They said they are lazy and narcissistic. They said they are self-entitled and always need validation. They said they want to receive trophies just for existing. Some of them are in college cramming on thesis deadlines, working on internships and some of them are busy working their ass off to pursue their passion.
Yet other generations see them as self-entitled bunch of kids who believes in unicorns and pixie dusts – that when shit hits the fan they are the first ones who would leave the room and would expect to get a reward out of it. They perceive them as a group of individuals who see the world as a one big “Hunger Games” movie, where a single poisoned cherry defines their next move. They see them as a generation who is still taking a grasp of a real world setting; a generation of big dreams, but short on reality.
To pigeonhole, the oldest millennial is 35 and the youngest is 15 this year. Millennials are people born from 1980 to 2000. They are also called “Generation Y” since the name is based from “Generation X” – the generation that preceded them. They are called Millennials because their childhoods were around the time of the turn of the new millennium. They were those kids back then that was staring in front of a Pentium 3 with no panic waiting for the Y2K virus to go on full suicide bomber. They were the first generation to use all social media platforms. They are more open-minded and with a belief that most people can be trusted.
Millennials are not just virtually connected via social networks; they value the role that they play in their communities. For instance, high school seniors today are more likely than previous generations to state that making a contribution to society is very important to them and that they want to be leaders in their communities. Millennials are the largest and most educated generation in history and they overwhelmingly believe that businesses are focused on their own agendas rather than helping to improve the society. Millennials are diverse, connected and are activists for personal rights such as gay marriage and healthcare. They aspire to become the leader or most senior executive within their current organization with a clear ambition gap between Millennials in emerging markets and developed markets. And yes, they take more selfies, than any other generation existed.
The environment now is like a psychological battlefield, and millennials now have the upper hand because they know technology very well as much as they know how bushy Drake’s eyebrows are or how many percentage of protein does Beyonce take on her daily diet. They know how to use every gadget imaginable that’s coming out in every Mac store nearby. It almost became an extension of their body parts; they talk, listen, type, and choose Instagram filters at the same time. And because of this, something is happening as we speak, they are now welcome to the conference table with the preceding generations with a single priority in mind “Get the job done”.
Based on my experience running a company composed of millennials, you can say that they belong to the greatest generation ever – comparing it to previous employers, colleagues and also with a recent millennial study by Pew. They are more hardworking and they know tools and software to efficiently achieve work goals. They are enormously clever and resourceful. Some of them are absolutely incorrigible. Being a millennial manager is quite perplexed because you must be half shrink and half diplomat. You have to encourage, motivate and inspire them. You can’t micromanage everything as they have their own ways and means to do things.
Today, millennials are more pro-active collaborating with each other, achieving goals with regards to society’s improvement. With this characteristic, it doesn’t seclude them to work and collaborate with Generation X and Baby Boomers.
The leaders running today appeal to the vast majority of millennials as they occupy a big percentage of the voting population in each country, each state and each continent. They have the power, not simply because of demographic but they are wiser, more sensitive and they dream of a good society, that their belief isn’t idealistic, but rather it is just – to live in a world where everyone is worthy that contributes to a common good.
They also have a peculiar way to voice out their opinions. Think of it like the millennials are the panels to their debates where in their judgments and personal opinions will be shared in a platform magnified into thousand folds; where no other generation has ever experienced doing – two words, Social Media. Think of what Mark Zuckerberg, a proud millennial, has achieved. He created a borderless world – where every individual can come across everyone in one platform. Think of Pete Cashmore of Mashable, David Carp of Tumblr, Kevin Systrom of Instagram, Evan Spiegel of SnapChat and many other millennial movers who thought of a society where everyone can be connected, where everyone can be informed – where you can educate and share the things you believe in, your stories, your dreams, your everyday life, your aspirations and actions. Think of Malala Yousafzai and her advocacy on women and education in the northwest of Pakistan. These people thought that things do not just change, we change.
In thirty years, all of these are defined; all of these are just elements, data and remnants of what it is to be a millennial. The leaders, politicians, CEOs, Senior Managers and Executives of the world is equipped with a “Get the Job Done” work concept – the leaders of the world who doesn’t stop at being mediocre – the leaders who are able to transform underachieving peers into leaders themselves. Calling us the “me, me, me” generation was never wrong. It is a marvelous thing to be called one, a “me” generation that starts from within; that starts with a single unit, a generation in which you think of yourself first in order to help others – a generation that is sensitive to one’s need but equally sensitive of its path. That instead of leaning back, we are leaning forward engaging to every detail around us. That instead of joining groups and organizational hierarchy, we are more inclusive, collaborative and trusting to others. That instead of thinking of our leaders as a strict authority, we see them as friends that we respect.
There were days that the media highlights the opposite end of the millennial spectrum when some dumbass kid does some dumbass thing and posts it on social media and spreads like wildfire in the internet for other generations to see, giving us a bad reputation – that we are selfish, apathetic and dumb. There were days that you were bullied in the office because of too much curiosity of getting the job done over climbing some corporate ladder. There were days that the society just thinks of you as some aliens of the world dressed as drags, trash, fashionistas and androgynous misfits. There were days that you worked over day and night to finish a work project to prove that you are worthy of a management position exclusive for experienced people.
Then there are days that you realize that you belong to a generation that has the power to create change, the power in knowing how to do the best quality of work possible, the power to voice out an opinion in a platform where majority of the world’s population use and the power to smell bullshit within the four corners of a conference room. There are days that you realize that being in this generation is an advantage and it wouldn’t stop you to follow your path, to have the freedom to choose whatever you want to be – to create at least a dent in the universe. There are days that you realize that it is the best time to be alive, that we are a generation of dreamers and goal-oriented achievers.
Today, I am proud to say that I belong to this generation. I am proud to say that I am a Filipino millennial dreaming of a collaborative society in which everyone feels worthy. It will take years that each of us will run each segment of this world but I am proud to say that this generation has never been at its finest and I’m looking forward to that day that we will illuminate positivity for other generations to come.
I’ll just keep calm and carry on.
Header photo source here.