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The 5 Truths That Must Be Understood About Motivating Millennials

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2015-12-17-1450382799-6567235-PeterVoogd.pngPeter Voogd has been running businesses since he was 15, and is labeled the Leading Authority for Young Entrepreneurs. He built an 8 million dollar empire by age 27 and has trained close to 5000 entrepreneurs. He's the founder of the prestigious Game Changers Academy, author of the International Best Seller "6 Months to 6 Figures," and runs one of the top podcasts on iTunes, The Young Entrepreneur Lifestyle.

Millennials are poised to drive the future of business and entrepreneurship. The 53.5 million-strong millennial workforce has risen rapidly and surpassed Generation X to represent the largest share of the American workforce. Millennials have fresh and innovative ideas, are extremely adaptable and tech-savvy making them quick learners, and are highly educated. Clear contrasts exist between prior generations and millennials, and the most successful businesses know that the future of their business rests in their hands. So how do you motivate a generation that's been labeled lazy and entitled? It starts with a deep understanding of what drives them, and actually taking the time to figure out what they are passionate about.

I've been fortunate enough to hire and train thousands of young entrepreneurs and millennials from all different walks of life, and I've paid very close attention to what motivates and drives them. When you hit their hot buttons, believe in them and respect their autonomy, they will not only shock you but take your business or platform to a whole new level. If you can provide them with the right tools and opportunities, they will go the extra mile for you because you will have provided them something they can believe in and get excited about. Here are five stern truths that must be understood about motivating millennials.

Stay New and Relevant

How relevant are you when it comes to marketing your brand or motivating your team? Are you bringing current and cutting-edge research and tools? If you're still trying to recruit people from Craigslist vs. LinkedIn, you're forgetting what year it is. Millennials want to express their creative genius, share their ideas and have the latest technology at their disposal. Google recently was swamped by a record 75,000 applications for 6,000 openings. That's more than twice the 35,000 applications Harvard received this past year (also a record). Why? Because Google is relevant, encourages networking with other brilliant minds, has built an amazing culture and values innovation. Is your company relevant to the new economy? Is it innovative? Do you take ideas internally from those you work with? Do you attract top talent because of your innovative workplace? If your answer is "no'' to any of these questions, you are likely on your way to mediocrity or even worse, extinction.

Get Controversial

Controversy is a necessary evil of some of the best things in life: art, change, creativity, literature, relationships, and innovation, just to name a few. If you want to attract the strongest of minds you can't be afraid to get controversial. Too many people are scared to get controversial because of the fear of others' reactions. That fear is warrantless. Controversy is not only healthy, but it also sparks intelligent conversation and innovation. There are already enough people inspiring with fluff and false hope. Anyone can share a quote, take a line from a book or promote a video, but actually understanding people and getting them to act is a whole different story. That's what controversy does. I fully believe opening up to different ways of thinking increases one's wisdom and opens new doors.

Always Be Authentic and Genuine

Is what you're promoting in your marketing material congruent to your hiring interview and the actual opportunity? One of the biggest reasons for bad retention is the team member's expectations not being met or something being falsely promoted or exaggerated. Treat millennials like investors in your business. You must be as transparent and honest as possible throughout the entire recruiting and hiring process. Leaders lose trust and respect quickly when they aren't doing what they promote. If you promote being on time but show up late, you'll lose credibility. Inauthenticity doesn't set well with millennials, and if you aren't living fully authentically don't expect respect from any of them. While many millennials will likely not be able to describe or put into words what makes a company or brand truly authentic, they know it when they see it and often have a visceral reaction when something doesn't feel genuine.

Be Different and Dynamic

You want people to know with certainty how it's going to be when they join your movement. Create a point of view that connects at a deep level with your target audience. This will separate your market into believers and non-believers. It's always better to be loved/hated than to be tolerated. It becomes easier to make this happen when you give up the need to be liked by everybody. Never be boring. It doesn't matter what you say, or how powerful your content is, if you're boring.

Make It About Them

Millennials can tell if you have their best interest in mind. A lot of companies churn and burn through people, focusing on recruiting instead of developing the people they already have. Retention starts when you genuinely show employees you have their best interest in mind. We have retained people for years by pledging: "This can be a catalyst to your future, and whether you're part of our team for six months or 10 years, we want to make sure you get the best experience possible."

If you want to attract the world's most talented millennials, you can't be afraid to lose people. When your good people leave, do everything you can to help them in their next venture. In turn, you will create passionate advocates who will promote your company to their circle of influence. Fall in love with your people, not your company or product. Companies don't succeed, people do. We are in an economy where information, entitlement and intentions are at an all-time high, while encouragement, confidence and authenticity are at an all-time low.

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