Here I am, in 2016, writing for a financial publication. Spoopy.
Ten years ago, if you had told me that I’d be working my ass off for several businesses and projects around the nation, I would have thought it paid better. But alas, the reality is that millennial entrepreneurs have no money – between affording rent, a dog, a car, schooling, food, and the odd case of beer every month.
I started out after finishing my years at U of T, by creating The Enigma Agency. It was the culmination of not being able to find a job (the opposite of what was promised going in) and a few of my friends needing real cash fast. It was a company built on building websites and branding – for smaller companies in and around Burlington, ON.
My team and I worked our asses off. So much so, one of my first clients tried to sue me. Why? Because we, as young people, decide to charge based on the time, work, and difficulty level they were asking of us. An entire e-commerce site with full backdoor database capabilities of over 20,000 items is a custom job in 2010. And easily worth around $30K.
Did we win? Fuck yes.
Did I get paid? Nope. Because at the end of the day I had spent $4598.67 on a lawyer and couldn’t afford chasing the cash I’d already paid for.
From there, I started promoting bands and brands online. Twitter was young, and so was I. I get recognized right away but was naive enough to be chasing leads rather than tracking them down. I was given the chance to live the life of an influencer. I was invited to parties, talking to really major people, and connecting with C-level leaders down on Bay Street, talking about the future of social media in banking forums. I found a calling. That led me to a stint with an HR conference and Recruitment agency.
I was pumped. I put a lot of effort into learning about HR policy and procedural concepts in the US and Canada. I learned to source. I learned about business development as we began organizing for international conferences. I build a business model (my first) and I made it work. I took a company from small potatoes, to major recognition. I was promised great experiences and return for my work making them big.
Did it happen? Nope.
I organized a party at the Hard Rock Cafe, which was then sabotaged by one of my bosses and led to me being fired for having no-shows.
Reality was, he told everyone it was cancelled. Cool strategy, bro.
So I slunk back into the shadows, feeling depressed, but motivated to make it once again.
I found a local company this time, with a rather meagre earnings. They wanted a new perspective – a fresh take as they were implementing Cisco Meraki systems as part of their marketing packages.
(If you don’t know what Cisco Meraki wifi is, it’s a neat little tool allowing you to track data usage and social media metrics from people’s phones attached to that wifi. It lets you also have a branded intranet to push things like special welcome messages, or offers for the establishment)
I got to work on a major case study with a major festival in Kitchener-Waterloo. Four days I was on my toes and never stopping. We implemented so many social media games and interactive experiments, I thought this time I’d make my mark for sure!
After the festival, leads were abandoned. My boss had other priorities, and when I started asking for compensation for my time, the response was pretty much “Fuck You”.
I’m telling you, this type of experience is common among millennials. We innovate, make moves, are given ‘internships’ and ‘potential paying opportunities’, and we go along to get along because we think “this guy is going to give me a job!”
Instead they use us for free labour, and aptly keep the money to themselves. While not all companies are like this, I had three more firms treat me this way. Not because I was a woman, and not because I was stupid. But because I was a millennial in a boomer’s world.
I didn’t live in Toronto either, so also lost jobs based on that fact.
About two years ago, I was at the height of the epitome of millennial existence. I was working odd jobs via CloudPeeps. I was hoping and praying and applying to every marketing firm, PR agency, and Mucho Burritto franchise I could find within a 50km radius of Toronto. Four and a half years out of school, and a swarm of career changes later, I was still with my parents hanging on to whatever bar night I could, so I could escape the reality that I had no prospects of a life – not because I wasn’t capable, or wasn’t trying, but because they just didn’t exist.
I had experience in the high-level, meeting c-suite elite, and talking frankly on policy changes to human resources, social media, recruiting, even music. But my rise to fame was short lived, when these great opportunities ended up being unpaid, and frankly, a sham. Too over-educated for an underpaying job and too over-experienced for an under-educated job.
That image of a millennial is hardly advertised, but it’s the damn truth. Any article you can find, always glamourizes the 25-30 year old as at least a cog in the machine. If only we were so lucky! In reality the once “working family” class, is now living the dream of a prolonged childhood finding more failure than stability in such a recessive climate.
Some of us settle for mediocrity, spending more time at our child hood home and getting the same allowance as if in high school. Some of us settle for what we can find, if we can find anything. The select few are living it up, with positions usually acquired by a long time of elbow rubbing (and maybe a parent’s introduction).
Unless we are the select few, who have savings and need a financial planner, the rest of the millennial caste is pretty much broke. Too broke to even think of saving, and usually spending money on night out on King St. W, or a fridge full of cold Flying Monkey’s themed brews. To that average millennial, saving is a delusion – a task only sought after by crazy people. It’s a myth when our bank accounts cost more than our Telus bill; and if any returns come, it’s because we didn’t know we had that much in the account.
So why am I writing for this site, started by a guy who pumps out investment info to grey hairs?
Because I pushed through the wall of shit and made it to the other side.
At some stage it becomes all too clear that the only investment opportunity for the average millennial these days is investing in your own damn self.
I earned some money and invested in my own businesses. I started 6ixCityMerchCo from the ashes of yet another start-up I was hired for, that closed abruptly. I’m starting a travel and tourism blog to help market the brands and businesses around my new home of Belleville, ON, for the purpose of highlighting that it’s not just another boomer getaway. I’m working with high level leaders within the climate of Canada to slowly turn away from the bullshit ideals of real estate brokerage, and towards the proper investment of long-term community prosperity one property at a time.
I’m still broke as hell, but at least my money is invested in a way that I will see a return on my investment – not a measly cheque from a questionable source who is paying off a Bentley while I’m trying to make a bag of frozen burritos stretch the week.
My task on this site is to change that format. We’re fucking ourselves over by taking that small amount we have and pissing it away in pretend nights out and fast fashion. We need to make our money work for us. We need to have our money mean something more. Our parents (of the 60s) wanted a life where they were free to choose and free to work together. Yet, we’ve given up on that unless we were the offspring of fortune.
I’m going to challenge my peers through putting money where my mouth is. I think part of my invitation to write for this, is my unique ability to want to take risks. I learned a long time ago from my grandfathers – a Polish immigrant, and a Ukrainian rebel, who came to Canada after World War II – that when everyone else won’t give you the money, you have to find your own. They both made a decent amount in stocks. Why? Because the one thing that never persecuted them, the one thing that never stopped them from making decisions, the one thing that never treated them like shit, was money.
Whether you’re a newly landed refugee from Syria, or a millennial lost in their ways, I want to prove that money can be made when you can get in front of trends. You don’t need to be some Rotman educated financial analyst at all – you just need to identify key factors in which industries are set to to explode.
I want to teach others how group investing can make a difference. I want the average no-getter 28-year-old learn to use their knowledge in video games or music or fashion to leverage it in how to invest in up and coming markets. The idea of making niche obsessions work with our money to make us money – this isn’t rocket science, but it is something the under-30 crowd isn’t doing enough., and the over-50 crowd doesn’t do at all.
I’m going help make that happen, then at least we have a fighting chance at becoming more than a novelty for the suits and C-suite.