Don’t change the player, change the game

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First Posted: 3/10/2015

Millennials are commonly misrepresented as “entitled” because we don’t take shit. But that’s not the problem.

The issue is that we are underrepresented, despite being the largest living generation in American history.

We realize that life is too short. What was once considered taboo, we now accept. We know there’s no need to settle. We thirst for more than our parents had. We demand respect for everyone and from everyone. We would rather work behind a bar or start our own business than to be a puppet for corporate America.

According to an article in Forbes magazine, the recession has influenced the way Millennials view work. Young people who couldn’t get a college education or struggled to find work have been forced to start their lives in new ways such as building their own online apps or businesses or becoming freelancers. The article also noted that most corporate structures are now out of sync with the lifestyle desires of Millennials.

Since 75 percent of the workplace will be Millennials by the year 2025, many corporate companies are rethinking the way their employees think and work, hoping to increase performance and reduce turnover rates. Companies are now realizing many Millennials don’t see the need to be at work at the same time every day and want the freedom to pursue other activities during work days. Some organizations offer this freedom. For example, Best Buy’s corporate division launched the Results-Only Work Environment program in 2012, where employees in participating departments are allowed to work virtually anywhere, anytime, as long as they successfully complete their assignments. This shift increased productivity by 41 percent at headquarters and decreased turnover as much at 90 percent, according to Ferris’ Four Hour Work Week.

That’s why older generations have cringed at Millennials entering the workplace for the past decade. They settled for the lack of respect we are demanding — and now radicalizing.

When we don’t get that respect, we bounce. #ByeFelicia. Hasta la vista, Baby. Successful Millennials realize that when you can’t change the player, you have to change the game.

I recently interviewed Mason Wartman, a game changer from Philadelphia, for my online talk show, “We the Millennials.”

A few years ago, Wartman was making his mom and dad proud working on Wall Street. On paper he had the ideal career. He wore expensive suits to work every day. He was living in New York City. He was making decent money. But he wasn’t happy.

At 26, Mason quit his job on Wall Street to pursue his dream of running his own business. The entrepreneur moved back to his hometown of Philadelphia to open up his own pizza shop: Rosa’s Fresh Pizza. For the first six months, business sucked. But now, everybody seems to be talking about Rosa’s —not only because he’s feeding hungry customers; he’s also feeding the homeless.

“One day a customer just walked in. He knew that we served homeless because we sell [one-dollar slices] and he offered to pre-pay for a slice for the next homeless person that walked in without a dollar. Almost a year ago. March 31st of last year. So I ran out and got a Post-It note and put it on a wall behind the register to signify and remind myself and my employees for the slice outstanding,” Wartman said.

He then thought outside of the pizza box and created a huge pay-it-forward system to increase business and help serve more homeless people on the streets of Philly. Wartman invited customers to also buy a slice for a homeless person for a buck, and gave them Post-It’s to hang on the wall in reminder, too. In just under one year, upwards of 11,500 slices were given to homeless people and the walls of Rosa’s is now completely covered with reminders that everyone deserves to eat.

Now business doesn’t suck. Wartman not only caught the attention of his community, but he was a special guest on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” in January.

If you feel unhappy doing what you do, take note from Wartman. Chasing your passion is the best thing you can do. Just do your research first, said Wartman.