If you’re like me, the ideas and opinions around our millennial work-colleagues has started to become tedious and, quite frankly, patronizing. I’ve had the pleasure of working with thousands of young, nubile minds, and the broad-brush statements across a whole generation has never sat well with me. Besides, I’ve always felt I’m a millennial in a Gen X body, so I celebrate this generation and hope they collectively change the world for the better. We need them too.
But there is a difference about this generation – a quality that exudes from every millennial I meet. It’s a desire for a different future. A willingness to go into battle to fight against ideas and work models that my generation never really had the opportunity to change. This quality is always there and it’s what I want to understand. What is it? What drives it?
I have known Steph for a long time. In fact, I knew Steph when she was still in school uniform, because I am friends with her fabulous mother, Sheila Dickson. For me to have watched her grow into the forward-thinking, entrepreneurial, tribe-building, business leader she is today, well let’s say I’m super proud of her. I’m also proud of the conscious human being she is. Steph is terrific.
So I asked Steph, what is important to millennials?
“When I look across my community, including all of the people who have joined The Wedge tribe, I would have to say that having a sense of purpose is absolutely central to what drives us professionally. We have a thirst to build something, we want to make an impact, and we want to get involved.
“Of course, we all want this, but the other quality I think people miss about this generation, is we know that before we can achieve any of this, we have to understand ourselves first. That is why millennials are pursuing wellness in higher numbers than any generation before.
“Our desire for this wisdom is deep, and if I focused on one thing business leaders are missing today, it is understanding our deep commitment to wanting something better. We don’t want what they have. It’s not good enough anymore. We know life can be better, for all of us.”
But why now? Why this generation?
“I was brought up an expat kid in international schools, and most of my community is either from this background or from a relatively wealthy background, especially when it comes to the wealth of gaining a tertiary education. This provides us with a safety blanket in our home life – something previous generations didn’t have.
“Younger people, more and more, have the option to stay at home in the early years of our careers, and often have amazing support from our parents or community – financially and/or emotionally. So, when you have what you need to survive, it gives you the space to search, and for us, that search is all about how can I be happier?
“Business in Asia is crazy and we are all operating at a speed that makes our heads spin, but is this what life’s about? Is this all we can expect from life? Then we have a choice: do we escape the craziness and dull our experience through alcohol or other forms of self-abuse? Or do we go inside and work out how we can achieve inner peace? More and more, millennials are turning to the second option.”
What are the priorities you see for millennials in this quest?
“Millennials are looking for the tools and people that can help them on life’s journey, which is why we launched Green is the New Black, Asia’s First Conscious Festival. The three themes of the event are Having, Being and Doing.”
- Having – “millennials know there is a better way to buy and want to be educated about being conscious consumers. For example, fashion consumption that negatively impacts the planet is a hot issue for our generation.”
- Being – “we also know that we need to have inner peace before we can become conscious citizens of the world, who are empowered to make a positive impact. We know we must own us first.”
- Doing – “and we know we need to be doing more and making more of an impact on our magnificent world. We see ourselves as the custodians of earth’s future and we’re not happy with the status quo.”
“We look at the world from a 360 viewpoint, and while we are at the centre of our world-view, we also see ourselves as individually responsible for what happens next. I think this is the biggest shift of our generation – personal responsibility.”
I don’t know about you, but Steph’s thoughts gave me an amazing sense of peace. I have been extremely concerned by the global apathy towards our planet for many years – especially when being confronted with the haze in Singapore - something we can get involved in stopping by changing how we buy and demanding corporations do more. Therefore, knowing the next generation of leaders are taking the future seriously, but especially by taking personal responsibility, gives me warm and tingly feelings all over. It’s brilliant.
My experiences with Stephs’ tribe have opened me up to the collective mindset of the next generation, and that is a huge gift. When I hear so many business leaders today say they are struggling to understand what to do to make millennials happy in the work-force, it is events and communities like this that provide the insight many are so desperately seeking.
Millennials are always speaking to us and we must be open and willing to listen. This is a great opportunity for that, besides, wellness and inner peace is something we want to.
Finally, to emphasize the importance of this generation, I often reference this LinkedIn research (link to the LinkedIn Millennial Playbook and a blog summarizing it). A conclusion from LinkedIn is that 50 per cent of the workforce will be millennials by 2020 and the one thing they are looking to understand when searching for work, is the culture of the organisation. That is the priority. Not pay. Not title. But culture.
The future certainly is looking brighter.
Millennials photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
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