Hi Jen, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi! I’m Jennifer Young (but known by many as ‘Jen Y’ as I’m a member of Gen Y/Millennial Generation) :). My journey so far has taken me from a rural New Zealand upbringing (Ramarama) to private school education (Diocesan Auckland) to moving to Dunedin to study law and art history and then moving to Wellington for work. My hardworking parents (Kiwi Dad and English Mum) instilled in all of us 3 children a strong work ethic, service values and an appreciation for education and of our privilege. My older brother was physically disabled and terminally ill with cancer (passing away at 10 year’s old) instilled in me a mission to support others who are struggling or less-off than myself. My mum jokingly calls it a “Mother Theresa Complex”.
Can you tell us about the work you do?
Sure! I’m the founder of Intentional Generations and an avid collaborator with
What lead you to follow this path?
My parents were really keen on me going down the path of law or business (which I followed all the way through to getting admitted to the bar). I realised, when I attended Outward Bound on a break 3 weeks out from finishing up the Legal Professional Skills Course, that law wasn’t the path for me and that my most natural roles in a team were as team coach, counsellor and mindfulness/yoga teacher. So, while I was applying for law jobs I was also applying for HR and leadership development roles. Luckily enough, I got my first role as an HR Advisor specialising in leadership development! When the organisation restructured I used part of the redundancy money to become a qualified coach – one of my best investments in myself so far. Fast forward 3 years and 3 months of travelling (an ‘Eat Pray Love’ type adventure minus going to India) and I became an accredited mindfulness educator and started my own business. It’s been quite the journey!
We are interested in the idea of micro-pauses. What are these and how can they help?
The idea of micro-pauses comes from my training as a coach with a neuroscience backing, being a mental health first aider and wanting to give clients an alternative tool to the classic ‘SMART’ goals. Briefly: we all know the activities that are good for our wellbeing and sometimes not doing them can cause low levels of stress and a scarcity mindset (our mind thinking we’re lacking something – in this case time). We’re all not designed to be constantly stimulated, so doing different activities is beneficial for the brain. To ease this stress, bring more rest into our days and increase our resilience we break down the things that give us energy into ‘micro-pauses’ that we can do multiple times throughout the day in 1, 5 or
What are your thoughts around technology and human interaction?
Oh, great question! I could write a whole article on this one… It seems that media headlines tend to head down the ‘gloom and doom’ route of “the robots are out to get us and take all of our jobs”. I tend to think technology is a wonderful tool to be used. The key is to use the tools rather than letting them use us – putting in place boundaries around what we allow to take our attention, choosing what we’d like to do with our time and being mindful about its impact upon us, especially our mental health. There’s a reason why terms like ‘Facebook Depression’ and ‘
What do Gen Y and Millennials think of the modern workplace? What could be done better?
… Getting technical here: Gen Y/Millennials are the definition born between c. 1980-1995/2000 (depending on different sources) and Gen Z are those born between c. 1995/2000-2013. This is a big question! I’ll do my best to pull out common themes from the hundreds of chats I’ve had with participants on courses, clients and friends. Millennials are typically characterised as curious, collaborative, concerned about social good, technologically innovative and requiring regular feedback. Generation Z? A 2014 national survey from Northeastern University reveals that members of “Generation Z” are highly self-directed, frugal, value experiences and have an increased likelihood of becoming entrepreneurs. I’ve seen all these characteristics in 18-25 year olds taking part in initiatives like Inspiring Stories’ ‘Future Leaders’ programme and ‘Festival For the Future’, Creative HQ’s ‘VentureUp’ programme and the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards programme.
… There’s a number of different attitudes towards modern workplaces – from the technologically advanced spaces of Xero, to co-working spaces like the BizDojo, to public sector working and more. They range from loving the modern ways of working (hotdesking, flexible working, standing desks, self-organising teams, implementing AI to increase system efficiencies) through to dissatisfaction with workplace value-misalignment, bullying cultures, emotionally-unintelligent older workers, slow and ‘archaic’ systems, frustration with systems and inability to influence change etc.
… What could be done better? As a millennial, collaboration and contributing to social good/doing meaningful work is super important. Generation Z are more self-starters and have been raised in an age where YouTube and the internet allow them to learn anything – they like to get on and do tasks. Treating employees as humans with lives outside of work and allowing themselves to bring their whole selves to work is a great place to start.
What is Intentional Generations? How will it differ from what came before?
Intentional Generations is the natural progression of ‘Jen Y Insights’. Jen Y Insights started out just as a blog on March 1st 2017 when I decided I wanted to do all the things I’d been saying I wanted to do for years – blogging, coaching, teaching mindfulness, public speaking etc. But I had so much fear to work through! So, I challenged myself to do a personal challenge that I called ’40 Days of Facing Fear’ where I did something each day that was either (1) brand new, (2) outside my comfort zone or (3) scared me sh*tless. By the end of the challenge the blog was full with entries and I’d turned down an extension on a work contract to go travelling for 3 months. Returning to NZ I turned the blog into a platform showcasing the services I could provide. Now, I-Gens showcases the vision I see for future generations – supporting them to make the change and impact they want to see in the world without burning out by bringing down the tools and knowledge I learned by working in leadership development with senior leaders and chief executives.
Any thoughts on resilience?
Yes, it’s critical for wellbeing and growth! By doing daily practices it can be built up so that challenges are more easy to bounce through 🙂
How can people flourish in a noisy world?
Firstly, by increasing their self-awareness of what they need to flourish: this can happen by self-reflection, working with a coach or psychologist and by doing relaxation practices like yoga, mindfulness and meditation. When they know themselves they can understand what they personally need to flourish – whether they’re an introvert, extrovert or ambivert. Wellbeing is such an individual thing.
Secondly, by being intentional/mindful of their relationship with technology, especially social media and
Who do you admire – and why?
Great question! Firstly, my mum – she’s amazing, full-stop. I get my work ethic and my consistency with looking after myself from her. She takes the dogs for walks daily, cycles in the weekend and regularly practiced yoga in her 20s and 30s. She taught me the importance of deep breathing and stretching when my brother passed away to help me deal with the stress and sadness of his loss.
And, so many mentors – Digby Scott, Paul Pringle, Christine Langdon (The Good Registry founder), among others. They all followed their own path, consistently give back to the community, are hilarious humans, look after their wellbeing and are super approachable.
How can people connect with you?
Feel free to reach out and connect! 🙂 I’m on LinkedIn (Jennifer Young), Facebook & Instagram (@intentionalgenerations) and can be emailed at [email protected]