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Simon Sinek: There's Not a Problem With Millennials, But...

Simon Sinek, motivational speaker and author of Together Is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration, joined Glenn in studio today for a lengthy discussion about the Millennial generation. While there are troubling trends Sinek noted about Millennials, he also pointed to other generational traits that are neither good or bad, but a byproduct of early experiences.

"Every generation is impacted by whatever's going on during their formative years. If you grew up during the Depression and the Second World War, during rations, probably you're a little miserly," Sinek said.

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One significant challenge facing Millennials is technology, which breeds isolation and loneliness. Ever the optimist, Sinek offered tangible ways for parents and Millennials to reverse this trend.

Enjoy the complimentary clip above or read the transcript below for details.

GLENN: Let's get into a couple things. Because you just gave a really good assessment of the problem of millennials. The problem with millennials and how -- I shouldn't say it that way.

SIMON: That's how it's phrased to me.

GLENN: Yeah.

SIMON: I had an answer because every time I spoke anywhere, someone would invariable raise their hand and say, "So we're having problems leading our millennials. Or can you address the millennial problem."

GLENN: And you and I -- in fact, everybody in this room, we totally agree with you. There's not a problem with millennials.

SIMON: There's not a problem with millennials.

GLENN: Right. You want to explain.

SIMON: Yeah. So I got the question all the time, so I had to fashion an answer. As is my nature, I sort of talked to a lot of people and made some observations and tried to share what I observed and broke it down into four basic observations: Parenting, technology, and patience, and environment. And really quickly, I won't do the whole thing -- but basically, parents themselves -- this is not like me judging parents. But if you go look at the data, it's not psychologists. It's parents themselves who, as their kids got older, looked back and said, "I think we did some things wrong. I think we screwed this up a little bit."

And there's an excessive amount of coddling, you know, Purelling the heck out of anything, you know, literally and figuratively. And what happens is a generation grows up overly coddled with a lack of independence. So you can argue that, to some degree, parents bear some responsibility, which I think is not unfair.

The other is technology, which is a hard one because no one can argue against the fact that technology has been a huge benefit to us in our lives and made certain things a lot easier. However, everything comes at a cost. And the cost of excessive amounts of technology are multiple -- are multi-faceted. One, there are addictive qualities to technology. Social media and cell phones, specifically. There's a chemical called dopamine that is released. When we -- when our phones go -- bing or buzz or flash, that's the same chemical that's released when we drink, when we smoke, when we gamble. Almost all addictions are dopamine-based addictions. In other words, it's addictive. And like all addictions, in time, you will waste time, waste resources, and most importantly, destroy relationships. And that's exactly what we seem to be seeing.

I talk to a lot of young people, and they freely admitted that their friendships are superficial. That though they have fun with their friends, they wouldn't turn to their friends in hard times.

GLENN: Wow.

SIMON: They freely admitted that there's a sense of loneliness and isolation that they struggle with, and that they struggle to ask for help. They all sound tough. Like -- this is a Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat world. We're good at curating our lives, you know, filtering everything to show the world how we want it to be seen. But there's a distinct lack of social skills to literally ask for help. And, you know, millennials often say we want feedback. What they want is positive affirmation. They're not very good with negative feedback.

STU: That's so true.

SIMON: And one of the big criticisms that was lodged against that answer, was how can I generalize and categorize an entire generation?

GLENN: Well, because at some point, you have to.

SIMON: Well, the fact of the matter is, one can make generalizations; otherwise, you wouldn't have disciplines like psychology or sociology.

But also, every generation is impacted by whatever's going on, during their formative years. If you grew up during the Depression and the Second World War, during rations, probably you're a little miserly. You know, we made fun of our grandparents.

GLENN: Until our grandparents died.

SIMON: Right. My grandparents collected everything, wouldn't waste anything.

There's nothing wrong with them. It's just that they grew up -- they came of age in a time where that's what they learned. And so it lasted the rest of their life. It's a generation based on what they went through.

If you came of age during the 1960s and '70s, during the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon, you're a little cynical about authority and government.

It's not -- these are fair generalizations. So we have to consider that there are things that have happened in the formative years of this generation, largely technological, that has an impact.

GLENN: So how does this -- how does this generation turn out? Let me take a pause. You think about that. What does that mean now for the coming generation?

(chuckling)

[break]

GLENN: Simon Sinek is with us. He's the author of a new book Together Is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration. He is the author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last. If you have not read those books, you need to read those books.

Truly a guy who can get down to your core on who you are and why you're driven to do the things that you are. The good things. When you find those things, you're going to be totally transformed and life becomes so much easier.

Simon, we were talking about millennials. And I guess we only got through half of the points on what's affecting millennials.

STU: Yeah, it might be too long. Maybe people should just go and check out the whole thing. Because it's worth it. What is it? Fifteen, 20 minutes?

SIMON: Fifteen minutes.

GLENN: It's really, really good. Tell us where you think -- what does this mean -- what does the generation -- the millennial generation look like in 20 years?

SIMON: So the statistics -- the trends are already kind of alarming. And I think we need to take note of the trends, which is, we see suicide on the rise amongst this generation. Addiction to prescription drugs on the rise. You know, people who criticize this talk say, "Yes, suicides on the rise amongst other generations too."

Yes, but let's -- you know, this -- we want to see it decline in the younger generation, not increase.

GLENN: Yes.

SIMON: I give you a perfect example. A friend of mine, she's working with me over at my apartment. She's 27, 28 years old. And about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, she opens up her bag and pops a pill.

So I say to her, "What's up?" You know. She goes, "I'm just taking an Adderall."

I said why?

She goes, I'm having trouble concentrating.

I said, that's because it's 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Like, everybody has trouble concentrating at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

But for some reason, the intense pressure that I think her generation has on her, both to be individuals, but also to perform, there's a sense that she literally believed that a dip in her concentration in the afternoon would -- there was something broken in her brain.

So she's medicating with these Adderall to keep her focus intense.

That's impossible.

GLENN: Really bad.

SIMON: It's really bad.

So my fear is that the trend data is alarming. And if we don't intervene, it's only going to get worse.

School shootings is another one. There was one school shooting in the '60s. Twenty-seven in the '80s. Fifty-eight in the '90s. Over 120 in the past decade. Seventy percent of them perpetrated by kids born after the year 1980. These school shootings are done by kids.

GLENN: Yeah.

SIMON: And it's an antisocial behavior like suicide.

GLENN: Right. I know you're going to disagree with this, but it's not the gun. It is a sign -- it's a cry for help. There is something wrong.

SIMON: There's -- and it's a -- they're feeling lonely and isolated.

GLENN: Yes.

SIMON: Which is exaggerated by things like technology. Because you can have an entire friendship and social life online without ever having to go outside and meet other people. And I'm hearing some of the struggles that parents are having. A 14-year-old -- people I met who have a 14-year-old who struggles to answer the front door because there's a person there.

GLENN: Oh, my gosh.

SIMON: Or I make a joke that this young generation, when they're using their phones -- Google Maps to get from A to B. You know, walking through a city and their phones die, that they'll spend more time looking for a charger than simply asking someone for directions.

And sort of a fear or a lack of skills to ask for help, you know. Or admit that they need help.

And so what that creates is isolation and loneliness.

GLENN: This is really not good.

SIMON: Now, here's a scary, scary statistic. Guess which demographic has the highest rate increase for suicide in America right now? Not absolute number, but highest rate of increase. Girls, ten to 14. It's doubled. It has doubled. Amongst men, it's Baby Boomers that have the highest rate of increase, but number two is boys ten to 14.

PAT: Jeez.

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