By Lily Yuan
Millennials continue to defy their critical stereotypes of being flighty, entitled, and special snowflakes—by storm.
In fact, many of them are on a mission to purposefully change the world for the better.
Shifting the status quo—one idea, invention, and voice at a time.
Valuing purpose over finances or promotional space, they’re in it for passion, the intrinsic rewards. It shines through their personal projects and volunteering endeavours—be philanthropy, photography, or environmental advocacy.
Around 1 in 4 people in the world are a member of the Millennial generation. They’re born between 1981 and 1996, making them between 22 to 37 years old today.
They grew up during a rapidly changing era filled with exciting new technology and software. Having seen numerous versions of the iPhone emerge, they’re constantly on edge for new releases. And welcome what’s new with open arms.
Examples of Millennials boldly shaking up the world include:
- Ashley Edwards—co-founder of Mindright, empowering teens of colour to personalized mental health coaching;
- Akshaya Shanmugam—developer of wearable tech to help smokers quit; and
- Andrew Foote—developer of the first solar treatment method of human waste.
What do they share in common? They’re all members of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
With a vision for human-centered improvement in mind, Millennials tackle on some of the worlds largest problems head-on (and unapologetically).
Bring on the positive energy!
Purpose & passion driven
The greatest factor in a career, for Millennials, is a sense of purposeand fulfillment. They’re relentlessly seeking intrinsic motivation—not just a gig to pay the bills.
Something far greater than themselves.
Something to push the boundaries of what’s known and acceptable.
This, when combined with the drive to improve others’ lives, has the power to create major waves in society. They often have several side hustles (think freelance photography, teaching weekend dance classes, web design) on top of their day job.
Digital entrepreneurship is a prevalent, booming lifestyle that isn’t going anywhere soon.
Let’s make way for the power of the pixels.
They continuously seek out new ways to express their talents, and many can be self-taught polymaths. The ‘eternal student’ label is one common among the community, as Millennials are the largest group on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).
Virtual degrees and certificates are extremely popular. Bootcamps and podcasts are other favoured methods of learning, being flexible enough to work with a variety of schedules.
They’re the rockstars who dreamt and pushed e-learning to the general public. Picking up on a new language, subject, or hobby is now easier than ever.
Most Millennials have experienced drastic events of natural disasters, political upheavals, and social revolutions. They’ve remained receptive to these times of change and hence became more empathetic to others.
They realize each person has a unique backstory, and has fought their own battles to become who they are today.
Through joining confidence-building organizations such as Toastmasters, Millennials can effectively hone their skills and transfer them to a wide range of scenarios.
In the digital world, they understand the importance of leaving a positive digital footprint and using social media for self-expression.
From the dynamic technological boom of the late 1990s, Millennials are (and have been) by and large—the most loyal social-media lovers, with around 61% agreeing with the statement, “Social media is an important part of my daily life.”
Newsflash: It’s actually not Gen-Z that’s the most socially active community. Millennials dominate the world of social media, with over half of top global digital influencers (think Youtube, Instagram, Twitch, etc.) being a part of the cohort.
They really know the ins and outs of the Internet, and have become role models for the younger generations.
This number is skyrocketing, as brands continue to choose Millennials as spokespeople. Fashion, sports, food, and music are some of the top ranked categories overflowing with the members of the group.
Their media presence exceeds other generations by a long run, accounting for as much as two-thirds of the users.
They’re tech-savvy, on top of new digital trends as they arise. Wearable devices, AI-aided design, and augmented reality are some of the inventions which garner the greatest hype among the group.
Human-centered design is well under the works of enthusiastic user experience scientists and developers alike.
Raised among multicultural peers since birth, Millennials are accustomed to socialize with people from a variety of cultures. They’re acutely aware of subtle norms that play out in various scenarios.
Socially aware and attuned, many Millennials are strong advocates for political, educational, and environmental issues. They’re often loud and proud members of non-profits and charities.
In the era of gender fluidity, emerging orientations, and relationship styles, Millennials are accustomed to the ever-evolving world of personal identity and openly embrace the beauty of diversity.
Together, they stand strong for what they believe in, and persist through the unpredictable times.
The art of jelling—relating well to one another—is not limited to age.
Connecting with Millennials can be an eye-opening experience which will shake your perspectives in a gentle way.
Each person shares something in common with another: it could be a weekend hobby, life experience, or favourite music artist. Meaningful conversations can open the doors to some fascinating (and touching) backstories.
The principle of the six degrees of separation says that every individual can be connected to any other person in the world (to a maximum of six links). The small world phenomenon is truly within our grasp.
Millennials are open-minded and wired for new, stimulating experiences. They’re grounded in passion and very willing to appreciate and take in new cultures.
This relentless curiosity carries through well through their maturation as they age and accumulate more mind-shaping experiences.
Through trial and error, mistakes and lessons, wins and losses—the journeypropels Millennials to expand their horizons and soak up new knowledge.
Look around. You can find them jogging along the local park, waiting at the bus stop, or spending happy hour with their friends.
Sipping a colourful margarita, or lounging on a bench.
On the go with friends, or snapping epic shots of the cityscape.
Make a Millennial friend and prepare to be blown away by the wells of wisdom they have to share. The lens in which they view the world. The inspiring vision they have for the future.
After all, jelling can happen in the most unexpected places and times. A simple hello can spark something incredibly special.
You can choose to connect, for real, anytime.
Header Photo: Brooke Cagle via Unsplash
Ng, Eddy & McGinnis Johnson, Jasmine. (2015). Millennials: Who are they, how are they different, and why should we care?. The Multi-generational and Aging Workforce: Challenges and Opportunities. 121-137. 10.4337/9781783476589.