Are they all egocentric, delusional, seeking instant satisfaction and indifferent to reality? Samantha Mirr exclaims in desperation in her Stop Stereotyping Millennials, “How can you lump us all into one category like that?” Samantha emphasizes that like the other 85 percent of the Millennial generation, she’s a hard-working American, earning money to become independent. All this Millennial stereotyping is simply not true, she says. “They just want success and they want it now.”
David D. Burstein, a Millennial and the author of Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World, provides some deep insights into how this generation will profoundly impact the political, business, and media spheres. Bernstein argues that the millennial generation offers everything from civic idealism to savvy pragmatism, and from a deft mastery of technology to innovative approaches.
With 80 million Millennials (people who are now eighteen to thirty years old) coming of age and emerging as leaders, this is the largest generation in U.S. history. By 2020, its members will represent one out of every three adults in the country. Burstein believes that “Millennials are more global, more tolerant, more diverse, more educated, more connected, and bigger than any generation before them. They embrace change. They are the only generation to come of age with one foot in the old world of pre-internet, pre-Facebook, pre-computer, doing their first research projects in libraries, and another foot in the digital era.”
Jean Case, CEO of Case Foundation, has a similarly positive view about Millennials. During her recent interview at the Millennial Impact Conference ’14, she noted, “I am a really big believer in this generation. Not only they are tech savvy, and have the tools to change the world, they are very idealistic. Yes, a lot of young generations have been idealistic, but the difference here is that they are putting their time and their money into the things they care about. 90 percent of Millennials have given $100 or more to the cause they care about.”
It’s so easy to put a label on a whole generation of people. We forget that every human being is born able to create and share no matter when he or she was born. Actually, we hear this criticism repeated throughout the centuries. Leonardo da Vinci, “the most relentlessly curious man in history,” and the ultimate representative of the Renaissance, was relentlessly criticized for not finishing what he had started. And yet da Vinci, an experiential learner whom we could view as a Millennial of his time, produced more inventions than any of us can hope to achieve in our lifetime!
What is the definition of a Renaissance man or woman today? How has it evolved from previous eras? Would Millennials be able to produce their very own “Millennissance” – the Renaissance of the Digital Age?
Britannica defines the Renaissance man, or universal man, as an ideal that developed inRenaissance Italy from the notion expressed by one of its most accomplished representatives, Leon Battista Alberti (1404–72), that “a man can do all things if he will.” The Renaissance man or woman at the time would be someone knowledgeable in a variety of topics with great understanding in arts and sciences.
Charles Araujo, an IT consultant and the author of the book, The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change, thinks that today the Digital Renaissance Leader is defined by the following qualities:
Eagerness to learn
How can you find these Digital Renaissance Leaders, amid the swirling mist of social media, news and world disasters? More importantly, what does a young person need to do tobecome one? How do you start this journey?
You Don’t Have To Go To Africa To Change The World
Over the past four years, MCON has become a celebration of this creative generation of young men and women who are determined to change the world. Organized by Achieve, this year MCON focused on culture, relationships and movements, and featured a number of impressive representatives of the Millennissance – a Millennial Generation of achievers and change makers.
While there was a great number of remarkable young men and women among the speakers, one of them stood in a separate category – Kohl Cerelious, CEO & Co-founder of the non-profit lifestyle brand Krochet Kids International.
“You don’t have to go to Africa to change the world,” proclaimed Kohl, even though he himself did so. His passion to help people and communities in need and his superb skill in –yes- crocheting allowed him to make his dream come true.
Kohl and his friends’ newly found crocheting business became popular, but they didn’t stop there. While volunteering in various developing countries, they realized that people living in poverty or suffering through terrible circumstances needed hope. And work. Kohl decided that something needed to be done. Someone had to make a difference. But how?
Crocheting came to the rescue. Kohl realized that his skill could help many people make a dramatic breakthrough and help earn needed resources. And the first country that helped them realized that this is possible was Uganda.
“After countless Skype meetings and late nights, we found ourselves sitting in a simple brick hut with a group of Ugandan women and bags full of yarn. What followed thereafter remains to be one of the most surreal experiences of my life, as we watched these ladies nearly master crocheting before our eyes.”
“The point is this – you need to combine the passion for what you do with passion about your community,” suggests Crecelius.
Too often people are mesmerized by teaching people in other countries the best way out – oh, I know the way – and don’t realize that they don’t even know the community they are trying to teach their wisdom to, says Kohl.
You also don’t need to wait for permission or validation by subjecting yourself to family or society pressures to do good or change the world. You have to act now.
The whole cycle of going to college, graduating, getting a job and earning some money before beginning to act on your promise are false notions, explains Kohl. You have to be willing to fail.
Kohl added that, “if we’d waited to act, we’d probably have learned in school that it was impossible to do what we actually did.” Embrace naivety, recommends Kohl. “In our company we celebrate naivety.”
Kohl also warns not to expect that you’re going to be changing thousands of lives at once. Maybe one, maybe two, maybe ten. It doesn’t matter.
And yes, you will fail and have to get up again along the way. It doesn’t matter how many times you’re going to fail. That’s how you learn about success.
“Just start. Take this step today,” says Kohl.
Your Pathway to Changing the World: 6 Steps to Success From the TOMS Founder
Just how exactly can you change the world? To help out with your first steps, I highly recommend the bestselling book, “Start Something That Matters,” by Blake Mycoskie, Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS and founder of the One for One movement.
He suggests the following six simple steps that will help you formulate your story, find resources and create your life-changing venture:
1. Find Your Story
Mycoskie suggests that you need to find the time to share your story to the world. Not only that, but you need to make sure that you use every chance to share your story with everyone you can. Of course, you will also need to find story partners. These partners will become multipliers and facilitators to break new ground. Find the influence makers who will love your story, suggests Mycoskie. The influence makers will be able to give your story wings.
2. Face Your Fears
All of us make mistakes. Aren’t we humans after all? Mycoskie uses a great quote by Courtney Reum, Founder of VeeV which says it all: “No matter what happens, win, lose, or draw, never forget that life goes on.” Two other ideas come handy – The timing is never right and don’t worry about what others think. Just like Kohl, Mycoskie is adamant about following your passion without obsessing over your plans. And of course, should you think of others’ opinions when you’re drawing your first Mona Lisa?
3. Be Resourceful Without Resources
In this digital age, following the example of Tim Ferris, the ultimate outsourcer, we can find plenty of free resources. We just need to start thinking. Make what you have count, says Mycoskie. And look around – that little non-profit that works next door might have some amazing people who can help your venture with a little investment.
4. Keep It Simple
Following the elegantly written Laws of Simplicity, by John Maeda, simplicity is simple – you just need to strip it down. Track your ideas with a notebook, and pin them down whenever they strike you. Combine them with current or past ideas and see what happens. And most importantly, don’t let technology enslave you. Just it keep it simple.
5. Build Trust
If you are changing the world, you need to ensure that your friends and colleagues trust you. Empower your employees with autonomy. Very often it happens that managers neglect that simple rule – trust that your employees will grow into their roles.
Naturally, to build trust, you will need to be as open as possible. Check out how these TED talks helped Tim O’Reilly stretch his mind.
Use your own products, suggests Mycoskie, while proudly wearing TOMS shoes. You’ll be amazed how many companies don’t follow what they preach.Is a BigMac a good lunch option for a McDonald’s employee?
- Giving Is A Good Business
Everyone can give: some Millennials, like Facebook’s CEO Zuckerberg, give billions; others, like Richard Luck and Sarah Mullens, co-founders of UnBoundRVA, give time, energy and skills to transform lives in Richmond’s low income communities. What can you give away today?
Remember, giving is rewarding and easy.
Giving yourself to others and a willingness to change the world one person at a time is what defines a true Millennissance man or woman.
As Mahatma Gandhi famously said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Image Source: The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. Fragment http://myartpin.com/s/2743