The Power of Motivated Millennials
Chris Tuff is the national bestselling author of The Millennial Whisperer. His perspective on millennials, and his ability to understand and inspire them, is what earned him the title. To me, the millennial discussion a is a discussion about the future of humanity.
Chris is an identical twin. Navigating that unique relationship helped him understand how to create deeper, more empathetic relationships with others. It's also helped him to be a more effective leader and father, with a focus on empathy and connection. (It’s worth noting that he’s married to an identical twin as well!)
Through navigating some challenging times, Chris realized life is about more than just outperforming his brothers and friends. He resolved that his relationships with his wife and (2) daughters are the key to actualizing who he wants to be and what he wants to do. So he doubled down.
When you’re in a low place, it’s easy to look down on yourself. But if you can think more consciously, you can start to see your current struggle as a moment that you will look back on later and be grateful for the lessons you learned.
You can’t allow yourself to invest in your victimhood or self depreciation. You need that energy to “change your stars”. You have to stop “shoulding” on yourself and just own who you are. We make mistakes. That’s part of doing anything worth doing. Believing that is part of our waking up.
“Self actualization looks like a place where you’re the same person in every single conversation that you have, whether it be with your parents, your friends, your co-workers, etc.” Tommy Breedlove
When you express to Chris that you’re interested in doing something, he will often reply with, “by when?”. He doesn’t let opportunities and ideas just slip by. He grabs them out of the air and dances them into life.
"You have to get rid of your “shoulds”. Everything is leading up to now.” Chris Tuff
So What Do Millennials Actually Want?
Deep down we all want to feel loved, we all want to feel connected. Perhaps with millennials, this is even more true and relevant. They are driven by their desire for community, meaning, and purpose, far more than recent generations. They want to understand that what they are doing is much bigger than a salary or a company’s profit.
A wise sage once posited that one of the greatest gifts we can give someone is to help them to feel understood. And millennials tend to feel quite understood, quite often. Chris' book is helping people understand who they really are and what they care about.
"Purpose is such an important part of this journey. We as leaders need to help connect the dots of what individual purpose and organizational purpose looks like as they live together.” Chris Tuff
Transparency, authenticity, and autonomy are a must. They don’t want to feel micromanaged and they want to know what they are contributing to.
The number one dynamic they are looking for in leadership is inspiration. They want to be inspired.
"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Too many of us live our lives as if we’re orchestrating the perfect Instagram post. If you want to captivate them, start your speeches by making yourself human. Tell us what you’ve learned from your struggles. Be vulnerable.
Millennials want transparency, which means they want you to be real, and not to put yourself up on a massive pedestal. They respond best when we lead with heart and empathy.
Empowerment is such a key element of this. Put them in the spotlight and build them up. They need to feel understood and supported, and like they are part of something that matters.
"Connect with your people on social media. If you aren’t willing to do that, your problems are a lot deeper.” Chris Tuff
We have to reprioritize the environment, where people can really be themselves. Imagine if you walked into the office and talked to an employee about a meaningful social event or family photo they posted on social media. Imagine how they might feel. Imagine how you might feel to connect like that.
As a leader of any kind, it’s important to remember that 70% of your leadership (vocation, relationships, etc.) should fuel you up with purpose. 30% of it may suck. And you need to be ok with that. But we also have to remember to be diligent about ensuring that we're continually fulfilled through that 70%.
"Life should be a ruthless pursuit of passions. And passions evolve over time.”
The work environment needs to foster a conducive environment for the evolving passions of millennials. Companies like Google realize this. They allow their employees a parentage of paid time to explore their passions and dreams. Many of their moonshot ideas have been brought to life through this provision. Everybody wins.
So What Now?
Businesses need to adapt, or they are going to get left behind. People have to stop using the word “millennial” as a synonym for immature or self absorbed. That’s missing an opportunity. We need to understand that they have a unique ability to help us create the world we all want.
I see Chris as being an activist. He’s helping us understand how to leverage the power and opportunity of the biggest workforce we have, and the one that is on the precipice of leading our society into our collective future.
"Millennials aren’t the problem, they just expose the problem.” It’s important that we recognize the value of awareness and the opportunity to innovate, connect, and solve problems more creatively. That’s a gift we need to steward wisely.
If this message resonates with you, we encourage you to take your “let’s do something” and ask, “by when?”.
Make it a priority.
You’ve got everything to gain.
Chris Tuff Biography
Chris is the national bestselling author of The Millennial Whisperer, which was released in February 2019 and quickly became the #2 bestselling book at Barnes & Noble. His dynamic approach to attracting and motivating the next generation in the workplace has had him featured in Forbes, Fast Company, Fox TV, Cheddar News, and more.
Chris is also a partner at 22squared, a full-service advertising agency based out of Atlanta, GA where he is now scaling consulting programs around his book for big brands and corporations. Chris has held many different roles over the 10 yrs he's been there and now focused his time building new offerings and motivating the Millennial generation in the workplace.
Chris was one of the first marketers to work directly with Facebook in 2005, and is now one of the foremost thought leaders in the digital space. Always on top of emerging trends, he oversees all content marketing and helps push to get our existing clients access to first-to-market ad products and offerings. He's responsible for partnership development with technology and media companies like Twitter, Google, Facebook, and beyond.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST
This is an essay based on my interview with Chris Tuff on my podcast, Noetic. Click on the link below if you'd like to visit the Episode page.
Or, just listen here!