As we prepare this issue on Generation Y in early spring, the world is watching the youth revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East. Dictatorial regimes and exploitative governments are being exposed and overthrown after centuries of existence.
Who made this historical upheaval possible? Since the beginning of time, there have been freedom-loving, fearless, idealistic and revolutionary youngsters. But why are communities and entire nations able to stand up today against the oppression they have been subjected to for centuries?
One answer is because of the unifying power and ubiquity of the Internet.
We've always looked up to people in their twenties and early thirties as tomorrow's leaders, projecting our hopes for a better world onto the next generation. Yet when we look at Gen Y, we can't help but notice an additional arrow in their quiver and a new tool in their belt that together make them extra powerful. The arrow is their global reach and their powertool is online social media.
What does this mean for our future? In The Way We'll Be, pollster John Zogby reports, "The average 20- to 32-year-old has a heightened social awareness, a genuine appreciation for diversity and multiculturalism, a more personal spiritual sense of the world, and a broader worldview in general."
Other adjectives Zogby uses to describe what he calls the "First Globals" include optimistic, self-confident, resilient and practical. He finds Gen Y less materialistic, less tolerant of baloney and less cynical than previous generations.
In response to ever increasing global unemployment, Millennials are also more entrepreneurial-minded. Gen Y likes to make money, but not at any cost. Here is how you can motivate them in your business:
Hmm… aren't these Gen Y motivators what we all have always wanted, but felt was too much to ask for or were afraid we couldn't get? Do you see a parallel with the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya that took forever to finally burst through?
Let's applaud these kids for having the courage of their convictions and setting a new standard for themselves and the world. Congratulations, Mom and Dad—but don't think your job ends here. Gen Y is hungry for your mentorship and partnership, and if you can play to their strengths, you will have a winning team.
JOSEPHINE GROSS, Ph.D. is cofounder and editor of Networking Times.