the millennials have grown up

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millenials line up

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“A grey curtain unfolded from the clouds and came galloping towards them like a herd of horses.”

 

Moira McKinnon

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“What should young people do with their lives today?

Many things, obviously.

But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr

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Well.

present bold and terrorI have written about the Millennial <or GenY> generation a number of times. I wrote an extensive piece back in 2010 for Project Global Generation <link at end of this post>.

 

I am a big  younger generation fan.

Oh.

And I am an older guy. A 50something. I mention that because … well … the Millennials have grown up and are galloping toward us older folk like a herd of horses.

Uhm.

That means outright terror <if not ‘Armageddon’> to many older folk.

 

Anyway.

Let me begin by admitting 2 things about millennials.

First.

 

The word Millennial.

I think I may actually be more tired of the word, the words associated with the word and the opinions associated with the word than many of the millennials themselves.

I also get tired of Millennial because it is a lazy nomenclature compared to GenX, GI generation, the Silents, the Boomers …. all of which are active and reflective of some attitude or activity.

Millennial? Tied to a frickin’ date. It make us lazy in that we attach so many attitudes and thoughts and random shit to a generation with the unfortunate fate to have been born around the Millenium.

Time is Now

Second.

Defining millennial.

Holy shit. We have defined this generation with so many labels and foibles they have almost seemingly become the spawn of hell itself.It is a complex attitudinal generation tied to a gangbuster societal shift <technology in hand>.

And in defining this generation I am never really clear if people who write articles about them believe they are sharing something new or simply sharing shit so they look like they are smart.

This is one of those <stupid> articles.

http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/millennials-love-brand/243624/

Anyway.

I sometimes think that semi-smart people write things in a void … as if nothing smart has ever been written before.
I saw this article I noted above and almost immediately pulled up two relevant articles:

 

–      The Making of Tomorrow from Millward Brown <which was written in 2003 I believe … with gobs of wonderful sources>

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–      BORN THIS WAY: THE US MILLENNIAL LOYALTY SURVEY <How Generation Y will reshape customer loyalty> from Aimia in 2011

 

More shit has been written about this generation than should have been <most is trite crap>. Suffice it to say millennials may be an overarching term for a generation but also suffice it to say they are diverse and … uhm … better than us <older folk> in a variety of ways.

They exhibit characteristics many of us can only sit back & admire <and yet we seem to focus on the aggravating characteristics – which, of course, {sighing sarcastically} we never had when growing up >.

 

The Millennials, who managed to deal with the Great present now is laterRecession and the repercussions, who have grappled with a baby boomer bloated perspective of wealth & success, who have embraced the emergence of an almost transparent society & culture … are emerging better prepared to address all the challenges confronting them than the rest of us.

 

Well.

One would hope.

And one <see: Me> believes yes.

I believe this despite the fact we have labeled members of the generation as irresponsible, broke, spendthrift and narcissistic … and believe they all have short attention spans, demand instant gratification, and are slow to become independent.

 

Really?

I mean … REALLY?

Could we ever consider the possibility that they may actually possess some traits that will stand them in good stead in the decades to come?

 

millennial talentsIt is possible because they have some fabulous contradictory characteristics … like their seamless willingness to be entrepreneurial and embrace leading edge technological innovations and yet with money they appear to be spendthrifts and conservative in managing money. when it comes to managing their money.

This generation, which we far too often derisively call Millennials, is a wonderful combination of diverse characteristics, attitudes and behaviors.

And maybe their strongest attribute? They are quick to adopt shit … and quick to reject shit.

 

In a ‘see everything transparent’ internet <not just social> world they have grown up at a very young age <in some ways and not some others>.

 

It is NOT an instant gratification generation. It is misleading to say such a thing.

They are actually a 24/7 nomad generation. And they expect everything else around them to operate 24/7 and go wherever they are.

They grew up in a world where peer pressure was, and is, intense. And while there are ‘tribe leaders’ this generation has wavered back & forth between following and rejecting. This back & forth between following & rejecting confuses older generations who seek some consistency in behavior.

But their behavior is driven by attitudes<more than age>.

 

And their consistency reside not in behavior but more often in attitudes. Consistency of character and honesty matters <but inconsistent behavior can be seen as ‘interesting.’

And in thinking about Millennials we also need to recognize they possess some interesting qualities:

—-

• Independent and diverse (who they are)

• A new kind of consumerism (what they buy)

• Radically different media consumption (how they buy)

• Expectations higher, loyalty lower (how they think)

• Different mindset with a strong sense of entitlement and control.

—-

 

All that said. Why do the millennials get such a bad rap?

Let’s start with the fact that the average age of US Congress is 57.4 years-old. I believe not a single member of Congress is in his/her twenties. This means that in the Millennial mindset of following and rejection you begin to realize that politically they are almost always in rejection mode <because there is no way the older farts in Congress see progress the same way the younger generation does>.

I thought about this when I saw an article “Who’s Changing America Today?” <in PARADE magazine>:

YEPPIES (YOUNG, ENGAGED PROBLEM SOLVERS)

millennial gen-y

Yeppies–a group of young people distinguished by a reliance on social media and socializing to fuel their activism–came into existence only a few years ago.

They enjoy volunteering and have the most faith that individuals can solve social problems.

Improving the world is both important to them and a way to connect with like-minded peers. Open to a variety of causes, they’re particularly susceptible to getting involved because of a friend’s “ask.”

They derive great stimulation and satisfaction from their activism and donate often and widely. Two-thirds of Yeppies are women, and of the three types, this one has the highest percentages of African-Americans and of single people.

And this younger generation is chock full of the ‘yeppies.’

That said … almost surprisingly, the oldest generation tends to be very critical of the younger generations and almost always has a superiority complex because of it.

To be clear … there are certainly always criticisms that continue to plague certain generations <ALL generations>. Where Gen Xers and Baby Boomers decry the Millennials’ relative listen up here theylack of loyalty and aversion to extended tenures, Millennials will continue to be frustrated by the favoritism and seniority-rules-isms that Baby Boomers seem a little too fond of. We’ve been told that hard work pays off, and where Gen Yers expect that they will get ahead, they also expect others who work harder and smarter will prevail over them.

 

In addition … in today’s business millennials face the ridiculous amount of ‘Peter Principle’ managers that exist … and they do not have any patience for it <neither do I by the way>.

All the while many older employees are still in the mindset of ‘you’re here to shut up and work’. I say that because I don’t see the 20’s crowd being the only demographic with work ethic issues. And, yet, I keep reading all these ‘what millennials need to learn in business’ … which kind of seems to imply they don’t get it. To me … instead of ‘things millennials in the business world should know’ these types of tips should be a reminder for ALL demographics in the workplace:

How about everyone think about these thoughts:

 

–         A sense of urgency <balanced with some patience>

Time is Not a Limitless Commodity. In our 20s we think we have all the time in the world to A) figure it out and B) get what we want. In our 50’s we seem to have forgotten quality <and focus on quantity>.

Who cares what age you are. Make the most of the opportunities you have today, find your most productive work time … and be productive in it … because there will be a time when you have no more of it.

Bottom line.

Seek quality with a sense of urgency.

 

–            You may be talented … but talent is Overrated

Here is a harsh Life & business truth. There’s no prize for talent, just results.

Even the most seemingly gifted folks methodically and painfully worked their way to success. Oh. And once you gain success <older folk> you gotta prove your game again … and again … and … well … again. This is a lesson all demographics need to remember … not just millennials.

Oh. Also. You could be the greatest things since sliced bread … but you’re still going to be asked to do things you don’t like to do. Suck it up & keep your eye on the prize. Connect what you’re doing today with where you want to be tomorrow.

social media specialist

–          Social Media is Not a Career

I have written this a zillion times. Social media is not a career.

Worse?

These job titles won’t exist in 5 years.

Social media is simply a function of marketing.  It helps support selling stuff, branding stuff, creating meaningful awareness of stuff and differentiating stuff. Social media is a means to get more awareness, more persuasion, more users or more revenue. It’s not an end in itself.

I’d strongly caution against pegging your success solely to social media <per se>. I almost think 50somethings need to learn this more than millennials.

 

–               Don’t be a pussy

I almost called this ‘getting your ass kicked.’ Everyone gets their ass kicked. Everyone makes mistakes. It would be far too easy to suggest you should be making lots of mistakes when you’re early on in your career versus later in your career. So I won’t. Making mistakes is something that should never stop.

Sure.

There are degrees of mistakes but mistakes mean … well progress. But you shouldn’t be defensive about errors in judgment or execution. Stop trying to justify when you screw up. You’re only going to grow by embracing the lessons learned from your mistakes, and committing to learn from those experiences.

Demanding excellence AND mistakes pushes your limits every day will build the most solid foundation for your ongoing professional success.

 

–              The Entitlement/doing relationship

You can’t have a sense of entitlement without a sense of responsibility.

You’ll never get ahead by waiting for someone to tell you what to do. Saying “nobody asked me to do this” is a guaranteed recipe for failure. Err on the side of doing too much, not too little. Be the First In & Last to Leave ­– I give this advice to everyone starting a new job or still in the formative stages of their professional career. You have more ground to make up than everyone else around you, and you do have something to prove.

I do not care what age you are … there’s only one sure-fire way to get ahead and that’s to work harder than all of your peers.

 

Ok.

Now that I have suggested millennials negativity is crap … and that maybe all demographics need to unlearn and learn … I wanted to share something a guy named Alan Murray <Fortune magazine I believe> wrote … that I have also written in the past about millennials:

My former colleagues at the Pew Research Center have done the best research on this subject.

And what they have found is that many of the myths are just that – myths.

For instance:

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thinking idiotMillennials want to change jobs frequently.

This one is just wrong. The Pew study found millennials actually value job security more highly than boomers. But they won’t stay at a job they don’t like.

Some 50% of millennials say having a “job you enjoy” is “extremely important” to them, compared with just 38% of boomers.

Money doesn’t matter.

Maybe.

Pew found millennials put a “high-paying job” near the bottom of their list of work priorities – but so do other generations, in roughly equal numbers. Count me a skeptic on all counts. What people say when surveyed over the phone and how they act when an offer is on the table are different things.

Every millennial wants to be an entrepreneur.

They all may want to be Mark Zuckerberg, but it’s not happening. While Pew found they have greater distrust of “big” business than other generations, a recent Wall Street Journal analysis of Federal Reserve data shows the share of people under age 30 who own private businesses hit a 24-year low – just 3.6%, down from 10.6% in 1989.

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Look.

There should be no doubt that this generation is different … but all generations are different. This one is the most diverse in American history <43% nonwhite> and more confident about the nation’s future than older generations. They are slower to get married than earlier generations and less likely to belong to a political party—which may make their employer, by default, the most important institutional affiliation in their lives.

 

The biggest difference is not who they are, but how they live <and how they drive some specific attitudes>. I say that so we don’t confuse stylistic change and substantive change.

The substantive change.

Children-Using-Cell-PhoneThey are the ones most comfortable with that new body extension called the smartphone. This extension of who and what they are lets them stay connected to a vast network of friends and provides instant access to information, both good and bad. They are quickest to adapt to the ways in which the mobile Internet is changing the fundamental logistics of their lives, and the first to demand the workplace do the same.

 

Mobile technology really is different than anything before it.

As for open workspaces, modular furniture, and so on, those are simply the kinds of things that young people like. They have always liked them and they always will. They fit the cognitive style of youth and reflect its preference for openness and conceptual novelty.

Those are stylistic changes.

Now. To be sure … some stylistic change always accompanies substantive change. The internet changed our ideas about commerce, cultural production and social relations. But a lot of stylistic things turned out to be empty symbolism.

 

Regardless. Pay attention.

 

The millennials are not spoiled products of a coddled youth.

The millennials are not some unfocused lazy cohort of unemployed wusses.

They are harbingers of our connected future.

 

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thinker thumbtack

I wrote a fairly extensive article about Millennials  for my Project Global Generation idea <it most likely needs to be updated>.

http://brucemctague.com/global-generation-part-2-a-look-at-millennials

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Written by Bruce