An Ode To Millennial Leaders in the Age of COVID-19

Our generation has been pegged as a selfish generation. A generation that is financially carefree. A generation that could care less about ownership. A generation that is not serious about life or work. Whether this reigns true or not, we are the product of our circumstances.

We have never known a life without TSA, where planes don’t fly into buildings. We have never known a life without war. We have never known a life without continuous major economic disruption. We have never known a life without horrific natural disasters. We have never known a life where one is safe to enter public spaces without fear of being shot down.

Now, we have a new bonding tie – COVID-19. Something that we will collectively look back at and say “I was there”.

We need to deeply think about how to become leaders and agents of change to protect all of society, not just American society. As COVID-19 has so beautifully shown us how inextricably linked to each other we are.

As the only generation that has experienced two major recessions and a pandemic prior to the ripe age of 40, we have come of age during a time of so much predictability and promise – yet unpredictability at every turn. Life is full of adversity and uncertainty. We have seen it. We have lived it. We have learned how to adapt and be a resilient people. Hence, our views and approach to life have been molded and continue to evolve as a result.

So for our older generations reading this, we have watched you live to work and watched employers treat you as disposable assets – as they are now. Understand that we work to live because we have seen you and our parents lose their jobs – sometimes more than once. We have come to understand that life and work is fragile and not-guaranteed.

We care about experiences, because people make them invaluable. We don’t believe in some winning and some losing, or some having access and some not. The socially interconnected world, that we are the children of, has made our universe incredibly small. We are in this together. Regardless of the access that we have, things go wrong for us quite often. We create. We share. We learn. The internet became our great equalizer. We watch our fellow Millennials around the world stand up for what they believe in, and aggregate hundreds, thousands if not millions of followers. If there aren’t great people around the world, we will not be able to have the collective beautiful life experiences that we cherish and hold in an esteemed position.

Whether you care about “Hope” or “Making America Great Again”, now is not the time to harp on these differences as America and the rest of the globe is seemingly falling to pieces. We are going to inherit this world whether we want to or not. What are we going to do as the next business leaders to be prepared for the next domestic or international catastrophe that will be our job to prevent and fix? How will we work and act differently than companies, c-suites leaders and managers are currently?

The question that we will be asking employers when they are hiring is, “How did your company react and what steps did they take to protect their employees during COVID19”?

We are the generation that is best equipped to grow during times like these. We are a generation that never stops. We are never turned off. Now we are being forced to. It is imperative for us to take time to reflect on what is important in our lives and to the lives of the people adjacent to us.

We do not fight the power – we are the power. If not the most powerful.

We don’t let people stop us from following our crazy dreams, concocting worlds that our parents and grandparents could not even imagine. We connect the dots between the generations above and below us. This is a time for innovation. For the greatest minds to come together and fix what will become the world’s new big hairy problems. Focus on the solutions – not the problems. As there are endless problems to solve that are quietly waiting for a solution. If we don’t learn how to think and work through chaos now, then we are doing ourselves, our future companies and employees a disservice.

I challenge you and myself to:

  • Reflect on where have you been and where you would like to go (not for travel, but in life).
  • Read voraciously – don’t fall into the deep abyss of the television screen, twitter or instagram. Keep learning.
  • Allocate time to call, facetime, and houseparty friends and family.
  • Stay physical. Working from home will be extra-normalized now. Take care of your body.
  • Look at markets and industries that are being enhanced or destroyed and why.
  • Take advantage of people being home, reach out to leaders that you want to learn from and ask for time on their calendar.
  • Start the project that you have been putting off, because you “were too busy”. You have all the time in the world. No excuses now.

Ask Yourself: Are You Truly A Leader – Or Will You Be Crippled By Chaos?

Do not act on fear. This is a time for leaders to emerge and be born. We are the next leaders of our world and we should take this honor in stride. Use this time to learn how to be the best leaders that we can be. To be the leaders that we were born to be. We were built for this, and our world is and will be a better place because of us.

The question we should be asking ourselves is, “What am I doing to become a better human and leader during this time?” Whether this historic period lasts 3 weeks or 6 months, we need to individually and collectively look back and be able to say – look at how I grew, what I learned, or what I started. Do not look back and say wow – I did nothing.

Be safe. Be well.


I am Morgan Franklin – a business school student at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. That is my title. It is a precarious one to have and possibly the safest during a time of chaos. I started MBA: The Blog to share what this experience is like with the world, but also as a way for me to be able to look back and remember this time that is seemingly fleeting. Little did I, nor anyone else, know that we would have potentially the biggest health pandemic and crisis of our lifetime within this two year span. I hope this post inspires you, regardless of how dire the overall situation or your personal situation is, to think differently about how to approach now and the future.

Tagged with: