The millennial difference: Motivating the newest employee cohort

Chris Warren

When Aaron McDaniel was in high school, there were times when he knew his father thought he was a slacker. And frankly, McDaniel's dad had good reason to wonder about his son's seriousness as a student. "He would walk in when I was studying for a test," recalls McDaniel, who is now 29 years old and the author of The Young Professional's Guide to the Working World. "I would be sitting on my bed talking on the phone with music on in the background while simultaneously IMing a few people. To him, this person is goofing around."

Much to his father's relief, no doubt, McDaniel's academic and professional career has been nothing short of stellar. After graduating from the highly selective University of California, Berkeley, McDaniel has held a variety of executive roles at AT&T — in everything from marketing to operations to customer service — and is one of the youngest people in company history to become a regional vice president. In other words, McDaniel is no slouch; he just has an approach to work that's different from his dad's generation. "It's important to realize that just because we don't do things the same way as other generations, that doesn't mean we don't get things done," says McDaniel, whose book is all about helping his fellow millennials (those born after 1980) navigate the work world.