Ann Shoket is “basically the Jane Goodall of millennials,” as she says in a recent TEDx video. As a former editor-in-chief of Seventeen and one of the launch team members at CosmoGIRL, Shoket has “observed millennials in their natural habitat since 1997.”
And while some view millennials as lazy, disloyal, and entitled, Shoket thinks they’re “game-changing, rockstar pioneers.”
While researching her book—The Big Life: Embrace the Mess, Work Your Side Hustle, Find a Monumental Relationship, and Become the Badass Babe You Were Meant To Be—Shoket interviewed millennials and found that they had five chief concerns: How do I find a career that feels like a passion? How do I get respect from my bosses? How will find an equal partner? How will I manage work and family? And will all this struggle be worth it?
And Shoket realized these are the exact same concerns Gen X had, but millennials are taking action to ensure more success in their careers. “Millennial women see work differently, and now that they’re in their 20s and 30s, they are changing the way work works for everyone, forever,” she says.
For example, millennials’ always-on social media habits mean they demand transparency. “But that transparency, especially salary transparency, is going to get us all closer to equal pay,” Shoket says.
Additionally, Shoket posits, millennials aren’t content with rigid corporate cultures. “When young women demand freedom from facetime in the office, from endless meetings that go nowhere, from regular hours of 9 to 5 or 9 to 6 or 9 to 9, that’s getting us all closer to a conversation about how work and life can work together,” she says.
But most importantly, she says, women are collaborating instead of competing. “Now that there’s more room at the table, millennial women are making room and bringing their friends along with them,” she explains. “They are devoted to helping each other achieve and succeed. This is their sisterhood, this is their squad.”
In fact, Shoket reasons, those aforementioned slurs against millennials actually describe strengths. “When you say lazy, I say, millennials are having a strategic deployment of resources … When you say disloyal, I ask, are companies loyal to their employees, period? And when you say entitled, I say, absolutely! They deserve everything, and so do we.”
Now, Shoket says she’s is following their lead: “I am being transparent about my wins and my losses. I am enjoying the freedom that comes with setting my own schedule rather than feeling terrified at the lack of a traditional corporate structure. And I am relying on my sisterhood, who have had my back at every single twist and turn.”
Or, as she says it, “I am living my life as millennially as possible.”