Kids today lack discipline. Back in MY day, we didn't have no fancy-dancy iPads...we had to transcribe our bosses' dictation with a typewriter...by candlelight...and no heat...and no lunch break either!
There is something inherently pleasing in complaining about "kids today." It's a rite of passage. Our parents heard it when they were kids, we heard it when we were kids, and we can be confident that our children will also take pride in complaining to the next generation that back in their day, they didn't have no fancy-dancy robot servants doing all the work!
Well, it's the millennials' turn to take the heat from their elders. Job recruiters complain that generally, millennials do not dress appropriately, show up on time and communicate efficiently in job interviews -- some going as far as to get their parents involved! Even college graduates are finding it hard to get a job due to a lack of job preparedness. But on the flip side, millennials are forward-thinkers who know technology in and out. They grew up seeing entrepreneurs with a tiny operations make it big -- like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. They are thriving in areas that older generations didn't.
Growing up with technology from infancy does make for a different life experience. Face to face social interaction seems like a chore to a generation who would rather text. And no matter how you cut it, the work ethic of our elders is simply not the same (and I'm not talking about the "back in my day" tales your granddad told about walking to work ten miles in the snow!)
There seems to be a divide between young professionals and their older counterparts. Sharon Chen, a millennial herself and the founder of America's Start-up, believes this may be a combination of a certain sense of entitlement and an (over)-confidence in ability.
"If I could generalize this generation with one word, I think I would use free-thinkers," Chen says. "We tend to be more independent, which is a valuable characteristic in the world of entrepreneurship. The marketing campaigns that frame my generation included, Just Do It and Think Different. We were inspired with stories of huge failures that resulted in greatness. Despite the negative corporate-work behavior, our generation has formed the most (in quantity and in aggregate company valuation) 'super successful' entrepreneurs."
Perhaps the recent heavy importance placed on "emotional intelligence" has played a role in millennial behavior. More and more employers find that offering their employees a flexible work environment improves their home/life balance and overall happiness -- leading to greater creativity and productivity. To many, it is what makes entrepreneurship more attractive than working at a large corporation. Maybe this is a case of the younger generation wanting more for their lives than working constantly.
Chen notes that ten years ago, if you asked any college students what they wanted to do professionally, entrepreneurship was not even a part of the list. Today, bankers, lawyers and doctors are losing market share to entrepreneurship. "To me, it is the resurgence of the American Dream and I fully support this "e-revolution," she says.
Still, there is something to be said about the care, respect and work ethic of the baby boomers who created the American Dream. But this generation, like every generation, feels like their elders are out of touch. The last generation, like every last generation, feels that their youngsters are slackers. Is this our time to get smart, think of our differences as assets, and combine the two sides? We'll soon find out.