Channeling energy from rejection

Picture of three crumbled up balls of yellow paper in a rubbish bin
Credit: Steve Johnson/Unsplash

Last week I received a blanket rejection email that my speaking proposal was not selected for a conference.  Haha, this isn’t my first rejection letter. This would be the first time I’ve spoken at this conference and I attended it last year. My proposal was about breaking the stereotypes of generations to create inclusive professional development programming.  I wanted to share a replicable program for other organizations to try: Emerging Professional Showcase/Look & Learn event. I thought that this conference would “get it” but when I got the feedback, I was surprised.

“The general feedback was the reviewers have confusion on removing stereotypes but using an alternative term. It was also mentioned this might be a good session to be cofacilitated with people from two different generations.”


When I saw that, I thought that maybe I had not done a good job of explaining the program and its purpose.  Maybe that is true.  Then the wheels of doubt started to turn. Maybe this program stinks. Maybe no one cares.

Regardless, when I re-examine the feedback, it tells me that there is still lots of work that needs to be done in this space and for good reason: generational stereotypes are everywhere. 

As a card-carrying millennial, I see it daily on LinkedIn.  HBR may offer advice in managing millennials, an eLearning blog may say that millennials need their training in a certain way, etc. You see it everywhere and there is a ton of misinformation out there.  There are many good folks that are trying to fight the good fight against this including Clark Quinn, author of a book that tackles such myths.  People like Clark and The Debunker Club are fighting the good fight to help us all get on common ground.  Not you, LinkedIn Millennial Expert. Seriously, search millennial expert in LinkedIn.  It’s almost as popular in headlines as ninjas….ALMOST.   

For all of those millennial naysayers, please answer this question:

“How can I have the same experiences as someone who grew up with different values, different gender, different geography—even if we happen to be born on the same day, let alone that same decade?

The bottom line is that millennials are people just like you.  We do not learn differently. We do not have shorter attention spans.  We are people. 

The purpose of the professional development program is to acknowledge EMERGING professionals.  Emerging professionals aren’t typecasted by the year they are born. Emerging professionals can be someone who is going through a career change, someone who went back to school after retiring, or even someone who is a student.  The emphasis is on where they are in their career journey. This program will feature speakers who identify as emerging professionals (student or 5 or fewer years of learning and development experience) to provide them an opportunity to present.  All generations are welcome here. Boomers, Gen X, Gen Z… however old you are IT DOES NOT MATTER! If you are newer to L&D we want YOU! Many students in graduate programs need presentation experience for their CVs and what better way to get some presentation experience under your belt than to do so in a safe and encouraging environment? There will be a panel of coaches who will provide individualized feedback to each presenter (written) for them to have the opportunity to grow.  The thing I’m most excited about though is to see what they talk about. I LOVE being around folks that are newer to L&D because I appreciate their perspectives. It makes me grow as I learn from their experiences too. Isn’t that what professional development should be about?

The Look & Learn component is going to provide everyone an opportunity to show off their work and talk about it.  Bring your best learning artifacts, share your lessons learned, and see how L&D is approached throughout Central Ohio.  I’ve had many L&D peers ask for this event and I wanted to make it happen for them. I’d also like to be able to give some prizes and let people vote for their favorites. 

I am committed, along with the wonderful committee who has been helping (Kara, Michelle, Jane, & Dana) to making the Emerging Professional Showcase/Look&Learn a success.  If you’d like to get involved in this event, it is October 3 at The Ohio State University’s Center on Education and Training for Employment. RFP will be up soon! Please let me know if you’d like to be a part of this inclusive event.  Learning is better when we all have a voice, we all feel like we can contribute, and there are no gatekeepers.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *