There is a kernel of truth to every stereotype. Yes, millennials are tech-crazy, entitled and coddled. Some have even earned the nickname “Generation Me.” While there are many millennials who fit into these stereotypes, there are just as many bright ambitious young people pursuing their passions.
I sought out advice from five entrepreneurial millennials to find out what skills and habits ambitious young people need to put into practice in order to break down age barriers and, ultimately, change the world.
Act like the best
As the familiar adage goes: “What you think, you become.” But, maybe it’s time to update it to focus on the world’s youth. The idea that “I’m not old enough” or “I’m not smart enough” can stop young people from living up to their potential in the here and now. The sooner you start to act like you are the best at what you do, the sooner you will be recognized as a leader. Influencer Jared Kleinert says it well “Act as if there is no age barrier. Just do the ambitious stuff that actually matters and people will take notice.”
Work with people your own age
You become the people you surround yourself with. Getting involved in communities like the NextGen Summit, Young Entrepreneur Council, General Assembly, and Forbes Under 30 is crucial. President of a Cleveland-based video production company, Mike Clums’ advice is simple: “Don’t work with old people.” The best way to get past the age barrier? Work with people your own age. Team up, support other people in your age bracket, do favors and have fun. Why? Because it’s all about investing in others and learning to be a leader for your generation.
Dress like an adult
Dress code does not matter, right? That’s what I thought until I spoke with marketing manager Katelyn DeVan. “It can be easy and alluring to say ‘no’ to the traditional ideals of business attire in the name of millennial passion,” she says. “A little bit of polish can go a long way as you encounter other professionals of varying ages. People will judge you no matter what, so you might as well manipulate those reactions to your favor. You don’t have to give up your edge or unique style, but consider the power of first impressions and wear a clean shirt.¨ After listening to her I was completely convinced. Her advice is self-awareness at its finest: reverse engineer what people think and use it to your advantage.
Hone your personal brand
At one point I did not think my personal brand was a big deal. I figured it only mattered if you were someone like Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift. I was so wrong. I was enlightened as to how important it is this summer by personal branding expert Roberto Blake. He explained how personal branding comes down to what your core values are and what you want to communicate. “Your personal brand exists, whether you believe in it or not. Your brand is your reputation, but also the way you make people feel and how they remember you. Your actions craft the narrative the people will share about you long after you leave the room.” Ever since I learned this from Blake I have been communicating my core values via my personal brand, like giving value, and being empathetic and authentic. Self-awareness is crucial. Take a step back. Figure out what value you can bring, and then introduce your personal brand to the world.
Believe in yourself
It was one of those days. I had just made a huge mistake with a big client. Afterwards I messaged one of my mentors, Mahbod Moghadam, founder of Everipedia about what had happened. He had gave me some great advice. “Connor: trust yourself. My cofounders are way younger than I am, and they are way smarter than I am, too. Failure stinks, but you learn from it. And that is how you grow.” Believing in yourself is a major key to success in anything you do. Trusting yourself to come out on top no matter how bad the situation is allows you to dive into anything that comes without fear of failure.
This post was originally published on Forbes.