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Andrew Krzmarzick! – Featured Govloop Member

Andrew Krzmarzick is a Senior Project Manager at the Graduate School, USDA. I met him on govloop and I asked him to be our featured member because I see him leading the effort to make government better using social media tools.

Quietly, (if that is possible with twitter and blogging,) I see Andrew one class at a time, one seminar at a time, and I’m sure, one person at a time; at the nexus of the web 2.0/social networking discussion in government. He’s producing teaching materials and classes integrating social media practices and tools for folks participating in the Graduate School’s courses and us all.

The reason I say quietly is because Andrew does not blow his own horn. He is an example of social networking best practices: Praising others’ work, making positive comments, offering up cool websites and tools he’s tried for us all to share. Sharing.

Andrew’s work focuses on the different generations in the workforce and the impact of having these generations together on our lives and work. I’ve wanted to ask him many questions since I first read something he wrote, and I am excited he had time for this. His answers to my questions are below:

Q1) What are some unique traits of each generation and the impacts of these traits on the workforce?

One of my favorite traits from each generation is found below:

• Traditionals/Veterans (1920-1940) – Sacrifice for the common good
• Boomers – Determination that gets the job done despite obstacles
• Gneration X – Flexibility in order to maintain work-life balance
• Millennials – Team-based approach to accomplishment of tasks

Just as each generation fulfills unique roles to form a family, every age cohort brings something special to the workforce based on their cultural and historical experiences. Traditionals and Boomers need the X’ers and Millennials to remind them that life isn’t all about work and the younger folks can learn from the loyalty and persistence of older co-workers.

Q2) What are the implications of this shift in the federal sphere?

Projections indicate that roughly 60% of the Federal workforce will be eligible for retirement by 2015, including 90% of the executive level. In sum, that amounts to 1 million Federal workers – no small number! At the same time, Gen X and Millennials remain in their jobs an average of 2.8 years, and talent management experts indicate that it can take up to 12-18 months for new employees to reach acceptable levels of performance. This would appear to be a grim portrait, but there are several signs of hope. A Merit Systems Protection Board report released in January 2008 revealed that 45% of the new Federal hires under 30 years old expect to work in government “until they retire.” The current economic situation also makes public sector employment seem more appealing due to its relative stability and security. So let’s not fret just yet!

Q3) How is government addressing the transition and competing with the private sector for employees?

We should all be proud of programs being led by the US Office of Personnel Management, like the Career Patterns Initiative, the Presidential Management Fellows Program and the Federal Career Intern Program that are effective approaches to attract the next generation of public servants. Of course, my own organization (Graduate School, USDA) has several 6-month to year-long leadership development programs that prepare the next generation to move to the next level of responsibility. Also, the Partnership for Public Service has some great initiatives that are seeking to recruit and retain the Boomers, such as Fed Experience, that encourage professionals from the private and non-profit sectors to consider “encore careers” with the government. The Corporation for National and Community Service is also reaching out to Boomers by asking them to use their free time to give back through volunteer activities. By the way, a report by the Cato Institute in 2006 compared the average wage and benefits of Federal and private sector workers, and public sector compensation has outpaced private industry for the past 60 years (Source: Cato Institute, Tax and Budget Bulletin, No. 35, May 2006). Government is a great place to work – and it’s all about more savvy marketing for many agencies.

Q4) What about this generational shift will affect our workforce in the foreseeable future?

There is no doubt that the increasing number of Boomers becoming eligible for retirement will have an impact on the workforce. But the key word here is “eligible” and eligibility is not the same as evacuation (as has been the connotation through phrases like “retirement tsunami”). In fact, the departure of the Boomers will be much more gradual as surveys by Merrill Lynch, AARP and others are finding that they want to cycle between periods of work and leisure. In other words, as Boomers want to work less, I think their values will start to merge with Gen X’ers and Millennials, creating a much more flexible, mobile workplace. At least this is my hope (and why I am an evangelist for telework and social media – two key tools that allow us to move toward that reality)!

Q5) I know you are speaking at the Social Media for Government Conference in March, and at the ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) Conference in June. Do you see more social media information/topics in course offerings and seminars within your sphere?

Last year, I had roughly half a dozen speaking opportunities. In 2009, I am booked for just under 20 live workshops or webinars before June 30! Why? Good timing! I’ve been designing and delivering workshops that help government to advance on three key topics: 1) Web 2.0/social media, 2) four generations in the workforce and 3) telework. Each of these topics alone are a key piece of the puzzle in making government more efficient and effective, but taken collectively, I seem to be standing at the nexus of the streams that will lead us to a new and exciting way of doing the business of the people, by the people and for the people.

Q6) Twitter: What are your thoughts?

I blogged a few months ago under the title “The Lonely Teleworker and Why Twitter is Better Than Water.” A colleague was operating in a temporary telework environment and was feeling isolated. I told him that Twitter was my ‘water cooler’, allowing me to remain connected to the world and that he should check it out. Of course, it’s become much more than a professional communication tool as I am building friendships with people like you and many others despite the distance that would otherwise separate us.

Q7) Have social networking tools changed the way you do business or your life?
Q8) Do you have any stories from social networking interactions?

I have two favorite stories from social networking. First, a childhood friend found me on Facebook after more than 20 years of being disconnected. We had so many adventures as children growing up in Nebraska, including co-authoring a trivia book that we got copyrighted (but never published – costs were prohibitive) back in third grade (and yes, I guess I’ve always been a bit nerdy)! It was such a blessing to learn about his life, picking up right where we left off two decades ago. Second story: My mom asked me if I’d heard of Chris Brogan. At the time, I hadn’t. But I connected with Chris on LinkedIn and asked him about his thoughts on government and Web 2.0. He told me to connect with GovLooper Ari Herzog. So I found @ariherzog on Twitter…and a couple weeks later we submitted a proposal to co-present at the Social Media for Government conference (that was selected!).

Q9) If you could wave a wand and make one thing happen with the government and social networking tools, what would that thing be?

Easy: all agencies would allow (secure and relatively) unfettered access to social media!

Q10) You always have the coolest websites for me to check out: From your last blog post:

1. Yuuguu – Screen sharing. I use it at least twice a week so that I can be ‘on the same page’ with others

2. Doodle – Got a large group and can’t nail down a meeting time? This is the tool for you.

3. Calameo – I convert my documents to this book-like format as it offers a “cool” factor and it’s embeddable and downloadable.

4. TalkShoe – Create podcasts in minutes. Record a teleconference and make it downloadable to your PDA…just in case you missed it (or slept through it).

5. Go2Web20 – Don’t go here. Seriously, you will spend hours on this website…if you are a true “Web 2.0 Zealot.” It’s the Mecca, the Holy Grail, the main mine in the 2.0 Gold Rush. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

6. Twhirl – Superior to Tweetdeck, IMHO. Similar functionality, but takes less of your screen.

7. Pandora – Hands down, the coolest site on the web. If you like music, you will L-O-V-E Pandora. The element of surprise is it’s hallmark.

8. Ning – Forget Facebook. Create your own customized version. I recently reserved my family name so that we’d all have one place to share thoughts, pictures, video, important dates, etc.

9. Skype – More like Web 3.0 as it allows anytime, anywhere free calling user-to-user with video and chat. Talk to and see your international friends, family and colleagues for free.

10. Audacity – The step beyond TalkShoe. If you want to edit what you created in TalkShoe, you can do it here. If you want a free way to create and enhance podcasts from scratch, welcome to your best friend.

Any more top, cool sites or blogs you like or follow? Three?

I recently discovered TokBox.com, which is like Skype without the need for a download. It enabled a free, three-way call with my parents, sister and niece/nephew the other night. MapMyRun.com is pretty sweet as it allows for planning and tracking workouts on foot and bike. Since I’m a person of faith, I have to mention Pray-As-You-Go.org, which is a daily podcast with music and meditative questions – the most important 15 minutes of my day!

You saved my favorite question for last: Could you tell us a little about yourself Andrew?

First, I love running and biking. I’m fine with the road, but I revel in the forest. There’s a trail along the Eno River not far from our home that used be an old Native American trading path. If you’ve seen Last of the Mohicans or The Patriot, you get a sense of how I feel as my feet hit the root-filled, rocky earth in a rhythm that has advanced humans for millennia. Also, there are several single-track mountain bike trails within a 20-minute drive. There’s nothing like the concentration required for this activity, forced to focus only on the five feet in front of the handlebars. It clears my head and makes me feel like a kid again.

In terms of my academic background, I obtained an undergraduate degree in philosophy since several of the courses were prerequisites for studying theology in seminary. I was never ordained, but that desire to meet our deepest human needs and to serve the common good translated into a career at the confluence of the non-profit and public sectors. Over the past ten years, I’m grateful to have been part of proposal writing efforts that have enabled thousands of people with HIV/AIDS to receive life-saving services, countless students in some of our nation’s most challenged school districts to experience better educational programming and hundreds of homeless citizens to find a warm, safe place to sleep while they put their lives back together. Now, at the Graduate School, USDA, it’s great to be part of an institution with a history of adapting its services and training to improve the knowledge, skills and abilities of public servants.

I cannot thank Andrew enough for taking time from his schedule and family to share his views and wonderful knowledge with us all. Andrew Krzmarzick is a superstar.

I see him carrying the torch for all generations. Sharing the light. Lighting the way to the future. I see Andrew addressing his dreams and goals and work with kindness. Caring. Enthusiasm!


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Great interview. I never knew the Chris Brogan, Ari Herzog connection. Interesting to see how social media ties into the telework and generations work Andy does. I love to see how people take social media into different angles.

Gabriela Dow

Great to hear more from you Andrew and hope to meet you soon 🙂

I’m going to have to read this interview twice since there is so much good info in there — love your description of Twitter as the “daily water cooler” – so true and nice to be able to congregate over a quick thought with so many many and from so far away!

Lolly Wonnacott

I really enjoyed your comments related to the unique traits of each generation. Bundle these together and I think we can really make great progress! Also, the Corporation for Community and National Service is doing lots with Boomers (as mentioned), but also incorporating more and more social media offerings.

Ray Vaudo

I am trilled to see Andy as the featured Govloop member. I’ve known Andy for almost two years now and he is a wonderful catalyst for change and new ways of thinking. He has a wonderful “can do” attitude and is a role model for making government better. Congratulations Andy!

Kitty Wooley

Andy and Mark, what a great conversation. I especially liked this part: “I’m fine with the road, but I revel in the forest. There’s a trail along the Eno River not far from our home that used be an old Native American trading path. If you’ve seen Last of the Mohicans or The Patriot, you get a sense of how I feel as my feet hit the root-filled, rocky earth in a rhythm that has advanced humans for millennia.” Thank you both for your service.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Steve – I continue to be amazed by the power of social media.
Gabriela – Twitter really connects one to the world when isolated…don’t know what I’d do without it at this point!
Andrea – You’re on my radar, too. We need to connect next time I am in town (next week at FOSE then last week for social media events.)
Lolly – I’d like to learn more about your efforts with social media and generations at CCNS…I’ll send you a message.
Ray – You could have used the exact same description for yourself! Really enjoy working with you, anchoring the coasts!
Kitty – I KNEW you’d like that phrase…and had a hunch you’d comment on it. If only I had a chance to let ‘er rip like that more often in writing…versus this professional stuff we have to do all the time!

Thanks, everyone!

Celia Mendive

Wow, I learned so much through this interview! I agree about Pandora…I use it all the time and love it; the music keeps me focused at work. Keep up the good work and thanks for all you do for the community.

Mark Danielson

Thank you to all for your great comments and insight. Especially, again, I would like to thank Andrew. He’s the guy I always wanted to sit next to during tests. Be safe, have fun – MD