Stop Talking About Millennials Like We Aren't in the Room

11081395_10206085997366827_411825499000849663_n I recently attended a local economic forum that reviewed and analyzed business trends and demographics in the region. There was plenty of useful information that applies directly to our businesses, and it is always good to hear that our area has a 2.8% commercial real estate vacancy rate. But what struck me the most was the disappointing rhetoric regarding my apparent generation - the millennials. On several occasions, panelists and speakers described businesses as trying to attract the "pajama workforce" and the "skinny-pants hipsters." The only time I wear pajamas at work is when I'm answering emails when I get home at night, or writing a blog post before bed. Like I am right now.

If I'm being honest, I have never squarely identified myself as a "millennial." I was raised to work hard to support myself, I believe that trophies are earned by winning not by just participating, and I cringe when I hear words like "cray" and "spesh". I still struggle with Snapchat, and have no idea what Yik Yak is (I am not proud of this). When I listen to colleagues that are 2 years younger than me talk, I feel like I am 10 years older than them. I will never be able to use "bey" in a sentence and feel good about it. By the way, is that reference to Beyoncé? I honestly don't know. {since writing this post I have been informed that the proper spelling is "bae" not "bey". I suppose that furthers my point and answers my question about Queen Bey.}

But when I heard these speakers refer to my generation as if we are some elusive unicorns to be caught, trained, and coddled I found myself getting a little defensive. It appears that the general assumption in the business community is that they are still the only ones in the room. But we are officially here. Not only are we here and in the room, but many of us are already in decision-making positions. We may be challenging the traditional status quo of working hours and uniform, but referring to us as "pajama workers" and "skinny-pants hipsters" indicates that we are entirely misunderstood by our elder peers. If that is your summation of us, then you've got it all wrong. Millennials are hungry for opportunities for career advancement, we are connected both online and in real-life, and we are driven by a sense of community. We want to care about what we are doing for a living and the people that we are doing it with. Is there something wrong with that?

That is exactly why I do what I do - I love the people that I work with and I love working for a company that cares to its very core about making people happy. If that makes me a millennial, then so be it. There was one thing that was said about millennials by one panelist that I do agree with - that we "work hard for companies with a purpose." #NailedIt