When I say Millennial, You say...

A Boomer asks about 50 Millennials, "What's one word you think or feel when someone writes or talks about "Millennials?" This group of 50 had lots to say - and contrary to what popular bumper-sticker media repeats, lots of DIFFERENT things to say. The Boomer invited 50 people born between 1980 and 2000 to contribute to a blog that will over time cover lots of topics - work, career, loyalty, aspirations, family, wellness, motivations, and generally what's going on. 

Beyond the one-word responses to the question, the group had LOTS to say. And contrary to the bumper-sticker generalizations found in the media, they had LOTS of DIFFERENT things to say. 

  • Some are really tired of the whole Millennial thing - and don't like the attention. These weren’t initially interested in the blog unless we committed to blog pretty much exactly what they had to say. And we will.
  • Some are really excited about it. These said they liked that someone was going to be asking a group that isn’t already famous or some survey percentage from a Forbes article or any other unlikely or unknowable representation of who they are or want to be.
  • A few pointed out that the life experiences of YOB’81 are simply not the same as YOB’99. One said, “I got my first-generation iPhone for my job. Some Millennials got theirs at the same time - in the second grade.” Yep - it’s a pretty big bucket. As one put it, “Generalization (sighs)… sucks to be stupid.”

What does the word-cloud tell us?

  • Our word-cloud does have “entitled” repeated more than other words. By the way - the context was split between “we are” and “many are, but I’m not” and “people say”. 
  • “Frustrated” and “misunderstood” are repeated more than most words. And when I read the emails and reflect on the discussions, the word cloud is more like the below. 
  • Aside from those, there were just a lot of different words, some contrary to others, others similar. Hmmmmm.
WordItOut-word-cloud-1394579.png

So, where did the Millennials agree and who cares?

  • Stop labeling. One said, “No one can get away with saying, ‘Those (insert demographic) people are all (insert attribute).’ It’s not only inaccurate, it’s insulting because it’s so obviously bullshit.” Another was frustrated that GenX and Boomer managers were “getting their managerial tips from Huff Post blogs” rather than actually talking to their Millennial team members. 
  • It’s a thing - like it or not. All seemed to embrace or grudgingly accept that the beliefs (informed or not) and conversations (within or across generations) do matter to them and to those with influence over their jobs or careers. 
  • All agreed that younger people are more tech-facile for obvious reasons. Deeper than that - and as discussed with one - growing up adapting to change that is increasing at an increasing rate has subtle but powerful implications.  What many Boomers talk about as a lack of “patience” or “#instantgratification” reflects a genuine generational, experiential difference of perception about how much time passes (or should pass) between significant changes in our lives. Could it be that Boomers want Millennials to slow down even if only to have someone to hold onto while the rest of life spins faster and faster?

So if we can’t generalize about Millennials or create handy short-cuts to understand, motivate, hire, retain, communicate, whatever, what’s the point of talking about them? When a Boomer and Millennial walk into a bar, what are they talking about? Is it interesting? Useful? 

We’ll see. 

YsOB ’61, ’63, ’94, ’96 plus ~ 50 between ’80 and ’00.



A Boomer and Millennial Walk Into A Bar...

An upcoming series of dialogues between a circle of Boomers and Millennials about popularly traded topics and myths about Millennials (and Boomers). Two Boomers are asking about 50 Millennials - sons, students, corporate mentees, entrepreneurs - what would be interesting to talk about. We'll blog about it and keep going if people seem interested - Boomers, Millennials, X-ers, whoever.