Until I started working more with comedians and writers, my experience with “millennials” was pretty much limited to people at work and a few younger siblings of my (then) wife. I got along with them well enough and enjoyed their sense of humor but, at the same time, was always stuck by the sense of inner confidence and security they seemed to carry around with them.
My younger sister-in-law (at the time), upon graduating (just barely) from college, proclaimed “of course I am living in NYC” as if there were any question. I remember both of us were taken by the sheer surety of her statement. In contrast, after sending out 77 resumes, (yes, I remember the exact number), I moved outside of Trenton, NJ because that’s the one interview I was granted and ultimately, where I got a job. I never even considered there was another option.
At work, I would have colleagues just barely out of school sit down across from my desk to ask when they could expect their next promotion of move. I always felt like saying: “I was basically someone’s bitch for my first 10 years – why not make some coffee or fax something? Oh, don’t know what a fax is? Google it, find one and then learn how to use it.”
To be honest, that hasn’t completely gone away. I am not good with any sense of entitlement, regardless of age. However, what I realize is that I had it somewhat wrong. It hit me this evening when I was doing a G-chat with two good comedy buddies of mine working on our individual material. This was my millennial moment, if you will.
I try to collaborate on creative projects with those that I feel are both smart, driven, creative, trustworthy and have a great work ethic. There are more than a few “millennials” in the mix here. In fact, what i may have mistaken as entitlement or arrogance was really a culture shift from my generation (or at least from me) where their expectations are just more solid. They are willing to be more open and upfront and not settle in a way that compromises their principals. They also bring a level of expectation to the table that, while it may seem unrealistic or entitled at times, is often purposeful and goal oriented.
I have gotten some great ideas and feedback from these so called “less experienced” friends and even recognize some of these traits in my own kids.
The millennial generation also seems more likely to take risks, try lots of different things and test them out – more entrepreneurial in spirt, maybe because they do not have the job security that previous generations had and there is nothing to lose. There is no better foundation for stand-up comedy, if you ask me.
It never ceases to amaze me where we can get our lessons from. I can be difficult for sure and have waxed poetic many times about the “good ‘ole days” where people connected over a beer, not email, or had stricter limits on work/life balance but the truth is that progress is not comfortable and if overall, the good outweighs the bad, then we are moving forward.
I think the verdict is still out on how history will look back on the dramatic shift our culture has taken over the last 20 to 50 years. In the meantime, it is my perspective that, as long as there are positives to be gained, I need to remove my Archie Bunker mask, (now THERE’s an old reference) and get with the program.
I do have one thing on those millennials, though – comedy is like a fine wine – it really does get better with age.
Until next time,
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Every time you do, an angel gets her wings.