”If you’re wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” – Seth Godin

Generation Y, known as the Millennials is probably the most misunderstood generation to date. They have been labeled ‘entitled’, ‘lazy’, ‘unmotivated’ and many companies have trouble managing them.

People lik eSimon Sinek will have you believe these ‘tender little lambs’ need to be parented by the companies they don’t necessarily want to work for. This is of course complete bullshit 💩. Furthermore, it’s condescending in a way these high-potentials far from deserve.

Different Generations, Different Values. 👱🏼👴🏼

I am a ‘Millennial’, and I can tell you the problem has nothing to do with a lack of motivation. We are plenty motivated. We simply have different ambitions than the previous generation. We struggle with the mismatch between our values and the values of the job market.

Babyboomers mostly measure success in cash and the things they buy with it: a nice, big house with a white picket fence, a stable job that could impress at cocktail parties, and a better car than the neighbour. They left us with depleted resources and an unstable economy. It’s not a path Millennials are interested in going down.

As a result:

  • We don’t care about job security, we value adventure.
  • Instead of consumption, we value creation.
  • We don’t look to make a profit, we want to make an impact.

We’re a generation of ambitious round pegs, trying to fit into a conservative market full of square holes. Our entire lives we were raised to believe a reputable job would bring fulfilment and happiness to our lives. Now, as twenty-something-year-olds, we find that isn’t true, and we’re depressed as f-ck. Flex-working and #foodporn worthy lunches don’t change that.

You can dress a monkey in silk, but it’s still a monkey 🐒.

On the Verge of Evolution 🚀

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future, it is something you design for the present” – Jim Rohn

No, fellow-Millennials, we were not dealt a bad hand “to no fault of our own”, as Sinek would have us believe.

Here’s the reality – We were dealt a royal flush, but we’re acting like we need to make a straight on the river. We have all the tools necessary to live life on our own terms, but we are misled into believing we are at the bottom of the foodchain.

It may sound like I’m coming down hard on the ‘boomers, but I’m not. Our parents and grandparents built a system that worked for them, not for us.

That’s why we cannot fall into the Gen X-trap of postponing and externalising happiness. We have to evolve. We have the ability to consciously design our lives, starting right now.

This is not on them, it is on us. I cannot stress this enough:
If we want to do what we love and make an impact, we have to initiate it.

“For Success, like Happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself.”

Viktor Fränkl

The New Model:

So what’s the alternative? I don’t have all the answers, but here’s my $0.02:
We’re a generation not driven by profit and reputation, or job security. We’re driven by impact. By making a positive change in the world.

If you create a positive change in people’s lives, you’re creating value💎. And value can always be monetised💰. The first rule of business is you get paid in proportion to the value you bring to the marketplace.

So: ❤️ –> 💎 –> 💰

In his book Man’s search for meaning Viktor Fränkl writes:

“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself (…)”

In other words, he talks about how success and happiness ensue from meaning. You should let meaning guide your life decisions. Not work, and definitely not money.

People sense this. Most twenty-somethings are very vocal about needing a sense of purpose. A personal drive that gives meaning to everything they do. No amount of pingpong-tables and bean bags and Friday drinks can compensate for that.

Instead of imagining what type of job you want, imagine what type of life you want. What are the experiences you want to have on a daily basis, and what legacy do you want to leave behind?

Inverting Maslow 🙃

Instead of chasing a job, we should create a lifestyle based on our values and monetise it. In this age of the internet anybody can be a celebrity, and everybody can create, share, and monetise value online.

Instead of trying to get fulfilment from the outside in, we have to create it from the inside out. As a colleague of mine recently put it: “The Maslow pyramid is inverted”. We use self-actualisation to drive external success.

Or, in the words of Stephen Covey:

“Internal victories precede external victories.”

Again: ❤️ –> 💎 –> 💰

We intuitively know this. We’ve seen our parents value the fancy job title, the big house and the nice car – and all it has resulted in is global warming and a 50% divorce rate. So we started to value experiences over possessions

We don’t care for owning a car so much as owning a passport full of stamps and an Instagram account full of adventurous days and wild nights 👯(#Aboutlastnight).

So instead of stepping into a job that doesn’t motivate us, let’s start creating life experiences for each other. Let’s enable one another to live the lives we want to live, and to build a better world. Instead of supporting a marketplace built for working, let’s create one made for living.

How do you even? 🤷🏾‍♂️

I know what you’re thinking: Jelmer (that’s my name), this sounds great. but how do we go about this? I’m glad you asked.

We’ve established that if you make people’s lives better, you create value and value can always be monetised. You just need the right business model. The only question that remains is: What value do you want to create? I have just the model to help you do that.

I once read somewhere that creating Venn-diagrams makes you seem more intelligent. So by the grace of that article, this is my Venn diagram for creating value:

The unique value you can bring to the marketplace lies in the overlap between your passion, your unique talents and the market needs.

Passion 🍑

Passion is about making an Impact. It’s what gets you up in the morning. It’s the change you want to see in the world and the legacy you want to leave. Part of what I’m passionate about personally, for example, is helping people embrace their Autonomy.

We’re a highly talented, highly motivated generation of world changers. In potential, we’re an army of Elons. I’m convinced that – if we tell comfort and safety to fuck off – we can disrupt this world and build a better one together.

Talent 🎸

Talents are unique skills and competencies you have.
They are the things you could, potentially, be the best at.

The best is relative. As Seth Godin put it: If you’re the only French bakery for eight blocks, you’re also the best, because nobody is going to walk more than eight blocks to get a croissant.

Of course, the internet changes things. With online business, the world is your competition. That’s why it’s important to find your unique niche. The combination of the change you want to see in the world and attacking it from the angle of your expertise, is what creates your uniqueness. It creates your niche.

Don’t worry too much about diplomas. Diplomas have become nothing more than an entry requirement. An implicit IQ test. You don’t bring your diplomas to the marketplace, you bring your skills.

There are plenty of online resources like Udemy and Coursera and Khan Academy that can teach you the skills you need. Invest in yourself. You are the only constant in your life.

Build on your talents. Work harder on growing yourself than you work on growing your income. You’ll be able to create more value, and the income will follow as a result.

Market Fit 🎯

“Make something people want.” – Paul Graham

Without a business model you’ll soon be out of money.
If you don’t align your passion and talent with the market, you can’t create value.

Market fit is about context. If your passion is “Connecting People” and you’re a talented phone maker, but you’re unable to produce a competitive smartphone, you’ll be out of business in no time (looking at you, Nokia. Love the 3310 reboot, btw).

Steve Jobs understood context better than anyone else. After heaps of touch screen PDA’s had failed in the nineties, Jobs reintroduced the touch screen when the market was ready for it. And when he did it, he did it with an impact.

It’s important to be conscious of people’s needs. You get a feel for them if you observe their behaviour, listen to their complaints, and look for the implicit need behind their questions.

Über understood that people didn’t need cabs, they simply needed a way to quickly get from A to B. That’s why they put taxi-owners around the world out of business.

Keep an eye out for the sentiments in the market. Talk to people, observe their behaviour. Find out the implicit needs behind what they’re doing. Like Jobs said:

“Sometimes people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Where does this leave us? 🏜

Does this mean we should all be freelancers and entrepreneurs? Not necessarily. There are plenty of examples of really cool companies that are out to advance society and are in need of young, motivated talent. The above model may help you find the right one for you.

I just see too many people my age (I’m 26) going after jobs for all the wrong reasons. I want to encourage those people to do some soul searching first. Find out what the unique value is they can bring to the marketplace, before they mindlessly send out their CV to a bunch of companies where their talents will go to waste.

If you don’t want to be an entrepreneur or freelancer, that’s fine. Just realise we have the chance – one chance – to write history. You can either leave a legacy yourself, or be part of someone else’s. 👊🏼