Is “Mellennial” a Dirty Word?

The polarizing differences in generations of people may be more apparent and real today than ever before in the history. Connectedness, innovation and social change may be some of the driving forces behind the shift but still in some cases the aversion to change may be playing an even larger role in the widening of the gap.

I am 25, so going by the definition of a “Millennial” or someone born between the early 80’s and the early 2000’s. We are the generation that has seen consistent reinvention in the spaces of technology, culture and beliefs. We learned to play Oregon Trail as a child and now we have supercomputers in our pockets. We grew up in a world of landlines and pay-phones, but we matured in a world of constant connectedness.

This is where I think the real beauty lies. As millennials we have been in a perpetual state of learning, unlearning and relearning. We have a confidence in the uncertain and a certain distaste with routine that makes life feel smooth like a sheet of ice at times and rough like sandpaper at other times. It can be a real struggle putting ourselves into a role that requires a strict compliance to processes and hierarchy.

For our preceding generation in many ways we seem flighty, fickle and irresponsible. We don’t know how to communicate or follow a natural hierarchy. And for so many reasons this lack of understanding and in many cases lack in flexibility of the  “Old Guard is what is causing the generational chasm to grow. This may be why so many young people are pursuing an entrepreneurial life, the comfort of job security is drastically overshadowed by personal fulfillment and creative freedom.  Granted this may all change once children enter the equation as the level of responsibility shifts, still it is a very interesting world that we are living in.

For those of us who have taken a little more traditional path this juxtaposition of beliefs may sometimes cause some friction and some strain from time to time. Personally I struggled with the transition from the startup world where you run lean and move fast to working at a larger company where the pace could not be more different. In many ways the pseudo-glacial pace drives me crazy, and the fear of change makes every little shift feel like an uphill battle. Granted it was my choice to take the position, but while there may have been some very frustrating moments overall I am rather happy where I am at!

It took me a while to realize that I no longer lived in a world where moving fast and breaking things is not an accepted strategy for most. I went against the grain with the ideas and concepts that I proposed and I felt stifled by the lack of flexibility in many situations revolving around trying new things.  It was a few months before I came to realize that in so many ways it was just as much my fault as it was theirs.

They were the ones with the experience and I was the one coming in and trying to change the way things have been done for some time before properly communicated how all of the things we were doing could work in alignment. To them the words I was using may have seemed more like a foreign language and the ideas even more alien. Once took a step back and adjusted my approach and aligning their goals with my own as opposed to the other way around things changed completely. I had been grinding and going against the grain only to learn that I could have made my life a lot easier simply by slowing down a little.

I really came to realize that it may be less to do with my being a millennial and being viewed as having a false sense of entitlement than it did me being impatient and not communicating the value of what I was trying to do properly. This may be why the gap between millennials seems to be growing more and more each day is because we have lived for so long with our norms of now and fast that it makes it harder and harder to relate to the generation above us. It may take us making a concession to step outside of our comfort zone to relate to previous generations on a better level but once we do we will be able to find some middle ground and move forward. There is still a part of me that struggles slowing down or admitting that my way may not always be the right way of doing things, but since I have made a conscious effort to slow down a little and align the goals of the other people around me with my own things have gone much more smoothly.

While in some ways I’m worried that I may be losing my edge I think that for now this is the right direction to be going in.

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Is Creativity the Cure for Insanity?

One of the hardest things on earth to do is change. To intentionally take action to throw off our own equilibrium with the goal of a better outcome on the other side. And aside from some earth shattering life changing experience or disruptive innovation if we’re not forced to change we will rarely take action without dragging our feet and resisting.

As someone in my 20’s my life changes consistently and quickly, and in this time of transition I hold tight to many comforts of the predictable, routine-like work that I am confident producing.  I have ideas but am still lacking in the experience category. So naturally anything that I have experience in and or done before is my first solution to any problem, I think to myself “this won me the last war, so why wont it work again? ” But with the speed that the world is changing I’m realizing more and more that the same old solutions are not good enough. I see the decreasing marginal benefit each time that utilize the same old technique or idea, but the act of changing and innovating is the hard part.

Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  We have to learn, unlearn and then relearn and evolve everything we do in an effort to be better. Still this is easier said than done because once we have invested the time in learning something and created our worldview based on those ideas even a small shift is hard to make.

I grapple with this problem on a daily basis as I work to maintain a handle over the ever changing and evolving world of digital media and marketing. I was so skeptical of platforms like Instagram when they were first released. I thought it was a fad and didn’t understand the power of strictly visual content. Now we all know what direction the world is moving in now with Instagram being one of the more predominant social networks and really an innovator in the space of visual storytelling. Still it took me months to really open up to the point that I started to truly understand it, I ignored it and disregarded it as a fad/stupid way of communicating. I’m happy to say once the flood gates opened they opened in a big way as I now consider Instagram one of the most appealing and authentic social networks, but that first step forward was hard for me to take.

Steve Jobs summed this up perfectly when he said ” if you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will do it for you.” If we can move past our own love for the solution and fall in love with the problem we will be better equipped to embrace the radical change that may be needed. The way we can embrace that problem as our blank canvas is what may separate truly successful individuals in our increasingly competitive world.

Floating idly along and not actively looking for more creative solutions to the world around us will push us farther and farther towards obscurity. Owning the change that is happening and staying one step ahead of the world catching up takes a lot or work and stress but in general it may be worth it.

Is Violation of Context > Violation of Privacy?

The concept of privacy violation has been a polarizing subject since the advent and rise of the web. With personal information being shared and stored by entities like GoogleFacebook and Amazon its easy to sometimes feel like these groups know more about us than we know about us.

The ethical question naturally arises “are they going to far in storing my information?” and “how much are they actually using my information?” It’s hard to look past the fact that these groups have a fairly good understanding of who we are and what/who we like, and then use that information to engage/market to/inform us. Still would it be worse if they knew nothing about us?

Now in all transparency I do considered myself to be a marketer for some time now and my view may be skewed/jaded/whatever you would like to call it, but I think that at least for those below a certain age that this level of efficiency attained by data is more important than a certain sense of privacy. Now I don’t necessarily love the term “Millennial” (which for anyone over 40 may be slang for narcissist), but for the sake convenience I will say that this may largely be true for the millennial generation. Leading a fast paced digital lifestyle affords no time for anything that does not fit the context of their tastes/preferences at that moment in time.

If content is not relevant, served through they’re preferred medium or non-native to a channel it may do even more harm than good. Especially in the digital media/social media space where attention spans are short and it is just as easy to disassociate yourself with an organization/brand that does not resonate with you. Which is why organizations/brands resort to behavioral data collection in order maintains a good understanding of individuals and groups as to provide value? They then leverage the data collected to develop and maintain a more authentic connection than they would have otherwise.

This is where the paradigm shift comes into play. In the absence of a clear happy medium the risk of coming across as creepy/manipulative is outweighed by the never-ending quest for relevance through data. This could be why contextual based services like Songza (a contextual musical curation service based on users current environment, also recently purchased by Google) are becoming increasingly popular. Because if its raining and I want the perfect song for me on a rainy day, Songza knows my taste in music, knows its raining based on my location and knows what I am normally doing at that time of day. It streamlines things so I don’t have to bounce around to find something relevant to me, I don’t have to change the station on the radio or even come back periodically so it can make sure I’m still listening.

This would not be possible without Songza creating a backlog of data on me, what they do with that data aside from suggesting music to me is completely irrelevant because the utility that they provide me is that valuable enough that I don’t care. Even their advertising can be helpful because the ads I get are so hyper-relevant to me that they tend to be useful and the companies with enough foresight to advertise on Songza have enough sense and creativity that they know that what they say has to have some value or it will violate my context and I will not only tune it out but remember to avoid it the next time I make a purchase. My experiences is streamlined and virtually seamless which makes it that much more efficient and enjoyable.

Still this may not be true for millennials across the board, but this concept is certainly becoming more prevalent with more and more future digital natives being born and eventually maturing into connected consumers each day. The concept of violation of privacy may not have completely given way to the concept of violation of context, but it seems to be the direction the world is heading in.

What Scares Me Today.

Fear is something that we all deal with every day. Fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of failure and yes, fear of singing a trashy song in a bar at 1:30 am.

We all deal with it every day, and some hide it better than others. Personally I am petrified of my own writing, I fear that my spelling and punctuation errors and sporadic thoughts may lead others to question me. Not question my writing but genuinely question me, my talents, abilities and whether I should be employed.

For me my fear of writing started when I was young, I struggled learning to read and write until I was about eight or nine. And by that time I was far enough behind other students that I perpetually felt like I was playing catch up in learning the basics. The memory of nervously stuttering through reading in class is agonizingly burnt into the back of my head. Hiding in the deepest darkest places of my cerebellum just waiting to pop up and say “Hello” at some of the most inopportune moments.

I battle with it each time I sit down to write and to create, sometimes it its yelling louder than others but it is always there. This is one of the main reasons I am working to write more, because learning to dance with this fear will make me better. If not for the sake of being a better writer with a more developed voice, but a better artist capable of creating great work by entertaining my muse and by keeping my demons at bay.

This is a task easier said than done and while I know that the louder they scream the better the art I am creating. Still bit-by-bit I hope to become better at coming to terms with this vulnerability in my writing.

I’ll be the first to admit this fear is rather irrational, and as a red blooded American male I’d like to think that I am scared of very little. I take risks without batting an eyelash, I sing karaoke sober and love talking in front of people, I wear short shorts while running and I even moved across for love. I am comfortable in my own skin as much as anyone that I interact with and 97% of the time even more so. Some of these things made me bashful at points, but I could put it behind me and move forward. Gradually these hesitations have become less and less powerful once I owned them and owned the consequences that came with them.

That being said if one day I become as comfortable writing as I am wearing short shorts I will have bee successful. But until then I will keep typing away, sharing my thoughts and keeping myself on my toes. Dancing with my fear, and loving every minute it.

I Hate/Respect Dubstep

As anyone who may know me has probably figured out that I am a self proclaimed music snob. I love to find new music and share it with friends, listen to it in the car and even sing along. I really love music because of the emotion that it can evoke and the way it can fit the context of our lives so beautifully. I feel like I am as open minded to musical experimentation and the creation of artful performances still there is one category that I have struggled to fully comprehend/understand/tolerate.

My first experience with dubstep was a few years ago in Fayetteville, AR (oddly placed dubstep haven), and from that first moment my mind was made up. This was not music, this was audible filth that people wallow in as opposed to dancing to. While I’ll be the first to admit I do have my guilty pleasures as far as music goes this was on a who different spectrum. Harsh, forced, awkward and just overall unpleasant.

From that moment dubstep and I have never seen eye to eye and we probably never will. Still this is art, its not for everyone and that is the point. I have personally struggled with this as I have told myself that someone has to be crazy to really like this stuff, but there is no dancing around the fact that dubstep really does resonate with people. The dubstep tribe has grown exponentially since its inception and even crossed over to the main stream in many regards (i.e. car, cereal and electronics commercials). And from what I understand its even a rather hard form of music to produce with a lot of front end dedication being required. So was it that I didn’t understand it or that I was just being too close-minded to open up? Was I becoming the older generation that said Rock and Roll was an abomination and was the downfall of society, or was I as James Murphy so eloquently put “losing my edge?”

I have really done my best to give dubstep an honest try; I’ve listened to the best of the best in the eyes of the dubstep community and really kept an open mind. I’ve talked to people about it and really worked to find some common ground between dubstep and myself. Sadly this has not been successful in any way shape or form, to me dubstep still sound like robots fighting or martians playing twister it just doesn’t appeal to me and I’m ok with that.

I don’t have to like the art but that doesn’t mean that I cannot respect it. It doesn’t fit on my particular musical taste spectrum and I’m sure that the dubstep community is fine with that. They love every distorted sound and “weird” audio clip as much as I love my trashy French Pop music.

In a weird way I am thankful for dubstep, it has made me more comfortable with myself and more confident in my decisions. I can take a more objective look at music and the world at first glance rather than judging it and throwing what I see into a category and keeping it there. I don’t have to like the music, but I should respect it for what it creates — an emotion, and even though my person emotion is negative it still is doing its job as art.

Failing ≠ Losing.

I am a bad loser, I always have been and hopefully always will be. Losing hurts and there is no way around that, but for every bit that losing hurts the joy of winning makes taking that chance worth it. We will play if the reward outweighs the risk.

What has taken me years to learn and realize is that while failing and losing are similar they are still extremely different. They both effect us in many of the same ways, making us feel vulnerable and scared, keep us up at night or even make us feel ashamed of ourselves. Those emotions are really powerful to kick, especially when you are young and looking to make the most of the opportunities that you are presented with. We want to be safe, we don’t want to be judged and we definitely do not want to lose/fail at life.

But creating something is not the same as playing, and that is a hard idea to wrap our heads around sometimes. When we create something we take a risk, we are make ourselves vulnerable to how the outside world responds.   But we don’t create against anything, we create against ourselves and that is what makes failing such a hard pill to swallow to someone who is working to establish their own identity. What is even more difficult about creating something is that there is no clearly defined reward and no clear winner so why take the risk in the first place?

Still when we don’t create anything and push boundaries that it when we lose. And when we can throw that fear and anxiety over failing aside than we can do remarkable things. Every time you try something new your skin gets a little thicker and your comfort zone becomes a little larger, but you have to take that chance and take it often. Because even when we fail (and we all do), we learn more about why we failed so we can dust ourselves off and try it again. We also learn more about ourselves  and what makes us truly happy in those moments of vulnerability than we ever would otherwise.

I am 25 at this moment, and I wake up every day knowing that I will need risk failure and do something that makes my skin a little thicker or I will lose. I still have that anxious feeling that if I fail that my personal and professional life will come to a crashing halt but that is something I will work on, my skin is still pretty thin too.

This is my blog.

Hi,

My name is Robbie, I gave been wanting to do this for a while, I want to share my experiences and thoughts as live and grow. For me I hope to personally make better sense of what is going on in the world around me and maybe someone out there may be able to find some value in this also.

Thank you so much for your time and look forward to more good times to come.

Cheers,

Robbie