Millennials Finding Their Way – With Michelle Giannino

 

Today I had the honor of interviewing Michelle Giannino who is an Account Manager for StringCan Interactive.  Often in the news we see the exceptionally good, or the exceptionally bad, butmichelle pic we rarely are shown the picture of a Millennial who has hustled her but off to find success in today’s struggling economy.

Michelle is such a millennial, one that gives us a good name to the baby boomers who often view us as lazy. Even though the truth is when they graduated college they were almost guaranteed a good job, where as when we graduated we had to fight to get that bartending position.

Michelle graduated University at Buffalo and soon took up an unpaid internship with Syracuse University doing sports marketing events with them.  She also was a bartender at night in order to pay rent.  One very interesting point she brought up was that bartending taught her more about people and how to handle them then anything she learned in college.  She suggests that anyone that wants to work in account management, or customer service should work as a bartender or waiter, because nothing will be harder than that later in life.  Not only does it teach fantastic people skills, but you are able to network and make a ton of new connections!

Eventually Michelle knew she needed a change so she moved to Arizona, with no job and no connections.  I think this is an important point for many millennials to look at.  While I do not believe we are lazy, we are way to comfortable.  And while we are comfortable it is hard for us to push ourselves to our full potential.  What Michelle did was put herself in a new and challenging environment, and she was able to thrive because of it.

Michelle credits her career success in large part because of personal development she did in Arizona.  She attended a course called Amplify U.  It is so important to keep developing new skills after leaving college.  Both Michelle and I agree that while formal education has its benefits, it’s the non formal self development we did that set us apart from the crowd and allowed us to succeed.  There are many ways to do your own self development, including weekend courses and self help books.  One of  the books Michelle recommends is Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott).  I myself suggest everyone in every profession reads The Magic of Thinking Big.

Michelle was able to network while at Amplify U and met someone who introduced her to the CEO of StringCan Interactive.  She soon became his personal assistant to the CEO, which she says was the hardest role she has ever had. However, this role allowed her to build a ton of trust with the higher ups and that allowed her to quickly advance in the company.  Here Michelle brought up another great point; she said that it is important for everyone to work in corporate America before working for a smaller company or as an entrepreneur.  “You have to wade through the no so great stuff first, so when you get into that company you love you will work your butt off to keep that job.”  This is what she did a StringCan. She had already worked for Coperate America, so once she started at StringCan, even-though the job was one of the hardest she had ever had she knew she loved the company and worked her butt off and it paid off big time!

Overall what I gained from Michelle in terms of helping Millennials find success was:

  • You have to put in your dues first.  Gone are the days where most of us will graduate college with a cushy job.  In order to gain experience, and trust within a company you often have to work your butt off at a lower positions in order to achieve growth and success within that company.
  • Personal development is key for our success.  Formal education primarily teaching best case scenario, and real life is never best case scenario.  Continuing your learning via developmental courses or reading is key for success.
  • It is really important for you to recognize when you have a great job or work for a great company.  Once you recognize it you should work hard now so you can get that higher up job your want later.

I was also able to talk to Michelle about things she had learned about small businesses and wanted to share it for all those entrepreneurs reading this blog.

One of the things she shared with me is how StringCan created such a great culture and helped develop their workers.  StringCan is still a fairly small company with between 10-20 employees.  One of the coolest things they have in place is a mentorship program where every new employee gets mentored from a more experienced employee.  This is huge for the success of the company because it not only allows the new employee to grow faster, but in helps connect the employees in the company in order to encourage better communication.

Her company also has a book club that their employees are a part of.  After the group finishes reading the book the person who suggested said book does a presentation of the book and then the group as a whole discusses what they learned.  This struck me as such a great idea because Napoleon Hill, the god father of self help books in America, suggests in the secrete pages of Think and Grow Rich (can only find these pages in a first edition copy of the book which sells for about $5000) a model very similar to this as the best way to learn from and change your behavior from a self help book.  Overall we can see here that culture and investing in your employees is essential for small business success.

We also talked a bit about efficiency.  Her biggest tool she uses is google calender and google Tasklist.  I had never heard of google tasklist, but you can be sure I will be checking it out soon.  This point relates directly to my blog about increasing efficiency, and the importance of blog scheduling the week before hand.  She uses these two tools to do exactly that.

I was really interested to talk to her about digital marketing.  First off I wanted to know how digital marketing different from social media marketing, which is such a huge buzzword today.  What I learned is digital marketing encompasses everything from website, SEO, content, blogging, paid media and offsite organic growth.  Her company always tells their clients that paid media is the feel good type of advertising.  Paid media is like google adwords, or promoting a post on Facebook.  While this can bring immediate traffic, it is the organically grown content that really sustains and grows a company.  Organic growth includes high quality blogs,  getting other blogs to cover you, getting in the news, word of mouth advertising, really creating any type of conversations about your company based on value that you have given to others.

Michelle left me with this though for all millennials and entrepreneurs: Don’t give up. 

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