Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"Kids these days"

"Kids these days"

The next time you hear someone utter these words... take them on! This comment usually foreshadows a negative remark... about cellphones, drinking too much, driving dangerously, being self absorbed or just generally irresponsible. As with all stereotypes, it gets dangerous the more it is repeated. And it simply isn't true!

What about kids these days? Well, at the least the ones I get to work with are unbelievable. Forget the "X' generation or "Y" generation labels... yesterday someone referred to them as the "and" generation... they want to make a good living AND they want to make the world a better place. And they are willing to work hard to do both.

Our stoves project team has returned from India and they were great. They kept their eyes and ears open, and rolled up their sleeves. It wasn't an easy trip, but they learned a lot, and picked up even more passion for what they are trying to do. Read about it in today's Denver Post.

Up at Bainbridge Graduate Institute, one of the student teams just won an international design competition for rethinking sustainable food distribution.

Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka, has written that one of the hallmarks of social entrepreneurship is to tap into the energy of youth. And you don't have to remember back too many years to the internet boom where this energy was starting companies and creating (and losing) large amounts of wealth. Well that same energy is back, only this time, it is driven by what Jim Collins labeled, the "Genius of the 'AND'" in Built to Last. To paraphrase Collins, these folks are going to "create wealth for shareholders AND do good for the world."

So tap into this energy. Mentor a youth group, work with students at a nearby high school or college, talk to these young people. Be open to their energy and ideas and encourage them. And... don't let your friends get away with "Kids these days" unless it is followed by a positive!