A Promotion: One Small Step for Millennials, one Giant Leap for Memekind
I jumped at the sound of my phone ringing on my bedside table. Ringing was a thing that rarely happened to me as a millennial—my friends and I usually communicated over text. As I hesitatingly inclined towards the phone, my chest pounding with fear, I wondered, Is it a spam call? Liam Neeson, maybe?
But when I dropped my eyes to look at my phone, I saw my friend’s name. If she’s calling, there must be something major to discuss.
After I picked up and said my confused “Hello?” I got an earful of ex- cited screaming in place of any words. “Okay, what’s going on, lady?” I blurted out.
Finally, something comprehensible came out of her mouth: “I GOT PRO- MOTED TO MANAGER!” Even though I may have been left with some minor hearing damage, I was elated for her. She proceeded to tell me I was one of the first people she had called to deliver the news—because I was her friend, but also because of my years of experience coaching first-time managers into this new chapter of their life. The people leaders I’ve promoted and supported over the years are the proudest legacies in my own career. In many cases, they have even surpassed me in level—some of them have sprung up into impressive Director-level roles and beyond in a variety of industries.
After some emphatic words of congratulations, I told her, by all means, to go out and celebrate, especially since it was Sunday Funday and mimosas exist. After reminding her to stay hydrated, I recommended that she buckle her metaphorical seatbelt for the bumpy but rewarding road ahead: a vague warning.
The line went silent for a moment too long—it was like the excitement was dissipating in real time and being replaced by the all-too-common first-time-manager jitters. This also happens to be the exact reason why I told her to, in simpler terms, get in that mimosa now.
“What do you mean?” she asked. “What ‘bumpy road’?”
I knew she wasn’t expecting her new position to be easy. Instead, she was realizing how much she didn’t know yet. So, I laid out an extensive guide—the “inside baseball,” if you will.
My friend, like so many of you reading, wanted to be the best people man- ager possible, especially since she had had some less-than-good experiences with bosses (haven’t we all?).
After finishing my monologue, I heard a sigh of relief on the other end of the line as she thanked me. But there was one question I couldn’t answer.
“Do you recommend any books to help me get going?”
“Uhh—” I murmured, then froze.
I mentally filed through the countless business and leadership books I had once read and studied when I was in my friend’s situation years ago, right after the startup I had joined got their Series A funding and went on a hiring spree. By default, we early employees became heads of department overnight and were instructed to start building our teams immediately.
I remember asking my boss at the time how to build out a department like the one I had taken on.
“Ummm, I’m not sure—go to some conferences? Read some books? Figure it out!”
And so, of course I did. I downloaded as many audiobooks as my iPhone 5 could handle, and devoured the content every free moment I could find. Did they help?
Most of the books helped me to some extent, but turned out to be overwhelmingly lackluster and dated. The working world looks a lot different today, noticeably less male, more diverse, and with a different set of priorities. Few of them addressed the elephant in the room—how the hell a 20-something employee with just a few years’ work experience is supposed to figure out how to become a people manager at a tech company in hypergrowth mode overnight.
Most importantly, they failed to address the complexities of people management in the modern business era, especially as a younger manager com- ing up in a technology-saturated world peppered with generation-defining #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, and other social movements.
In my moment of reflection, I realized that my friend was probably one of thousands, if not millions, of first-time, millennial people managers that could use some extra help navigating the new business climate as well as their newfound power.
And that’s when this book was born.
Let’s face it: The business world has changed, big-time. The average age of a first-time manager is 30, smack-dab in the middle of the millennial generation (1981–1996). Yes, the decade-plus that produced modern wonders, such as Nirvana, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the musical Rent also produced 75 million of us avocado toast–obsessed millennials. In fact, the Department of Labor estimates between five and 11 million of us are now in management jobs.
Love us or hate us, we’re here and we’re taking the lead. So, let’s take the lead!
This guide was made to help people like you and the millions of other nov- ice business managers adjust to this new, fabulous, terrifying, and hilarious next chapter, while becoming the boss you’ve always wanted to work for.
In this book, you will learn some of the basic tactical guidance you’ll need to #BossUp, such as how to do the following:
• Deal with expenses like a pro
• Manage paid time off (PTO) and other leave...without making anyone cry
• Do the Big H (Hiring)
• Handle escalations (Wheee!)
• Give an A++ performance review
• Not screw up your career by focusing on the wrong things (NSUYCFWT)
But, as the saying goes, “Man cannot live on bread alone,” which really should be followed by, “bosses of all genders cannot thrive on expense reports alone.”
Let’s be real: Your life and career have both shifted in a monumental way. If you’re anything like the millions of fellow millennials taking on people management for the first time, you didn’t take the job just for the thrill of approving a cell phone reimbursement.
You’re here to make a difference, aren’t you? To blaze a trail in the big world of business. To align your career with your core values. To do work you know you’ll be proud of years down the line.
The truth is, you can’t do all of that in your new position without learning the soft skills required to succeed. Therefore, in addition to the practical advice above, this book will also provide counsel on important topics, such as these:
• Navigating your shifting relationships in the workplace and at home
• Developing resilience and grace in the face of your inevitable screw-ups
• Integrating #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter principles into your leadership style
• Embracing your impact and newfound power in your community
As you can see, this book seeks to nurture both your soul and your mind, instead of solely focusing on numbers and rules. My goal is to escort you into this new position of power in a more ethereal way, while simultaneously challenging you to explore what makes you unique.
I welcome you on this journey, where I will share what I’ve learned in my years of managing Homo sapiens—the good, the bad, and the ugly—so you can enter this new role as the badass you clearly are.
Now that you know what you’re getting into (and you can’t hop off the ride now), buckle your seatbelt.
It’s officially time to boss up, buttercup!