It all started when I was 7. In an effort to get me to venture out of our new house, my parents turned to the Girl Scouts. Mrs. Brown was my troop leader and I remember arriving at her place for our first meeting: head down, hands jammed in pockets, distressed to the core over being forced to participate in organized community service. Perhaps sensing my horror, she said I could play SkiFree on her computer until the rest of the girls arrived.
Fast forward to today. I couldn’t care less about how many badges I achieved, the number of cookies I sold or a single campfire song, but show me a stick figure being devoured by an abominable snowman and the sense of nostalgia I feel is absolutely incredible.
Welcome to Generation Y (a.k.a. Millennials): History’s first batch of always-connected human beings. Born at the turn of the millenium, this group has made the rise of personal digital technology more than just a pastime — it’s a way of life.
According to Pew Research, three-quarters of Millennials have created a profile on a social networking site, compared with just half of Generation Xers, 30% of Baby Boomers and 6% of pre-Boomers. Gadgets are treated like extensions of their person, enabling everything from making and sustaining connections to reading the news and playing games. In 2008, things got so disruptive that Washington became the first state to pass legislation banning cellphone use while driving. Since then, 42 states have followed suit to some degree.
But native technological exceptionalism lends more than just enhanced communication channels and road rage. As the first of their kind, Millennials have been gifted with a renewed sense of economic optimism, a ton of self-confidence and, perhaps most importantly, an acute desire to challenge the traditional ways of doing most everything (see: Mark Zuckerberg).
What’s In A
Younger generations have always been known to stir the collective pot with their contemporary ideas, but this time around it’s not as much about age as it is a reflection of technology-charged transformations — especially in the world of business.
For example, Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, thinks that this might be the end of the 9-to-5 work day. “Gen Y looks for more flexibility like working from home, and they want to have access to social networks,” he explains. “Fortune 500 companies don’t usually allow this flexibility.”
The Business and Professional Women’s Foundation estimates that by 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be comprised of Millennials, meaning they’re very quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. By understanding and embracing this new found entrepreneurial zeal, companies can increase their chances at remaining productive and empowering in these changing times.
Ergo, I’m here with an assist. In the next part of this series, I’ll talk about some of the tools that this generation is using which trends are shaping them. Stay tuned!