Stop Labeling and Learn to Accept

by Danny Collis, President, Collis Group, Inc.

What is a Millennial?

I’m not really too keen on labeling people or the generations that they’re a part of. That’s why I have trouble defining a Millennial.

I seems as if every conference or learning experience I have today is all about discussing what generation you are from. They tell me Baby Boomers can only do this and can’t do that. Generations X, Y, Z have this skill set and not that one. I hear people talking about the new generation being lazy. I have heard that the older generations are reluctant to change and don’t like to learn new things.

My reaction is that I don’t think it’s reasonable on any level to say that one generation is better than the other.

For instance, when I hear that members of Generation X are lazy, my reaction is why is it so hard to get into a great university today? There is so much competition and to be successful today a young person really needs a college/university degree. They only achieve that with a great deal of dedication and hard work.

I have personally raised and watched two children grow. My daughter is in her fourth year of college. She is highly motivated to graduate and get a good job. She has been working hard for the last couple of summers and now wants her own car. She has made enough to achieve that goal. She didn’t accomplish that by being lazy.

In our company we have a few Millennials, and they serve as the backbone of our agency. On the one hand, they are hardworking, motivated and place a great deal of value on growing and improving themselves. On the other hand, however, we also hear that they want to work fewer hours, and not work as hard as their parents did. I’m not alone in observing this. I have a friend who tells the story about his doctor whose son went on to get his Ph.D. In doing that the son said he would never work as hard as his father — he would be more content working far fewer hours, making far less money.

My experience in working with younger people is that it’s a bit like handing a young person a computer. They quickly will get into things we did not even know existed because they are not afraid to explore and make mistakes. But what happens is that with their approach and lack of fear, they help me learn with their younger fresher minds. They are less afraid to make mistakes and are emboldened to try new things.

Perhaps this generation (Gen X and whatever comes next) feels they can do it faster and better and not work as hard? I’m not sure that scenario realistically exists. What I do think, however, is that there is an overall message in the business world that applies here. Let’s stop with the labels and learn to accept what every person has to offer. There are great people all around — no matter their age — and they may not walk in the same footprint as past generations. As a result, I believe it’s the older generation’s responsibility to foster this generation.

I personally believe that one is either an entrepreneur or not. Hard work yields results but perhaps results are not as important. After all life is short.

Find the next you! That is what one business coach taught me.

Danny Collis is president of Collis Group, Inc., a manufacturers’ rep group in the Province of Ontario, Canada. Collis Group represents the food service equipment industry. They work closely with consultants, end users and distributors in the selection of equipment used in kitchens all around the world. Collis is past president of MAFSI (Manufactures Agents for the Food Service Industry) and currently sits as a board member of MANA. For information on the Collis Group visit