Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Millennial Myth: Millennials Part One

Millennials have a stigma. "They're entitled. They're spoiled. Lazy. Whiny! Completely self-absorbed. They're just the WORST!"

At least that's how a co-worker's mother described them when asked her opinion over the phone. I, however, remain dubious of these sky-is-falling claims about how the world will end once handed over to this generation.

Mostly because I've heard this tune before.  Each generation thinks the next will be society's complete undoing. Think about the Roaring Twenties. Perhaps most famously immortalized in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," it was seen by the elder statesmen of that period to be a whole generation of devil-may-care, wanton excess.

The drinking! The parties! The moving pictures with their depictions of violence and sex! The mini-skirts! And worst of all...that awful devil-music noise of filthy, disgusting, degenerate JAZZ!  Or so people at the time thought.

And then there was the Beat Generation. I'll just let this sensationalist article do the talking:

But Jack Kerouac and company didn't turn America into roadkill.

And then the hippies with their long hair, drug use, free-love, and socialism threatened to rock the very foundations of American values..... at least until they got about 10 years older and magically transformed from the We Generation to the Me Generation in one of the greatest about-faces in social history.

You'll have to forgive me if I seem skeptical when it comes to writing off the current crop of youth that shall inherit the earth. The fact is, in my own experience, I've seen a LOT of really bright kids with good heads on their shoulders doing incredible things.

From my pal Ash, who went from sneaking into my punk rock shows when she was underage, to now being a committed social worker in a troubled community. Or examine in the video below, the pair of teenagers that started an incredible film, arts, and music festival in a neighboring town to where I live.

Or in the pizza world, take a quick glance at a guy like Scott Volpe who recklessly went to Napoli in his early 20s with nothing but a backpack. He didn't speak the language or have any connections. He wanted to learn how to make pizza from the masters at the very source. He went from being technically homeless, starting at the bottom, and dedicated himself completely to learning his craft and skill set. He brought those skills back stateside and is now the proud owner-operator of a brick and mortar restaurant called Fiamme in Tucson, Arizona that started as a small food truck. If that wasn't enough, he also is a world champion pizza spinner. (Frankly, his overachieving kinda makes me sick. He's making us older guys look bad.)

If you look around, I'm sure you can cite half a dozen examples in your own social circles. Every generation has its quirks and youthful abandon. But the best and brightest will always mature and end up as the glue that holds society together. For my own part, I've never been able to identify with either Generation X or Millennials. Depending on which data or study group you ask, I'm classified alternately as either or both.  I have always, however, felt the world is an increasingly better place to live in with each passing decade.

So rather than bemoan the differences from one generation to the next, I prefer to celebrate the rising stars. In that spirit, here's a couple links to short articles with advice on how to work with Millennials in your restaurant:

And of course, a PMQ article on how to market to them: