Today, I spoke to Jane Buckingham, who is the President of Trendera, a generational expert, and author of her latest book called The Modern Girl’s Guide to Sticky Situations. She is also the wife of Marcus Buckingham, who appeared on the cover of Personal Branding Magazine in the seventh issue. In this interview, Jane talks about how she created her own brand, what sticky situations to avoid in the workplace, and more.
How did you come up with the The Modern Girl’s Guide brand? What about the name connected with your audience?
I think that women in my generation were raised (for the most part) to focus on their career and become empowered and strong women, not to learn to cook or hem a pair of pants or learn practical how-to’s. So while I was great career woman running my own consulting company, I could barely boil an egg or sew on a button. My mother had died when I was 21 and I really missed having someone to help give me those little helpful tips and tricks. I really wished there had been a book out there like it — one that compiled all of the information you needed in one place the way your best girlfriend would tell you. I kept thinking, and saying to friends, “You know like Emily Post or Eloise…but more Modern” And So the idea of doing a Modern Girls Guide just made sense! I think it resonated with so many women of many ages because everybody could use a little help in one area or another!
What are some sticky situations that happen at the workplace and how can we avoid them?
The workplace is a minefield of sticky situations. There are romantic entanglements (Do not, I repeat do not sleep with you boss!. There are financial predicaments : When someone finds out what you make — Neither confirm nor deny. There are embarrassing predicaments: When you send an email you instantly regret — Try didtheyreadit.com if this is a bad habit of yours! And there are of course serious work issues: You get passed over for a promotion or are worried you are going to get fired. Sorry, to long to explain, you may have to read the book 🙂
The best way to avoid sticky situations at work is to be as professional as possible and remember that your job is not like High School- even though it may seem like it at times. You need to try to put your job responsibilities ahead of your emotions and never react before you think first!
How were you able to write your first book at age 17? What were the challenges and what inspired you to do it?
Well, it was part luck and part hard work. My mother had been a writer and my father was a psychiatrist. So I think I was somehow destined to analyze about people and want to write about them. I remember reading a book about teenagers written by an “older person” (probably my age now) and saying to my mom “This guy has no idea what he’s talking about.” She asked if I could do any better and I figured at least I could do it from a teenagers perspective. It wasn’t easy to get a publisher. But at least my mother knew how to find them. Most of them didn’t think I would get it done. This was before teens were making movies, launching blogs and taking over the world…But Donald I Fine was kind enough to give me enough money to do some research. I sent surveys to schools across the country and getting the packets back and hand tabulating all of the results.
Now that I really understand research I cringe at my methodology. I remember getting a call while I was rehearsing a school play (my one and only lead) and the publisher told me I had to leave rehearsal to fly to Chicago to do some TV show (Oprah as it turns out)…No way I said, I have REHEARSAL!!! Suffice it to say I wound up going…
How does both you and your husbands brands help promote and build upon each other? Have you ever collaborated on something together?
We are extremely supportive of each other however we can be; but usually that means being sounding boards for each other, offering each other to clients, contacts or people we think might know something about our business. It’s interesting that the place our businesses really intersect is in managing Geny Y, where he has the management expertise and I have the Gen Y knowledge. We talk a lot about the challenges there and struggles and opportunities companies will have. We have talked about collaborating but as we try to schedule our lives so that one of us is there to do parenting duties (which we take very seriously) I think it might be hard for us to really work on a big project at the same time. Plus we might drive each other crazy since we both always think we’re right. Which would be hard as clearly I am 🙂
Your company focuses on the different generations (X, Y, Z). How do they defer when it comes to the workforce, and core values?
It’s tricky to generalize i but I think that Gen Y is really the generation that will shake things up. They are considered to be “ entitled”…and in some ways that’s true…Many DO want promotions after three months or constant praise. On the other hand they are innovators, optimistic and empowered. Their parents told them all along not to settle (part of why they may feel entitled) so they aren’t going to now. Gen X (who are mostly in their thirties) are physically a smaller generation (40 million Xers versus about 70 million Y’s) and they were misnamed the slackers from the start. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to work hard it was that they didn’t want to work hard, they just didn’t want to get stuck doing the wrong things! They have been a little slower to start but have emerged very focused on family and more traditional values. Lets wait on Z but it’s clear that social media will be one of their most defining characteristics.
Jane Buckingham is the bestselling author of The Modern Girl’s Guide to Life (2004), The Modern Girl’s Guide to Motherhood (2006), and her latest book called The Modern Girl’s Guide to Sticky Situations (2010). She is one of the foremost experts on Generation X, Y and Z. Jane has been studying and interpreting America’s youth for more than a decade, helping companies, educators and parents better understand 7-39 year olds. Currently, Jane is the President of Trendera, an innovative marketing and media consulting firm focusing on digital and non traditional trend forecasting. Throughout her career Jane has worked and consulted with various clients including The CW, Chanel, Microsoft, NBC, and many other Fortune 500 companies. She is a contributing editor to Cosmopolitan Magazine and regularly appears on nationally broadcast shows such as Good Morning America and The View. Jane has been featured in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, Fortune and The Boston Globe. She was recently named one of the 25 most powerful women in Hollywood by ELLE magazine.