Talkin' Bout My Generation


Today in my venture planning class, we talked about the concept of "pivoting" when starting a company. There are a million different things that can tell you that it's time to pivot: you can't sell enough products, the customer is disengaged, you can't distribute the message effectively, etc. The most important thing is that you are always scanning the horizon, reevaluating your stance, and accepting of the potential for change. That way, you can make sure that what you want and what your customer needs are aligned. When you're starting a business, you're expected to pivot because you probably won't get things exactly right the first time. Entrepreneurs give each other that grace. But, as people, we don't often extend the same courtesy. As a member of a generation that is so often criticized, I think that we need to take a step back and realize the extremity of the stereotype that surrounds the digital natives.

Sure, we have built a reputation for being entitled, overprivileged, and, dare I say it, lazy. I see things on social media every day that make me embarrassed to be lumped in the same boat with this generation. But, I also see things on social media and in the news that make me proud to be the age that I am. The thing is, immaturity has existed with every age group, but it has never been as publicized as it has with mine. Not only do we have to grow up with more information, freedom, and change than any previous generation, but we have to do so with the world watching.

Here's the point: millennials will grow up. I am not claiming that we will all grow up to be mature, respectable, driven adults, but I also wouldn't claim that every member of past generations has grown up to fit this mold. Eventually, we will get the picture that what we think we need and what the market wants from us, whether that be jobs, relationships, etc., are different. We will pivot, time and time again, until we get it right. But, just like with entrepreneurs, patience is key.

Healthy growth doesn't happen through criticism, stereotyping, and skepticism. Healthy growth happens when grace is extended and judgement is removed. If you want to see more good things come from Generation Y, stop lumping every member into a category. Create space for the pivots that can and will happen, and realize that creating change is a process that requires failure as much as it does success.