Last week, I attended the 15th annual Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) Executive Summit in Philadelphia. QIC has been a member of IMA since it began in 1998, but this was my first trip and was a nice opportunity to network as well as learn about the latest trends in our industry. There were three days of meetings and breakout sessions as well as numerous opportunities to network. I met with current partners as well as representatives from other segments of the industry to learn more about what they do and explore opportunities for future collaboration.
The keynote speaker was Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, PhD whose presentation was titled “The Next ‘Silent Generation’-Changing Assumptions about Millennials.” After introducing herself, she first asked the attendees to brainstorm at their tables to determine some of the various stereotypes about this generation born after 1982. Our table came up with some of the typical stereotypes such as a perceived sense of entitlement, technical supremacy and that they are all multi-taskers. We had two Millennials at our table, but they decided to wait until we finished with our generalizations before they gave us their views.
Overall, this was a very educational and fun kickoff to the IMA Executive Summit. The biggest takeaway from this meeting was that while some generalizations about Millennials are in fact true, individuals are unique – so you should never assume that the twenty-five year old you are speaking with is a technical wiz until they have displayed that ability to you! Oh, and just to clear up one of my misperceptions, there is no such thing as multi-tasking. Your brain can only do one thing at a time. Some people are good at rapid tasking, which means they can rapidly go back and forth between tasks. Google it you skeptical Baby Boomer or Generation Xer if you do not believe me!
Incentive companies are continuously adapting technology and rewards to make them more attractive to this generation, such as adding social media functionality or having access to the latest, greatest merchandise options, but that is a positive thing. It forces all of us who work in the incentive and recognition industry to continue to improve.
In closing, the biggest surprise for me in this informative presentation was that there are more military veterans and service members in this generation than any other since World War II. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.