One Millennial View of Us — the Baby Boomers

Tucker Max has a business: it’s about helping people write books. And he writes himself, in the case, an essay, and it’s about helping baby boomers understand what Millennials think about baby boomers. You might not like the title, let alone the content — we’re not sure we do either — but it’s interesting reading, and maybe an attitude we need to understand: “Millennials Aren’t Entitled —They’re Just Better Than You”

“Millennials care more about internet fame than their company!”

“Millennials expect to be in the C-suite after their first week!”

“Millennials are coddled babies who’ve never had to work for anything in their lives!”

Sound familiar?

credit: Grace Chung

People—the Baby Boomer generation especially—love criticizing Millennials. If you sift through the morass of anti-Millennial articles that have been published, you’ll notice that almost every critique boils down to the same point: Millennials are entitled.

People who say this kind of stuff usually have a litany of stats to back up their claim, things like:

  • Millennials change careers four times before turning 30.
  • Over 30 percent of Millennials live with their parents at 30.
  • Over 35 percent still receive financial help from their parents.

But do these stats really point to entitlement? Are Millennials entitled because of an anemic job market and student loan debt?

I don’t think so. The truth is, people criticize Millennials because they exhibit something most people are completely unfamiliar with, something critics mislabel as “entitlement”:

Millennials are about ownership.
Millennials Own Their Lives—And Boomers Hate Them For It

The Baby Boomer generation—the people who raised Millennials—defined success by three things:

  1. Status: Boomers want to end their careers with authority over other people.
  2. Prestige: Boomers want a title and position people respect and admire.
  3. Financial Security: Boomers want a life with financial guarantees.

Anyone who defines success as status, prestige, and security is seeing life through the lens of scarcity.

Status is about power over others. Prestige is a title. Financial security is an entitlement.

Boomers want external rewards that justify their decision to buy into a bankrupt system.

Millennials see this broken system for what it is. They see how miserable their Baby Boomers parents are, working jobs that don’t matter, for companies they hate. They see how meaningless their lives are, and how they try to use the markers of status and prestige to pretend otherwise.

And then they saw their parents lose “safe” jobs in 2008. The security was an illusion.

Millennials have straight up rejected this system. They won’t give their lives away just to “win” an unwinnable race. Instead of the illusion of financial security, and the scarcity of status and prestige, Millennials have two primary ways they measure success:

  • Millennials want to be a part of something they find meaningful. Their work needs to matter, both to them and to the world.
  • Millennials want to build deep, authentic connections with people. They want real relationships.

Notice that neither of these goals can be awarded to you, they are goals you have to own and achieve for yourself. That’s exactly what Millennials are doing.

In 2011 alone, almost 30 percent of entrepreneurs were Millennials. They launched 160,000 startups a month. Millennials build companies they find meaningful, and are only fulfilled when they believe they’re adding value to the world, not just making the rich richer.

The question is, why do Baby Boomers (and other people) see this as a bad thing?

Here’s the life-blueprint Boomers bought:

  • Study something you don’t care about in college, because it looks good on a resume.
  • Apply for a safe job with a career path that is clear and structured.
  • Give away your twenties, thirties, and forties grinding yourself into oblivion for your company.
  • Hope that you end up at the top of grist mill.

See the problem here? They don’t own anything! Nothing they do matters! It’s only about winning a game that sucks!

Their success is 100 percent contingent upon how valuable they make themselves to their employer, and how much crap they accumulate. Boomers see success as zero-sum. Your title comes at the expense of someone else. They believe that young people should be queuing up for these soul crushing admin positions, because they WANT people beneath them. People at the top of the system requires new entrants to prop it up.

However, Millennials have no interest in that kind of life. Millennials are succeeding precisely BECAUSE they are rejecting the system that Boomers built their lives around.

For Millennials, getting in on the bottom of the ladder in the hopes of someone else rewarding you is the opposite of taking ownership. Boomers, on the other hand, can’t imagine a version of success that isn’t given to you by someone else.

When Millennials say they aren’t interested in the pointless grind Boomers put themselves through, Boomers see that as entitlement. Succeeding without sacrificing your 20’s is, in a Boomer’s world, cutting in line.

Let me give you an example of how this concept of Millennial ownership plays out in real life.

My company Book in a Box offers a process for getting ideas out of any person’s mind and into a book. When my Millennial co-founder, Zach Obront, and I first launched, I was trying to solve one problem:
How do I make it easy for non-writers to write books?

I’ve written three #1 New York Times bestsellers and have started and run different publishing companies over the years. I know the publishing industry inside and out. I should have known how valuable our system was immediately, but I didn’t.

My 24-year-old co-founder did. In Zach’s words, we were “unlocking the world’s wisdom.”

Every insight, the collective intellect of humanity, could be recorded and preserved easily by our system, and Zach (along with another Millennial on our team) was the first person to recognize that. He saw value and meaning in our mission, and he became obsessed with it.

Zach didn’t believe he was entitled to success. He took ownership of our company’s mission.

2 years, 300+ books, and several million in revenue later, Zach is still working hard (probably harder than me), obsessing over a vision for our company and what it could mean to the world.

Zach wasn’t happy with a company that didn’t provide real value to people. He took ownership of that and founded a company that did, and now he runs it with a work ethic that would make any Boomer blush.

Typical Millennial.

Used with permission of Tucker Max.

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16 Comments on "One Millennial View of Us — the Baby Boomers"

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Not true! Boomers did create jobs they love! I just retired after 11 years of the most rewarding career ever! Before that I worked to perfect my chosen career. This article S one example of how the m’s do not value people.


Millennials were NOT raised by Baby Boomers. They are the Baby Boomer GRANDCHILDREN. Way to ignore a whole generation.

I don’t even know where to start – perhaps arrogance on the part of the writer would be a good place. The sacrifices made by the Boomer generation and the ones before so that Millenials could “own” their lives might be a consideration. And claiming that the startups they formed such as Facebook are meaningful makes me laugh and shudder. They have created a narcissistic society and view of themselves and shy away from personal interactions unless it by their devices. I could go on and on but I will leave it there. I hope that one day they can… Read more »
Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt
This article seems meanspirited. If the millenials get to live at home, it’s because their parents worked hard to provide that security, often doing jobs they weren’t so thrilled about – to feed the family. We would have LOVED to be taken care of and allowed to be entitled; our parents, the Greatest Generation, had lived through war, and wanted peace and security for us. Besides, most entrepreneurs FAIL – and take out all their debtors and venture capitalists with them. You can’t live at home and take money from your parents – if they don’t have a home and… Read more »
Claude Forthomme
I’m surprised at the comments. Perhaps these are Baby Boomers who don’t know millennials? I can tell you, for a fact, that the millennials I know (and I know many, I work with them) do not feel “entitled”. I definitely recognize Tucker Max’s depiction of both boomers and millennials, and it is absolutely true that they seek value in their lives, that they are far more socially-conscious than their parents. Indeed, older generations don’t show that ethic streak (already those in their 40’s don’t!) or they have simply forgotten the ideals of their youth and given up – and that’s… Read more »
Marsh Rose

When I was complaining about the Millennials I worked with, my friend Lori, a human resources manager, gave me a fascinating article: “From the Typewriter to Texting: How Can Four Generations Work Together?” Apparently Boomers and Millennials don’t have the, as it were, market cornered on criticizing each other. There are the Traditionalists prior to 1945, there’s us, and there are two more generations all jockeying for position in the workplace. And in the parking lot, the supermarket, the…. You get the idea.

Robin Kendall

It shouldn’t be Boomers vs. Millenials. It’s not a contest. We all want a good life, however we define it.

Kurt Buss
I agree with you, Robin. None of us should look at the world in black and white, us vs them, Red vs Blue, me vs you perspectives. Divisiveness seems to be the new norm (anyone catch that recent presidential campaign?) That’s a shame. Yes, the world is very different from generation to generation and will probably continue to be so at an accelerated pace. My parent’s worked their tails off at jobs they didn’t necessarily like all the time, including our family business which employed over 30 people in a town of 250 people. My generation, at the time, referred… Read more »
George Thibeault Jr.
This article is full of stereotypes and, quite frankly, rather condescending. Yes, my wife and I worked hard in our 20s so that she could be a “stay at home” mother to our kids in our 30s. We worked hard so we could pay off college tuition bills (yes we had them too!) along with a family loan for the down payment on a house. I traveled and earned the chance to start a company that grew to enable over 100 people to earn a decent living which still exists today. My wife volunteered and contributes time to this day.… Read more »

For every millennial who feels “entitled” you can point to someone who doesn’t feel that way. For every boomer who hates his or her job, you can point to someone who loves his or her job. Big woop. The millennial author sounds like he thinks he invented inter-generational comparisons. Meh.

Nancy Petralia
The author raises some very good points. The problem is he paints Boomers as a monolith just as he blames them for doing the same with Millennials. Young people today have much broader knowledge of both the job market and the diversity of employment that’s available. They have the internet, social networking, and other electronic tools that have made it easier to research, create and market ideas. The models they grew up with are open systems and collaboration. That’s not what Boomers experienced. Our Greatest Generation parents grew up in the Depression. They valued stability, hard work, and loyalty. No… Read more »
Nancy, Very well stated. I agree. I am a boomer (60) and for 40 years I worked in an industry that I loved and consider my entire career a success. For me, it wasn’t the status or prestige, it was that fact that I was: 1) eager to go to work every day, 2) did something that I truly enjoyed, and 3) felt that what I did provided people with something that they valued. In the role of friend and mentor throughout the years, I consistently shared my philosophy that people have a choice of what their internal primary driver… Read more »
As I graduated from high school in 1981, I knew that the US was intent on two things – 1)create white collar jobs which means to be a service nation and 2)eliminate blue collar jobs to enable second-third-fourth world countries the opportunity to grow into a first world country. Unfortunately, what became economic globalization was easy for the US to embrace and it allowed us to achieve these two intentions without a comprehensive global plan or internal plan. Simultaneously, we refused to re-invest and change our educational system to train the employees of that future. Technology and environmentalism defined the… Read more »

Needs correction- Entitled behavior in people is in every generation and the only offensive entitled person is the one who is capable of helping herself but chooses to take from you instead.

I was born right in the middle of the so-called Boomer generation, but as I read this article, I realised that I’ve been a Millenial my whole life. What’s more, I’m pretty sure my father and mother were Millenials too. Not because we felt entitled – we arrived in Australia in 1957 with nothing but the clothes on our backs – but because we always wanted that something ‘more’. I hesitate to call it ‘personal development’. That label has very unpleasant connotations, at least to me. Maybe personal fulfilment is more accurate. Whatever you call that driving force, it’s hardwired… Read more »

Umm I’m confused. I’m not a “Boomer” – MY parents were. I’m 45 btw and I have 3 children who are 18, 20 & 22. So, what happened to my generation, you know, Generation X?