I continue my reflection on George Beall’s propositions about Generation Z – young adults who were born after 1995. The point of this exercise has been to provide deeper insight into Gen Z (and maybe Millennials) for a variety of reasons such as self knowledge, communication strategy, trend forecasting, problem-solving, conflict resolution, etcetera. If you missed my previous blog posts on this theme and want the complete download of my insights on Generation Z, you can go here:
My analysis in this blog post focuses on two characteristics that Beall identifies: Early Starters and Entrepreneurial. I think you will find my thoughts interesting and insightful.
Are Generation Zers, Early Starters?
When I first considered the term, Early Starter, I immediately thought of waking up late and taking naps up to my mid twenties. But that’s not what Beall is talking about.
George proposes that Generation Z is skeptical about educational investments and outcomes. That we want to get into the rat race as soon as we can so that we can succeed faster. I want to succeed faster, myself. But can we succeed faster (or fail faster) if we skip school, get out of the school yard prison, and collect a deep state handout? Has school become a waste of time?
Many employers are predicting that more teens, between the ages of 16 and 18 will go straight into the workforce, opting out of the traditional route of higher education, and instead finishing school online, if at all.
That’s what George said. In America, the numbers contradict his statement.
Reading Mark Schaefer’s book, Known, I can recognize the competitive advantage of getting known (becoming a trusted, valuable and interesting voice on a topic) and that’s one of the reasons I have been writing about Generation Z. I am, myself, exploring sustainable topics that I can be known for. Like Generation Z. That makes me an Early Starter but I have no intentions of dropping out of high school or foregoing a university education regardless of the ridiculous price tag and unsavory burden of that impending debt.
On the other hand, I am skeptical of the Return on Investment (ROI) of a traditional university education and experience. Much of that skepticism comes from my resistance to the propaganda and entrainment that a university education likely leads to meaningful employment, the security of a career and a happy life. The cake is a lie. Employment security and employer commitment is not obvious to anyone and of any age.
We are teaching our children to memorize things and then to regurgitate the information. Most kids are learning on their own, because they have more information at their fingertips than in their classroom!
Gary Vee and Mark Schaefer are Generation Xers (not Generation Zers) and we all know how the exciting insights of Generation X have changed the world for the better and the worse. I agree with Gary and Mark, but I don’t believe my generation has a coherent understanding of the best insights, propositions and solutions for our time. Honestly, my classmates are doing like youth do, namely, music, alcohol, sex, drugs, video games, porn, potato chips, whining, and suicide. But I understand that suicide is not just a problem for my generation. In fact, reading my blog is considered a waste of time by my colleagues. If I were to drive a shiny black Porsche 911 Carrera 4S as an outcome of becoming known, I still don’t think they would change their minds about that. Or am I mistaken?
I might presume my female colleagues might have their interest piqued if I sported Louis Vuitton luggage on our next class field trip to London, Paris or Rome.
George Beall wants to suggest that we know what to do in the face of the existential and economic predicament going on. But we don’t. Pewdiepie’s success, for example, seems more like an accidental byproduct of his unrestrained and unreasonable obsession with games and, come one, following one’s obsessions is not a sure thing for anyone. There’s millions of game streamers (Xers, Millenials and Z’s) who have less than ten subs (subscribers). A baby boomer act in gaming or Facebook gaming, however, remains a juicy opportunity.
If someone could use multi-media marketing and advertising in a cool and funny way to show us the roads out of pre-apocalyptic Sodom and Gomorah, that would be cash.
Are Generation Zers, Entrepreneurial?
Generation Z desires more independent work environments. As a matter of fact, 72% of teens say they want to start a business someday.
But Jay Baer, also a best selling author of Hug Your Haters and “known” for marketing, social media and customer service, might not see entrepreneurship in that kind of clumsy flash fiction that my generation wants to write. Jay Baer talks about doing the difficult things that’s needed in building and keeping a successful business. Like hugging your haters! Most Generation Zers want to tear down their haters like Rick Grimes single-handedly chopping and stabbing his way through a herd of zombies on The Walking Dead. We need revenge. We want trophies of our revenge. But actually we don’t really need revenge. We need to love more, forgive more, and work through disagreements and hate.
Yomar Lopez (aka Yogizilla) of the Geeky Antics Network is a mentor, marketer, IT strategist, writer and podcaster. Yogi has put some serious attention and investment into grooming Generation Zer’s and Millenials as streaming gamers, writers and social media rockstars with disappointing outcomes. In a skype conversation, Yomar explained how Millenials and Generation Zers “expect things to happen with little effort, the wrong kind of effort and little to no collaboration. But they don’t lack for passion. They tend to be narcissistic, jealous, impatient, petty, easily offended, and vehemently unwilling to plan their success, share success or encourage others with the same hopes and ambitions. That’s not very entrepreneurial.”
Yomar explained himself further.
“Generation Z and Millenials subconsciously realize that information and influence are the rising currencies. But they also worry that sharing any of it will devalue what they do or help someone do better than themselves. It’s a short-sighted self-orientation that stifles growth for startups and content creators alike.”
Am I the exception? And if I am entrepreneurial, it’s actually something that doesn’t seem to impress my peers. It’s kind of lonely and a cause for some rejection and humiliation, actually.
Welp. This is a cue for my personal, self-pity, party soundtrack.
Disruption and Life Strategy
It seems to me that no rockstar truly characterizes a generation. Rockstars, by definition, are one out of a million or more. But rockstars may capture the imagination of a generation. They might reflect the problems and solutions for a generation.
As for the the insight into a generation’s problems and solutions from an outsider reflect the understanding and motivations of the observed generation. Just because you have a nice view, I might be nowhere near where you are to see what you see. Sure, we are adapted to the situation we find ourselves. We are better positioned to seize present opportunities that flow from the disruptions that have rocked the world. We are fish in water as opposed to previous generations which may feel like a fish out of water amidst the strong currents of change.
What Generation Z needs is compelling wisdom and strategy. Like Mark Schaefer’s strategy for personal branding. I only worry that you can lead a horse to water and it might still not drink. Especially if it prefers the kool aid to the goodness of water.
Two more blog posts and we’re done with curious George. Meanwhile, I would like to invite you to check out the Known Reading Group that I am leading on Facebook. We’re not just reading Mark’s book, we’re mindsharing. We’re going to help each other get known. All ages are welcome. Are you ready to get your competitive advantage on? Of course, you are.
If you appreciated my effort here, I would be grateful for your likes, comments and shares for this post. Quid pro quo.
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Thank you and please make today count for us all. Even if it’s just sharing a stranger’s blog post with your peoples. Or buying a homeless person a 2 liter bottle of beer and a fat sandwich.
Veni, vidi, vici.