My name is Ted. I am 47. And I am a Millennial.
Are you a Millennial like me? Or maybe you think you’re too old. Read on: the answer may surprise you…
I’ve been working a lot with a remarkable client lately. WorldLister.co is a fairly typical tech startup in that very little about it is typical at all. The founding crew has no interest in business as usual, “best practices,” or knowing what can’t be done… because they’re too busy doing it!
Also like most tech startups, the demographic of the company skews young, with almost everybody aboard either officially a Millennial or very close to it. At 47, I’m by far the longest of tooth most days I visit.
Okay, this is where some of you are likely to pause. “47, Ted?” I hear you murmuring to your screen. “How can you count yourself a Millennial? The oldest members of Gen Y are 33.”
Yup, that’s technically true. But here’s why I am, indeed, a Millennial – and why you may be, too:
1. Can You Stand the Term “Millennial” (or Any Generation-Defining Term)?
Are 80 million people really all the same? Come on! As soon as we start applying these ridiculously broad labels to each other, the worthwhile, human thinking stops and the rigid dehumanizing begins. I think we can all do better than that. Don’t you?
For an absolutely brilliant take on why our youngest adults might find this mass stereotyping offensive (and why you should, too), read and watch this short post/video from my friend Jesse Mongeau.
As soon as we start applying these ridiculously broad labels to each other, the worthwhile, human thinking stops and the rigid dehumanizing begins.
2. Are You Psyched About the Future?
A defining American trait is optimism about the future – and a whole lot of the friends I’ve made worldwide feel the same way. Really, how on earth does one crawl out of bed in the morning if she doesn’t believe in an ever-better future? We Millennials of all ages have a shared sense of perspective and of humble pride for having weathered the Great Recession together. We’re all fascinated by the ever-unfolding developments technology is bringing to the world. We’re excited by what the future has in store for us, because we’re building the future together, every single day!
3. Do You Refuse to Work for Pay Alone?
Or perhaps more accurately, you may take a job to pay the bills for now, but if the company doesn’t deliver on its promise of meaningful work, you’re not going to dutifully do your time for forty years to get that gold watch and pension: you’re going to head to Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter in search of something worthy of your talents and energy. Lame employers deserve lame employees – and that’s not you.
We’re excited by what the future has in store for us, because we’re building the future together, every single day!
4. Do You Embrace the Power of “We”?
We Millennials love collaborating with our friends and coworkers to work together toward a higher goal. For all the bashing the Millennials (and the Gen Xers before them, and the Baby Boomers before them) take in the media for being narcissistic and all about “What’s in it for me?”, we Millennials love nothing more than to work together to solve complex problems – and we don’t need to hog the spotlight when those problems are overcome.
5. Do You Thrive on Sincere Recognition?
Here’s the trait that first made me realize I might indeed be a member of Gen Y: I love to know how I’m doing. Working in a feedback vacuum is… um… unsettling, isn’t it? If I’m on the wrong track, tell me right away, don’t wait for my annual review! If I’m nailing it, tell me that, too. And please, show how you appreciate my effort on the team. Everyone has a different style of receiving recognition that works best for our personality, but who doesn’t like any recognition – even if we pretend we don’t, deep down inside, we do (just maybe not publically, for some of us).
6. Are You Dedicated to Making the World a Better Place?
I like to think everyone shares some flavor of the same ideal: that nothing we do is morally neutral, especially true of what we accomplish through work. Well, it turns out, that makes us all Millennials! This is the most idealistic generation since the Boomer flower children of the Sixties, but it’s the most pragmatic since the Greatest Generation that grew up in the Great Depression and won World War II, saving Democracy at often tremendous personal sacrifice. Practical idealism? Sign me up for that!
Are you a practical idealist like me? And like many of the 80 million young people who are, right now, changing the world we live in through the meaningful work that they do?
Then you are a Millennial, too. Even though you hate that term.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Switch and Shift!
About the Author: Ted Coiné is co-founder of Switchandshift.com, where he is host of Switch and Shift TV, weekly interviews with extraordinary thinkers focusing on The Human Side of Business. One of the most influential business experts on the Web, Ted has been top-ranked by Forbes, SAP Business Innovation, and Huffington Post for his leadership, customer experience, and social media influence.
An inspirational speaker and author, his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, co-authored with YouTern’s own Mark Babbitt, will hit bookstores in August 2014. Ted consults with owners, CEOs and boards of directors on making their companies more competitive by making them more human-focused. He and his family live in Naples, Florida, where Ted is active in the local tech startup community.