Sarah Sladek

Who and What Comes Next: Trends for 2022 and Beyond

November 17 @ 3:00 pm - 3:30 pm CST
Virtual Event

We are in an era of incredible disruption; organizations and leaders are contemplating their business strategies and trying to align them with predictions for the future. What trends are on the horizon? Is more disruption likely to occur? How can we predict the future? Join J. Sullivan Advisors’ Brain Break, featuring Sarah Sladek, CEO of XYZ University. XYZ University is a future-focused research and consulting firm, specializing in building inclusive inter-generational teams. In just 30 minutes, you will learn more about the trends coming of age alongside Generation Z — a generation raised with a whole new set of influences and obstacles in comparison to any generation that has come before them. Even their brain development differs! Come away with best practices for recruiting this futurist mindset to fuel innovation in your organization.  

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Young People Aren’t Joiners … Or Are They?

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December 7 @ 12:13 am CST

“Young people today just aren’t joiners.” How many times have you heard someone make that statement? It’s often used in frustration, accusing young people of being unreliable and unwilling to follow in another generation’s footsteps. It’s easy to point fingers and blame ‘kids these days’, simplifying it down to a generational stereotype — a pre-existing condition which repels young people from joining any membership organization. ‘Young people aren’t joiners’ is a frequently used answer, which means it’s the easiest answer. But it’s not the right answer. It’s true the decision to join an organization is accompanied with more consideration and scrutiny than in years past. From employers to faith-based groups, service clubs, and professional associations, people no longer connect to organizations simply because it’s what they are expected to do. There is a myriad of reasons why this happened, all tied to major social shifts, including but not limited to shifts in education, parenting, technology, demographics, politics, and economics. The bottom line? How we engage in and build community has changed and continues to change. So has the concept of ROI – return on investment. In 1994, associations experienced their first encounters with noticeable membership decline. At the time, Gen X was entering the workforce and when they didn’t immediately transition into membership, they became the first generation of non-joiners, referred to as slackers and the ‘what’s in it for me generation’. Regrettably, not much has changed since then. Membership decline has sustained, and I still hear leaders blaming young people for the organization’s impending ruin. If young people aren’t joining, there’s a reason why. At the core of our being, all people want to belong. We all need and want to be in community with others – and we all want to join a community supportive of our needs and interests. My years of research prove young people are joiners. However, they are seeking new and different ways to engage, and many organizations have struggled…

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Sate Employees Association of North Carolina

November 3
Virtual Event

        I’m pleased to be speaking with SEANC (State Employees Association of North Carolina) in this private event series. Topics:  Organization wide strategic development

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Sate Employees Association of North Carolina

October 26
Virtual Event

        I’m pleased to be speaking with SEANC (State Employees Association of North Carolina) in this private event series. Topics:  Organization wide strategic development

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An Asian woman facing opposite direction in a crowd

How to Bring Belonging Back

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December 7 @ 12:13 am CST

Early in my career, I was recruited to sit on an association’s board of directors and given the opportunity to spearhead a priority initiative for the organization. I was thrilled and jumped at the opportunity to take on such a prominent role. Imagine my disappointment when I attended my first board meeting and the initiative was tabled. The next several meetings I attended, the initiative continued to be backburned. It wasn’t long before I found myself feeling frustrated, unappreciated, and overlooked. My admiration for the association and passion for the project waned. I felt like I no longer belonged. Feeling like we don’t belong is a feeling we can all relate to, yet many organizations are struggling to foster a sense of belonging – and have been for quite some time. We know this to be true because most associations have reported declining membership trends for the past decade, just as employers have reported declining levels of employee engagement. And here and now, the workforce turnover is so massive, this era is being referred to as the Great Resignation. Belonging by definition means two things: ownership and a secure relationship. We feel like we belong when we’re invited to actively contribute and share our opinions and ideas, and we are listened to, respected, and positively encouraged. In the late 1990s, belonging began to transition. From workplaces to membership associations, the same trend was observed: Young people were less likely to join/stay/engage/renew. In other words, young people were less likely to feel like they belong. Why the sudden shift? And why have so many organizations struggled to re-engage young people? I’ve spent a lot of time researching this trend in an effort to find the answers. The answer is quite complex, but here’s the condensed version: The shift in belonging is a direct result of significant social change and the era during which younger generations have come of age. Young people are wary of forging connections and…

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A group of office workers at a conference table with laptops

Getting Leaders On Board With Change

December 7 @ 12:13 am CST

How to approach leaders that are stuck in tradition and often struggle with changing or trying something new. I’ve been a futurist for 20 years, and at just about every conference I’ve presented, someone has come up to me afterwards and said something similar to this: “I agree with what you say about the need to change, engage younger generations, and plan for the future — but I can’t apply it. I’m not the leader. And the people I work for have no desire to change. The people I work for are stuck in the past.” This is a space where many people exist, working in an organization underneath a leader or board of directors who either can’t or won’t be open to the concept of change. As a result, these team members feel powerless to innovate. They have ideas, but they believe they have no voice. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the 20th century, leadership was the equivalent of power, fueled by a top down, ‘do-it-because-I-said-so’ approach. It was a role that had to be earned over time, restricted to people with significant experience and a specific job title. In its era, this approach to leadership was effective. Here and now, this approach is highly ineffective. Here and now, organizations need leaders who are willing to disrupt the status quo and be open to new ideas and solutions. Here and now, the best leaders are visionary and add value to an organization—not slow it down or kill initiative. Regrettably, too many people think about and define leadership as though we’re still working in the 20th century. They think leadership remains limited to positions and titles and say things like “my leader won’t change”. If you haven’t heard it before, I will say it now: A leader who refuses to change isn’t permission to be complacent. It’s an outdated, irrelevant notion that people in ivory towers, sitting at mahogany board tables should grant…

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Losing Our Empathy: How to Team-Build When People Could Care Less

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December 7 @ 12:13 am CST

Blame it on a 24-hour news cycle, social media, corruption, the increased use of profanity, or savage political campaigns, but one thing has become very apparent, we have lost what connects us to each other — our empathy. Whether we’re arguing about politics or vaccinations, guns, or abortion, or which lives matter most, our society has been unable to successfully cooperate or community-build for quite some time now. In my line of work, this means more clients calling with concerns about teambuilding and inclusion. Employers are observing increased conflict and lower tolerance. Young employees are less likely to stick around in a setting like this, so the lack of empathy is also contributing to turnover. Empathy is the ability to emotionally understand what other people feel and how they see things from their point of view. Empathy leads to compassion and the desire to care for or help someone else. And our empathy is currently missing. New scientific research revealed adults today are caring less for others and more about themselves — and this has negatively influenced youth and young professional development. According to the research from Indiana University, declines in empathy among young people started happening in the early 2000s alongside a rise in mental health problems. Both outcomes are believed to be directly associated with burn-out. With the mainstreaming of technology, shifts in parenting and education, and a greater social emphasis on competitiveness, testing, and success, children were facing challenges earlier generations didn’t face. Researchers believe this generation’s self-care and care for others was backburnered to focus on personal success and survival. Here and now, children are observing communities in conflict, even during a global pandemic. Time will tell how this experience will influence their development, but the research indicates the conflict and lack of compassion is already more prevalent among adults than at any other time in history. The questions at the top of mind right now for many leaders and teams is:…

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A book cover - The End of Membership As We Know It

100 Best Membership Books Of All Time

December 7 @ 12:13 am CST

Sarah Sladek’s book, The End of Membership As We Know It, makes the BookAuthority list Learn More  

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Sarah Sladek

Short Life Lessons from Sarah Sladek

December 7 @ 12:13 am CST

Sarah Sladek was interviewed by World Class Performer and named a global top performer in business strategy Sarah Sladek is an author, speaker, strategist, and futurist. She is an experienced marketing and media professional who started researching demographic shifts in 2000. Sarah is the CEO and Founder of XYZ University which goal is to help organizations identify their competitive advantage, embrace change, bridge gaps, increase ROI, and remain relevant to future generations. Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life? I grew up in the state of Iowa, in a beautiful old brick home. There was a huge yard with many flowers and trees and my father built a treehouse for me. I spent my days using my imagination, writing stories in my head. As I grew older, I closely followed pop culture, fashion, and music trends. I was already on the path to becoming a writer and futurist. Also, my brother is 15 years older, and at an early age, I realized the generational differences between us. My business, research, and books were all inspired by this realization and childhood experience. Read the complete article here     

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Save the Associations

December 7 @ 12:13 am CST

 Octavio ‘Bobby’ Peralta, column contributor at Business Mirror deep dives in the Sarah Sladek’s mission and initiatives to Save the Associations. THE first time I “e-met” Sarah Sladek, American best-selling author, association membership growth strategist, and futurist, was when I attended the webinar of the Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE) in June last year. I also wrote about it in my June 19, 2020 column entitled, “All-Star Cast on Association Membership.” So it was a pleasant surprise when I received an email from Sarah last week, inviting my organization, the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE), to be one of the partners of her “Save the Associations” initiative. The initiative started out… Read the complete article here.

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