On a Springish Tuesday night, tons of New Yorkers gathered at MRY for one cause: to create impact in the world. The Ad Council’s “Create for Change” event brought together Matt Britton, CEO of MRY and author of YouthNation and Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise. Lisa Sherman, the President of the Ad Council kicked off the night by showcasing some of our social good campaigns. All three shared their nuggets of knowledge on social good and millennial trends. Here are the top five quotes of the night along with my thoughts on them:
“More than any generation before you… you’re a group that is committed to social change” – Lisa Sherman
Who are these Millennials? Millennials are defined as the Gen WHY, born in the early 1980s up to the early 2000s, they are leading the way for Social Change. “Millennials should really be called Influencers,” remarked Lisa Sherman as she kicked off the evening.
Millennials are naturally connected, adaptive, confident, ambitious, and independent. Most of all, they are risk-taking problem solvers, making them open to learning by failing. In terms of identity, they want to make their activities to do good and inspiration to be a major part of their personal brand. They also don’t see the need to have a division between personal passions and professional endeavors.
This was evident by the behavior of the attendees. People were making GIFs and tweeting about social campaigns that matter the most to them, getting “Love Has No Labels” temporary tattoos and learning about each others’ involvements in the space. Their personal and professional interests were in line with one another.
“I don’t think kids are becoming less smart, I think they’re becoming more resourceful!” – Adam Braun
Millennials are often not taken seriously and seem indecisive. But really, we are very serious about where we put our energies and are open to learning by doing, even if that requires failures. Growing up with the internet, we have been able to access traditions, cultures, knowledge and people all across the world. With such a powerful access to information, we are not only more confident in taking risks but we are more willing to create! Hence the maker movement of wearable technologies, 3D printed EVERYTHING, handmade jewelry and accessories on Etsy and etc. Speaking from experience, I learnt how to tinker with arduinos, 3D model, make my T-shirt light up with LEDs and electric threads, make my own jewelry, knit glorious scarves and basic programming in 4 languages all using online resources. Given sufficient curiosity, we are down to give anything a shot regardless of the unfamiliarity.
With such a propensity to be resourceful, Millennials are very much into collaborating and pooling together resources and skills to create a bigger impact. There are tons of events for people to find their cofounders to build their business together, people to pitch their ideas and get feedback from the audience and Venture Capitalists, to solve a problem through hackathons.
“Millennials value access over ownership” – Matt Britton
When Matt said this, I instantly thought of a frequent conversation I have with my mother. She always wants to know, when will I buy a home? My response is , I may not always want to live in NY, or America. When pressed for time or in search for convenience, we hope that our “Task Rabbit,” “Fresh Direct,” “Uber/Lyft” can help us out. We will use Airbnb when booking a country escape , we’ll use a quick Uber/Zipcar ride rather than buy a car, rent a designer purse for a gala than buy one.
On that same note, we also value the access to opportunities, skills and independent source of revenue. Rather than owning one “hat” for our entire career, we are more attracted to the ability of wearing multiple. Millennials are more drawn to becoming a freelancer working out of a coworking space to ensure they spend their time doing what they really want to do. It’s no longer as simple as “get this degree and then do this job.” We believe in “I may have a degree in Y, but I actually want to be a master of X. So I will do X and leverage Y.” Learn by failing/trying. Millennials with even a corporate job are likely to have a side gig teaching or blogging, expanding their own career capital and brand.
“Understand the story behind a brand/company, then hone in on the narrative. The story is the hook. Keep people interested and part of the story” – Matt Britton and Adam Braun
According to Lisa Sherman, “Brands are bending over backwards to accommodate, rally and engage” the Millennials. These brands need to understand that the Gen-X and the “Millennials have the spending power and they value experience, above all”, added Matt. All businesses should focus in engaging their users on a personal level. Create a feedback loop with your user, let them connect themselves back to you. Adam said “When you empower people to tell YOUR story, they will” as he was explaining how Warby Parker truly excels in storytelling. Warby Parker lets the user be the hero, by “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair.” They directly engage their consumers right in to their mission.
“Make the small decisions with your head, but make the big decisions with your heart” – Adam Braun
The crowd clapped instantly when Adam said this. This group values that deeper connection in all aspects of life; professional, personal and spiritual. Our decisions are driven by this connection. We are excited by opportunities to help others whether that’s through the company we work at, meetup groups or our own entrepreneurial ventures. According to the 2014 Millennial Impact Report (1,500 Millennials were surveyed), 55 percent of Millennials were influenced to actually accept a job based on the company’s involvement in causes and 97 percent of them enjoy volunteering their skills for a cause. In addition, retention of a Millennial employee is mainly determined (53 percent) by whether they feel like they are fulfilling their passion and utilizing their talent. Therefore, companies should focus on engaging their employees in cause related work and volunteer activities, if they want to recruit and retain the Millennials.
In summary, Millennials:
- Appreciate breadth over depth, when it comes to content.
- Love to create utilizing their own skills and resources. #WeAreMakers
- Are resourceful and skill driven.
- Connect to stories. Let your business story be the hook.
- Are not tied down to the traditional job market. #FreelancerMovement
- Value access over ownership.
- Define brands as a story. So engage us in to your story.
“We want to be connected on a human level to everything we do, learn, consume, and contribute towards. Our mission is to use our skills to create good in the world.” – Ariba Jahan