One of the most common adjectives used to describe my generation is “entitled”. I read articles, have conversations with other professionals, and attend conferences where the unanimous stance “against” Gen Y is that we believe we’re owed something for doing nothing – we’re smarter than you, we’re stubborn, we reject authority, and we’re impossible to work with.
I genuinely believe this couldn’t be further from the truth. After reading an outstanding article on AdvertisingAge: “Millennials Are Morons Stories Are Slight to Entire Generation“, the following quote really stuck out with me.
Firstly, “entitled” is just a newfangled way of referring to the same concentrated ambition that once defined the “American Dream.” As products of the self-esteem movement, many millennials were raised under the guise of “limitless potential” with their sights set by parents’ and teachers’ “You can do anything” mantra. Coupled with the infinite potential offered by the Internet and successful entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg as role models, we’d be foolish not to utilize everything at our disposal to get ahead. I don’t feel “entitled” to anything I haven’t earned, but I certainly feel entitled to pursue success in life by any and every means necessary.
David Teicher articulates what a lot of folks my age are thinking – that yes, we may be entitled, but entitled in a way that drives us to make the most out of our personal and professional lives. Driven by unfortunate circumstances that have seen us graduate in the midst of a recession – a time in which many of us have been fired or laid off – a time in which we’ve had to think on our feet and create our own opportunities, quite the contrary from expecting things to be handed to us.
The “us versus them” discussion surrounding older generations and Gen Y is becoming tired and dated. The most important thing to recognize is that our behaviors and buying decisions may be different based on the environment, but our thoughts are very similar to our parents and grandparents.
From a marketing perspective, Millennials don’t want to be sold to – I believe that all of he “Gen Y Gurus” can agree to that – but where we don’t take kindly to the hard sell, we’re open and willing to be influenced by genuine marketing that taps into the “entitlement” philosophy.
Instead of discarding Gen Y employees from your company by telling us that they aren’t special – tell us that because we’re special, you expect special things from us.
Instead of refusing to market to a Generation who are now becoming parents, home-owners, and decision-makers, understand our potential to be thought leaders, influencers, and brand evangelists amongst our peers.
Just as we may see “limitless potential” ahead of us – you have the same potential to work with us in a limitless number of ways.
(Image c/o kayotepeyote)