10/28/2014 05:20 pm ET Updated Apr 28, 2015

Professional Development: Millennials Edition

Millennials catch a lot of flak from the mass-media and are often stereotyped in the workplace. Apparently we are the laziest and most narcissistic generation in the world. I believe the opposite. I believe Millennials are incredibly ambitious and giving, thriving through collaboration and innovation. We must continue to work through what makes us powerful, in order to realize our greatest potential. With the resources available to us and the unique skills and insights we possess, we are capable of holistic professional development at a very young age.

My dad always told me, "Son, you can do anything in the world as long as you have the right tools!" This is true in many facets of life, and it is no different in your professional development. Think of your professional development as a building project. In order to build, you need the right tools. Then, you need to use those tools to your strengths and your advantage.

Here are my top five tools and practices that have served me extremely well thus far in my development:

For Self Awareness: The Emergenetics Profile

Before you begin anything, it is imperative to know yourself at your deepest level so you can actively work and live through your strengths, and also understand your weaknesses. Whether or not you've taken a psychometric assessment that measures your unique preferences, you owe it to yourself to figure out what you enjoy doing, what gives and depletes your energy, and how others perceive you. Being able to communicate this will help you stand out in interviews, thrive in your current job, and see new ways to succeed in the future.

For New Ideas: Reading

Every morning before work, I read the news for one hour. Between the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post and AdWeek I am always in-the-know. Generally I focus on worldly pieces or stories outside of my comfort zone so I can continue developing thought processes in new avenues. Then in the evenings, pick up a novel that you enjoy. Personally, I read books about famous leaders and successful business people.

For Connections: Events

Networking is a lame term. Aim to make connections. You do this by going to events that interest you, as the same event will be attracting other liked-minded people. I recently went to the Wisdom 2.0 Next Generation conference in New York City and left with new connections, inspiration and fresh perspectives on life and work.

For Enriching Experiences: International Travel

There is no substitute for gaining global viewpoints in your work and in your life. The entire experience from planning your trip to the adventures you encounter to the people you meet and learn from while abroad is priceless. You will return home to your work with new inspirations, applications and ideas that make a difference! With technology, now you don't necessarily need to leave the country to gain global learning experiences. For example, my organization is hosting a free 24 hour virtual, global learning event where I'll have the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by leaders around the globe.

My Final Key: Be a Master Decision Maker

As Millennials, we are inundated with choices and temptations in our work and life as a whole. Through digital media and our amazing access to information, we are subject to more choices now than ever before. With so many options, the ability to sift through information and make sharp decisions each day is a must. How should you actually do it? I always refer back to my unique way of decision making, because I know that is different than others. I consult different people on their advice and experiences first, then outline the benefits and costs, and finally analyze positive and negative consequences of that decision. I built this process through my study of self-awareness. My process might be different than yours -- and that's a good thing. Figure out what works for you, and then be deliberate about applying it. Consistently. Every day.

Use these tools and practices to begin. This is your starting point for thriving in your professional development. They are all things you can and should do today! Remember, it all begins with gaining a deep understanding of yourself. Once you do that, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. I would love to hear the tools and practices you use to fuel your own growth. Connect with me on LinkedIn and let's chat!