When I was starting out as an ambitious college graduate four decades ago, my goal was to get to a good newspaper (I reached a great one), work hard, have a meaningful job and stay there the rest of my working career.
That world doesn’t exist anymore.
The millennials — those born between 1981 and 2000 — are in a much more fluid world defined by lightning-fast changes in technology. The old find-a-job-and-stay-there ethic has pretty much vaporized.
Gabrielle Jackson Bosche has launched a business based on translating the world of millennials to the rest of us. There are 82 million of them in the workforce, the largest single age group.
“I am at the apex of the entire generation,” said the 27-year-old entrepreneur, whose consulting company is called Millennial Solution. “I know what’s coming.”
Hers is not the classic, mature company with lots of employees I typically write about, but the subject matter appeals to me. I work around a lot of millennials and cannot figure them out.
Bosche lives the millennial life: She rents rather than owns, loves the sharing economy and is embedded in social media. She even met her husband on Facebook, “like every good millennial.”
Bosche launched Millennial Solution in 2015 and already has been paid to demystify millennials to Microsoft, Audi Volkswagen’s German leadership team, and at companies including Northrop Grumman, Inova, Honeywell, BD Medical Pharmaceutical Systems, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Defense Department’s Joint Warfare Centers. She also works with Catholic University’s business faculty and students.
Bosche charges a minimum of $5,000, starting with 90-minute, half day and full day increments. Her pitch is to help companies hire and keep millennials. Bosche also translates baby-boom behavior to millennials, such as teaching them how to network, how to manage upward (I could have used that, and I’m 60), and how to use email or “textiquette.”
“What I do is stand up and say, ‘I’m not going to say millennials are best or worst. I am going to give you an honest picture.’”
Some of the stuff sounds like it applies to everyone. For example, the assertion that millennials thrive on experience.
“It used to be location, location, location. For millennials it’s experience, experience experience.” (Me too!) Companies looking to engage with millennials have to learn that millennials don’t want to be sold. They want to be engaged.
“Thirty-three percent of millennials will read a blog post before they make a purchase. Ninety percent of millennial moms say they actively write reviews of products.
“I call it the Yelp generation,” she said. Forget the experts. Forget credentials. “We want to know from people who look and act like us.”
She also sets out to dispel common millennial myths.
Myth 1: Millennials feel entitled.
Millennials don’t feel entitled any more than the baby boomers feel entitled, she said.
“For one generation, you expect and deserve Social Security. Well, millennials don’t believe Social Security is going to exist. We don’t feel entitled to it.”
“The majority of millennials have a very low trust in government overall. Sixty-five percent don’t trust the government.”
“Big business and big government let us down. There was President Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky scandal. There was Enron. We remember Hurricane Katrina and how the government was supposed to protect and provide.”
But millennials do want their own American Dream, and they feel entitled to it.
“This generation does have a sense of entitlement when it comes to employment, because so many of us have been pushed into college and are drowning in debt. We have a sense of restitution when it comes to employment opportunities.”
Myth 2: Millennials are disloyal.
They are not disloyal. But you must earn their loyalty. I was brought up to think that loyalty came with your paycheck.
One way to boost loyalty, said Bosche, is for an employer to offer training and development opportunities.
“Millennials want employers to make them better professionals and individuals.”
Myth 3: Millennials are independent and don’t want to work with anybody who doesn’t work or act like them.
Not true. But you have to reach out to them and integrate them into the workplace.
“This generation has voting rights at the dinner table when the family decides where it is going on vacation. It has had buy-in from adults for a very long time. We are walking into an adult world from a world where parents included us and respected us.”
Myth 4: Millennials are unmotivated.
“I hear people say, ‘We are doing everything. We are giving them hugs, trophies and raises, and millennials are still leaving.’ What I found is millennials are mission-oriented. We want to know where we work makes a difference, so we care about the triple-bottom line: people, profit and planet.”
Myth 5: Millennials are addicted to technology.
Bosche acknowledges “this is probably the one that is not necessarily a myth. Eighty-seven percent of millennials say they reach for a smartphone when they wake up.”
Bosche sees millennials as collaborative rather than addicted to technology.
Bosche knows business because she was born into a family of entrepreneurs in Sacramento in 1988. Her parents owned restaurants and later ran a successful roofing company.
Entrepreneurship “was in my blood all along,” she said. “My family was really proud we had built a business.”
Bosche was also a hard charger, coaching the boys’ tennis team while in high school, entering beauty pageants, competing for fellowships.
As the tennis coach, every year she would haul out the best player and administer a beat down.
“I had to prove, because I was the same age as most of those guys, that I was qualified to be there.”
She was also aware of her surroundings. Her mother took her to a Christian conference in Colorado when she was a teenager, and people asked her, “How do we get more people that look like you?”
She saw a need and started focusing on the words, “generational reconciliation.”
“We had all these stereotypes associated with us.”
Through her eyes, her contemporaries are passionate, ambitious and justice-minded, so she decided to write about it. Using $2,000 saved working at a frozen yogurt shop, she self-published a book called “Not Another Teen Rally” in her freshman year in college.
After college, she worked on political campaigns in California and Hawaii before being accepted into the prestigious Capital Fellows program in Sacramento, where she worked for a state senator on public-private partnerships.
When her boss decided not to run again, Bosche had to reinvent herself, because she was out of a job at 23.
“I see that now with other millennials. We jokingly refer to it as the quarter-life crisis.”
As a millennial entrepreneur, she has encountered some of the same problems that have dogged other business.
When her mother advised her to keep receipts in a shoe box until tax time, Bosche suggested something else.
“ ‘Mom, there must be an app for this.’ ”