On a trip in the Rockies, Jon Mertz experienced the wonders of aspen trees and walked away with a strong perception that the Millennial generation and these aspen trees shared many of the same qualities. He saw them both as “connection-rich, purpose-filled, and community-centered.”
Jon is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders and he blogs at Thin Difference. He recently shared some of his concepts and his research into the Millennial generation with me.
Facts About Millennials
You write about Millennials. Share some facts on this generation.
In the United States, Millennials are the largest generation, standing tall at over 80 million, and they make-up over 30 percent of the workplace today. They are quickly becoming the majority. Millennials cannot be ignored and should not be stereotyped. After all, Millennials are the next generation of leaders. Period!
Some statistics that energize me about this next generation of leaders are:
- 64 percent of Millennials say they regularly keep up with what is going on in the world.
- 75 percent of Millennials claim businesses are more focused on personal agendas than helping society, and 6 in 10 want to feel a “sense of purpose” in working for their organization.
- 87 percent believe business success should be measured in terms of more than just financial performance—elements to include are employee satisfaction and retention, customer satisfaction and retention, and contribution to local communities.
What Millennials have the opportunity to create is a new digital citizenship. The new digital citizenship has the potential to enhance trust, transparency, purpose, accountability, and sustainability within and across organizations. I know this sounds lofty, but I believe in what Millennials are bringing to politics, business, and charitable organizations.
What’s are the biggest misconceptions about them?
The biggest misperception about Millennials is that they are an entitled generation. New influences were present through societal and technology changes, no different than previous generations. Intensity of change accelerates, though. What I have found is not a sense of entitlement but a sense of how can we make things better. Embedded in this is a strong sense of purpose and problem solving. These are the traits Millennials are using.
An example of this is the Food Recovery Network. Two college students volunteered at a nearby homeless shelter. Back on campus after lunch, they saw good food being thrown away. How can people a few miles away have little food and good food is being thrown away here? They set out to solve this problem by working with the university to deliver the food to nearby shelters. Today, this social good initiative is active in over 160 chapters and has recovered over 1 million pounds of food across the United States.
Millennials are not entitled, but they are blazing a trail of renewal in solving real problems with purpose-filled solutions.
Find the Right Tempo
Let’s talk about patience. You say it cultivates growth. There are other times that we need a high sense of urgency and drive. How do you know what is needed?
There is no stock answer to finding the right tempo between patience and impatience. What patience engages is a visual of pace and stride. Patience embodies doing the work, learning our craft and honing our skills. Being patient is not wasted time. It is as Steve Martin said, “Being so good they cannot ignore you.”
Copyright Jon Mertz, Used by Permission
On the order side is stride. To achieve bigger missions and purpose, we need to step up to start a company, change jobs, move on, or re-start. Getting this timing right takes the right alignment of heart and mind. More specifically: