The Millennial Conversation: A Parent’s View
I love millennials – I have 2 kids and 3 nieces and nephews who are millennials. In age sequence, from 27 down to 22, they are a CEO of a hugely successful 15-month old company, a program-manager of a Credit Union who wants to become an entrepreneur, a junior precious metals trader, an actuary and a budding actor. What an amazingly talented generation! Such ambition and drive!
My sampling size, bolstered by a number of others both personally and through Curatti, is hardly of scientific proportions, but is large enough for me to form what I hope will be seen as a balanced opinion.
Are millennials misunderstood? Of course! Every younger generation since time immemorial has been viewed aghast, as if they had two heads, by many of those who somehow, against all of their protestations when young that they would not do so, forgot the exuberance, ambition and innocence of their own younger years, and how they were viewed for their new ideas and insistence that they would be the first generation to actually get things right.
Of course there is the very obvious difference this time around of rapidly changing technology that young adults are by and large comfortable with but with which, after a certain age point, there is a drastic falling off of comfort with. However, there is one major similarity that still interplays with two basic unchanging realities, and none of these, I fear, have been considered by many in my children’s generation.
Knowledge, desire and work ethic do not guarantee business success and for all of their comfort level with technology, millennials are no better equipped to succeed on the business side than any preceding generation. With social media, marketing has become so much more multi-faceted. Exactly how much expertise can one person have and how many hours a week will they need to work? The simple answer to both is, more than ever before! If anything, the solo route is less likely to yield success stories than had previously been the case. I didn’t even mention the influence necessary to achieve breakthrough.
And then there’s basic economics: If 30% of young adults harbour entrepreneurial tendencies – that is a purely invented number, by the way – can you imagine a world with a billion businesses, all successful? Thought not!
Of course, millennials have this reputation for wanting to get to the top of the pile now…. Or maybe next year. While there will be more amazing success stories of college kids and 20-somethings creating the next big thing or at least, a 7+-figure company, for every one of these….. well, you know!
Typically, reputations are first earned, then exaggerated and finally applied with too broad a brush, and I see this as no exception. When I was the age that millennials are now, all of my peers expected to be settled and with some success by the time we were 30 as that was the way things were until not so many years earlier. So wanting it all and wanting it ‘now’ is really nothing new.
For this generation though, some of the move towards greater entrepreneurship has been forced by a changing corporate landscape in which the long term career path has largely gone by the wayside and young adults are being forced, more than ever, into careers laced with uncertainty, where large numbers of jobs available in some sectors are temporary and offer few learning opportunities. If you are going to have to learn on your own time, after all, why not use that learning for your own business!
But that still doesn’t mean that there can ever be an economy that could sustain a huge percentage starting their own companies in some form of modern agrarianism where the farm is replaced by geographical independence or that small businesses can survive in isolation. No, we live in a networked society and new business models must reflect that.
Perhaps we can transform the Millennial conversation into a new economy debate? I certainly have my own ideas, which I would be happy to share and discuss if anyone cares to join me. Far better, join US and let’s form a group right here on Curatti!
This article is part of an ongoing conversation initiated by Jan Gordon, with articles to date by Cesar Romero and Albert Qian. Posts to date are:
Picture first published here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2013/09/04/why-you-cant-ignore-millennials/
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