I sat down with Chelann Gienger to talk about her new book, “Dear Millennial: A Compass To Defining Your Unique Purpose, Pursuing A Life Of Fulfillment, And Building A Legacy,” in which she outlines her advice garnered from her upbringing, as well as the last two years she’s spent running a juice bar and hosting the Entrepreneur Before 25 podcast, in which she interviews young entrepreneurs.
At 18, while simultaneously getting her high school diploma and BA, Chelann, her brother, and his business partner set out to open NUYU juice bar in their hometown of Yakima, Washington.
The Tempest: Dear Millennial is about more than business, it’s written as a self-help guide that aims to help readers find their true passions. Where did you encounter the life-lessons you drew upon and at what point did you decide you had enough information to turn it into a book?
Chelann Gienger: So, my entrepreneurial journey started at 15.
I open the juice bar at 18, started the “Entrepreneur before 25” podcast at 19 and wrote this book at 20, so everything was built on top of each other. Because basically, I was 18 and running a brick and mortar.
To this day, I don’t know anyone else in Yakama who was this young and running a brick and mortar. I was so lonely, apart from my family, who are all entrepreneurs. I lost the ability to see eye to eye with a lot of my close friends.
Their biggest struggles were passing a test the next day that they hadn’t studied for. I thought there had to be other entrepreneurs out there who were like me and were struggling with the same kinds of things I was, so I launched the podcast.
I interview inspiring entrepreneurs who started their journey at the age of 25 or younger and the main niche of the podcast; our primary topic was how do you chase your dreams and not only make those dreams happen but live a fulfilled life in the process. A lot of people mixed up fulfillment with achievement and we think if we achieve a certain goal, we are all of a sudden going to be fulfilled and happy. That’s only going to last for a certain amount time; we’ve all experienced that.
To date, I’ve probably interviewed close to 200 young people, and so through the process of the past year, I’ve seen patterns in the millennial generation. They were problems that I felt needed to be addressed by a peer.
I’m not asking people who read my book to do anything that I’m not already doing myself or trying my very best to do myself. This book is meant to basically call the millennial generation to a higher standard of greatness in every sphere of their life. The book walks them through finding their unique purpose, we each have a unique purpose that only we can fulfill.
I look at our lives as a movie, and if we don’t show up on production day, the movie isn’t going to exist.
We then take that unique purpose, and we mold it into how you can accomplish this and still live a fulfilled life. Then we work through how to take those components and build a legacy that will last generations beyond you.
It’s raw and authentic. I get into the details as I talk about boys and business, all of it. Every one of these experiences has either reinforced or showed me how to live out what I’m talking about in that chapter.
The self-doubt was real; these are struggles that I worked through sometimes on my own and often through my family. I was raised with these principles, but the way I’m carrying them out looks different than it did for my parents and grandparents.
I have seen things in my generation where it’s like, “If somebody doesn’t address these, we will literally wipe ourselves out,” and I decided to address them by explaining what I’m doing to get to the goals and the world impact that I have and I want to have in my life and 500 years from now.
You say you see patterns and traits that threaten to “wipe us out” as millennials so if you were to choose, what is the primary thing you would want to impart on this generation?
Chelann Gienger: I would say, “Are you truly taking ownership of our life? Do you understand that you are exactly where you are today because of the decisions you have made for yourself, or you have allowed other people to make for you?”
We sit in our lives, we don’t like where we are, and we blame everyone but ourselves. I’m not saying blame yourself, but I’m saying recognize that you’re here today because of the decisions you’ve made.
So, do the hard work to change that and change your life to what you want it to be.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.