10 Work and Life Lessons Learned from Millennials

Every time I see yet another blog or news article bashing the Millennial generation I’m tempted to defend. The reality is, however, they don’t need me in that role. They do just fine by – and for – themselves.

So let me take this in another direction and say, without hesitation, that over the last three years I’ve learned more from young professionals than I have from fellow boomers, business books, blogs and big conferences – all put together.

The reasons are simple…

  1. I’m a sponge when it comes to learning new things
  2. I listen – regardless of the age of the person talking and without equating “level of experience” with “ability to contribute”
  3. There is a work revolution coming… and Millennials are leading the charge

So with an open mind firmly in place, here are 10 work and life lessons I’ve learned from Millennials:

1. Engagement Matters

While now a common thought in my head, it was a Millennial who first taught me that sincere engagement – rather than mass emails and broadcasting tweets is what sets you – and your brand – apart from the rest.

2. Diversity is Expected

In today’s younger workforce, diversity isn’t some corporate mandated “program” – or some kind of equality we strive for once we’ve realized how far past “fair” we are… it is already there, and more than expected.

3. Work Happens Before 8am and After 5pm

As a morning person on the west coast, I admit this one kills me. However, I’ve come to embrace that with the night owls working in different time zones, our organization, and our online community, is practically (albeit unintentionally) a 24/7 operation.

4. Google, Dammit!

No, Gen Y didn’t invent Google – nor were they first to use a search engine. However, they sure perfected the use of the technology. It only takes one time for a Millennial to look over your shoulder as you email a question to four team members and mentor and say, “Ya’ know, it would have taken 7 seconds to Google that…” (Shuddap!)

5. Communicate Quickly

Maybe this is the influence of texting or Twitter… either way, it is brilliant! Say what you have to say – quickly and succinctly – and then be quiet. All the time management books in the world never thought of this, but they should have.

6. Virtual = Good

Working in an office? Commuting nightmares? Brown bagging lunches? Office gossip and politics? Not necessary. Again, Millennials didn’t invent the virtual office, they just made it a better place to work.

7. Collaboration is King

It used to be that every project was a do-or-die individual assignment steeped in deadlines. Now, Millenials expect to brainstorm, work together to achieve a common goal and celebrate team wins. Great logic. Even better results.

8. Motivate and Inspire

Through Millennials, I’ve learned that when properly motivated and inspired we can use innovation, collaboration –and, yes, even Google – to solve almost any business problem. And when we’re all done, chances are we’ve come up with a much better solution than we might have in the “old days”.

9. There’s an App for That

Sometimes, the solutions from No. 8 lead to an app that makes all our lives easier – all we need do is find and implement. A Boomer may struggle for days or weeks on how to solve an issue, a Millennial just knows… and often I hear, “Mark, there’s an app for that…”

10. Sometimes, Experience Doesn’t Mean Squat

Back to what I said in the intro, it is amazing what happens when we open our minds and listen to others without preconceived notions about age, generation or experience. It doesn’t take a bunch of greybeards to solve every problem… sometimes it takes a little youthful energy, innovation and a fresh mind.

Those are my 10 real-life lessons learned from the Millennials I get to work with daily.  What have you learned from Millennials in the workplace? What would you add to this list? Please let us know in the comments below!





Mark BabbittAbout the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Switch and Shift, and Under30CEO.

Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors,” HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and CareerBliss’ “Top 10 Gen Y Career Experts.” Mark is currently working on two new books: “A World Gone Social: How Business Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM, June 2014) with Ted Coine and “The Ultimate Guide to Internships (And Making Your College Years Matter Again)” (Allworth, September 2014). Contact Mark via email or on Twitter!



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