I read an enlightening article recently about the unique entrepreneurial qualities of my generation. NY Times author William Deresiewicz calls us “Generation Sell.” While I normally kick against generalizations, this one seems apt.
Every generation has it’s own unique youth culture from beatniks to hippies, from punk rockers to grunge and its slackers. Each group had an emotional center and a unique vision of social reform. Deresiewicz claims that today’s youth culture is much more than skinny jeans and retro hats. He lives in Portland, so he has a pretty accurate pulse on all things hipster: “I see…..food carts, 20-somethings selling wallets made from recycled plastic bags, boutique pickle companies, techie start-ups, Kickstarter, urban-farming supply stores and bottled water that wants to save the planet.”
I can’t examine these ideas with the objectivity that Deresiewicz can. I’m a member of the group in question (people born between the late ’70s and the mid-’90s, more or less). Definitely go read the article for yourself. It actually brought a lot of clarity to the reason that I have the conversations that I have with my peers as often as I do. This paragraph in particular made it plain:
“Bands are still bands, but now they’re little businesses, as well: self-produced, self-published, self-managed. When I hear from young people who want to get off the careerist treadmill and do something meaningful, they talk, most often, about opening a restaurant. Nonprofits are still hip, but students don’t dream about joining one, they dream about starting one. In any case, what’s really hip is social entrepreneurship — companies that try to make money responsibly, then give it all away.”
It’s strange for me to actually agree with a generational stereotype, but I do. Maybe its because instead of the loopy transcendence of the hippies or the raging nihilism of punk rockers, my generation seems to want the world to actually be a better place. We are the generation of Tom’s shoes and the one-for-one business model. We came up with words like “terracycling,” and phrases like “ethical sourcing.” More of us than ever are managing our own brands, becoming more mindful producers and consumers. The question is no longer, ‘what do people want?’ It’s ‘what is my brand saying about me?’
Do you consider yourself to be a salesman? Are you an entrepreneur? Are you a member of Generation Sell?
Read the article here. Let me know your thoughts.