If you see a Millennial — a person aged between 18 and 34 — go up and give them a great big hug.
They need it.
Australian Millennials are among the most miserable young people on the planet — well, according to the findings of a new survey released by consulting firm Deloitte this week.
The survey, which tracked 8,000 responses from young people across the globe, including 300 from Australia, found that our kids are the emos of the global community:
Only 8 per cent of Aussie Millennials believe they’ll be better off than their parents.
And only 4 per cent believe they’ll be happier.
Then again, every young generation, to some extent, believes they’re hard done by:
The Baby Boomers had The Doors: “This is the end …”
Gen X had Alanis Morissette: “Isn’t it ironic … doncha think?”
Gen Y had Eminem: “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy …”
And the Millennials have whiney Avril Lavigne: “Why do you have to go and make things so complicated?”
You’re right, Avril, why is everything so complicated?
Why it Sucks to be a Millennial in Australia Today
These days, having a degree isn’t enough.
For years our education system has acted like a corporate conveyer belt, punching out wandering generalists with fancy letters after their names.
But the internet has jammed that conveyer belt: those entry-level graduate jobs, which previous generations used as a career stepping-stone, are increasingly being outsourced to cheaper destinations with hungrier workers.
Case in point: the Deloitte survey found that the most optimistic young people on the planet live in the emerging markets of Asia, where 71 per cent of Millennials believe they’ll be financially better off than their parents.
Your average young Indian programmer is under no illusion about being a special unique snowflake — he’s too busy kicking ass, taking names, and pulling himself out of generational poverty.
So what advice do I have for our melancholy Millennials?
In a word, ‘focus’.
Your problem is in your pocket.
Technology — especially social media — is not only highly addictive, it’s rewiring our brains, overloading us with dopamine, and interfering with our ability to focus for uninterrupted stretches of time.
Here’s you (texting): “Uh-huh. Focus. Sure. On what?”
Here’s me: “it really is as simple as developing one ‘hard skill’ and one ‘soft skill’ — and the payoff could be worth millions of dollars over your career.”
The Hard Skill …
A hard skill is something that you come out of uni with: you’re a computer programmer, you’re an accountant, you’re a graphic designer.
Job done, right?
The question you want to ask yourself is this: how long would it take an intelligent, diligent Indian university graduate to learn the ins and outs of my job?
See, Australia is awash with qualified, but disengaged, workers. A 2013 Gallup poll found that more than 70 per cent of Aussies are either “ambivalent or completely disengaged with their jobs”.
These are the people who wake up one day to find their job has been rightsized, downsized, or outsourced. Bugger that. If you really want job security, you need to go deep and immerse yourself in challenging work. That’s how you become an expert. And most experts don’t live in fear of losing their jobs.
When you’re focused, and throwing yourself into challenging work, you stand out — people notice — and you’re more likely to be headhunted into something bigger, and better.
The Soft Skill …
Still, there are plenty of hard-ass experts who haven’t reached their full potential because they’re … well, hard-asses. That’s why mastering a soft skill is so important.
What’s a soft skill? It’s how you interact with people — focusing on your E.Q not just your IQ.
Case in point: legendary investor Warren Buffett has made many amazing investments over his 86 years.
But do you know what he calls his best investment?
A public speaking course he did after completing grad school.
Before doing the course, Buffett says, he “would throw up if I had to speak to anyone. In fact, I arranged my life so that I never had to get up in front of anybody.”
Buffett described his first class, where he met up with 30 of his classmates at a local hotel: “We were all just terrified. We couldn’t say our own names. We all stood there and wouldn’t talk to each other.”
What a bunch of weirdos, right?
Well, stop for a moment and think about what you do when you’re in an awkward situation.
Chances are you whip out your phone and teleport yourself out of reality. But what opportunities are passing by as you superficially, like, swipe and text?
That public speaking course completely changed Buffett’s life, teaching him the skill of developing strong bonds with people — people who would go on to make him tens of billions of dollars.
Even better, young Buffett doubled down. To further hone his communication skills after the course, he signed up and taught a finance class to women at the University of Omaha.
So let’s return to Avril. Life really doesn’t have to be complicated.
Fact is, you’re going to spend 90,000 hours of your life working. And for you Millennials, you’re right at the start of it. So you have a choice. Go deep and throw yourself into both the hard and soft stuff, or stay skimming along the surface. Over to you.
Tread Your Own Path!