Monday, February 27, 2012

The Generation Translation Series: More Insights to the Millennials

I guess now would be a good time to make sure we're all on the same page with this fundamental tactic when it comes to understanding those under 35 years old.

Those of us in the Millennial era do not want to be regarded as though we come from a uniform mold or approached as though you're using rules from a text book. We don't want a systems approach or use of generic recipes when you try to engage us. Possibly more than any generation before us, we are defined individually. This is why you cannot expect to fundamentally change us en masse. We need the personal, individual approach. Teach us the truth on a personalized level, with relationship and in genuine spirit. Help us see the truth how it applies to our individual worlds.

Building upon this basic mindset, now onto other thoughts to consider:

1. Provide Credible Sources. And when I say "credible" I mean credible to your audience (or children/grandchildren) not necessarily you. After-all, who are you trying to reach?

Sadly, to quote the Founding Fathers, God, an author in the Bible, Winston Churchill, the great George Whitefield, Russell Kirk, Glenn Beck, Mother Theresa or Rush Limbaugh, may mean very little to the young adult audience you are trying to reach. Keep in mind a) they may not recongize the names (for whatever reason)and  b) if they do recognize the names, it's highly possible they came to their awareness of them in skewed or inaccurate context.

Find out who in the current culture your young adult respects and holds in high regards. I.e. Take Hollywood. It's obvious that a Millennial generation member and younger has a passion for things on the screen. If a famous actress or song writer makes a point about something, it's highly likely your young adults listen. So find someone - even of a smaller profile actor, but from the same culture - who makes the point you're attempting to hit home and catch your young person's attention. (Try starting with Chuck Norris!)

2.  We use our senses. We've been raised in a touchy-feely generation. So ponder ways to reach our hearts and minds through our senses. Don't over-study this feature of our generation's culture. Just take it into consideration that our education isn't only through reading or hour long seminars. Sometimes we can be engaged in other ways. Here are some random ideas:

Eyes - Perhaps your daughter had a passion for art in college, take her to a special art museum that reflects paintings of America's beginnings and what made this country great. Use it to stir conversation.

Pull out photos from your great grandparents to put a face to history to bring context to what today looks like for the younger generation. Perhaps this will encourage them to consider, our ancesters made great sacrifices for the freedoms we have. Even our own blood.

Ears - If you know of a funny comedian that makes the point on the value of country and freedom and you know your teenager likes to laugh: surprise him/her with a night out. Have a nice chat on the way home.

Mouth - If you want to catch the attention of your grandson, to get him to the table to talk to him about the Presidential election, woo him with some of your favorite cookies or apple pie. Am I serious? Yes. You will have his captive attention and it will give you an opportunity to build relationship.

Nose - Take a group of young adults you work with who are looking for an avenue to give back to the community to a homeless shelter, or to clean up an abandon home. When they catch whiff of those who might be in need of a shower or homes that have collected items to be disposed for awhile, use it as a conversation starter: if it wasn't for big government... or

Skin or Touch - If you have younger ones who you can still help manage their time, join them in creating a garden, or volunteering for an older couple on a farm. Touch the dirt. The animals. The crops. And have the conversation: that work ethic matters. That the more we need from government, the more the government takes from Grandpa and Grandma.

And remember, no young adult wants to feel like the person approaching them is formally going through a routine. So don't pull out your 12 point list of things you want to convince them of while they are eating their apple pie. But use these as moments to build relationships, ask them questions about what matters to them and as they see they are valued, hopefully they will start to listen to you and thus awaken to the truth.

Some things to ponder... more in the Translation Series soon.