The Millennial Generation gets a bad rap for basically everything we do (or so it seems). We're often called entitled, disconnected, or lacking in perspective of the "real world". Sure, we question everything. And yes, our devices are always in hand, but we have faster access to authentic information about the world's mere mortals than any previous generation. The deeper you explore this phenomenon, the more you find that the fundamental behaviors exhibited by this age group are actually why companies that embrace the Millennial Generation can innovate faster, fail harder, collaborate differently and aspire to incredible greatness. By creating a culture that embraces "Millennial-ism" and capitalizing on these unique behaviors, AlphaSights has not only been able to drive exponential year-on-year growth, but we have also created a unique, authentic culture with insane levels of buy-in and excitement pouring from every end of the business. In this post, I'll cover two facets of our culture that embrace the Millennial mentality and have been massive contributors to our growth.
Full disclosure, this post was heavily inspired by Elite Daily's: 10 TED Talks All Millennials Should Watch For A Source Of Inspiration.
R.I.P. “...because I said so!”
The archetype for delegation has changed. No longer is rewriting a slide for the 99th time to "learn a valuable lesson" worth anyone's time. The "valuable lessons" of preceding generations cannot be learned without deeper understanding of the why. If it's redundant, it has zero value. If work doesn't clearly tie to the vision, it would stand to reason that the work should not be done. Millennials get a bad wrap because of how we challenge the "status quo" (read: challenge everything): "You ask too many questions. Just go off and do it [because I said so]." We probably want to do the thing you're asking us, we just want to know why. We’re not trying to be entitled, but rather, we believe we can deliver a better end result by understanding the vision. Millennial-ism makes us ever-hungry to do it better, but we can't do it better without a full understanding of the problem at hand.
Admittedly, communicating the vision effectively is one of the biggest challenges companies face. One wrong word, and it will sound completely different. At AlphaSights, we spend hours, even days, trying to define and communicate the vision correctly. And guess what...on the Operations side, we still get it wrong about 25% of the time (which is progress, believe it or not), but by not shouting it down in some dictatorial way, my team can walk into a room, admit we blew it and pivot without looking back.
Expressing some vulnerability in that way flattens how organizations communicate. With my team, I will happily admit to them that I probably don’t have the best answer, and we need to generate collective insights to find the best solution. From experience, I may understand data points that they don't, but these data points could also be clouding my judgement. If Millennials are given even the tiniest insight into the vision, we will work harder, be more bought in, feel more ownership and deliver amazing outcomes for our clients and the firm.
Everything we do as a business is based on authenticity and accurately representing ourselves, our work and our advisors.
Our clients come to us expecting complete authenticity and the highest quality work product imaginable, and we're rewarded by the relationships and connections we build with them as a result (yes, we also get paid). Our clients share their nascent investment theses, ask us to help them find a PE deal, come to us in their darkest moments of "my boss needed this project completed yesterday", and expect us to deliver them amazing results and compliant information without fail. They have called us, "rockstars", "amazing", "irreplaceable", and "epic" to list a few. My personal favorite was the consultant that referred to my team as the "Sniper Team". Those wins driven by personal connections are more powerful than any financial reward could ever be. If they can't trust us to be authentic in those crucial moments, we might as well pack it in and go home.
Similarly, one of the most important drivers of our internal culture is that we expect complete authenticity from each other. If you're coming in for an interview it needs to be you, not the person you think we want you to be. If you land the offer, bring your A-game. That's what we hired you for. We spend SO much time together as a team, actually care for each other and know each other so well that you simply cannot come to the table planning to be anything less than authentically you. Everyone has their quirks, but people can see when you’re not being yourself. In order to grow in this company, you need to gain ownership. You get ownership because you've earned trust. You've earned trust because you've worked hard and acted authentically as yourself from the very beginning.
I really could go on forever about the different ways that the Millennial mentality manifests itself at AlphaSights (but I'll spare you). Bottom line — we’re doing amazing things because we have amazing people (yes, Millennials). We have amazing people because we hire hard workers driven by an inherent desire to work with people they trust and want to learn from. We foster that environment by driving towards a vision of what professional services can be and though we may make mistakes along the way, that vision will only be achieved by everyone at AlphaSights buying in and driving towards that. It's our job to create an awesome environment in which that can happen.