This weekend I had the pleasure of bringing the keynote message to a student leadership retreat for a group at a private university in Denver, Colorado. This was particularly exciting for me because exactly ten years ago, I was them — a student leader watching from the crowd.
I have to confess; I love the university environment. I always have. I love the energy, the passion, and the optimism. I love the world-changing ethos. I love the youth and the naïveté. This weekend reminded me of all that.
It also reminded me how completely brilliant Generation Y can be.
These students were amazing and remarkable people. They sincerely cared about their leadership roles and thought deeply about the world. They brought insightful questions and an enormous amount of focused attention.
I know there are a lot of negative impressions of Gen Y out there. Primarily I know this because people complain to me about them. I understand that they are a bit different in the way they see the world (people say: “annoyingly technology-obsessed”). I also understand that they are looking for more mentoring and development at work (people say: “needy and entitled”).
But, if I wasn’t convinced before, this weekend proved to me that these dismissive and disparaging blanket assumptions need to stop.
If you think “all Gen Y’ers” are like the bad rumors you’ve heard, I’m here to tell you that those rumors are grossly misguided. I was honored to meet these exceptional “kids,” and you’d be lucky to have them join your organization.