Producing a brand-spanking-new issue of GCI every month (and cranking out a million words of online stuff in between editions) is obviously a team effort. I tend to get a lot of the credit but I actually do the least amount of work.

Mike Zawacki, Guy Cipriano, our awesome stable of columnists and a gaggle of expert freelancers do the heavy lifting on content, and then the fabulous Jim Blayney designs it all up into a beautiful package. Basically all I do is write a 700-word column, offer some opinions about story ideas and, of course, review the cover.

The cover of any magazine is essentially an advertisement for what’s inside. It needs to demand the reader’s attention and, in a handful of well-chosen words, give them a compelling reason to open it up and devour the whole thing. The cover has to answer the WIIFM question: What’s In It For Me to read this?

Create an environment that tells them WHY you’re doing things but make it clear that the desired outcome is not optional even if they don’t buy into the WHY. ”

You may not be able to judge a book by its cover but you sure as hell can judge a magazine by one. I’m proud of the way we do covers because they don’t just help “tell and sell” the big story, they reflect our brand: edgy, fun and candid.

When I saw the early version of this month’s “Millennials” cover, I thought it was pretty cool. We went back and forth a little about what picture to use and what the blurb would say, but I didn’t see the final version with the “word cloud” that describes perceptions about millennials until the last minute. As I scanned it and read words like tech obsessed, cynical, immature, lazy and, of course, selfies, I came to a stunning realization:

I’m a 53-year-old millennial.

It actually explains a lot. For example, I have a relatively demanding job yet I’m constantly on social media. I tend to question everything anyone tries to tell me. Sarcasm is nearly always my first instinct (with narcissism coming in a close second). My iPhone, iPad and selfie stick are never out of reach. I have a chronic case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and I’m always on the lookout for the next trend. I also still dress like I’m 25 and continue to wear a ‘70s porn ‘stache despite the fact that it looks goofy as hell. I’m a horrible procrastinator who will find any reason to avoid actual labor. Last, but not least, I carry around a stupid e-cigarette/vaporizer thing despite the fact it makes me look like an aging hipster.

It’s textbook Millennial stuff.

So, I feel qualified to offer you a little advice on how to manage millennials like me…
  • Don’t think of us as lazy, think of us as “yet to be properly motivated.”
  • Remember that to us, being at work on time is merely a suggestion. We’ll try but sometimes finishing binge-watching “Game of Thrones” is clearly more important than punching the clock.
  • All that time we spend on Snapchat will actually benefit you because it improves the hand/eye coordination we need to cut cups.
  • It’s not that we don’t like to work hard it’s just that…wait, we actually don’t like to work hard.
  • Sure, we tend to give up and quit but we still get a participation trophy, right?

But seriously folks…the bottom line is that millennials need rules and consequences. Create an environment that tells them WHY you’re doing things but make it clear that the desired outcome is not optional even if they don’t buy into the WHY. Coach them around the edges and offer positive feedback constantly. That said, be quick and firm when you need to deal with problems. Give them a sense of ongoing achievement by charting what they accomplish (even if you can’t increase their compensation) and rewarding them with attaboys. Finally, figure out their strengths and play to them. If you’ve got someone who can’t handle running a crew, try moving them inside to set up your new software system.

We millennials are unquestionably a sharp pain in the caboose to manage. But, given the white-hot competition for good employees, we might be all you get. So deal with it, old dude, or you’ll be doing it all yourself.