Friday, May 6, 2011

Me vs. Millennials

My career is electronic commerce - selling stuff via electronic websites, and marketing via electronic methods.  And as a 46 year-old, I am definitely in the 90th percentile of age for my industry.  The space is filled with Millennials and digital natives, and is a young person's game.  Technology is moving faster than it ever has in human history, and it is accelerating at a shocking rate, yet for the Millennial age group, they've known nothing different.  That is their life.  So how do I remain competitive and relevant?  There's a couple of things:
  • I have to constantly push myself to remain on the forefront of new technology and techniques.  I need to be able to quickly understand what I need to start adapting, what I need to keep my eye on, and what I can ignore.  It is a constant chess game, and I need to make sure I'm constantly planning three or four moves ahead.  I spend about 2 hours a day, every day, just on this aspect of my career. 
  • I must be a practitioner of technology.  It is not enough for me to know the concepts, I must immerse myself into it.  Fortunately, I've always been an early adapter when it comes to technology, so this hasn't been a stretch for me, but I need to constantly push for fear of falling behind.  For example, I worry that my lack of owning an iPad will have negative career ramifications for me before too long, so I can't stall on this for much longer. 
  • I must have the basics of "business" not only right, but great.  I've got to be an effective leader of my team and company.  I've got to post results and meet my numbers.  I've got to be a dependable and valuable peer to the leadership team.  All day, every day. 
  • I've got to work hard; every day.  I have liabilities, but I can address some of them by simply putting my head down and cranking through hour after hour of work.  Millennials as a peer group treasure their personal time, and as a competitor of theirs, that is one area in which I can win.  Few will simply outwork me.  This trait will come in more handy soon, as I predict that companies will finally recognize that geography is no longer relevant to their hiring decisions.  Virtual office adaption, soaring energy prices, and the need for companies to improve production and productivity will soon result in recruiting overseas where there is a massive amount of talent that is better educated, better trained, cheaper, and willing to work significantly longer hours that will make our domestic workforce's head spin.   We're likely 3-5 years away from this coming to fruition, but coming it is, and it will drastically change how "work" is defined in the United States. 
  • Finally, I need to know Millennials.  They work for me, they're my customers, and will soon my success or failure will be solely based on my ability to effectively interact with this population segment.  As such, I look to learn from that group as much as possible, and have gone so far as to take folks to lunch just so I could pick their brain on a new technology or to learn what new things they're geeking out on. 
So how am I doing?  I guess OK.  I've built a career of which I'm very proud, but have sacrificed greatly to get here.  I'm working harder than I ever have, and know that I'll need to work even harder still in the future.  Life will get tougher and tougher.  Such is my lot. 

In the mean time, I keep watch on my environment, and try to Millennnialize myself as much as possible.  Toward that end, I recently took the following test and scored an 80, which surprised me as I don't have piercings or a tat.  Not yet, anyway.

Check it out and see how you score.


  1. Mike - you're more of a Millennial than most Millennials I know :) And of course you need the iPad! Hope all is well - great post.


  2. Thanks for stopping by, Janelle. Always good to hear from you.

  3. Why work so hard on all of that. Just call me and I'll get you up to speed. You know I'm a trendsetter. muhahahaha!

  4. wonder my girlfriend calls me immature.

  5. Wow! I scored 80 and I'm older than you, so you better keep working hard!



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