Millennials: Chronicles of Today’s Go-Getters
Millennials are coming of age and will soon be leading today’s world into a future of innovation and collaboration. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and Goldman Sachs, the millennial generation is notably the largest living generation in the United States today with a striking population of 92 million people. Surpassing the baby boomers in quantity, the millennial generation has become one of the most impactful generations and continues to disrupt the status quo of our economy and culture right before our eyes. Before exploring the current changes, it is necessary to point out that there is no clear consensus on the proper age bracket of a millennial. However, millennials are commonly considered to be those born between January 1, 1980 and December 31, 2000.
In recent years, millennials have begun entering the workforce. In fact, they make up about half of the current working population in America. By 2025, Millennials are expected to dominate approximately 75% of the global workforce, according to a global study about generations in the workforce done by Ernst and Young. A millennial’s way of thinking, a.k.a. the “Millennial Mentality,” as award-winning author of Investing with Impact and Millennialization of Everything Jeremy K. Balkin puts it, is characterized by a do-it-yourself, can-do attitude. This “mentality” is widespread among millennials, and even among those outside the millennial generation who possess qualities such as resourcefulness.
Studies show that a factor contributing to the “Millennial Mentality” may be the generation’s general lack of trust. The millennial generation has been affected by two major historical events growing up. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the 2008 financial crisis occurred at different stages of each millennial's life, ultimately impacting their mentality and behavior.
Their threatened personal safety and intimidated financial security due to these events have influenced this generation’s skepticism and distrust of well-established institutions such as the government, banks, and even Wall-Street. According to a study conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics, 82% of millennials showed distrust in congress, 86% expressed distrust and skepticism of Wall Street, and three out of four rarely trust the federal government to make the right decisions. Millennials have built upon their skepticism and distrust and have developed into an entrepreneurial and innovative generation of people who are notably self-reliant and productive.
The “Millennial Mentality” has disrupted and transformed long-standing platforms in today’s culture and economy. Information technology has been revolutionized by millennials, specifically in the way media, journalism, and advertising are presented and processed. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat were each created by millennials. These platforms, among others, allow for participants to publish their feelings and thoughts freely and share uncontrolled or unfiltered news of eyewitness accounts. The Pew Research Center reported that 62% of all U.S. adults used social media to receive their news in 2016. To build on the claim of millennial skepticism, 84% of Millennials do not trust traditional advertising, while 96% consider their friends to be their most credible source with regard to trends and information about products. Further, 80% of Millennials say that reaching for their smartphones is the first thing they do every morning, according to Zogby Analytics, and 91% turn to their smartphones for ideas in the middle of a task. The seemingly unlimited access to information through technology and mobile devices has influenced millennials to expect and even rely on that constant information availability. Mobile access to technology has allowed approximately 85% of millennials to constantly check their work-related emails well beyond traditional work hours, fashioning the implication that millennials may value efficiency in work beyond traditional work spaces and times.
In addition, those of the millennial generation tend to strive to accomplish more than just their day jobs. They prefer flexible work hours so that they can utilize their time by taking on a side hustle such as learning something new, building an app, or writing a book on top of their full-time jobs. The “Yesh Me-ein” concept of creating something from nothing is a common characteristic that sprouts from the “Millennial Mentality.” The can-do attitude and resourcefulness are part of the entrepreneurial spirit and collaborative nature that are common amongst millennials. They have built thousands of startups and small businesses. Uber, AirBnb, and Dropbox, to name a few, have emerged from the “Millennial Mentality” and have disrupted as well as revolutionized entire industries. With a valuation of about $70 billion, Uber has disrupted the taxi industry and dramatically transformed transportation, as the startup expanded to 450 cities, directly employing 9,000 people and indirectly employing 1.5 million drivers worldwide. AirBnb, the online peer-to-peer platform connecting room venders to travelers around the world, has created economic value for the real estate industry in idle spaces and temporarily empty apartments. This virtual real estate platform stimulated profitability from otherwise empty spaces, disrupting the hotel and hospitality industry. Morgan Stanley and the Boston Consulting Group predict that by 2020, more than approximately 60% of small businesses in the U.S. will be owned by millennials.
Millennials have been moving away from reliance on government and banking institutions and have been more inclined to use crowdfunding platforms that pool small sums of money from large groups of people via technology or peer-to-peer lending sites as sources of financial assistance. Millennials have also been choosing to invest their savings in banks with digital mobile services and mobile payment options, suggesting their preference for technologically advanced ways to satisfy their financial needs.
Purchasing power is transitioning from the hands of the baby boomers to those of the millennials. According to Goldman Sachs, the millennial generation is moving into its prime spending years, yet still retains a major influence on the spending habits of their baby boomer parents, who currently have greater spending power than their children. Millennials are growing into adults that have influence on spending and will soon have the ability to spend more as they develop professionally and financially. In 2015, J.P. Morgan’s average millennial-aged customer spent approximately 35% of their expenditures on experiences, as opposed to things, such as travel and entertainment. Millennials have been setting the trend for more experiential spending. With the effects of the 2008 financial crisis instilled in their mindsets, millennials also tend to invest savings in retirement funds to ensure future financial security for themselves. A 2016 study done by Charles Schwab indicated that millennials are committed to saving enough money for a comfortable retirement, which has been prioritized over fulfilling more immediate financial obligations like student loans and investing in job security.
Worldly individuals who possess incredible influence today have emerged from the millennial generation including entrepreneurs such as CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and CEO of Snapchat Evan Spiegel as well as celebrity influencers such as Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner. The millennial generation has inspired the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovative technology worldwide and is expected to lead tomorrow’s world into continuous advancement of change and productivity.