New Series: Adapting Your Chamber for the Millennial GenerationThursday, January 15, 2015
I remember when the first internet-connected computer arrived in my high school. When I moved away for college, my dorm room had a T1 line and a wall-mounted landline telephone. During grad school everyone used cell phones for calls, and laptops were getting lighter, but we still had no idea that smartphones and tablets were on the horizon.
You see, I was born in 1980, placing me on the leading edge of the Millennial generation. This cohort (born roughly between 1980 and 2000) is becoming a dominant force. And given this group’s comfort with rapid change, it’s no wonder they seem to be taking over. In 2014 alone, both Pew and Zogby completed comprehensive studies of the Millennial generation.
Due to the broad strokes necessary for describing an entire generation, both reports, while interesting, leave readers to fill in the blanks. My guest blogger series seeks to fill in those blanks for Chamber professionals, and provide some practical advice for how to adapt to the way Millennials are changing the world.
So, what makes me such an expert? In addition to being a GenX/Millennial “cusper,” I have studied Millennials both professionally and through volunteer work. As Vice President of Public Policy & Leadership for the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce in Appleton, WI, I lead advocacy efforts and oversee leadership programs, including our young professional (YP) network.
At the ACCE Key Issues Summit in Burlington, VT in May 2014, I met John Zogby and discussed the subject with him and Chamber colleagues just before his landmark study was released. Based on that experience, I wrote a story for Chamber Executive magazine on Millennials in the workplace, and in August 2014 delivered a lecture on the political attitudes of Millennials.
In my free time I participate in and manage YP groups (some social, some professional, others with a community focus) that bring me into contact with a broad cross-section of this generation. As a volunteer for my fraternity, I facilitate intensive leadership development workshops and guide young leaders through difficult situations. These opportunities give me a unique glimpse into the mindset of the generation that is sure to assume the mantle of leadership in our society by mid-century.
Beyond these experiences, my life reflects many of the traits common to Millennials. I am highly educated and well-connected to family and friends. I am waiting much longer to marry and have children than Boomers or GenXers did. I view my career path not so much as a ladder I have to climb, but as a scavenger hunt for skills I need to collect to be successful. Even my definition of success is based more on community impact than traditional metrics like earnings or titles.
OK, but why should you care? Because successfully navigating this generational shift will be essential to the survival of your organization and the entire membership/association industry.
Over the next four posts I will explain:
- How Millennials Impact your Chamber
- How Millennials Advance your Agenda
- How Millennials Change your Community
- How Millennials Reshape your Workplace
Each post will include observations in three key areas:
- Speak the Language deciphers words and phrases you must understand;
- Know your Audience describes key characteristics and habits that define Millennials;
- It’s About Culture illuminates the preferences and patterns that drive Millennial behaviors.
The goal of my blog series will be for you to feel better prepared to adapt and evolve to meet the challenges that are coming with the next generation. Whether you’re ready or not, that change is coming. Stay tuned to find out how you and your organization can thrive.