Not Built For Business: Are We The Greatest Generation?

This guest post was written by Jacob Sloan

I don't mind the cutthroat workforce. I like competition. My tech-heavy habits should give me the edge, not hold me back. I don't need a consultant to train me how to behave properly or cover my tattoos. In fact, I am a little disappointed that my fellow classmates need their diaper changed.

Young college grads with a dream of financial comfort may look first to untraditional options and exhausting their creativity before settling into the 9-to-5 life-myself included. The success stories of Apple, Microsoft, Dell and Google in the news and in our own cramped dorms and garages might have jaded us. When Facebook became every college student's favorite social tool years ago, the drama surrounding it's rising success came into focus for every business-minded college grad.

As a society, we have realized more than ever that going for broke in your 20s is far better than seeking out a get-rich-quick scheme during your mid-life crisis, and that's a good thing. Some of us watched our parents work for years at jobs that didn't pay them enough, and we aren't ready to settle into the daily groove behind a desk until we are sure that there is no big idea stuck just under our fingernail-or mouse click. Society might call us the most daring generation one day.

What stands in our way? The ones who use uncertainty to fuel their laziness post-college.

David Brooks calls the years when members of my generation wander in their 20s "the odyssey years." We move between careers, get our traveling itch done and experiment with startups. Ben Casnocha, an entrepreneur who hasn't even reached his "odyssey years" yet, encourages exploration but not without setting goals-no doodling on Taco Cabana bags and Twinkie wrappers, people. In the August issue of Maxim, Mark Cuban championed an even more daring quest in a feature on "CEO Secrets."

" The younger you start, the better. If you are single, have five roommates, and a beater for a car, you have nothing to lose."

Oh, the sacrifice, but to those bold enough to have a stomach for risk, frugality is part of the winning equation. The young have it all to gain-and early retirement to enjoy.

With all this inspiration, young people born between 1980 and 1995 still become failures of their own upbringing. Apparently, our self-confidence and will to succeed lulls some to postpone seeking a job offer…or moving out of Mom's basement…or quitting the job at UPS to enter a career going places, not just delivering things to them.

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According to 60 Minutes, there are more jobs than college grads to take them, and it seems like we aren't made for business today. Managers of the old school fear us-good if you are a rival startup but very bad if you're the latest interviewee trying to impress your potential superiors. As Marian Saltzman of J. Walter Thompson put it:

"'Some of them are the greatest generation. They're more hardworking. They have these tools to get things done," she explains. "They are enormously clever and resourceful. Some of the others are absolutely incorrigible. It's their way or the highway. The rest of us are old, redundant, should be retired. How dare we come in, anyone over 30. Not only can't be trusted, can't be counted upon to be, sort of, coherent.'"

Consultants are being hired to teach managers how to handle a generation that values lifestyle over work success-a generation of all winners who got rewarded for nothing and told they were "special" too much.

We didn't all grow up getting trophies for showing up to soccer games. I feared moving back home after college would soften me up and make me look unappealing when I did go to job interviews, but 60 Minutes says more than half of college grads end up living off mom and dad. Am I an anomaly of my own generation?

We need to shape up, and bosses need to push us-no coddling. I know plenty of grads who will find success even though they don't want to jump on the corporate bus, ladder or train and ride for life, but it won't be by sitting around for years with mom and dad daydreaming and playing Xbox Live until UPS fires you for not being career-minded.

As a generation, we need to start impressing members of both the old school and new school workforce rather than wowing them with our Googling and 4.5-second 40 when the 5:30 p.m. bell tolls. In order for all of us to do it, current business leaders must not accept our foolishness.

If you want to succeed, get an internship, get involved at school or stay late once in awhile at work. Get a sense for business and commitment. If not, please say you were born in the 90s, and don't bring down the rest of us.

This guest post was written by Jacob Sloan of WannabeMogul.

  • Jacob:

    I’m sorry for the mistaken post previous to this one! I got lost in the electronic haze for a few moments. What I *meant* to say was how prescient your thoughts are on the plight of the 20-Somethings and the oldsters who get to deal with them. Thanks for an honest look at the cold hard facts of work in the 21st Century.