10 really smart things successful millennials do

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HPL Takes On: The Millennial Perspective

All those bad habits older people complain about? They're actually kind of brilliant.

It's time to stop whining about Millennials.

My company has grown a lot since 2014, and we've hired a lot more people. As we've done so, the average age has gone down. I'm a Gen-Xer; so are the CEO, COO, and a few other key people. But I think a majority of us now are Millennials.

Like everyone else, Millennials have their strengths and weaknesses. But after working in a Millennial-dominated company, I've developed a lot of respect for them. I've also learned that many of the things older people criticize this generation for are actually pretty smart.

Here are 10 admittedly broad generalizations about how Millennials work that I actually think the rest of us should emulate.

1. "They're out for themselves."

There are only two ways to accumulate great wealth in America. The first is to be born into it, and the second is to work for yourself. More Millennials either work for themselves full-time, or else have side hustles going on, than earlier generations. It's an important enough example to put first on this list.

2. "They're obsessed with technology."

Younger people grew up with more technology than older people did. It's a gigantic advantage that many of them don't even realize. Embracing technology isn't just about learning to use it. It's about loving it--making it second nature. So accept it--learn to love it--and excel as a result.

3. "They don't know how to stick to their role."

Titles are like business cards--so 20th Century. If you want to get ahead, learn to punch above your weight and accomplish things regardless of your formal role. (Personally, I started out as "executive editor for operations" at our company, but that was about five jobs ago. Now, I tend to go simply with "Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth.")

4. "They don't pay their dues."

In my first draft of this article, I headlined this section, "Ask for what you want." That's so Gen X of me. Instead, the best Millennial employees I've worked with--and frankly, greatly respected--didn't ask permission to take on new responsibilities. Instead, they took the initiative and acted. As long as they're successful, nobody complains.

5. "They think they're experts."

Guaranteed, there are valuable things you know how to do better than most other people. You don't have to be the world's most renowned expert. You simply have to be appreciably better than many others, and able to make the case for the value of what you can contribute.

6. "They dress like they're hanging out."

Some of the most put together people actually dress the most casually. The point is that you can dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable and in control--rather than according to some haphazard cultural standard.

7. "They think they define their roles."

Become known as the reliable person who excels at something and gets things done. Then, be willing to revise your brand as your interests, expertise, and opportunities change.

8. "They're too sensitive."

It's a big generalization, but Millennials have a reputation for being super sensitive, and requiring constant positive feedback and praise. I don't really know if that cliché is right, but if you channel sensitivity correctly, you can understand people better--and that can make you much more successful in dealing with them.

9. "They're so presumptive."

If you're working for others, announce what you're going to do and follow through. This applies whether you're talking about selling to new customers, improving the quality of your product, or even "working from home three days a week." Just do what you say you will and be productive.

10. "They're not loyal."

People talk about Millennial job-hopping as if it were a bad thing. In fact, it's the new reality. But handle it well--look for opportunities to learn and grow, and be open and considerate when it's time to move on.

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10 really smart things successful millennials do

San Francisco, California

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Alexandria, Virginia

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Jersey City, New Jersey

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Berkeley, California

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Boston, Massachusetts

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Denver, Colorado

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Madison, Wisconsin 

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New York, New York


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Austin, Texas

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