16: Attractive Workplace Cultures – A Millennial Perspective

Episode 16 Discussion with 4 Millennials: Alix Erie, Jijo Mathew, Anastasia Button, and Josh Schaffer

Listen to episode 16 of Agile and Beyond! Listen and Subscribe in iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, RSS.

Group of Multiethnic Designers Brainstorming

If you have not had a chance to listen to the first Millennial discussion, you can catch that here. We covered the future of work and education.

Show Notes

My Co-host

Gert Penne (46), Gert is an account executive in the tech industry, and an Empathic Problem Solver, who takes a principle-centered approach to teaming across cultures, disciplines, and generations.

Our Guests

Alix Erie (32), Alix is the founder & director of the Advancement of Civilization Effort. She is a former data scientist, researcher, and algorithm developer, who worked at the CERN Laboratory in Switzerland. During this interview she was based in Louisiana. She is currently living in Dharmsala, India.

Jijo Mathew (33), Mathew is the co-founder at ACE-ConneXion of Bengaluru, Karnataka, India.

Anastasia Button (28), Anastasia helps Millennials gain freedom, independence, direction, better income, and more excitement from life and career. She is the author of the upcoming book, #NewJobNewLife: The Millennial Take Charge Plan to Success. She coaches and speaks to Millennials and like-minded groups who desire change and want freedom, independence and a kick-ass lifestyle.

Josh Shaffer (32), Josh works for Accenture in Talent Acquisition.

Podcast Transcript

Gert: Yeah I have a request could everybody say their age so that I have an idea about that.

Dan: Mathew, what is your age?

Mathew: I’m 33.

Dan: Gert.

Gert: 46.

Dan: Alix

Alix: I’m 32.

Dan: Anastasia.

Anastasia: 28

Dan: Josh Shaffer.

Josh: I just turned 32.

Dan: That’s everybody I believe. And I am 47. So we have two generations exactly…. I love the sound of the street noise in the background, Mathew. It adds a nice ambience to the call.

Mathew: Great.

Gert: It’s quiet in India I have to say.

Dan: Yeah… I’ll throw this out to you, Mathew.

Mathew: Yes.

Dan: And thank you very much for joining us.

Mathew: Thank you too.

Dan: How well would a company perform in your opinion if every employee had a real voice or say in what to produce, how to produce it, where to produce it, and what to do with the profits?

Mathew: The company’s performance would be very high, because this question really points to the areas that have a deficiency at the moment in organizations. I think if we have from bottom to the top level democratic principles happening in the organization then definitely productivity and the quality will go up so that is my personal view.

Dan: Ok. Does anybody have anything to say about what Mathew just said?

Gert: No. That’s his opinion.

Dan: No, I know. Well, yeah… Do you…

Alix: … his opinion…

Dan: Okay..

Alix: I personally support what he said because I just think that the more the individual members of an organization have a voice the more they feel like they matter and then they’ll have more energy and more inspiration and motivation to be working on what they are producing because it will feel like it’s their own creation and they are not working just for somebody else’s vision. You know people start to feel like they’re slaves to an organization when they don’t have a voice at all.

Dan: That makes sense. But what do you…

Alix: That’s my…

Dan: That’s your…

Alix: personal…

Mathew: Voice… each member’s voice if you are taking into considerations then that will be more dynamic, more productive, and more contributing to the organization, and encouraging for each member of the organization.

Dan: Mathew, have you worked for an organization that operates in that way?

Mathew: I haven’t. I haven’t.

Dan: In your opinion in the organizations in which you have worked in which of those aspects is the most lacking would you say?

Mathew: I think obviously it is related to what to do with the profit. That is the area [where] we don’t have any say at all because we may produce a lot more than we are getting, and also we don’t know what is the amount and how and what they are going to spend on. So those kind of areas are really really very important here. Yeah, yeah.

Dan: mmmhmm… mmmmhmm

Alix: Well I have… I would like to pause here and say, Mathew, the way that we run our organization is pretty much like that though.

Mathew: Yes, yes. Definitely. That is correct.

Dan: Okay to give some background here. Alix and Mathew work together and have their own non-profit organization. Just for the rest of you to have some background there.

Gert: Okay.

Dan: So ummm…

Alix: Non-profit but we are also building another commercial venture as well, and so.. Yeah… We run both of those organizations in that manner.

Dan: That’s great.

Josh: I think as soon as you add a little more information about what does the organization look like you will get vastly different answers to that question.

Gert: I think so too.

Alix: Hmmm…

Josh: In a company of 5, 10, 30 people you know democracy rules, and I think you can move very fast and very effective that way. What if the company has 300,000 people? You couldn’t vote on everything so at some point you have to have decision makers who hopefully have their position because they are incredibly decisive and and they make just very quick decisions and allow the company to move forward otherwise you can get gridlocked.

Dan: Well there are large… I mean some of the links that I shared of the Mondragon Cooperative, the international Mondragon Cooperative, in the Basque Region of Spain, and I believe they are a multinational organization with a network of cooperatives around the world, and they may have about that many employees and they have turnover in the billions annually, and it is a democratic organization. So it is possible. There are examples of these types of organizations at scale.

Gert: But Dan, are they producing or are they delivering services?

Dan: Both… They have banks.. They have a university. They manufacture white-goods. They are big into software and computers. It’s like a holding company, I guess, you could say.

Alix: And how many people did you say are in their organization?

Dan: Let me look that up. Anastasia, yes please.

Anastasia: ahhh…

Dan: Anastasia: Yeah…

Anastasia: So kind of a little background on me is that I am a Millennial and I help businesses understand the Millennial mindset on a worldwide platform. But the thing about this question that’s pretty interesting is that Millennials and how the economy is really moving ahead and what businesses are starting to catch on just like the one that you are talking about, Dan, in Spain is that they are starting to have more of a collaborative culture instead of more of a hierarchical culture. So I’m actually coming on board with the company that they do this thing called the Chord of Three. It’s a molecular structure not like a pyramid, where there’s a hierarchy of people that make the decisions. What they do is that they are like this company in Spain. They want the whole workforce to have a say, to have a point of view, because they feel like if you have a point of view and you’re able to voice that that adds to creativity that adds to more brainstorming and as such with that idea of letting one person start with that that idea or brainstorming this starts to spread and starts to catch on and hey this is a great idea. But having that say and putting that into a database which we are able to do today as we were not able to do 30 years ago, such as an online database, businesses are starting to be heard more and these ideas are starting to spread faster. Brainstorming, mind storming, and all these awesome creative ideas are starting to flourish because of that profits skyrocket because you got a kind of think a company that has say 30 people you can have some movement but what if a company has 300,000 people that’s a movement within the company itself and a population that agrees on something. And that reflects a lot of what Joe Schmoe you know out in the world actually believes in so it’s more of a collaborative community of creativity than one of hierarchy and ego you know and decision-makers, and in that sense you are creating more of that community aspect than you are of separation.

Alix: Hmmmm.

Dan: Well I think Dawna is not on the call call but one of the things that she emphasizes a lot is that the problem is not necessarily hierarchy. It’s actually how power is distributed in the hierarchy. So you can actually have a hierarchical organization but if the collaboration and communication is very fluid up and down the rank and across departments, it actually can be democratic. I mean for example the Mondragon Corporation it is a hierarchical organization. However, the employees actually hire and fire their managers their leaders and their bosses. But I got some information on the number of employees at this organization. They’ve been around since 1956. It was founded by a Catholic priest in the area shortly after the end of the Spanish Civil War. And they had 74,000+ employees at the end of 2014 in 257 companies, and organizations in four areas of activity – finance, industry, retail, and knowledge. So…

Gert: Yeah that’s not a company that’s a corporation.

Dan: So yeah and the fact that they’re operating as a cooperative enterprise, as a democratic enterprise, is quite fascinating at that size.

Alix: Hmmm..

Gert: I agree but I don’t think you can say that that is one company. That’s an agglomeration of companies.

Alix: A conglomerate.

Dan: So are you suggesting that there’s a natural limiting factor. So for example each of these companies in this conglomeration cannot probably be bigger than 300 employees or something of this nature then this particular model may breakdown. Is that what you’re getting at, Gert?

Gert: No, no.. I’m just.. If we speak of just one company you have one entity in one location as soon as you speak of a company located in different countries then you speak of something more like a corporation. I mean that’s how I see it. You need a different structure for guidance if the affiliates are spread across the globe. If it’s all in one location it’s much easier to have a fluid and Dynamic structure. It’s like a micro organism. If the cells are joined together then you have one part if they are separate entities then you have different ways of communication so you need different ways of guidance and how can I.. you know what I mean?

Dan: Yeah, Governance..

Gert: Yeah, governance, yeah…

Dan: So the governance within one of their entities, these are probably cells once they come up with the rules to make one cell they operate in that way and then they create another cell, what I’m talking about is a cell is a company and then they have some method of communicating between these cells or companies that operate similarly in much the same way I think that Anastasia was talking about with the organization with which she’s familiar.

Gert: Yes, that’s what I mean. I tend to agree with what Josh said. I think it depends on size. The bigger the organization the more hierarchy that you will need. That’s what I mean.

Dan: Have any of you worked in an organization that that had a hierarchy like you had some comparison. You worked in one organization that had a hierarchy and another organization that had a hierarchy and yet the power distribution was different in the hierarchy of these two organizations. Have any of you had that experience?

Alix: You mean different in terms of More democratic Or Just in anyway?

Dan: Well I guess when you talk about distribution of power, one could look at it in this way and say the more the power is distributed throughout the organization the more the employees are empowered I guess you could say that the more the organization is democratic and the more that the power is concentrated at the top the less democratic it is.

Gert: Yes.

Anastasia: ahhhmmm

Dan: Does anybody have experience with a similar organizational structure but because communication and collaboration and empowerment were different it had a very different feel?

Gert: I have only worked for top down companies. I have not worked in fluid type structures… I have never been able to participate in them.

Dan: Well that’s not exactly the question I’m asking, Gert.

Gert: Ok.

Dan: What I am asking is a scenario where the structure is the same. So you’re looking at company in your experience. Look back at your experience. You’ve worked a company A. It had a hierarchical pyramid structure. And then you worked at company B, and it had a hierarchical pyramid structure. But in comparing these two organizations perhaps one was more political, one was less political, and power was distributed, meaning there was some effort, some real effort, to give employees empowerment. Have any of you experienced something of that nature?

Josh: Yeah, I have not

Alix: Well I personally… okay this is not related to the corporate world, but I’ve lived and worked in several Ashrams which are like yogic communities which do produce both goods and services. They’re generally nonprofit oriented but they are run with very little hierarchy in comparison to the corporate world, for example. There is normally a head and there is normally some kind of a hierarchy but it’s highly democratic because it’s a community with the people living together.

Dan: Interesting. Do you that it would be possible to extend that into the type of workplaces that we are familiar with on this call or would that only work in the context of people living together in an Ashram?

Alix: Well not only do I think it is possible but I think that it is critical for eventually humanity to move toward that kind of the structure. It may take, I don’t know, 10 or hundreds of years to get to that point but I think that in order for our economic workforce system to not collapse I think that eventually it’s going to move in that direction.

Gert: I think so too.

Dan: Anastasia, do you have any thoughts on know what Alix just said there?

Anastasia: No, sounds pretty good.

Dan: We’re going with that. We’re going with that. Josh, do you have any comments on Alix’s perspective there?

Josh: Yeah, I think it sounds wonderful but I think I think we can’t ignore some of the unsavory facts about human nature that make it something that we’ll probably never see in our lifetimes.

Dan: And what are some of these unsavory facts of human nature?

Josh: Oh well.. You know there is an unlimited list probably. You know it’s tough. I mean I don’t know anything about an Ashram but it sounds like it’s probably a community of like-minded people which allows them to further their collective agenda and it enriches all of them and.. You know once you start sizing that up you probably start running out of like-minded people. You may start having people that aren’t interested in you know I don’t know working as hard or they don’t have the vision or it’s just. Organizations don’t necessarily exist for power. There are certain things an organization. Organizations that maybe developed people with certain skills like let’s say, Dan, you are like, you are able to make the quickest decisions, we would put you in that chair, and I’m able, you know, to fold the most envelopes so I would be in that production seat, and eventually you develop an organization. So I guess I don’t know. I guess for me I’ve never worked in that environment so it’s In the abstract for me, so it’s hard to understand. I’ve always worked in top-down structures.

Alix: Well it’s interesting because there is typically a critical mass of approximately 300 people within a community type setting Or at least that’s what the statistic show. However, there are networks of these communities. There might be one general vision and there would be several communities around the world like in Greece or in Brazil and in the US there are several of them. They are a community of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people but they are split up into different smaller communities and have sub-visions that they work on in their local environments.

Dan: Well there’s an example of this that I was talking about in one of my earlier podcasts. It’s a network of social entrepreneurs and they’re based in Wellington, New Zealand. They’re called Enspiral. That’s E N S P I R A L. They are a lot of Internet based businesses and each of these businesses agrees to be part of this network and what’s very interesting about it is if one of these entities, because they agreed become part of this, if anybody, any one of these organizations experiences economic hard times, and they perhaps need to lay off, those individuals within that particular organization, because they belong and contribute to this network, the network will try to find a job for them in one of these other companies within the network, as an example and Mondragon has a similar process. So one of the goals of Mondragon and also this Enspiral organization, these cooperative organizations is that it is not just about maximizing profit they are also about maximizing employment.

Anastasia: This reminds me of the company that I will be coming onboard with. The reason why I am saying this is because it’s fresh in my mind. I talked to their HR people-and-process guy and we interviewed each other for really about an hour and a half. It was really interesting because talking to him about how he approached the problem that really Josh had talked about is that there is human nature involved and there are people who kind of feel that they could lack in certain areas in a certain job and other people are going to have to work harder and all that stuff, and I asked him actually that because of the structure and he replied with a beautiful answer that I completely agree with, is that if you have a system and process in place within the company or organization to where people can have fluidity, meaning that if they are in a position that isn’t really fulfilling them and they don’t feel like they are fulfilling their purpose and their skills aren’t really being used that they want to use them then move them to an area that they would fit best and having that fluidity within the people that are working in the company or organization. Do you highlight people skills and passions as opposed to just sticking them in an area because they had the degree and so having fluidity it really opens up creativity again and also opens up people feeling like they have that say and they’re able to move if they want to to an area that is more fulfilling for them.

Dan: That’s interesting. And yeah I can see that the structure put in place to achieve this fluidity would be a similar structure, a similar communication structure, between the entities within this network where one is seeking maximum employment for a community of members.

Anastasia: Yeah.

Dan: It’s also about seeking, with what you’re talking about, Anastasia, seeking maximum alignment of purpose, of life purpose with your occupation, I guess.

Anastasia: Yeah and the reason why executive team members or the company itself want to do this is because when people feel like they’re fulfilling that purpose, their skills, and what they are great at, what they would like to do they feel like they succeed and based off of their progress and productivity from that the company succeeds. So it’s a win-win.

Dan: Anastasia is in Denver. Is this a Denver based organization?

Anastasia; Yeah this is a Denver based Organization. They are doing a lot of restructuring and implementing new products So they’re kind of having like a revamp lunch around the end of the year. So you’ll probably be hearing about Elios Group here coming in December or January.

Dan: Great.

Alix: I think Anastasia is right on target and I just wanted to add one more thing to either what Josh or Gert said, something about the inherent like human flaw In all of this For instance that some people might Just be lazy and not want to do anything and kind of mooch and piggyback on the other people in the organization and what happens in a yoga Ashram setting is that these people are even included. They’re given some kind of special care, and we could just call it like counseling if you will, and that becomes kind of like their job until they have found their own direction. So I’ve actually seen some Ashrams with people who a recovering addicts or people that are recovering from long-term illnesses like cancer. And even those people are admitted into the organization and they’re considered to be just as important to it as everyone else. So it takes into consideration that some people may have a lot more energy than they need to to be productive and that extra energy that they have is funneled back into making those people that are weaker thrive or begin to thrive or to find their focus

Dan: Well it’s interesting that you bring that up, Alix. But one could argue as well, that’s an excellent point, but one can argue that some of our human pathologies in our current system are not punished as weaknesses like laziness for example but they could be rewarded by giving somebody who’s a pathological narcissist and this person becomes the CEO of the organization or they are power hungry and they become the dictator of basically corporations which are private tyrannies in essence so when they have the power, how do we, how how does the community, how would an Ashram, or an Ashram like company deal with something of that nature?

Alix: An entire book could be written on that to be honest.

Dan: I’m sorry I have crappy questions.

Gert: No, it was a good question, Dan.

Alix: No, it’s a very good question, and it is very relevant as well. I’ve been in Ashram situations where even so… so there are five core social ethics that are key to yoga – non-greed, nonviolence, non-stealing, truth, and unconditional love. And everyone that goes into these communities kind of knows that and they somehow pledge to live by these values. However when you actually get into these closed situations, you see a lot of bureaucracy and bickering and internal politics start to happen anyway so there does need to be some kind of a checks and balances system even though it is what I like to call a quasi anarchy, because it is getting to the level of a government-less type of organization, there does need to be some kind of checks and balances and normally that will take place. I mean an ashram typically is born because you have someone that has a vision that will put in a lot of effort to build some kind of a space around that vision where people can come in so normally those checks and balances come then when the head of the Ashram, or the visionary, will start to talk to the members. They have what is called a Satsang which is a discussion of topics and so normally the visionary will come in and talk to the members and it kind of works it self out but yeah there’s no real getting away from our human nature. So it is always going to be little problems.

Dan: Which comes back to the concerns that Josh had so there are clearly organizations which are operating at different ends of this extreme and there is some kind of management or self-selection or something of that nature that causes one to be in maybe a very healthy functional environment versus a very dysfunctional environment and my understanding of what you were kind getting at, Josh, with regard to that.

Josh: I mean that’s you know what she was mentioning about some squabbles and bureaucracy. And kind of things showing up. It’s just the nature of our personalities. It’s kind of how we interact. Yes, to answer your question. Yeah.

Dan: It’s interesting.. I have never been to an Ashram but I did a 10-day Vipassana sit and I remember when I was looking into it and was watching some videos. There were some discussions where people were doing their solitary meditation they were in a solitary room meditating and after the event had occurred you’re allowed to start talking and there’s a vow of silence that you have to take when you go into these communities and somebody asked what was going on with that guy in the next room. It was like all this violence with chairs being thrown around and all this noise. And the person siad that that the person was an arms dealer, and they were sorting through all that personal responsibility for all of all the death and destruction they caused in their life…

Alix: mmmmmm

Dan: and they were sorting through that. And this kind of speaks a little bit, I guess, to what Alix was talking about how even the people who have, as Josh was referring to, some of these human foibles they have a place in the community. It’s just a question on how does the community deal with somebody of that nature. Do they put them in power or do they treat them or do they nurture them and help them? I don’t know. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Alix: Well Mathew might have something to say about that because he lived in an Ashram for seven years.

Dan: Wow.

Alix: Matthew are you there?

Mathew: Yeah I lived in an Ashram for seven years and part of my time I was there I did a lot of studies and philosophical studies, and spirituality, and western philosophy, and studies. And basically it is an acetic life and we didn’t have any kind of entertainment of that sort in the outside world. I mean there is entertainment. There there are sports, but we are still much more silent and silence and learning like that and the situations. But I feel that the organization is actually much more …. I didn’t get to understand the hierarchical structure and how they run the things and stuff like that I didn’t get get a lot of insight into that because I was in multiple locations during my studies but I had a kind of very good experience there and I felt it is quite a lot of encouraging to develop my abilities and my capacity and all of those things because I was put into a situation where a kind of atmosphere was so much encouraging me to take initiative of myself and do something of myself and come with the kind of high-energy to share with the other members of the community. So it was very interesting for me there but I think of the power structure in the Ashram where I was, there was really a political power structure there, and was strong power at the center, and I didn’t like it.

Dan: So it’s not necessarily an idea with regard to power distributions in Ashrams. Ashrams can be quite autocratic, I guess you could say.

Alix: Yeah, there are many different models. It really depends on the vision that the Ashram was built around.

Dan: There’s been a lot of talk with regard to how important a mission is to Millennials, that they feel they have an impact. And so my question is this: How important is it to you that your organization has a mission to address social, political, environmental, or economic crises, and a mission that powerfully moves you?

Anastasia: It’s pretty paramount actually. The reason being that I’ve worked as an intern for my university when I was going there to get my degree, which I do not use. And I worked as a manager for a liquor store. I was doing archaeology, and now I’m running my own business, and now I’m coming on board this company as a consultant, which is probably the most exciting thing for me, not necessarily starting my business but coming on board with this upcoming company that I’ve talked about because it has such a social impact. Now to kind of put this into perspective from what I understand from most Millennials, at least, is that we all saw 911 happen live, and the majority of us have also experienced the 2008 crash where we saw our parents losing their homes or we saw corporations take away pensions and all this crap that really happened. Instead of feeling like we want to go and work for the big man and work the 9 to 5 and then retire at the normal age, and finally live life we’re at this point where it’s like I have friends from across the world in India like Matthew. I have friends in Africa that I talk to you on a daily basis, and I want them to succeed. I want them to do well. We are no longer in this world where we are just in our local identity or even our national identity, we are a global identity. And we care for them. We are in a global environment. So having this connectivity stemming from events of 9/11 and the 2008 crash. And now with access to the Internet, we are really feeling like we are part of something. We want to do good. We don’t just want to work like our parents and grandparents did, respectively. We don’t want to work that 9 to 5 job only to retire and live life. We want to live life now and make an impact now and we don’t want to wait.

Dan: Thank you. That’s very interesting. Josh, what would be your opinion? Any thoughts on what Anastasia said? Or how important is it to you for an organization to have a strong mission – social political, environmental, or economic?

Josh: Anastasia touched on some great things. 9/11 live. I mean I was in a Spanish class when that happened, when the second plane hit the building that definitely shaped you. The financial collapse. That was the year that I graduated from collegeIn 2008. Right then. It was like.. So those are huge hot buttons for me. Definitely it shaped me. I think Anastasia’s views are a good summation of what you’re going to find in the Millennial mindset out there. Not necessarily wanting to work the 9 to 5, or you know put in the number of years and retire in the 60s like a lot of our parents and family baby boomer generation. But I also think we’re going see a lot of those views change and alter as Millennials age and start families, who they will support. So kind of your lens on life when you’re single is vastly different than your lens on life when let’s say when you get married, have children, and even if none of those things happen and maybe you have to support a grandparent or your parents later in your life. It definitely alters what you’re working for and why you’re working hard. I think we all want to work for organizations that have a mission and are trying to do good things. I certainly don’t.. I’m certainly not interested in putting in any bad or negativity out into the world but I would say it’s not hugely important to me. I mean I don’t want to work for organization that’s like dumping toxic waste into our rivers. But I also don’t think I would refusing an offer for employment if they didn’t have a robust social program.

Dan: Well I’m not talking about… there’s a difference between, and this is something that in my experience working for corporations, the quote social program or environmental program which were sort of Band-Aids put on there. It’s like we’re a corporate law firm and our clients are big banks and health insurance companies and we protect them from lawsuits against the little guys but we have this little volunteer program where you can go out and we’ll pay for you to volunteer your time and your services , like 20 hours a year or something like that. I’m not sure that’s really the same an organization that is having a true mission, that’s trying to have a difference in the world. Do you have any thoughts on that Alix?

Alix: Well that’s actually another thing that I am writing a book on – the mission. I mean I was kind of born with a sense of mission. I was kind of born with the sensation that I had a mission and I kind of quit my academic career to focus on that mission. And even now I have a baby and I integrate him into my mission. I just feel like to me sometimes I start my job search for looking for a full-time or part-time job and I don’t ever really get far because I just feel like if a job doesn’t have a mission that is completely aligned with my own I actually just have a breakdown after a few weeks. I just don’t feel like I’m authentic enough and I feel like I’m doing things that don’t fulfill me at all personally. I feel like having the mission is the most important thing in my life and this might mean that I’m living in a relative state of poverty at one moment and at another moment I may be traveling the world wearing my Ray bans and that’s okay. It doesn’t even really matter anymore what my social economic state is as long as I feel like I’m working towards my mission every single day So that’s the very abridged version of my answer on that’s what’s

Dan: Interesting. Gert, any thoughts on any of those statements so far?

Gert: Well I can relate to what Alix said. And for me as well the mission, I mean as an employee that’s probably what I’m probably going to end up with, I want to have a real feeling of purpose. The mission of the company, if it’s hypocritical, if it’s a hypocritical mission like we’re going to produce product X to make Y amounts of money, that’s not fulfilling to me. That does not aid in my vision of what I want to contribute to the world. I want to aid in humanity and I think I won’t aid humanity by creating profit for somebody else.

Dan: This is very interesting and I’m wondering. I have two thoughts here and I’m going to throw out to the group the first thought. Do you think there’s something radically different about this generation that’s overwhelmingly choosing mission over income or do you think that this is a reaction to prior generations being solely focused on profit, and an attempt at the global consciousness to rebalance an imbalance from previous generations?

Gert: For me it’s the latter for me personally it is a reaction. I’ve worked for NASDAQ corporations. I’ve worked for German stock exchange listed corporations and it’s not fulfilling. I mean somebody tells me what I have to do in order for that person to gain a more positional status and profit for people that I don’t even know. That does not bring me a personal merit. I may feel fulfilled in the job that I perform as an individual but it doesn’t give me any extra dimension of contribution.

Dan: Mathew, do you have any comments on what Gert just said?

Mathew: Yeah. Just to feel that the current generation, the Millennials, definitely have a kind of a mission oriented and meaning oriented life that they are wishing for. I think that is true because of the information age tt opened up their different areas of the mind and creativity and different possibilities that they can have. So definitely this is an age that we are moving towards for meaningful growth. And we see the politics and we see that the economic situation is not aligned with this kind of growth. And in that way it is a reaction. Yes, yes. Definitely it is a reaction. Always I think that it is much more on people’s ability to learn and information that they’ve gained from internet, and their studies and travel and everything and what they have gained through that kind of information converted it into a kind of meaning and they want to convert all of those things into a meaningful outcome and productivity but it is not possible in any organization. Because when I go to work in an organization I see that I have much more productivity then what they wanted to be done. But I cannot do with that company. So I am dissatisfied there. So I’m looking for somewhere where I can put my whole being into a place or an organization where are all my being is valued. And I don’t want that in terms of money in fact. I don’t want that in terms of money. We want to be acknowledged and valued very greatly so that we can feel very respected. We can feel meaningful. That is what I’m looking for.

Gert: Yeah, so do I.

Mathew: Yeah.

Dan: This is very very interesting. What is one of the things that I’ve noticed in the job market is that a lot of our manufacturing has been sent to other countries, and so early in my career I was in electronics and then when I was in China I got into manufacturing there and now that I’ve come back to the States it seems like more and more of the jobs, particularly in technology, are somehow finance related. It’s like the entire economy is about dealing with credit card debt, credit card fraud, working at a bank or working at a law firm or a health insurance company. This is just shifting numbers around to the benefit of a few.

Gert: Exactly.

Dan: There’s nothing of substance. What is any of this doing for our local communities or our friends and family? You go to work to get the paycheck and that then perhaps helps your local community and everything but what you’re contributing to is not a system that’s helping anyone in my opinion. It’s likely harming the middle class and the working class rather than helping it.

Gert: I agree.

Dan: Yeah.

Alix: And one thing that we’re definitely, in the last 10 years, 5 to 10 years, we’ve seen a lot of startups happening. Small groups of friends, especially on the west coast near Silicon Valley, living in what are called hacker houses. Everybody’s living in this little house. And they’re creating their own products together and it may be a group of 3 to 10 people and then they actually create their own company. And things like that we’re seeing a lot more than we did in the generation of the Gen-Xers. Because I think a lot of people do have their own vision. As Matthew was saying there’s a lot more resources available to us because of technology access. There are 3-D printers that are available in libraries in some places and resources are just starting started to be readily available to lots of people. And I really think that people are trickling out [lost the phone connection here]

Dan: You just sent out a message to the group, Gert. Several global surveys show that 70% of employees are disengaged. What we are discussing right now is to Gert’s opinion the reason why there is disengagement. I’m going to take a time check here. We’re right now over our scheduled allotted time. Should we wind this up now?

Gert: I thought it was becoming interesting.

Dan: It is becoming interesting. The question is though: like Josh can you stay on for a bit longer?

Josh: Yeah, I have some time?

Dan: Does everybody else have another 15 minutes or half hour?

Everyone: Yes.

Dan: Great great. Josh, do you have any thoughts on where the conversations been going nny reflections on the…?

Josh: It’s tough. There are Definitely some people on the call who have had some different experiences than me so I’m having a hard time relating. As I said earlier a lot of it is in the abstract. I’ve always worked, you know. I started in as an intern school and since then I’ve always worked in top-down companies of various sizes and some of those had no mission, some had missions that were just opportunities to advertise. My current company I think has a mix of a real mission and some that are just wanting their name out there. And I’m kind of.. I’m thinking through that as were discussing to determine how that affects me and has it had an effect on my level of fulfillmentIn my job and what do I value. So I’m doing a little bit of self learning as we’re talking and I’m hearing everyone else’s opinion and insights.

Dan: That’s great that’s great

Alix: Gert, are you the 47-year-old or are you the 32-year-old? I didn’t get a feel if you are in our generation or are you in the the next generation, the older one.

Gert: Well my body is 46, but perhaps my mind is millennial.

Alix: I guess I was talking to Josh the one who was just saying that he was having a self learning experience.

Josh: Oh yeah I’m 32. So I’m an early Millennial.

Alix: So you’re our generation. You are a Millennial.

Josh: Correct

Anastasia: I would like to highlight something that Josh did say though. That is working for a corporation is that pitch that they are helping to commit community or something like that. That they’re helping the community and you’re having some form of social impact but they aren’t and it’s interesting because I saw one of the Ignite Talks here in Denver last month and there was a girl there that popped up on stage and she was a marketing guru for a bunch of different companies. And she actually talked about that, about how Dove and Dawn soap. How they have these big campaigns to empower women or to help the environment but if you really look at the numbers that they’re not transparent, and they’re not authentic about their actual mission, and social impact. And that’s a huge thing about Millennials working for a company is that we really want to know the authenticity and the transparency and the integrity of the companies and if they’re actually authentic, and if what they actually say is true.

Gert: That’s correct

Dan: That’s very interesting. This was one of my questions actually, Anastasia, that you lead right into. I think this was a great follow-up, I mean the question being: Have you ever worked for an organization that touts, promotes or advertises a great culture and mission and how well did it match up, and if it didn’t match up, did you lose respect for them? Would it have been better for example for them for them to have been just straight with you and for them to have just said we’re not really this great culture and we don’t really have this great mission and this is who we really are?

Can I pick up on that one?

Dan: Sure.

Gert: In my personal professional experience each and every company, except for the first one that I worked for, and that was in the music industry so that’s a different thing, all the companies that I worked for they had brilliant marketing lingo about who they were and what they did and what they wanted to accomplish but it was just on paper. It didn’t mean anything and that’s where I got disengaged with what they hypocritically said their goal was. I didn’t see it like that because their behavior was contradictory to what they had put on paper.

Dan: Would you have respected them more, if they had written down who they truly were?

Gert: Absolutely absolutely.

Dan: Josh, I know you said you’re digesting a lot of this, a lot of these ideas but would you respect a company that was honest about where they were with with regard to culture and mission?

Josh: Yeah absolutely. It makes it a lot easier to deal with and like Gert said when you work somewhere and particularly when you first engage the company in the on boarding process that’s when they take the time to tell you their mission statement, maybe their five core values and all that stuff so you hear these things and then six months later 12 months later you worked there and you see these things are not real. The one I see I would say something that I see a lot of companies like to tout their core values their 3, 5, 7 core values. They build these cool pyramids that you put on your desk. Everyone is supposed to respect these values and the one I always see is meritocracy. Every company wants to present themselves as upholding meritocracy. But in every company that I’ve been in I haven’t seen companies that hold that value true. Nepotism wins over meritocracy in every instance that I’ve seen. You know I’ve seen in the past and to an extent currently so yeah if the company would really really think about their core values, present them as they are, and stick to them it would settle better with everyone. I don’t think it’s a Millennial thing I think it’s.. I think it becomes almost a matter of trust.

Alix: Hmmm…

Gert: Yes. That’s the word Josh.

Dan: I agree. What about if they presented them as aspirational values? What if they said, what if they presented it as these are our true values, our aspirational values are are at a higher level, and we are maybe 10% of the way there? What if they did something like that?

Josh: Yeah, I think that would be cool. You know here’s what we’re driving towards. Help us to reach these values.

Dan: mmhmm

Anastasia: I think a lot of that comes down to what was discussed a little bit earlier, having that the people and process in place to identify what your culture is. And what you are aspiring to be because if you don’t define that people don’t understand. If you don’t have a team, whether that’s HR or something else to identify what that culture is, to maintain that culture, to do checks and balances, to see if there’s like a pod in the company that’s that’s really creating a subculture that’s outside of those values – are they addressing that or are they just being lazy? So having those checks and balances and making sure that people are on track with it, that we are moving with it as a community and a team is helpful, and it gets people to feel like they’re in a community, and they are working together towards a better environment for them as a whole.

Dan: Interesting… I want to go back to Josh. And hopefully I’m not putting him in an uncomfortable position with this question. But, Josh, you work in talent acquisition, correct? I mean we didn’t go around and do full introductions here so you’re trying to get people to come and join your company, correct?

Josh: Yes.

Dan: And so as part of that do you find yourself in an ethical paradox at times when you’re presenting the company to prospective employees?

Josh: Currently no but in the past absolutely.

Dan: Interesting. Matthew, do you have any thoughts on this the alignment of what the company says they’re about, and the reality of what they’re about.

Mathew: I am not associated with big corporations so most of the time the voices of business is coming from out of big corporations voices. So I may not be able to give an opinion on that. But still I think a lot of organizations don’t have that kind of…There is a disparity between that needed projection, what the company wants to have projected and what is happening in reality with the company. There is a huge disparity because they are not able to position themselves in alignment with that concept. So it is very clear that that is the reason that people are not happy with the organizations because if that disparity is happening in the organization there is no order there, because there is no purpose there. That is the reason. So we can say more then 50 to 60 or 70 percent of the organizations are of that sort, and a majority of the people working will be working with that organization will be disengaged, dissatisfied, and not having that purpose. So definitely they are really looking for alternatives at this moment. That’s what I feel

Dan: People are looking for what? I I didn’t hear what you said. I didn’t hear that last bit. People are looking for…

Mathew: Alternative options, where they can really voice their democratic rights, individual growth, and integrity and things like that.

Gert: Yeah that’s true.

Dan: Do You have a follow-up question, Gert?

Gert: No. No. I have just been following Douglas Coland for over a year now and I’ve read each and every text that he is written in the last three or four years, and that is exactly what his message is about. You need to have first a personal purpose and from that personal purpose you need to work towards your goal and if that is not in line with the company you want to work for, even if it’s your own business or as an employee, there will be a misfit in the long run and you cannot maintain your dedication and motivation, if there’s no minimum amount of overlap with that, and that’s exactly what Matthew says.

Dan: Alright here’s the next question. Josh, if you were founding or cofounding an organization how would you design the new workplace?

Josh: Oh that’s how I guess that’s huge question.

Dan: I love huge questions.

Josh: It depends on what I’m trying to get done.

Dan: What’s a passion of yours? Let’s throw that out to make it interesting. What kind of product or service inspires you? Let’s say I’m giving you enough money to found an organization dedicated to that.

Josh: Oh man that is huge. I guess my hearts probably in farming, agriculture. Probably in some way to empower local farmers I think would get me excited because the world’s ability to produce food is huge. The more food we can produce the better off we are. I guess the more food we can produce per unit of work the better off we are to pursue other tasks like enriching society because food is the foundation and I don’t have any idea what that company would look like. You’ve stumped me.

Dan: Okay. That’s fair enough. We can come back to you if some additional thoughts come to youI can move on that’s…

Josh: OK

Dan: OK. Anastasia, let’s throw that out to you.

Anastasia: Well I will go off the working with this company here as a consultant. There are three phases. The phase of figuring out the big picture. The phase of figuring out the big foundation of all this. Why are we doing what we’re doing? And in what industry? So Josh was in farming. For me it would be more personal development but personal development and how is that going to help the world and why. The biggest question of all – why. And relying on that why. The second phase would be and how are we going to do this for the world and what are the systems that we’re going to put in place to have that to be effective and profitable so that we can make enough money to give it back. And the third would be how are we going to distinguish where we are going and what are culture is, and how people can tap into that to create the best them, the best you. Hey come on board to make the best profitable company to do the most good. So that there are three phases. What are we going to do with the world? What industry and why? How we’re going to do that with systems and processes in place? And what kind of mission and culture are we wanting people to get on board with?

Dan: Alright.

Anastasia: Does that answer your question?

Dan: I think it does a great job of answering my question. Yes, thank you. This is kind of a joint question for Alix and Matthew. Because I think you’re involved together in a lot of venture creation. Is that correct?

Alix: So where do we start? We have the number one ambition to create more harmony in the world. And so the way that we do this in the first place is that we’re creating an educational nonprofit. So we actually have the website that we’re building with a wiki in it. We have a blog and then now we have our own talk show every Sunday. So that’s the educational part of it. And that has the intention of raising awareness and self-awareness. Because we feel that the number one way to cure all of the problems in the world is to generate awareness and self-realization. So we have that main focus. However, of course, what comes is that we need funding so what we have done is spawned as a result of our collaboration to start satellite projects that are moving along. Sometimes one is moving faster than the other and the other one is put on backlog. And we kind go back and forth between those projects and those are funding platforms. As well we have begun a charitable initiative that once we develop some kind of a track record we may be able to get some grants fund us as well. We’re also developing a project to develop a new form of economy, a gift economy. So we can talk about this for a really long time. But yeah we believe that awareness comes first and then after that we want to give energy to projects that make us thrive as individuals…

Dan: But I guess the question, Alix, is more in the sense of now that we know what you want to do how do you wish to organize these ventures or these institutes or these educational ventures?

Alix: So Matthew might be better to talk about that than me but let me just say that first of all our main goal is to eventually maybe in about I don’t know 10 to 30 years down the line have a community where we will be able to house all of these projects. And it’s a very organic from my perspective you know. I guess you used the term before that there are very Liquid Organizations then there are very structured organizations. I am personally much more than that. I am more than liquid I am etheric. I have a vision that I’ve written down, that some of my other members, who see my vision who are a bit more structured. They help me to structure that. We use a project workspace online and we all seize documents to put down our plan etc. but it’s constantly evolving. Matthew may want to talk a little bit more about the structure because I am really the visionary and I don’t really have much of a structure. It just kind of happens naturally and organically from my perspective. Matthew?

Mathew: Yeah, yeah.

Dan: Interesting.

Mathew: Just to give you a general idea about our organizational structure, the organization Advancement Civilization Effort that we are trying to build up is a nonprofit organization which will give the highest graph of anybody who wants to be part of us. Our aim is that of individual growth. That it can be the highest of possible in this world. That we have seen a lot of personalities who we wanted to be, that we read about in books and we wanted to create a personality of that sort in our organization. That is what I’m talking about, the highest graph of individuals. This is what ACE is all about. Then at the moment we wanted to structure the organization. We have that aim for a profit venture, and that profit adventure is completely.. that money will be converted for the development of our structural establishment. So we have a company called ACE Connection. We have just initiated the process of constructing the company which will include the structure, which will be a consulting company. And we wanted to give service to the outside businesses in terms of HR services and in terms of software development, in terms of consulting and accounting and finance. And so these all financial areas are putting into a company and we are trying to generate income on that and that income we are using to fund for our fundamental aim for ACE. That is the current structure. In addition we are trying to gain outside funding from the government and other places to fund our organization.

Dan: Interesting. It sounds like Alix is sort of, by throwing out this vision in this very non-structured manner, it’s more about attracting and like-minded individuals to this effort in one sense. So it’s almost like a movement. In a structured sense it sounds a lot to me like it’s like setting a North Star that may appeal, that will appeal, to a certain segment of society. And people will be naturally attracted to that on the one hand and you, Matthew, you’re building an actual structure to support this movement in the real economy I guess. Interesting.

Alix: And there’s one other project. That’s kind of on the backlog and that’s Michelle, one of our other team members. That’s more of a scientific technological engineering artificial intelligence venture. He would be better to talk about that than me structure wise. Yeah, so we have a couple of different commercial things going on but yeah that’s exactly what you said. That’s kind of the way it is.

Dan: Gert, if you were to found or to cofound an organization how would you design it? You’ve clearly thought a good deal about the state these issues.

Gert: I’ve thought and read about it. I would go with what is said buy a lot of leadership consultants. The more flatline structure. Like I said at the beginning that obviously depends on the quantity of employees in the company. But that would be the way that I would want to organize a company. Top-down in my point of view has been tried. We see the results of that. Now it’s the top who is happy and the bottom who is, let’s say, rather unhappy. That only works for a certain percentage of a company and I think if I would found a company that would need to give satisfaction to every contributor. It sounds a bit socialistic or communist perhaps, but that’s how I feel a company should be run.

Dan: That’s interesting about what you just said there, Gert, and what Anastasia was talking about earlier. Anastasia you were talking about all these or Alex I can’t recall you were talking about all of these startups… I mean are happening all over the country. These incubators in Boulder, Colorado here and in New York City and in…

Anastasia: Are you speaking of the co-spaces?

Dan: Well I guess that sort of thing, but just people starting up their own ventures. There’re a lot of Millennials just saying that I can’t go the typical corporate route. Of course they are building a corporation it just happens to be a new corporation. But they’re starting some venture in San Francisco. Was that you, Anastasia, who brought that up?

Alix: That was me.

Dan: Oh, Alix. That was Alix. Well the interesting thing about that is that when these employees, when a lot of these employees start ventures in San Francisco or other places they’ve usually worked for a few years in one of these large corporations and then they say this is not for me. I can’t be creative here. I can’t do this. What they end up doing when they start up companies with five or six of their friends or five or six people that have complementary skill sets is that they’re essentially forming a commune. So most of these big corporations that are praised in the early days they are essentially communal organizations.

Gert: That’s true.

Dan: It’s really quite funny. And there’s all this talk about these communal organizations that they are not creative and they can’t create wealth, when in fact most of our most powerful organizations started that way and then they change into these hierarchical structures.

Gert: Yeah that’s true.

Alix: What’s interesting about is that the number of them that are happening. I mean obviously with hundreds or thousands of new startups coming up then essentially as they do grow into bigger corporations they are going to have less number then these big Monopoly Type companies because people will have to be more evenly distributed between the large number of start ups or corporations that are coming up. I don’t know how many people that I’ve met that have a startup, you know. And so there is kind of a limit. Obviously our population is growing as well so… but there’s going to be some kind of a limit to how big it can grow because of the number of corporations that are popping up.

Dan: Well most startups fail. I mean what is it? I don’t know if anybody has the numbers offhand but it’s a very small percentage of start ups that actually succeed most of them fail after a year or two.

Alix: Ha.

Dan: Yep. There are all kind of blogs, articles, and papers that talk about this. If you start a startup the chances of success are very very small. So you have to keep that in mind as well.

Alix: That may be. I Guess that may be true. I’ve met a few people that I have had their own business, businesses that didn’t work. But I’ve actually met a lot more people… maybe that’s just for some reason I meet successful people but in my personal experience I think that more of the people who do the startups end up actually succeeding.

Dan: Hmmm

Alix: So but that’s my personal, maybe that’s just my personal experience. You know I don’t know. You know you read numbers about how I don’t know this many people will have an asthma attack or have or a seizure or something like this every day and you never cross anyone on the street that’s having a seizure. So I don’t know those numbers sometimes seem a little bit off to me. I don’t know if they’re there actually polling the entire population or if they’re just polling certain populations, demographics, that represent the the numbers that they actually want to advertise you know.

Dan: Right.

Alix: I could be wrong.

Dan: No, no, and I could be wrong too.

Alix: I mean I just don’t know the validity of those statistics, you know.

Dan: Well any statistic needs to be questioned.

Gert: Exactly.

Alix: Yeah.

Dan: I’m just kind of throwing it out. Any thoughts at the moment?

Josh: Thanks for putting it together, Dan and Gert. And thanks.

Anastasia: This was fun.

Alix: Yeah, I just want to say thank you. This has been really interesting.

Dan: Thank you very much for taking your time out of your day everyone.

Gert: It’s been my pleasure.

Dan: And I really appreciate that. Josh, Matthew, we had somebody from India today, and Alix, and Anastasia, and Gert.

Gert: Happy to contribute.

Dan: Thank you very much. Well thank you everyone I don’t know who’s online still because….

Gert: We’re three.

Dan: We are three. Okay goodbye everybody. Sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye.

Gert: Goodbye to everyone too.

Alix: Goodbye.

Dan: Thank you very much, Mathew. Thank you very much, Alix.

Mathew: Thank you very much.

Alix: Thank you, Dan. Goodbye.

Dan: Bye bye.

Gert: Bye bye, Alix.


Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Alix, Mathew, Anastasia, Josh, and Gert!

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