Zillennial Insights on Work: Productivity, Impact, Security, Creativity, & Skills

January 13, 2023



Zillennial Insights on Work: Productivity, Impact, Security, Creativity, & Skills

Zillennial Insights on Work: Productivity, Impact, Security, Creativity, & Skills

Steven Miller is a Senior Growth Manager on Uber’s product team, co-Founder of startup ChatSight, and an angel investor in early stage technology ventures. Steven wants his work efforts to have impact as so many young employees do—he is a “Zillennial” on the cusp of Millennial and Gen Z generations. Steven offers his and his friends’ views and learnings from experiences at multiple startups and large corporations about emerging realities and preferences—the new what, why, where, when, and how of work—sought by younger cohorts of workers.


[03:10] Steven’s own early approach to learning.

[03:44] Studying finance, software engineering, and social entrepreneurship, Steven was also interested in having impact.

[04:14] Steven focused on outcomes and productivity not work for the sake of it.

[05:12] Consulting and banking sounded like “busy work” without impact, so Steven started his own company based on artificial intelligence.

[05:42] Steven found it very rewarding to work on a high impact venture even if a moonshot idea.

[06:50] Friends on the entrepreneurship path tended to be happier and more fulfilled than those on the corporate path who were generally burned out.

[07:27] Impressions that corporate work is how you look like you are working rather than the impact you are achieving.

[08:33] Young employees in large corporations often feel disconnected from the impact they want to have.

[10:11] Steven has seen promotions given to leaders with larger teams resulting in unnecessary team expansion.

[11:25] Larger tech companies ballooned leading to lower profit margins and current layoffs.

[12:09] Startup dynamics contrast with few people, more ownership, and investment in efforts to collaborate and create impact.

[13:15] Side hustles are Millennials and Gen Zs safety net after growing up seeing their parents’ laid off, to improve their financial stability.

[14:08] Hardship catalyzed side hustle growth which also fulfills people’s desire to invest in themself.

[15:26] During the pandemic, the experiment of all remote work allowed interesting development of side hustles.

[16:30] The 40-hour work week is so old!

[17:08] Why outcomes are more important than hours in an output and knowledge driven world.

[18:39] It doesn’t make sense to timebox creativity.

[20:27] Reason 1 Young workers move jobs: I don’t want constraints when I can be productive WFH.

[20:49] Reason 2 Young workers move jobs: “Lifers” were shaken up with the recent boom to bust.

[21:54] The growth of the creator economy, gig work, and new classifications of employment.

[23:03] Steven’s views on the new type of struggle between labor and owners.

[23:43] Individuals have more voice and empowered to be more creative and not be forced into traditional occupations.

[25:35] Steven started at Instacart during the pandemic—fully remote (messy) onboarding!

[26:49] Learning to deal with ambiguity and chaos!

[27:22} How to be productive when working fully-remote - #1 Communicating well, especially in writing.

[27:39] How to be productive when working fully-remote - #2 Being organized.

[28:54] Remote/hybrid is a new game and you need to learn the rules to reduce friction.

[30:33] Steven shares experiences in startups and big tech companies, including rebuilding the Uber rides business.

[31:58] Mixed reviews for the back to the office moves, Steven recognizes that people do enjoy seeing their colleagues occasionally.

[33:05] Steven gives Uber empathy credits as they transition in 50 countries, hiccups are inevitable.

[34:32] Governments should rethink the idea of “an employee”.

[35:52] What DO workers want (looking at balanced and nuanced viewpoints)?

[38:10] AI GPTChat essays are not very creative yet – perhaps C minus graded papers!

[39:50] Focusing on skills for the future—starting in early education—to develop specializations across many critical needs such as climate change, food insecurity, and energy insecurity.

[44:14] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Feed your curiosity engine and understand how the world works. Consider how your 9 to 5 job can give you a level of security and income while you explore other opportunities—a bifurcated approach can be valuable preparing yourself for an uncertain world.


“I do think that a lot of fundamental components of the education system are not well suited for this new world.”

“I'm not interested in doing work for the sake of doing work. I'm interested in outcomes and impact for the inputs and effort that I put in.”

“For a lot of corporations it tends to be more about how you look like you're doing work versus the actual impact that you have.”

“All humans want to know that their time is worthwhile in whatever situation or context that they're in.”

“The actual value that you bring to the world is your creativity and by nature creativity is a process you can’t really timebox.”