My Workshop for Millennial Leaders

Many cities across the country are experiencing a major culture shift led by millennials born 1980-1995. Nashville is one of them.

Here’s an opportunity for millennials to participate in an action-oriented class in preparation for the next phase of leadership in business and in community on Saturday, August 5, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Ezell Center at Lipscomb University. And, there’s an opportunity for me to come to your city. Dates are going fast!

I’ll tell my personal story as a young leader and facilitate an interactive six-step leadership development training session covering the following areas:

• Career, Entrepreneurship, Intrapraneurship
• Problem Solving, Disruption, Innovation
• Ambition, Decision Making, Goal-Setting
• Influence, Access, Creativity
• Profit, Passion, Purpose
• Faith, Mindfulness, Empowerment.

I’ll also lead a personal brand mapping session and we’ll have a little fun too.

Here’s my invitation!

 

Register at nashvillemillennialleadership.eventbrite.com for only $35 which includes lunch and a signed copy of the book.

For more about me and my book or to request a workshop in your city or at your company,
visit THEORIGINALMILLENNIAL.COM

 

A look at Nashville’s 40 Under 40

Cranes in the sky. That’s all we saw when posing for this photo from high up on the rooftop of The Westin Hotel. Reflecting on the growth and expansion of the city, we gathered as a handful of this year’s Nashville Business Journal 40 Under 40 winners selected to appear on the cover of the paper. It was an honor to be one of the young leaders in the city chosen from nearly 600 nominations – a record number.

Take a look at this year’s winners.

Coaching Leaders of the Millennial Generation

At the top of the year, I started coaching millennials in the area of leadership development to kick off National Mentoring Month and…wow, what an experience!Aerial Ellis Millennial Coaching

I knew our generation was made of amazingly passionate innovators but the work I have been able to do with my millennials has been an absolute joy.

Because millennials will make up 75% of the workforce in America by 2025, a cultural shift is happening and I am working to encourage, prepare and coach our millennials for leadership. It is important that organizations are prepared for the shift that is quickly approaching, and I am here to help. With expertise in leadership communication and influence as a college professor, I am equipped with the knowledge and know-how to effectively train and ready your millennial team members. Based on curriculum from my book, The Original Millennial, I am helping millennials recognize their value and prepare them for unprecedented leadership.

If you’re a millennial, here’s a chance to get exclusive access to me as your champion! I learned the lessons, put them in a book and created a six-week curriculum to help you succeed. With my guidance and support, you become a change agent prepared to lead in business and community, and leave a legendary mark on the world. If you believe you need someone like me to groom, coach and mentor, sign up here.

If you are not a millennial…does your organization currently have professional development initiatives in place for your employees ages 20-35? Do you see a need to invest additional resources to develop your young emerging talent? I’d love an opportunity to work with your organization as a leadership development consultant to assess your generational diversity needs and counsel your millennial team members on best practices for fine-tuning the skills needed to take their professional careers, and your organization, to the next level. If you want more info, learn more here.

I’m Headed to SXSW 2017

seeyouatedu3_facebook

In a few weeks, I’ll be in Austin, Texas. I’ve been selected to speak at the 2017 SXSWedu Conference & Festival, March 6-9. I’ll offer a mentor session on diversity, millennials and PR; and on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., I’ll be signing copies of my book, The Original Millennial, too!

The SXSWedu® Conference & Festival fosters and celebrates innovations in learning by hosting a diverse and energetic community of stakeholders across a variety of backgrounds in education. The annual four-day event affords registrants open access to engaging sessions, immersive workshops, interactive learning experiences, film screenings, early-stage startups, business opportunities and networking. Through collaboration, creativity and social action, SXSWedu empowers its global community to Connect. Discover. Impact. SXSWedu is a component of the South by Southwest® family of conferences and festivals.

If you will be at #SXSW or #SXSWedu, add my session to your event schedule.

For more information, please visit http://sxswedu.com.

How Must I Use My Influence?

2009. Social networking had taken over the world. From the moment I started a MySpace profile, I knew my generation would be the poster kids for social media. It changed the way we communicated, worked, played and lived.  It was new, exciting and innovation. It could also be overwhelming at times. The easy access, the ambiguity of messages, the jeopardy of privacy – it would make me nervous at times. I was an introvert who appeared to have extrovert tendencies.

As much as I loved to communicate with people and share ideas, I often got tired of the demand to be present and accessible on social media. I noticed, though, how social media proved something very significant for me – my influence.

Influence calls us into relationships. We look to discover relationships with those who have a substantial following in social networks, a notable brand or an authority within an industry or a community with a loyal audience. The strength of this connectivity creates relationships that earn millennials influence as a direct result of investing intellectual capital, goodwill and networking.

As with most generations, millennials have developed a tremendous amount of influence. Our influence, however, wears an originality that has created social capital almost beyond compare. This shift of influence is an example of social capital—an important element among millennial influencers. Social capital is the catalyst for influence. It becomes the key that unlocks influence and new experiences.*

This week, I’ll accept the Women of Influence Award from the Nashville Business Journal as a 2017 Trailblazer – a woman who has led the way for others to follow in her footsteps. Every year, the Nashville Business Journal recognizes a new class of Women of Influence awards winners – women who are shaping their companies, improving communities and paving the way for the next generation of influential female leaders. I’m happy and humbled begin the year with this honor and leverage my social capital for the benefit of those in my network. I’m thankful for the recognition and grateful that God continues to see fit to use me as an example.

Aerial Ellis Woman of Inclusion Nashville Business Journal Trailblazer 2017

This is an opportunity to reflect deeper and carefully consider, “how must I use my influence?” Influential leaders must consider how they will contribute to the growth of those they lead. People are drawn to a leader who actually leads, meaning they influence behavior, performance, events and outcomes. Influential leaders recognize that they are designed to be part of a mission that is larger than themselves.

As you are reading this email, you are proving your influence. You are someone who wants to help move and motivate people to make a difference. You are willing to nurture them through leadership and challenge them through motivation. A balance of two is the only way to have meaningful influence.

AE

*(This email features an excerpt from my book The Original Millennial – Part 4: Do I Want to Reflect or Direct: Influence, Access, Creativity. To order the book for yourself or a millennial you know, love or mentor, visit theoriginalmillennial.com or Amazon.com)

Why Cultural Fit Could Destroy Your Diversity Efforts

Culture is important. In fact, it’s what sets one organization distinctly apart from another. Your organizational culture is one of the most critical elements for having well-harmonized teams in which all the members fit.

Cultural fit has its merits. Industry gatekeepers prize cultural fit as a hiring imperative. Organizations use cultural fit for competitive advantage by relying on the idea that the best employees are like-minded with matched personalities, skills and values. Cultural fit supports the assessment that when people are different from the majority, and do not fit in group it becomes difficult to work with them and integrate them into the team. But there are serious limitations with the value of balancing fit with diversity and inclusion.

We’ve been deliberate to communicate the importance of workplace diversity yet overlook the concrete problems that are likely to emerge if homogeneity takes priority over genuine inclusion. Cultural fit, when misused in hiring for personal comfort, likeness, preference or chemistry, becomes one of the biggest threats to diversity in the PR workforce.

When done carelessly, the concept of fit becomes a dangerous catchall used to justify hiring people who are similar to decision makers and rejecting people who are not. Hiring for fit can keep demographic and cultural diversity low, force people into a given prototype and reinforce the myth that skill and talent is exclusive to a dominant group. This creates situations in which our organizations look diverse in appearance but are deceivingly homogenous. Sameness in profile, even with very different backgrounds, can breed the kind of culture that leads to uniformity and irrelevancy in the workforce, uninformed or overconfidence decisions among teams, and exclusion of high-performing candidates.

When done thoughtfully, the concept of fit becomes a progressive attempt to highlight contribution. Hiring for contribution can make our organizations more productive and profitable by redefining cultural fit to be closely aligned with business goals. This creates organizations where people with different perspectives, attitudes, and aspirations can work positively together. Achieving diversity through contribution is sign of future innovation. It signals that organizations committed to evolving to where they need to go are ready to trust high-level contributors to take them there.

To use cultural fit more effectively, we must decide that contribution has more value. Focusing on contribution in hiring shifts an existing organizational culture by taking the energy up a notch and setting the stage for creativity to flourish.

Instead of looking for someone who fits neatly your organization’s culture, seek to discover how this person will introduce something new and unique to your current culture. Instead of asking someone to match closely with your existing culture, seek to determine whether they are likely to energize your culture and nudge it in the right direction. As a result, your organization can become a home for big ideas and better growth.

Assess what your organization is doing well and what important measurable goals you can crush. Assess what is not going well and is a battle to achieve. Determine which aspects your organization’s culture directly affects how you reach those goals. Ask what qualities and differences are likely to influence the existing culture in a meaningful and positive way. In doing so, you reframe the concept of fit by developing a cultural profile based on contribution.

While there’s nothing wrong with asking the question, “Is he a culture fit,” it shouldn’t be completely synonymous with, “Do we like him?”

The beauty of diversity is having people come together to work on a common goal. We can’t lean on cultural fit to the degree that we become afraid of the perceived conflict in putting together different people or begin to treat diversity efforts like a chore that needs to be managed. The next time someone asks, “Are they a culture fit”, carefully consider what the answer might be. This approach could destroy all that we’ve what we have been striving for in championing diversity in our industry. When we rely on contribution, we create an opportunity to shift a culture with diversity and make inclusion a real concept.

What Makes a Great Mentor?

I will admit. I have some amazing mentors. They each come from different walks of life and parts of the country, have different areas of expertise and serve a different purpose in my life. Having a diverse group of people who pour into me regularly has made a major impact in my personal and professional development.

That’s why I make mentoring a priority and work really hard to help young professionals. As part of that desire to teach and groom others, I am happy to serve as an advisor for the diversity and inclusion committee with The Plank Center in Leadership for Public Relations. This group’s purpose is to be a catalyst for other professional organizations, to help identify and bridge gaps, and assist organizations seeking to adopt best-in-class practices in the area of diversity and inclusion.

We are devoting resources to diversity and inclusion research and we are launching an online research library designed to help students, educators and professionals locate public relations research on diversity and inclusion, leadership and mentorship.

We will celebrate our efforts and honor leaders in the industry this week at an annual Milestones in Mentoring Gala. The gala recognizes the dedication and impact of individuals who have fostered relationships with their organization, community and profession.

Though I am still early in my career in comparison to the majority of my industry’s leaders, I don’t think its ever too early to mentor. My mentors have been responsive, tough-loving, open-minded, free-hearted and innovative, and I try to model them in the way I mentor.

What about you? What things do you think make a great mentor?

Aerial Ellis plank center diversity inclusion

Where Are The Leaders?

Millennial Leaders

So many headlines seem to focus on the idea that millennials are not poised to lead. We are incompetent, shiftless and non-committal. We show up late. We act entitled. We demand more than we earn.

These generalizations don’t change that fact that millions of original millennials are employed and show up to work every single day ready to achieve. These assumptions don’t diminish the thousands of problems being solved by original millennials who revolutionizing the way business is done.

While we should expect to see an influx of millennials in leadership positions over the next few years, you’re probably asking “where are they?”

In my new book, The Original Millennial, you will discover that original millennials are valuable, loyal, high-performing leaders. You will learn lessons of leadership for your own life and career. You will take away inspiration and hope that future is in good hands with an original millennial at the helm.

As we countdown to the release in just a few weeks, you may pre-order my book today for only $8.99. This gets you access to exclusive interviews with millennial leaders before the book is officially released.

Share this post with a millennial!

What’s Life Like For Students of Color at a White College Campus?

Collaborative Conversations on Race

I attended an HBCU and was engulfed by the black experience in college. Not until I began teaching at a predominantly white university did I begin to examine the experiences of students of color who spend their college years as an racial minority.

I am happy to lead a discussion on Tuesday, September 20, 6 p.m. that allows our students of color at Lipscomb University to share what life is like on a majority white campus.

Join me for this candid chat!

Did you attend a predominantly white university? What was your experience as a person of color? As a white person, what opportunities did you have to experience life on campus through the lens of a student of color?

Participate in the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #culturalcomm

#blackstudents #latinostudents #diversity #inclusion #intercultural #communication #crosscultural #race #ethnicity

The event is free and open to the public.

To learn more about the Collaborative Conversations series at Lipscomb University, visit: http://www.lipscomb.edu/leadership/news-events