Why You're Wrong About Millennials: A Millennial's Perspective

Posted by Josh Terceira on Nov 24, 2015 8:30:00 AM

Josh in 1991 with a Commodore

Pictured: Your humble author on his third birthday in front of his prized Commodore 64, 1991. 
Being a Millennial in today's workforce can be frustrating. When you swim in a sea of news stories and thinkpieces about how awful your generation is, staying positive is difficult, and it's easy to lose interest in trying to find middle ground with the people who think you're lazy, entitled, and scatterbrained. But recently, I found myself standing in front of a room full of those exact people. I was holding the presentation remote, and they were my enraptured audience, wide-eyed and eager, hanging on every word that fell out of my face.

An opportunity like that does NOT come around very often. 

I've spent a fair amount of my adult life painted as the titular "kid" in that classic "kids these days" phrase - kids these days don't work hard enough, kids these days won't move the hell out of their parents' houses, kids these days expect everything handed to them. When we hear these things, it's very tempting to shoot back at the messenger. And I would be lying to you if I said I haven't hurled my fair share of jabs - like how I'm sure we'd all be PERFECTLY happy to move out except for the matter of little tiny things like skyrocketing housing prices and wage stagnation and the massive amounts of student loan debt we incurred getting that degree you promised would make our lives perfect, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. 

With all this in mind, while I was preparing the presentation I'd be giving in my attempt to explain to a room of Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers how to deal with the likes of me, it was easy to let my mind wander, and I soon found myself daydreaming about revenge and retribution.

But revenge and retribution never really solved any problems, so instead of going up there and throwing punches, I decided to talk about experience, and, aside from one hilarious hiccup (see the video below), it was a fantastic, mind-expanding time.

Experience is a word we hear quite regularly in the business world. In our industry, experience is of particular interest, because we’re all trying to create the best experience for our clients and the attendees interacting with them on the show floor. We’re particularly primed to understand the concept of experience, and coming to that understanding on an interpersonal level is an essential part of creating the kind of harmony that allows great work to happen.

Every person's experience is unique to them, and if you treat it as something of value, every person's experience has something to offer you as an individual. If you're a seasoned industry veteran, you can choose to see your new Millennial coworkers as lazy, entitled, and scattered, but what does that really give you besides anger and resentment? Instead, recognize the Millennial's technology-driven upbringing as an asset and learn as much as you can from them.

On the other side of the coin, as a Millennial I can choose to see the 'seasoned veterans' I'm working with as relics of a foregone era - but that gives me nothing but frustration. The reality is, they have a wealth of experience I have no inkling of, and that kind of real-world experience is something you can't Google, no matter how much you try.

It is said that age, race, gender, etc. shouldn't be a factor in life and in business, but I beg to differ - it absolutely is a factor, because these facts about us are the things that shape the way we interpret the world. A Millennial and a Baby Boomer may live through the same time period, but they are experiencing the world in fundamentally different ways. Instead of treating our differences as uncomfortable things to avoid and ignore, we should be celebrating them - each individual interpretation is unique and important, and the more we open ourselves up to others' perspectives, the better our understanding of the world will become.  


Josh Terceira Bio

Topics: Authentically Us, Our People