The BLOG: Voices

CEO lays out 8 ways for millennials to succeed

For the past few years I have been researching, reading and studying on how to hire — and then manage — the millennial generation. More importantly, what do millennials need to do to be successful? Here are eight true-and-tried recommendations:

1) Study. Read about people who had your job/position, or worked on a similar project. Read about it. Study it. And then read and study some more. You can’t learn through osmosis. Believe me, I tried. There are no shortcuts. For over two decades I have read at least two books each month in the evenings on topics that help me with my job. Instead of playing video games all night, read.

2) Don’t be an a**hole. My grandfather used to say “it takes the same amount of energy to be nice and helpful as it does to be an a**hole.” Be kind. Be nice. Be respectful. “Please” and “thank you” are quickly becoming lost phrases. Use them.

3) Be positive, passionate and enthusiastic. Yes, even introverts and people that deem themselves as shy can be energetic and enthusiastic about a task, project or job. No one likes or wants negative, grumpy people working for them or with them. We work hard at our company to hire for attitude and aptitude. Be that can-do employee.

4) Pay your dues. You ain’t becoming EVP or CEO overnight. Ever. Work hard. Do your job. Do it well. Do it with enthusiasm, even if it sucks. No matter how high you climb up the career ladder, we all have tasks and duties that we must do that, well, suck.

5) Ask “what else?” When you finish a project or task and submit it to your manager, always ask: “What else do you need?” Or say “Is there anything else I can do for you?” Guess what? Ninety-nine percent of the time your supervisor won’t have anything else, but they will be impressed with your ‘go-getterness’ and you will stand out. The truth is, they will be having a stroke because a millennial just asked for more to do instead of rushing out and playing ultimate frisbee.

6) Make your boss look good. I have found this to be one of the biggest downfalls for millennials in the workforce. Many are so self-absorbed and focused on themselves and their career goals that they miss the big picture. If you make your boss look good, and even make it so they get the credit, believe it or not, it makes both of you look good.

7) Be on time. Seriously, be on time. Arriving late for a meeting or conference call is rude and disrespectful to all the other participants. And for crissakes, be prepared. Stay off your smartphone when in meetings … pay attention; participate.

8) Grow thick skin. This is for all the daisies out there with their helicopter parents. Life is tough. Jobs can be tough. Bosses can be tough. Learn to take criticism. And most importantly, be coachable. None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. Despite your parents reinforcing how perfect you are, you will make mistakes. Own them and learn from them.

As a millennial, you are part of one of the largest workforces ever. The truth is, many employers must do a better job communicating, providing more flexibility and work-life balance, and of course, training. But you millennials must do your part, and do your part well. Remember, there are no awards for just showing up. Make yourself stand out by delivering value to your job and your company with a positive attitude.

B. Dan Berger is the President and CEO of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions. He writes at Follow him on Twitter at @BDanBerger.