They have a very anxious world, and sense that things in their lives are impermanent. They are very resilient and can learn skills extremely fast, but they don't value traditional education the way earlier generations did.
- I refer to millennial illustrators, designers, photographers, artists, writers, and programmers as creative nomads because they're always adapting and moving based on environmental changes. And these millennial creative nomads live in a very anxious world. Most things in their lives are impermanent. In many cases, they've opted out of traditional college education, career paths, and life goals. Instead, they opt into braving their own paths and seeing where these new directions can take them.
Why is this happening now? One influencing factor is the impermanence of marriages. We are raising this generation of nomads. Here's how. Couples find love and on average, have several kids and then divorce. In fact, the divorce rate of couples in the United States is 50%. Consequently, their children more back and forth from their parents' separate homes with their belongings in backpacks.
Each week, kids physically, mentally, and emotionally prepare for what's needed in different environments. Parents may have a second or even a third marriage and more kids. Everyone is in a constant state of adaptation. Adjusting to new relationships, new parents, step and half brothers and sisters, multicultural environments, lifestyles, languages, and nuances. Practicing adaptation in multiple scenarios over many years helped millennials find ingenious ways to hack instability.
So, how does this translate to their early careers? Millennials are often very agile and resilient. They learn and recalibrate very quickly. In 2012, Fast Company's editor Robert Safian introduced us to the early adopters of creative nomadism. He called them Generation Flux and said the reality is multiple gigs. Some of them super short with constant pressure to learn new things and adapt to new situations.
He points out that moving from company to company increases salaries significantly. Much more and faster than advancing within one company. Safian summaries by saying, "It can be daunting. "It can be exhausting. "But it also can be exhilarating." here's his theory in practice. Meet transmedia graphic designer Justin Chen. He graduated as a graphic designer from ArtCenter College of Design, then went straight to Google.
He worked on the top projects there before leaping to another industry. Justin describes himself, on his LinkedIn profile, by stating, "I live for the moment of comprehension. "I aim for the big ideas, "I look for surprises. "I truly appreciate the process "of a design as much as the end result. "And I push my work to make a real impression "by solving a problem from multiple perspectives." - When I left Google just a year ago, actually, it wasn't because I was looking for a new job, it wasn't because somebody approached me and asked me to leave or, you know, I was bored at Google.
It's definitely not the case. I was still having a good time and I thought I was going to stay at Google for at least four to five years, which is what most people do. I really just kind of opened myself up a little bit to learn more from designers in industry, to talk to people, to know what's going on out there. What are other design opportunities? And interestingly, I was able to talk to Bleacher Report, which is a sports media company based in SF that I was really intrigued by because I follow their social posts.
I know that they make amazing animations like Game of Zones and they really have a unique way to tell story to reach their target audience, and to celebrate unique moments with sports fans. Which, I'm a really huge sports fan, I love NBA, I love playing basketball and growing up, I played all kinds of sports. But I've never thought of being able to design for something that I truly have passion for, so this was kind of a moment for me to think about if this is the right time for me to actually do something that I really, really care about.
And if so, then why not give it a try? Because Google was still... Google will always be there. If I wanted to come back, it's not impossible. But if I don't take this opportunity and not do something that I really care about, I don't know when I'm going to actually be able to do that. - Justin's early career path is just one example of what I believe will be the new normal. Creative nomads will be encouraged and rewarded when they pitch new ideas, reimagine business models, and challenge assumptions.
The impermanence and adaptation of their upbringing is less of a liability than it is an opportunity to gather knowledge and experience and share it with others. This will be of great value to the multidisciplinary teams they'll be working with in the future.
- Defining the generations and the creative nomad
- What millennials value
- Resilience in life and work
- Creating the ideal millennial workplace
- Keeping millennials motivated
- Cultivating communication and team-building skills
- Giving effective critiques and feedback
- Having difficult conversations
- Designing an optimal working environment
- Cultivating leadership
- New modes of leadership