“The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed,” said William Gibson
The reason behind why I do what I do has stayed the same since I started writing mybook five years ago. I study millennials because I spent too much time wondering if the human race is doomed. I care about millennials because I care about climate change and politics and pioneering business as a platform to solve the world’s biggest problems. I study millennials because I want to live my life being a part of the solution. I think there is still time for a miracle if this cohort decides to truly take united action.
And I see millennials as lynchpin generation. Yes, the change that needs to happen to address our global crises really is about everyone. However, there are many reasons why millennials are unique and why every company need to understand them, integrate our unique intelligence into your business model and create the internal cultural conditions that we need to thrive if you care about the future of the planet, and the future of your company.
Because by 2020, Millennials will be 50 percent of the work force and 33 percent of the voting demographic. Seventy percent of us have plans to be entrepreneurs, so if you can’t engage us at your company we’re likely to leave to start our own, just to have the freedom to bring our ideas to the world.
The reason why millennials matter is because while we might not have the powerful positions in society, we do have the numbers to make a difference in society — a big one. And if you don’t understand how to market to us, keep us employed at your company, your company risks alienating the world’s current largest consumer demographic and the next crop of human capital. You risk becoming obsolete in a market that demands innovation. No matter how large your current company has been able to scale, you need to know how to appeal to us.
There is a lot that’s misunderstood between generations, cultural clashes that develop because we all different priorities, expectations, learning styles, ways of communicating, appearance, ways of thinking, motivations, working styles, decision making habits, spheres of influence, and areas in which we are personally invested. However, the issues that face humanity have to transcend all of this to solve, and that means we have to find a way to work together in a way that will ensure that we’ll have an earth that’s inhabitable for generations to come.
People fear change because it’s destabilizing. However everything in this world that successfully adapts for it’s own survival has to go through it. Anything that stays the same, eventually starts dying — and that’s what is currently happening within our current human system. We can learn to love the process of transformation.
It’s not going to be comfortable at first. Executives people at the top of organizations who worked their lives to figure out how to make their companies prosper doing business in the old paradigm are going to have to open their minds to doing it with a millennial mindset that values sustainability and the triple bottom line. Because it’s the millennials who are going to inherit a scorched earth, trillions of dollars of federal debt, no social security and more other cumulative unintended consequences due to previous generation’s actions.
And the millennials are going to have to be able to get uncomfortable too and learn from those who have built the current empire. We have to act now and work with other generations inside of our institutions. If we don’t get over our internal emotional dilemmas enough to believe in ourselves to take action, we’ll never actually find the happiness and sense of purpose we’ve spent so long searching for. But it’s going to require turning the out pictured enemy into our allies.
Because this isn’t about the millennials. This is about us doing what needs to be done.
Alison Lea Sher is an in-demand author, consultant and speaker. You can find out more about her book here and her unique consulting company here.