What Millennials Really Want to Know: The Society of Grownups

A few years ago, fellow author Ben Hammersley turned me on to the School of Life, a very successful London-based mecca for life-long learners, mostly Millennials, who want to live up to their potential. With classes selling out months in advance, it appeared the SOL founders had struck two primal chords—the need to build competency and feel a sense of human connection. In our experience, when it comes to Millennials, nothing succeeds like live education to fill the gaps where college and family upbringing left off. And there are lots of gaps. Many of the young people in our FutureGroups decry just how fed up they feel for being dubbed, “privileged and narcissistic” when in truth, they confess to feeling unschooled in the ways of emotional intelligence. So we wondered when the School of Life concept would catch on in the U.S.

First came State Farm’s Next Door in Chicago, which we toured back in 2011. Then it felt more like a meet-up space. Today, it’s a bustling hang-out haven and workshop space for young change agents and aspiring entrepreneurs. More learning focused is MassMutual’s recent project called The Society for Grownups. It offers a “master’s program for adulthood” with life-skill classes, supper clubs, and speakers, plus one-on-one financial counseling. The life insurance company partnered with design agency IDEO to create the café/education center devoted to educating Millennials on how to meet their personal and professional goals, whether it be making a career move, starting a family, or buying a home. Although we wonder how Millennials might react to the name (spot on, or a tad patronizing?) we still believe that knowledge transfer is a primary method for engaging young people.

No matter what you think of Millennials as a cohort–many of them have big dreams. The society needs their energy and vision if we are to collectively advance. Booyah! to Mass Mutual for dipping its toe in this particular blue ocean. (Photo Credit: Karen Hanrahan)