Did Participation Trophies Make Us Workaholics?

consistency facebook business generations humor meme millennials mompurneur participation trophies plan with me planning rewards solopureneur strengths systems workaholics workaholism xennials zone of genius Aug 29, 2019

For a while now, I’ve felt judged for not feeling motivated by titles, product rewards, or free lunches. It got me thinking about if I was the only one who was disenchanted by them. I got to thinking about how companies and even the way I validated my own work with rewards was attributing to this feeling of guilt I had when they are offered to see them as a “big flippin’ deal”. After some research into this, I came across a lot of thoughts around how “participation trophies” for my generation have made us entitled. I started thinking about my own children, how the two of them access their competitiveness versus how I see other generations look at the competition. It made me realize the validation of participation hasn’t made my generation or the prior more spoiled or entitled but how it’s created a generation that is always looking for what’s going to validate that we’ve actually succeeded.

As I looked into this more, I discovered the three ways I’ve been better able to access my “inner genius” and validate it so I could hold my outer workaholic participation validation ribbon desires at bay. I hope these will help you look at how you are validating your work or for companies with a mainly xennial or millennials base think about how they are incentivizing their teams.


This was a big one for me, and one that I spent multiple hours of guilt as well as comparing myself to others. Without realizing my generation didn’t view career advancement the same as the world has culturally received as it’s definition. I was keeping myself stuck and my “inner genius” quiet. If you are someone who could care less about titles or feel like the bean bag chair in the headquarters coffee area is nice and all, but you really believe it makes no sense for the office, I know you’re with me on this! 

Career advancement to you is about being seen for the amount of work, effort and yes the amount that your “inner genius” provides advancement for the company. It’s about not being taken advantage of for what you offer willingly to help the company excel in the form of your knowledge and skill set. Career Advancement for you is when your boss takes enough time to see that without you their company wouldn’t have been able to learn about the market segment that is now one of its primary profit drivers. It’s about that boss coming to you before the job is posted for that segment’s leader to ask you if you are up for the challenge of leading that division for them. To those of us who received the green participating ribbon, the “I see you worked hard and it made a difference” validation is a “Hell yeah!” in the career advancement department.

So as a solopreneur, how can you create this “I see you made a difference” into your work? How do you train yourself to see where you need to offer yourself the opportunity to focus on what you are really good at? The first step is knowing your strengths, which leads to that “inner genius” you shy away from speaking up about. You boggle yourself down in the busy work that isn’t really your strength, just stuff you can do, so you can remain safe. To validate yourself in your #MomBiz, first, focus on your strengths. If you don’t know what they are, put in the effort to learn them so you can focus on only giving yourself the work in the areas of your strengths, and then outsourcing the areas that aren’t. For the mompreneur, this is Career Advancement at its core! Focus on your strengths, and find others who have the rest!


Did you know that from 2016 to the present more of the Millennial generation has stopped taking vacation days or using them as negotiation in leveraging benefits or rewards? The national average for vacation time in 2016 was approximately 20 days a year, and it’s dropped down to an average of 16 in only 3 years! As a generation told we are entitled and always asking for too much validation from employers, this makes you wonder if it is really us who have the entitlement issue?

As a solopreneur you were probably sold on starting your own business because of its flexibility of your time. You were most likely told, “you can work anywhere” and as you fell deeper into this entrepreneur lifestyle have realized that you are working virtually “everywhere” and “all of the time”. Since our generation is digital natives and also many were raised in a time where job loyalty for past generations was still an ideology, it is easy for us to get stuck in the thought process of work is all the time no matter where or what we are doing. Even when you are on vacation or “off the clock” work is still available and accessible to the point where it is assumed we will access it, even if we are told by employers it’s “not necessary”. If you have a problem with taking a vacation where you don’t look at emails, your phone messages from clients or team members, or feel obligated to still check into your companies Facebook page as a way of “keeping up with what’s going on,'' then you are a product of this mindset. 

When I started my #MomBiz back in 2014, I was pretty good for about a year and a half of turning it all off when vacation or a day off was planned. I would l preplan how I was going to be ready to leave my work, and I would be prepared for what I was going to focus on when I was going to return. However, as I became more connected through social media platforms and working more remotely with a company, that felt like it was still working even when I wasn’t, it was a lot harder to completely take off. It caused a lot of guilt for me, and it made me hide my “inner genius” more in the corner and create habits that really were more busywork than work that mattered to my growth. If there is one priority & benefit both companies and those of us with a #MomBiz can do, it is learning how to schedule the time off, take a vacation, and prepare to feel comfortable with whatever work is there when we return. 


A vast majority of our generation grew up without having role models that understood what we were heading into as a generation. At no fault of their own, those who have typically been in leadership positions come from a generation that had not experienced an economic downturn right at the start of their work career. Also, many of our first managers or companies were still trying to catch up to the transitions of technology and we were caught in the crossfire. Many of us coming out of the early 2000s into a workforce that would be hit by a heavy recession in late 2007/08. The participation trophy mentality thrived during this time when everyone was calling for a “few good workers to stick by them” but then to find years later, no one was really sticking by us. 

Companies who are looking to discover how to best retain a base of mompreneurs need to think about what resources and incentives do they offer to give women role models that help the entire woman, not just the woman who is selling their product. How are they showcasing them as both a feature of their company but also a benefit of their company? For many out there, I see it being sold as only a benefit, not as a feature. I see too much relying on leaders to burn themselves out, and not provide them their own support systems. A good role model mindset in a company is by far just as much a product to sell as it is a benefit to desire.

Maybe as a mompreneur or running your #MomBiz you’ve felt you weren’t sure how to stay consistent because rewards and trinkets just aren’t cutting it. Maybe you’re finding that you keep burning yourself out, feeling like you’re ready to burn it all down because your business feels like it can never be left alone for it to be successful. Or maybe you are just tired of feeling like you are the only one who notices your “inner genius” and would love someone to validate it and encourage it all while being transparent about how they are focused on not shying away from their own.  If this is you, I get it. It’s me too, Mama, and I’ve been doing the work to create systems and create consistency for the past 5 years so that I can share with you how you can do this #MomBiz thing on purpose without being a workaholic being your only source of validation that what you’re doing matters. 

Get on the waitlist for #MomBiz School: Building a Facebook Biz Page On Purpose and let’s start creating the environment for our “inner genius” to be what’s on display.