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Why 'Channel Next' Isn't Who We AreWhy 'Channel Next' Isn't Who We Are

We changed our name to reflect the fact that we need to build bridges, not barriers.

May 24, 2018

4 Min Read

Channel Next's Aaron Leveston

Aaron Leveston

By Aaron Leveston, Co-Founder, NX2Z, and National Sales Manager, RingCentral

Did you get everything you could from the Channel Partners Conference & Expo last month in Las Vegas? I sure did — check out my keynote panel on diversity in the channel. Now I’m busy working on plans for Channel Partners Evolution. Philadelphia in October is pretty nice, and it’ll be here before we know it. Watch for updates on how Channel NX2Z will be involved.

Channel NX2Z (formerly Channel Next) had our inaugural event in Las Vegas, and we met some absolutely amazing young professionals who ran the gamut in age, employer type, region — even nationality. Yes, we had people from multiple countries!

Allow me an opportunity to share with you just a few of the awesome lessons that I learned from some of the engaging conversations I had with my peers:

Lesson #1: Because we compete doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.

We had representation from several partners that regularly compete; some were from dueling master agents and some hail from competing products in the same space. As you know, when one accepts a position with these respective organizations, employees are sworn to a blood oath never to fraternize with the enemy. As such, some of them have never been in same room as, let alone had a conversation with, their competitors. Well, as we know, a stiff drink and open conversation make the best friends out of the worst of enemies. You see, these folks had a chance to network, share experiences and realize they have more in common than not.

Heads up: Millennials are more inclined to take the team approach. Those participation trophies we got knocked for taught us that cooperation tends to lead to better outcomes than always trying to undercut the next person.

Lesson #2: At 33, I don’t have the same mindset I did at 23.

Think of all the hilarious stereotypes that people have about millennials. The mental image you have is likely someone skewed on the younger end: Fresh out of college, living in the parent’s basement, no health insurance, driving for Lyft. One can forget there are plenty of millennials who are married with children, mortgages and real jobs. Some even purchase non-boxed wine.

At our meetup, there were young professionals who ran the gamut. Some had fewer than three years’ work experience and were in their first “adult” job; a few were directors managing teams with more than 10 years of experience under their belts. Others were entrepreneurs, having paid their dues to the corporate world and decided to hang their own flags. We’re empowered. Probably not stories that most are accustomed to hearing, but trust me, we are out there.

Lesson #3: Channel Next isn’t who we are.

This lesson is somewhat of a sore spot for me. Like most ’80s babies, I grew up in the era of Thundercats, He-Man, Teenage Mutant Turtles and My Little Pony (judgment-free zone here, people). All of these shows had the triumphant hero vanquish their mortal enemies every episode and left the audience with a heart-warming lesson having do with self-perseverance, determination, and all around kick-butt action (yes, even My Little Pony).

When we read analysis and discussions of millennials in the workforce, they are often written in the context of …

… millennials vs. boomers, old guard vs. new, digital natives vs. digital immigrants. Even Channel Next was named to be a “replacement” organization, one that would squarely place boomers/Gen Xers against millennials/Gen Zers in a battle royale that would shape the very fate of the channel.

Well, I was reminded by a very forward-thinking group of millennials, X-ers and boomers that we are in this together. So that’s why we renamed Channel Next to Channel NX2Z, to be more inclusive of who we are and better represent who we want to be. Our new name shows we are a bridge organization, dedicated to not only highlighting the talents and accomplishments of millennials, but also paying homage and respect to those who’ve laid the groundwork for us. shown us how it’s done and are openly expressing a desire to pass the torch. It also shows we’re here to do the same for Gen Z.

Last but not least …

Lesson #4: We are just getting started!

More than 40 young professionals from across the industry expressed that this thing can’t end. They have friends and colleagues that couldn’t join us, whose voices couldn’t be heard, opinions couldn’t be accounted for, and who couldn’t celebrate with us. So we are not done!

What’s next?

We are in talks to have regional events in Chicago and Toronto this summer. That’s right, we are taking this thing international. We plan to take our message of inclusion and “bridging the gap” as far as we can. I certainly see more of you at these events, everyone from boomers to Z-ers and everyone in-between. As the old song goes, “Ain’t no stoppin’ us now!” Join and follow our LinkedIn page to find out where we’ll be next, and mark your calendar for our business hackathon on Oct. 9.

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