At my last agency -- Eastwick Communications, where I joined full time in 2002 -- I used to joke that I was old enough to be the father of my staff. Seemed strange to some folks, but it was true -- I would remind people that I am Puerto Rican, and many Puerto Ricans of my generation began breeding much, much younger. In 2002, I was 44, and that was the year that my son Isaac was born. That same year, my cousin Yvette (same age as me) had a granddaughter ... her third.
Just so happens that Isaac belongs to a new generation recently dubbed as the "millennials," people born between the years 1982 and 2003 and who have been entering the professional workforce over the past five-six years. They are, of course, the children of the people in my generation (and the one following). So it's no longer even a question that I'm old enough to be father of my staff -- even a late-bloomer/baby boomer like me should expect to see our young-un's knocking down our doors. As far as I can tell, there are at least three millennials at The Conversation Group, and I am sure there will be many more, soon.
But I gotta tell you, this generational shift feels great. And as much as I loathe big conceits (and "millennials" is a big one), I'm impressed with how this generation has been defined, most intelligently by Morley Winograd and Michael Hais in a new book that's getting a lot of press:
--like many of their parents, millennials are idealistic.
--unlike many of their parents, the are less likely to become idealogues; they are doers and problem solvers, not dreamers.
--on the whole, they are progressive. According to the authors, they are "the first generation in at least three or four in which there are more self-identified liberals than conservatives."
--they grew up on Macs and PCs, and they are the principal drivers of the collaborative Internet. People from my generation may have helped to invent the idea, but the millennials are the first to truly embrace its potential, en masse.
--they like to mix play with work, an observation Don Tapscott made in Wikinomics. And who can blame them? This generation is always working, on some level.
OK, big generalizations, but here's one more (my own): they like playing music in the office. It makes all the difference at a busy place like The Conversation Group. Retails stores, coffee shops, and other "experience-based" businesses figured it out a long time ago. I was wondering when the rest of the business world would catch up. Must have been dreaming when it finally happened.