I followed conventional wisdom in my twenties. Doing what everyone said I should be doing. From a career perspective that meant getting a job and climbing that corporate ladder as fast as possible. It’s fair to say that as a generation, we boomer’s measured success by the speed at which we checked off the boxes, and specifically how fast we ramped up our income, with bonus points for a prestigious title. Our parents generation was known for an obsession with “keeping up with the Joneses.” If the neighbors got a colour TV, everyone on the street had to have one. New car? Spend all day Saturday washing it so your neighbors could see how successful you were. Then the race was one to catch up with you. We boomers took it to the next level. The hell with “keeping up with the Joneses”. The goal was to kick everyone else to the curb and climb to the top of the pile. The concept of servant leadership would have been laughed at. It was a dog eat dog balls to the wall workplace. We epitomized the “nice guys finish last” lifestyle. That was corporate life in the 80’s and early 90’s. I know because it almost killed me.
All around me people were living lies. Male bosses were routinely having affairs with female subordinates, although affair is probably too strong of a word. The wives were still on their arms at all the big events. Alcohol flowed freely so we could pretend that the price we were paying was worth the paycheck, and corporate mergers created the perfect opportunity to get rid of employees without cause. Look, I’m not saying this was the case for everyone. I am saying that it was reality for one hell of a lot of people.
That’s why I get really pissed off when my fellow boomers start complaining about lazy, entitled millennials who don’t want to put in the work. How dare they waste time thinking about silly little things like the environment? So what if we’ve seen a massive redistribution of wealth with the big winners being the top 1%? And can you believe it, they actually want to know why the work they do is important! We all started at the bottom and worked our way up. Now these youngsters want everything handed to them on a silver platter. AND they want us to beg them to do the work.
Seriously? We should be giving the entire generation a standing ovation. They had the courage to stand up and confront conventional wisdom. Instead of listening to all our advice (anyone for some more kool-aid) this generation decided that they really didn’t want to live their parents life. They were also smart enough to see that the social contract with big employers is broken. The system is set up to lock people into jobs they don’t like where they can be let go on a moment’s notice. And they are smart enough to see that while technology has advanced, the same can’t be said for humankind.
I opted out of the system at the age of 31. Quit my six figure job and moved to a tiny fishing village in Nova Scotia Canada. In those days people didn’t do things like that. It was so rare that a few years later I was featured in the National Edition of The Globe and Mail (at the time Canada’s equivalent to the Wall Street Journal). It was almost a full page spread, and included a picture of me sitting on the edge of a cliff with my first laptop computer. The article was titled “How To Get A Life With An Ocean View.” People that had laughed at my decision to quit, clipped the article out of the paper and mailed it to me with notes like “Hey Tim, I always knew you could do it.” I’m by no means the only boomer who opted out of the system, but I was probably one of the youngest.
I guess that’s why I get so excited when I hear stories about millennials that have chosen to confront conventional wisdom.
Heather is a therapist turned online entrepreneur and the intention of her work is to raise up the next generation leaders who go against the grain. The decision to become an entrepreneur came after she’d earned her Master’s degree. When the job offers started to come in Heather burst out in tears. Her husband pointed out that when people get a job offer, most of them go out for drinks to celebrate. But down deep Heather had this burning desire to create something of her own. The decision didn’t come easy. Her husband and two little girls had made a lot of sacrifices so she could pursue her education. In the end Heather went for it and has never looked back.
Or how about Kevin Palmiero (Episode 188). Kevin is a Peak Performance Coach and co-host of The Hyper Conscious Podcast where he interviews successful entrepreneurs, speakers, athletes and artists from around the globe. Through his podcast Kevin also gets to connect with people who are trying to change their mindset.
It’s a topic he’s passionate about because for Kevin changing his mindset wasn’t a choice. In his words it truly was a life or death decision. His purpose today is to be the person that he needed when he was at his lowest point. For Kevin that moment came at what would appear to be an unlikely time. From the outside looking in his life was great. He had a 6-figure income working as a construction foreman and lots of expensive toys. Things started to unravel when his girlfriend left him. Things spiraled out of control and reached a point where he thought about ending his own life. His decision to start the Hyper Conscious Podcast with his co host Alan Lazaros was the beginning of a remarkable turnaround. Alan himself has a great story and will be featured in an upcoming episode of Screw the Naysayers.
These are just two examples. There are so many great millennial success stories. If you, or someone you know is a Millennial who’s killing it by confronting conventional wisdom don’t hesitate to put them in touch with me. They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tim…