Bob Sinclair, 34
General Manager, Sinclair Communications Norfolk
How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials?
Defining a generation is a difficult thing to do, and the events and cultural changes that define ours have shaped as diverse a group of people as any generation before. It would be easy to say that all millennials are obsessed with social media and participation trophies, but I find and work with many that are not. I would guess that every older generation looks down on the one after it with the “we did better/worked harder/ in my generation” attitude, and I think there is no difference now.
In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success?
I am fortunate to work in a family business with a huge age range of employees. There are people that started at our company before I was born who are still here, but we also take on a large group of roughly 20 summer employees, all of whom are millennials. It is great to get to know them and to see their excitement and willingness to work hard. Every time I meet them it shows me that the stereotypes of millennials are just that. Having young people at the office makes for a more fun and creative environment, especially at a radio station where creativity is key. Plus, it makes for a great holiday party.
What have been a few keys to your success so far?
I have worked in lots of different roles at the company, and I think it is important for any manager to have a good understanding of what the people at the company actually do. Talking to people and not just hiding in an office are very important.
Is there anything that you would change about your generation as a whole? If so, what?
I think the obsession with phones and social media is unfortunate. I am guilty myself of spending too much time looking at a phone, and I actively try to avoid it as much as possible, but it’s a tough habit to break.
What kinds of digital platforms do you feel you have benefited from in your career?
I feel fortunate to have graduated high school before the advent of social media, so I feel that I am not as obsessed with it as many other millennials. Also, I have never felt the need to be on LinkedIn. I guess you can say I am old school in this respect. I even sent a fax this week.
What do you feel are some of the biggest perks of living in Coastal Virginia? What changes do you think the region should implement to continue to be a draw for millennials?
I am a lifelong boater and fisherman, so my favorite thing about this area is the water, but there are many other great things that the area offers people my age. There are great outdoor activities, restaurants and live music, all of which attract millennials. At the risk of sounding like a politician, to continue attracting millennials, it is important to focus on jobs. You can have a million coffee shops and craft cocktail bars, but without good job opportunities, young people will move to larger cities. I realize, however, that there is a cycle that exists: having all of these things will attract companies, which will attract millennials and so on.
Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking.
Other than the fact that I grew up in Virginia Beach, which at times feels like a very small town, I have met lots of business leaders in the fishing community. Also, our radio station group is very active in the community with all sorts of events going on every week.
How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace?
I recently joined the board of the We Promise Foundation, a large, local children’s charity, and I run the Virginia Beach Tuna Tournament, an event that just finished its 13th year. It is a great event with three separate days of fishing and four nights of parties. It helps to raise money for the We Promise Foundation. I also participated in LEAD Hampton Roads class of 2016.