What’s Up With These Millennials? All They Do is Start Businesses and Learn Foreign Languages.

by Greg Prestemon

Being around young people gives me energy.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like or appreciate older…I mean “experienced” people.

I just celebrated 60 years of experience, and there are a lot of good things about getting older. You learn that people are the only irreplaceable thing in life. You come to understand that while whatever you face might be a calamity, it is most likely not the end of the world.

Plus, you get cheap movie tickets, which is pretty sweet.

When you’re my age, every day is $5 Tuesday at the movie theater.

But young people are great, too.

I wrote a few weeks ago about the robotic Easter eggs students in St. Charles County built for vision-impaired kids, with the help of the St. Charles County Police bomb squad.

A few days after that I learned about another young person who’s doing some cool things in our community.

Montana Conway is a young entrepreneur at OPO Startups and a student at St. Charles Community College. Being a fluent Spanish speaker, Montana has turned his knowledge into a business where he tutors others and provides light translation services—all while attending college classes and having a name that makes him sound like some sort of 21st century Steve McQueen.

“I am really impressed with Montana,” said OPO Startups Community Manager Megan McKissen. “He’s ambitious, friendly, and makes the most of the resources and connections available here at OPO Startups. He’s the youngest entrepreneur we’ve had here, and he’s awesome at follow-through. I’m really proud of him, and I’m proud of this community for having resources available for young entrepreneurs like Montana.”

Megan told me about Montana while we were discussing different success stories at the EDC incubator and OPO Startups, and it made me think—again—how inaccurate the stereotype of the lazy young millennial is.

First of all, the term “millennial” has been around for a while, and usually encompasses people born between 1981-2000. Millions of older millennials are full-grown adults with families of their own. I have millennials on my staff who’ve had multiple children. Using this definition, we work with one millennial who has a millennial child of his own.

(He’s a smart guy who knows a little bit about a lot of things—except for family planning.)

Point being, millennials aren’t a generation of lazy, screen-addicted skateboarders.

Do they live at home longer and marry later?

Yes—but millennials can’t be both lazy and incompetent and simultaneously responsible for every problem society faces.

Millennials live at home longer because of a schizophrenic housing market, unprecedented student debt, and a job market that cratered just as many in their generation entered the labor force.

Those challenges, coupled with technology that has drastically reduced the barriers of entry to starting a business, have also created a generation of entrepreneurs. We see that in our incubator here at the EDC and at OPO Startups on a regular basis.

Young people come to these facilities filled with ideas and idealism, and it inspires me.

It’s exactly the antidote we need to the narrative that the world is an awful place and will only get worse once the robots take over.

I don’t think that’s true, and one of the reasons I don’t believe our societal glass is half-empty is because of young people like Montana Conway, an ambitious young entrepreneur and student, who decided to forego a career as the next Steve McQueen (which is what many people with a name like Montana Conway would have done), and start a tutoring and translation business.

By starting this business and going to school, Montana is one of many young people in our community who disprove the stereotype of the lazy millennial.

And disapproving stereotypes is a pretty Steve McQueen thing to do.

Greg Prestemon is President and CEO of the St. Charles County EDC Business and Community Partners.