by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua
I hate millennials but I especially hate millennial eventprofs.
I hate everything about them.
If I had my way the meetings and events industry would impose an outright ban on anyone born after 1982.
I might retain some of the post 80s technological advances but I’d keep none, repeat none, of the human capital. Out, out, out would go the “millennial” and all her Pollyanna-like optimism, “yes-I-can” attitude and fearless democratic approach to workplace hierarchy.
We’d be left, instead, with an industry of sensible, cautious people. People who knew their place and were possessed of a healthy respect for seniority. People who knew boundaries and limits and coloured inside the lines.
We’d be free from that irritating, annoying, over-familiar hugging and self-congratulatory high-fiving that’s become the global language of events. Each event would have its own binder and we’d sit up all night inserting amendments onto manifests all maintained on Excel spreadsheets.
Here are more reasons why millennials should be absolutely and utterly excluded from our industry:
Millennials crave learning experiences – 1
Millennials are perpetual students, always anxious to learn. They have a sponge-like ability to absorb new data. They cheerily, confidently and unashamedly ask questions all the time and I’m supposed to provide the answers. They see life as a massive classroom where new lessons are learned every day and the role of the workplace is to constantly stimulate their curiosity and increase their knowledge and wisdom.
I hate that.
I want the people who work with me to know what they’re doing: that’s why I hire them. You may crave learning experiences, Ms Millennial, but not on my dime. You’ve had thousands invested in your education to date – much of it coming from my tax contributions – so now start contributing yourself! You did management in university, now stop learning and start to manage!
Millennials detest hierarchy – 2
I still call the parents of the friends I grew up with Mr Byrne or Mrs O’Brien. When I visit my GP I call her Doctor. I do this out of respect, out of a sense of hierarchy, order and degree. I naturally filter people by seniority or profession or status and address them accordingly. When I started in the workplace I had a healthy fear of my superiors and plotted my journey around the office so as to avoid all possible contact.
What do millennials do?
They chirply call the CEO Bob even though his name is Robert and see no reason for avoiding any figure of authority. Eyeballing the Marketing Director and asking her a direct question is not a problem at all for these fearless freaks who see no limits or borders.
Millennials question authority – 3
It was a long time before I opened my mouth in a workplace meeting. I listened intently while the senior players expounded their wisdom. I made diligent notes and thought a lot about the discussion, appreciating the CEO’s vision and wishing I had the confidence to speak like her.
After a few years when I felt I knew what I was talking about I started to open my mouth. I once agreed enthusiastically with a comment from the CEO giving an example from something I’d read of why it was a good way to proceed. I received a nod of the head from the CEO and glowed with pride for 2 days.
I hate millennials because, from day 1, they have the balls not only to speak up at meetings but to second-guess the direction being given by the CEO!
“But, Joe, have you considered doing it this way? When I worked in Pret à Manger in Boston during my JI Visa summer we always did it like that!”
Can you believe it?
Millennials value and seek work / life balance – 4
It’s all about commitment. Putting you shoulder to the wheel. Taking the long term view. Playing the long game. A university qualification or two is just the start. Then you have to put in the long hours, the early mornings, the late nights. You curtail the annual leave because there’s too much to do, another programme to operate, another RFP to complete. Over time there’s a pay off. You build your expertise and experience. You become a team leader and build the team.
For millennials it’s 3 months in South East Asia, Central America or Argentina post graduation – nobody jumps right into work! All 20 days of annual leave plus every public holiday will be consumed by a stag weekend in Prague or a hen in Lisbon or a tag team trip to London or an ultimate frisbee tournament in Rimini.
Then after 3 years of work it’s back for a Masters or a year in Australia or a digital marketing diploma or a three day week because I have a baby now.
Millennials value and seek work / life balance and I hate them for that!
Millennials are digital natives – 5
The fact that I check e mail and use Word and Excel for everything is surely an indication of my overall IT literacy? Remember, when I started in this game e mail didn’t exist, there were no Word or Excel files and the thermal paper fax machine was the next big thing.
Now that I’m finally comfortable sending out communications that have no tangible existence (particularly if you tell me I cannot print them out) you’re saying we’re falling below the curve because we’re not using Slack, we’re not on Snapchat and we don’t have enough smartphones?
Millennials have grown up in the digital era and I hate them for it. I hate how easily and seamlessly they navigate around a laptop, tablet or smartphone making me feel like a total gobshite.
Millennials are extremely well travelled – 6
If we managed to take a holiday at all back in the day we might get as far as Spain or Greece where we’d enjoy Sangria or Ouzo for the first time and return to Ireland 2 weeks later with a farmer’s tan and a zero bank balance.
Thanks to the likes of Ryanair and EasyJet the average millennial #eventprof has been to most European cities, ski resorts and beaches by the time they start in your company. In fact most of them have “done” South America, Australia | New Zealand and Canada too, often “living” in these locations for months at a time.
Gone are the days when an experienced #eventprof in her 30s could “motivate” a neophyte with the promise of a trip – these neophytes have been everywhere already and, in addition, have well worked opinions about these places!
Wait a minute – are you serious?
In case the “satire” is unclear and, in legal parlance, for the avoidance of all doubt, let me state categorically that I LOVE millennials.
I believe they represent redemption for our industry and can take us to the next stratosphere of professionalism.
However, we need to get out of the way – stay back at a safe distance – and let them take the reins as the prism through which we see the world of opportunity is significantly different and needs to be viewed with millennial eyes.
If you’re a millennial #eventprof there are two things that might interest you. Meetings + Millennials is a new “movement” for young event professionals so check it out here. Also ICCA runs a wonderful event specifically for Young Professionals. You can apply to be one of the lucky 36 by checking out the ICCA website.
Pádraic Gilligan and Patrick Delaney are proud to have a true millennial – Aoife McCrum – as their partner in SoolNua, a specialist agency working with destinations, hotels and venues on strategy, marketing and training.
Massive thanks and gratitude to our intern extraordinaire Sam Simeon who produced the wonderful graphics above.