So, What Makes Me an Expert in Millennials and Gen Z?

Updated: Feb 19

I have spent 25 years of my career focused on youth and youth culture. I grew up in the entertainment industry. As a kid and teen living in New York City, I worked in front of the camera as a commercial actress and model.


I thought acting and modeling were boring. Keep in mind that this was before cell phones and the internet as we know it, so when I was on set, there was nothing to do but watch everyone work until the director or photographer started shooting. (Granted, I could have read a book on set, but then we might have ended up with a "Game of Thrones" Starbucks cup-like fiasco.)


As an actress and model, I was always more interested in what everyone was doing behind the camera. They looked like they were busy, and their minds were occupied. I was just sitting there idly waiting for someone to call action while other people tinkered with lights, camera aperture, sound and set design.


I thought a career behind the camera would be more interesting. I quit acting and moved to Los Angeles… I am possibly the only person in the world who moved to Hollywood to quit acting.


I attended the University of Southern California (USC) and ended up working in the entertainment industry a few years after college. That started a long career in corporate communications and publicity in the media industry. I have worked for CBS, Viacom, Discovery, Hasbro, Lionsgate and Condé Nast, to name a few.


Today, I run a communications and management consulting firm specializing in communicating with Millennial and Gen Z employees, consumers, investors, and press. My career has made me an expert in this area and these two generations have dramatically changed the way businesses in the United States function.


While I spent nearly my whole career at traditional media companies, I was fortunate to work in a part of the media business dedicated to targeting youth and making sure they could see our content whenever and wherever they wanted.


I have held senior communications positions at multiple networks and production studios. As a result, I have been on the forefront of digital content distribution and viewing since the 1990s, when it first became a possibility.


Like the advertisers on Madison Avenue, executives in Hollywood, publishing, fashion, music and sports are all obsessed with youth culture and reaching young adults between 18 and 34 years old. Since it is a creative business, we tend to employ younger people in order to tap into the cultural zeitgeist of the times. So, I have spent my career marketing to younger people and managing them as a boss. Voila! The making of an expertise.


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Excerpted from Dr. Joanna Massey’s upcoming book “Culture Shock: Surviving Five Generations in One Workplace."


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