As technology takes us on a magic carpet ride into the future, the  generation gap is fast becoming a continental divide. I say things that make me feel old every day in the office. Oh, the horror of the blank looks on my team’s faces when I mention pop culture from the 80s.

Molly Ringwald? Nothing. The Outsiders? Flat line. Teen Wolf? Tumbleweed.

I’m 40. What happens if you’re 50 and speaking with a 25-year-old? Jokes aside, your old-school gaffes have never been more obvious, and have never been more detrimental to your career.

1. Please put your phone away.

While speaking to a group of young sales professionals recently, I noticed a young man typing furiously on his iPhone. I politely asked him to put his iPhone away. He politely replied that he was taking copious notes.


People are using their smart phones to take notes more and more. Productivity apps such as Evernote, EasilyDo, and make it easy to keep notes during meetings.

You can’t assume everyone on his or her iPhone isn’t paying attention to what’s at hand. Next time, assume they’re tweeting the great content you’re sharing with them. Or maybe they’re posting your words of wisdom to their network.

2. No, you can’t work from home.

Millennials value an appropriate work-life balance, seeking out fulfilling work environments over monetary compensation. Assuming they’ll be less productive in a home environment versus in office work is dangerous.

Empowering them with the autonomy to work from home when needed will elicit a sense of trust previously unimaginable. If they can’t perform their work tasks, they’ll no longer work at your organization. Simple.

If someone excels from home, you’ll have a happy, productive, and competent young executive. Simple and effective.

3. There’s nothing like an in-person meeting.

It’s never been easier to conduct a meeting using technology: GoToMeeting, Skype, FaceTime, you name it. Saving precious time on the road can save your company thousands of dollars a year.

Hand-select only the most important meetings to be in person. Saving time and money will trump the false sense of bonding after flying across the country. Focus on your local market, and increase efficiencies with online meetings or calls.

4. You’ll get your information on a need-to-know basis.

Transparency wins. The more informed your employees, the better they’ll perform for you.

Hiding chinks in the armor won’t foster a sense of security. Uninformed imaginations will create unnecessary anxieties anchored in false information.

The moment you become more transparent in your organization is the moment your entire team gets to work solving your biggest problems. If they don’t know about the problem, they can’t help. If you foster a rock-solid relationship, you forge a rock-solid business.

5. She’s a social media guru.

If you ask 100 teens, “Are you a social media guru?” I bet 99 would say yes. They’d be 100 percent correct.

If your organization isn’t leveraging social media in some form, it’s doomed. To say that someone in your organization is a social media guru will only make you sound like a dolt.

So ditch the term guru. Sharpen your social media skill set, and realize that the manner in which we get and share information has changed forever.


A version of this article was originally published in my column for

Hi, my name is Chris Dessi. I’m CEO of Silverback Social. I’m also author ofRemarkable You: Build a Personal Brand and Take Charge of Your Career.

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