Busting Myths about Millennials

Because I speak on Generations in the Workplace and I focus on Millennials, I decided to start using Uber – as a research project- interviewing the drivers.

My first trip was in DC visiting my daughter, Meredith. She got me on the app and boom in a few minutes a driver was there.  I used Uber throughout my visit. It was so much easier that walking to the metro or waiting forever for a cam.

When I got back home to Houston, I decided to use Uber more and drive my car less. At first, I only used it to get to and from the airport, but soon I was Ubering it to events all over town. I loved it! In addition to providing me with transportation, Uber has been a great way for me to conduct research. Since I speak on “Generations in the Workplace” and most of my Uber drivers are Millennials, I was getting pages of research.

These interviews have allowed me to expand my insights and bust some myths about Millennials.

Millennial with iPhone

  • Millennials are not lazy. They just look at work differently than their Boomer parents did. They do want to work and they are hard workers, but their biggest difference is that they want independence. Most of my drivers have been part-timers who like the freedom that Uber provides. The can pick their own schedules as to when they want to work, and I have learned that they are ambitious. Over and over, I hear how Uber fills a financial need. I have garnered this info from college students, business majors, and graduate students working on master degrees. I have encountered a web designer, a programmer who works from home and drives just two hours a day (mid-day while taking a break), a high school teacher who only drives on weekends, and a guy that not only drives for Uber but rents out his apartment on a regular basis through Airbnb.
  • It’s been said many times that Millennials do not know how to do face-to-face communications. I have found just the opposite to be true. Actually I have enjoyed great conversations in almost every ride. One of my drivers was getting her master’s in social work, and she confessed to me that before driving for Uber she was very quiet and introverted. Her professors suggested that she work on her face-to-face communications because talking and drawing things out of her clients was going to be a big part of her work after graduation. She said that she decided to practice talking to her Uber customers. At first she admitted that she was nervous, but she kept at it. It was a surprise to hear that she struggled with conversation because we talked all the way home.
  • We are told over and over that Millennials are always connected to their phones. I have never had a driver listening to headsets, talking on the phone, or texting while driving. I cannot say the same about my cab rides.
  • We have heard that Millennials are not loyal to their employers. To the contrary without exception, every driver I have interviewed from Albuquerque to DC has said that they love the entrepreneurial spirit of the company. Drivers have taken me through the vetting process on how they became one. They proudly show me the badges they wear around their neck, the pick stickers on the right front window, stating that they are a certified driver. And every driver has mentioned the five-star rating system. The passenger gets to rate the driver—and get this—the driver gets to also rate the passenger for real-time accountability. Several of the drivers have shared with me that they strive to get as many five-star ratings as possible because if your rating goes below a certain number you are put on probation. I am impressed not only with Uber but with the drivers who want to succeed and who care about my experience in their car.
  • Here’s a new one… Millennials are fun, bold, and creative and they made a ride home an  experience … in a good way!  The last driver I had was really into Adele, I mean really into her.  I head Hello as I entered the car. We sang Adele songs together all the way home ( he must have seen this on youtube). It was an experience.


Today, I am a Millennial and Uber evangelist. I have discovered that the Millennials I am meeting are ambitious, respectful, hardworking, and loyal to their employer. They care about the quality of their work, are accountable, and are terrific conversationalists. Thanks Uber! and if your are reading this TIP your driver!

Change is Good – Leaders Go First!

Recently I watched the Academy Award nominated movie “The Theory of Everything.” I love it and I became fascinated by the way Stephen Hawking thinks.  I began to dig a little deeper and found this quote:

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” ~ —Stephen Hawking

Wow! … what a gutsy statement.  It implies inversely, that those who are not willing to change are not intelligent.  I know that is not true., but  think about it. We are in a time of tremendous change and there are some people in leadership roles not responding well.

Change happens anyway.

Between customer empowerment, expectations of the Millennial generation and technology, NOTHING is staying the same.  The constantly shifting marketplace is screaming, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”  Companies and the teams within the company cannot afford to be complacent about change unless they are planning on going the way of the dinosaur. Complacency is a silent killer of a team and its organization as well as a career. One way to fight complacency is by challenging one’s self t hear new ways of thinking and ideas. Today’s leaders must be open to collaboration and inclusion to truly understand what each team member brings to the table.


The Fear Factor

shutterstock_76982275Many organizations are in full-blown transformation mode right now.  Some members of the team might not be comfortable with the shifting sands beneath them. Many see change as a way of moving them out and that is a paralyzing and frightening thought.   People are looking for help from leaders who will need to tackle the changes head-on and those leaders need to reassure each person that they are a valued member of the team.

Adapting to a Changing Environment
Here are a few things we all need in a changing environment:

1. Clarity – When left to their own way of viewing changes, the employee may be frozen into inaction.  When their leader is able to help them understand the objectives and assure them of how all “what-if” situations will be handled, it helps everyone identify a path toward resolving issues as they come up during the change.
2. Collaboration – Each employee wants to feel empowered to bring their own strengths to the task and feel confident that other team members will “have their back” in areas where they feel a vulnerability or weakness.
3. Constructive Disruption – Unexpected things are going to happen.  Seeing opportunity in everything allows the team to anticipate the unexpected and work toward the clear goals identified by the leadership.
4. Adaptability -– In a rapidly changing marketplace, work teams benefit from knowing “What’s next.”.  They must change the lens from looking internally for direction and purpose to looking outwardly. A solid, adaptable ecosystem can challenge the old ways of doing things and develop a real competitive advantage.

Leadership’s Role in Change

Let’s get down to the essence of how a strong leader facilitates change.  It’s much more than getting out in front of the your people and telling them changes are going to take place and to get on board the “change train.”
Opportunities are everywhere, and strong leaders can see them.  Not only can strong change leaders see current opportunities, they recognize that great opportunities will continue and only a team prepared for those changes will be able to maximize those opportunities.

Strong change leaders will build effective teams with different points of view.  They will reach out to all generations and all cultures.  When given free expression, diversity of thought converges into giving rise to unbeatable companies.  It unleashes a passionate pursuit of excellence with each team member., and  will allows each member of the team to feel part of creating a legacy together.shutterstock_104867063

Diversity of thought fuels discovery and collaboration leads to fresh, new ideas to keep the spirit of change alive and well in the workplace.  It builds entire ecosystems within the company to provide the flexibility needed to grasp new opportunities as they are recognized.Strong change leaders will anticipate constructive disruption and never forget the customer along the way.  With a clear vision of the desired outcome, the team will combine diverse talents into a powerful, adaptive ecosystem in the midst of drastic change.

It’s Not Too Late

Complacency will become a silent killer to any organization.  You must wake up each morning eager to discover what your customers want from you and how you are going to deliver it.  As a change agent, you must also know how to sell change to employees and get them engaged.  You want them to be excited about it to the point that they bring fresh insight into the process of transformation.

Become a change leader for your organization, its employees, and your industry at large.  Encourage everyone to think differently in the face of a rapidly changing marketplace.