As a professional speaker, I always introduce myself on stage as a “Proud Pager-Wearing Millennial” and this line usually gets a bunch of laughs and nods from the audience. I am 35 year old millennial born in 1981. While I don’t use a pager today I label myself this way because when picturing a millennial people often think about kids born into a Facebook world, proudly holding participation trophies, and using an iPhone since middle school.
This pager-wearing millennial graduated college before Facebook was developed and had already given up my .edu email address therefore I couldn’t even sign up for Facebook for the first couple years. Growing up I remember my dad had one of those zipper “box” cell phones. I thought it was so cool that his work had a fax machine. Once I got my drivers license I remember mapping out where every pay phone was on my route to work as a DJ at a skating rink was. For the Gen Z’s reading this Google “pay phone” if you aren’t sure what exactly those are.
Mobility: Changed Our World
I’m a proud tech geek but my journey since discovering I liked computers (after winning the fastest typer award in 8th grade) in 1995 has truly been transformative. I work with brands like IBM, Dell, and SAP on leveraging mobile live video. At it’s simplest form mobile live video is live streaming from an iPhone to the world. But it doesn’t feel like too long ago when my Dad would make us wait at the top of the stairs so he could get out his giant over the shoulder videotape Camcorder to capture our excitement on christmas morning. For me that rate of change is crazy but also exciting as I have no idea what device my daughters will be using to capture those types of moments when they grow up. Although I do know it will be way cooler than their daddy’s iPhone7 Plus that I’m using today.
If I had to guess, I believe I had a pager from 1997-2002, got my first cell phone in 2002 (my junior year in college) and in 2005 was issued a work Blackberry to monitor the cyber security help desk phone system over the weekends. I remember watching a really bad “illegal” live stream of the very first Steve Jobs iPhone announcement. I’ve camped out overnight at 8 Apple product release events just to get the device before any of my friends.
Fast forward to today and I have 5 mobile devices on 3 cell phone carriers to ensure that no matter how bad the cell coverage is I will be able to get a signal and livestream for my clients. Mobility isn’t something I grew up thinking about, even though I majored in Business Information Systems at Radford University, this millennial didn’t take a single course that even mentioned the potential of mobile computing.
Social Media: The Megaphone For A LifeStyle
I remember my first day of college in 1999. I was super excited that the dorm room I was assigned was the only dorm on campus with a T1 line. But it wasn’t for streaming movies or playing online games. Instead it meant I could download MP3’s via Napster while chatting on AOL instant messenger and updating my Winamp skin. Not only did none of my friends have phones in college but wifi and laptops weren’t a thing. The only way we could update our Myspace status was logging on to our gateway desktop computer in our dorms. Now as much as I love social media today there is a part of me that feels thankful that Facebook, Periscope livestreaming, and Snapchat didn’t exist when I was in college. College was the best 4 years of my life …that I’m thankful wasn’t documented or search about online today!
Social Media today has changed my life, my business, and is integrated into just about everything I do daily. I believe my daughters are going to grow up never having to feel alone as social media and social video will allow them to discover people, places, and experiences without being limited by who they know or where they live.
I went to college with the idea of being a web designer. I never loved coding but I did love computers and that seemed like a perfect fit. Unfortunately for me getting a web job in 2003 meant having an understanding of Flash, Dreamweaver and Fireworks – none of which I was taught in college. The space had changed so fast that my web experience in college was outdated even before WordPress came out. Mucht like the digital transformation cycle today my career has been about constant technology change and pivots. I worked in cyber security deploying social business and employee advocacy solutions only to leave that industry to work in a datacenter that was trying to morph into a hybrid cloud computing company. Thankfully for me I discovered the power of “YouTube University” aka if I wanted to learn a new skill, pivot my career, or understand where my job might be heading I spent a couple hours searching Youtube and engaging in Twitter communities to stay in the know.
It wasn’t until the last couple years that I realized my true passion wasn’t for the the technology or the gadgets or the web design major that was almost instantly worthless. My passion is for helping people embrace and understand technology and the digital world as it changes and morphs on an almost daily basis. So yes, digital transformation is a focus for my business today, but that has less to do with being a millennial born in 1981 and more to do with the millennial mindset I’ve embraced thanks to transformation I’ve witness these first 35 years of my life.
Millennial vs Millennial Mindset view of Digital Transformation
As I said, I’m proud to be a millennial but I’m no different from you or anyone else when it comes to being stereotyped based on a label. Millennial just happens to be the year I was born and last I checked I didn’t even have a choice in that matter. So when I work with brands and talk to leaders about generational based topics I first ask them what do they mean by GenZ or who are they picturing when they say “we need to reach millennials.” Because I believe most look at being a digital native, being always connected to a mobile device, and posting every aspect of their life on social media as something Millennials and younger generations do.
Now I believe those with a millennial mindset – people who are digitally excited and open to digital change, collaboration, and community, and are open to emerging technologies.
The next time you’re thinking about digital transformation and millennials don’t forget that for many of us this digital change is exciting, and it is scary. Digital transformation is something that we’re all learning and adjusting to and striving to embrace everyday – just like every other generation.
Looking for more tech content and insights like this. Make sure to check out the podcast I co-host with Daniel Newman called #SMACtalk which stands for Social Media, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud. We also broadcast the show live at large tech events around the world including the Superbowl this year. FInd out more about the live event show and all the links visit: http://SMACtalk.Live