September 10th, 2019
Legacy Capitals has been serving financially successful families for many years by helping them to work through topic such as family governance, family values, family philanthropy, family dynamics, and family business, and preparing the rising generation for the opportunities and responsibilities that come with wealth. All too often, families and the advisors who serve them, overemphasize financial education as the way to prepare the rising generation (we refer to this as increasing one’s Financial IQ). However, as I write about in my book Legacy, it is even more important to help our children increase their Life IQ. To this end, I recently interviewed Jo Leonard, who for the past 17 years has helped launch 20-Somethings into the “real world.” What exactly do you do, and why?, I asked her when I sat down to interview her. It didn’t take long to figure out the answer.
She smiled broadly when answering the question about her work and her motivation. “It’s about the thank you notes I receive after a client has figured out their career direction and landed a job that provides them with purpose and the ability to pay the bills—and come off their parents’ payroll!” If you think this seems like easy work, think again. Here’s Jo:
How it’s Done
“It’s an art, not a science, when working with young adults. They’re a complicated age group, full of paradox and incongruity. And they’re in a jungle of technology, trying desperately to use it, even when they don’t need it. For example, despite the multitude of algorithmic-based job search software, skills and aptitude tests, and speed networking organizations, they’re not able to weave it all together to form the big picture and a plan they need to launch and manage their careers. Further, they are living with multiple messages bouncing around in their heads, especially if they are children of wealth, a situation which obviously comes with a profusion of advantages but also challenges. They feel pressure to accomplish what older family members have, and yet they are of a generation that has been raised by parents who “just want them to be happy.
Unlike older generations who were raised to leave home after college and make their way in the world independent of their parents’ support, this generation is told to find their purpose, follow their passions, and everything will work out.
It’s confusing for them, so when they find their way into my office, they generally lack a plan for the present and the future, and they’re suffering from a combination of inertia, anxiety, depression, guilt, and a whole host of other emotions. They are almost always pulling down disbursements from their trusts, or receiving monthly stipends from their parents, to support their lifestyle. In addition, they are often spending time with a therapist for the anxiety. If their family is working alongside a family wealth leadership company like Legacy Capitals, the work I do complements the work Legacy Capitals is doing perfectly. The goal of us all is to see the young person find passion, launch and manage their career, and sustain their preferred lifestyle independently.
From my perspective, the most important emotion to address immediately is the inertia… treading water, being a deer in the proverbial headlights, standing at the intersection of life. I encourage my clients to just start moving, and that it doesn’t matter in which direction. Treading water in an ocean will only tire you out and leave you sinking. Standing like a deer will likely get you hit by something. And wandering around an intersection will leave you confused and disillusioned.
The economy is an ocean of possible directions, and at the beginning of a young person’s career there is no perfect direction. Many of my clients think they must make the perfect decision right out of college. I coach them to find a job that is in line with their values, their lifestyle goals, and their natural skillset, but caution them that it is unlikely to be the most ideal job. I encourage them to consider the new muscles they’ll build (soft and hard), and how much more they’ll learn about how the world actually works. For the first time in their lives they’ll learn how to pay their bills, make mistakes on the job, fail, and experience miserable days. And then they’ll put up their hand and say ‘enough,’ and go on to find another position that is better, based on the wisdom they’ve gained at the first. It’s the natural way of doing things. Just because their height and weight, academic achievements, and milestones have been measured since the day they came into their baby boomer and Gen X’s parents’ lives, doesn’t mean it’s the right philosophy for the rest of their lives.
External pressures, including the phrase, ‘Well I just think I should be…based on where my friends are,’ are my least favorite. I tell them that according to a recent survey of the U.S. workforce, 75% of employees are unhappy in their jobs, which means that 75% of their friends are likely not content in their careers. By the way, the reason for these poor numbers is not financial dissatisfaction, nightmare bosses, or a lack of career trajectory. The #1 reason given by employees is they believe they are in the wrong job, one that isn’t aligned with their natural skills, their values, and their professional strengths. So much for the word ‘should.’
Here is my process: I begin with a large piece of paper and start creating mind maps as I get to know my clients. After a few sessions, a picture starts to evolve and career ideas start to flow. Through a process of elimination using research, coaching, and networking, we find possible targets for their first job, or direction for their new career (if they come to me unhappy with their career choices to date.) I do use psychometric assessments, the power of LinkedIn filtered database searches, and the BLS and their linked Strong Interest Inventory outcomes, but the magic happens when you have 17 years of experience working across all industries. I’ve interviewed and built relationships with many corporate parents, dozens of senior HR professionals, and hundreds of employees of small and mid-sized businesses, all of whom are happy to offer my clients informational meetings as well as warm up their applications when the time is right.
And when the time comes to conduct an actual job search, I encourage (read strongly encourage) them to use technology for the search in order to set up a platform that allows them to manage the project like a professional. I teach them how to use a CRM, a job tracking platform, presentation apps, and other cool software. That’s the fun part for them and me! By the time they land their new job, they are familiar with many more tools for project management and sales/networking than they were when they started. And yes, all those tools go on their resume. Finally, and maybe most importantly, they are confident when answering the ‘tell me about yourself’ question. We work very hard to identify their unique value proposition, their individual personality traits, their fun facts, and their short- and long-term goals. And then we blend it all together and arrive at a personal and professional pitch, as well as a less formal narrative that they can use when networking. And these pitches are equally helpful when they’re sitting at the Thanksgiving table rolling their eyes when Aunt Beatrice asks them what they’re going to do with their life!
I’m thrilled to note that my clients are now all over the U.S. and the world. I use Zoom video conferencing software to meet with them, 1:1, once or twice a week for the period of the engagement. This platform allows video conversations, live chats, meeting recording, and screen sharing, and is sometimes even more productive than being in person.”
I found my interview with Jo Leonard to be informative and quite relevant to helping the rising generation increase their Life IQ. If you want to learn more about Jo’s services, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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