Opinions about branding by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

10 Things You Still Don't Get About Generation Y

1. You can't read them. 
As a group they've mastered the skill of being quiet and obedient no matter how insane the adults around them. As a result, you can't tell what exactly they're thinking at work. No matter what, they'll have you convinced that everything is fine until they quit.

2. They dislike abrupt change.
Generation Y was raised on the rubric. This is a grid of rules that covers their school assignments. It is similar to the spreadsheets their carpooling caregivers use to keep track of who's picking up who from school and on what day of the week. When you shuffle the deck abruptly (or refuse to give them a defined role in the first place) it is perpetually annoying.

3. They are overqualified.
This generation is hardworking, enthusiastic, and extremely over-schooled. They think faster than we do. They can do much more on their own than we can think of assigning them. There is a serious gap between their abilities and the challenges given to them in the workplace.

4. They miss the 1990s.
In case you missed it, this was the decade of: Pop-Rocks, Barney, Mary-Kate & Ashley, Boy Meets World, and Hannah Montana. It was all about playgrounds with nannies holding Ziploc bags with apple slices. The '90s was multi-subject preschool and a lot of songs about friends and indoor, carefully supervised play. It was nonjudgmental diversity, but girl bullying, Bring It On and Mean Girls. It was the best of times and the worst of times, and you were not there. Therefore they do not trust you.

5. They hold themselves accountable to their friends.
This weekend I watched Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist on Netflix. The movie was about a lot of things but the theme running through it was the subterranean world of friends. Everyone in the movie had to answer to them. The parents were completely absent, but the friends were standing there as if with a clipboard, keeping everyone honest.

6. They care a lot about how they look.
Gen Y kids spend a lot of time looking in the mirror. They are casually and cruelly, brutally honest about that. They are not so much into branding, but it is very important to them that they look tip-top. If they've given up on how they look then fine, it's a hoodie and that's because they are really really smart. Everyone else has to get out the iron.

7. Career comes first and marriage maybe never.
Sadly from my perspective, Gen Y kids have accepted that they will not be able to have it all. They are hopeful for "long-term, committed relationships" but even that is a stretch for many. They understand that the economy is bad and that they might have to move far away to earn a living. The girls are not willing to go back in time and they want the professions they and their parents have fought for them to have. In addition they are vehemently and vociferously in favor of marriage equality.

8. They are mostly Type B and they like it that way.
This generation is very passionate about what they love doing but for them, money and life's passion do not mix. Rather, earning a living is a necessity. They are as a group laid back and they enjoy taking pleasure in life, their friendships and maybe doing some good in the world. They find aggressiveness a turnoff.

9. Having helicopter parents was nice for them.
Whereas older generations may have resented their parents' interference in their lives, Gen Yers look back on their parents' hovering with nostalgia. Many of them still live at home. They tend to appreciate their parents' efforts on their behalf.

10. They don't mind their parents much, but they view them as peers.
Despite the appreciation that Gen Yers feel towards their parents for their efforts, they do not see them as authority figures but rather as simply older (and perhaps a little clueless) peers. Life decisions happen with some parental input, but more likely on consultation with their friends from school. And they try to keep parental agitation to a minimum.