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A Generation Gap For Entrepreneurs?

March 21, 2009

A recent post by Nick Stamoulis of Marketing Pilgrim has me obsessed with questions about the generation gap.

Normally, I prefer to accord agency to the individual, rather than to cliched group identities like “Baby Boomers,” “Generation X,” or “Generation Y.”

But… as an apparent member of the Gen Y tier, I couldn’t help but COMPLETELY identify with the values on this table from Entrepreneur Magazine:

Gen Y Gen X Baby
How they like to com-
Texting, cell phones and IM E-mail, IM and cell phones E-mail, cell phones and face to face
Approach to problem solving Form a team to brainstorm a solution.

Use the web and social networking for research.

Think up a list of solutions on your own, then call a meeting to discuss. Think about what’s worked in the past and how it can be replicated, then call a meeting to discuss.
What they’re worried about What they’re worried about Work/life balance, stability, whether they’re appreciated Stability and retirement.
Respect for them means Having their ideas valued by co-workers Having their professionalism and growing knowledge valued Having decades of work experience and input still valued

Man, do I hate being a cliché.

Given these listed values, does this indicate that Gen Y, the ideas-focused, collaboration-centric, hyper-social generation, is inherently more entrepreneurial than, say, Baby Boomers?

My friend Ramit loves to talk about creative, and very entrepreneurial, ways to earn more money and get satisfaction. My good-intentioned, hardworking 50-something parents panic at the very whisper of “freelance” or at the idea of doing something you love for no pay as a way to start an empire (like this blog, muahahaha!).

Countless of my Gen Y friends run side projects that they hope will be their ticket out of corporate drone-dom. They’re not doing everything perfectly, but they’re definitely hungry.

Unlike my parents, who grew up in Maoist China, I was fortunate enough to have all my needs met, and a fantastically fancy education. That meant that I had lots of extra time, resources, and mindspace to think about… ME. MY ideas, MY dreams, and MY “passions” instead of how I am going to achieve enough financial security to support a family.

Atrocious how self-centric I feel right now. I should be donating my salary to paying off my parents’ house, not funding my own side projects, right?

BUT then, I think, for my peers and for our society, this attitude means a generation of young people who aren’t ever going to be complacent cogs in a wheel.

Nope, we didn’t burn our bras or stand in front of tanks, but we are hell-bent on changing the world in our own way, to fit the wacky, beautiful, and implausible visions taking shape from our dreams.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 22, 2009 12:43 am

    This is very interesting…and true from what I know. Life is ever changing as are people. New ideas from new generations. How have we ever survived without all that is available today. Try not to remember the days of pay phones before cell phones, and all the other moderns that are available today.

    Some day the generation x and y will be out dated too!


  1. “J’ai une excellent job dans une grande entreprise. Cela ne me suffit plus. Je veux lancer mon projet” : Entreprise Globale

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