Millennials Schmillennials

Why This Baby Boomer Isn’t Joining the Millennial Marketing Circus

I’ve been considering running away and joining the Millennial Marketing Circus, but I have recently decided against it.

With all the delving, snooping, prying and probing into the mind of “The Millennial” — who they are, why they are who they are, what they want, and what they don’t want — it seemed reasonable that executives and managers who oversee the work of these younger workers could really benefit from mastering powerful coaching skills, which is what I do.

After all, most of the research I’ve read seems to agree that Millennials want to be coached and mentored instead of managed and bossed in the old command-and-control mindset. So it made sense that their managers and supervisors need to know how to coach them. Frankly, it all seemed to be fitting neatly into a logical Millennial-centric marketing bundle.

Then I had a bit of a wake-up call when, out of pure curiosity, I took a “How Millennial Are You?” survey online. Imagine my surprise when this mid-Baby-Boomer ended up being declared 86% Millennial! Apparently someone thinks I align with a vast majority of the values and beliefs of people half (or more than half!) my age.

That didn’t fit the Us/Them paradigm of generational separation, so I delved, snooped, pried and probed into my own mind and motivations to try to make some sense of this slightly uncomfortable, yet intriguing, shift in my perspective.

Here’s what my own inner-dive revealed to me:

Millennials tend to judge the performance of a business on its contribution in the world and how it treats people. So do I.

Millennials generally believe businesses should put employees first, and they should build a solid foundation of trust and integrity. Again, so do I.

Millennials are less impressed by the sheer scale of a business, its age, or the general buzz that surrounds it, but rather by its attention to the environment and social responsibility. Me, too.

Millennials want more time at work devoted to the discussion of new ideas and ways of working, on coaching and mentoring, and on the development of their leadership skills. I sure can’t argue with this one.

Millennials prefer to work collaboratively in groups with a common vision and purpose so that everyone prospers, rather than in we-win-you-lose competition with each other. Yes to this one, too.

Millennials want to work in a culture of mutual support and tolerance, with open and free-flowing communication, a strong sense of purpose beyond financial success, and the active encouragement of ideas among all employees. Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes.

So it’s true! With a few exceptions such as birth year, non-existent video gaming habits, and musical preferences, I must, in fact, be a Millennial!

Or perhaps it’s less about age and more about a growing percentage of workers finally understanding that our long-standing dog-eat-dog, asking-for-help-is-weak, take-no-prisoners, carrot-and-stick, my-way-or-the-highway, fear-mongering, same-old-same-old-rat-race approach to doing business is no longer viable. In fact, we Boomers and older Gen-Xers are experiencing the disastrous health consequences of that toxic old mindset in record numbers.

Perhaps it’s that the Boomer’s and Xer’s kids — those “pesky” Millennials — can see it all more clearly than we’ve been able to, and are finding the courage to step up in increasingly larger numbers to say, “Enough is enough!”

They are successfully diverting more and more attention to what is actually sustainable into future generations: working with each other and the environment to the benefit of all, rather than sacrificing the “human” in human resources in favor of the bottom line. They are showing us a new way to work, and we’d better be paying close attention.

So, instead of joining the Millennial Marketing Circus and separating “them” and “us” along luck-of-the-draw birth year lines, this Baby Boomer chooses to do all she can to stop seeing people who were born between 1980 and 2000 through the lens of marketing-focused academic research and instead celebrate the energy, insights, and perspective “they” bring to the party and invite the rest of “us” to play along — all together!


Contact Laurie to schedule your complimentary Coaching Needs Assessment session.


*The findings shared are drawn from Deloitte’s fifth global Millennial Survey.

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