading, no matter how old the person is that you’re leading, whether they’re a millennial, or whether they’re a Zoomer, Gen Z, whether they’re Generation X, the core principles of effective leadership are universal. And I think that, all too often, we have people who want to stereotype, and want to generalize, and want to say, “Millennials need to be led this way. Generation Z needs to be led that way.” Now, there are distinctions, there are things to understand about them. And I could talk about them. But the most important thing is that, at the end of the day, leaders need to follow the best practices no matter who they’re leading, no matter what their audience and their workforce looks like.

But a couple of things to keep in mind, when it comes to millennials, millennials are extremely mission focused. Millennials care very much about what you, as an organization, are achieving. Millennials understand that they’re in a workforce that is very fluid. Millennials have lived through a number of major crises now so, the financial crisis. We now have the coronavirus crisis. There have been ups and downs in the course of millennials – adult and young adult lives. There’s not as a sense of stability when it comes to, I’m going to work for this one company for the rest of my life. I’m going to work here and have a pension. And this is what I’m going to do. And I’m going to retire with Ford, or with GE, or with GM. So, leaders need to understand that and leaders need to create an environment that accommodates that.

Too often, we have leaders who complain about millennials and who say, “Ah, these damn millennials.” Well, at the end of the day, millennials comprise such a big percentage of the workforce that you either need to accommodate your prospective employees or you’re going to lose out on an essential part of who you’ll, ultimately, need to build your business and have your business succeed and thrive.

Josh:                I have to jump in for a second here. That second is every generation who’s ever come along, the older generation says, “If only that generation was blah.”

Adam:             Yeah.

Josh:                And it’s usually the older generation thinks the younger generation are just a bunch of sloths, and they’re lazy, and they won’t ever do anything. I might’ve heard that about my generation. I’m obviously a boomer. And the Gen Xers really got it. The Millennials are getting it now. I haven’t heard that so much around Gen Z yet. But Gen Z is just starting to enter the workforce. So, we’ll probably hear that about them in about three years.

Adam:             Yeah. Josh, you’re 100% right. And I think it’s really important to, first and foremost this is kind of what I said at the outset, look at the people who you’re leading as people. Look at the people, as you’re leading, as the individuals they are rather than the group that they’re in, whether that group is their age group, their ethnic group, their religious group.

But there are things that we can draw from how old you are. So, talking about Generation Z, one of the important things that leaders should understand is Generation Z is the most technologically fluent group of all time. I’m an old millennial. So, I grew up as technology was really disrupting how we live our lives. But Generation Z has been a part of this disruption and they’ve lived their lives in a very different part of the curve from the time they were born. And, as a result, Generation Z, on the one hand, has this incredible comfort with technology that, as leaders, we should look to Generation Z and say, “this is “incredible” but, at the same time, recognize that there might not necessarily be the same attention span because everything is now consumed in much shorter clips than they were in the past. We have technology to give us access to things much more quickly.

You know, not to do the whole, “Well, back in the day or when I was a kid” but, you know, growing up there were newspapers and you had to wait for newspaper to come to your doorstep to be able to read the news. And now the newspaper delivers yesterday’s news. If you want to get the news, you go online, and you get it instantaneously. And we’re in an information age where everything is instantaneous and, as a result, leaders need to recognize that there’s a certain impatience among the younger generation. The younger generation wants– and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The younger generation wants to achieve, wants to accomplish, wants to make things happen now and doesn’t necessarily want to sit around waiting. So, leaders should take advantage of that.

And my perspective is let’s empower people. Let’s give people who really want to achieve the responsibility, once they’re ready for it, but work their way up to the responsibility to be able to become leaders themselves. Let’s educate, and grow, and train other leaders to become in a position where they can ultimately help drive the organization to a better and better place.

Josh:                You know, there’s two things that have come up for me. One is, you are talking about what I call a digital native. And I’ve maintained for a long time that Gen Z is actually the first generation which are true digital natives. I mean, people call millennials digital natives but the truth is the millennials really never got a chance to experience technology till they were about 10 or 11 years old, 12 years old. Gen Z was experienced technology when they were three years old. By four years old, they could use the iPad as effectively as most of their parents so it’s a very different thing.

The other thing which brought to mind is that, when you’re working with millennials, is that you really want to be paying attention to your corporate values because they pay attention to your corporate values. And your corporate values have to be consistent with your actions and not just what you say because, if you don’t, millennials are more of a BS sniffer than any other generation out there. And they’re very, very, very vocal about it.

So you just have to realize that if you say, “Our value is personal responsibility,” and then you, as an owner, start blaming or justifying your way through life, your millennials are going to see that as a gigantic disconnect, way more than Gen Xers, or boomers, or probably even Gen Zers. So, it’s just something that I’ve noticed along the way is that being a values-led company is a real advantage if your workforce is primarily or even have a lot of millennials in it. Does that make sense to you?

Adam:             I couldn’t agree with you more. I think that you said it beautifully. And to your point, every company has core values. Every company has a mission statement. Every company says that they have a culture that means something but, in reality, very few live and breathe a true corporate culture that their employees can turn to and say, “This is what our company is all about and we’re proud of it.”

Objectively, when you think about your career, my career, or anyone listening to this conversation, if you are intellectually honest, and you ask yourself, “Of all the companies that I worked for, how many of those companies really lived and breathed values that I was proud of?” It’s a hard question to– it’s a hard circle to square because, at the end of the day, most companies are there– if not, all companies are there to make money. At the end of the day, that’s what business is about.

Josh:                I have to stop you right there. Making a profit is not what a business is about. Serving a customer is what a business is about. Making a profit is a result of serving a customer extremely well.

Adam:             Yes.

So, Josh, to your point, I think it’s a matter of linguistics. I can tell you that– and I’d say this to any audience I speak to, the number one most important thing in any business is your customer.

Josh:                Yes.

Adam:             Without a customer, you don’t have a business. Every leader needs to be as customer‑centric as possible. Every entrepreneur needs to be as customer‑centric as possible. Without customers, you’re not in business.

As the CEO of my company, there’s nothing I care more about than my people. And my people are the people who work for me, the people are my customers, people are any stakeholder in my business. So, I’m with you 110% of the way. The point that I’m trying to make though is that, if you’re not in the game of making money, you’re not going to start a business. If you’re starting a business, you want to make some money.

Josh:                Sure. Well, you have to make money or you can’t play the game anymore.

Adam:             Totally.

And kind of going back to the original point, a lot of companies are just focused on making money. That’s what all they’re focused on. And they bring workers in, and they bring employees in, and they train you, and they educate you on, “Here’s your role in the organization. And here’s how you, as a cog, fit into the machine. And here’s how you are going to help us make more money.” That doesn’t speak at all to mission. That doesn’t speak at all to values. That doesn’t speak at all to a greater good, a greater purpose. And those kinds of organizations have completely lost millennials.

Millennials have flocked to companies that have been able to articulate that, “Yeah, we’re here to make money, but we’re also here to do something bigger. We’re also here to serve a greater good, to make the world a better place, to pay it forward in some way. And here’s how we’re going to do it. And here’s how you are going to help be a part of that experience.”

And as a leader, you need to be able to articulate a vision. And beyond articulating the vision, you need to really live and breathe that vision, you need to really live and breathe those values because, Josh, as you said, the lesson that I learned when I was a kid from my dad. My dad taught me at a very young age, “You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.” So that’s something that all of us, as leaders, need to remember every single day.

Josh:                Yeah. That’s absolutely true.

The thing that I would like to just point out is that most of the people listening this podcast do not have articulated values in their company and that’s a huge mistake. And it’s rare, rare, rare, rare that I see a company, with less than 50 employees, have any idea what their values are because the owner has not spent more than 38 seconds thinking about it.

In my experience, if you want to have a sustainable business that becomes sale‑ready, you have got to be a values‑led organization, not because the next owner wants your values. It’s that, if you don’t do it, you’re going to have a crummy company.

Adam:             Josh, I’m with you, again, every step of the way. And I can just speak to my own personal experience starting the Veloz Group. There was nothing more important to us, when we were starting this business, than having a set of values that were very, very core to everything that we will be doing as a business.

And, over the years, we’ve definitely had moments where we’ve strayed from our values. And I’ll give you a concrete example. When we started the business. One of the things that we expressed as being central to what The Veloz Group was all about was the kind of people that we were bringing in. And, as a leader, there’s really nothing more important to building a winning organizational culture than bringing in the right people. The best way to build a better culture is by hiring better people. The best way to blow up your culture is by bringing in bad people.

A small business, one bad person could completely blow up your culture. I worked for really large companies where a bad manager will scare off a few employees here or there, but you can get away with it. In a small business, you can’t get away with it.

And we had an experience where we hired someone who went to Harvard and had a great resume. And everything was amazing on paper. But, you know, in the interview process, there was a little bit of an uneasiness. But instead of trusting my gut, I kind of sold out to the credentials and what kind of felt like it was the safe move. And it immediately backfired. We had to let this person go after two weeks. And we would’ve let this person go after one week, but my team told me that you can’t fire someone after one week, so we waited for two weeks. And by the second week, every single person in my team asked me, “What’s taking you so long?”

So, it was an important lesson, (1) in that when you have a vision that you believe in, when you have values that you believe in, it’s important to stick to them. It’s important not to stray from them. And (2), which was a really important lesson in that don’t chase that shiny object. This could apply to someone thinking about sales or it could apply to really any aspect of your business. But, in this case, we knew fundamentally who the right kind of person was for our business. That kind of person is someone who has a strong work ethic, who’s a team player, who is self‑motivated, who works really well with others, who really kind of checked the list on, and on, and on. These are things that you don’t measure on a resume. These are things that going to an IVY League school and doing really well on the SAT doesn’t tell you, one way or the other, whether you’re a real problem solver, whether you’re someone who, when the rubber meets the road, you’re going to make things happen, or you’re going to hide under the covers.

So, this is really important stuff for all listeners, whether you’re a blue‑collar business owner, or whether you’re someone just starting out and thinking about how to get your career started and how to get your business started – live and breathe values. Set core principles that are important to you and that will be important to the kind of people you want to attract to your organization and make them a meaningful part of what you do.

Josh:                Yeah, you just described what I call the brilliant jerk. In fact, you did a really good job of getting rid of your brilliant jerk fast. It used to take me several months. And the exact same thing happened, people will line up outside my door saying what took me so long, but you can’t have a brilliant jerk in your company. They might be able to do their job incredibly well. In your case, it sounds like the person you hired, not only was a brilliant jerk, but they didn’t do the job especially well. It becomes a little bit more difficult if your best salesman also happens to be an incredible jerk which happens in a lot of companies but you have to be clear on those values.

Adam:             100%.

And this is a topic that I love discussing, I love discussing it as a guest on podcasts, but I also love discussing it on my podcast, Thirty Minute Mentors, where I interview the most successful leaders in the country on how they got to the top and their best advice for how listeners can get to the top as well. And I will often ask my guests who are CEOs and founders of Fortune 500 companies, founders of multibillion‑dollar household name businesses across industries.

And an interesting piece of advice I got from one of my guests, who is the founder of one of the most successful financial services firms in the country. He told me, “Don’t hire good people.” And I said, “What? Don’t hire good people?” But I thought– after doing hundreds of interviews and starting different businesses, I thought I knew a little bit about the topic of hiring, but I was stopped in my tracks for a second when he said, “Don’t hire good people because you can’t fire good people. Only hire great people.” And that was a really interesting and important lesson.

And when I’ve thought about it, you can fire bad people pretty easily. This person who I refer to we all acknowledge that this individual wasn’t a fit and it wasn’t a difficult decision to fire this person. But I’ve had people who I’ve hired in my organization who are good but were not great. I’m sure anyone, tuning in, has had people in their organization that they’ve hired who is okay, solid, maybe they did the job to a satisfactory level. And those are the people who are the hardest to replace because you just get comfortable.

And, as a leader, you need to be really focused on only hiring great people. And no matter what role you’re filling. We just hired a customer service person. We’re not paying this person a ton of money. It’s not a glamour position but it’s as important a position as there is in our business and in any business because, if you don’t have good customer service people, you don’t have happy customers, you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business. So, every person you hire has to be a great person, has to be a great hire.

Josh:                True, true.

I mean, you happened to mention your podcast. And I’m going to encourage people to go listen to your podcast because, I was looking at your guests, you have like the who’s who of the world on your podcast. So, if we had more time which, unfortunately, we don’t because we’re out of time, I would love to learn how you did that. But since our topic is how to create a sustainable business and not how to create a great podcast, we were talking about the right stuff.

So, Adam, you’re an interesting guy. And I’m going to bet some people would want to find you. I’ve got your website up on our YouTube channel but a lot of people will be listening to this podcast and they can’t see what we’re talking about. So, how would people find you if they wanted to?

Adam:             Thanks for the question.

So, I’ll try to make it as easy as possible for anyone interested. It’s really just my name, Adam Mendler. So, you could go to adammendler.com.You can follow me on social media @adammendler. That’s @adammendler on Instagram, @adammendler on Twitter.

My podcast Thirty Minute Mentors. That’s all spelled out. So, you type out Thirty Minute Mentors. It’s available on every major podcast app, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play. It’s also available at thirtyminutementors.com. And I encourage anyone interested to tune in, to subscribe, start with the guests most interesting to you. So, it could be a CEO or founder of a brand name company. It could be a celebrity or athlete. I’ve had a number of really well‑known actors, actresses, Hall of Fame athletes. It could be military leader. Admiral Jim Stavridis, four‑star admiral. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, highest ranking military officer, was a guest. I’ve had some other great military leaders on the podcast.

So, I try to provide a really broad range of perspectives, all of whom are individuals who have made it to the top, who have excelled in whatever it is that they’ve done in their lives. And my goal, really, is to spend those 30 minutes calling the best advice possible, from my guest, on how anyone tuning in can become more successful in their lives, can better himself personally, can better himself professionally, and can become a better leader.

Josh:                Cool.

And I have two things I would like you to do. The first is– and this is something that I always forgot to ask but I should have at the front of the show. And, since I forgot, once again, to put it at front of the show, it’s at the end of the show, please go to wherever you’re listening to this podcast and give us an honest rating and review. It’s just really, really important for us. And if you could do that, I would certainly appreciate it.

And the second thing I want you to do is I want everybody here to have what I call a sale‑ready company. Now, a sale‑ready company does not mean you’re about to go out and sell your company, it just means it’s ready for sale. And when you make your company sale‑ready, the truth is you’re not going to want to sell your company anyhow because you’re going to be having too much fun and making too much money.

And I’ve written an ebook which you get on this topic. It’s at www.sustainablebusiness.co/saleready. That’s at www.sustainablebusiness.co/saleready. It’s a free ebook. It’s about the eight steps you need to take to create a sale‑ready company in your life.

So, this is Josh Patrick. We’re with Adam Mendler. You’re at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:        You’ve been listening to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?”

If you’ve liked what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 extension 102, or visit us on our website at www.sustainablebusiness.co, or you can send Josh an email at jpatrick@stage2solution.com.

Thanks for listening and we hope to see you at Cracking the Cash Flow Code in the near future.

Topics: leadership, sustainable business podcast, Sustainable Business, Management, how to become better leader, adam mendler, managing gen z, managing millenials, entrepreneurship

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