A New Home: Second Wave Learning

This will be my last blog post on the Coaching Millennial site, but have no fear! I will be posting my new blogs on the Second Wave Learning website.

The big new is, of course, the release of my new book, Second Wave Millennials: Tapping the Potential of America’s Youth. It is out and it is available on Amazon. Amazon makes it so easy to buy… if you are a Prime member, the book is 1-click away from your doorstep.

If you have been reading my blogs, you will recognize some of the material in the book. The book is really a "best of" material that has been crafted in a coherent way with an easy-to-read narrative and plenty of ideas for you on successfully engaging Millennials to peak performance.

This book is 10-years in the making. During this time, I have been on the front line in companies, gaining a greater appreciation of the generational dynamic and the challenges therein. So, the ideas in the book are "road-tested."

Because I value high quality research, I’ve spent the time sorting through the best research on the subject of generations. In fact, there are over six pages of endnotes representing almost 60 different sources. All that said, it is not a research book, per se. It is a story about the challenges that different generations face in the workplace, and ways to overcome them.

The new kid on the block is, of course, the Second-Wave Millennial. Media seems to be picking up the “Gen Z” label, but I am old school, and sticking with the actual definition of a length of a generation being 20 to 25 years, thus marking all Millennials between 1982-2004. If anything, generations are getting longer because people are having children in their late 20s, 30s and even 40s.

This does not mean there are no differences between the older cohort (first-wave), and younger cohort (second-wave). There are big differences, and this is why there is pressure to identify a new name for a new generation. First-Wave Millennials (older) are more like GenXers–they are more street smart, focused on their goals, and gravitate toward leadership positions more readily. They were mostly raised by Boomer parents. Second-Wave Millennials, however, are more cautious, risk-averse, book smart, stressed out, and need detailed guidance in the workplace. They were mostly raised by GenXer parents, who used an even more hands-on parenting style than Boomers parents.

And all you crazy Xers like myself–you will find more written in my book about us than any other book on generations. So… check out the book and let me know what you think. In the meantime, look out for more blogs from Second-Wave Learning!

How Reverse Mentoring Can Benefit Millennials and their Managers

Generation X and Baby Boomers are increasingly serving as mentors to Millennials in the workplace, but the new trend is reverse mentoring, where Millennials provide guidance on new and innovative ways to approach the ever-changing demands of work.

The benefits of traditional mentoring — where an older, more seasoned professional trains, teaches and coaches younger employees — are well documented. Mentoring young employees helps them learn more about their jobs, their role in the company, their potential career trajectory and how to advance professionally; it also gives older employees an increase in job satisfaction and purpose, builds their career legacy and gives them a unique professional outlet.

While the benefits of traditional mentoring relationships are known, the benefits of reverse mentoring are less known. Reverse mentoring is the practice of matching older, seasoned professionals with younger employees with a focus on having the Millennials mentor up.

What Millennials Can Bring

Millennials often have a reputation for being lazyentitledneedy — the list goes on, and the majority of these negative stereotypes about Millennials don’t hold up to the light. Millennials are loyalteam-orientedinnovative and goal-focused.

Millennials often bring a new perspective to the workplace, with a desire to see the “greater good” in their job, their role in the company and the company’s role in the world. Giving Millennials the opportunity to convey that passion to older employees who have been with the company a long time can re-energize and reignite the dedication and enjoyment long-time employees and managers once had for their jobs.

In addition, Millennials’ desire for transparency and honest communication can lead more seasoned managers to question the way they’ve “always done” things. This can lead to positive changes throughout all levels of the company, with an increase in experimentation, newly discovered efficiencies and new business development opportunities.

Reverse mentoring also gives seasoned professionals an opportunity to reflect on their own way of doing things and may widen their understanding of the way their organization and industry are changing. With reverse mentoring, older professionals have a unique opportunity to close their knowledge gap in areas like technology, social media, work-life balance, workplace trends and more.

In addition, a long-term Sun Microsystems study of about 1,000 employees found that employees who participated in a mentoring program were 20 percent more likely to get a raise — and that went for both mentors and mentees. In addition, employees who received mentoring were promoted 5x more often than those who did not have mentors.

How It Works

For companies, setting up reverse mentoring is easy, as it can work within the structure of the company’s ongoing, more traditional mentoring program. Cisco, for example, started their program by finding a champion within the organization to promote the program, set goals and metrics by which to measure success. Then, the company focused on recruiting mentees (i.e. older employees), and then recruiting mentors — the younger employees who indicated interest in participating. The company also provided the mentors with resources, tips, ideas and best practices for mentoring, as many had never been a mentor to someone in the past. Cisco’s former Business Operations Manager Laura Earle declared the reverse mentoring program a success, as it built relationships and helped all participants develop a better understanding of the company.

For a reverse mentoring relationship to work, many of the same rules apply as for a more traditional mentoring relationship. Both younger and older participants must keep an open mind and a positive attitude, trust each other, respect each other’s viewpoints and find ways to seek common ground. Both parties should set goals and commit to scheduling ongoing meetings to keep the relationship strong and growing.

2017’s ‘Fourth Turning’ Crisis Period

A book called The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe is undergoing a massive resurgence in sales.

Twenty years after its original publication, its message is as urgent as ever, particularly as White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon is using it as a playbook to shape the agenda for the United States.  Private equity investors and C-suite executives have been snapping up copies, looking for clues in an uncertain financial, political, and social environment.

What is a Fourth Turning? Like clockwork, over a 300+ year period, major events in United States history have occurred in predictable cyclical patterns, repeating themselves every 80 to 90 years. The Fourth Turning has been characterized as a “crisis” period in U.S. history.

A quick look back into the last three centuries, Fourth Turnings climaxed with major wars—the Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783), Civil War (1861 – 1865), and World War II (1939 – 1945). They are all about 80 years apart. In each case without exception, an economic collapse, a disintegration of social order, and a declining institutional effectiveness preceded these wars, while a new civic order and institutional effectiveness, along with economic growth, followed them.

Each Turning lasts about 20-years, and the Fourth Turning began with the financial crisis of 2008. According to the authors, 2017 puts us smack in the middle of a Fourth Turning.

Check out this article I wrote for Leader’s Edge Magazine to learn more about the cycles of history, clues as to why we are in a Fourth Turning crisis period in U.S. history right now, and what it could means for your business. And make sure to check out my new Fourth Turning landing page with information and links to articles on the topic.

I am scheduling speeches on this topic in the next few months for conferences and executive teams. Email me for availability. For more information and to see some sample slides, click here.



3 Notable Traits of Millennials

Special, sheltered and confident — those three characteristics are among the major traits of Millennials.

Every generation has its own personality—attitudes, behaviors and traits that are shaped by experiences in their formative years. In a generation’s youth, the prevailing cultural, social, and economic environment creates a permanent imprint that lasts a lifetime. This imprint creates signature traits.

For Millennials, there are generally seven of these traits – three of which we’ll address here: special, sheltered and confident. (Watch for next week’s blog post for the other four.)


Members of the Millennial generation were raised believing they are special and important by their parents who kept a close, watchful eye on them.

In addition, Millennials are used to constant or near-instantaneous feedback on their work, thanks to growing up in an era of testing, measuring and ever-faster technology. For managers, this means Millennials in the workplace want faster feedback cycles, more frequent communication on goals and an open-door policy on communication.

It also means mentorship programs are important to them and something they seek out. And companies are responding: A 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey revealed that more than two-thirds (68 percent) of Millennials who had been with their job for 5 or more years had solid mentors in the workplace.


Thanks in part to the 24/7 news era, the parents of Millennials were constantly reminded of the dangers of the world. In response, many Millennials grew up more “sheltered” than previous generations.

With closer relationships to their parents than earlier generations, the economic realities of post-college life for Millennials often means moving back home — back to the place where they felt special, engaged with, wanted and important.

At the workplace, managers of Millennials may take on elements of parenting by taking a more hands-on approach to working with Millennials. Millennials will appreciate managers who give them reachable, incremental goals and rewards for meeting them. Plus, managers should realize that Millennials want to work for someone who “has their back” in the workplace and collaborates with them.


While Millennials like feeling protected and affirmed, they are also quite confident. Those same parents who raised Millennials to feel special and wanted also raised them to believe they could accomplish anything they put their minds to.

Growing up in an era of self-made billionaires (Mark Zuckerberg is a Millennial), participation trophies and the election (twice) of the first black president, Millennials were raised with the attitude that they can achieve anything they put their mind to.

For managers, that means striking a delicate balance between hand-holding and granting independence and leadership opportunities. It also means trusting them to make solid decisions and manage themselves with proper guidance.

Check out the second part in this series on Millennial traits next week.

Can the GOP Win Back Millennials Before 2020?

Millennials comprise the largest generation of eligible voters this fall. Nearly half of Millennials refuse to identify themselves as Republican or Democrat, but the majority of Millennials are planning to vote for Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8.

Will the GOP be able to recover the Millennial vote before 2020?

Representing 31 percent of the electorate (more than 69 million eligible voters), Millennials are more likely than older voters to favor strong communities, look for collaborative solutions and trust the government. Millennials willingly accept many social trends that some older voters may find threatening, and are more likely than older generations to be optimistic about America's long-term future.

The Millennial Vote: 2016 and 2020

The reality is that the Republican Party has lost the Millennial vote in 2016. “Millennials back Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by more than 3-1, a new USA TODAY/Rock the Vote Poll finds, but enthusiasm about voting is dipping as a sharply negative campaign enters its final weeks,” USA Today reported this week.

Recovery by 2020 is still possible, but only if the GOP changes the party narrative and resolves its current identity crisis. Some Republican leaders argue Millennials agree with the GOP on certain issues and an appeal more toward individualism and away from divisive social issues will bring Millennials back into the Republican fold.

However, some argue this change is more of a fundamental shift in values. A 2015 Pew report revealed Millennials who identify themselves as Republicans are less conservative than GOP members of older generations.

Busting Myths: Millennials are Lazy and Perpetually Late

100 million people known as Millennials are lazy and perpetually late. Values like promptness and industriousness have gone by the wayside with this generation. Civilization, as we know it is ending.

But wait, before you retreat to your fallout shelter waiting for the world to end, there is new research that proves otherwise. An increasing number of studies show Millennials are not slackers and, in fact, may have an unhealthy dedication to hard work.

Unlike previous generations, Millennials grew up in the digital age, where everything is on and available all the time. They live in a 24-hour news cycle where emails, texts, tweets and memes are calling out to them at all hours from a device that is never more than an arm’s length away — literally. A survey by Harris Poll finds that 93 percent of Millennials admit to using their phones in bed, 80 percent use their phones in the restroom and 43 percent are connected while sitting at red lights.

don’t feel the need to be anchored to a desk.jpg

Part of the reason the “lazy” myth has perpetuated is due to a different way of working that Millennials embrace. Used to doing things on the go, work may include answering emails from the gym or a coffee shop. Millennials believe in working just as hard, but don’t feel the need to be anchored to a desk and show “face time” at the office – they can work anywhere.

While Millennials, like all of us, value time away from work, for many the workday does not have a traditional beginning and end. The 9-to-5 schedule only exists in theory for Millennials, 52 percent of whom believe it’s ok to check work emails during dinner compared to 22 percent of Boomers.

Further, Millennials are more likely than older workers to forfeit earned time off, even though they typically earn the fewest vacation days. According to research by GFK for Project Time Off, American workers take just 16 days of vacation per year in 2015 – down from more than 20 days per year between 1978 and 2000.

Millennials are work martyrs. They are more likely than members of other generations to want to show complete dedication. They do not want to be seen as replaceable at work, and they want to stay in consideration for that raise or promotion.

First impressions and professional reputations are particularly important to Millennial employees — even more so than older colleagues, according to research from Weber Shandwick. That research showed Millennials believe the top way to build their reputation at work is by doing a good job and being prompt. Almost half of Millennials surveyed said volunteering for or accepting extra work is a good way to improve their professional reputation.

For those who work with Millennials, understanding their desire for flexible scheduling is critical to helping them succeed and feel professionally satisfied. The majority of Millennials “believe that flexible work schedules make the workplace more productive for people their age.”

Without “face time” as an indicator of work, executives will have to adjust how they measure employee effectiveness. Millennials are keen on being given challenging but achievable goals, particularly if they come with proper support. Measuring their success, then, may include looking at their productivity, whether they are meeting goals and deadlines, how well they collaborate with co-workers, and the extent to which they contribute positively to the team or company.

Millennials’ desire for transparency and openness at work is a factor here, as well. Millennials want to work for companies where managers and executives are accessible and approachable, able to communicate effectively across platforms and follow up.

Managers may want to start getting used to text messaging their employees.

How Many Generations are in the Workforce?

How many generations of people are in the workforce today? The answer may be fewer than you think.

It is often said there are four or even five generations of people in the full-time labor pool, but the answer hinges on the definition of generation and simple math.

A generation typically spans 18 to 22 years. Currently, 97 percent of the workforce in the United States is 18 to 73 years old, a 56-year spread, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That means it is unlikely you will have more than three generations in your place of business — at least legally — at any given time.

Right now, the generations in the workforce are Baby Boomers, the oldest of whom are in their early 70s, Generation X members, and Millennials, the youngest of whom are just entering their teen years. Generation Z members are barely old enough to stay home alone (see Busting Myths – Generation Z).

Although there are only three generations in the active, full-time workforce, the generational differences are significant. A survey of thousands of employees in the insurance industry, for example, revealed that three-quarters of respondents agreed that there are important generation differences, and those differences “sometimes” or “often” pose challenges in the workplace. (See more about this in “Why Generations Matter” from LifeCourse Associates.)

These differences include how members of each generation set goals for themselves and others, what members of each generation wants from their managers and coworkers, and even how they communicate. Learn more about how Millennials are changing the workplace here.

Busting Myths: Generation Z is Taking Over the Workforce

Watch out — Generation Z is coming! Or so the media would have you believe.

But the reality is this so-called “Generation Z” is not yet entering the workforce, and in fact, has barely reached puberty. Most social scientists who track generations say the first born from Gen Z was born between 2002 – 2005, making the oldest 14, and the youngest…not yet born. A generation, by definition, is about 20 to 22 years in length.

Alphabet Soup: What’s in a name?

Generation Z is a “default” name given to the generation that followed “Gen Y” (more widely recognized as the Millennials), which itself was a follow-on to Generation X. But the naming of generations was never meant to be an exercise in sequencing the alphabet.

This alphabet obsession started with Generation X, or “Gen X,” (1961 – 1981) so named not as a random letter, but because of their “anti-brand” ethic. “X” as in the non-brand, an appropriate mark for a generation that was described by their elders as “wasted, slackers that will amount to nothing”. They started with punk and ended with grunge, always in black t-shirts. They are “X” through and through.

The next generation to come up was called, by many people, Generation Y — named by an unimaginative but well-meaning writer at Ad Age — the next letter of the alphabet, and the predictable sequencing continued with Generation Z.

We call them “Homelanders”

We call the cohort born after Millennials, “Homelanders.” (2002 – ?) We call them this in part because they are literally at home more than previous generations. Studies show that this generation does not go outside and play as much as previous generations, instead playing video games and doing homework, staying safe under the watchful eye of their helicopter parents. Indeed, with a brief exception to play Pokémon Go, this generation is under near-constant supervision. Check out this interview in Forbes with Neil Howe on Homelanders.

Another reason we call them Homelanders is the geopolitical mood sweeping the globe right now. From Russia to China to right here in the U.S., there is more focus than ever on keeping the homeland safe and distancing ourselves from far-flung alliances. Homelanders will be growing up during a time when we are looking more inward and less likely to welcome outsiders. This is the generation that will be coming of age in a post-Brexit global environment.

Gen Z in the Workplace? Forget about it

Don’t believe the hype. You have plenty to worry about at work — don’t worry about this. With the oldest Homelanders barely old enough to mow the lawn, you won’t see them shaking up the workforce anytime soon. The fact is, it’s simply too early to be talking about their influence on our world in any significant way.

Most companies I talk to are still trying to master the Millennial mindset. Given that they represent over a third of the workforce, that should be the generation du jour.

3 Ways Millennials are Changing Your Workplace

Every generation that comes into the workplace brings cultural, environmental and other changes. But Millennials are changing modern workplaces in new and different ways that can be challenging to the people trying to manage members of this generation.

From teamwork to goals and feedback, here are the three C’s of how Millennials are changing your workplace.

Community. Millennials want this sense of community in their workplace. For managers, making Millennials feel like part of a larger team, developing a collaborative environment and culture, and emphasizing the “greater good” of a company’s mission the employees’ place in it, and providing volunteer opportunities related to their skills are all key to ensuring Millennials’ professional success and happiness.

Millennials have been raised with this sense of community. Members of the Millennial generation grew up completing group projects in school, playing organized team sports and participating in (often required) volunteer activities in school.

“From early childhood, Millennials have been encouraged by parents to work together and build important peer connections. As young adults, they are constantly connected to their friends and expect their leaders to take a stake in the well-being of the communities they hold dear,” according to a 2015 report from the Congressional Institute and LifeCourse Associates.

Seventy-one percent of respondents to an LBG Associates survey about corporate volunteerism “indicated that they felt more positive about their company as a result of these programs.”

A number of companies are taking big steps to incorporate volunteerism into their culture, including Deloitte, which offers unlimited paid time for volunteer projects. Novo Nordisk also provides significant paid time off to employees who volunteer, but also includes a community service component in most off-site meetings. The company also has an internal website to help employees find volunteer opportunities.

Many Millennials crave an upbeat work environment that includes positive reinforcement.jpg

Confidence. Many Millennials crave an upbeat work environment that includes positive reinforcement from their peers and managers. This is because they were raised with a sense of optimism by parents who taught them to believe they can do anything if they put their mind to it.

Managers of Millennials can help them go far, do great work and achieve professional fulfillment by tapping into Millennials’ sense of optimism and confidence. Providing them with a organized support system is important as these Millennials look to take on new and interesting challenges in the workplace.

They crave frequent achievement that is measurable and attainable. In fact, one of the leading causes of low motivation among Millennials in the workforce is a lack of praise, according to Leadership IQ.

Because of this preference, many companies are moving away from the annual review in favor of project-based, monthly or even weekly review periods, frequent one-on-one meetings with managers and more collaboration on critical tasks. Cargill Inc. replaced its annual reviews with an “Everyday Performance Management” system that gives employees routine feedback. “Cargill says it’s seen measurable improvements after managers began giving constructive feedback that was forward-looking, instead of reviewing what had happened in the past,” FastCompany reported. Other companies building systems for routine and frequent feedback include Adobe, Accenture and Google.

In fact, 80 percent of Millennial employees who responded to an MTV Millennials in the workplace survey said they “would prefer real-time feedback over traditional performance reviews.”

Communication. While each generation has its own language, Millennials are communicating through different platforms than employees in prior decades.

In addition to the ways they communicate, managers should acknowledge that their language and tone are paramount to connecting with members of the Millennial generation. Millennials appreciate honesty and transparency from their managers and they crave feedback, but they also want to be heard. This will require a communication style that is conversational; managers of Millennials should keep their doors open and be approachable.

Millennials may tend to text and chat more and email less, but the real difference is in the now asynchronous nature of the way they communicate, which has changed the way they interact and work, according to Gallup. “With technology dominating every aspect of millennials lives, it’s perhaps not surprising that 41 percent say they prefer to communicate electronically at work than face to face or even over the telephone,” a PwC report revealed.

These three C’s — community, confidence and communication — will continue to mold the workplace of the future as Millennials gain footholds in senior management in the coming years.

6 Keys to Maximizing Millennial Performance

There are more than 100 million Millennials in United States today, and this growing group already makes up one-third of the workforce. With an increasing number of Millennials in the workplace, businesses are smart to ensure they are helping members of this generation perform at their highest levels.

A new white paper from Coaching Millennials tackles six ways to boost their productivity, engagement and leadership capabilities.

Millennials do their best work in environments and workplace cultures that are open and transparent, incorporate consistent feedback on short-term and long-term goals, and nurture teamwork.

Millennials gravitate toward positive environments, and research and experience have shown that a “tough love” approach to managing Millennials is not effective. This white paper, titled “Employer’s Guide to the Millennial Generation: Your Six Keys to Maximizing Millennial Performance,” provides insights and practical steps you can take to maximize your Millennial employee’s professional performance.

What is A Generation Anyways?

Hi Everyone.

This is a youtube I did over a year ago and it received lots of hits. It is a one-minute primer on generations. I hear people talking about “Generation Z” as if they are starting in the workplace. The reality is that “Generation Z” , the generation after the Millennials, was born around 2004-2005, making the oldest about 11 years old. Marketers frequently try to split a generation in two so they can sell more consulting on a “new and different” generation. Remember– a generation spans about 20-years, which is about the length of a phase of life.

Its all written in the book called Generations by Neil Howe and William Strauss. BTW– They coined the term “Millennials” way back in 1990.

If you really want to geek out on generation theory, check out this: Strauss-Howe Generational Theory in Wiki.

Bye bye for now.


An Embarrassing Millennial Moment for Kronos

Millennial mishap alert! I was really looking forward to reading a new research report by Kronos, a US-based multi-national workforce management software company, called, “Motivating Millennials, Managing Tomorrow’s Workforce Today”. Researching Millennials is my work, and I collect research reports like I used to collect baseball cards as a kid.

So, I’m settling in with my cup of coffee, sun streaming in through the window, my dog Wulfie sprawled on the “dog sofa”, excited to digest this research report. The very first “take-away” from the research is that “Millennials will make up 75% of the Australian workforce in 2025.” REALLY? Guys– do the math. A generation, by definition, lasts 18 to 22 years. Let’s just say 20-years. The workforce is made up of people roughly 20 to 60-years old, right? That’s a 40-year span, meaning that at a MAXIMUM, Millennials could only represent is 50%, but that’s only assuming we are counting 2 generations.

I know many of you don’t care about this, but I’m a stickler for data accuracy. I would hope Kronos would be too. I’m giving then a “D” on this report for demographic accuracy.

Oh– if you want to know how many Millennials will be in the workforce by any given year, I am including a Link to a spreadsheet we put together by looking at census estimates. Max percentage is 51% in 2034. This is for the US, but population pyramids run roughly parallel between Australia and the US.

Bravo, Kronos, for recognizing that Mentorship programs should be a core part on Millennial’s development– (see our take on Mentorship), but its better if you stick with your core competency– software development.

Percent of Millennials in the workforce.xlsx

The Millennial Footprint on Media and Entertainment

Every generation leaves their footprint on media and entertainment, and it looks like the Millennials’ footprint is likely to be a big one.

Last week at the ThinkLA conference in Los Angeles, I gave a Presentation on this topic. Attending were over 600 executives in the media and entertainment business. Among this group, there is a growing sense of unease about where it’s all going. Long standing business models have been disrupted overnight. In a recent research paper conducted by Ipsos for the Social Media Advertising Consortium, it was reported that 30% of Millennials’ media time (5 hours/day) is now spent with User Generated Content (UGC) created by their friends and peers. Our own research at LifeCourse confirms this. In a recent survey we conducted for, we found that  93% of Millennials go to social networking sites on their smart phones. This compares to 85% of GenXers and only 52% of Boomers. Conventional media like broadcast television is under enormous pressure to stem eroding market share from emerging media, and Millennials are leading this shift.

History shapes generations. Generations shape history.

To understand how Millennials  influence these new trends and discern where it is all going, we need to go back in time to the formative years of their childhood, and their coming of age experience– their own history. These early experiences shape their values and beliefs that remain enduring and unique, and can give us a glimpse into the future. Every generation is shaped by their place in history. Aristotle said that history shapes generations, and then generations shape history.

Millennials were raised during a time of increasing parental involvement. We’ve all heard stories of helicopter parents, clearing the way for their child’s success and achievement. Indeed, Millennials were raised to feel special and instilled with an ethic of achievement. Surrounded by a team of parents, teachers, coaches, and tutors, the expectation of individualized attention as well as a trusting support network allowing them to grow and achieve has always been part of the Millennials coming of age story. Role models at an early age encouraged teamwork and cooperation. Do you remember Barney the Dinosaur? I love you, you love me, we’re one big happy family… By contrast, GenXers grew up to learn to fend for themselves– it was a time of declining parental involvement. One of the iconic figures of their coming of age experience was a Muppet who lived in a garbage can– Oscar the Grouch!



In my presentation, I’ve identified four shaping criteria that is now influencing, and will continue to influence the direction of entertainment and media usage:

  • Hyper-Socialization

Millennials are a connected generation, but it is more than the technology that allows them to connect. Millennials are social, and they seem to love everybody.They love their parents, they love their friends, and they love the community where they live. 82% of teenagers in 2005 (now Millennials in their late 20’s) reported “no problem at all with any family member”. This compares to 75% in 1983, and 48% in 1974. We all know that Millennials are the “friend” generation. In our 2014 LifeCourse survey, 55% of Millennials agreed with the statement, “My friends are the most important thing in my life”. This compares to 44% for GenXers and 40% of Boomers. But it is not just about being social and liking friends and family… it is about doing things together. Millennials like to work with others and collaborate in teams. In the world of video gaming, long thought of as a lonely geek activity, 72% of Millennials play video games with their friends or family members.

Perhaps the most telling event in recent media history about Millennials’ propensity for hyper-socialization and doing things together was the recent phenomenon called Twitch Plays Pokémon. Here is how it worked: An anonymous gamer from Australia developed a program on one of the world’s most popular live streaming sites for Millennials called On, gamers input over 112 million commands to vote on how the main character should move. Together, they beat the game in 16 days. Twitch Plays Pokémon is now a regular site feature where users play assorted Pokémon titles together. Furthermore, users have also enhanced the game in ways the creator could not have anticipated, from creating memes in Photoshop to planning Pokémon battle strategies on social media.  In essence, this one game created a thriving community of its own.

  • First Life/Second Life Blend

Unlike Boomer and GenXers, who adapted to today’s technology, Millennials are digital natives. Their orientation is entirely different than older generations. They spend more time in front of a screen (10 hrs per days vs. 8 hrs for Xers and 7 hrs for Boomers), and they are the first generation that feels as much ‘at home’ with their second life on the internet as their first life (their actual real life). IRL is a common acronym going around today– it stands for In Real Life, as opposed to “life” on the internet. The fact that Millennials need to distinguish between the two suggests that there would otherwise be confusion for which is which. This is a remarkable paradigm shift that can’t be overstated. Indeed, in the LifeCourse survey for twitch, 52% of Millennials think that life is like a video game. Millennials quite simply trust technology. It was there with them in their crib, and has always been a dependable partner, so no wonder Millennials gravitate toward this second life of technology.

All of this means that as far as media and entertainment preferences, Millennials are likely to get deeper into interactive media– spend more time and become more engaged on the internet and in their second life, and of course, bringing their friends and family with them.

  • The Maker Movement

Like many new movements in the last few years, this one started with geeks in their basements. The whole maker culture represents learning by doing in a social environment. The maker movement is networked, informal, peer-led, and motivated by fun, learning, and achievement. This is quintessential Millennial! We know that Millennials are highly networked to their peers, and we also know that the notion of achievement is very important to them. Schools have increasingly been focused on achievement standards, and Millennials are on track to becoming the best educated generation in U.S. history. Good performance is a source of pride and social capital for Millennials, and the maker culture encourages both.

The rise in Millennials time spend with User Generated Content (UGC) is up to 30%. This is content that is created by their friends and peers. Earlier this year, Disney purchased Maker Studios for a deal worth about $900 million. Microsoft introduced Project Spark to the gaming community, and program that allows players to create their own characters, plot lines, settings, etc. All of these events point to a Maker Movement and this has “Millennial” written all over it.

As to the implications of Maker Movement on Media and Entertainment, expect more Millennials to be using today’s technology tools to advance their education and the their avocation. I predict that the entertainment industry will reshape the education business in America and throughout the world. After all, entertainers know how to grab your attention and keep you engaged.

  • The Barney Effect

The purple dinosaur that millions of Millennials watched as children encouraged teamwork, cooperation, respect, and fairness. Whether it is support for same sex marriage, or support to reduce the income gap, Millennials’ values of equity, respect and fairness were forged in their early years. Millennials are the first generation since the GI’s (pre-WW II) to value a middle class. 72% of Millennials believe the government should work hard to reduce the income gap between the rich and the poor, according to a 2014 CNN poll.

Along with this fairness and equity ethic comes Millennials’ embrace for brands that have a socially conscious element to it. Millennials scored higher than GenXers of Boomers when agreeing with the two statement “having a positive impact on society is important to me” and “It is important to me companies I buy products from support social causes.”

This notion of equity and fairness extends to expectations Millennials have on their participation in how products and brands are developed. This is often accomplished through crowdsourcing, which is second nature to Millennials. Ben and Jerry’s was one of the first companies to crowdsource flavors. According to the LifeCourse publication Social Intelligence, “Millennials expect brands to listen to their feedback and engage in two-way, interactive conversation with them.” Wasn’t it Barney who originally taught them to participate and share?


The Three Key Words for the Footprint: Participate, Create, and Share

Those that are paying attention to the footprint are finding ways for Millennials to participate, create, and share in their media experience: Participate because Millennials feel that it is important to have their voice heard in the decisions being made, whether it is an ice cream flavor, or privacy policy on Facebook. Createbecause Millennials are leading the original Maker culture with an active and engaged mindset to learn, build, and achieve. And finally, Share, because Millennials value open transparency and dialogue, and advocate a crowdsourcing mentality. Follow the Participate-Create-Share mantra and watch your audience grow.

-Warren Wright

It's the Long Weekend: Set Your Millennials Free!

You will thank me for this advice. It’s Friday of Memorial Day weekend, the official start of the summer.  All those projects that are piling up? They will just have to wait.

Just because you, as a Boomer, or an early wave Xer like me, grew up in a “Work Is Life” culture, does not mean Millennials feel the same way about work.

All Work, No Play?

In the 1980’s, Boomers changed the definition of work. Work used to be punching time cards from 9 to 5 in factory-like precision. Remember when the work whistle went off for Fred Flintstone—Yaba Daba Do! But in the Boomer world of work, it was in early, out late. Once they were through their rebellious adolescence, Boomer adult took work seriously, some would say too seriously. They shattered the 9 to 5 paradigm and put meaning to the term ‘workaholic’.

BOOMERS on work: Work-Centric

The Ends Trump the Means

In the 1990’s Generation X redefined the work environment once again with a pay for performance mentality. For a GenXer, it didn’t matter how long you worked, it mattered that the job got done. These techno-literates used their creativity and adaptability to find new way to solve problems. And still find time for work/life balance. GenX Google founders Larry Page and Sergi Brim personified this ethic and built their $50 billion tech juggernaut.

GEN-X’s on work: Work/Life balance

Ummm… I just want a Life

Now here come the Millennials and once again, they will be redefining the work environment (but probably not until over 50% of them are over 30 in the 2020’s, replacing GenXers in management positions). In the meantime, what are their priorities on work and what is best way to motivate them?

First, recognize that family and friends always come first for Millennials. Their parents are BFF and their friends are their lifeline to… life—companionship, entertainment, activities, romance, etc. This does not mean that work is unimportant, but it does mean you have to understand their priorities.

Second, meaningful work is a meaningful life. Millennials want to do work that has an impact on the world around them. Can you connect the dots between their work and how it improves the lives of others? Barney & Barney, a successful insurance broker in California, has a thriving Foundation that contributes to the communities they serve. This really attracts the Millennials and they will put in the extra hours if they know it has meaning.

Lastly, and this is my GenX voice talking, define the goals you want them to achieve, and don’t meddle in the means to get there. Be clear about the goals, check in frequently on their progress (be positive and constructive) and give them the tools they need, but don’t make them stick around on a Friday if they can manage to finish the work on Thursday.

Millennials on work: Work-life Integration

Don’t stress out you Boomers… there’s always Monday… or in this case, Tuesday.