Here’s How to Thrive in the Millennial Economy. Embrace this or Die.

“Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.” — Milton Friedman, Nobel Memorial Prize Winner in Economic Sciences

Imagine you’re a 13 year old kid, right now. In 10 years from now, you’ll be 23 and in the labor force.

The question is, will you want to drive an hour to work, sit in a cubicle from 9–5, and then drive an hour home?

Will that make any sense whatsoever to you?

Does it make any sense right now?

With everything you need at your fingertips (i.e., your personal computer or cell phone) and being connected to people worldwide in seconds (i.e., email, social media, video conferences), you can get increasingly more work done remotely.

As I write this, I’ve been on a five month road-trip with my wife and three kids. My business has actually grown during this time. I have two main companies 1) A business development company and 2) an international sourcing company. I have no office and barely use my laptop and work with a couple dozen contractors globally. My work is done from my cell phone and my leads come from being a podcast “guester,” social media, and automated email marketing.

It’s never been easier to work from wherever you want.

And it’s only going to get easier.

So let’s go back to you being a 13 year old kid. Imagine where you and the world will be in 10 years from now.

The Millennial Movement

A Millennial Movement has been happening for the past five years, known as the “The Freedom Economy” (a term coined by Greg Pesci, CEO of Spera), where work is being outsourced to freelancers, entrepreneurs, consultants, experts and specialists.

Interestingly, this virtual model is:

  • More productive
  • Faster
  • and cheaper

… than a traditional approach. Not in every case. But in increasingly more cases. In fact, Ardent Parters reports that “nearly 35% of the average company’s workforce was contingent or contract-based and this percentage will grow to 45% by 2017.”

However, most employers and leaders remain clueless about how to manage and motivate Millennials. We’ve all read countless articles about it.

But who’s to blame? Those who grew up native to a global world? Or those clinging to a world that no longer exists?

Without question, this is the most bizarre time to be a CEO and leader. There are currently five different generations in the workforce. This has never happened before.

Is it surprising that emotional intelligence has become the number one business skill of the 21st century?

How else could you manage the radically different paradigms of five generations?

According to Pew Research Center, Millennials are already the largest generational group in the U.S. labor force. Within 10 years, Millennials will make up the majority of leadership in U.S. labor force and politics.

Despite the uniqueness of the situation, it is easier than ever to thrive in business. You just need to know the new rules of the game. The possibilities to succeed in business have never been greater.

5 Principles for Thriving in the Freedom Economy

I myself was born in 1980. Arguably, I’m the baby of Generation X or the grandfather of Generation Y (Millennials). My mission is to bridge the gap between these generations and to advocate for the Millennial movement. It’s happening whether you like it or not.

Here’s how to embrace the Freedom Economy. Most people still have these backwards!

1. Human Capital > Money

In the freedom economy, people are your biggest asset. Invest in them. Believe in them.

The industrial model is gone. People are more than machines. Those who build long-term relationships — rather than transactional relationships — with their employees will win.

2. Emotional-Intelligence > Economic Intelligence

In the freedom economy, emotional intelligence is more important than economic intelligence.

Working with people is how you win.

3. Collaboration > Hierarchy

In the freedom economy, outdated hierarchical systems no longer work. Instead of “shifting the responsibility” up the management ladder, flatter structures empower employees to make decisions and feel responsible for the company’s success.

And that’s exactly what Millennials want. They want to use their skills to make a difference. According to Self-Determination Theory, popularized in Dan Pink’s book Drive, autonomy is one of the primary drivers of quality and meaningful work.

4. Meaning and Purpose > Material Rewards

In the freedom economy, you can’t get people excited to work purely for material gains. That worked in previous generations. But today, people want to be a part of something meaningful.

95% of success is based on selection, in picking the right people. In order to hire and keep the best talent, you’ll need shared values and character.

Employees need to have “it” in their heart’s — the mission and values of the company need to sink deep. It needs to be part of who they are. Hence, Steve Jobs’ criteria for hiring, “Are they going to fall in love with Apple? Because if they fall in love with Apple, everything else will take care of itself.”

5. Leaders > Followers

In the freedom economy, everyone is a leader. Everyone!

You need everyone to be a leader because the world is changing to fast. Rather than training someone in one skill, employees need to be agile. Thus, everyone needs to be viewed and treated as a leader, because roles and responsibilities will always be in flux.

Hence, human capital is your greatest asset. Train your people will, treat them with respect and understand them, collaborate with and empower them, and they will thrive.

If your biggest goal is to help your employees succeed, you will succeed.

That’s the secret of the Freedom Economy. That’s what most people get wrong. If you can master these principles, you will succeed.

Embrace the Millennial movement. Live in the now, or your business will die.

Read Part 2:

If this article resonated, please read Part 2 of this article: 8 Brutal Truths about Millennials that Determine The Success of Every Business

This article digs into why Millennials can make an enormous difference in the bottomline of any business.

Call to Action

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