PLAYOLOGY | The Real Issue With Simon Sinek’s Millennials In The Workplace Interview
Simon Sinek, Millennials, Work Place Culture, Leadership, Company Culture
Simon Sinek, Millennials, Work Place Culture, Leadership, Company Culture
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28 Aug The Real Issue With Simon Sinek’s Millennials In The Workplace Interview

The below post is 100% my $0.02 on the Millennials in the Work Place Interview By Simon Sinek. This is a longer read than most of the posts on this site – but I know if you stick around to the end it will give you the chance to see millennials in a completely different light.

Some of you might know who Simon Sinek is from his infamous Ted Talk “How great leaders inspire action”. Some of you may not and that is ok also. In 2009, Simon started a movement to help people become more inspired at work and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers. Since then, millions have been touched by the power of his ideas, including more than 28 million who’ve watched his TED Talk based on START WITH WHY.

He was recently interviewed on a video talking about the millennial paradox – while it is a great video to open peoples eyes about millennials (it has generated over 55 million views as I write this) it seems like a lot of people are totally on board with everything that he has to say.

Unfortunately, I feel a little bit different. There are definitely some things that he nailed but there are some things that I think he is way off on.

One of the biggest things is- he is an older gen-xer –currently 44 – and he is trying to speak for and about a single generation without really knowing what it is like to BE that generation.

Everything in this interview has been lumped into the fact that it is JUST a millennial problem. While I do not think it was his intent honestly I feel like it started off with a lot of millennial bashing.

Over the course of this post I will be highlighting things that he has said –I’ll give him credit where credit is due in the places where I agree with him – BUT I also want to share an opposing opinion where I feel things are different.

I feel deep in my heart that it is time for the millennial bashing to stop, for people to stop hyper focusing on all things that are wrong with the generation and really start focusing on the great things we do.I hope this will serve as a starting point to DISRUPT that current pattern.

The beginning of the video starts off with Simon talking about things that are important to millennials in the work force – mainly noting purpose and making an impact. I was completely taken back by the undersided low blow that was expressed about impact. While he made a bit of fun about it, lets sit back and think – what kind of impact would YOU like to make in the world?

If you are spending 8+ hours a day at work, wouldn’t it be great to have the work that you do or the organization that you work have you knowing that you are making a difference?

Is this really a only a millennial thing?

I don’t think so.

I know for me, that impact extremely important.

Take for instance over the Christmas holidays – one of the teams that I supervise partnered with the community to “Bring Christmas” to two families that were not in a position to afford one. Each family got to wake up on Christmas morning with presents under their tree thanks to the efforts that my team was able to create.

Do you think this made a huge impact for this family? Absolutely!

Do you think this made an impact on my team? Without a doubt.

Being able to be part of something that was bigger than them helped fill them up, gave them a sense of purpose and they got to see first hand how their efforts made an impact in the lives of those kids.

So excuse us for not just thinking about the bottom line of the organization – it is great to make money, but the ability to create impact comes in the form of “soul money.”

This helps you wake up every morning and go to work for someone else.

The next part of the interview was spent breaking down the four biggest places that he sees contributing to the problem.

These are Parenting, Technology, Impatience and the Environment.

For each of these – I am providing a quick summary and then my thoughts:



According to Simon – Failed parenting is one of the main causes of this paradox – he says that it is because parents of millennials grew up telling us that we were special, that we can have anything that we want in life, that we were put into honors classes just because our parents complained, that we got A’s solely because our teachers did not want to deal with our parents and of course the being given the participation medals.

My thoughts

This entire section is a complete generalization about a group of people who just happen to be dubbed “millennials”. He also quotes millennials being born “approximately” 1984 and after.

Being completely forth coming – we as a society have not even cemented in the complete age range of millennials. Some have it starting as early as the late 70’s, some have the cut off at 1980 and others start it around 1984. The youngest millennial cut off between 2000-2004. What does this mean? It means that everyone has an opinion or an idea as to who THEY think millennials are. It also means that we have some “cuspers” that fall into the middle of the generations. So by most definitions, being born in 1981, I am a millennial.

I have my own theory on this – I will indulge deeper in another post/episode – so quickly within the “millennial” generation – we actually have 3 different groups. Yes you heard that correctly.

Group 1 – The older millennials – the cuspers or as I like to think the Gen- linnials. We are the group that range from about 1980- 1983/84 – the part of the generation that truly has the best of both worlds. Part Gen X influence – Part Millennial spirit

Group 2 – 1985-1991 – this group of individuals are the most misunderstood group of millennials – why you ask? Because they society has painted all of them out to be entitled and lazy when they are just the opposite. This group is hard working and were pre trophy phase so most of them truly understand the value of competiting to be the best and are willing to put in the work to get there. They also hate being associated with being a millennial and would MUCH rather be Gen X.

Group 3 – 1992 – 200? – This is the group that MOST people are referring to – they are the “participation trophy generation”. From the research I was able to put together – it was in the early 90’s that giving trophies to every kid became normal. During this period – every kid playing a sport also was required to play in each game. Another thing to remember is that this is also the group of kids that had babies raising babies. Young parents who were just kids themselves, trying to do the best with what they had and what they knew.

I personally think it is very important to look at these three groups when we were are talking about everything in regards to millennials.

It really upsets me for someone to try to put it all on parents. I come from the thinking – it takes a village to raise a child. It was not just the lack of parenting skills – it is about the lack of values and morals?

Schools spend 8 hours a day with most kids- sometimes more than their parents – there is some need for ownership to be held here.

My parents were hard on me and they were just as hard on my younger sibling who are both millennials as well. But the one thing that sticks out today are the core values that were instilled in all of us. The commitment and lessons about grit that we got from being enrolled in sports. These are values that we govern ourselves by still. So the sole failure does not belong to JUST the parents.

It is also the responsibility of the teachers, coaches and other positive role models not modeling as well as they could.

Next up – Technology

Simon said that all millennials live with a “filter on their world.”, we care too much about likes and getting text messages. Our phones and social media are highly addictive. This imbalance of social media and cell phones have become a huge problem. He believes that we are missing coping mechanisms and without these we do not have the right tools to deal with the stress.

My thoughts

I am with him here-I hear him fully. I get the addiction, when I am without my phone for too long I go crazy.

In fact as I create this content it is sitting right next to me – only an arms reach away. I probably look at the screen 150 times a day. Most of my friends are the same.

But my issue here is that this is NOT only a millennial issue and it does not stop me from building my business or getting work done. Plus, this issue spreads across generations – people in most generations have this problem.

Social media – if most of us are being truthful will find a lot of us constantly check our posts for likes (and hearts). I still remember getting all excited when my last profile picture hit 200 likes (and how many times I checked as it headed that way). Millennial only problem – I still think not. There are plenty of Gen-Xers that check their Facebook multiple times a day. They are just as addicted as we are and sometimes just as disconnected.


Instant Gratification

According to Simon, “Everything you want- you can have instantaneously- everything you want instant gratification –except of job satisfaction and strength of relationships. There ain’t no app for that –they are slow meandering uncomfortable messy processes.”

He goes on to mention that all we care about is the “impact” and that impact is the top of the summit. He believes that we are missing the mark because we do not see the mountain. He says “The generation needs to learn patience and things that matter like love, job fulfillment, joy, love of life and skill set – these all take time.”

My thoughts

This section is loaded and I think this is where the 3 different groups really come into play. There are so many things that are right with what he said but there are also a million other factors to consider.

Do we need to learn patience – yes absolutely. But again this is not solely attached to millennials.

I love that he shares things that matter – each of those ARE extremely important and they do take time. Just like learning to play a sport.

However with technology has come the ability to cut the learning curve in half. We have everything at our finger tips.

This is part of the reason why some millennials can and are moving faster than generations before.

Even within the generation Groups 1 and 2 are slower at learning than Group 3.

So do I fault my generation for trying to get to the summit as fast as possible? No, I don’t. We are hungry and have the drive and motivation to be the best.

My question to you is – would you rather have a person who just sees the mountain and hangs out safely around the bottom looking at it or the person who is hungry to actually get in and climb to the summit?

I’ll take the climber for sure – ambition is amazing.

Sure there will be bumps and bruises on the way, paired with a couple of slips, falls and rest breaks – but with the proper mentorship, training and development the lessons learned on the way up that summit will be gold.

As a generation are we entitled? Well, that depends on the person you are talking to but this is another generalized generalization of the generation. Some people are entitled. Honestly, I think that is the same as walking around saying that all wealthy people are entitled. Some might be others might not.

Lastly he goes on to talk about the environment.


Truthfully guys, this is where I finally have to hand it to the guy. He is pretty spot on here. He says “ Corporate environments care mostly about the numbers than the kids, short term gains vs. the long term life of the millennial.” He mentions that we are being put in environments that are helping build confidence, aren’t helping learn social skills of cooperation and aren’t helping them overcome the challenge of the digital world and find more balance.
At a certain point he says that the worst part is that we think it is us but it isn’t – it is the corporation.

“It is the corporation, it’s the total lack of good leadership in our world today that is making them feel the way they do.” Simon Sinek

I couldn’t agree more with the statement about the lack of leadership. Too many people are “managing” using old outdated leadership styles. We manage money – we don’t manage people. We manage tasks – we don’t manage staff.

We lead people.

We coach teams.

This shift is a HUGE game changer.

Corps are not only failing their millennial employees – they are failing ALL employees and leaders. Leaders need to be developed so they can in turn develop those underneath them.

I have had the pleasure of leading thousands of staff and there is one thing that is true every time – build trust and be willing to coach and teach and you will get a different outcome.

In response to his one comment about free food and bean bags – I have to say, these perks are great but it is not a demand. What needs to accompany these amazing perks is a great culture – one that breeds trust, connection, innovation, relationships and both personal and professional development.

Culture is the key – leadership development is the access.

For those of you that would like to see the video – please head over to this awesome video I found 

Leave a comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts!


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