"I feel like my entire generation is being judged by people like her." the 22-year-old Target checker said to me as the millennial before me talked on her phone the whole time she was in line.
The mass-stereotyping of an entire generation has distracted us from the new direction Generation Y is leading us in.
32-year-old entrepreneur Cara Silletto says, "Our baby boomer parents spent 20+ years in a job they hated. Then when they finally got out, they said, 'Man, I wish I had done that 10 years ago.'" Millennials watched their parents work long hours at jobs they didn't care about.
"Work hard and climb the corporate ladder so you can enjoy retirement," the Xers and boomers told their kids. Michael Solari, 30-year-old financial planner, says, "Baby boomers got caught climbing the corporate ladder and hated every rung."
Gen Y heard, "You can't have what you want, so settle."
They want nothing to do with it. Their response is, "Mom and Dad, we appreciate all you've done, but we have a better vision for the world."
They're clear on the vision and they are living it. I talked to 100 millennials who shared their vision for the world and what the baby boomers and Gen X can learn from their new perspective.
1. Embrace Technology.
This is the obvious one, so let's get it out the way first. Technology is here to stay and you have to embrace it. 33-year-old comedian, Dan Nainan says it best, "Older folks stand to benefit the most. They can keep in touch through email, Skype and so forth. Also, older folks can learn a lot about health conditions and medications on the Internet."
2. Give back.
What you do should make the world better. Millennials want to make money and live comfortably, but also want to give back to causes they care about. They're eager to use their social networks to share what they learn quickly so many people can benefit.
3. Do what you want.
Doing something just because it pays well or there's demand for the skill won't make you happy. Millennials believe you should figure out what you want to do and do it. They believe you should be fulfilled by what you do. 24-year-old Carly Brooke says, "I never want to look back and say 'Gee, I really wish I had tried to make my dreams happen.'"
4. Don't separate work and life.
If you're doing something you are passionate about, there's no need for work-life balance. It's all living. Move seamlessly from work to play, mix the two and enjoy them both. Buddy Hobart, baby boomer and Gen Y expert, says, "Work-life balance is a myth and you do not have a 'work life' and a 'personal life,' you simply have a life."
5. Learn fast.
Our rapidly evolving world requires a new skill: learning quickly. Conditions change too fast to learn one skill and spend years developing it in the workplace. Develop the skill of learning and adapting quickly so you can do many different things. Jon Kline, 33-year-old business owner says, "When I get resumes, I look for a diversity of experiences, a wide social network, and a track record of success in varying situations."
6. Be open-minded about the future.
Many opportunities will come along in life and if you are stuck in a preconceived idea of what the future should look like, you'll miss the exciting things that come along; they may be better than you ever thought possible. Life is a process of discovery. Be open to discovering things.
7. Take risks.
Taking risks is a necessary part of achievement and Gen Y gets that. They also appreciate that their baby boomer parents let them move back home occasionally when they stumble, as successful people inevitably do. Taking the safe path guarantees your life will be mediocre. Taking risks means there will be failure, but millennials are more interested in the infinite possibilities that risk-taking brings. Ximena N. Beltran Quan Kiu, 27-year-old entrepreneur says, "Any failure I meet will be the greatest teacher of all and I'm willing to learn.
Millennials aren't bitter and they aren't lazy. Entitled? If unwillingness to settle for a life of mediocrity is entitled, then yes. But I wouldn't call it entitled, I'd call it committed. They know their parents worked hard and did the best they could with what they had. Gen Y is following that example by doing the best they can with what they have. And they have more: more technology, more connectivity and the benefit of their elders' experiences.
Millennials understand the value of age and experience and want us all to work together on this new future. Zach Luczynski, a 25-year-old entrepreneur says, "There is such an abundance of information today, but a shocking shortage of wisdom. Boomers and Gen X, We need you!"
Layering accumulated knowledge and experiences from generation to generation is how we evolve. It's how we improve the experience of being human. Let's partner up with these kids and create a better world together.