Welcome to Episode 24 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity. 

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and no matter what your age or aspect of the creative world you may be in, we’re here to talk about Millennials.

Lazy, entitled, self-obsessed, entitled.

Vilified and scorned in the press. 

The butt of countless jokes.

Millennials. The scourge of American business and culture.

At least that’s how many see them.

Others see them an entirely different way:

Open-minded, liberal, upbeat, expressive and passionate about equality.

Whatever you think of Millennials remember this:

Many of those who criticize this generation raised it.

And many leaders and managers created the work cultures that Millennials are challenging.

We’re not going to focus on what Millennials do or don’t bring to the working world today, so forgive me for being a little one-sided, but agencies and firms should understand how they helped to create a lot of the behaviors that many of them don’t care for.

Oh, and if you’re curious, I was born on December 20th, 1964. Technically making me a Boomer by 11 days, though I guess I’m really more a product of Generation X. And I have no kids. So, I don’t really have a personal stake in this. Except that I’ve always tried to bring together and collaborate with people of all generations and backgrounds. Yet, so much focus is placed on this one group that it’s not surprising to hear marketing professor and columnist, Mark Ritson, tell this joke:

How many marketers does it take to change a light bulb?

The answer? “Millennials”.

Because the answer to every effing question in marketing is “Millennials”.

This obsession with Millennials has at times has been pretty overwhelming. Sometimes nauseating. That said, it does make the clash of generational values pretty interesting.

Now as someone who has a part of senior leadership for a while, I’m asking those of us responsible for creating great cultures to consider this…

Why are we so surprised that Millennials are shaking things up?

Think about it.

Why is anyone surprised that they don’t remain loyal?

Agencies aren’t known to be loyal to their people. Cuts are made coldly. Merit isn’t always the measure. Politics triumph over people.

Why is anyone surprised that they feel that they should be leading now?

What have they seen that makes them feel that those in charge have the wherewithal, vison and courage to handle the changes our industry faces?

Why do they feel entitled to more?

Maybe because other businesses offer more. They’re more open to sharing the wealth. I have a friend in video gaming who wonders why any young creative is interested in agency life anymore. As he sees it, gaming is not only cooler; it pays better, too. Some companies offering bonuses and even royalties to those who work on blockbuster games. Meanwhile, the creator of the Nike swoosh received a measly $10 grand for that iconic mark. Hmmmm….

One question I hear a lot is…Why won’t Millennials work the type of hours we did in the past?

Why should they? 

According to Peter Sheahan from his book Generation Y: Thriving and Surviving with Generation Y at Work…

They know the way things go down and are no longer naïve about the workings of the world and the intentions of businesses and other organizations. 

Millennials are more aware of how their long hours make their leaders’ big salaries possible. They’re not going to fall for one-sided loyalty. Especially if leadership won’t fight for great work.

Why do Millennials seem so bored?

Maybe because they’re not learning much. No one has the time to mentor, and It’s been years since most agencies had training programs. 

When there is training, it’s primarily to avoid lawsuits. Few actually build skills. Or inspire new ways of looking at things. And when senior people go to Cannes, SXSW or some other industry event, it’s usually taken as more of a boondoggle than a learning opportunity. With too few sun-and-cocktail-drenched people bringing back more than a t-shirt or trinket from where they’ve been.

Sexism & Racism

Asking young people to luck up to a generation scarred by a woeful lack of diversity and a surprising amount of residue from the chauvinistic days of Don Draper hasn’t placed our industry in the best light. And because creativity is supposedly about being open-minded, it often makes us look like hypocrites.

Sure, I’m generalizing. But am I over-generalizing? I don’t think so.

As Martin & Tuglan write in Managing Generation Y…

Organizations that can’t- or won’t- customize training, career paths, incentives and work responsibilities need a wake-up call. 

Let’s Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.)

…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs, your dieting and crabby host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes me an my generation have made. Now back to the show with one last thought on Millennials…

The Generation Gap

Look, this podcast is not about vilifying or validating anyone. It’s not choosing sides. Millennials may seem to have gotten a pass here, but after taking the brunt of so much criticism, this is just about balancing the conversation. To get everyone to understand one another a little better. As someone who’s been around awhile, I celebrate that every generation has something important to offer. That’s an underestimated element of diversity. Consider this a call to reconsider and collaborate.

Well, that about wraps up our 24th episode of Navigating the Fustercluck. 

Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, thank you for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF and Navigating the Fustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your part in making the creative world more creative. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.