Hey, can I interrupt your Snapchat/Twitter/Tinder apps session for a minute?
Over the last few years, I’ve read a number of articles and blog posts about the shortcomings and stereotypes of your generation. I’ve also noticed that anytime the word “millennials” comes up among my fellow Gen-Xers or baby boomers, the eye rolls and sighs are not far behind.
Like many executives of my age, I’m Generation X. I too was buying into the entitled, short-attention-span and “me-first” generalizations linked with your generation. But then after hiring a few of you, I saw much more to you than the stereotype.
Your generation (and your approach to work and life) is exactly the nudge that our business community needs, perhaps now more than ever!
So, on behalf of my Gen-X and baby boomer colleagues, I’d like to publicly thank you for being true to the stereotypes (and their positive attributes) I’ve now come to appreciate.
Thank you for embracing mobile technology.
Visionary boomers and Xers might have invented mobile technology, but you took it to unimagined places. Mobile technology is now the currency that drives global business, thanks to your need for connectivity. Following in your footsteps, you have led us onto Facebook and into Uber rides. And in doing so, you’ve challenged us to rethink what’s possible and break away from our desktop computer-chained office life.
Thanks to you, we have used technology to enhance our efficiency and as a result, we can provide service to our customers faster and better than our competition. If Amazon can deliver anything within two hours and Snapchat auto-deletes messages in 20 seconds, why do our internal business processes take so long? The future belongs to leaders like you who create new mobile technologies to solve problems we didn’t know we had, faster than we thought possible.
Thank you for your work-life balance and flexibility values.
We grew up in a time when the values of hard work were right up there with family and faith. We were instilled with the steadfast belief that hard work was the only path to a better life. I know your generation saw the virtues of hard work as well, but then the Great Recession made you rethink your priorities. You watched how your parents were pulled away by work; head down and pressing on to ensure their children had a future.
As a result, you understand that time working late isn’t and shouldn’t be more important than time well-spent with friends and loved ones. Because of you, I’ve been able to recognize that jobs and work may come and go, but building lifelong relationships should never be a lesser priority.
Thank you for your individualism.
I’ve noticed you are not afraid to show up to work and be yourself — with your blue hair, tattoos and all. Of course, my first instinct was to frown upon your individualism, but then I realized these expressions have no negative impacts on your performance and actually make our environment more fun and more collaborative. We all have incredible life experiences and different points of view. Keep being you and keep sharing your unique perspectives and individualism. Our business culture depends on it.
Thank you for dreaming big.
I’ve heard your grand ideas for your career and life and can’t help but admire your boldness. Big promotions and $100K+ salaries may not come as fast as you had hoped, but your optimism is inspiring nonetheless. You have come to expect great things quickly as a result of your upbringing, so don’t let my generation get in your way now. Every great business started with a founder’s dream and visionary leadership. If Gen-Xer Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and SpaceX envisions interplanetary habitation in our lifetime, do you think we can brainstorm on ways to reach more customers faster?
Thank you for your civic orientation.
You grew up in a more multicultural environment than my generation and you have experienced firsthand that our differences really aren’t that different. You have a keen sense when injustices occur on a local, national and global scale and aren’t afraid to share your informed opinions. I’m confident you will work to make our company, city and world better for all and this gives me comfort and hope for a better future.
All the eye rolls and deep sighs aside, it does us no good to argue or spend our energy in conflict about our generational attributes. Personally, I would like to embrace our generational differences and grow professionally, as a company and most importantly, as a society. Keep embracing these attributes and help lead us into what’s next.
So thank you for the great contributions you’re making. Generation Z is right behind you and is counting on your leadership.
Tom Goettl is vice president/principal recruiter at George Konik Associates, Edina.