The other week I had the pleasure of attending a talk on Sharing, Purpose & Life Hacking for Millennials, hosted by author of It’s a Shareable LifeChelsea Rustrum. She sat down with Adam Powolsky, author of The Quarter Life Breakthrough and our own CEO, Kate Kendall to talk about how millennials are changing the way our world functions both economically and socially.

Millennials get a bad rap for being a selfish generation. We’re identified as young guns who discount all of the lessons previous generations bestowed on us. How dare we reject the idea of sticking to the same 9-to-5 for 50 years? How dare we even dream that we should seek roles that not only pay us, but fulfill us. Why would we refuse to own our own homes, cars and clothing and join in on a preposterous sharing economy movement? How have we become so brash and idealistic?

The truth is that we’re not all immature, selfish twenty-somethings. We’ve reached an age where work can be accomplished anywhere, meaning that we can travel and be less geographically tied down than ever before. We value experiences over materialistic wealth. It’s not a selfish culture that we’ve built, it’s a collaborative one that focuses on more meaningful and effective work. Here’s a few points from the talk that touch on how else millennials are changing the way we approach work for the better.

1) We’re highly collaborative

Myth: Digital nomads are trendy. They’re the dreadlocked hipsters who couchsurf and scoff at the ideal of a white picket fence with a dog behind it.

Reality: Digital nomads are anyone who embraces working from anywhere in the world – even if it means that place is your living room or a coffee shop. You don’t even have to be an isolated hermit of a nomad.

When asked how he collaborates as a digital nomad, Adam replied: “I place a high focus on community to keep me accountable professionally. You have to find the balance of solo work and group work.” Some resources to check out if you’re branding out on your own digital nomad quest:

2) We’re focused on accountability

Working solo can be incredibly freeing. You don’t have a manager to report to or daily conference calls to interrupt your flow. At the same time, you have to create your own accountability or else you’re just trudging along assuming all is well.

Kate suggests scheduling accountability calls with any client you work with throughout the process or project. This will allow you to get direct feedback from them at any stage of the game so that you know how you can continually improve your work.

Another tip is to pair up with another freelancer to share feedback on each other’s work. Find someone who will be completely honest with you and provide constructive criticism on what you’re creating. Then return the favor – remember to be kind but brutally honest; that’s the only way you’ll continue to grow.

3) We’re redefining success

Over the last few decades, there was a rhythm to success: graduate high school, graduate college, get a job, climb the ladder, start a family and retire at 65. If you checked those life events off your list you were considered successful. All of that has changed.

In today’s age, the barriers to entry for starting a company and becoming a CEO are drastically lower than they historically were. It’s common for people to skip college all together and still achieve that dream, sometimes directly out of high school!

So how do we know when we’re on the right track to success?

Adam said it best in his response to this question: “When it comes to careers there’s no failure, there’s just learning. You learn what you don’t want in order to find what you do want. One bad month doesn’t mean you should jump ship, but if a year has passed and you’ve seen no measurable success or improvements maybe it’s time to reassess what you’re working on.”


It’s time to embrace the change

All in all, the panel focused on the positives of our changing economic and social landscape. We’re no longer focused on the “one size fits all” American dream. Technology and innovation allow us to each live our own dreams in ways our parents and grandparents could only imagine. Why fight the change when you can use it to shape an ideal life for yourself?

If you’re interested in pursuing this new way of working, check out these resources to help you successfully adopt the new way of working for freedom:

Are you living a professional lifestyle that departs from the traditional 9-to-5? We’d love to hear how you branched out from the norm and what challenges you’ve faced. Please share in the comments below!