are you millennial

Are You A Millennial? See for yourself with this 6-Point Quiz

Are you a Millennial like me? Or maybe you think you’re too old. Read on: the answer may surprise you!

I’ve been working a lot with a remarkable client lately, the first fully launched startup here in Naples, Florida. is a fairly typical tech startup in that very little about it is typical at all – like every idea turned into reality, the founding crew has no interest in business as usual, “best practices,” or knowing what can’t be done… because they’re too busy doing it!

Also like most tech startups, the demographic of the company skews young, with almost everybody aboard either officially a Millennial or very close to it. At 47, I’m by far the longest of tooth most days I visit.

Okay, now this is where some of you are likely to pause. “47, Ted?” I hear you murmuring to your screen. “How can you count yourself a Millennial? The oldest members of Gen Y are 33.” Yup, that’s technically true, Rain Man. Whatev! Here is why I am, indeed, a Millennial – and why you may be, too:

1. You can’t stand the term “Millennial” – or any other generation-defining term, for that matter.

Are 80 million people really all the same? Come on! As soon as we start applying these ridiculously broad labels to each other, the worthwhile, human thinking stops and the rigid dehumanizing begins. I think we can all do better than that. Don’t you?

For an absolutely brilliant take on why our youngest adults might find this mass stereotyping offensive (and why you should, too), read and watch this short post/video from my friend Jesse Mongeau.

As soon as we start applying these ridiculously broad labels to each other, the worthwhile, human thinking stops and the rigid dehumanizing begins.

2. You are psyched about the future.

A defining American trait is optimism about the future – and a whole lot of the friends I’ve made worldwide feel the same way. Really, how on earth does one crawl out of bed in the morning if she doesn’t believe in an ever-better future? We Millennials of all ages have a shared sense of perspective and of humble pride for having weathered the Great Recession together. We’re all fascinated by the ever-unfolding developments technology is bringing to the world. We’re excited by what the future has in store for us, because we’re building the future together, every single day!

 3. You refuse to work for pay alone.

Or perhaps more accurately, you may take a job to pay the bills for now, but if the company doesn’t deliver on its promise of meaningful work, you’re not going to dutifully do your time for forty years to get that gold watch and pension: you’re going to head to Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter in search of something worthy of your talents and energy. Lame employers deserve lame employees – and that’s not you.

We’re excited by what the future has in store for us, because we’re building the future together, every single day!

4. You embrace the power of WE.

We Millennials love collaborating with our friends and coworkers to work together toward a higher goal. For all the bashing the Millennials (and the Gen Xers before them, and the Baby Boomers before them) take in the media for being narcissistic and all about “What’s in it for me?”, we Millennials love nothing more than to work together to solve complex problems – and we don’t need to hog the spotlight when those problems are overcome.

5. You really like sincere recognition.

Here’s the trait that first made me realize I might indeed be a member of Gen Y: I love to know how I’m doing. Working in a feedback vacuum is… um… unsettling, isn’t it? If I’m on the wrong track, tell me right away, don’t wait for my annual review! If I’m nailing it, tell me that, too. And please, show how you appreciate my effort on the team. Everyone has a different style of receiving recognition that works best for our personality, but who doesn’t like any recognition – even if we pretend we don’t, deep down inside, we do (just maybe not publically, for some of us).

6. You’re dedicated to making the world a better place.

I like to think everyone who reads ExchangeGain shares some flavor of the same ideal: that nothing we do is morally neutral, and that is especially true of what we accomplish through work. Well, it turns out, that makes us all Millennials! This is the most idealistic generation since the Boomer flower children of the Sixties, but it’s the most pragmatic since the Greatest Generation that grew up in the Great Depression and won World War II, saving Democracy at often tremendous personal sacrifice. Practical idealism? Sign me up for that!

Lame employers deserve lame employees.

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Are you a practical idealist like me? And like many of the 80 million young people who are, right now, changing the world we live in through the meaningful work that they do? Then you’re a Millennial, too – even though you hate that term.

If you think you might be a Millennial, or have a newfound admiration for us (*ehem*) and want to learn more about us, let me point you toward two more posts, one of my own, and the second by friend of ExchangeGain Jon Mertz, of Thin Difference.

5 Reasons Your Company Needs A Millennial CEO

Top 5 Leadership Traits of Millennials

…And if you can’t stand Millennials and now loathe me as well, let me have it in the comments below!



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Image credit: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

Ted Coiné is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership and Management Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership put him in a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, which he co-authored with Mark Babbitt. An inspirational speaker and popular blogger, Ted is a pioneer of the Human Side of Business (#humanbiz) movement. He is also a serial business founder and three-time CEO. When not speaking at conferences and corporate functions, Ted advises CEOs on how to become Truly Social Leaders, or “Blue Unicorns” as they put it in A World Gone Social, in order to bring their companies into the Social Age. Ted’s advice: “Change is only scary if it’s happening to you. Instead, bring the change your competitors dread. That is something only a Social Age business leader can accomplish.”

  • Jeff Moser

    At 43, I’ve never really known which generational ‘box’ I fit in. But I’ve always felt that labels suck, so…there’s one point on your list. (I can knock off a few more as well.) Thanks for a great morning read.

  • Jessan Dunn Otis

    I’m longer in the tooth and just as short on labels and all. And, if I wasn’t a realistic optimist, why would I so savor waking up each new day, doing what I can to support what is good and posting, from time to time, on well-written, entertaining and informing pieces, Ted? Thanks; and, dance on.

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  • Jon M


    I am a Millennial… as well as a Silent Gen, Boomer, Gen X, and a dash of Generation Z! In other words, I want to learn from each generation, work together, and really try to make all the places I am in a little better than before. You’re right, we need to drop the labels and engage together.

    Appreciate your support, the mention, and especially all the great work the ExchangeGain team does! Thank you.


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    • TedCoine

      EXACTLY! Craig, I had an insight recently: many of us will live to 100. You figure the first and last 15 are kind of like wind up and wind down. That means 50 is only 1/2 way “there.” You practice till you’re 50, get your skills sharp, and then the big time begins.

      …At least, that’s my plan.

  • Rita Poynor

    If I offend anyone, please forgive me my fellow baby boomers. But to aspire to retire and live in a retirement community or travel the country in a RV are my versions of hell. Who wants to be surrounded by sameness? Subscribe to the idea that like-mindedness is empowering. Live a life uncomplicated by relationships that stretch your thinking and inspire you to never stop dreaming. Give me the messiness of multi-generational thinking and cooperation any day. After all, who wants to be the poster child for Benjamin Franklin’s quote? “Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.” NOT ME!

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  • Craig McBreen

    I just turned 50 and, yes ;) I hate to be pigeonholed and honestly think many are way too focused on age. I’m just getting started, Ted.

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  • Charletta MamaJava Mosley

    Ted, I must say this article was very thought provoking. As I have just recently joined the 40’s club, I find it difficult at times to identify with just one generation as I identify with them all. The wisdom of the Baby Boomers inspires me to seek greatness within myself and others while the freedom and fearlessness of Gen Y’ers motivates me to take risks and step out of my comfort zone.

    Ah! What is one to do? I guess I’ll just have to settle for being ALWAYS AWESOME! Thanks for sharing…..

  • There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

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