In Defense Of Millennials: Essential For Agency Life
As seen in Forbes, Jared Shapiro is a brand strategist, marketing maven, and publicist with over 17 years of experience in the entertainment and media world. As the former editor in chief of the Miami headquartered Ocean Drive Magazine, Jared utilized his 13 years of experience in NYC as the editorial director of In Touch Weekly and Life & Style Weekly (selling a combined 60 million copies per year on the newsstands) and writer at Us Weekly, Star, NY Post and other outlets to further broaden Ocean Drive’s international appeal and global reach. Jared has appeared on Fox News, Entertainment Tonight, VH1, Today, MTV, CBS, NBC, Access Hollywood and more. Jared is also a New York Times Best Selling Author who has written four books, and is principal of marketing + branding + strategy +PR agency, The Tag Experience.
A few years ago, I started posting "millennial quizzes" on my Instagram stories. I would film my millennial employees in my office answering simple questions like "What's your favorite Bruce Willis movie?", "How long would you wait in line for an artisanal donut?" or "When was the last time you mailed a letter?"
The answers were hysterical. "Bruce Willis? Who's that?" Or better yet, "I don't even know where to put a stamp, let alone buy them." The only thing better than their answers were the responses from my audience. The older crew loved it, expressing their joy with laughing and crying emojis. "I can't believe they don't know who Bruce Willis is!" "Who would wait in line 45 minutes for an artisanal donut!?!"
The younger crew laughed but mostly got defensive. "We don't need to send mail like your generation! We pay our bills online!" My point was simple: to entertain people by highlighting the differences in our generations. Their points — the millennials' — were eye-opening. They were right; who wastes time anymore mailing letters or going to the post office? Why should they know a Bruce Willis movie when they've got millions of movies at their fingertips via Netflix, Hulu and Amazon? Maybe a really good donut is worth 45 minutes (all I had as a kid was Krispy Kreme).
All kidding aside, as someone who's hired several dozens of millennials, I couldn't run our agency without them. They have 20 windows open on their computer at any given time — and sure, while some might be revolve.com and goop.com, they have an ability to multitask and handle things in a way that would send someone like me into a tailspin. I still need to write things down in a notepad; they use Asana. I still run out to get my lunch; they order food via Uber Eats and Postmates.
Having worked in numerous corporate offices, there's very little as harmful as the "that's not my job" response your average employee might give when asked to do something a bit out of their job description. I find that oftentimes with millennials, out goes "that's not my job" and in comes "here, let me show you."
They offer a different mindset, thought process and actionability to every approach. In the agency world, you have to be lean, and your staffers need to not only do five things at once, but they need to adapt, evolve and succeed.
Based on my own experience, here are five immediate ways millennials can provide agencies with a talented and efficient workforce:
Keep Up To Date
I'm not a millennial and my clients aren't millennials, but many who work for me are. I rely on them for social media hacks, researching the newest apps, adapting the latest hashtags, trends and ideas for outside-of-the-box thinking. I create strategy and goals, network, manage, oversee and do all of the things a boss should do, all the while training them to one day do the same. Conversely, because of them, I am more educated on the latest trends, possibilities, shortcuts and methods that allow me to flourish in the year 2020. A lot has changed since my first job in 1999.
For a 50-person client dinner a few weeks ago, we ordered 75% of the stuff we needed online. Ten years ago, this might have taken us weeks to find and cost us several thousands of dollars. We might have even had to hire a party planner. Millennials have turned what used to be a job for an event planner or designer into a one-stop-shop. They also used Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram for cute decor ideas from previously unknown decorating influencers who have amassed 10 million followers. The result? A gorgeous, photogenic, successful candlelit dinner complete with champagne flutes, floral centerpieces and a crowd that stuck around an hour after closing time.
My team looks at me like I am crazy when I tell them about how I used to work until 2 a.m. several nights a week as part of a 60-hour workweek. "Were you happy?" they ask me. I thought I was at the time, but while they row through the inlets of Miami Beach on a paddleboard, sipping rosé at 6 p.m. on a Friday sunset, I have to admit, probably not as happy as they are. Of course, I follow it up with fatherly advice: "If you want to get where I am or accomplish what I have, that's what it takes." Again, they follow with "In your opinion." Maybe they are right. Only time will tell.
A Different Viewpoint
When they ask if they can come in late tomorrow morning because they are getting a new air conditioner installed, all I think about is my trying to convince any of my bosses in the past if I could come in late for that reason. Then my millennials quickly remind me "Yeah, that's because you didn't have Wi-Fi, a laptop or iPhone. I can work just as effectively from home." Touché. In fact, I don't think any of my previous bosses cared whether I had air conditioning or not. Per my previous note about working 60-hour weeks, I was never home anyway!
Millennials are completely different than the rest of the working force. Generally speaking, they were raised differently (participation trophies), taught differently (extra time for their tests) and treated differently (everyone be nice to them, please). While we laugh at some of the things they don't know ("Why do we need to know how to use a fax machine?"), they are worldly, traveled and cultured and ready, willing and able.
Need proof? Well, let's just say I had four millennials help me with the content of this article. This wouldn't be here without them.