Will millennials destroy us or save us?

I am part of the largest age group in American history. The Y Generation, the Millennials, or what Joel Stein calls the “Me Me Me Generation” in his latest Time magazine article.

On a steamy July morning, I locked my apartment (that I share with two roommates), and swiped my $113 monthly metrocard (that I personally pay for) to then spend my 45-minute subway ride to my ten-hour work day reading Stein’s article about how my generation is full of narcissistic, lazy, egomaniacs that still depend on their parents for almost everything.

I was livid. I immediately jumped to defend myself thinking, “I moved out of my parent’s house on my 22nd birthday with the money I had saved from working three jobs!” The only thing I had in common with these generalizations was the year I was born.

But I continued reading and realized Stein had solid data. Below are a few of his conclusions, along with my difference of opinion…

Gen Y believes they’re entitled.

Forty percent of millennials believe they should receive a promotion every two years – regardless of performance. According to Stein’s research, this sense of entitlement is attributed to the plethora of participation awards we received throughout our childhood. My mother still shows people a poem I wrote about a rock in the 4th grade. Stein may call this coddling my ego. I call this having proud parents. They’ve always taught me the benefit of a strong work ethic. It’s not about entitlement, it’s about making the most of myself – and my hard work and dedication paid off when I received a raise and a promotion within my first year of working.

Millennials have warped priorities.

Stein’s article stated that three times as many middle school girls would rather grow up to be the personal assistant of someone famous than the CEO of a company. Yes, I did TiVo the finale of Keeping up with the Kardashians. But, I would much rather be on the board of E! Entertainment than be Kim’s assistant.

Gen Y lack interpersonal skills.

According to Stein’s research, millennials send and receive an average of 88 texts per day. Have you ever heard of “FOMO”? Gen Y has such a “fear of missing out” that they created an acronym for it. While I may text my friend from 10 feet away and have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps on every one of my devices, I know how to get information fast. I understand the role that Social Media and mobile are playing in the future of business, and I will be part of it.

Entitlement, distorted priorities, lacking interpersonal skills – even though Stein may have the data to substantiate these labels, I am one millennial they do not apply to. However, as I finished the article, even Stein turned most of his research on its head and admitted that millennials are a powerful group. In fact, the things that “categorize” us are also our biggest strengths.

Data is in the eye of the beholder.

Our sense of self-entitlement enables us to negotiate better contracts and gives us the confidence to ask for what we think we deserve. Some may see this as arrogant. But Sheryl Sandberg may see this as “leaning in.” I see this as being ambitious and persistent. As an employer, wouldn’t you want this mentality in an employee?

We were bred to think ahead of the current trend – to challenge convention. In a sense, we’re the most adaptable generation that has yet to exist. So if millennials are lazy apathetic narcissists, then the next generation will rule the world.

Which perspective do you take on millennials?

By Jacqueline Monti

  1. Nick said:

    Nice job of not letting a categorization define who you really are.

  2. Mike said:

    Part of the problem is that the generation Y does not speak up like this often enough. Well done in getting the conversation moved further along.

  3. Ken said:

    Business success comes from understanding the mindset (drivers/motiavtions) of Millennials and ensuring that you create a culture and environment that enables them to unleash the potential that you describe so well in your blog. Nice job

  4. Heather said:

    Way to challenge Mr. Stein, Jacqueline! Funny enough, I wrote a similar article about twenty (ahem) years ago when Gen X was getting the brunt of the “entitlement” criticism. I imagine that “being misunderstood” is a characteristic that each emerging generation can claim for itself. Some of my favorite people — and co-workers — hail from the same Millennial generation as you, so carry on and tweet on and Yelp on and rock on!

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