Do We Even Read?

The Millennial Career Dilemma Series – Article 14 by Shubika Bilkha


As the calendar year draws to a close, the pace of activity all round seems to get more frenetic with a higher frequency of meetings, launches, events etc. As I navigated this action packed sphere this week, a common theme of conversation has been an attempt to ‘decode’ the behavioral traits of millennials in general. From their low commitment to organizations, to their over confidence, their fearless spontaneity and to how they consume information (do they even value books!), is keeping most organizations and not to mention parents on their toes!


The week started with attending the launch of Amazon’s Audible India that is designed to serve as an audiobook platform for the life on the go. With original content and access to a number of titles, I was surprised to find how easily engaged I was in the storyline. It after all reminded me of a much younger time in life where I looked forward to bedtime storytelling. In fact, if we go back to hundreds and thousands of years of our own culture, storytelling and the oral tradition forms an integral part of how we learned.


Less Reading Means Limited knowledge


In discussions this week with various HR heads of organizations, they seemed to suggest that millennials or the Gen Z’s seemed to have little interest in reading or consuming content outside of the sphere of sensational gossip or news. The feedback ranged from how unprepared they were on company literature even for interviews, to how their commercial awareness was very limited to how they didn’t value learning and development outside of an outcome based framework (ie. for a job guarantee or a promotion).


In my years of working with and leading teams of millennials, my experience has been quite similar where they’ve struggled to sometimes even recount names of key political figures or imbibe the tenets of the key EQ skill intellectual engagement.


A Forbes report on US millennials released in January 2017, however, contradicts this to say that millennials are reading much more than the older generation across formats. The research suggests that millennials are more likely to read for a specific purpose such as work, school or research. A Nielson study in 2015 indicated that India is the 6th largest book market in the world, with 70% focused on educational books, while the balance was focused on trade books (fiction, non-fiction etc). Other studies in fact peg the Indian publishing market to grow by 30% year-on-year.


In this multi-device, fast paced and on-the-go world with lowering attention spans, what advantage can reading bring to the millennial career seeker?


Stay ahead of the game

Remember, information is king. Dazzle those interviewers or your boss or your client with that added information that shows your commitment to the work and to your personal development. In an evolving world, staying on top of information is what will get you through.


Facts v/s chit chat

The power of statistics and analytics rather than assumptions or heresay gives you that edge to hold the conversation. It will help you spot big ideas, understand and make sense of the information.


Reading doesn’t mean books

In our multi-device world, reading or info gathering spans audio, video, blogs, documentaries, books, ebooks, articles and much more! If the physical book doesn’t do it for you, there are multiple formats to choose from. Pick one!Spot the trend: Learn the art of Speed Reading and Intelligent Reading! A Forbes July 2018 report suggests that Smart Reading is one of the key skillsets needed for the future. The more inundated with are with information, the more relevant it becomes for us to skim through and bottom-line!


Be multi-faceted

You don’t have to limit reading to just one particular genre or work or education. Read about various things, increase your understanding of the world and grow your personal database of random interesting facts. It’ll make you more interesting at work and even on a date!


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About the Author

Shubika Bilkha is currently the Founding Partner of Edpower-U. She is a dynamic entrepreneur, trained executive coach, media spokesperson, author and corporate advisor with experience that spansthe financial, technology, ecommerce, education and real estate sectors in India and Internationally. As the managing Director of two early stage start-ups in technology and education, Shubika has hands on experience in all aspects of these businesses. She was recently the Managing Director of a leading vocational training institute in India and has worked with a number of leaders across industry, government and the educational ecosystem in India and the UK.


She is also a published author with her first book widely distributed. Shubika is an alumna of Mount Holyoke College, USA and Columbia Business School, USA; an Associate Member of the Chartered Securities Institute (CSI) in the UK; and has completed the “Building Excellence in Higher Educational Institutions” at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad. She is a trained Executive Coach with CTI, UK in line with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) ACC guidelines.



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