Every generation gets a bad rep growing up, then looks down upon the next one in line

As a perennial champion of the underdog and downtrodden, I’m rooting for Millennials and for the past decade have put our money where our mouth is by not only hiring them aggressively but building our entire army around them. In case you’re wondering, I’m a Gen X by virtue of being born in 1978. First, let’s define the cohort.

Generation breakdown by age and year of birth

You Don’t Need To Outrun the Bear, You Need to Outrun the Others

In aggregate, according to research, they remain the best educated/worst paid group. However, while Covid has ravaged so many segments of the population and economy, it presents millennials with a rare opportunity to seize the day and lap, let alone catch up, to their previous generations. Indeed, as older cohorts have children, may be more vulnerable to the pandemic, millennials have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage the great reset to come out ahead.

Standing On Others’ Shoulders

Indeed, up to Covid, the wealth gap was growing and in many ways, Covid has accelerated that. But I think if you look at things through the age-breakdown, I see opportunities accelerating for younger members of the workforce.

Lack of Drive? Or Economic Incentive

I’ve oftentimes stated that Context Is King serves as a diary, a cocktail mixing

  • perspectives from a humanities-minded, finance-trained perpetual student,
  • analysis and insights from an executive, intrapreneur and entrepreneur,
  • experiences in search, online publishing, video, mobile,
  • psychology, personal emotions and feelings,
  • in a personal, candid, transparent manner.

It’s not intended for my colleagues, though I am sure many will read the odd article here or there. I am actually quite fortunate with my team. Many, however, are millennials, and as such it should be stated that the observations herein are not a reflection of them, but of macro level data and an understanding of psychology and sociology.

With that said, let’s be candid: every generation has to stand on the shoulders of the previous one to get ahead. Millennials, in that sense, are both blessed and hexed because they will inherit a fortune.

When millennials parents’ baby boomers pass away, they will pass on a fortune to their children, the millennials

But that is a double-edged sword, making millennials both indebted to their parents, but not emancipated from them since they don’t necessarily have access to said savings. Eventually, millennials will invariably be the biggest population cohort, but until then those savings serve like a constant carrot that appears like a mirage, only to remain out of touch.

Exacerbating this dynamic is that millennials were also constantly incited to pursue ever-higher degrees, which have saddled them in debt without guarantees of gainful employment. Can you imagine that conversation: “my child, you need to get a college degree? Oh, you have a bachelor’s degree? Well, a masters’ will be swell.”

While at Anthony Scaramucci’s SALT conference, I produced a documentary called Fox in the Henhouse that discussed the role of entrepreneurship in addressing the wealth and income gap, and for the context of this post, why younger voters are drawn to socialism. The Young Turks’ Watch Emma Vigeland and I discussed that reality facing millennials, who may not have gone through world wars or great depressions but did experience school shootings (Columbine, Sandy Hook), 9/11, the great recession and seen their friends go to endless wars. Never was a generation so encouraged to pile on the degrees (and debt) to be told they weren’t qualified enough.

In this context, millennials represent a paradox of generations. What I respect most amongst millennials is they don’t identify themselves as much with their work as previous generations did. This avoids a lot of psychological struggles down the road as workers age and the natural cycle of life continues. I’m also very much encouraged with how women are more naturally emerging as leaders, comfortable to speak up (but not as comfortable as I’d like them to be, in my experience).

That said, I do think the helicopter-parenting, everyone-touches-the-ball-before-we-shoot and everyone gets a medal style of parenting, teaching and coaching has made many less resilient than one needs to be to succeed. But that can also be said about previous generations, to some extent.

This video was part of my post-shutdown bunker series, so the audio could be better, but it captures the sentiment of why millennials need to seize the day when many of their colleagues are tripling their roles as employees, teachers and parents while working from home. The field has opened up, it’s now time to go for it.