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Barry Salzberg Has Some Unique Thoughts On What Millennials Really Want

Everyone can exhale now, folks, we finally know what Millennials want thanks to the Salzberg Steak taking time out of his busy schedule to write it all up in Forbes for our reading pleasure. Here all these years of managing Millennials I thought they wanted praise for doing exactly what is expected of them, flex time to mess around on the Internet at work and more money than they are actually worth.

Turns out, if you believe Barry, "Millennials want to know how they will make a positive difference in the world if they join your business, not by wearing a colorful T-shirt on a special project once a year but in their actual work." Which wouldn't explain how so many Millennials end up in accounting, considering no audit has changed the world in a generation unless we're talking about a certain Arthur Andersen client and that was changed for the worse, not better.

Read on for some Salzberg genius:

The Occupy Wall Street movement may have faded in the past few months, but its core beliefs have stuck with tomorrow’s talent.

It’s tempting to think that these grass-roots sentiments will run their course, but my interactions with young professionals around the globe, as well as our own research, tell me there is something larger at work, and that business leaders need to pay attention.

Occupy’s core issue, damaged trust in business, remains strong with millennials—strong in interviews, strong on college message boards, and strong on social networking sites. This fundamentally different recession has created a potentially fundamentally different generation.

As digital natives and emissaries from the future, the millennials hold the keys to unlocking the secrets of tomorrow. Researchers predict that this year there will come to be more mobile devices than humans on the planet. We need this digital generation to join us in unleashing the potential of all that mobility and access to information. And they will, but only if they believe our organizations can offer them careers that, well, actually matter. Given that Deloitte’s member firms will recruit 250,000 people around the world over the next five years, this obviously resonates with me. And I believe it matters to any leader thinking about the future.

This is where he loses me. He goes on to somehow make it seem like because business came up with a great idea like the iPad, we can totally ignore all the other stuff about polluting, sweatshops, outsourcing, insider trading… you get the point.

The good news is that business as a whole has a good record to point to, an all-true story about the many things we do to make the world a better place. Jobs and homes. Opportunity and security. Breakthrough new ideas like the iPad. The works.

Never mind the still sluggish job market. In their insistence on social principle, many millennials are not driven by money or success in quite the way their parents were. This generation wants to know what your organization stands for in improving society, what it stands for in action, as opposed to blowing smoke. Millennials want to know how they will make a positive difference in the world if they join your business, not by wearing a colorful T-shirt on a special project once a year but in their actual work.

RIGHT. Generation Y is not driven by money. If you ask me, that's because many of them still have the luxury of living off of the fruits of their parents' success, so why would they care about money if someone else is paying the mortgage? There are, obviously, exceptions and I know for a fact there are some pretty hard-working Millennials out there but most of them are leftover latchkey kids who followed in my generation's footsteps and figured out how to make our own breakfast at 9 when no one was home to do it for us. Gen Y is also materialistic like the last two generations before and those flat screen TVs aren't going to buy themselves, Barry, but nice try. The tipster who sent me this Forbes article summed it up best: "I have one message for Salzberg Steak; it's the money, stupid."

Just to be sure he could make his point, Salzberg tapped Deloitte's kids to see where their hearts are:

My organization examined the opinions of 1,000 millennials at Deloitte member firms regarding the impact of business on society. We found that more than half of them believe that in the future business will have a greater impact than anyone else in solving society’s biggest challenges. And 86% of them believe business will have at least as much potential as government to meet society’s challenges. Clearly, taken as a whole, millennials do not see business as a waste.

Suddenly Deloitte is equipped to end hunger, homelessness, racism and inequity in the workforce? That's absolutely laughable. Millennials may be known for being unrealistic dreamers but even they aren't that stupid.

I'll spare you the rest of the article. The short version is that we have one more article written for clueless Boomer-age management and leaders on what Millennials want that focuses on their reputation for being able to set a DVR and completely forgets that individuals are driven by a variety of factors, not just the year they were born. What is this, Chinese astrology?

If leaders would stop writing fluff articles about how to manage Millennials and start actually managing them, maybe there wouldn't be such a wide communication gap.