From golf to fast food restaurants and even newspapers, it seems like millennials get accused of ruining or killing industries all the time. I often get frustrated when my generation gets maligned in the media and elsewhere.
Yes, don't let the bald head fool you: Technically, I'm a millennial.
When it comes to gripes about my generation in the workplace, the typical refrain is that millennials are entitled. Conventional wisdom is because we were given participation trophies when we were young and we need to be constantly rewarded for everyday tasks. (I'd like to point out that millennials didn't give themselves these trophies when they were 8 years old. That honor goes to our baby boomer or Generation X parents.) Other complaints include: Millennials are impatient when it comes to advancement, millennials are not as dedicated as other workers because they value things like work-life balance, and millennials are often outspoken and not respectful to elders.
I had the pleasure of talking to the incoming class of the Plastics Hall of Fame earlier this year, and I wanted to share with you a few insights and pieces of advice these giants of the industry had for younger workers entering the industry. Ira Boots, who led Berry Plastics for many years and is now chairman of Milacron Holdings Corp., said his advice to young workers was to take care of your faith, family and workplace. In that order.
"All three have to be part of your life, but the prioritization of your faith, of your family and of your workplace needs to remain there. That hasn't changed since I was child, and it's not going to change after I'm long gone," he said. "Keep those things prioritized, and no matter what you do, you'll be successful."
That sounds an awful like keeping a good work-life balance.
What about Max McDaniel, a senior fellow scientist at Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.? What advice would he give young workers today? He chuckled before answering: "I would hope they feel the same desire to solve the puzzles as I do. If they do, ignore everything you're told and follow your instincts," he said.
Could you imagine what McDaniel's bosses thought of him when he was 32? "Kids these days — they just go off and do whatever they want." Meanwhile, he was off trusting his instincts and racking up catalyst patent after catalyst patent, making discoveries important to today's plastics.
Generations aren't that different. There are lazy baby boomers, lazy Gen Xers and yes, lazy millennials. But there are amazingly accomplished and bright members of each generation, too. And we want to find the best of the millennials — and perhaps members of Generation Z.
We will be featuring our fifth class of Rising Stars in our Aug. 6 edition, and we want to feature the best in the industry under 35 years old. You can apply yourself or nominate your favorite entitled millennial coworker. Simply visit www.plasticsnews.com/risingstars and answer a few questions. A reporter may follow up for some more details.
Don't wait: The deadline for applications is July 20.
We're looking for young people doing amazing work, solving the industry's problems and working on cutting-edge technology.
I can't wait to see what amazing things the industry's best millennials are doing.