As a advocate for the quality of thought and effort that went into creating the Authentic Enterprise white paper, I have shared it with a number of Boomer colleagues who also hold it in high regard. However, I recently discussed it with some Millennials, and I was surprised with their assessment which ranged from “duh” to “corporate B.S.” One young man said it was stating the obvious, while another simply opined that “All companies will have to be authentic or perish. They have no choice.”

Since I write a blog aimed at Millennials pursuing careers in PR ( ), I decided I needed to know more about their mindset. Thanks to an invitation from Sandra Allen to speak to her PR students at Chicago’s Columbia College, I got first-hand insights into what makes Millennials tick. I am sure the academic members of Page can wax more fluently about their experiences with the generation that is much different than Boomers or Xers.

After the Columbia class, Sandra shared her insights that will help guide my blog writing and in dealing with my staff, a majority of whom are Millennials.

“Millennials have fine-tuned B.S. detectors, and current information is the coin of their realm,” she explained. “Anything less is not credible to them, and once we’ve lost ’em, they won’t be back.”

Sandra noted that college-age Millennials generally give anything a try once, so the key is hooking them by making them see there’s something in it for them. “Unlike entry-level professionals, there’s not the reward of job advancement or the threat of losing a job hanging over their heads,” she said. “They like instant gratification, and promises of rewards have to materialize fairly soon thereafter.” She explained that rewards don’t have to be tangible–perhaps just being “the first in the know”.

In a recent talk to a Chicago Executives’ Club breakfast meeting, Andrea Zopp, head of HR at Exelon Corporation, discussed the giant utility’s inter-generational workforce–ranging from Traditionalists (born before 1946) to Millennials (1981-1999). She noted that Millennials are technologically sophisticated, prefer a collaborative, creative and positive work culture with frequent feedback. And they prefer working in environments where diversity is the norm. She noted that Generation Z (born after 2000) will be similar to Millennials, but Gen Z will put the environment first and foremost and they will text rather than talk–even though they will be very collaborative.

Although I have witnessed all of these characteristics in my two Millennial sons, it is useful to know that this new generation has an entirely different set of informational needs and channels from which to obtain that information. While I believe Millennials and Boomers are on the same page regarding the importance of The Authentic Enterprise, perhaps we need to find more ways to engage the future leaders of our profession in the discussion.