Spring Seminar Day 2 - Engaged, Civic-Minded, Authentic & Looking to the Future - Millennials & Gen Z

April 8, 2016, Arthur W. Page Society

Tim Adams from the Institute of International Finance discussed the millennial as an engaged global citizen. Millennials are now 27% of the world's population, and they are leading a transformation in not only how we communicate, but also how we purchase products. They have little loyalty to large legacy institutions – and "71% would actually rather go to the dentist than hear a sales pitch from a bank." That's probably not a surprise, but it does speak volumes about the need to find the right way to engage them.

This generation also has a hunger for entrepreneurship. He noted:

  • Millennials don't feel there's a lot of job security working for large companies
  • Technology is making it easier than ever to launch a company
  • The regulatory environment for starting a business globally has improved
  • Millennials think of themselves as a global citizen vs. just an American citizen

Ezra Klein of Vox discussed the U.S. 2016 presidential election in the frame of the millennial mindset. He shared how the changes happening among millennials are also happening among other groups. The main difference is that millennials have grown up in a world where political parties don't work - the wars we've launched have gone poorly, many economic policies have failed and politicians are not viewed as honest, decent or correct. It's not so much that millennials are immensely different from any other generation, just that their life experiences have been different. The surging popularity of both Drumpf and Sanders, particularly among young people, can be at least partly attributed to their belonging to a generation that has been repeatedly failed by major parties and institutions. They're tired of being lied to, or feeling that way, and expect - and reward - honesty and candor.

Author David Burstein spoke on optimism, resilience and activism. He shared the importance of ensuring that the U.S. as a country is always moving forward, thinking fresh and well-into the future. In order to do that, the U.S. needs millennials to take an interest in politics, run for office and return to the founding ideas of America: experimentation and innovation. Millennials need the generations before them to encourage them and give them the opportunity to rise to leadership.

Dana Canedy of the New York Times then spoke with Tammy Tibbetts, the founder and CEO of non-profit, She's the First, about the importance of being driven by a purpose. Her own personal driver was helping young girls get an education. "It's important to build something that is sustainable," she said, "but to also stay committed to an issue that is solvable if resources are allocated."

Sheryl Battles of Pitney Bowes extolled the need to be responsive to the need of stakeholders. Doing good isn't necessarily the first step, even if looking to build park for the public. Northwestern Mutual took the time to engage with stakeholders, help them understand the project, and earn their support. Advocacy is based on trust, and enterprises build that trust through authentic engagement.

Gen Z members Kristen Chang, Hayoung Ahn and Danny Poleschuk spoke with Andy Polansky of Weber Shandwick about the misconceptions of their generation, the digital revolution, the impact of socially responsible companies and their personal goals and hopes for the future and for this world. They noted that each person has a hand in making this world we live in, but it's all about "how we choose to invest in it."

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