1 – They are smarter than me.
Much smarter, actually. On some days, it can be humbling to realize how much smarter. And why shouldn’t they be? The background that colored my world, those early experiences that shaped how I interact with life, was pretty small. I went to the library to look stuff up. I used a dictionary. I used a phone attached to a wall. Thinking back on the pace of my learning, it’s a wonder I managed to figure anything out. To think trip planning meant I wrote Chamber of Commerce offices request letters and received vacation brochures in the mail three weeks later. Cable TV was part of our cultural revolution. When history remembers cultural changes, I certainly hope they keep Cable TV listed very low, where it belongs.
There’s a good reason why the millennials might refer to me as a dinosaur. Sharing some of the “how it was” stories out loud makes it quite easy to imagine the sound of a Stegosaurus plodding heavily in the background. When I listen to Jessica, I hear a voice that shares growing up and learning with the world right at her fingertips. The speed at which she learns was once incomprehensible. For her, it’s a normal, every day phenomenon. I’ll caveat here, being well aware that smarter does not mean wiser. I do not believe that Jessica or any of the younger interns are any wiser than I. But I do know for a fact that they are smarter.
2 – They are tech savvy geniuses.
Get out of their way. Pay attention. Pick up anything you can from the genius that stands before you. I matured in a world where geniuses were few. Now I have the dizzying pleasure of working with them every day. Remember, this is someone that’s already smarter than you are, and now they have a range of devices that have literally changed every aspect of how we do things both personally and professionally. It’s amazing when there are two or three of these geniuses in the room sharing new tech options that are available this week. I’m still trying to catch up to changes from last year, and the geniuses have already moved on to another dozen new apps that make almost everything I have on my smartphone obsolete. Listen closely, and ask them to teach you. Thankfully, I have found my younger colleagues to be both supportive and enthusiastic to share that knowledge.
3 – They seek a greater purpose.
Stop bringing in those cases of the little plastic water bottles, because they understand that it’s a stupid waste of our very limited resources. Both my and my wife’s generations never quite gave it a thought when we filled our world with cheap, disposable single use plastics. The Millennial gives it more than a thought. The Millennial isn’t using plastic straws. They will literally bypass the restaurant that’s using those straws for an establishment purposely committed to not killing sea turtles. Their need for greater purpose has helped define the found again popularity of shopping local. As the Goliath corporations offer less and less choice, this generation is responding by creating a huge amount of new, local self-starting enterprises and businesses. It’s how these smart, tech savvy geniuses are changing the world, one great cause at a time. You’ll find their causes online, or even in brick and mortar shops. They aren’t merely selling, say, fine hand-made leather bags, they are also donating proceeds from the bags to local charities or even international relief agencies. Find Millennials doing business, and you will most likely find they are also figuring out how to share that wealth with a greater purpose.