Millennials Debate Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network Event – NYC

Why I’ve Avoided Taking a Side in the Millennials Debate

A new report released by IBM presents evidence that the common stereotypes used to describe millennials are just myths. According to the study, millennials are not meaningfully different from their older colleagues when it comes to: career aspirations, need for acclaim, preference to do things digitally, decision-making, or tendency to jump ship if a job doesn’t fulfill their passions.

People tend to have strong feelings in the Millennials Debate—and this new data may stoke the fire a bit—but here’s why I’ve avoided choosing a side:

  • I’m an in-betweener.

Some might place me smack in the middle of the millennial generation, but it sure doesn’t feel that way to me. I had a “brick” cell phone (yes, the type that predated the “flip” phone) until September 2012. Back in the day, my parents enforced a rule that if I was going to use AOL instant messenger, I’d have to share a screen name with my little sister. You could imagine that that rule limited the amount of information I’d be comfortable sharing online (for fear of my sister’s friends seeing anything I wrote!). And using AOL required firing up the dial-up modem and hogging the phone line. Just a few examples of why I put myself much closer to the older-border of the millennial generation, if at all; I suppose I kind of “grew up with digital” but digital sure felt pretty clunky at times.

As someone who might be categorized as being stuck in between the millennial generation and the one before it, I find myself both defending and questioning millennials at times.

  • It’s been awhile since I’ve been an employee in a large organization.

I’ve been working in startups for the past four years, so I have been away from larger organizations since the millennial debate even got started. As a result, I haven’t had firsthand access to the large enough sample sizes of colleagues (that you’d find in a non-startup) to be able to make a fair judgement as to whether or not millennials are truly different from anyone else.

  • I listen to our customers – and they take both sides.

Ultimately, as a business owner, there’s a group of people whose opinions I value as much or even more than others: our customers and potential customers. And their opinions vary in the Millennials Debate. Some have expressed serious difficulty attracting and retaining millennials, suggesting that they are, indeed, different. Meanwhile, others haven’t changed their strategies surrounding millennials and haven’t seen a difference in results.

Even with new data thrown into the Millennials Debate, I’d probably continue to avoid taking a side given my background (at least until another post!).

Questions? Comments? Do you find these things to be true about millennials in your workplace? Let me know at

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