Monthly Archives: November 2015

#nwafuturisticfridays – The Millennial Migration?

migrating birds

I grew up in downtown Chicago – Old Towne, New Town, Uptown, and  Belmont Harbor. My family didn’t own a car, we walked to school. My mother rode her bike to work and to the grocery store. We shopped on Michigan Avenue, ice skated on the lagoon in the Lincoln Park Zoo, spent our allowance in Piper’s Alley, and carved our names in the tables at Gino’s East after high school football games. My first major investment was a pair of roller skates with big, colorful wheels. I could skate from my house all the way to the Water Tower along the lakefront by myself. I loved living in the city.

Apparently, after some years of urban flight, city living has become very popular with Millennials – at least that is what I have been reading in the media and online. Aging downtown neighborhoods in Washington D.C. have been completely renovated as significant numbers of Millennials move into the city. Between 2000-2012, the population in the city swelled 23% as Millennials poured in.  As a result restaurants, coffee shops, wine bars, gyms and boutiques have replaced empty commercial areas. Neighborhoods have undergone a significant face-lift and are almost unrecognizable to their residents of the past.

Nevertheless, not all cities have experienced this influx of young people. Popular cities, like Chicago, Boston, and Portland, have actually seen a decrease in this population. Some areas that have seen a significant rise in Millennial population are not dense urban areas, but college towns like Austin, Texas and Columbus, Ohio – which retain many of their students after graduation.

Surprisingly the greatest increases in population, primarily consisting of Millennials, are in Southern and Intermountain West cities like Orlando, Florida and Riverside-San Bernardino, California. The large Hispanic communities contribute about 20% of the nations Millennials and that’s where they live. In his article entitled, Millennial Boomtowns: Where the Generation is Clustering, Joel Kotkin, states, “Rather than white hipsters, many millennials are working class and minority; in 2012, Hispanics and African-Americans represented 34% of the 20-29 population. Presumably many of them are more concerned with making a living than looking for ‘fair trade’ coffee or urban authenticity.”

When I was young, I was told that cities grew rapidly because they were the place where young people could find jobs, opportunities, and adventure. Today, jobs can still be found in urban areas, however, the emergence of global markets and the world-wide web has meant that destination does not signify opportunity. Young people today are living in their parent’s homes in subburbs and cities alike. They move into affordable apartments and first homes where jobs are available and they feel safe.

Perhaps adventures can be found where ever you choose to make your nest.

Nicole Schrader

Chang Elizabeth Chang, Neely Tucker, Jessica Goldstein, Cllinton Yates, Marcia Davis, Elizabeth, and Neely Tucker. “Millennials in Washington, D.C.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 18 Oct. 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2015. <>.

Kotkin, Joel. “Millennial Boomtowns: Where the Generation Is Clustering.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 4 Aug. 2014. Web. 25 Nov. 2015. <>.

#nwamembermondays – Ryan Van Groningen



Ryan Van Groningen is a 3rd generation member of the Watermelon Industry and son of executive member, Dan Van Groningen.  Ryan began his career at an early age, working every summer for his family business.  He has been involved with the industry and served on the Western Watermelon Association board for many years.    He is currently sales manager for Van Groningen & Sons and part owner in the family business.   Ryan has a strong desire for advancing the farming practices  and had a role in the company’s new solar project.  He is a recent graduate of the United Fresh Leadership program and continues to be actively involved in the produce industry.

Ryan earned his bachelor’s degree at  Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and currently resides in Ripon, CA with his wife Kristen and three children Kate, Lauren and Adam.

“Ryan has been an excellent mentor to me continues to teach me every day.  I admire his commitment to not only his work and his family, but the entire industry as a whole.” – Danielle Cultrera

“Even as a young kid, Ryan was driven to succeed and has helped bring our company where it is today.” – Dan Van Groningen

Like so many of our Y Generation Working Group members, Ryan Van Groningen is the son of an active member and leader of the National Watermelon Association. He has been exposed to agriculture his entire life. His experience may not be unique, but it does give him a wonderful perspective and advantage as he takes on more leadership in his family business and in the Association. We are so thrilled that young people, like Ryan, are committed to seeing the Association and the industry benefit from their engagement. We often refer to the Association as a Watermelon Family because it is made up of so many generations of members. Thank you Ryan, and Kristen, for your involvement in the Association and in the ‘family.’

#nwafuturisticfridays – Are Your Meetings Millennial-Friendly?



I attended a convention recently and entered a seminar on social media strategy. Hoping to blend into the crowd of Millennials that filled the room, I casually slipped my tablet from its sleek case and positioned it in my lap. Once ‘connected’ to the network, I sat poised with my hands over my tiny keyboard and waited. Turning my attention to those sitting around me, I noticed that the majority of them were drinking coffee, checking their phones, and comfortably chatting with one another. As soon as the seminar began, I became quickly aware that the generational chasm between us was widening and I would fall in if I could not keep up. While I furiously took notes, many of which I hoped to understand more fully later, my peers simply snapped a couple of photos of the screen and listened attentively. Later, I found that all the slides, as well as an audience response system was available online.

The largest segment of the workforce, known as Millennials (those 25-35 years), has great expectations. Having grown up with rapidly changing technology, they are accustomed to version updates and take them in stride. In the workplace, they expect access to the most advanced tools to get their jobs done well. They are extremely reliant and comfortable with technology. In spite of their inexperience, they bring a refreshing confidence in technology to the meeting table, where older generations, like myself, can often be cynical and clumsy.  Nevertheless, the generational challenges must be faced and bridged in order to join experience and leadership with the enthusiastic and energetic Millennial.

How this is accomplished will vary from organization to organization, however, there are some suggestions to bridge the gap that have been offered to benefit all. In regard to meetings, where there is a gathering of generations at the table, ease of access to high-speed wifi is a necessity, both on-site and off. These days it’s not just the ‘digital natives’ that rely on the internet to gather information, calendars, mail, etc. In light of this, providing good lighting and charging stations are simple alterations that show consideration to all.

With digital document libraries available, less printed material can be generated which appeals to the ‘green’ sensitive Millennial. It saves time, money, and trees.

Responsive computer software systems are wonderful tools that enable two-way communication during and after meetings. Although some programs are expensive, the investment communicates to the younger generation that their responses are valuable and that you want their input.

Telecommuting and remote attendance with live streaming allow those off-site to participate in daily business. Millennials are often willing to take less salary in lieu of a more flexible work schedule. Working outside the office provides the flexibility they desire in maintaining a balanced work and personal life.

A willingness to make changes in your work environment, even at some expense, will pay off in the long run. Attracting and retaining young talent in your organization is and should always be a priority to the companies that wish to remain relevant and successful.


Nicole Schrader


Beall, Alex. “To Retain Millennial Workers, Groups Must Embrace Tech.” RSS 20. Associations Now, 13 Nov. 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2015.

Byrne, Jeffrey C. “Leverage Technology to Engage Millennials | Smart Meetings.” Smart Meetings. N.p., Nov. 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2015.



#nwafuturisticfridays – The Business Traveler

New British Airways First suite.

New British Airways First suite.


Good news for the airline and travel industry – Millennials like traveling for business! These young professionals see the value of in-person meetings and consider traveling to meet associates the best way to foster business relationships. Don’t let the constant use of hand-held technical devices fool you, Millennials see their technology as a tool, but the end goal is face-to-face communication. So if that means travel, they are willing to go the distance.

According to a recent Associations Now article, not only is this younger generation more likely to want to travel for business than the Baby Boomers before them. They don’t seem to be put off by some of the inconveniences of travel that bother their elder counterparts. Baggage fees and long security lines are things they take for granted. Remember that it was during their childhood that the 9/11 terrorist attacks shook the nation. Although travel, even for these jetsetters, is not without obstacle or frustration. As they depend upon technology to guide them to their destinations, the lack of free wi-fi en-route is something that causes them to grumble. They are also less than pleased charging their expenses on personal credit cards and being reimbursed. Nevertheless, according to the article, “…business travelers across the board – Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers – reported that their goals were met on business trips, leading to greater satisfaction.”

The airline industry is taking advantage of the trend and many airlines are promoting more business travel amenities and luxurious options for their frequent fliers. Companies are more likely to pay the higher rates if it means enabling their employees to make their appointments and close deals. The travel industry has redesigned their first class cabins to accommodate these customers. Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Swiss Air, British Air, and Delta are all competing for the business with more spacious and expandable seating, wi-fi networks, and fine dining. Some airlines even turn down beds and tuck you in!

Interior cabin of a Boeing 767 showing Vantage business class seats(DELTvantage0809) client contact Mary Welsh Talent AnnRoth(SLP)

Interior cabin of a Boeing 767 showing Vantage business class seats(DELTvantage0809) client contact Mary Welsh
Talent AnnRoth(SLP)

As generations usher in cultural change, there will always be some things that remain the same. Personal contact and genuine relationships in business will always be foundational to success.

Nicole Schrader


Smith, Ernie. “Millennials Embrace Business Travel, In-Person Meetings.” RSS 20. Associations Now, 05 Nov. 2015. Web. 12 Nov. 2015. <>.

#nwamembermondays – John Livacich (1930-2007)

John Livacich

“He spent his life pursuing his passion for farming,” was written about the life of our member and friend, John Livacich. He was owner of John Livacich Produce, Inc for over 50 years and his farming operation in southern California was one of the largest in the nation. He was a leader in business and in the Western and National Watermelon Associations. He was at the forefront in all of his endeavors.

When asked about John Livacich, friends in the produce industry responded with the following descriptions of John’s character:

“He was a generous guy, always looking to help people.” – Joe Antecevich

“He was a wonderful and generous man…a bright guy in the produce world.” – Dick Gladden

“His word was his bond… he was unselfish and energetic.” – Robert Andrews

People like John Livacich, may be few and far between in society today, but they are not uncommon among the membership of the National Watermelon Association. We are proud of the character and integrity with which they live their lives, run their businesses, and serve our association.


#nwafuturisticfridays Every Four Generations – Spring Comes

c1578ff5-b3c4-44c3-8904-cb8320336af3Every four generations our nation faces a ‘dark and cold winter.’ Not a literal winter, but major devastating events that depress our nation’s culture, economy and politics. The breakdown of this time period is approximately 80-100 years. The dark days of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Great Depression and World War II, were all followed by a season of energy, growth and change – or ‘spring.’ Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant, in their book, ‘When Millennials Take Over,’ refer to the works of William Strauss and Neil Howe. Reputed experts of generational change these men refer to a kind of seasonal pattern that they identified in the history of the United States. They point out that in each ‘fourth turning,’ the generation coming into adulthood during the ‘winters,’ were a key component to the ‘revolution’ that followed.

However, Millennials are not the only factor influencing the transition. Notter and Grant point out that the decline of traditional management and the influence of the social internet are also significant factors in the atmosphere of change that we are currently facing. Decentralization of power in the workplace and universal access to authoritative information, have ‘permanently shifted the balance of power between individuals and institutions.’

It’s on this stage that Millennials, 80 million strong, are poised.  We are at the brink of another ‘spring,’ as our country recovers from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Great Recession. The impact of these young people and their unique characteristics and experiences will dramatically change our nation and the way business is done forever.

Grant and Notter stress that businesses will thrive in the coming ‘spring,’ if those in leadership understand the unique characteristics of Millennials and are not afraid to adapt their management style to accommodate them. Four trends have significantly shaped the worldview of this generation: the social internet, abundance, diversity, and the elevated status of children. Millennials look at the world around them unlike any generation that preceded them.

The social internet has always been available to this generation. Resources and information are easily accessible and if they can’t find what they want or need, they simply figure out a way to get it on their own. They will use the tools available to them to get around any obstacles they face. The authors note that the result in the workplace can be an impatience with bureaucracy. (But truly, who is not frustrated by bureaucracy!)

The abundance of material and informational resources have led to higher and higher expectations. In the workplace, waiting on others to get things done can lead to a ‘disconnect’ in these typically enthusiastic young people.

Millennials expect to be surrounded by difference – they have been taught to value diversity of people, ideas, methods, music, food, etc. They have learned to adapt to a diverse and changing environment and may have little patience with the notion of a status quo.

This generation views parents and teachers as friends and team-members. Traditional boundaries are blurred in the eyes of Millennials. In the workplace, the distinctions of behavior toward those in authority are unfamiliar and even foreign to them. It should not be surprising if they disregard traditional mores and naturally strike up conversations with those in high level positions. It may be regarded as disrespect to some, but not to a Millennial.

The view of Maddie Grant and Jamie Notter is that there will be tremendous transformation in our near future, but the future is an optimistic one filled with eager, energetic, young people desiring to make a difference in their workplaces, communities, and world. I agree with these authors and ardently say, ‘bring it on!’


Nicole Schrader


Notter, Jamie. When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business. S.l.: Idea, 2015. Print.