by Nancy Caldie
As a baby boomer, my interest in reading Ashlee Veneman’s article, Working with Millennials, was peaked from the very first line. “I came across a very interesting meme the other day,” Ashlee says. Meme? What is a meme? How do you even pronounce it? So I did what any fairly competent person would do and that was to Google it.
Now I know how to say it, but its meaning remains a bit elusive. A meme is described as “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Although it is a new word for many, it was actually coined by a British evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins in 1976.
This was my first clue as to how different baby boomers are from millennials. The number of new words and phrases they use is growing so fast that some will become obsolete before I even get to use them. Language is always evolving. Technology, too, is “advancing at an exponential rate.” Yet, despite the rapid speed of changes taking place, this generation, as Ashlee points out, seems to be adapting more easily and quickly than the rest of us.
Ashlee used a quote from Simon Sinek, noted motivational speaker and marketing consultant, that spoke to me—especially in the current political climate. He declared, “Leadership is not about the next election; it’s about the next generation.” I searched again to discover more about Simon and found one of his videos on the topic of Millennials. He talks about some of the things that parents of millennials did and what the effects of the parenting have been. Ashlee, in fact, mentioned in her article how both her parents and grandfather influenced her.
If millennials are confused, unhappy, superficial, or as Ashlee said, “often labeled as being everything from entitled and lazy to altruistic and over-educated,” it is as Simon puts it, “of no fault of their own.” Simon makes the case that some of the culpability belongs to the parents. In an effort to protect their children from life’s disappointments and setbacks, some parents may be depriving them of the chance to try and fail—an important component in learning to succeed.
Despite such challenges, or perhaps because of them, the millennial generation is proving to be more resourceful and resilient than many of us expected. The road forward will not be an easy one. Finding jobs remains one of their biggest concerns, followed by the high cost of preparing for them. Nonetheless, we see new examples of their creativity, passion, and promise every day. As the country’s largest living generation, that bodes well for not only their futures but for ours too.
I thank Ashlee for her insight into millennials, and for expanding my thoughts and ideas by introducing me to Simon Sinek. Ashlee surely has what Simon finds missing in many millennials. That is an understanding that success is well within her grasp, and that labels are just that…a description not a destiny.
Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.