I was talking with a colleague recently about a vision I had to start a unique think tank of sorts. I expressed my desire to acquire a building where people from various generations could rent space for events, or utilize office space for their daily business activities. I continued explaining how awesome it would be to hear the ideas of Millennial Creatives, then have more seasoned professionals act as their coaches. The older, more experienced generation would help them to add sound infrastructure to the businesses they envisioned. The person quickly responded, “I don’t do Millennials, they don’t like hard work”!
As I to listened to him, I’m sure I had a look of incredulity on my face that was perplexing to him. You see, I am a Baby Boomer to the core; not the hippie Woodstock kind of Boomer, I am a traditionalist. I love rules. They make me feel safe. My friend knows this about me. Yet, the Millennial generation are some of my favorite people in the world. They are courageous and innovative. They take risks. They dream, and dream big. Some wonder if they are all talk and no action. I’m sure my friend wondered why I would ever want to do business with men and women of this generation.They bring discomfort to our need for a steady existence. They tend to shake up the norms that we have come to embrace in business.
My mother retired from the Federal Government after working for over 30 years. The image of my grandfather receiving his gold watch and pension from Sears Roebuck Department Store, is a vivid and proud memory for me. The family that raised me taught me to find a good job, work hard, and retire with a good pension. That was the way I intended to live my life as well. However, when I entered the workforce, the world was changing. New and creative opportunities were on the horizon. Staying on one job, doing the same thing for 30 years or more was horrifying to me. In some cases that kind of tenure was not even an option. I like many of my peers, I received promotions by moving from job to job waiting for someone to recognize my talents and offer me a job that they thought would be right for me. Management of my career was passively given into the hands of others.
Having children that are now Millennial young adults has changed my life. When I was raising them, I thought that they would be traditional people too. I tried to steer them into traditional fields. I wanted them to have careers that would keep them “safe”. I was passing onto them what had been passed on to me. But my children wanted no part of what I was offering. They had visions and dreams. Dreams that they dare to walk in every day. They are artists, musicians, graphic designers, writers, filmmakers, and anything else they dare to be and do. They are all very successful leaders. They may not always feel successful, but they are. Moment by moment, they embrace their unique personalities and talents. When they were children, I taught them about different learning styles and how everyone was created with a different “bent”. I taught them that all of the different learning types and temperaments have value. They believed me. They are walking that truth out in their lives every day.
In the community where I serve, the Millennial members are often the most creative and productive people among us. They work very hard. To many onlookers, it may not look like they are not working hard because they work differently. They actually love what they do and have fun doing it. They make us feel uncomfortable because we don’t always understand their process. They come up with the most innovative ideas as they are tossing a ball back and forth joking and laughing among one another. Although they experience stress in their lives, for the most part they keep moving. Many don’t have long term plans; they plan as they go. This is not their fault, it is the times that they were born into. They have been forced to become possibility thinkers. The fact that they succeed and fail, then do it all again the next day inspires me. They are a resilient, hopeful group. This is why I love them.