Ethan Lyon | Originally posted Jun 29, 2009 on Sparxoo
By Tara Lane, Emerging Leader
Generation Y has been estimated to include around 70 million tweens, teens, and twentysomethings—far greater in number than Generation X. There are a select handful of influencers—leveraging new technologies coupled with profound compassion—sparking new product / service trends and political movements. They are highly aware and receptive to the messages constantly bombarding them. They know their place in the world, what they want and what they need to live up to. We have analyzed many Gen Y leaders and identified five distinctive traits:
1. Politically Aware
The 2008 election truly revolutionized Gen Y, whose members were part of one the largest youth vote turnouts in history. YouTube was a front-runner in making this happen, allowing users to ask the candidates questions via the site and have them interact in a unique way. The inauguration brought together leaders from differing industries and showed the millennials that politics was “cool.” Actor Kal Penn (24, House) was recently tappedto become the newest Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. Gen Y leaders recognize that many of the issues facing politicians today have an effect on them now and in the future and are doing their part to make a difference and encourage their peers to do the same.
As well as being politically involved, these leaders are also recognize the need for involvement in their communities and in other causes they are passionate about. They know how to network and get others involved as well. Look around at any rally or protest and you’ll probably see that the majority of participants are card-carrying members of Generation Y. They may have even been the ones to organize it in the first place. With the help of Facebook and other social networking sites, making others aware and involved is only a click away. Google has jumped on the bandwagon, launching AllForGood.org, a search engine that shows users volunteer opportunities located in their area.
3. Tech Savvy
Emerging leaders are both connectors and forerunners as far as technology goes. They recognized early on that social media was the perfect medium to reach their audience. They know how to make the technology work for them. More and more music artists are being discovered in unconventional ways via Web sites like YouTube and Myspace. When Gen Y sees this happening for their peers, they get ideas and start following the lead. These leaders are always up on the latest trends and enjoy sharing their knowledge with others in any way they can, including Twitter, Blogs/Vlogs, Facebook and other forms of social media.
4. Highly Educated
Gen Y will no longer settle for just a bachelor’s degree. More and more students are continuing their education because they realize that their degrees may soon be obsolete as their industries become more and more competitive and specialized. Many Gen Y leaders come from top schools, setting an example for those that strive to follow in their footsteps. Mark Zukerberg invented Facebook while attending Harvard and went on to make millions. Many celebrities have reportedly taken time off from their careers to attend college. Top universities may recruit high-profile stars to study at their schools purely for newsworthiness, but in they eyes of millenials this means that if education is important to such high-profile stars, it should be important for them, too.
Like all innovators, Gen Y innovators recognize a need for something and come up with a way to make it possible. When Lisa went looking for an online community of twentysomething bloggers like herself and couldn’t find one, she decided to start one of her own. What started as a small network of her and a few other bloggers has since grown to a network of more than 5,000 bloggers from all over the world who connect and communicate on a daily basis. The rapid development of technology has fueled creativity within Gen Y innovators and created an outlet that wasn’t there previously. Apple’s iPhone and iPod lets tech gurus of all ages create “Apps” for other users, also sparking a wave of startup companies by young entrepreneurs looking to get in on the success.
Generation Y is leading the course for change today, and will continue to do so for a long time. As Gen Y gets older, their influence will only grow stronger. For companies looking to target Gen Y members, the emerging leaders of this generation are the ones to watch.
Illustration by Gabriella Fabbri from Stock.Xchng