What Millennials Can Learn From Gen Z

What Millennials Can Learn from Gen Z

Typically, it’s the older generations imparting their wisdom and advice to the younger ones.

But, I think it’s time to switch things up.

There's so much that millennials (and the rest of us) can learn from Gen Z!

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from the "zoomers" so far is that sometimes it’s better to keep things short and sweet.

So, this blog post will be much somewhat shorter than my usual long-winded 3,000+ word articles!

Without further ado, let’s get started...

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1. Gen Z is Confident 

I struggled a lot with self-esteem when I was a teenager.

Constantly trying to live up to impossible standards for how to look and act was exhausting!

And it didn’t help that people were so cliquey.

Once someone in the “popular group” decided to shun or pick on someone, everyone else would usually join in.

Not me.

I felt a duty (and still do) to stick up for the underdog, fight for the oppressed and befriend the outsiders.

Well, thank goodness Generation Z is not so concerned with social conformity!

An important lesson that we can learn from Gen Z is that you should just be yourself.

Gen Zs know who they are and they’re not afraid to be unique.

They are unapologetically confident in themselves and also unwaveringly accepting of others.

2. They Are Accepting

I come from a diverse background. My family is a melting pot of Greek, African American, Native American, Irish and English.

When I was growing up, I got made fun of a lot.

For my difficult-to-pronounce ethnic name.

For my thick, curly hair.

Basically, for anything that made me different.

According to researchers at XYZ University, it’s not really like that anymore.

Gen Zs celebrate their own uniqueness but also accept others’ differences.

They reject bullying, along with gender norms. They realize that “geeks” and “nerds” are often the ones with the most financially successful careers.

Gen Zs are more likely to be accepting of someone else for who they really are, even if it’s different or it doesn’t fit into society’s standards.

Also, Generation Z is more divided more along political lines than racial.

A Goldman Sachs research analyst predicts that over half of kids in America will belong to a minority racial/ethnic group by 2020.

3. Gen Z is Adaptable

I was born in 1982, so I’m what stand-up comedian Iliza Shlesinger would call an “elder millennial”.

Being on the cusp allowed me to really see the differences between one era and the next.

I lived through the time of land line phones, audio cassette tapes, beepers and Blockbuster.

But, I also lived through the time of cell phones, mp3s, iPads and Netflix.

Like many millennials, I saw the change happening but it felt like there was no way to truly prepare for it.

Our lives were already on a certain trajectory (go to college, get a respectable job) and we were determined to see it through.

Generation Z only has firsthand knowledge of a world in which information is easily accessible, everyone’s lives are on display, and there are digital representations of almost everything in the physical world.

But, because they witnessed Millennials work towards something their whole lives only to have it “not matter”, Gen Z is determined not to suffer the same plight.

They know that they will have to adapt to all the technological advancements in order to succeed in the future … and they're prepared to do so.

4. Zoomers are Pragmatic

This brings me to the next lesson that millennials can learn from Gen Z.

Merriam Webster defines pragmatism as a practical approach to problems and affairs.

Contrary to the lazy stereotype, Generation Z is actually willing to put in the hard work necessary to succeed.

Generation Z is also more frugal than their millennial and Gen X predecessors.

They know that in order to make money, they have to work hard, but that hard work does not necessarily equal success.

And they don’t want to squander their hard-earned money on things that will not benefit them in the long run (like name-brand clothing).

They are not so easily suckered into sponsored ads, big brands and celebrity endorsement.

They’re more influenced by their peers and social media influencers.

Here are some interesting Gen Z statistics from Jay Baer at Convince & Convert:

  • 86% of Gen Z reads reviews before making a first time purchase
  • 68% of Gen Z reads 3 or more reviews before making a first time purchase
  • 46% of Gen Z follows more than 10 influencers on social media
  • 63% of Gen Z prefer real people over celebrities for advertisements
  • 5. They’re Independent Thinkers

    Millennials were told that the formula for success was:

    Go to college + Get a degree = Get a respectable job making lots of money with benefits.

    Well, that didn’t go as planned, now did it?

    Millennials are the first generation to be poorer and generally less successful than their parents.

    Generation Z knows they don’t have to follow the formula.

    They can make their own.

    So, the next lesson millennials can learn from Gen Z is that only you can decide what’s best for you.

    And it may not be what everyone seems to think is right. It may be unconventional or even unheard of.

    Members of Generation Z are more likely to be entrepreneurs than millennials. According to one study of 4,769 high school and college students, 72% of high school students say they want to start their own business some day.

    They don’t want to be overeducated, underemployed and in debt like their millennial predecessors.

    Although most zoomers are still going to college, they realize that higher education is not the only option.

    And they are more willing to explore non-traditional forms of education such as online university, blog courses, etc.

    They’ve seen people succeed in unconventional ways and they are confident in their ability to do the same.

    6. Gen Z is Socially and Politically Conscious

    I distinctly remember many of my peers being uninterested in politics and unconcerned about social issues.

    I tried to raise awareness of issues that are important to me like animal welfare, but no one seemed to care too much.

    Well, times have changed.

    Gen Z is both politically and socially conscious.

    A recent study (Generation Z: Unique and Powerful) found that more than half of Generation Z favors socially-conscious brands like Tom’s, Burt’s Bees, Starbucks, and Ben & Jerry’s.

    Gen Zs are also determined to make a positive impact on the world themselves.

    They are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in and they do not doubt their ability to bring about change.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the laudable, courageous kids from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who protested gun violence and called for reform.

    These kids are not impressed by titles. They’re not afraid to speak out.

    Check out this quote from one of the Parkland survivors and activists:

    "We don’t respect people just because we have to [and] don’t respect you just because you have “Senator” in front of your name … and we don't let people steamroll over us. We have voices and we use them for good.”

    7. They Are Active & Adventurous

    Generation Z is more active and adventurous than their millennial predecessors.

    This perhaps has something to do with the fact that Gen Z is more stressed out than Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers.

    Gen Z has reported the worst overall mental health among these generations, according to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America: Stress and Generation Z report.

    Consider this sobering statistic:

    • 91% of Gen Zs between 18 and 21 report having experienced at least one physical or emotional symptom due to stress in the past month compared to 74% of adults overall

    And while one in five adults say they are not doing enough to manage their stress, Gen Z is actively looking for natural ways to reduce stress and anxiety.

    8. Generation Z is Creative

    Unlike generations that came before, Gen Z has all the information they could ever want at their fingertips.

    They don’t have to spend as much time hunting down answers to their questions. Everything is readily accessible.

    The skills necessary for today’s workforce have changed.

    Gone are the days when you could get by on merit or test scores alone.

    Now, employers are looking for:

  • connections (who you know in the company)
  • a high level of productivity
  • communication skills
  • the ability to manage behavior and emotions, and
  • inventive thinking.
  • According to the VP of a social media digital agency, approximately 80% of Gen Zs consider being creative an important aspect of their lives.

    That makes sense considering the kind of creativity it requires to post carefully crafted pictures, selfies and videos on social media!

    9. Gen Z Defines Success for Themselves

    In one survey, 1,395 Gen Zs  were asked what words they would use to describe success.

    The words most frequently written were “Happiness” and “Hard Work”.

    So, this last lesson we can take away from Gen Z is perhaps the most important:

    Pursue your own definition of success.

    If you’re a regular reader here on 3D Success, you know how much I believe in defining success for yourself.

    My Personal Success Story

    I graduated from college, went to law school, passed the Bar exam and got a Masters' degree in Public International Law while living abroad in The Hague ... all based on the premise that formal education was the key to success.

    But, by the time I graduated in 2011 (just in time for the recession, yay!), that formula I mentioned earlier had changed.

    Higher education and advanced degrees no longer guarantee entry-level employment, let alone a lucrative career. 

    I applied to over 1,000 jobs to no avail.

    I tried everything - online applications, indeed.com, cold calling, in person drop-ins, reaching out to former classmates.

    Nothing worked. I just kept getting rejection after rejection after rejection. 

    I was considered "underqualified" for all the legal jobs (no experience or connections), but "overqualified" for all the other kinds of jobs (too much education).

    After years of anxiety and depression, I stopped trying to do what I thought I was supposed to do and started thinking outside the box.

    I used the opportunity to travel, spend time in nature and work some manual labor jobs, eventually retiring from the practice of law altogether when I moved out of state.

    And to a large extent, that change in direction saved my life. 

    Now, I'm a freelance writer and the founder of this blog and I absolutely love what I do.

    I've learned a lot about myself (and continue to do so), about managing anxiety and emotions, about limiting beliefs, goal-setting, the power of mindset, about life.

    Things happen for a reason. In hindsight, I don't think I was ever meant to practice law.

    As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!

    What Do You Really Want Out of Life?

    If I would have stopped for a moment to analyze the situation and decide what I really wanted for myself (and not what society told me to want), I might have realized what I needed to do a lot sooner. 

    It's something that Gen Z probably already knows:

    If you want to live a fulfilling, purpose-driven life that makes you happy, then you've got to pursue your own definition of success.


    Over to you … what word would you use to describe success? Let me know in the comments!


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    About the Author

    Kalliope Archondis, JD, LLM. 👋Hi! I'm Kalli, lawyer turned freelance writer and founder of 3dsuccess.org, a personal development blog dedicated to helping you reach your goals and achieve your definition of success - without all the stress & anxiety. You can read more about me & 3D Success here.