Why Millennials failed to transform work

Shounak Bagchi
10 min readNov 30, 2022

Five years ago, while I was living in New York and working on a piece about Millennials’ workplace demands, I got a call from the CEO of Liftopia, Evan Reece, asking if I could interview him for the article. Reece’s start-up scooped up unpurchased ski lift tickets at a discounted price and then sold them to non-ski resort members. Evan told me while one goal was to let people shred on a budget, his broader ambition was creating a “new Millennial-inspired workplace.”

Confident that he was laying the foundation for a professional revolution, Reece offered to fly me out to San Francisco to show me his plans for transforming the dynamics of work. He explained that he and a number of Millennial start-up founders were going to modernize how we do our jobs, in-person and remotely.

I was then a young and naive Millennial worker myself. I still vividly remember a boss denying me time off after my father died. When I gave one company six months’ notice because I was attending graduate school, they tried to cut my salary in half. And two weeks after moving to New York, I was fired because my company changed their minds and wanted all the workers in Seattle (they now specialize in remote work solutions).

Thus, I was interested in attempts to change work for the better. I hopped on the next flight to see Reece in the Bay Area.

In the winter of 2017, I spent the week interacting with all the companies Reece was working with to transform the workplace for the next generation. During that time, I spoke with over a dozen organizations who said they cracked the code to reboot our professional lives for the better.

Each CEO shared with me their vision of how Millennials would take back the workplace and upgrade our professional lives — how management structure would be turned upside down and work-life balance would become a reality, and how work would be an extension of spending time with family and friends.

The CEOs wanted to ensure that their employees were cognizant of their revolutionary work. During one meeting, I sat in a conference room called the “disruptors’ ‘ that had photos of historians’ greatest contrarians (there were pictures of George Washington, Caesar, and Kanye West). Every Friday employees got an automated email with the subject line “how you revolutionized work this week.”

A year later, I came back to check on their progress. During this meeting, one CEO walked me…

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Shounak Bagchi

Founder of Honest Wednesdays and pragmatic optimist.