My mother and I have a common discussion that comes up just about every Sunday mid-morning, when we sit in her backyard and watch as my 84 pound Doberman mix soaks up the sun and tears up the grass.
“We just can’t keep them,” she says with a shrug. She works in the airline industry and has for over forty years. She’s been through the ups and the downs with her airline – through the recession, lay-offs, even the closing of the Chicago hub which meant she had to commute to work. What does it mean for an airline employee to commute to work? Flying. Whenever I remind myself of that fact, I check myself on the last time I complained about my commute in Dallas traffic. Sometimes, I’d be sitting in a standstill on the tollway (speed limit: 70) for an hour, but at least I didn’t have to get on a plane.
“I know,” I reply. “We have just come to expect a lot more. We hit the job market at the height of the recession – there was scarcity, fear, and a ton of student loan sharks circling,” I reminded her.
Unlike my mother, who has worked at the same company for over forty years, I had to constantly re-invent myself to keep up with the technology. Social media management, one of the entry-level marketing tasks it is imperative to master before proceeding any further, morphed into Social Media Marketing. Now, you didn’t just have to know how to talk to your customer, you had to know how to target your customer. Suddenly, we’re telling stories not passing out sales sheets. The salesmen of today have come to rely on us as workhorse – we are the factory that churns out leads – lukewarm to piping hot. Every day, someone is starting a new business or launching a new open source software. Our landscape is ever-changing, but there will always remain one constant: learning.
We’re talking about my generation – “the millennials”. Most notorious for scandals such as Fyre Festival and being Instagram “influencers” attempting to trade likes for currency (and, if you’re a Kardashian, very much succeeding).
Perhaps the most undervalued (and least publicized) advantage of the millennial generation is the collective ability to learn, adapt and thrive – simultaneously. “We don’t have to settle. We don’t have kids. We can work from anywhere in the world. Why should we?”
She usually hesitates to agree, but I recognize that not everyone in my generation has found her calling yet. I’ve learned firsthand that money cannot buy happiness. No matter how much or how little money I made, I still found myself hitting burnout fairly quickly. I attribute the high burnout rate to the increasing amount of demand the senior generations weigh us down with. I have a philosophy in terms of management: I would never ask someone to do something I did not know how to do myself. Most startup CEOs I have worked alongside that have seen success are the ones who started out in a basement, learning how to code, to prototype the app, to get the funding, to build the dream. That’s why there are so many CEOs in their 20s and 30s. After being exposed to that at the height of the recession, it’s hard for me not to have high expectations of my leadership when the economy is roaring.
If you’re going to be a leader, set the example, work twice as hard, and most importantly – take care of your people.
One leader that comes to mind when I think of this philosophy is Jeff Weiner, when he talks about compassionate leadership. Especially with the impending regulation in technology and absolute boom of the market for Software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses, more than ever millennials are looking to our leaders to provide us with moral and ethical guidance in a world full of grey.
Why are we doing what we’re doing? If the answer is “to make money” then you’re doing it wrong.
Take for example, Salesforce’s recent stance on banning its customers from selling semiautomatic guns and other firearms. I want to work for a company that doesn’t just produce a product, they take responsibility for leaving a positive impact for generations to come. Unfortunately, this type of leadership is far from the norm at most companies I have worked for. Large and small, startup and matured, publicly and privately traded – a lot of them are just plain bad at providing the proper environment for millennials to succeed. The old way of bureaucracy and playing favorites is now coming to light with the emergence of tangible performance metrics. The purpose of reporting to a manager is for the manager to provide insights that the employee is too close to understand.
For millennials, for the first time in our careers, we are finding ourselves ahead of the curb. Leveraging SaaS with my own personal funds, here are all the platforms and services that I use on an almost daily basis:
- Web & Graphic Design Tools – Adobe Creative Cloud
- Social Media Management for post scheduling across multiple accounts and platforms – Buffer
- Check out my post on marketing tools you need to know
- Note taking with creative organization across devices – Evernote
- Diet and workout tracking – Body Building All Access App and RP Diet App (iOS)
- Check out my post on fitness tech
The reason we, as millennials, excel in the SaaS industry is because we live and breathe it every single day. I love that we have the opportunity each and every day to discover and develop new technologies that enhance the lives of people around the world.
After all, isn’t that what the internet was made to do?