I’ve been asked in several radio interviews about studies reporting on how Millennials are seen as lacking life skills. Apparently, these studies show that the millennial generation is deficient at small talk, cooking, balancing a checkbook, and writing resumes. I won’t disrespect their research, but in my experience with Millennials, I am convinced that far too many critics paint this generation with a brush I won’t use.
Here are the 3 reasons I believe that this generation is vastly misunderstood and even underestimated.
1. I know too many Millennials that are incredible workers, producers, and socially responsible people.
Generalizations are usually a bad idea, and this issue is no different. Remember the founders of Facebook, Lyft, Airbnb, Spotify, Pinterest and Groupon are all Millennials. The point is there are plenty of Millennials that are superstars, have greatness in them, and are polar opposites of what these studies show.
Let me name 30 Millennials that I know well without any thought: Carly Evaristo, Seth Allen, Zach LeDay, Lyle Wolfe, Steve Lepore, Jason Ludwig, Cha’Lea Rivera, Lindsey Silva, Cara Jacobson, Justin Ammerman, Reggie Williams, Keith Gabriel, Auston Kenon, Shawn Chapman, Shannan Street, Maggie Cutcliff, Samantha Flax, Justin Robinson, Kerry Blackshears, Josh Chambers, Bret Fitzgerald, Chase Fitzgerald, Sarah Crilley, Haley Rogers, Zach Lewis, Amshi Stephenson, Donna Stone, Andrew Deal, Willie Bell and Cecil Cummins.
2. I think the data assumes that Millennials should have these skills already when other generations didn’t have them either until later.
When I was 25, I couldn’t cook (not much better now either); my resume was hideous; l struggled with my checkbook; I was not great at interviewing; and I was not great socially.
My basic nature is more inward. People who know me don’t doubt that, but it’s a fact. I have had to learn to be more outward and personable. It did not come naturally to me. Since 33-50 percent of people call themselves introverts, this reality should not surprise anyone in most generations. Many of the important life skills WILL be developed by most when they realize from watching and learning from others that they are important. This is a generation of really smart people, and the skills they need will be developed by most. Of that I am certain, because their future success depends on it, and this generation wants to contribute to society by being successful.
3. Millennials do care about relationships; they just develop them differently and use technology as the driving force in building relationships.
They do want to make a difference and passionately seek working where their work matters. They want to work for a company with a real purpose, and once they find that fit, they will scratch and claw until they make their own meaningful difference. Lastly their dependence, understanding, and utilization of technology already have changed the world. Just look at the list of companies I referenced earlier.
In 2025, when 75 percent of the workforce is made up of Millennials, the marriage of purpose and the focus on the use of technology to improve efficiency will be unleashed in full force, and what writers will be writing about is perhaps the greatest generation in the history of the world for the economy.
On the Other Hand, Millennials.
I do believe that our education system is failing many of this generation, at least on 2 critical fronts. The 2 most important skills high school and college graduates need to learn that are not being adequately taught are:
1. How to build a valuable business relationship so you will have a network of relationships that will work for you and ensure you the ability to find employment.
2. Learning how to set and achieve stretch goals.
If 70 percent of ALL jobs we get in our life will come through our network, then mastering this capability by 17 or 18 (certainly long before 22) is a must.
If our success is dependent (and it is) by the targets and goals we set for ourselves, then learning how to do that so you can achieve extraordinary success seems crucial too.
Hopefully colleges will begin to see the criticality of these skills as the global economy dominates. Until then, we still are fortunate to have a generation that is less than a decade away from showing the entire world why it was a mistake to underestimate them.