“Millennials would rather spend 30 minutes swiping left to right than watching the news.”
This is just one of countless less-than-flattering sentiments targeting millennials. Combating this negative stereotype is the mission of the National Millennial Community (NMC), an organization that is challenging the misconceptions of the often maligned demographic.
Founded in 2015 by Bill Imada, chairman and chief connectivity officer of IW Group, Inc., a Los Angeles-based media company, NMC seeks to provide an environment for members of the millennial community to share their thoughts and perspectives with key influencers of government, businesses and communities. It is hoped that this intelligent exchange will help dispel counterproductive assumptions older generations may harbor about millennials and Generation Z.
“NMC is an interesting, dynamic group of students and academicians whose goal is to ‘change the conversation’ about generational differences that influence how an individual seeks employment, remains within organizations and selects different products and services,” says Sarah Walker, PhD, associate professor of management at Creighton’s Heider College of Business.
As a founding member of NMC and one of the organization’s campus advisors, Walker initiated a partnership between NMC and Creighton when she joined the Heider College of Business at the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year.
With this partnership, the University joins NMC’s rapidly growing ranks. The organization was a small collection of seven co-founding colleges and universities at its inception. During the last three years, it has grown to 45 institutions of higher education in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam, and its members have met with more than 150 high-level executives and 200 directors and managers from 80 different companies and organizations.
Imada aims to grow the organization to all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands by the end of 2019.
Millennials and Gen Zers constitute one-fourth of the U.S. population. Yet Imada discovered that media coverage of the group is wildly contradictory.
“The data in many reports, articles and online posts were a mix of stereotypes, myths and misinformation,” he says.
So, in order to gain a better perspective, Imada asked his summer interns for their input; in particular, why they don’t speak up and contradict the stereotypes. Their answer was, “Because we don’t control the narrative; baby boomers and Gen Xers define who we are.” These candid conversations resulted in the creation of the National Millennial Community – an in helping millennials change the conversation about themselves.
Executives fully understand that millennials and Gen Zers are future employees and consumers, and, more importantly, future leaders, Imada says.
“When executives meet with members of the National Millennial Community, they see a group of young people from Alaska to Florida and from Maine to Guam who represent a diverse cross-section of America. They also see a group of young people who talk about their similarities and differences in a respectful and enriching manner,” Imada says. “Additionally, millennials and Gen Zers are providing leaders of various companies and organizations with great advice and counsel. Not only are these executives listening to what is being said, they are also using what they have heard and taking decisive action.”
It’s what junior marketing major and Spanish minor Trevor Koehne discovered when he represented Nebraska at NMC’s summit in San Francisco in November. Approximately 30 NMC members met with executives from such companies as Google, Facebook, Wells Fargo and Walmart and discussed ways these companies could cultivate business relationships with the burgeoning millennial and Z generations.
“It really is a ‘help me, help you’ type of program,” says Koehne, with millennials and Gen Zers gaining access to key influencers from a variety of sectors and leaders coming away with an understanding of what motivates these generations.
“These conversations are important to dispel the stereotypes that millennials are lazy, entitled and poor at communication,” Koehne says.
In addition to attending the summit event, Koehne has participated in webinar conversations with executives from Walt Disney Corporation and is working with Walker to increase participation in NMC among the Creighton student body.
Koehne says organizations like NMC are a great way for students to “get out of the Creighton bubble” and consider a future they might not have otherwise entertained.
“I thought I wanted to be head of a marketing firm,” the San Ramon, California, native says. “Now, I want to roll with the punches. I don’t have to have a map, and that is OK. NMC has given me more perspective and vision of where I see myself in the future.”