Amanda Hammett had already spoken to hundreds of young-adult groups around North America when, four or five years ago, a woman stood in a college audience to ask a question.
“She said, ‘So, let me get this straight. You understand Millennials, but you also understand Corporate America,’” Hammett recalled. “I said, ‘Yes, that the gist of it.’ Then she said, “You’re like The Millennial Translator.’ I was like, ‘Yes … yes, I am!’”
Hammett trademarked the phrase, and her consulting brand was born.
“I don’t know if that young lady went on to get a marketing job, but she should have,” added Hammett, laughing. “She certainly changed my life.”
Think of Hammett as a human Venn diagram. There are two circles representing companies and Millennials. Hammett is in the middle where they overlap. For Millennials, she’s the big sister who gives them the unvarnished truth about the business world. For organizations, she’s the straight-shooter who teaches them how they can relate better to younger workers, so they can improve recruiting, retention, and profitability.
“It’s not that Millennials are different,” said Hammett, who is featured in “Speaking Millennial,” the new guide from Dynamic Signal. “However, the world has changed since Boomers and Gen Xers grew up. Those different economic and political forces helped form how Millennials see the world. Those things tend to create massive gaps in communication, values, and skills. My job is to bridge that gap.”
Hammett’s own story has been filled with twists and turns. She likes to say her first business venture, at age 7, was as “a loan shark with pigtails,” lending money to her older brother and his friends at exorbitant rates. (Her father, an Army major, was the muscle when they didn’t pay up on time to “Bank of Amanda.”)
After college, she worked as a recruiter before helping create a successful business that sold ticket packages to sporting events. But when a big deal went sour, “I ended up losing it all in a blaze of glory, or whatever is the opposite of glory.”
Devastated at first, Hammett chose not to let the setback define her. She wrote a book about the experience, “Faceplant! Lessons When Life Trips You Up,” and began speaking to anyone who would listen about the importance of resiliency.
“Are you going to sit there and cry, or are you going to get up and brush yourself off, and keep moving forward?” she said. “It would have been easy for me decide that was how my life was going to be. But I was going to step through the fear, take charge of the moment, and tell my story – my way.”
Her work as a go-between for Millennials and companies started when she met another parent while watching her son play T-ball. A bank vice president, he was intrigued by her work speaking to Millennial-aged audiences.
“He started right in, saying: ‘Millennials are just the worst,’ and on and on,” Hammett recalled. “I said, ‘Let me give you some unsolicited advice.’ At that point, nobody had really taken me up on that advice. But that dad listened and put some of what I said into practice. He ended up telling every parent at that baseball complex about this Millennial whisperer he had met.”
Hammett does a mix of things for companies, including workshops, sessions for executives, and company audits where she looks for what she calls “collision points” between Millennials and their leaders.
She knows that many people reading this might be rolling their eyes. She can hear them saying: It’s not enough that Millennials are coddled and self-absorbed, but now they even have a translator? When Hammett began promoting her new Millennial Rockstar podcast series on social media, some comments were so vicious that she has stopped reading all of them.
Hammett reminds herself not to take it personally. Part of it reflects the age-old friction between generations. When she speaks, Hammett often includes a quote from Greek philosopher Socrates originating around 400 BC where he complains about younger people who love luxury, have bad manners, lack respect for authority, etc.
Her point: Much of this tension is natural and inevitable. But today, smart companies have learned how to navigate it successfully.
“Organizations need to be thinking about this just to create a great culture,” Hammett said. “That’s a huge part of employee retention and developing employees long-term. I’m a huge believer of companies who put humans before profits. When you do that, your employees will run absolutely through walls for you.”
That idea really shouldn’t need any translation.
Consultant, trainer, speaker
Home: Atlanta, Ga.
Family: Husband Gene; son Bennett (11)
Education: Bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Agnes Scott College
Company: Core Elevation
Interests: Family, food, travel
Favorite Book: “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen; “Mastery” by Robert Greene
Favorite Movie: “Love Actually”
Favorite TV Show: “This Is Us” and “Black-ish”
Fun Fact: She won her school’s spelling bee as a third-grader.
Best Advice She Received: “I always tell people to don’t judge someone based on when they were born. That’s if you’re a Boomer wondering what Millennials can possibly offer. Or if you’re a Millennial who is frustrated by Boomers and wondering what they have to teach. The fact of the matter is we both have strengths to bring to the table, and it’s just a matter of learning from each other.”
Follow: @AmandaHammett on Twitter, and on LinkedIn