“It’s a team of *whispers* millennials…”
We’ve all heard it, folks. The word of the year. The generation that’s gone mad. The generation we don’t know what to do with.
As you may have already guessed, I’m one of them. And while we may get a bad rap for being fiercely independent or spending too much money on avocado toast, I promise we’re not as bad as you’ve heard.
As a creative manager in what I call a cutting-edge and progressive company, you probably already figured out that the people I manage are also millennials. Exceptional millennials. A few things about them? They like having multiple projects at once, learning new things, and are always adapting to new situations. Vastly different from where the world was 40 years ago, your millennial employees have the power to, and one day will, rule the world. Times have changed. Long gone are the days where people went to school for one thing and did just that. Nowadays, millennials do many things. And that’s also how today’s jobs are written. I’d be lying if I told you graphic design jobs, for example, didn’t require coding skills. Or knowledge of PowerPoint, Wordpress, Google Analytics, and User Experience. Those are just a few of the skills that often top the list of prerequisites.
Today’s generation no longer cares about a steady job—they care about culture sharing, social good, resiliency, and reciprocity. A job is not just a job, but rather, a means to do something greater in the world.
How do we make our millennials champions?
Well, the first thing we need to do is understand that for millennials, careers are a journey of self-discovery.
Millennials are creative nomads. They have a desire to experiment, explore, learn, and grow through what they call the “line of flight” [ligne de fuite], a term pinged by two French philosophers. They aim for the big ideas, look for surprises, and appreciate the process of design as much as they do the end result.
They value experiences—and the lifestyle that comes with those experiences—more than they value physical things. They seek to string together bits of experiences as a whole. The goal is always to significantly expand their potential and their capacity. Take a look below at just a few of the differences between what the world is, and used to be.
- Values history and retrieval from memory
- Information gained through radio,
TV, and magazines
- Trust experts
- Abundance equates with acquisition (owning)
- Risk Averse
Creative Nomad Values
- Values accessibility only as needed
- Information gained online through entertainment and social media recommendations
- Trusts peer experience
- Abundance equates with experiences (sharing)
- Failing often, failing quickly
Today’s generation no longer cares about a steady job—they care about culture sharing, social good, resiliency, and reciprocity. A job is not just a job, but rather, a means to do something greater in the world. For myself, a constant struggle is trying to find the meaning in every project that I do, and how I can tie it to my purpose in life.
Dr. Stuart Brown, founder and president of the National Institute for Play, once said, "the opposite of play isn't work, it's depression.” This couldn’t resonate more with me. Millennials need to be fulfilled at work, because work is no longer just work for them—it’s a part of their life that integrates into their desire to be good people, do better in the world, and be self-actualized. Some may argue, for example, that responsible PTO, a ping pong table, treadmill desk, and free lunch are eccentricities. Not so much. More and more companies are switching to this model.
Larry Schoenecker, president of Edina-based engagement agency BI Worldwide, agrees. “A lot of companies are trying to create a better environment for their people,” he said. “That’s a great thing because the bar was low in a lot of ways. Workplaces were pretty dull for a long time.”
It’s not just about cool offices and great benefits anymore. It’s about everything. We’re slowly moving into a future where titles may not be enough. Competition for creative employees will no longer be for the right title, it'll be for the right project. The war for talent is on.
Why do I say all this?
To grow your business and manage effectively, you’ll have to learn to understand creative nomads so that you can work with them. Traditional business models simply won’t work anymore. Work, for creative nomads, shouldn’t feel like work. After all, no one wants to really work their whole life.
Remember, the creative nomad is either preparing for, getting to, working on, achieving, or leaving for the next big thing. Will you be a part of their future, or part of their past?