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  • Writer's pictureMike Lawshe

Opinion: Why It Pays to Diversify Your Team

Updated: Apr 15

as seen on CSP

Grandchildren are amazing. I am blessed to have three perfect grandchildren, who are truly a fountain of youth in my life. They make me laugh, smile and wonder as if I am reliving my own childhood. Grandchild No. 3, Tate, recently got his first haircut.

Back in the day, my son went with me and we got a twofer as he sat on my lap and the barber went to work. Heck, my father just got out the clippers and took care of it in the kitchen. Not Tate. My daughter and son-in-law did research online to find the best infant hairstylist around. They checked out pictures of various establishments to find the best environment, and they found the perfect stylist through a local Facebook moms group.

The big day came, and iPhone and digital camera batteries were fully charged to document the event. After 20 minutes of radio silence as the event occurred, my daughter and son-in-law shared the moment with texts, photos, posts and phone calls.

What an experience! A month of buildup led up to one moment. Doesn’t that define the millennial generation? Everything is more experiential. Everything is bigger, more emotional and more in the present moment. It’s seeing something as simple as a haircut as if it were the first one ever.

Millennials challenge us to see things anew, as if through the eyes of a child. My daughter and son-in-law are not like Cathy and me when it comes to parenting. They are so much better. They see parenting through different eyes, and this perspective translates to all parts of their life. Work, church, shopping and eating are more experiential for them.

Fountain of Youth

The Paragon family is unique in that 10 of its 15 employees are millennials. The term “herding cats” comes to mind. As one of the token old guys, I watch with pride as they work with our customers and interact on all levels. It is fascinating to see the creative process through their eyes. It is different than the way we worked back in the day: It is better. They all relate to each other and to customers and suppliers on a very organic level.

A supplier recently invited the team out for a game of WhirlyBall. I didn’t even know what it was, but the millennials talked about it for a week, had a great time and debriefed the next day, complete with Facebook posts (personal and company), Instagram pics and other forms of communication. Are you seeing a trend?

I believe that to attract this and other demographic groups, you need to look through their eyes and build a store that reflects their lifestyle. This does not mean pandering to them with superficial social-media posts and selfie walls; it means digging deeper to understand what they want. Too often I’ve been brought in to head up rebranding or prototype projects and found that the entire team on the customer’s end was a bunch of 50- or 60-year-old white dudes. It is hard to see through the eyes of a child with trifocals and glaucoma. At least not without help.

My first challenge to you is to diversify your team in age, sex and race. My second challenge to you is to listen and learn from this diverse group, including your key consultants.

Millennial customers are as much about the experience as they are about the product and services they buy. What are you doing to change that experience for your customers? This is not a one-and-done proposition; it is a continual re-evaluation of who you are and who you want to be.

This process can be a fountain of youth for your business because it will attract new customers and new employees.

Remember when you first started in this business and it was all new and exciting and challenging? It can be that way again, if only you see it through the eyes of a child. It reminds me of a quote from Deepak Chopra: “See the world as if for the first time; see it through the eyes of a child, and you will suddenly find that you are free.”


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