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Pop-Tarts and the Millenials: A Fair Assessment?

The 18 to 30-somethings…AKA the Millenials, Generation Y, The Lost Generation, Generation C (as in connected). Everyone is trying to figure them out.. the marketers*, the hiring managers, the critics and the fortune tellers.

FACT OR FICTION?

  • Millenials are unmotivated and entitled.
  • They don’t know how to relate in person, because they’re always on their phones.
  • They aren’t willing to work for the lifestyles that expect to have.

Personally, I’m on the cusp between Generation X and the Baby Boomers. More on one side of the cusp than the other, but that’s not the point now, is it?

POINT #1: LET’S PLAY FAIR

Every generation is nostalgic and a bit narrow minded about their own era. We love to reminisce: It wasn’t like that when I was a kid; we never got away with that; and kids today don’t have our work ethic.

Is it possible that our elders said the same things about us? Sure!

Take, for instance, the Pop-Tart Argument.

I had four older brothers between the ages of 18 and 24, so they weren’t around the house much. I was a 12-year old with a bad attitude. One day my dad zeroed in on what must have been the cause of my entitlement. “Your brothers didn’t have Pop-Tarts!” Ouch. You know you’re growing up in a large family when “Pop-Tarts” represent excess.

What I’m trying to say is this: maybe we’re guilty of applying less-than-fair measures that cause us to stereotype the next generation.

 POINT #2: LET’S STOP STEREOTYPING

I’m going to step out and say with confidence that the millenials are not entitled, lazy, unproductive or any of the other derogatory comments I hear about their lack of work ethic. I see too much of the positive. Other sources agree:

According to NPR.org, “Millenials don’t only use social media; they invented it. Mark Zuckerberg, along with the inventors of Instagram and Tumblr and Snapchat, are all millennials and all millionaires.”

The New York Times points out characteristics unique to the millenials: tolerant, empathetic, health conscious, committed to corporate citizenship and capable of navigating technology that is advancing at a dizzying pace.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing the stories of regional millenials who are improving our world through leadership, innovation and business savvy.

Stay tuned, and at least for now, table the Pop-Tart Argument.

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*Why should marketers care? According to Forbes, millenials control $2 trillion in liquid assets; that number is expected to surge to $7 trillion by the end of the decade, before some millenials even reach the height of their careers.