We the Young People

Entrepreneur
www.shanevanderhart.com

I believe that our generations are the ones with the power to change the world. We are large in number, we scream for tolerance and change, and Generations X and Y were the first generations to be raised during the rise and rapid evolution of the internet and technology. We were among the first to be able to access the entire world and the wealth of information on the internet.

Today’s teenagers and young adults may be somewhat spoiled from the ridiculous amount of technology and information at our fingertips. Who needs to remember phone numbers or how to do simple math when we can just use our phones? Who needs to actually read the classics when you can just Wikipedia the summary? But whether we are spoiled, entitled, or just misunderstood in an evolving world, we can change everything, and we already are doing so.

 

In an article on Salon.com, author Alexander Balkin talks about why calling Millennials lazy and entitled is wrong, and discusses how we got here: “Baby boomers came of age in an era of unprecedented prosperity. They were raised by parents who had survived poverty, war and the true sacrifice of a generation burdened with great moral struggles. As a whole, they experienced economic and physical security. Baby boomers received, by today’s standards, inexpensive and widely available education, preparing them for a thriving and open job market. […] So what did they do with all their good fortune? From the time the baby boomers took over, the United States has experienced an economic environment plagued with unfounded asset and real-estate bubbles and collapses.”

 

There may be more people in Generation X and Y than there are Boomers, but the Baby Boomers are the ones currently holding office, holding the high level CEO jobs in a lot of companies, and are a lot of the ones making policies that affect our lives. Around 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day and are retiring, and now it’s our turn.

 

Imagine what we can do. We can literally change the world. Look what we’ve already done.

 

More young people voted in 2008 and 2012 than ever before. We voted, and it just goes to show that your vote does matter. Your vote helped change the direction our country was going in. Generations X and Y have live-tweeted catastrophes, getting information out faster than ever, such as in Egypt and Israel, they have demanded information from governments, they have turned their arguments into petitions, protests, and internet rants.They have leaked information that they believed the people deserved to know.

 

We have built social networks that literally connected the world, we believe in starting something from nothing, and we know that with the right idea, anything is possible. Our generations have created Google and eBay, we have Facebook and Twitter to unite people globally at the touch of a button, we made the Hubble telescope and the biggest strides in space exploration. We are the most entrepreneurial generations so far.

 

Our generations are fighting for LGBT rights, the ones who lobbied the loudest for equal constitutional rights for gays and lesbians to be allowed to marry. We follow in the footsteps of every Civil Rights movement in our history, which proves over and over again that we the people know what we want, and what is right, and are willing to yell and fight and work for it.

 

Jeff Gordinier, author of X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking, has a pretty awesome quote from when he was featured in Time magazine.

 

“Shirking the media myth that Xers are slackers, Gordinier argues that Generation X has — to borrow a ‘60s term — changed the world. Citing Gen-X icons like Quentin Tarantino and Jon Stewart, along with Gen-X triumphs like Google, YouTube, and Amazon, among others, Gordinier argues that not only are Xers far from over, they might be the most unsung and influential generation of all time. ‘Gen-X stomping grounds of the past — the espresso bar, the record shop, the thrift store — have been resurrected in digital form. The new bohemia is less a place than it is a headspace. It’s flexible enough to bypass all the old binaries. It encompasses mass and class, mainstream and marginal, yuppie and refusenik, gearhead and Luddite. It’s everywhere and nowhere in particular,’ he writes. [In short,] ‘GenXers are doing the quiet work of keeping America from sucking.’”

 

So, rejoice, young(ish) people. We are changing the world, one step at a time.
Seriously, we have the interconnectedness, the tolerance, and the desire to learn, grow, and change the entire world and how it works. We are, in all terrifying honesty, the future.

This article originally was posted on Huffington Post on 8/23/2016  by me (original content).

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Networking: Standing Out in a Crowd!

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Photo Credit: http://www.business2community.com/strategy/order-work-need-network-01640509#211hApMQjqjMpTYO.97

Depending on who you ask, networking is either relatively enjoyable or a necessary evil to suffer through.

If you were to ask me, I’d be able to regale you with anecdotes from hundreds of career fairs, association meetings, networking meetups, and client visits. I genuinely enjoy the face-to-face connection you get in a networking  situation. You get a more casual environment to meet people, discuss business, but also pepper your conversation with real pieces of your personality. It’s not a job interview, so the solemnity tends to be lessened, and people generally feel more comfortable in a group setting.

I know some people who wouldn’t go to a large networking event even if you paid them, and I know others who knew about it before you tell them, and are already registered.

Obviously, our comfort levels in crowds of near-strangers are individual to each of us. I am a salesperson, and people are my specialty. I have no problem walking into a crowd and introducing myself and my company, and enjoying meeting new people every time I turn around. I am marryied to an introvert who finds it stressful to be in crowds of strangers, and tends to not know how to introduce himself to complete strangers. Luckily, we balance each other out!

It’s not only a personality thing, though. Usually at an event, I’m representing my company, so I feel that I’m able to offer value to people and to companies. I am able to bring something to the table, so starting a conversation is even easier! Not that as myself I am not valuable, simply that as a representative of my company, I am bringing a different sort of value to the table.

Here is an example of how networking has been a huge help to me previously. I was tasked with bringing a rebranded company name out to market in NYC when the company rebranded in 2014. Being able to get in front of people who knew me as the former brand, and explain in person our new name and logo, but with the same great services, was the best way for people to associate the new name with our old brand that was so well known. People could associate me with the new name, as they already did with the old one. Giving presentations at networking events allows me to stamp myself and my company into people’s brains.

A great networker is someone who is remembered. They are not the funniest or best looking person in the room, or the one who spoke the loudest. It is the person who had great conversations with people, who was credible and knowledgeable without being pushy or a know-it-all. It’s someone who focused their undivided attention on the person they were speaking with, and not allowing passersby to distract them. A great networker expands their network by mingling with new people and introducing themselves to newcomers, and being a genuine, friendly source of information.

Bringing value to your events is so important. If you are looking for a job, the way you should think of this is “what do I bring to the table?” This is a view of what YOU can do for a company or service, and don’t even begin to focus on what they can do for you. You are not owed anything by companies, but you may be bringing fresh perspectives, specialized experience, or a tech-savvy eagerness to learn to them, all of which are invaluable to companies.

Expanding your network is vital to branding yourself (or your company) in your chosen industry or market. You can really learn and gain a lot from meeting pillars of your field, or perhaps you are one and you have a lot of knowledge you could be teaching others. Everyone has value to bring to every conversation. Mingling with other experts is a great way to learn new things, meet potential clients, and more.

As a salesperson, when you are marketing anything: yourself, your employer, a client, you are a subject-matter expert putting yourself in a position to expand your network. Hand out business cards, and get them from people you meet. Connect with them on LinkedIn and check in occasionally. Networking is an important piece of the puzzle, but not the only one!

Have you ever had an amazing or amazingly bad networking experience? What has expanding your network done for you, personally and professionally?

This article originally was posted on LinkedIn on 3/11/2015  by me (original content). It has been edited a bit for relevance.

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