A Millennial Manifesto?

When it comes to our careers and our experience at work, we’ve become selfish—but in a good way. Getting paid is no longer enough; we expect to actually learn on the job. We want our skills to be fully utilized and are left unsatisfied with “easy jobs.” We want more responsibility when we’re ready, rather that waiting until we’ve “put in our time.” We expect to do more of what we love, automating the more laborious and monotonous parts of our work. —Scott Belsky, “You’re a Free Radical, Run With It” from Maximize Your Potential.

While the above no doubt applies to a variety of people working towards self-actualization, I feel like I see this a lot with my fellow Millennials—a huge chunk of our generation is busting on to the scene with fierce creativity to tackle issues that we’ve grown up with and largely saw get worse. I think it’s no coincidence that social enterprise and design for social good is exploding as my generation comes of age and finds its place in the story of humanity. I’d like to think Millennials are disproportionately what Scott Belsky calls Free Radicals; I acknowledge, however, that I might still be intoxicated with the optimism of the recent conferences I’ve attended, A Better World by Design and EmTech MIT, in which folks like the TR35 have made tremendous strides to solve pressing problems.

Maximize Your Potential, the new book by 99u.com from which the passage above comes, is a fantastic resource for Free Radicals of any generation, anywhere; it’s loaded with perspectives that resonate and advice that’s insightful and actionable.

Maximize Your PotentialHere are the key headings in Scott Belsky’s piece. I agree with and love everything stated here.

We do work that is, first and foremost, intrinsically rewarding.

We thrive on flexibility and are most productive when we feel fully engaged.

We make stuff often, and therefore, we fail often.

We have little tolerance for the friction of bureaucracy, old-boy networks, and antiquated business practices.

We expect to be fully utilized and constantly optimized, regardless of whether we’re working in a start-up or large organization.

We consider open source technology, APIs, and the vast collective knowledge of the Internet to be our personal arsenal.

We believe that “networking” is sharing.

We believe in meritocracy and the power of online networks and peer communities to advance our ability to do what we love, and do well by doing it.

We make a great living doing what we love.