So you know your author, I am Gen X.
A first-generation son of a hard-drinking, bad-ass, blue-collar father and an aspirational, vivacious, loving mother of four. Both driven, dedicated, and wildly charismatic, neither with a clue as to how to deal with the idea of "art" as a career.
I've never been coddled or pulled favors, and found my way through my career never having had the road paved for me. I've slept in streets, lived out of a '65 Mustang to afford art school where I taught myself to use a Mac, and created my own course with the singular goal of "making album covers" - a decision made while laying in a hospital bed for the better part of my 14th summer.
I bore you with that to understand I know hard work and I have as strong a distaste for self-entitled, self-important, lazy, spoiled individuals as the next person…but I have a bit of news for you - these characteristics do not discriminate for age or gender.
I, like many, have worked for, and alongside, some real gems - narcissistic, self-absorbed, delusional bullies of all ages.
You'd think, being older we would know better. Yet, more and more recently I've heard the Millennial-bashing crescendo, coupled by aggressive comebacks by sharp-tongued Millennials with reason. You don't build great leaders by tearing individuals down.
As 80 million Millennials in the U.S. begin to take center stage, we in the publishing and advertising business need to magnify their strengths. We need to leverage their insight, energy, experience, and perspectives instead of getting into a dither about negative stereotypes.
Here, leadership is key. Leadership because it's a simple truth that you can never be, alone, that which you can be with a group of people who work to support each other. We are all in this together.
To that point, Millennials are the most dynamic, collaborative, diverse, and inclusive group of young people to date.
Google "Millennials In The Workplace" and you get this. Look, I know it's a joke, but it's funny because it's true, right? Well, I, for one, am tired of catching a laugh at the expense of the generation we created.
Lazy? I'm surrounded by the most impressive group of Millennials who not only do not match touted stereotypes, but also take the criticism in stride.
What do I see in the young leaders of our industry around me that I see less of in Gen X?
Now, all this is not to say they're perfect. But, this is where our leadership counts.
And, finally, a quick note to Millennials that I find myself expressing time and time again to Boomers, Xers, and Yers alike; don't disregard the work done to set the stage for you to work from. Nothing happens in a vacuum, especially in this day and age. Your new energy and vision doesn't make you superior, because no matter how brilliant you think you are, you're a part of a system. Great leaders acknowledge work done, point to their vision, and then do everything they can to charge their team to move forward with them.
As publishers, marketers, and advertisers, we are in the business of motivating audiences to take action. Hopefully for most of us, we're in the business of doing this by creating impactful, positive experiences that charge and excite people to move. You don't move people by pointing fingers. Holistic, collaborative leadership is key.
Millennials embody an exhilarating amount of energy. You can't inspire people if you're not inspired yourself, and speaking for myself, this generation amazes me. I only hope they remember their responsibility to the one that follows them.
Image on home page via Shutterstock.
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Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Manuel Donayre is the Executive Director of Creative & Marketing for Evolve Media Corp., an integrated digital media company focused on vertical publishing, advertising sales and marketing services for its clients. Originally hired in 2009 to develop the eight-person Sales Integrations group, Manuel helped grow the department to a team of 85, made up of both domestic and international designers, directors, front-end developers, site engineers, project managers and marketing strategists. While managing the Creative division, Manuel continues to oversee and develop award-winning integrated campaign programs, creative brand strategies, core standards and practices, infrastructure development, as well as video production and concept generation for all Evolve divisions to execute against global sales and company goals. During his time at the company, he played a key role in helping Evolve win numerous campaign awards from organizations such as Digiday, Cynopsis Sports Media, ClickZ Marketing, and thinkLA Interactive.
With over 20 years of experience, Manuel came to Evolve from A.D.D. Marketing & Advertising, where he served as Creative Director Offline/Interactive. Previously, he worked in the music industry at both MCA Music Entertainment Group, and Priority Records, and spearheaded the brand development and video production for many award winning artists.
Manuel received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Southern California.
March 19, 2014