The Next Generation of Leaders
Kevin Salwen on Passionate Work
Over the past few months, I've gotten a chance to meet a huge number of 20-somethings. This is a generation that has grown up during one of the most despicable, self-indulgent eras in the history of business -- think Tyco toga parties, Enron self-dealing, WorldCom flim-flam. Who could blame these budding businessites if they were just a bunch of cynics?
But a cool thing is happening: The 20-somethings are searching for (and finding) more meaning in their work. In other words, they are the 'And Generation': They want a paycheck and something more. They are building organizations like Net Impact, in which MBAs and young professionals strive to use their business degrees to make the world a better place. They are building careers in which their jobs connect to the community. But they aren't naive: They understand that profit makes it all happen.
Earlier this week in New York, I met a young man at an advertising agency who wanted to talk about his father. He recalled the recent morning that his dad sat on the side of his bed, head in hands, and bemoaned the concept of going into his office. 'I never want to be like that,' the 20-something adman told me.
This is fascinating stuff for a generation that will be our next leaders. Perhaps we all (I'm including my 40-something self in this) started out with ideals of being fulfilled in our work. But this younger group has come of age watching their parents get screwed out of pensions and downsized mercilessly. This next generation has experienced Sept. 11 and the subsequent (and ongoing) 'live for something more meaningful' era that followed it.
Those events and perspective have a deep impact. In short, this is a generation to watch.