Posted on 30 January 2008

The Next-Greatest Generation?

SPOILER: I am going to talk about religion (namely mormonism) and business and millenial generation differences all in the same blog post. If this offends you, may I suggest lolcats instead of the following.

Students honor Pres. Hinckley with white shirts, ties and dressesNo, these aren’t a group of Mormon Missionaries.

They’re high school “kids”. And they’re also not dressing up for career-day, or college admissions or anything else that you might think a 16 or 17 year old might get excited enough about to actually tuck. in. his. shirt.

But they might teach you something about the next generation, often called Millenials or “Gen Y”. They’re not the disrespecting slackers you might think they are. But, in fact, given the chance, they’re more passionate–possibly much more–about things they care about than any generation before them.

They spontaneously dressed up in “Sunday best” to show honor and respect to a man they may have never met and who was “seven times their age and several generations their senior”. Michael Otterson said in the Washington Post on Tuesday.

The man they’re paying tribute to? Gordon B. Hinckley, who died Sunday evening at his Salt Lake City home, at about 7pm., and was the prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons),

Hinckley, 97, had more of a right, maybe, to have been called “out of touch” with these young adults than most. But he seemed to be one of the most-optimistic about these youth in his lifetime, and those youth responded.


How did all this happen? Without hardly a verbal word being said, the word about Hinckley’s death resulted in a flurry of text messages (incidentally which is how I learned the news–via twitter) youth around the country told each other to dress up for school to show their respect for a man who both led them to good things, and loved them along the way:

“I love the youth of the Church. I have said again and again that I think we have never had a better generation than this. How grateful I am for your integrity, for your ambition to train your minds and your hands to do good work, for your love for the word of the Lord, and for your desire to walk in paths of virtue and truth and goodness.” – Gordon B. Hinckley, Enzign, May 1995

What does this mean for YOU (a manager of millenials)?

  1. Respect if you want Respect
    I know you clawed your way up the corporate ladder to get where you are. Get over yourself.
  2. Embrace Technology
    You might learn something about how to simplify your life and get things done if you watch how this generation can mobilize, coordinate and communicate using the simplest of tools.
  3. Its not that they don’t care, they just don’t care about you.
    Do you really care about the things your boss cares about? Do you dream about them? Well, cut them some slack. The next generation cares very deeply about things… just not things you might expect. For example, ask them about their 401(k) or IRA. They probably not only have one, but you might learn a thing or two if you actually listened once in a while.

3 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Connor Says:

    Great post, Robert.

  2. Sterkworks Says:

    Great insights. I especially love your line, “Its not that they don’t care, they just don’t care about you.”

    You look too young to be this smart about all of this. 🙂

  3. Robert Merrill Says:

    @Connor Thank you.

    @Sterkworks you’re kind. I’m not an expert, for sure, but I find an unending amount of humor in hearing people (ahem) my age talking down on the next generation and using the SAME WORDS my parents used.

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