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Episode 45

A Twentysomething’s Perspective on Leadership

A Leader’s Lasting Impact

Cass and Adan are back again this week for another Team Takeover episode!

When it comes to leadership, it’s so valuable to hear the employee’s perspective on it and that’s what these women are sharing in episode 45. As a business owner, I want you to listen very carefully to what they have to say because it is the feelings of those who look up to you as a leader that actually matter.

It is true that people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. Are you the type of leader people want to work for?

Cass and Adan are talking about what it means to be a Millennial, Zillennial, and Generation Z-er in the workplace and the challenges that come with being young. They share their experiences of being overlooked and underestimated because of their age, as well as the stereotypes that exist about their generation of employees.

They also open up about mental health in a professional setting and the lasting impact a leader can have, both positively and negatively.

If you find yourself looking at younger generations with frustration over their “job-hopping,” Cass and Adan discuss why they actually perceive this to be a positive thing.

You will not want to miss this episode, including what they have to say about the best and worst leaders they have ever worked with!

What’s in This Episode

  • Mental health in the workplace
  • Leadership styles from an employee perspective
  • How to become a leader others want to follow
  • Challenges that Millennials, Zillennials, and Gen Z-ers face in the workplace
  • The myth around job hopping

What To Do Next

  1. Join The Strategy Lab, Lisa’s insider entrepreneurial community that is learning, tackling, and coming together to support and challenge each other on all things business. Click here to join!
  2. Join Thought Readers and connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs in this popular book club for business owners.
  3. Subscribe to receive this podcast and regular weekly strategies to grow and shape your business. You’ll also be the first to know about upcoming courses, programs and exclusive LIVE training.
  4. Join the conversation on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn and share your insights from the show.

Where to Find Cass and Adan

  • You can connect with Cass on LinkedIn here and with Adan here

Episode Transcript

Download The PDF Transcript


Lisa Larter (00:01):
Welcome to, She Talks Business. If you’re an entrepreneur, business owner or aspiring mogul, chances are you want to learn more about marketing and mastering and monetizing your business. She Talks Business is where you’ll learn all of that and more. My name is Lisa Larter and I’m an entrepreneur, high school dropout, wiener dog enthusiast and your host. Let’s get started.

Adan Kovinich (00:24):
Guess who’s back, back again? Cass and Adan. Tell a friend.

Cass Bald (00:34):
Yes, Adan and I are back again this week doing another Team Takeover episode for Lisa and we are so excited. We got some really incredible feedback from our first Team Takeover episode. So we are extremely motivated and really looking forward to bringing you another conversation today.

Adan Kovinich (00:56):
I’m super happy that people thought to say that they were engaged with the podcast, they felt that it was helping them in their business, and then also that it would help younger people as well. So I just felt like all around, our episode was really great for just about anybody to listen to. And so thank you for everyone that sent out a compliment or gave us some feedback.

Cass Bald (01:19):
So this week, we are going to be diving a little bit deeper into the topic of leadership. And this is something that Lisa has talked about on previous episodes of She Talks Business, but it’s always been from the perspective of a business owner. And so today, we are talking about leadership from the perspective of the employee.
Adan Kovinich (01:47):
Yeah. And I think even deeper than that, the perspective of a Zillennial in the workplace being led by a Gen X-er, which are two different generations and how that dynamic works for us. And while Cass was talking, I actually looked up what the Zillennial definition is, and Refinery29 defines it as, “A microgeneration of people born between 1993 and 1998.” Then from there, it says urban dictionary defines Zillennials as, “Too young to relate to the core of Millennials, but too old to relate to the core of Generation Z. They were two 2000s kids and transitioned from teenagers to adults during the 2010s.”

Cass Bald (02:31):
That’s super accurate because I really do feel like I relate more to the Millennial mindset than the Gen Z mindset. I don’t feel like one of those high school students that are doing TikTok dances on the weekends. That’s what I think of when I think Gen Z, but at the same time, I was technically born in the very last year of the Millennials. So I’m not quite part of that group either. I find myself lying somewhere in between.

Adan Kovinich (03:03):
Yeah, I totally agree with you. And when I think of the Millennial, I think of my sister, who’s 10 years older than me. And then when I think of Gen Z, I think of my younger sister who is definitely a part of that generation. And I feel somewhere caught in the middle because I’m not quite a parent, but I’m not in university. So it’s this weird position that we’re in that is partially Millennial, partially Gen Z. And somehow we have to figure out how we can work in a workplace like that.

Cass Bald (03:37):
And because we make up a huge portion of the workforce right now, we are all these university graduate-aged people who are… I don’t want to say taking over, but I kind of feel that way. Okay. So my question for you then is how do you, as a Zillennial, have an important perspective on leadership for business owners? What would you want to tell a business owner as a Zillennial?

Adan Kovinich (04:09):
I think part of it is that… I guess it’s a hard question, right? Because being a Zillennial, you have this more emotional side to you than maybe the Gen X-ers have. And that’s coming from, partially from the Millennials. And then the Gen Z-ers, the other generations seem to think that they feel like the world owes them. So when I come into a workplace as a 24-year-old, I’m defined by that generation of feeling the world owes them, which isn’t true at all. I don’t think that the Gen Zs are like that, but they have that perspective of a young person. So I feel immediately like we have to prove ourselves to the leaders and say like, “Hey, I may cry during a feedback meeting, but that doesn’t make me not capable or not strong in my role.” And then the second part of that is that I think the Zillennial group is probably the most open about mental illness and talking about anxiety and depression.

Adan Kovinich (05:16):
And I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety. And I think it’s because we’re on a path of trying to find out why do we feel this way and how can we get tools to not feel this way so that we can grow and be productive people. And part of that all comes down to our work, what we actually do for a living, which is working on social media. Humans were never designed to have everything at their fingertips all the time, and it’s really impactful on our mental health. So I think that if a leader can be open about hearing us out, hearing us talk about anxiety and depression, which I’m very, very lucky to have Lisa listen and hear me out and see my perspective on things, then they’ll be able to mold their leadership to be able to help the entry-levels that are coming in from university.

Cass Bald (06:13):
I want to circle back for a moment to something you said about the bad reputation that young people are often given by older generations. And I mean, mainly the boomer generation. And I don’t mean that in an offensive or derogatory way at all, but people of that generation tend to look at all of us, Millennials, Zillennials, Gen Z-ers, and think that we have a bad attitude, or they tend to pass judgment on us as a whole. And I’ve experienced a certain level of distrust. And I think people underestimate just how much I’m capable of because I am a young person, because I am only 25. And if you add being a young woman on top of that, it’s, a trifecta.

Cass Bald (07:16):
I have definitely been overlooked for certain things because of the way that I am perceived on the outside when the truth is, is I have multiple university degrees and I have a stellar work ethic, and I have so much to offer. But because my generation as a whole is looked at as feeling like they are owed something… Or the other thing, Adan, have you heard this said before, that were job hoppers?

Adan Kovinich (07:54):
Oh yeah. Yes I have.

Cass Bald (07:56):
Right? So there’s a fairly new phenomenon that essentially is people our age hop from job to job and they move around a lot. And to me, I see that as we know our worth, we know when we’re not happy in a role, and we know when it’s time to move on and find the next big opportunity. And I view that as a super positive thing. But then I look to some of my older family members, for example, and they pass judgment on that, or make negative comments about that saying, “Well, in my day, you worked for a company for 30 years, and it’s about loyalty, and it’s this and that.” And there’s definitely a divide in terms of our perspectives and the way that we feel about that.

Adan Kovinich (08:56):
I mean, I look at the roles that I’ve had, and I think you’re the same. I think we’ve talked about this. But I worked basically three big jobs. I worked in retail as a student in high school in a clothing store. And then I went to college and I had retail jobs throughout, but it was because I was leaving school to go back home for the summer, whatever. And then I worked for a telecommunication company for three years, and then I’ve worked here. So that idea that we job hop is not always true. But at the same time, why are we expecting people to stay in roles where they don’t feel they’re being valued? And this comes right to the perspective of this leader, why they need to see this, is because people will leave jobs because of their boss. People will leave for less money if they don’t feel supported by their boss. It’s a little bit harsh, but it’s true. I’ve seen people leave.

Cass Bald (09:56):
It’s a hard truth. Yeah. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but that is 100% the truth. That is the extent of the impact leadership can have on employees. I think Lisa said this to us last week. People don’t quit a job. They quit a boss. And I think that’s going to be hard for some people to accept, but it is true. It really is.

Adan Kovinich (10:22):
I’ve definitely quit a boss 100%.

Cass Bald (10:26):
Yeah. So not to switch gears here, but while we’re on this topic, I do also just want to bring up the fact that as Zillennials, or as young people, we also have this really special and unique ability to understand technology and just social media in general because we’ve grown up with it and it is truly a second nature to us. If you give me a brand new social media platform that I’ve never looked at before, I promise you I’ll know exactly how to use it in 15 minutes because we are so used to figuring those things out and adapting to new technology. And there’s patterns and trends that platforms follow, and you can pick up on them. And so I think that is something that’s pretty special that we bring to the table. We can adapt to use any technology extremely quickly.

Adan Kovinich (11:37):
And they say that Millennials grew up with technology. But I think even us… I was 10 years old when people started to use Facebook. And so at 10, of course, my parents didn’t know any better. I had a Facebook account because nobody even knew what it was. I mean, my parents could barely sign into their email and I was like-

Cass Bald (11:55):
We still have dial-up internet. We experienced dial-up.

Adan Kovinich (11:57):
Yes. I experienced dial-up.

Cass Bald (11:59):
We still lived through that.

Adan Kovinich (12:01):
I did experience dial-up. But my parents had no idea what we were doing online at the time, because they didn’t even understand how to use it themselves. And so we watched Facebook progress. We were at a time when people were poking each other and writing on people’s walls other than for somebody’s birthday. So we really grew up with… As technology progressed, we were also progressing as teens and adults. And I remember when Instagram came out and it was so cool. And we were the first people on it even, I feel, before the Millennials, because we grew up playing outside and you had to come in when the lights came on, when the street lights came on. But the same time, we also grew up with having iPod Touches in our hands and being on Instagram and Facebook, which is a really unique thing about the 23- to 26-year-olds, 27-year-olds right now.

Cass Bald (13:00):
Okay. So I was wondering if you would be able to tell me about one of the best leaders and a manager you’ve ever had. And then on the other side of that, could you tell me about one that just was really bad? You said you have quit a boss before. Can you tell me about that?

Adan Kovinich (13:22):
Yeah. So okay. My best boss was also [crosstalk 00:13:29]-

Cass Bald (13:29):
We’re going to go bosses other than Lisa, because last week’s episode was all about how wonderful she is and how much we love her, but we’ll talk about other people this time.

Adan Kovinich (13:39):
Yeah. I’ve had some really great bosses. My last job, my District Manager was awesome in so many different ways. She pushed me so hard and really forced me to learn how much of an impact I had on the people I worked with, and that if I took a backseat and I was “lazy”… I put that in quotes; no one can see my quotes except Cass, but I’m putting that in quotes… everyone else felt they could be lazy. And so I didn’t realize the impact I had as an employee, and she really showed me that. And she had a standard for me that was above what our targets were. She had a different standard for me, and I felt I needed to rise to that. I didn’t see her all the time. I maybe saw her once a month, but she was a phone call away from me.

Adan Kovinich (14:36):
And she was a District Manager. She was my manager’s boss. And she made me feel heard from her all the time. And I could always go to her. And I really trusted… I still do trust her. Stephanie, she’s incredible. If she listens to this, Stephanie, you were the best boss I think I’ve ever had other than Lisa because I don’t think anyone can top Lisa’s leadership and what she’s taught me. But she was a really great boss.

Adan Kovinich (15:03):
On the other side of it, a really bad boss I had… At the same time though, he was a really good boss, but he taught me a lot about sales. He was from when I worked at a furniture store. I worked there for four months. I actually quit because of him. And at first, he really pushed me and taught me a lot about sales, but then he found every way to cut me at the knees. So I found that that was really difficult. He couldn’t understand my perspective on things. And we were both from very different generations and he was stuck in a mindset. And so yeah, he was probably one of my worst bosses that I’ve ever experienced. I’m going to throw it back to you though. Tell me about your best boss and then tell me about your worst boss.

Cass Bald (15:50):
When I think about the best leaders that I’ve ever had, my best bosses that I’ve ever had, there are two that really stick out to me, and I could talk about both of them for hours because I learned a lot from both of them and I look up to them a lot. But I’ll keep it short and sweet. So I did also work a retail job for about three years through university, and I worked a serving job the same three years through university. I was a busy gal. But at my retail job, my store manager, Jen, she is one of the most incredible human beings I have ever met. She has the biggest heart I know out of everyone. And it’s funny because I worked at Build-A-Bear and she really is a mama bear. And she’s not even that much older than me. She’s not.

Cass Bald (16:51):
But I looked to her with so much respect. And respect, that’s the main thing. I, and everyone around her, followed her leadership because we respected her so much. She wasn’t a harsh leader. She wasn’t needlessly strict. But we all rose to her expectations and she made everyone around her better. And I think just one example of the reason why we respected her so much is because she would do everything in her power to help each of us be successful in our roles.

Cass Bald (17:37):
And something she said many times and that I’ve found myself saying because of her is, “What can I do for you so you can be successful in your role? What do you need from me?” And she would ask that question. And it’s so simple. What do you need from me so that you can be successful and so that you can feel fulfilled? But it makes a huge difference in the eyes of an employee, even if it’s a retail job. It doesn’t matter what the job is. That is something that everybody wants is to feel fulfilled and feel like they are successful in their role. And she did a really great job at that.

Cass Bald (18:21):
And then the second leader that I alluded to, her name is Laura, and she was the GM, the general manager of the restaurant that I worked at. And again, everyone around her rose to her expectations. And it’s because they just had this mad level of respect for her because she led by example. She was such a hard worker and was never the type of boss to be standing back and calling the shots, but she was in it and she was in it with you and the truest example of what team actually means. She wasn’t just the coach. She was part of the team and wasn’t afraid to step in and get her hands dirty when we needed it. And I loved that about her. And I look up to her because of that. Both of those women have influenced the way that I lead today. And then in terms of a bad boss-

Adan Kovinich (19:29):
I love how we both got super comfortable, but I know that instantly, both of us have somebody in mind, but you almost don’t want to say like, “You were hard to work for.” And I don’t think I would ever say that to a bad boss to their face, but I bet that kind of feedback would help a poor leader to say like, “Hey, you know what?” Because why am I not afraid to say that to Lisa? Not that Lisa’s a poor leader, but to say to Lisa, “Hey, I need you to help me and I need you to lead me this way because it’s helpful for me when you do it this way. You’ll get more out of me.” Because she was already a good leader, but I wanted to really hone in on how she leads me so that her and I can get to a common goal together. Why can’t I do that to a bad leader?

Cass Bald (20:17):
And you know what?

Adan Kovinich (20:19):
But go ahead, Cass.

Cass Bald (20:20):
I would be so curious to know what would happen if I had given the feedback to this leader and told them that their leadership style didn’t vibe with me. But at the time, I was a lot… I’m young now, but I was a lot younger than this. And so I didn’t really understand the concept of leadership styles. I didn’t really know why I didn’t get along with this particular boss. But the biggest thing was that they were a micromanager to the point that they had their thumb on me and were looking over my shoulder 100% of the time. I was afraid to do anything because I knew they were watching. And if I made a mistake, they always responded terribly, and I didn’t have the freedom to figure things out on my own, and I felt suffocated by that.

Cass Bald (21:25):
And I didn’t stay at that job for very long because that particular manager just needed to have tight control over everything. And I will say that sometimes, managers that need to be in control and drive the ship, they get stuff done. They do. They can be extremely productive and they can get stuff done. But it’s not a sustainable leadership style because A, your employees don’t respond to that well, and you will lose them if they’re not happy. And B, what happens when all of a sudden, that leader is no longer in the business, or even just needs to take a day off? You need to have your team fully trained and capable and confident to do their job without you nitpicking every single task that they do.

Adan Kovinich (22:20):
So both of those leaders or all three of those leaders, Cass, have affected you in different ways. Maybe the good managers have taught you how to be a leader and maybe the bad leader or a poor leader has taught you how to not be. But how do you think they’ve impacted your leadership style today? Because I think we take things from bad leaders, good leaders, and then indifferent leaders, and we use them as leaders now. So what can you say that has helped or has impacted you as a leader today?

Cass Bald (22:57):
Well, that’s exactly it. I take bits and pieces from each of their leadership style to really mold who I am as a leader now. I think if you were to visualize this, it would quite literally be like a puzzle. I take that question from Jen, “What do you need me so that you can be a successful leader in your role?” I take that and I use that in my own leadership style. And that has shaped how I look at the people that I lead. And then I take the work ethic and the willingness to step in and be in the middle of it from Laura. I take bits and pieces.

Cass Bald (23:40):
And then when it comes to the bad leader or the leader that I didn’t necessarily get along with, I think two things happen. I take what I didn’t like and make sure that I never do that to my employees or to the people that I’m leading. But I think it also impacted me in a different way, too. It impacted me negatively in the sense that I am now more easily triggered by other leaders that do that to me because I had a negative experience with that leader. So now when I’m finding myself being micromanaged, or I think somebody is looking over my shoulder constantly, or I’m feeling afraid to make a mistake, I think I feel all of those things more amplified because of that bad experience that I had.

Cass Bald (24:35):
So I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that leadership doesn’t only impact the people around you in a positive way. It’s not just if you’re a good leader, the people around you will be happy and will also be good leaders. No. It’s if you are a bad leader, you can scar someone permanently. You really can shake someone’s confidence so deeply that they are triggered by that forever. And that’s something that’s very personal and that I’ve worked on and that I continue to work on. And it’s not to say that as a leader, you have to get it right every time because you don’t. Impossible to get it right every time. But just overall, being mindful that as a leader, your impact is not just in the moment, but it’s lasting. It really is. It will last for years and years on the people that work for you.

Adan Kovinich (25:35):
You know what’s so funny? I just realized this right now, that your previous leader that micromanaged you, which micromanaging, to you, I know because we’ve talked about it a lot, is a soft spot. And for me, somebody willing to just cut me at the knees is a very soft spot for me. And this actually comes into the next part. Leaders that have done that to us, we carry that with us. I had somebody that was out to make sure my life in that role was terrible and that I hated it, and he pushed me out, despite me being really great at that job and me loving what I was doing. So I’m afraid of that so deeply that because I love my role with Lisa and I love what I do, I’m so petrified that one day she’s going to push me out.
Adan Kovinich (26:28):
And I’m thankful. And you know what? I don’t think Lisa knows that. And I don’t think I knew that until this podcast. But that was a moment. But I think that it’s really impactful that we’re so lucky to have Lisa that just can figure that out that that’s what we need, almost like she does it subconsciously, work on it so that I don’t feel like she wants to push me out. In the same way, she… And I won’t speak for you, but just from what I see, she works with you so that you never feel micromanaged by her. And she may not even know that you need that.

Cass Bald (27:02):
I think one of the greatest aspects of Lisa’s leadership… and I want all business owners to hear this… she holds the space for us. She holds it open so that we feel like we can go to her and share with her what we need from her as a leader. She is open to hearing you when you say, “Lisa, I have anxiety and sometimes I need a little bit of extra reassurance from you.” There’s other employers and bosses out there that if I thought about having to go to them and say, “I need you to give me an extra pat on the back,” or, “I need more reassurance from you,” I would feel ridiculous doing that because not everyone, not every boss holds that space to be that open with their employees.

Cass Bald (28:01):
Going to your boss with anxiety is just one example. It could be completely unrelated to mental illness either. It could be a matter of, say maybe you don’t work remotely. Maybe you have an office space, but maybe that employee needs to work from home one day a week for whatever reason. As a business owner or as a boss, as a manager, as a leader, hold the space open for your employees to feel comfortable coming to you with problems, because then they won’t hide things from you. Then they won’t make as many mistakes because they’re going to be open with you. When mistakes do happen, they’re going to fess up to it faster and you’ll be able to get to solutions faster. They’ll just be happier overall if they can communicate with you freely without fear of judgment and with the knowledge that you will listen to them and you will hear them and you care about them.

Adan Kovinich (28:58):
We talk a lot about Lisa, but Cassy is also my direct leader. Because I work on two different sides of the business and two different projects, I have Lisa who leads me in one part and Cassy that leads me in another. And Cassy is somebody else that leaves space for me to tell her when I am anxious or upset or worried or stressed out. Even in our one-on-one yesterday, I felt like Cassy was so open for me to say to her, “I feel better right now, and I feel a lot less stress right now, and I’m feeling very good right now. And I’m not going to bed at night thinking about work anymore.” And how many people can say to their boss, “Hey, by the way, I used to not be able to sleep because I was thinking about work so much.”? I feel like people don’t feel comfortable to admit that to their superior, whereas Cassy and Lisa both allow for that to happen.

Adan Kovinich (29:57):
And if that was how it was in every workplace, I think that so many people would stay longer because creating that bond over or relationship where I can be open with both of my bosses on different things is so valuable. And it makes me never want to leave. Not that I ever would leave, but makes me never want to leave because I’ve created this bond with them where they’re very open to me saying how I feel, and I don’t think that all workplaces are like that. So I think the last part of today is really what’s in it for the business owner. What are their takeaways from hearing from us today that they can take away today and bring to their employees and maybe try or even think differently about?

Cass Bald (30:50):
I think my key takeaway or the key message that I want to share is don’t overlook or underestimate the ability of young people. If you think the young people that you have worked with in the past or that you’re working with now have a bad attitude or a bad work ethic, or if you feel any of those things that Adan and I talked about earlier in the episode, maybe check in to see if that is a stereotype that you are applying to all young people, or if perhaps, the type of leadership that your employees need, those young employees need, might just be different than what you’re currently give them.

Adan Kovinich (31:44):
I think mine is going to be see the impact that you have on your people and see how it’s long-term, and think about what kind of impact or way you want them to feel when you lead them. And I think one other thing is I’m a huge mental health, mental illness supporter. I have written a ton about it. I’ve written a ton about my experience. So I think just being open to hearing it and really laying it out, that it’s okay to talk about anxiety and depression in the workplace, and that you are open to hearing it from your employees because when you allow for that to happen, you’ll really see the people that work for you, that struggle and suffer, you’ll see them flourish in a really different way. So I just wanted to share that tip, and hopefully those key takeaways for you can be applied. And I think I’d love to hear from the listeners if they do apply anything that we talked about today. I’d love to hear how it changed their business or changed their employees.

Cass Bald (32:53):
Or even if, as an older person, older than we are. You heard something that Adan and I said and thought that it was different than what you previously thought to be true, or if we gave you some perspective that you hadn’t previously considered, I’d love to know about that too.

Adan Kovinich (33:14):
I’m so open for conversation about all of the things we talked about today.

Cass Bald (33:19):
Okay. So on a much lighter note, I’m ridiculously excited for next week’s topic.

Adan Kovinich (33:27):
Me too.

Cass Bald (33:27):
It is a little bit less serious and heavy than leadership and everything that we talked about today and in last week’s episode. But what we are going to talk about is what your marketer is actually doing. And by that, I mean when you hire an agency, what are they doing behind the scenes? If you’re hiring a freelancer to do your in-house marketing, what should you be looking for or what should you be expecting from them? And we’re going to pull back the curtain and tell you all about what our day-to-day looks like and what we do for our clients.

Adan Kovinich (34:12):
We’ll see you next week when we take over She Talks Business for a third time.

Lisa Larter (34:18):
Thank you for joining me for this episode of She Talks Business. If you enjoyed the show, you know the drill, leave us a review, tell someone about it and join the conversation on social media. Thanks for listening and until next time remember, done is always better than perfect


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Lisa Larter

Founder and CEO of the Lisa Larter Group, master strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, social media expert, consultant, and business coach. Lisa inspires entrepreneurs and business owners to see the possibilities for their organizations when it comes to strategy. She uncomplicates modern marketing and creates (and implements) strategies for businesses that are guaranteed to increase visibility, inbound leads, and revenue.

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