This Is Why You Don’t Succeed – Simon Sinek on the Millennial Generation.
Watch on YouTube:
Transcript – SIMON SINEK on Millennials
I have yet to give a speech or have a meeting where somebody doesn’t ask me the Millennial question.
What’s the millennial question?
Apparently Millennials, as a generation – which is a group of people who were born approximately 1984 and after are tough to manage, and they’re accused of being entitled, and narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused, lazy. But entitled is the big one. And, because they confound leadership so much, what’s happening is leaders are asking the Millennials: “What do you want?”
And Millennials are saying: “We want to work in a place with purpose.” love that.
“We want to make an impact.” You know, whatever that means.
“We want free food, and bean bags.” And so…
Somebody articulates some sort of purpose. There’s lots of free food, and there’s bean bags, and yet for some reason, they are still not happy. And that’s because There’s a missing piece. What I’ve learned is I can break it down into four pieces, right? There are four things, four characteristics. One is parenting, the other one is technology, third is impatience, and the fourth is environment.
The generation, that we call the Millennials, too many of them grew up subject to, not my words, failed parenting strategies. Where, for example, they were told that they were special… all the time, they were told that they can have anything they want in life, just because they want it.
Some of them got into honors classes, not because they deserved it, but because their parents complained. And some of them got “A”s not because they earned them but because the teachers didn’t want to deal with the parents. Some kids got participation medals. They got a medal for coming in last. Right? Which the science, we know is pretty clear, which is it devalues the medal and the reward for those who actually work hard, and that actually makes the person who comes in last feel embarrassed, because they know they didn’t deserve it so it actually makes them feel worse. Right?
So, you take this group of people, and they graduate school, and they get a job, and they’re thrust into the real world. And in an instant they find out they’re not special their moms can’t get them a promotion; that you get nothing for coming in last and, by the way, you can’t just have it because you want it. And in an instant, their entire self-image is shattered. And so you have an entire generation that’s growing up with lower self-esteem than previous generations.
The other problem to compound it is: we’re growing up in a Facebook-Instagram world. In other words, we’re good at putting filters on things. We’re good at showing people that life is amazing, even though I’m depressed. And so, everybody sounds tough, and everybody sounds like they got it all figured out. And the reality is: there’s very little toughness, and most people don’t have it figured out. And so when the more senior people say “Well, what should we do?” they sound like “This is what you gotta do!” And they have no clue.
So you have an entire generation growing up with lower self-esteem than previous generations. Right? Through no fault of their own. Through no fault of their own, right? They were dealt a bad hand.
Now let’s add in technology. We know that engagement with social media, and our cell phones releases a chemical called dopamine. That’s why when you get a text feels good. Right? So you know we’ve all had it, when you’re feeling a little bit down or feeling a bit lonely, And so you send out ten texts to ten friends, you know, hi. hi. hi. hi. hi. Cause it feels good when you get a response. It’s why we count the likes It’s why we go back ten times to see if… and if it’s going… and my Instagram is growing slower. I would… did I do something wrong? Do they not like me anymore? Right? The trauma for young kids to be unfriended, right?
Because we know when you get it you get a hit a dopamine which feels good. It’s why we like it. It’s why we keep going back to it. Dopamine is the exact same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, when we drink, and when we gamble. In other words, It’s highly, highly addictive. Right? we have age restrictions on smoking, gambling and alcohol. And we have no age restrictions on social media and cell phones. Which is the equivalent of opening up the liquor cabinet and saying to our teenagers “Hey by the way, this adolescence thing, if it gets you down…” But that’s basically what’s happening. That’s basically what’s happening, right? That’s basically what happened. You have an entire generation that has access to an addictive numbing chemical, called dopamine, through social media and cell phones as they’re going through the high stress of adolescence.
Why is this important? Almost every alcoholic discovered alcohol when they were teenagers. When we’re very, very young the only approval we need is the approval of our parents. And as we go through adolescence we make this transition where we now need the approval of our peers. Very frustrating for our parents, very important for us. That allows us to acculturate outside of our immediate families into the broader tribe. Right? It’s a highly, highly stressful and anxious period of our lives; and we’re supposed to learn to rely on our friends.
Some people, quite by accident, discover alcohol, and numbing effects of dopamine, to help them cope with the stresses and anxieties of adolescence. Unfortunately, that becomes hardwired in their brains and, for the rest of their lives, when they suffer significant stress they will not turn to a person they will turn to the bottle. Social stress, financial stress, career stress. That’s pretty much the primary reasons why an alcoholic drinks, right?
What’s happening is, because we’re allowing unfettered access to these dopamine-producing devices and media, basically, it’s becoming hardwired, and what we’re seeing is as they grow older. To many kids don’t know how to form deep meaningful relationships. Their words, not mine. They will admit that many of their friendships are superficial. They will admit that their friends… that they don’t count on their friends, they don’t rely on their friends. They have fun with their friends. But they also know that their friends will cancel out them when something better comes along. Deep meaningful relationships are not there because they never practice the skill set, and worse they don’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with stress.
So when significant stress starts to show up in their lives they’re not turning to a person, they’re turning to a device, they’re turning to social media, they’re turning to these things which offer temporary relief. We know, the science is clear, we know that people who spend more time on Facebook suffer higher rates of depression than people spend less time on Facebook. These things balanced. Alcohol is not bad, too much alcohol is bad. Gambling is fun, too much gambling is dangerous. There’s nothing wrong with social media and cell phones. It’s the imbalance.
If you’re sitting at dinner with your friends, and you’re texting somebody who’s not there That’s a problem, That’s an addiction. If you’re sitting in a meeting, with people you’re supposed to be listening to and speaking, and you put your phone on the table, face up or face down, I don’t care that sends the subconscious message to the room that “you’re just not that important to me right now.” Right? That’s what happens. And the fact that you cannot put it away, is because you are addicted. Right? If you wake up and you check your phone before you say good morning to your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse, you have an addiction.
And like all addiction in time it’ll destroy relationships, it’ll cost time, and it will cost money, and it’ll make your life worse. So you have a generation growing up with lower self-esteem, that doesn’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with stress.
Now you add in the sense of impatience. They’ve grown up in a world of instant gratification. You want to buy something? You go on Amazon; it arrives the next day. You want to watch a movie? log on and watch your movie. You don’t check movie times. You want to watch your TV show? Binge. You don’t even have to wait week to week to week. Right? I know people who skip seasons just so they can binge at the end of the season. Right? Instant gratification. You want to go on a date? You don’t even have to learn how to be like “Hey…”
You don’t even have to learn and practice that skill. You don’t have to be the uncomfortable one which says “yes” when you mean “no,” and says “no” when you mean “no,” when “yes” when you… You don’t have to. Swipe right. Bang, I’m a stud!
Right? You don’t have to learn the social coping mechanisms. Everything you want you can have instantaneously. Everything you want, instant gratification. Except job satisfaction, and strength of relationships there ain’t no app for that. They are slow, meandering, uncomfortable, messy processes.
And so I keep meeting these wonderful, fantastic, idealistic,hard-working smart kids. They’ve just graduated school. They’re in their entry-level job.
I sit down with them when I go, “How’s it going?” They go, “I think I’m gonna quit.”
I’m like, “why?”
They’re like, “I’m not making an impact.”
I’m like, “you’ve been here eight months.”
It’s as if they’re standing at the foot of a mountain, and they have this abstract concept called impact that they want to have in the world, which is the summit. What they don’t see is the mountain. I don’t care if you go up the mountain quickly or slowly. But there’s still a mountain.
And so what this young generation needs to learn is patience, that some things that really really matter like love, or job fulfillment, joy, love of life, self-confidence, a skill set, any of these things. All of these things take time. Sometimes you can expedite pieces of it, but the overall journey… is arduous and long and difficult. And if you don’t ask for help and learn that skill set you will fall off the mountain. Or you will… the worst case scenario. The worst case scenario. And we’re already seeing it. The worst case scenario is we’re seeing increase in suicide rates. We’re seeing an increase in this generation. We’re seeing increase in accidental deaths due to drug overdoses. We’re seeing more and more kids drop out of school or take leaves of absence due to depression Unheard of these are this is this is really bad.
The best case scenario. Those are all bad cases. Right? The best case scenario is you’ll have an entire population Growing up and going through life and just never really finding joy. They’ll never really find deep fulfillment in work or in life. They’ll just walk through life, and it’ll be Just, “It’s fine.” “How’s your job?” It’s fine. The same as yesterday. “How’s your relationship?” It’s fine. Like that’s the best-case scenario.
Which leads me to the fourth point which is environment, which is we’re taking this amazing group of young fantastic kids who were just dealt a bad hand, it’s no fault of their own. And we put them in corporate environments that care more about the numbers than they do about the kids. They care more about the short-term gains than the long-term life of this young human being we care more about the year than the lifetime Right?
And so we are putting them in corporate environments that aren’t helping them build their confidence. That aren’t helping them learn the skills of cooperation. That aren’t helping them overcome the challenges of a digital world and finding more balance. That isn’t helping them overcome the need to have instant gratification and teach them the joys and impact and the fulfillment you get from working hard over on something for a long time that cannot be done in a month or even in a year.
And So we’re thrusting to them in corporate environments and the worst part about it is they think it’s them. They blame themselves. They think it’s them who can’t deal and so it makes it all worse. It’s not. I’m here to tell them, It’s not them. It’s the corporations. It’s the corporate environments, it’s the total lack of good leadership in our world today. That is making them feel the way they do. They were dealt a bad hand and it’s… And I hate to say it But it’s the company’s responsibility sucks to be you like we have no choice. Right?
This is what we got and I wish that society and their parents did a better job, they didn’t. So, we’re gonna… We’re getting them in our companies, and we now have to pick up the slack. We have to work extra hard to figure out the ways that we build their confidence. We have to work extra hard To find ways to teach them social, the social skills that they’re missing out.
There should be no cell phones in conference rooms. None. Zero. And I don’t mean the kind of like sitting outside waiting to text, I mean like when you’re sitting and waiting for a meeting to start nobody go… This is what we all do, we all sit here and wait for the meeting to start Meeting’s starting? Okay, we start the meeting. No, that’s not how relationships are formed Remember we talked about it’s the little things?
Relationships are formed this way: We’re waiting for a meeting to start, we go, “How’s your dad? I heard he was in the hospital.” “Oh, He’s really good. Thanks for asking. He’s actually at home now.” “Oh, I’m really glad it was really amazing.” “I know, I was really scared for.” that’s how you form relationships. “Hey, did you ever get that report done? ”Oh my god? No, I didn’t” ”I can help you out, tell me how can I help you out with that” “Really?” That’s how trust forms, trust doesn’t form at an event, in a day, even bad times don’t form trust immediately. It’s the slow, steady, consistency and we have to create mechanisms where we allow for those little innocuous interactions to happen but when we allow cell phones in conference rooms, we just, Okay, I had the meeting and then my favorite is like when there’s a cell phone there, and you go like this, It rings and go I’m not gonna answer that “Mr. Magnanimous” You know, When you’re out for dinner with your friends like, I do this with my friends when we’re going out for dinner and we’re leaving together, we’ll leave our cell phones at home. Who we calling, maybe one of us will bring the phone in case we need to call an uber or take a picture of our meal.
Tom Bilyeu: You guys are insane. Come on.
I mean I’m not. I’m an idealist, but I’m not insane. I mean it looked really good. We’ll take one phone, and so it’s like an alcoholic. The reason you take the alcohol out of the house is because we cannot trust our willpower. We’re just not strong enough, but when you remove the temptation it actually makes it a lot easier. And so when you just say don’t check your phone people literally will go like this, and somebody will go to the bathroom and what’s the first thing we do? Because I wouldn’t want to look around the restaurant for a minute and a half.
But if you don’t have the phone, you just kind of enjoy the world. And that’s where ideas happen. The constant, constant, constant engagement is not where you have innovation and ideas, ideas happen when our minds wonder and we go, and you see something and I go, “I bet they could do that” That’s called innovation Right? But we’re taking away all those little moments. Right? You should not… And none of us, none of us should charge our phones by our beds. We should be charging our phones in the living rooms.
Right? Remove the temptation, you wake up in the middle of night because you can’t sleep? You won’t check your phone which makes it worse. But if it’s in the living room? Its relaxed, it’s fine, “But it’s my alarm clock.” Buy an alarm clock. They cost $8. I’ll buy you an alarm clock. But the point is, the point is we now, in industry. Whether we like it or not, we don’t get a choice.
We now have a responsibility to make up the shortfall and to help this amazing, idealistic, fantastic generation build their confidence, learn patience, learn the social skills, find a better balance between life and technology because quite frankly it’s, it’s the right thing to do.