Ed Baker may be the long-time (29 years) publisher of the Atlanta Business Chronicle, but he knows how to relate to the Millennial Generation. And that was his plan recently when he spoke at Clayton State University as part of the College of Business’ Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series.
Actually, it might be more accurate to say that Baker conducted an extensive question and answer session with a roomful of Clayton State students, administrators, faculty and staff. And, although there were certainly a few Baby Boomers, in addition to Baker, in the crowd, there was no doubt from the start who he considered his most import audience.
“I love what you’re doing here, and I’m focusing on the students tonight,” he began, asking right from the start for questions from the audience.
With the first inquiry being on the state of the economy in Atlanta, Baker was off and running.
“Hotlanta is back,” he said. “A modern day reincarnation of Hotlanta is happening now in town.”
Baker specifically pointed to several sectors as being the key to this reincarnation; new buildings, banks lending again, the two new sports stadiums, the hospitality industry, movies and entertainment, gaming, app development, and start-ups and entrepreneurship.
And, “in terms of the general economy, things are in good shape,” he added.
Warming to his stated audience, Baker then spent much of the remainder of his time talking about Millennials and answering their questions – mostly on their jobs (present and future) and careers. But first, he had some advice…
“You are all smart, but how do you differentiate yourselves?” he asked, answering his own question by urging the students to learn to write better. “Businesses want people who can communicate and who also have good presentation skills.”
Baker also recognized a less-positive aspect of many Millennials in his discourse – a tendency to, let’s say, wing it.
“Make your deadlines,” he urged. “Business operates in a deadline world, even if you don’t. Everything can’t be spontaneous.”
Ultimately, Baker also recognized the importance of Millennials moving forward, noting that a demographic shift is happening wherein there are now more Millennials than Baby Boomers. And, indeed, a study by the Pew Research Center (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/01/16/this-year-millennials-will-overtake-baby-boomers/) confirms that, during 2015, Millennials will surpass Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation.
Since the Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age, “there will be enormous opportunities for you in five years. Millennials are the workforce of the future,” he said. “Do you have plan? Start planning now, even if you change it. You can’t get there, no matter where there is, without a plan, and most Millennials don’t have a plan. Most of you have focused on grades and finishing college. When you get out, you’re going to be graded every day, in a different way.”
Finally, Baker noted that Millennials are also a social media generation and that tends to lead to a herd mentality, a mentality of staying in the pack.
“Paint your own picture, write your own ticket,” he urged.
Photo Caption: From left to right; Clayton State University Dean of Business Dr. Avinandan Mukherjee, Ed Baker, Clayton State President Dr. Thomas Hynes, Clayton State Interim Associate Dean of the College of Business and Professor of Management Dr. Louis Jourdan. (Erin Fender photo).