8 Brutal Truths about Millennials that Determine The Success of Every Business

Every business owner has one of two choices:

  1. Learn and embrace the global and Millennial context (i.e., reality)
  2. Resist the global and Millennial context and inevitably become irrelevant

After having conducted more than 2,000 one-on-one interviews with Millennials, this article describes the most important insights learned.

Without a doubt, the future is optimistic for all generations who embrace the “Millennial Movement.”

Here’s how it works:

1. Millennials don’t require expensive, unnecessary, undesirable brick and mortar offices.

“Proximity is no longer a value to most people, because Amazon and e-Commerce in general has made it incredibly simple to get products to you, and we’re seeing consumers reacting to that fact.” — Zach Ware, VTF Capital

The challenge is that the old brick-and-mortar, micro-managed, job-for-life mentality is what we’ve built cities around. Literally. Cities are built around this three-step model:

1. Here is where people will live.

2. Here is where people will work.

3. Here is how people will commute to work and back.

Only, Millennials don’t think that way.

The brick-and-mortar mentality is outdated.

Why not do a virtual meeting online?

The amount of money you can save on real estate, computers, and other products is insane.

Millennials are simple.

All they need is their computer or smartphone, and the objective you want them to tackle. If you need to meet in person, Hotels now offer meeting space by the hour or day.

2. Millennials are “digital natives.” Consider the many ways you’re missing out on talent that can deliver results faster, better and cheaper remotely.

“The most creative ideas aren’t going to come while sitting in front of your monitor,” — Scott Birnbaum, a vice president of Samsung Semiconductor

Millennials were raised with the belief that because of technology:

  • they can live where they want
  • work from anywhere
  • and come and go as needed.

Are they wrong? No. They’re not.

It’s not that Millennials are lazy or demanding or whiny. It’s that they are speaking from a context you still don’t comprehend. Their perception of the present and future may actually be more accurate than yours.

They can live and work anywhere in the world. They can.

Interestingly, research confirms that most people’s best work actually happens away from their work.

In one study, only 16 percent of respondents reported getting creative insight while at work. Ideas generally came while the person was at home, in transportation, or during recreational activity.

Thus, the concept of sitting in an office and in front of a computer screen from 9–5 is perhaps the worst working environment for creative and innovate ideas. Does it work for industrial workers making widgets? Probably. But unless that’s your business model, it’s time to rethink your aversion to remote employees.

3. Millennials will consciously and intentionally choose to live as vagabonds traveling the world rather than live in the jail of a corporate cubicle.

“Vagabonding is about using the prosperity and possibility of the information age to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions.” — Rolf Potts, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

If you’re not a Millennial, imagine for a second being one.

Most Millennials grew up hearing their parents and grandparents complain about work and their inability to retire. Most Millennials would prefer not to do what their parents did because the very thought invokes high stress.

Hence, Millennials cringe at the wait-to-live “retirement mentality” and strive to live in the now and make money along the way.

Work doesn’t have to suck. Neither does life.

4. Millennials prioritize freedom, choice and flexibility over stability because stability has been uncovered as illusive and non-existent.

“It’s up to us as individuals to take control and responsibility for the types of lives that we want to lead. If you don’t design your life, then someone else may just design it for you, and you may not like their idea of balance.” — Nigel Marsh, author of Fat, Forty, and Fired

Generations older than Millennials seek security externally. However, the “safe choice,” as it turned out for earlier generations, wasn’t safe at all. You can’t blame Millennials for blazing their own trail. In fact, they have to carve out a better way to make a living and their mark on the world.

Conversely, Millennials agree that security can only really be experienced internally. No external standard of success will ever compare to their own self-awareness and acceptance. Security comes from knowing who you are, and being willing to fight for that thing.

5. Millennials have every reason to believe they will succeed despite challenges.

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” — Paulo Coelho

Whether Millennials will individually be successful or not is another story. They’ve watched their peers make millions (and billions) creating companies with websites like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and bring in major brand deals from their Internet celebrity.

While these examples are outliers, it’s hard to ignore the golden opportunity when your teenage neighbor next door is making $10,000-$25,000 a month from views on their YouTube channel.

Be proud of the Millennials — they are striving to live every motivational quote and dream board you ever had on your wall. They actually believe in this stuff, and are willing to stake everything on their dreams. Maybe you should too?

6. Millennials leverage technology to be location independent and deliver work results — don’t underestimate their ability to do this with excellence!

“Around ’93, ’94, the conventional wisdom about the Internet was that it was a toy for academics and researchers. So it was very, very underestimated for about two years.” — Marc Andreessen

Regardless of whether location independency is possible in your industry or not, given a choice, where will Millennials and Post-Millennials flock?

Again, given a choice, where would you go? The same way the Internet was underestimated, don’t underestimate the digital natives to own this space.

Let’s look at the reality of work in America from the perspective of someone entering the workforce today:

• Small business in America makes up 99.7% of employers (less than 500 workers).

• Median tenure with an employer in America is only 4.6 years.

• Median wage in America is about $57,000.

With those facts as a backdrop, what is going on in the mind of a Millennial? Here’s a glimpse into the Millennial mind from a Millennial’s inner voice:

  • “Unless I want to climb the ladder and eventually get a top job with a Fortune 500 company, I’ll be working for a small company. Why don’t I just start my own small company?”
  • “I’m only going to be in a job for a few years and never have stability. So, I might as well live life on my own terms.”
  • “I’ll max out at about $60,000 a year working for someone else. That’s $5,000 a month. I could make $5,000 a month as a freelancer if I get five clients who pay me $1,000 a month.”

Does this excite you or scare you when you read this? This is real. Don’t squash it.

Put the wants and needs of your people (your employees and contractors) first and the profits will follow. That’s the secret of leadership in the 21st century that most people intentionally or unintentionally remain ignorant of.

7. Millennials thrive in a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE). You don’t need to add another ping pong table or bean bag chair to the office.

“The demands of shifting workforce demographics and the global customer base are real. By 2025, 80% of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials. Management practices from past decades must transform in order to motivate today’s talent and the talent of the future.” — Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, co-CEOs of CultureRx®

Honestly, what do you care if the work gets done outside the office?

If you focus on results and results get done, there is no problem.

Hiring motivated talent, providing effective training and automating progress tracking will put your mind at ease that work is happening. If you like corporate speak, think of Millennials as a “disruptive innovation” that will displace your market-leading firm if you don’t change. It’s time to put on your thinking cap and innovate — the same way Henry Ford did with the five-dollar wage.

In fact, many Millennials would choose to be an independent contractor over an employee. This can be good for both the employer and the employee.

Contract work is great for the employer because the work can potentially cost less, still get done on time and there aren’t the costs of paying the employee’s taxes and health care.

Contract work for Millennials is great because:

  • They can take on multiple jobs (as many as they can handle or delegate)
  • They can be free from the confines of the cubicle (the highest form of payment)
  • and they can buy their own health insurance based on their needs.

***As a side note, if the only reason you’re staying in your job is for “the benefits,” take a moment and Google a broker in your area to give you a free quote on alternatives for health insurance plans, etc. You may find that you’ve tricked yourself into living a life you hate for the sum total of a few hundred bucks a month in premiums.

8. Millennials and the Freedom Economy are the same thing. The Millennial Movement just isn’t being born. It’s already here and growing up.

“Growing up is losing some illusions, in order to acquire others.” ― Virginia Woolf

It’s time to embrace the Freedom Economy by hiring Millennials and Post-Millennials and encouraging talent to work online remotely in a “results only work environment.”

In fact, the McKinsey Global Institute did a study that reports:

“Our supply-side analysis shows that online talent platforms could add $2.7 trillion, or 2.0 percent, to global GDP by 2025, while increasing employment by 72 million full-time-equivalent positions.”

When you work with Millennials in this capacity, you’ll be blown away by their hyper-engagement to the business — always “on” and pretty much working around the clock. It just so happens that they may be doing it from their cell phone on the top of a mountain. That’s a good thing.

Millennials will give you their best work if it’s on their terms. Encourage it!

If you do this well, you’ll get desired results and your business will win. Every time. In fact, the disaster of “employee engagement” in corporate America will become a non-event and you’ll be happier with the bottom line.

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