Hi, this form is a starting point for all speaking requests.
Please don't hesitate to reach out about your event or request and let me know what you have in mind.
Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with other requests like writing for your publication or joining you on your podcast.
Also, email me if you want to say hi. I like that, too.
“People just don’t want to work anymore.” That sentence is in quotes because I hear it all the time. In fact, several people said that to me recently after I spoke to them about work culture at a recent event. It’s a politically charged statement implying that too many people want a free ride via government programs or lack a work ethic. Most people who subscribe to this sentiment are convinced that prospective employees are the problem: they are lazy, they are too demanding, they don’t possess a work ethic. But I don’t think it’s them.I think the problem is how employers think, not the traits and characteristics of current or prospective employees. Work expectations have shifted, and there is no returning to the old ways. It really bugs me that we keep trying to place blame rather than examining the real issue: ourselves as employers.
Without going into a long history lesson, I want to share a little context that’s always on my mind as I listen to people talk about work. Many outdated notions about work are rooted in how work, power, and hierarchy were established during the Industrial Revolution. In that era, we saw vast numbers of people enter the workforce. At this time, employers and leaders held all the power, and workers showed up to earn wages, almost regardless of working conditions. Work was transactional. Most individuals were not thinking of work as a place to fulfill their dreams or purpose. Dreams and purpose were simply not options. They worked to survive.
This general dynamic persisted into the late 20th century, upended primarily by technology and the digital revolution. I’d say my generation, GenX, was the beginning of the change as we witnessed our parents sacrificing their quality of life as they put in long hours of work at workplaces that didn’t necessarily care about them.
Many significant changes have happened rapidly since then, but if we look closely, workers' mindsets have evolved quicker and more innovatively than most organizations and those who lead them. So here we are today with some leaders still clinging to the idea that employees (or workers more generally) should just be grateful to have a job or should bow over with appreciation for the opportunity to collect a paycheck. In contrast, employees are demanding more than just a paycheck, and rightfully so! Employers are still thinking transactionally, while workers are thinking relationally.
People want and need something beyond money if they give chunks of their lives to organizations. Collectively, workers have come to realize that there needs to be a ‘why.’ Connection, purpose, and meaning matter to people more than money. Humans want to work to live, not live to work. Money and survival no longer compel people to take or stay at crappy jobs because they have options.
That’s okay; I would even say that’s amazing. That’s an opportunity for leaders and organizations to contribute positively to people’s daily lives. Frankly, as a CEO, I don’t want to just dole out a paycheck any more than I want my colleagues to only show up for one. Employers must offer respect, value, purpose, and, yes, pay today. And they must offer that to every single person in the organization, not just managers or VPs. Everyone.
It seems that many jobs going unfilled right now are jobs we don’t value enough as a society–grocery clerks, dishwashers, parking lot attendants, garbage collectors, or other similarly “blue-collar” jobs. And so we end up devaluing the humans who do those jobs by not respecting them and not paying living wages. If our collective daily lives cannot function without those roles, then they are not menial, they are essential and valuable. So we should value the people doing those jobs.
The concept of menial jobs is antiquated–no job is menial, and no role is too small. Every person and every task contributes to an organization’s brand, reputation, and success. As leaders, it’s part of the job to connect those dots so every person knows their value and feels valued. It’s imperative that they feel part of something bigger than whatever they might be doing on a given day so they understand their contributions matter.
If you hear yourself saying, “People just don’t want to work anymore,” instead of being critical of them, examine what you’re offering:
Unemployment numbers show us that people are indeed working. They are working at organizations that give them what they need or are working for themselves and designing their work to fit their needs. If people don’t want to work for you, you likely haven’t learned how to value all jobs, or haven’t connected every single role to your organization’s greater purpose. And if you can’t do these two basic things, you will continue to struggle. What’s at stake is simply more than your current talent search, but mutual appreciation, human value, and our collective responsibility for creating and sharing purpose are also on the line. There is no going back to the transactional way of working.
If you don’t believe me, watch this video with a similar take on what organizations must offer workers today.
I wrote “Work Like a Boss” before the pandemic, but holy heck, it’s proving to resonate with so many people right now.
✅ People who are a little tired but want to find renewed energy in their current roles.
✅ Recent grads who want to know how soft skills can be put to work at work.
✅ Folks who are looking for new jobs and need some fresh language (and motivation) about how to show up.
✅ Mid-career managers who want to level up.
It’s got something for everyone. And you can share that this holiday season! Use the code NANCAVE and get 10% off Work Like a Boss here.
I’m a fan of buying as many things as I can from small businesses. If you’re the same and are getting gifts for people this season, here are a few gift ideas I recommend.
Fun, beautiful, and handmade jewelry by Larissa Loden. She has both statement and classic pieces, all with style. Find her work on the web or at her new, gorgeous shop in St. Paul.
Everyone needs a little self-care to round out the year. My spouse spent an afternoon with a dear friend at Nell Rueckle’s Watershed Spa yesterday and RAVED about it. If you’re in the Twin Cities, this woman-owned bathhouse and spa features steam rooms, saunas, plunge pools, and all of the services one can expect from a spa. The environment is gorgeous and the experience, I’ve heard, is divine! Gift certificates are available.
If a spa isn’t your jam, maybe you want to enable your friends to eat their feelings. That’s why I love Dancing Bear Chocolates. Also located in the Twin Cities, but you can get it shipped! And I cannot think of a better way to ring in the new year than munching on the best chocolate this side of the Pacific!
Ever curious about why I love speaking gigs or what my superpower is? Listen to this podcast and find out a little more about my background and why I love audiences (and maybe why they seem to love me back).Listen to Behind the Podium.
Last month I shared that I attended the Family Equality gala to receive a superhero award, and now I want to share more about the organization because, really, they are superheroes. Every day, they ensure LGBQIA+ families have the support they need to exist in a world that is increasingly hostile.
Finally, every musical theater kid on the planet knows we lost a legend over the weekend. Multi-award-winning singer, composer, actor, and musician Irene Cara passed away at the too-young age of 63. As a young theater nerd, I have glorious memories of my youth with the FAME soundtrack. And so, as we head into December, before all of the holiday music dominates the airwaves, I want to share my favorite Irene Cara song from that album: Out Here On My Own. I expressed a lot of tween angst belting this song out as often as possible. I hope you love it as much as I do.
December 7th: Government IT SymposiumThen, holiday!