One of the many reasons why I absolutely love coaching new and emerging leaders / managers and networking with them  is the opportunity to disrupt my behaviours and unlearn, change and relearn something  new. I am an unashamed life – long student and I don’t discriminate  who I learn from –  as long as they have common sense. So, inspite of the bad and very loud rap that millennials (born 1981-1996 and now the fastest growing segment of the workforce) get as the “lazy”, “entitled”,  “me, me, me generation”, I have found that they are extremely savvy when it comes to knowing what they what, dreaming big and choosing alternative paths to professional and personal fulfilments than those which their parents and predecessors  carved out. This can be quite unsettling and yes humbling (if I am honest)  for said older generation peers, but does that make it wrong or unachievable?  At the very least, we should be curious.

 So, when one of my daughters announced to me recently that she has a financially savvy friend, in a “normal”  job (i.e. not a celebrity or a footballer) who researches  and engages in building financial investment portfolios as a hobby (as one does) and whose dream is to  retire before they get to my age, I decided to invite them to educate us on how it is done.  Afees accepted my invitation, but for the equitable price of the Nigerian delicacy lunch  of bitter leaf egusi soup and fufu.

 I was impressed with his confidence  – clearly a millennial thing. When I was his age, if your friend’s African parent demanded to see you, for the first time (and indeed anytime),  and for any reason, the decent and expected thing to do was to quake in your boots. You certainly were not in any position to state your demands or conditions. Ever! But as a millennial, not only did he choose not to read that memo, he had belief in the worth of his knowledge.  I happily agreed to his request and we arranged last Sunday for lunch and learning.

We weren’t disappointed. He clearly knew what he was talking about and with the aid of simple diagrams, drawn on the smart board on our wall, answered all our questions  and  debunked many of our long held (passed down ) beliefs about money, spending and investments. He left us with key resources to continue our researches. More importantly, his tutorial was jargon free, sensible and achievable. Hours after he had gone home fully fed and watered, the family had a very healthy conversation about that taboo subject  – money.

It is the wish of every parent that their children will achieve more than they, and I would certainly wish mine to make better choices and have better options. The unanimous decision was that they are now equipped with the curiosity and resources to follow through with their financial dreams.

So, from my experience,

  • Are millennials “lazy”? No.
  • Are they about “me, me, me?” Possibly. But they are not alone. At its core, the legendary Maslow hierarchy of needs, for example, is a pyramid of 5 segments dedicated to the elevated and varied “me, me, me” needs that makes life purposeful for us all.
  • Do they feel entitled to have the opportunity to do things a different way to their parents/predecessors/older colleagues and still achieve success and within a shorter timescale? Absolutely. And why ever not? Let’s face it, by the time they get to our age, the retirement age goal post would have moved further north.

Who wouldn’t, given the chance, choose to arrive at their destination sooner, and in a healthier, stronger and fresher state?

With thanks to my new millennial friend, Afees.

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