Making Sense of the Misunderstood Millennial

Making Sense of the Misunderstood Millennial

Why this influential Millennial loves the restaurant industry: “When I had nowhere to go at age 17 and needed a job just to be able to sleep on someone’s couch that summer, I applied to be a server at a local restaurant. The rules were that everyone had to wear a tie, but I had never owned one, and had no one to show me how to knot one. That restaurant owner at I 20 in Arlington TX took me outside in the sweltering heat and showed me how. Over that summer he also taught me so what good service was like and how hard it was to work in this industry. I want to thank all of you on behalf of the people like me whose lives you’ve changed. We are so immensely grateful.”

Who better to bust some myths around dining’s most coveted customer than a generationally aware Millennial with a big heart and a rapier wit? Jason Dorsey, author and co-founder at The Center for Generational Kinetics, cleared it all up by presenting some key truths at the National Restaurant Association show:

  1. Everybody thinks we are broke. But we are the #1 generation in the U.S. workforce and outspend every other generation in restaurants today. The difference is we’re not paying in cash…unless we’re there with our parents, of course!
  2. We often act entitled and we bring this attitude to the workplace. But it’s 100 percent a learned behavior - we were raised that way by our Baby Boomer parents whose philosophy was ‘we want it to be easier for our children than it was for us.’ Congratulations, you succeeded! Now it’s a norm in society and created a new life stage called delayed adulthood, which means all the freedom of being an adult without the responsibility. The age at which you are considered a real adult, working at a job, living on your own and paying all your bills, is now 30. We are two to three years behind other generations in terms of life commitment.
  3. We are older than most people think. The most important event that shaped my generation was 9/11. People who were toddlers or younger when that happened are part of Gen Z.
  4. We are not all tech savvy. A better description is tech dependent. We don’t know how it actually all work, we just know we can’t live without it.
  5. We are the most diverse generation in history. The most important part of this is that we don’t notice the presence of diversity, but we do note when it’s absent.
  6. Gen Z is now the driver of trends. Having lived through rough economic times in the mid-2000s, they’re intentionally choosing to attend less expensive colleges and graduate with less debt. They’re more frugal than Millennials, and are entering the workforce with much lower expectations. Their credo is ‘we’ll take whatever job you have, just give us a chance’ vs. the Millennials who feel entitled to perks and promotions without much experience. I believe Gen Z will leapfrog Millennials in the workforce in five years with this different approach.

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