6167932623_917125892d_m There's an exception to every rule. In Maryland, there are about 40 of them.

We've heard all the old complaints about millennials: They're entitled, self-centered, blameless, narcissistic, impatient.

Maybe there's some truth in that. I don't really know. I'm sure there's a nugget of truth in every blatant over-generalization that's floating around out there.

Here's what I do know: The MACPA pulled together about 40 young CPAs from throughout Maryland (and one from Chicago) for our inaugural Leadership Academy, and they would have solved world hunger if we had given them enough time. (And here's another generalization: They weren't all millennials — there were some Gen Xers and Boomers in the mix. But most of them were.)

Thankfully, their job wasn't as big as world hunger. They merely had to draft a blueprint for the future of the profession.

Piece o' cake, right? Yet in two and a half free-flowing, facilitated days, they did it.

For the record, these young professionals determined that the profession's biggest opportunities are found in six areas:

  • Professional unity
  • Life balance
  • Leadership
  • Proactive, goal-focused planning
  • Networked collaboration
  • Embracing and adopting technology

With guidance from Insights to Action facilitators Tom Hood and Gretchen Pisano, they dove deep with action plans, timelines and desired results for each of those six areas, creating a remarkably robust vision for the future of the profession.

To me, though, what they did isn't nearly as important as how they did it — and what they proved in the process.

For those two and half days, these folks left their self interests at the door and worked together as the altruistic, patient, accountable, selfless future leaders they know themselves to be.

Aaron Michael, a tax manager with Arthur Bell CPAs, summed it up nicely in a followup e-mail to fellow Leadership Academy alums:

“I think we have a lot to gain from each other — both as leaders in the CPA profession in general and as budding experts in the specific areas in which we individually focus.

“There was a lot of positive energy in the room those 2 ½ days, and it was so refreshing to see so many like-minded, bright, young professionals all working together in collaboration to come up with some really neat ideas for how we can help steer our profession in the right direction during these rather turbulent times.”

Lesson learned: You can't pigeonhole millennials as entitled and self-centered. Sure, some fit the bill … but many of them don't. Many of them blow that generalization out of the water. Many of them are ready — are starving — to lead. All they need is our support.

Let's give it to them. Given the complexity our world is facing, we can use all the leadership we can get.

Check out some images from our Leadership Academy below:

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