business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Are Millennials Aliens From Another Planet?

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I spent the weekend conducting a workshop for an aging group of small business owners. We were talking about the survival of the small town, the small business owner, in a world of  “me generation” customers who live online without ever lifting their nose from their phones.

I shared all the incredible facts about this amazing generation called Millennials. There was hesitation, of course. But insight is a wonderful thing. They learned what these “kids” are doing as they tap-tap on their screens and keyboard. They learned more about the world that we gave them, and what their observations about us have changed their view of work and life.

We ended the weekend with a question.  “What was that one thing that got them into the business over 20, 30 years ago?” The answers all sounded different at first but were in fact the same. We discovered that they each one of them was driven then and now, by a passion to solve the problems.

“When someone comes in with a problem, it just makes me so happy to figure out the solution and see them walk out the door smiling and carefree”

That is your passion, I told them. That is the wisdom that you must impart via social media–not sales, or product offerings–passion for problem-solving.

But what about those kids? Those Millennials and their Ipods? How can we compete with Tweets and posts? And what about all those tattoos?

Why is it that as we age, we forget our own drive for independence? We forget the crazy haircuts we had that made our fathers lecture us. We forget the long dangling earrings that our mothers swore would attract the wrong type of guy? We forget that we once wanted to do something worthwhile, in a world that seemed out of control?

This group of “young people” who make up the children and grandchildren of these 50+ business owners are driving change for all of us to embrace. Their observations of our work lives contain all the frustration that their parents lived during their lifetime:

  • Working more hours and getting paid less
  • Top level executives earning millions and millions
  • There were no bonuses, no training, no incentives
  • Creativity? Not a line item anymore
  • And how many parents were laid off, more than once in the last ten years as an expendable expense to improve the budget?
  • Banks: wasn’t it the banks that caused the crash, took houses, and drained any passion from our lives?

This is the world that they observed. So Millennials want to create a future for themselves that is truly independent. They don’t want to put flowers in guns, they want to get rid of the guns and be with their families. They want to define their careers by a passionate purpose. They want meaningful work that will drive them to change, not the world around them.

So here I was, in a room of once passionate entrepreneurs who had to face their ultimate demise or embrace this new world.They were faced with a generation of people who are attached to their phones, and talking in a language as far fetched as a Star Wars Movie. But we uncovered something very important for them and the future of their business survival: Find your passion and share it. Teach “them” what you know, in a way that “they” (the millennials) will understand–in Facebook, Pinterest, and yes, even Twitter can connect the old and the new. And please, please don’t lecture them, they just want information.

So the best part of the weekend was the realization was that a new generation was driving an older generation to recapture their youth. Looking Social Media in the eye, they were faced with an opportunity to turn back the clock and start to live that life that they once imagined. Taking their purpose and passion and offering it up on the information highway to connect us all in a way that wasn’t possible before.

I like these two pictures because they are at the core of change. Are Millennials aliens from another planet? Feels like it to these aging Baby Boomers, but in their hands are the key to their business success. A vehicle like no other–pins, posts and tweets that will offer information infused passion and knowledge. That is all they want, and exactly what they need to make decisions whether or not to come into your shop and buy what you are offering…

“Excuse me, I heard you could solve my problem….”

Maria Bereket is a Social Media and Branding Strategist. Her work with small business owners and early childhood education is going to change the world making it a better place to live. Her personal business mission is to educate every person on the importance and fun of living in a socially connected world. http://www.designbearmarketing.com @mbear88