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If you’re over 35 there’s a good chance you don’t speak fondly about the 20-somethings of the world. –Also known as “Generation Y”, “Millennial”, “Generation Next” or “Net Generation”, this group continues to be lumped in a category all of its own. –And, not in the good way!

What I’ve increasingly grown tired of, are the generalizations reserved for this generation. All too often I hear, “Kids today are lazy, ungrateful, don’t care, they’re too computer focused…” Well the way I see it, these 20-somethings are our future and we ought to stand up, take notice, and learn how to engage this remarkable group so we continue to be prosperous as a collective whole. Ultimately, we’re the ones shaping them! There is a measure of accountability here.

For the past ten years of my life, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time working in various capacities, with twenty year-olds. –And, I consider it time well spent. Privileged time, actually. As a consultant and professional coach, they’ve given me a frame of reference, a means of comparison to other generations. Interviewing people of all ages in all professions, I’ve been able to witness many of their strengths.
While working in the fashion industry, travelling across Canada, and employing hundreds of 20-somethings, I watched their unique capacity to form immediate relationships, their exceptional ability to work on a team in a supportive way, and how they readily embrace diversity. They know intrinsically how to allow for the natural ebb and flow of business and once directed, know how to get things done.

Perhaps we should consider the responsibility we have in channelling the talents and genius of this group. Great leaders discover what an employee brings to the team and they capitalize on it; they find the lane for every driver in the business in order to arrive at the required destination. They provide the roadmap on that journey and in that way shape a team member’s views, thoughts, and passions.

20-somethings have great passions, thoughts, and ideas and they aren’t afraid to share them. They readily admit what they don’t know and they recognize that they still have lots to learn. They welcome taking career chances and they’re motivated to learn and grow. If they’re engaged and kept engaged in their work, they work hard. They also know how to play hard. Good for them that they insist on ten days of vacation time as soon as they’re hired! –They understand better than previous generations that work/life balance leads to happy people; happy people make for productive people.

All just a few thoughts to ponder over your latte – some of the most talented people I know and work with today are those 20-somethings that keep me motivated, thinking, and learning every day!

And so, I challenge you to give this generation a second look. They are too valuable to be painted with the same brush. I can guarantee you this: Your dividends will be in direct proportion to what you invest in this group. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose.