The Recession and our Generation of Hope

I woke up this morning and went about my normal routine but today was different.  I could feel it building inside me. A sense of hope springing forward as I began to think about the generational challenges we are faced with and why this generation, our generation is ready for them. I look at what we can do, and what we are already doing and I realize that we will overcome not just this economic crisis, for those come and go. But we will overcome the crises of education, of healthcare and of energy within our lifetimes. Before I start to sound like too much of a salesman for the current administration, I want to share why I think our generation-the new professionals are uniquely suited to the age we were born into.

1. People are the new profit. If you read the commentary on web 2.0 and the future of the internet there is no end to the hand-wringing that goes on among the older set. The old saw goes “that’s great, but how do you turn a profit?” It’s not that we are a generation of socialists unconcerned with profit and loss, it’s that profit isn’t the driving force behind our motivations. Facebook began in a dorm room as an experiment in connecting people on campus. Google strove to create the better search engine. Netflix changed the way we rented movies. The list goes on, but profit wasn’t the driving force behind any of these ideas at the start, in the beginning it was about solving consumer’s problem. These companies have created new verbs, “google it”, he “friended” me, oh just “netflix” it. Fundamentally changing the way we do things, by solving a problem, rather than selling a bill of goods.

2. Small is the new big. If there’s one concept our generation is reflexively against it’s the concept of “too big to fail” entrepreneurship is something we all have a stake in now. We are a generation that maintains blogs and tweets to the world. We are our own ventures, our personal and professional lives are no longer as separate as they once were. For our generation ideas move as fast as you can type and hit the send button, so work happens wherever, whenever. Perfect for when the problems are global in scale and complex in nature.

3. Forget the suit, just bring your brain. The people at companies changing the world come to the office in sneakers and a sweatshirt. Power isn’t the currency anymore. We’ve changed the game, now it’s ideas and collaboration that build the better mousetrap.

4. This isn’t an age thing. Our generation is the most blind ever. Race, color, creed, gender, these matter less than what you bring to the table as a person and as a professional it doesn’t matter how old you are, it doesn’t matter where you grew up. Our generation looks to leaders like Google, like Ecko, like Apple, you know what all of their leaders have in common? Nothing, and that’s exactly how it should be.

5. Not afraid to dream. Rare is the person of our generation who can’t quote Star Wars, or didn’t watch Sesame Street and the Muppets as a kid. Those kids grew up and gave us Lord of the Rings, and Pixar and Slumdog Millionaire. We’re a generation that’s not afraid to dream big, we’ve been doing it since we are little. The naysayers see us a generation afraid to grow up. They’re wrong. We’re a generation that remembers what it is to dream, what it is to want something better, and will always work to make it happen.

6. Apathetic we are not. Young people fueled a political campaign and elected a president. Faced with eight years of leadership that completely rejected the values they hold dear this generation rose up and elected a new face to the scene. He might have been untested, but it was his ideas and rhetoric that drove President Obama to the oval office. His campaign’s ability to make every voice matter, to make every volunteer action important and open the halls of power to the masses that made him this generation’s choice for the Presidency. President Clinton had to beg young people to go vote, President Obama was their champion.

It’s not that I am arrogant about who we are and where we’re going, it’s not that I hate the ‘boomers or resent having all of these problems to solve. It’s that I think our generation is uniquely suited to problems that lie ahead. Ones where millions of brains will be needed to fundamentally shift our way of life from waste to sustainability, from consolidated power to diverse networks, from me to us. Our generation will spend the better part of our lifetimes calming the seige of global warming, ending the world’s carbon addiction, finding better ways to educate our kids and making sure we can all grow up healthy. We will lead the nation to a brighter day, one brilliant idea at a time.

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One Response

  1. Beautifully written + wonderfully told.

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