Millennials Aren’t Lazy or Entitled

My response to the viral Simon Sinek video

Yesterday, I showed up a few minutes early to a meeting, so I filmed this reflection in my car:

I’m so tired of seeing Simon Sinek’s “millennials are entitled” video being shared on Facebook. Reality check: millennials didn’t crash the economy. Millennials didn’t get us involved in wars we couldn’t afford over speculation about WMDs that didn’t exist. Millennials didn’t blow up the national debt.

They were in school at the time.

And the participation trophies Sinek complains about? Those were for the Boomers, so that they would feel like their kids were special. And millennials’ the drive for purpose and making a difference is often a reaction, not a result, of the participation trophies they received.

Many of the millennials I know aren’t entitled. They’ve had to battle hard for their jobs, paying higher costs in college tuition and stepping into a more competitive workforce, knowing that their career could move overseas or suddenly become tech-sourced at any time. They’ve had to pick up side hustles just to make ends meet. They’ve delayed starting a family, not out of a lack of maturity, but because it takes longer than ever to reach financial independence. They paid higher rates for college, because previous generations gutted funding. They stepped into an economy that was broken.

They have faced massive barriers every step of the way only to see Boomers and X-ers wagging their fingers and telling them to buck up and try harder.

And yet . . .

Despite these obstacles, I’ve seen so many millennials starting new companies, developing innovative strategies, and finding success. When I think of millennials, I think of my former students like Alejandra. She grew up with few advantages, having to learn a new language and a new culture. But now she is a teacher in the low-income neighborhood where she came from and she’s changing the world. Everyday. I think of Jose, who was the first child in his family to graduate the eighth grade and now he works as an engineer.

These are the millennial stories that defy the stereotype of the lazy twenty-something playing video games in the basement.

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