Sharpening The Next Generation Of Leaders

If you want to sharpen a knife what do you do?

You use a sharpening steel. In the right hands the knife becomes sharper. And then it cuts through with more ease.

The world of work is changing.

What worked once isn’t anymore. We need to cut to the heart of the matter. They say steel sharpens steel.

Enter Waldemar Zimmer the steel to sharpen the next generation of leaders.

Waldemar saw poor leadership and set out to prove there could be a better way. After working himself up to CEO he sought a new challenge. His new mission is to develop a new generation of leaders.

After a childhood of facing and meeting challenges Waldemar allowed himself no excuse.

The complaints are that Gen Z are snowflakes, whiners and soft. I see no better Mentor than Waldemar to sharpen the next generation of leaders.

Listen in to our conversation to see how I came to that conclusion.



Waldemar: I was born in Kazakhstan, raised in Germany, and currently I’m based in Italy. So I moved to Italy in 2015 to fall forward for job, basically for business. And I supposed to stay a couple of years. I stayed four years.

Waldemar: Then I went back to Germany, didn’t like it. Come back to Italy. Yeah now I’m here based and not planning to move back to Germany. Maybe in a few years time, I don’t know. I will go still explore some other Southern European countries. Spain, Portugal are interesting destinations.

Waldemar: So we’ll see. 

Rob: The climate’s much 

Waldemar: better, isn’t it? Yeah. Yeah. It’s it’s climate. It’s the life, the quality of life. I enjoyed it more, the food, the people, it’s everything bit more like people are happier. It seems like people are happier. In Germany, what I got what I was struggling with because then it was also COVID because it was 2019 to 20 21 when I went back.

Waldemar: People were a lot complaining. It was just terrible in my opinion. So it was really yeah, draining some, [00:01:00] I felt no energy. So it was a whole nother story when you look into the South and European countries, people are wide, open, easygoing. So yeah it’s 

Rob: nice. Whereabouts in Germany.

Waldemar: I’ve been living close to Cologne. Cologne, yeah, the last years I was in Dusseldorf. North Rhine Westphalia, it’s in Western Germany. Close to the border of Netherlands. Okay. 

Rob: And where are you in 

Waldemar: Italy? North of Italy, Bologna. It’s actually a good strategic place to be because it’s between Rome and Milan and it has a great connection with the train, fast trains.

Waldemar: So you can reach basically all the hotspots like Florence, Venice. Milan, Rome. So whenever people are coming to Italy, I’m telling them stay in Bologna because you enjoy really the nice city because it’s a smaller city than Rome and Milan. You can really enjoy everything here. And when you want to visit other cities that are interesting you just take the train.

Waldemar: It’s quite cheap transportation here and you [00:02:00] go. Visit the other places and then you go back to Bologna. 

Rob: So so you’ve grown up in one culture and you’ve moved Yeah, you’ve experienced really three, major ones. 

Rob: You remember much of Kazakhstan? 

Waldemar: Yes and no.

Waldemar: So I remember, of course like the first, because I was very young. I was six years old when I came to Germany. But I was raised in a quite Russian way. So it was USSR back then. So my mom is Russian. My dad is German, born in Kazakhstan, but German parents. But I was raised basically the Russian way.

Waldemar: So with the Russian culture, food and everything like what’s around the Russian culture. I had never the feeling this connection with Kazakhstan, with the country, but with the Russian culture, yes. So I’m really connected to that. So from family standpoint, yeah.

Rob: I have a little experience. I did a martial art Sistema, which is actually it was a Russian in Canada, Vladimir who he brought it to the West, but it was very rooted in Russian orthodoxy. 

Rob: There was a lot [00:03:00] of deep, profound ideas. It’s like you hit someone to take the aggression away.

Rob: You don’t hit to destroy, you hit to remove the tension and it was a lot about just a different way of relating to people. 

Rob: It was more. Inclusive than like a western. Yeah. It was more about the group and more about it’s remove ego of those kind of things.

Rob: Like it didn’t have any belt system. It didn’t have rankings. It was about you just doing the best you can do rather than. Yeah. Where a lot of martial arts are very you wait till these have, yeah, you will have your place and it’s, yeah, 

Waldemar: you got it. 

Waldemar: I’m very passionate about martial arts myself, and this is something that definitely is coming from my Russian side, because in Russia.

Waldemar: You are born into like combat sports a bit. So there are in schools, some of starting from my father, my uncle, you are half like wrestling and the wrestling Sambo and boxing are basically like the school sport subjects, and There, I totally agree. And [00:04:00] what’s with your experience?

Waldemar: So that the way they are living martial arts and all the combat sports around is more like creating a community. 

Waldemar: Creating the sense of discipline, of work ethic, of dedication. So it’s really, This is fascinating. So because Russia and the former Soviet Union, it has so many different influences from different cultures.

Waldemar: They have a huge Muslim culture there and Islam culture, and they have a huge religious background. So it’s really fascinating. The people I’ve connected with from this part of the world also. After I grew up in business and was always a lot of exchange about these topics how you get raised with these values from the Russian culture.

Rob: So what martial arts did you do? 

Waldemar: Now I’m still into boxing. I was doing Muay Thai for 17 years. Then I stopped. I was active, actually, I was fighting in 2013, 2014. Then I [00:05:00] injured myself, broke my hand, nothing serious, but back then I was working and my employer was not very happy about that. So it was basically, you choose. You go, it’s working still as a mechanic. So you have to work with your hands. So it was basically choose the sport or your job, choose the job, still continue with the sports. And in COVID, I started with Brazilian jujitsu.

Waldemar: I started with jujitsu grappling because funny story, my. neighbor in Dusseldorf. Back then he came from Mexico and he was a jujitsu instructor of purple belt. And during COVID, he had a nice place. And in his in his flat, he had a room where he basically had all the mats and equipment to practice jujitsu.

Waldemar: And he was doing somehow like Illegal private classes for jiu jitsu students and we catched up because we were talking a lot about UFC and we were watching fights together and he was like, Oh, come over. I’m going to show you some moves. And I really fell in love with how exhausting this sport is. I started to to roll a bit with him to wrestle to do that kind of stuff.

Waldemar: And yeah, ever since I’m [00:06:00] practicing that as well. So I’m not trying to do three times for a week combat sports, mixing it up. Nothing like too strict, nothing too, no competition but I really enjoyed the community and the mental and physical benefits, of course. 

Rob: Yeah. It teaches you a lot as well.

Rob: I used to box just as a teen for a couple of years. You have to be so fit that I remember is the only time I ran. If you weren’t fit enough, it was like, you were so tired in the end that you’d rather be punched than hold your arms up.

Rob: So it’s really tough to do that and any kind of job just because it takes so much time. I only did a couple of sessions of. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but if I’d known younger, I would have spent much more time because I’ve got my girlfriend’s two boys, they do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Rob: So I think that’s, it’s a lot of fun, but it’s also the most 

Waldemar: useful. Yes, I think so for self defense, for mental strength, for physical strength it’s the best thing you can do in my opinion. I wish also I would have discovered that way sooner because I see that I’m [00:07:00] very stiff in the hips.

Waldemar: So I’m really struggling. I’m doing a lot of mobility every day, stretching out, but I’m so stiff in the hips that you’re really limited in certain aspects of doing that. If you want to reach a certain level, if you just want to have fun and you have a good instructor, which I have who like somehow goes down to your level, he creates this flow moment where he’s like above, just above your skill set. And he’s going probably 30 percent while I’m giving 112. But that’s the way like they know how to balance that. And then it becomes really fun for me. And it’s completely crazy. I’m doing that.

Waldemar: Once per week, maybe because after a session, I’m so exhausted. My arms are sore for one week like for just grabbing them and holding the people, it’s incredible. Yeah, 

Rob: I started to do cause this systema that I went to is like two and a half hours is the nearest class. So I thought I would do it, but just looked at my age.

Rob: I looked at how long it’s going to take to do it. I looked at, how many injuries and things and I just thought, it’s just [00:08:00] fitness now. But what I really, one of the things that really that I really enjoyed most about Systema was the first thing they do is most of what they teach is confronting fear.

Rob: I’ve been in karate class, I never really liked oriental martial arts because there always seemed to be a lot of ego in it. I was at karate and I’d gone cause I wanted my daughters to have some kind of thing and we used to go and I didn’t really enjoy it. I remember there was a grading.

Rob: And there was this like fifth Dan black belt or something came down and it was clearly a show. And it was like strictly judge or something. He sits and he is prancing about. And this one was like, you’re doing this wrong and shouting to people, no, do it like this.

Rob: And it was like very much entertainment. He was criticizing and picking at everyone. I was like, you’re just wanting to make a show of yourself And yet everyone passed. 

Rob: I’m like, how can you like be ripping into people? 

Rob: First of all, whatever you do, there’s gonna be Like 50 people go for a show grading or something.

Rob: Some of them shouldn’t pass because if they’re passing then what’s the grading? 

Rob: Yeah and but you can’t be [00:09:00] ripping in and going you’re not doing this, right? 

Rob: You should be doing this. You should be doing this and then go. Yeah. Okay, you passed it’s like it devalued it for me. 

Rob: Then the other thing I had was we very rarely did any actual it was all choreographed and you very rarely did any actual sparring and then I was sparring with this brown belt and because he was used to what he was doing, whereas I was used to boxing, so I knew how to score points and I was scoring points and I could see him getting wound up and then when he did get punched, he broke my rib.

Rob: Oh my God. And it was. Yeah, it was just a frustration. It wasn’t actually real. It was very choreographed and you do this and then you do this. 

Rob: So when I went to Systema, it was just like, okay, fine. And what they actually did was they did a lot of stuff like blindfolding you. So like I remember we did Systema camp and you do it blindfolded, walking through the woods.

Rob: And so it was stuff like. They would push you into trees you had to avoid quickly. 

Rob: So it was a lot of things, but the first thing they taught you was breathing to manage your fear. And it was things like you would lay down and be punched and you would [00:10:00] try to wind each other.

Rob: So that you would learn how to recover. So when you were winded that you weren’t. 

Rob: Because normally I think if you were in a karate fight or something and you got winded, it’s like, it’s a shock and you don’t know how to deal with it. Yeah. 

Rob: Whereas the first thing they did was to teach you how to deal with fear and all of those things so that you were able to cope I think because it comes from it’s a, or the story is it’s a Spetsnaz thing.

Rob: So they teach you the idea is that you’re able to fight. Even when you’re injured, not that you have to train to be at your best. 

Rob: So what were, would you say are the lessons that all of your experiences with martial arts have taught you and how does that inform and shape the work that you do.

Waldemar: The biggest benefits that I always noticed and especially now noticing after this so many years doing martial arts and working out in general. I think that doing hard things, and this is not like the mental coach speaking that we used to, but doing hard things every day, somehow helps you really to live an [00:11:00] easier life somehow,. 

Waldemar: I actually, I listened to a podcast from Andrew Huberman recently that they discovered very recently, actually a part in the brain. So please don’t call me out on this specific term, but there is a part in the brain actually, which is growing with the fact of doing stuff that we don’t want to do. And the interesting thing is that it’s really growing only when we dislike something doing. 

Waldemar: So for example, if you do the first time a cold plunge and you hate it because it’s cold, but then you are getting used to that and you suddenly become like, okay, it’s nice I like that. The, it has no more effect on this growth of this specific area of the brain to surpass difficult situations. 

Waldemar: What he says is that you should try to find every day something that goes beyond this level of comfort that you have, even if you’re doing a hard workout and you enjoy the workout, it means you need to work harder.

Waldemar: I started somehow to follow this and [00:12:00] the biggest benefit that I see is actually really to have a better focus in my life. 

Waldemar: Better focus on, on, on all aspects of life, business, private life, personal life goals, whatever. So it gives you somehow more clarity. In your mind. So when I work out, when I do hard things, independent of martial arts or just weightlifting or whatever I really try to push myself hard, always harder than the day before.

Waldemar: This translates actually in a very relaxed day because I did something that I already didn’t want to do. 

Waldemar: Throughout my entire life when I was doing martial arts when I was doing that and because it’s you did it yourself. It’s not nice to be punched in the face and Even if you’re not having this fighting experience where there is a lot of fear also coming in.

Waldemar: So what you said before that people, when they start fighting, they have to deal with the fear. 

Waldemar: You have to deal with the fear also when you’re going into the sparring session, you have to do [00:13:00] also with the fear when you are working hard towards a certain thing.

Waldemar: You need to get used to that. So the real benefits that I see is that I was able to get used to do harder things used to, to complain less. Also, if you want. So really this had a big impact on my life to complain less and just push through it. 

Waldemar: Like in, in sports, when you see there is a three minutes timer, you are in a sparring session, you’re completely dead and you’re like, okay, I can’t make it.

Waldemar: And you see the clock ticking, you push through it and you say, okay, in three minutes, it’s over. 

Waldemar: When you find the same situation in your life and you have to do something you don’t want you somehow remember this and say, okay, this is not forever. I’m just going to push through it and it will be over.

Waldemar: Maybe it takes a week. Maybe it takes two weeks, maybe one month, but it will be over one day. Yeah. So this is something that I really transferred from this. Daily workout and martial arts. Yeah, 

Rob: that’s Yeah, that’s something that I [00:14:00] noticed. In Systema I remember when we were doing something that we were doing an exercise it wasn’t to be winded or anything and I was Sparring with someone or fight And he winded me And it was, like you’re winded.

Rob: And then there’s everyone’s around and you’re like, okay, I’ve been trained for this. I have to get my breath back. And he’s he punched me and he wasn’t supposed to wind me. And it was unfair and he shouldn’t have done this. And there’s all this kind of whining in your head.

Rob: And then it’s Oh, look, they’re looking. Look, he’s looking at me and you should be recovered quicker than this. And so there’s all this kind of like public shame and it’s not feeling good enough and it’s feeling sorry for yourself. And that’s really what I learned from that and the same thing when I started ending the shower with a cold shower and you step in the shower and first it’s fuck you.

Rob: And you do it, you can do it from a kind of hate of I’m going to be defiant. And and eventually after a while, it just, it’s just Okay. It just is, and you just accept it. Yeah. 

Rob: And you’re learning that to get to that place of acceptance quicker. I noticed that also as well my, both my daughters hated maths and I tried teaching them maths and they’re like, [00:15:00] no, not doing it.

Rob: I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it. And the amount of resistance and then they’ll go, okay, I did it. And then it’s five minutes and it’s done. 

Rob: So I noticed that myself and with other people.

Rob: And when I hate the gym, it’s Oh, I’ve got to get myself to go there. And then, Oh, and then it’s all this kind of whining. So I can definitely see that there is definitely a muscle. And once you’ve been through it a few times, you can go, okay, you’re just whining. Shut up and just do it. And I think how do I say this?

Rob: In a kind way, but I think for all of us, like we can recognize it in ourself and we can go, okay, stop whining. 

Rob: But sometimes we see it in other people and we’re like, okay, you just need to stop whining and just do the thing. But someone who maybe hasn’t had that experience or that realization yet, we have to be able to get over.

Rob: The same message by in a more, I don’t know, can you give it in a softer way? 

Waldemar: Yeah. I agree on that. 

Rob: I’m getting a sense of your background, where you’ve come from. So now I’m interested in, so you’ve been talking a lot about a new age of leaders. 

Waldemar: Yes. Yeah. Leadership. New age leaders. Oh yeah. Let’s call it [00:16:00] everything. What’s future leader. Yeah. That stuff. Yeah. 

Rob: So this is where, this is your focus is like training the next generation of leaders. Yeah. So where did this come from?

Rob: What has been your experiences and what led you to this? 

Waldemar: It started basically from my own experience. So when I started working in corporate., it was actually a very funny story how I became a leader myself or how I actually got the ambition to become a leader myself.

Waldemar: I started working at a very young age, 15 years old. Two decades now, 34, 2006. And I came back home complaining quite a lot with my dad, about my boss. I was like going this guy is absolutely, horse shit. I can’t work with him. And he was like, why are you complaining?

Waldemar: If you can do it better become your a leader yourself. Do something because this guy is in this position because he worked hard. Of course me as a 16 years old, it’s like work harder while he’s not doing a shit. No, it’s not so hard. But then my father somehow planted this. This thought in my head, and I was like, okay, maybe I should do something better [00:17:00] if I’m not in the opinion that he’s doing a great job. 

Waldemar: So a few weeks after we had this chat, I actually quit my job as a technician, went to university, graduated from university in mechanical engineering, started having my vision to go towards leadership. And I was saying directly, I’m going to go all in, I want to be a CEO of a company. 

Waldemar: Back then the thought was being a CEO is being your own boss, but it’s not so true. I was like, still a young naive. I was like, I need to be a CEO. And I started working on that. Went into project management because I wanted to see a broader picture of how the landscape is, how the company’s functioning.

Waldemar: Started moving up my way in, in the career and working with great people, leaders, bad people, leaders, and trying really to capture the essence of good, bad leadership. And I arrived at a certain point where I really I became a leader first time in 2017, started to lead a small team, then growing into a managing director role, having 70 people, big [00:18:00] responsibility.

Waldemar: This is the moment where I started also to coach, where I became a coach myself because I knew I need some instruments, some assets to, to manage these people, especially in a young age. And So back then the focus was not so much on next generation leaders or what’s going on. But once I reached that point where I was sitting together with other people on the table, I noticed, and I had the privilege, I call it privilege, at a very young age to be offer this opportunity.

Waldemar: I worked hard for it, but I was offered this opportunity to participate to board meetings, steering meetings with really good people, high level professionals. They were all older than me, 15, 20 years plus. And I noticed While talking to them while talking about the business, how big actually the gap is between the workforce and what’s going on in certain meetings on a board level.

Waldemar: So I was asking myself, what’s the reason? 

Waldemar: Is there a communication? 

Waldemar: Is there [00:19:00] a lack of leadership skills? 

Waldemar: Is the organization not good? 

Waldemar: And there are a lot of reasons. There are so many different things to be considered, but Where I really started to work towards the next generation of leaders to work, how to build the next workforce was during my last experience.

Waldemar: I got hired by a company for a promising project. I was leading an R and D department which was supporting a European project for battery manufacturing. It was great experience, 27 young people. And this company’s leadership blew basically all the talent burned the talent within 16 months, 18 months including myself.

Waldemar: So I left the company as well because there was a very difficult situation also in terms of company, but it was so evident that the company was not able to manage the people and there was multiple reasons for that. 

Waldemar: One of them was that leadership was not ready to work with the younger workforce and was not ready [00:20:00] to support them in their needs and their development.

Waldemar: And in my opinion, how companies can, that it’s not about changing people. I’m not believing so much into improving, into changing people. I’m more into giving them an opportunity to do things differently because if you’re a senior manager or if you’re a younger manager, it actually doesn’t matter.

Waldemar: So when I talk about next generation leaders. It’s of course, somehow with a point generational gap and generational transition, but on the other hand, next generation leadership for me is the way we do the way we lead people. Okay. So a next generation leader can be a senior leader, 60 years old. And the goal is, or my goal and my vision is not to change him or her.

Waldemar: how things have been done, but offer an opportunity to do things differently. 

Waldemar: Because now we have a different landscape. We have a different world. And maybe it’s my perception because I just also grew up in this, but I have the perception that things accelerated in a quite Let me say impressive [00:21:00] way that of course COVID changed a lot of things and so on. But it’s not only COVID it’s everything around there changed so fast and that companies are struggling to adapt it to this change.

Waldemar: At the same pace. So they’re always a step behind. And in this moment, I have the feeling they are not even one step but two, three steps behind. 

Waldemar: So when I talk about next generation leaders, I’m actually well focused, of course, on working on the younger workforce and giving them the opportunity because I’m also a big believer into the fact that If you are a good leader or if you want to be a good leader you don’t have to have 20 years of experience so you can be a good people leader also at the younger age.

Waldemar: I saw it myself. I experienced myself. I got accepted by all the workforce. I was 30 years old managing director. People were 60 years old. They were following me as a as their leader because I have a certain approach. Towards this kind of people. And this is basically my mission. 

Waldemar: This is what I want to teach people how to basically go and explore a [00:22:00] different opportunity, a different way to go and practice leadership rather than telling the same things that everybody’s saying okay, we need to be empathic.

Waldemar: You need to be open. You need to communicate. This is the theory and we need this, but then there is the practical part that we need to think about. How can we actually change, not change, how can we offer people the opportunity to think, behave and feel different about things and situations.

Rob: So you’ve got the old way, the new way and then you’ve got think, feel, behave. So what would be the old way? 

Waldemar: The old way, not to finger point or something, I think the old way, the business world, it has seen different kinds of revolutions.

Waldemar: We started somehow with industrial revolutions, then we go to information. revolution. And now it’s more social, digital. And when you look in these free revolutions that we faced, the needs of the people, of course, were different and they changed. Today I made a post about loyalty and that loyalty never existed before.

Waldemar: Why? 

Waldemar: Because my opinion. people, [00:23:00] my grandparents, they were working for survival. Okay. So they had a job where the boss could treat them very bad. And they were going to work every day anyway, without complaining because job was food on the table for me, my family. 

Waldemar: Then already with my parents and with my generation, especially things changed a lot.

Waldemar: We got options. We are more working towards a better lifestyle. Okay. 

Waldemar: We want a better life. This is where it comes. We want to be earning more. So we are able maybe to accept a job that is not fulfilling us. That’s not so purposeful, but if it’s paid well, it’s good because we can buy nice things and we can live a good life.

Waldemar: A better life that our parents had, maybe a bigger house, a fancy car. And now what we experience with the social revolution, we see that people are aiming for quality of life. They’re not aiming anymore for having this nice things. 

Waldemar: First and foremost, they already have it. So their parents took care of that.

Waldemar: They are now living in a basically good world. So most of them are like, [00:24:00] okay, I don’t care. Earning a lot of money. 

Waldemar: What I want is I want to have fun. I want to have freedom. I want to have purpose, flexibility, and all that stuff. The old way, if you look at this three stages, so the old way that this basically in between my grandparents and my parents was a lot of commands and control and the boss is always right.

Waldemar: You come to work, this is your task, do it and not complain. And people were not complaining because they had this this need. Yeah. The basic need was to earn and to not upset your boss, because it could mean that you lose your job and then you don’t earn anymore.

Rob: Okay. A new world. So this is what I talk about as well, but I talk about it in a very different way. 

Rob: My whole thing, my background is relationships. And I don’t think we ever needed the relationships that we need now. I don’t think the old way, when you look at the industrial revolution, it’s about logistics.

Rob: It’s about factories. It’s about concrete things that you can see. And when you say, do you see the table over there? Can you take something from the table and put it on a desk over there? 

Rob: Everyone understands that because we can see [00:25:00] it. But when you talk about I want you to improve the efficiency of this spreadsheet or something like that it’s something nebulous.

Rob: Yeah. And so there’s an entirely different layer and different level of communication that we need. So when we’re working in, someone’s. I don’t know, in finance or someone’s in marketing and then they’re talking about something that’s abstract. The other person doesn’t fully understand it. So we need the communication to be able to get something that they don’t understand.

Rob: Because it’s not a job role that they like we all understand plumber. We all understand builder or something. 

Rob: So the communications needs are different, but also the amount that we need to work together and the amount like. If you’re fed up and you’re working in a factory, the factory still goes, it doesn’t matter how happy you are, you can still press the button, you can have a supervisor who can watch it all whereas today no one can watch you and the ability, the difference in potential of what you can bring between you being happy and you being miserable is you’re going to be so much more creative, you’re going to be [00:26:00] much more open, you’re going to have, It only tells you how to have an idea.

Rob: Say if you’re a technology company, someone has an idea for a new app, that could be a billion dollar app idea. And the difference between that idea. To anything is how much, how creative the person is, how free they feel able to communicate the idea, to share the idea, how supportive the environment is to take that idea and implement it.

Rob: So there’s so much more value. And I think that’s what, that’s the difference that you’re talking about in that we, back when I look at my parents. 

Rob: My dad worked for Kodak for 45 years. And the idea then was you would find a job and you’d stay in that job and you’d find a job that you could stay for life.

Rob: Yeah. Retiring. Yes. Yeah. 

Rob: It was even my age that, it’s like, Oh, people changing their jobs all the time. And now. Yeah, we are so rich that people don’t, no one needs to work, in the Western world, there’s enough of a security blanket that you’re going to be okay. You’re going to survive.

Rob: You’re still going to have an iPhone. You can probably [00:27:00] still play on the Xbox. You can watch TV. Nothing bad’s going to happen. And companies, yes, that’s what companies, they need and especially today so this might be something that you can help me with. So people of my generation so I’m 52 soon.

Rob: And for me, I talked to my daughters and that, and they’ve got completely different view of the world, and for someone like us we’re now having to adapt to trans and it’s everything that we were built to. To grow up with these are the solid foundations.

Rob: And so a lot, so you hear a lot of people and everyone’s talking about Gen Z and millennials and they’re entitled and all of this stuff. So I’m interested to understand your views. So when someone complains to you, say, Oh, Gen Z doesn’t want to work today. And what do they want? Maybe they want everything and they want it now.

Rob: So what’s your understanding and your insight to that? 

Waldemar: First, I would like to leave a first small comment on the communication because I really like and follow your content very actively due to that because communication. I think it’s one of the people skills that will ensure that you’re doing fine [00:28:00] in life today because This one thing and I see communication from two standpoints.

Waldemar: So you have clearly like the verbal nonverbal communication. This is one thing. But what it’s more important is especially in the context of leadership, and now we’ll make the bridge to your question is whenever you are in the room and no matter which. To which generation you belong yourself.

Waldemar: Now, nowadays you will have a multi generational audience. So you come into a meeting and you will have senior leadership. You will have a young people just hired. So gen Z, millennials, boomers will have everybody around the table and the real key and the real skill, the secret skill and communication is to communicate in a way that you get everybody on board, right? 

Waldemar: So you have to be really good in delivering a message that is understood on all the different layers of different generations. So this is something that I really Proactively studying. So how can this be done to [00:29:00] ensure that you are perceived on all different levels of generations?

Waldemar: Same way. Just wanted to add this to your communication topic. When people come and I hear that often actually especially from the older generation, when we speak about the young people and they don’t want I’ve been actually Friday and Monday yesterday morning, I was delivering training to a technical college, 20 years old guys.

Waldemar: So I was not delivering training. I was there as a guest for a testimonial speaking about my experience and so on. And I was so surprised about how Great, these people are, because there, there was a session where I had the opportunity to speak and then there was a smart questions. So they had the opportunity to ask questions they typed it in digital.

Waldemar: And then there was like a quick question round and the questions they made were made me understand how well prepared they are actually. So they really understand what they want. And they really see that there was a shift, but I think somehow they feel still misunderstood from [00:30:00] other generations, because when we speak about “they are lazy”, they are not 

Waldemar: ” They don’t want to work.

Waldemar: They don’t have clear ideas”. 

Waldemar: It’s because we are not listening. This is a clear stereotype that we’re having say, okay, they are 20 years old and they continue studying because they don’t want to work. I started working with 16. They are still studying their master with 36, and there is okay, all this stuff.

Waldemar: But when you are actually speaking to this generation and you try to understand them rather than making assumptions about what they’re doing or what they’re not doing. You really fast understand what they really need. And if a company leader, a person, a parent tries really to understand what is their need and supports act as a sponsor towards these needs I think a lot of good things can happen. 

Waldemar: Not all things will be aligned with what is maybe our own ideas of how things should be done. But this is at the same time the good thing when [00:31:00] it comes to have Different generations when it comes to have different cultures among the table. 

Waldemar: Also when I speak about cross cultural communication and management, and I say the exact same things when working with different generations, try to bring as much as possible diversity to the table and pick cherry from every single generation, every single culture. If you do you really get the best result. 

Waldemar: I guarantee that everybody has something to add to the discussion. It’s just about our own willingness to extract this information and to use it to our own benefit. 

Rob: When you talk about communicating a message in different ways what specifically, in what specific different ways are you, like when you’re coming up with a message, how are you thinking about portraying it in what different ways as in the different words or as in the different references?

Waldemar: I think it’s all together. So it’s about verbal nonverbal communication towards a diversified audience. 

Waldemar: So it’s a blend of things that we need to consider in my opinion. [00:32:00] The easy thing is when I speak to Gen Z audience or to senior management audience, you and I, we adopt the way we talk, we speak, we are showing, let me, a different posture.

Waldemar: Maybe when I speak to the young people, I speak like they’re speak, I’m really like easygoing with them. 

Waldemar: And this is where I create also the great connection to them. Great relationships. So I’m somehow showing them that I’m not superior than them. 

Waldemar: On the other hand, when I speak with senior executives, I show respect for their seniority, for their experience, for how far they came.

Waldemar: So I adopt that. Now you’re coming together and you bring both together. If I would straight away communicate, like I do with senior executives, I will immediately lose the young people. If I start speaking slang, young people, senior executives would be like, Oh my God, this guy is not he’s crazy. He’s not reliable. He’s not he’s not a professional, so I think it’s it’s really tricky to find out how to communicate efficiently [00:33:00] when you are trying to address such a big gap or to close such a big gap in terms of communication and understanding on the generational.

Waldemar: So what I do usually is I blended, I try to stay very composed and professional in my language, in my body language. But I use very simple communication to not lose the younger audience. So to make them understand that I care. That they understand what I have to say. So this helped me a lot when I was delivering communication meetings back then when I was a general manager.

Waldemar: So I did every few months communication meeting and what I see from senior management, for example, when they are doing a communication meeting and sharing the company results and new projects and whatever. 

Waldemar: So what are they saying? 

Waldemar: They’re saying, okay, this is the revenue. This is the eBit, this is that, this is this.

Waldemar: And they’re using a lot of words and terms that many people don’t understand. Not only because, there’s a generational gap, but also because there is a knowledge gap.

Waldemar: I [00:34:00] heard once a general manager or CEO speaking a lot about sales and everything to an audience, which was 80 percent technicians and guys who were taking care of assembly departments. And these guys, what they wanted to hear. 

Waldemar: So you need to adjust also the information is okay. When are the next machines coming? 

Waldemar: What should we do the next six months? 

Waldemar: So also adjusting the information. So you are in a difficult situation because you have to speak to a diversified audience and you have to deliver information that for some people is relevant and for others not but what you really want if you do that is that all the information you give is relevant to everybody and you want that everybody somehow understands that. 

Waldemar: So what I really suggest when I do it myself or when I work with my clients is to keep it simple and you can actually don’t mistake if you keep your communication simple, but in the professional way start there and then see, and it’s adjust and it has so many different aspects that need to be considered, but that worked fine for me. 

Rob: When [00:35:00] I think along those lines, I always remember Steve jobs and how much effort he made on simplicity. I think that is really the key is that when you share information, there’s there’s a certain amount of digestion and the digestible your messages, the more people will pay attention to it. 

Rob: So you can either, have this wordy, complicated thing. And very few people will take the effort to digest it, or you can digest it, and so it’s simple and everyone understands, right? 

Rob: I agree with what you say.

Rob: I think people are people and there is like we’re all the same. When you look at. I think a lot of, like older people will look at kids and they go, Oh, they’re always on their phones and all this, but so are we it’s because technology is a bit like, like food companies, they make the most money by providing the most amount of sugar and salt.

Rob: So the more junk food they have, the more we will like it. Same thing with technology. They’re doing the same to our attention. It’s like the most amount of dopamine per minute is what’s going to win. And we’ve become, we’ve become an attention deficit society because we are dopamine [00:36:00] addicted.

Rob: Having said that there are distinctions. I don’t know if you’ve ever come across morgan housel. And he’s got a psychology of money 

Rob: I really love his insight that yeah what people have lived through the experiences that people have lived through the 40s What was it 30s depression?

Rob: Yeah the world wars the 60s like You know the materialistic 80s 

Rob: That is going to shape a generation, how a generation thinks about money. And in the same way what has happened culturally is going to shape how a generation, their orientation and the way that they look at the world. And I had a conversation, one of these conversations, and it actually went to about Gen Z and things.

Rob: And what I. really understood there was that. So when you look at Gen Z now, which is probably, like the people that you were speaking to yesterday, a little bit younger than you is they’ve grown up where most of their life, from before teenage has been spent on social media, the people they follow and no longer TV shows and unrealistic stars, but they’re YouTubers [00:37:00] who they’ve grown up with their vlogs and they’re people that they feel that they know. 

Rob: What I realized is they learn less from life by being taught than by watching and vicariously experiencing. And I think they struggle when they go into a organization that’s you’re going to learn this and you’re going to do this.

Rob: And they’re like, no, like this YouTuber just goes in and does it. 

Rob: I’m just going to go in and do it. Exactly. And I think that is the problem. And this was Sandy said, you have to show me take me to the water, give me basically give me the experience. And they want the experience, but not being told about the experience.

Rob: So I’m wondering your thoughts on that. 

Waldemar: Yeah, I really like that. That example that you made. And I actually thought recently about that, but you’re saying growing with social media and only if you think about the amount of input and information that you get, and when you’re younger you try to identify with your hero. 

Waldemar: For me, it was, maybe that’s why I started to do a lot of combat sports and sports in general, because I was like a big fan of action movies, Arnold [00:38:00] Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Rocky movies, Jean Claude Van Damme.

Waldemar: This was my world, and they were my heroes. And I somehow pictured, I want to be like them, fit and cool, but I have three people I admire. And I try to work something towards somehow to look like them, to do stuff like them. 

Waldemar: The younger generations. We think they have so many inputs, so much input from all different types of sources, and it gets way more realistic for them to reach certain goals. And they are more willing what I experienced to approach this in a try and fail approach. 

Waldemar: So they are more willing, in my opinion, to try new things to fail and to retry while already my generation, so millennials. I was raised very very traditional.

Waldemar: Let me say. So you start you study you, you graduate and graduated mechanical engineering. So this is going to be my life, mechanical engineer. And then, okay. I shifted towards some different stuff, but the [00:39:00] way that we are living today, that people change careers, change paths almost every two years.

Waldemar: And they build something. On social media, you build something you’re two years later, you do something completely different than you built in a completely new life. 

Waldemar: And three years after that you start again and you build again, something. So it gives people the belief to. That this is possible.

Waldemar: So I can do that. When such a person coming in into a company and wants to do stuff, I want to do stuff. I want to experience that. I want to make a difference. 

Waldemar: We are from the other generation. We think no, you should do the thing slowly learn, because this is the path, because in our head, we are like we don’t want something bad for them.

Waldemar: We want to help them. Because in our head, we want to help them to create a path, professional career, long term career, so that in 10, 15 years, they’re going to be successful in what they are doing now. But they are not looking 10, 15 [00:40:00] years. They are looking today. They’re looking maybe in five years. They are having maybe an idea of what they’re going to do, but they’re more on this level.

Waldemar: I’m going to try this. And if I’m not liking this. I’m going to change and do something else, but to understand if they like or not, they need to have the opportunity to try. And if we don’t give them the opportunity to try their immediate reaction will be okay. For me, not trying is I’m going to do a thing that I can try.

Waldemar: So I will not stay here for not trying to do it myself. I will just go for the next thing. And the next thing that’s where the, all the job hopping and everything comes. 

Waldemar: They are very demanding in terms of of opportunity in terms of taking action rather than being shown, as you said, to how do the things they don’t like that.

Waldemar: This is my 

Rob: experience. 

Rob: They’re coming into an organization where, traditionally the view has been you’ve got to earn your way, like you do this for 15 years And then maybe you can get another job. This is something I hear is the frustration that people have is You know, I spent [00:41:00] 15 20 years waiting To earn my way up.

Rob: I got the role and then they want my role straight away. 

Rob: Yeah. So there’s a there’s that conflict there’s that’s the generational conflict between I earned it You want it without earning it? 

Rob: They’re saying like I want the experience now and if you’re not gonna give it to me I’m gonna go somewhere else so how do we reconcile those two perspectives and those two desires and worldviews?

Rob: This 

Waldemar: is a very good question, Rob. 

Waldemar: My idea is really to help both parties somehow understanding each other. So here is what your expertise also comes in communication. 

Waldemar: How do I want to do that? 

Waldemar: I mentioned it before. I really want to show both sides rather telling one side, you have to comply with their needs or telling Gen Z that you have to omit, and you have to go for the way that they are saying, because they don’t need, I think both parties, or when we look like the big generation gap, both parties are somehow able and willing [00:42:00] to compromise, but not to compromise on certain things. 

Waldemar: So what we need to find really is the balance to bring these two together, to communicate And to sell more the opportunity than what they should change again.

Waldemar: It’s about the approach, not lecturing people what they should change, what they should do better because it’s also a psychology thing. 

Waldemar: If you tell people to do better, they first have to admit that they suck and nobody likes that. 

Waldemar: So rather than saying that you go and you explain to people, look, guys, there is an opportunity to do things differently.

Waldemar: And what is the most important thing? 

Waldemar: There is a win. There is, it’s not a compromise. So I don’t like compromise because compromise means I lose something. Generally, it means I lose something. I want to focus not on compromise. I want to focus on opportunity. Both sides get to win something. So it’s up to us if you want to win that.

Waldemar: I strongly believe in the fact that we should offer younger generations opportunity to try and to fail. Because they will grow [00:43:00] with that. And on the other hand, I understand it’s my generation is also closer to the mindset of the senior executives that certain things take time. And this is such an amazing opportunity.

Waldemar: If you pair those people, the really senior executives who have the experience, who failed already. Because this is actually what I said, try to tell people what is the beauty of a mentor of somebody who has the experience you want to go try and fail. That’s fine. This is how you should learn. And this will lead you to success.

Waldemar: But how can you be faster? 

Waldemar: How can you grow faster and better? 

Waldemar: There is one shortcut. Maybe the only shortcut in the career that exists is you go with a mentor with somebody who helps you because this person already failed for you. Okay. So it will. Be helpful to you and it will be helpful to the mentor because this is the classic sponsorship, which kicks in.

Waldemar: So when you’re able to pair, senior executives with younger people, and they somehow create a [00:44:00] great base of collaboration where this is, I think gens that will work like crazy and senior executives will be very happy with the results. And this is the win, I think. 

Rob: I think in relationships, people think it’s about compromise, but it isn’t necessarily compromise. It can be compromised, like whether you have an Indian or whether you have a Chinese that which is insignificant, but if you compromise, what you have is you have I want this, and then one goes, yeah, okay I’ll have this, they’ll have this, and neither of them want what they want.

Rob: I think that’s what we’ve got with the different generations. We’ve got one view here, one view here. And whenever we have that, what we need to do is find the seed of what’s in here and the seed of what’s in here, and we have to find the solution. which is the higher level of thinking.

Rob: It’s like it goes back to Einstein, that every problem is solved at a higher level of thinking. 

Rob: When I look from that perspective, I can see how Gen Z are going to change the organizational structure. Because in order to accommodate them I think people like yourself are going to spread the word that we have to give them experience.

Rob: What you then run [00:45:00] into is someone’s 10 years into waiting for their chance to go there. And then someone’s how come they just walk in and they get that? And other people are going to want that. So I see there being a big organizational restructuring of 

Waldemar: that. I think we will have this for the next decade.

Waldemar: So this is a long term process. I think when we start moving towards millennials into the senior leadership and senior executives position, so millennials will make the entrance for Gen Z easier and make the transition. And accommodate their needs way better in the organization.

Waldemar: I guess we will be back to the start because then another generation is following, I think they call it generation alpha. So who the God knows what they want from us and from the business. I guess this is never ending loop, but I really like how you rephrase that of having two point of views and a high level of thinking of seeing to creating a new solution and new opportunity, rather than trying to figure out which is the [00:46:00] best or what are the pieces of the best. Just create one that both are committed 

Rob: to.

Rob: I definitely think it’s going to be an interesting time and I think you’ve chosen is a really interesting field. Also your personality seeing your background, I can see like the Russian philosophy because all of that and the martial arts is like my experience of Russians is they’re very direct, they’re strong. Like they’ve coped with freezing cold weather, they’ve coped with hardship of, when you go back to the old Soviet times where food was scarce, they’ve coped with adversity. My understanding of the Russian culture is, it’s No whining, no bullshit, just do it.

Rob: Very much yeah. 

Rob: I think your experience in. martial arts has given you steel. It’s made you understand how to deal with life without whining and without complaining. 

Rob: So I was really interested to uncover that because I think then pairing that with the Gen Z where everyone says, Oh, it’s entitled and they’re soft and they’re all of this.

Rob: I think that makes you the perfect [00:47:00] person to work with them because that’s what everyone seems that they need. And when you tally that with the understanding of where they’re coming from and why they want what they want I think you’re really well set up to make a difference.

Rob: It’s one of the biggest, it’s probably, I think communication, which you’re also dealing with, communication relationships, obviously, I think, The emotional intelligence and the generational differences I think are really the key things, going forward that organizations are going to have to deal with.

Rob: That’s going to be really exciting times. To see how it all unfolds. 

Waldemar: Yeah, I agree. Rob, the time is very exciting and I’m somehow grateful of how technology is involving and very fast. I was long time. I was critically, I was at the critical thought about that. Is that so good, but I somehow see that all this technology advancement brings us back to the values and to human nature and to think about and rethink [00:48:00] about our feelings and how we should behave and think about ethical standards. 

Waldemar: I see this as coming more and more in organizations and in people. It’s somehow okay, we saw technologies advancing, everything becoming, everybody’s becoming a robot somehow.

Waldemar: And now we are back on, let’s discover the human part of us. And this is something I really enjoy. Doing what I do now. 

Rob: I really like how you said that because I think we’re in a spiral I think we went from you know before the Industrial Revolution we were all at home and working on the small holdings and just surviving and then we got to a point where we got security, but we lived an artificial life.

Rob: And I think now digitally, we’re going back to that way where we can be back in the family and we can interact outside and we can reach the whole world, but we do it digitally. And I think there is a lot of growth in becoming a digital citizen. I think we’ve already become a citizen, but now it’s a digital citizen.

Rob: Within that, it becomes critically important how we like [00:49:00] our emotional intelligence. But yeah, so it’s been fascinating. So thank you for taking the time to chat. 

Waldemar: Really enjoyed talking to you. 

Rob: It’s given me some new ideas. I am really interested in, what happens with this new generation.

Waldemar: It’s cool. I really appreciate your podcast. I listened very careful to the episode with Matthew Ward. 

Waldemar: Really enjoyed that one. This guy is like leadership guru. 

Waldemar: Old style, but very open way. This is, we need more of that. He’s a senior leader, a lot of experience following a bit in this exchanging, engaging a bit with him.

Waldemar: So this was a great episode. Then you recently spoke with my good friend Saieed, also amazing guy. Yeah. Doing great job. Really enjoying also listening to your conversations. Thank you. 

Rob: I’ve loved my conversation. So there’s so many interesting people and they’re all doing slightly different and have slightly different perspectives.

Rob: Thanks Rob. No, I appreciate it. Have a great week and I’ll catch up with you. 

Waldemar: Likewise. Thanks Rob. Take care. Bye. Bye.

Share the Post:

Related Posts