Interview: Bruce Tulgan


Name: Bruce Tulgan

Where do you live: New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Known for:
Back in 1993, I started the research that led to my first book, MANAGING GENERATION X, which was published in 1995. Ever since, I’ve been running three longitudinal research studies: One on the generational shift underway in the workforce. The second on the human capital management implications of that shift. Third, I’ve been conducting in-depth interviews about leadership/management/supervisory relationships in the workplace. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of individuals have participated in my research. I am probably best known still for helping companies plan for and adapt to the great generational shift in the workforce and the rising global youth tide of the Millennial Generation.

Currently actual with:
Me and my firm, RainmakerThinking, Inc. ® have been operating out of New Haven, Connecticut now since 1993 and I work with leaders and managers in organizations of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the United States Army to Wal-Mart and everyone in between. I conduct custom workplace research to help clients measure their own human capital management risks and opportunities, especially in relation to what I call Generational Shift Planning and Millennial Readiness. I also spend a huge amount of time helping organizations adjust their leadership culture and recommit to the fundamentals of strong highly engaged supportive coaching style management.

When did you realize that you were going to work with this?
It has been an evolution. I go where the research leads, and we go where clients ask me to go in order to help them learn from my research.

If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
New Haven Connecticut – because that’s where my friends are! Plus we have great theaters and restaurants and libraries and music and parks … and people.

How would you describe your creativity?
I try to learn every day. The more outside data I am taking in and considering and trying to make sense of, the more creative I am. It is a dialectal process. After all, one has to know something real in order to think critically – otherwise what is one to think about? Fantasy? That’s false creativity in my view.

How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
When I was working as a lawyer at a Wall Street law firm in the early 1990s, I started interviewing young people (at that time, those of my own age, since I was young) and that led to my first book.

What do you do at the moment?
My firm RainmakerThinking has been conducting in-depth workplace research now for more than 21 years.

A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
Creativity for the sake of creativity runs out of steam very quickly. What are you trying to accomplish? Start with that question. What outcomes will result from your creativity? What is the impact? That’s the key.

Tell us how it all started.
I was troubled by the impression that older more experienced people seemed to have about the new young workforce – at that time I was part of that new young workforce. That made me very curious. Why do the older more experienced people so misunderstand where young people are coming from? And where they are trying to go? Over the years, I have learned that business leaders in every industry are very concerned with the new emerging workforce. So I have continued answering those basic questions for years now: Where are young people coming from? and Where are they trying to go?

What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
Enough room to sit on the floor in a good stretching position while I work.

What is your favorite film?

Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
President Obama… Because he is the President of the United States (we only get one at a time!).

How do you like to spoil yourself?
I work out what my wife says is “an irresponsible amount” – does that count?

What is luxury for you?
Free time.

What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom?
When it comes to my work overall, the compliment I hope to receive is that my work has helped someone improve their outcomes in the workplace either because I’ve given them good advice for doing more work better and faster with a better attitude; or I’ve given them good advice to help the people they manage do more better faster with a better attitude; or I’ve helped them solve a problem or leverage an opportunity. Beyond that… I guess, when it comes to “creativity” per se, art, probably the most per se creative aspect of my work is the comedic aspect of my public speaking: So when people say that they are entertained, that my presentations are fun, or when they laugh at my jokes, I guess that is when I feel most complimented.

What do you fear most?
That’s a tough one. Suffering?

What is a happy life to you?
Peace and prosperity; meaning; service; prayer; satisfying work; and plenty of free time spent with my wife, family, and friends; lots of Karate practice; bike-rides and walks; fireplace and hot tub; chocolate chip cookies and other good snacks.

What does a regular day look like for you?
Mostly the answer to the previous question I am happy to say.

Tell us about your dream project.
The book I am writing now… But it’s a secret. So I can’t tell you.

Who is your professional role model/inspiration?
So many: Ken Blanchard. Stephen Covey. Marshall Goldsmith. Tom Peters. Jim Collins.

How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)?

Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
My wife.

What inspires you?
Generosity. Strength. Intelligence. Insight. Kindness. Speed. Power. Love.

A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
The Bible would be number one.

Connect with Bruce on LinkedIn
Check out his website
Email him here

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