Friday, September 3, 2010

Lebron…meh…Gen Y has done Better!

The King…The Chosen One…The Next MJ, Lebron James forfeited the right to all of these titles once he decided to “take his talents to South Beach” and create a triumvirate of basketball power that can conquer the NBA much like the originals did for Rome. I will avoid getting started on why I think Lebron’s “Decision” was an egotistical and insensitive display of character or lack thereof. I will avoid discussing the paradox of "The King" hiding the insecurities he has as a basketball superstar, leader of a team and the new face of the NBA. It's not worth it. Plus, it has all been said, and I missed the train for that post. But, a paragraph by a local sports reporter reignited the Lebron issue for me. He took a jab at my people, saying that Lebron’s un-willingness and inability to lead is but a large scale example of Gen Y’s problem of always finding an easy way out, never taking accountability, and overall lack of leadership skills. Really?!

First of all, unlike Lebron James, most of Generation Y was not offered multi-million dollar sponsorships after high-school, nor were they treated as a savior to a franchise, an association, or city. To even think that Lebron is some sort of extreme microcosm of a generation is absurd. Rather, the path that the majority of Gen Yers take is starkly different than Lebron.

Most of us will probably graduate college, spend more time accessing the vast quantities of information at our finger tips, and hopefully, developing into the leaders we are capable of being. The rapid advancement of technology, the emergence of new political powers, the changing social landscape, and the vast interconnectivity of individuals across the globe gives us the opportunity to lead on a scale much greater than the NBA. And, I am confident that we will step up to the challenge. In enterprise, economics, politics, and social justice Gen Y has made a significant impact and we will continue to do so. Here are a few Gen Y-ers that are blazing the trail for the next generation leaders.

Sean McCleese - Founder of Student of Fortune
Sean McCleese went from high school dropout to self-made business exec. Through his own sweat, blood, and money founded and operates Student of Fortune an online tutoring program with average annual revenues of $5-$10 million. Now, “high school dropout” doesn’t mean he skipped out on school to go fool around. Rather, at 15, he took a high school exit exam, became the youngest student to be accepted at LA’s Occidental College and went on to be a young and thriving entrepreneur. Did I mention that he is only 26. His business model is like so, students post questions on the Student of Fortune website, place a price they are willing to pay for online tutoring, and member tutors provide customized tutoring. It’s basically crowdsourcing tutors. Read more about Sean from my source on and his website

I had the amazing fortune of taking an entrepreneurship class by Tristan Simon, the restaurant mogul and Gen Y-er. Now, 32, Tristan Simon has 6 restaurant chains under his belt, Cuba Libre, Fireside Pies, Hibiscus, The Porch, Victor Tangos, Westside Tavern and he’s working on more. Just to be clear, we ain’t talkin’ Chili’s. We’re talkin’ restaurants that pride themselves on high quality ingredients and an atmosphere to boot. Westside Tavern was a project that he worked on alongside Mark Cuban. At 22, through superhuman persistence, he founded his first restaurant in a Dallas suburb. It grossed around $10 million in his first year. I haven’t had the chance to try all his restaurants, but not do to an unwillingness. I just can’t afford some of them. But, Tristan, if you read this, drop me a comment and I’ll see you at Hibiscus! Visit one of the websites above, or his company website, or better yet go to his restaurants one to learn more.  

Blake Mycoskie- Founder and Chief Shoe Giver  of TOMS

At 33 years old, Blake Mycoskie has started five businesses one of them pioneered a worldwide movement. And, it wasn't his laundry business. It is TOMS shoes. But, TOMS is more than a business. It is a humanitarian mission. TOMS' "One for One Movement" is the core of the organization. For every shoe that is purchased TOMS will donate a pair to at-need children across the world. They are on track to giving away there one millionth pair this year. Now Blake isn't just a great guy with a great mission, his tremendous business aptitude and leadership has TOMS partnering with premier organizations such as, Rugby by Ralph Lauren, Macy's, Nordstroms,  Neiman Marcus, and Urban Outfitters. Read more on his blog.

My point is that Gen Y has exemplified extraordinary leadership and I hope that it becomes more evident as we continue to grow. And although, it's not saying much. I'm sure many of us will prove better leaders than Lebron. 

If you have names to add to the list, let me know!

'Til Next Time

Gen_Y Mike

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Who has the higher Emotional Intelligence, Gen Y or Baby Boomers?

So, I began my MBA this week. Two classes on leadership and one on operations management. The extra ten hours a week of class has slowed my blogging output but has provided some good material. One of my leadership classes is focused on the concept of Emotional Intelligence or E.Q. This "revolutionary" concept basically states that an understanding and proper application of one's own emotions and how they impact others are key factors in becoming a leader. In fact, a myriad of recent studies have shown that EQ is twice as important to success than IQ (EI2) Now, I don't want to go into detail on what E.Q. is. Go wikipedia it or check out the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0

But, I do want to talk about the levels of EQ by generation. The largest EQ gap is between Baby Boomers and Gen Y concerning self-management  (EI2). Baby Boomers are able to "self-manage" far better than Gen Y, and that shouldn't be a surprise. It makes sense that as a person goes through life, he/she would have a better understanding of their own emotions and how to harness them appropriately. Whereas, Gen Y-er's have a passion that can lead to recklessness. But, emotional intelligence does not mean stifling one's own emotions. It means utilizing them to become a stronger leader, and this is where I see tremendous opportunity for Gen Y and a weakness in Baby Boomers.

I'm by far the youngest student in this leadership class, and my perspective of the class seems to be drastically different than those of the other students, who are primarily Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. While, I'm nodding my head at the idea that self and social awareness/management is crucial to the successful functioning of a business. The many older managers in the class argue that emotions have little importance in a business setting. "Leave your emotions at the door" or "Don't take it personally, it's just business." It caught me completely off-guard. How is a person supposed to ignore an inherent part of their nature, emotion? I don't think that anyone can smother their emotions completely. Chances are all that pent up feeling will manifest itself in the most inappropriate situation. But, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe, these Baby Boomers can act in an emotional vacuum. But, I think it's a shame if they do.

Where will the creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship come from? How will employees be inspired to work towards an organizations vision? Why would customers be loyal and supportive of the business?

This is where Gen-Y's opportunity is. Take a lesson from the Baby Boomers and become self-aware and manage your emotions properly. Don't mope around in failure and don't become rash or arrogant in success.  But, do not stifle your emotions. Build from your passion and learn to communicate the same zeal to others. Become a leader in your area of influence, whether that be in the classroom, the office, or in your personal endeavors.

Let me know your thoughts on Emotional Intelligence. What strengths and weaknesses do you see in different generations?

'Til next time,

Gen_Y Mike

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Social Network Fatigue!

Sparked by a recent episode of HR Happy Hour and @thelance (I actually stole his phrasing), comes this rant on social media.

Here's the context. There's this major online job board company. In order to "get with the times", they created a micro social network of sorts, where members have there own profiles and can connect with recruiters. @thelance  astutely points out this concept of Social Network Fatigue, paraphrasing, "Don't we have enough online networks already?" Got it? Good.

Here's my point. It's time to stop thinking about being the next Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. That train has past. And while there may be opportunities to create niche networks, unless it is your core competency and primary focus, I think resources are better spent elsewhere. Rather than creating the next "YouTwitFace," emphasis should be placed on using the current social network infrastructure as mediums for providing value.

Here's why. Estimates of the current social networks are as follows; LinkedIn with 75 million users, Twitter with 105 million users, and Facebook with 500 million users. Now, you can attempt to mimic one of these business models. But, even Google with all there Google Geniuses and magic web powers hasn't made a big splash with Buzz. Have you even heard of Buzz? Plus, you will not only be competing with the networks themselves, but also with the thousands of app developers, who are continuously making the major networks better. I'm just not convinced that this is the best route.

I'm a believer of using the infrastructure in place and building from there. I am not suggesting a "resistance is futile" approach, but rather a "use and abuse" approach. The beauty of the current social network infrastructure is that it is pliable. Create a widget or app that works with the network to suit your needs, rather than creating an empty network to fill. There's nothing social about that. In the job board example, wouldn't it be better to create a mechanism that syncs the resumes and recommendations of a LinkedIn profile to the database of jobs, not requiring a visitor to create another username and password, which he will forget, and then never update.  Don't get me wrong. I don't want to oversimplify. These things will take tremendous ingenuity, creativity, and entrepreneurship, but the way we think of social networks must change.

Social Networks are mediums, just as a telecommunications is a medium. And, if you are not in the business of creating new telephones or new social networks, you should be thinking how to utilize mediums, not how to develop new ones.

'Til next time,


Monday, August 9, 2010

Thanks for the kind words but...

Christine Hassler of the Huffington Post wrote a well intentioned and very kind blog ( towards my people, fellow Gen Y-ers, and although I am grateful that she has a much more positive outlook than most bloggers, I still don't understand what is so different from Gen Y than the tendencies of every other twenty-something year-old, regardless of generation.

She points out that many bloggers have labeled us, "entitled, immature, needing constant validation, self-absorbed, lacking a work ethic and respect for authority." Okay. Fine. I understand where that comes from, and it has much truth. She also sheds light on some of our strengths, passion, eagerness to learn and grow, entrepreneurial spirit, desire to be recognized, etc. I get that too. But...who cares! 

Isn't that a description for every twenty-ish year old person, whether in the 50's, 60's 70's, or  2000's? I am pretty sure that the hippies were not the most industrious respecters of their elders. How about fans of James Brown, Elvis, Miles Davis, and Billie Holiday? Were they the selfless, pro-establishment, and humble citizens of their time? I wasn't there, so I guess I can't be 100% sure. But, I'll take a gamble and say they were not. 

The tendencies and characteristics that Ms. Hassler observes and illustrates are accurate and are not the point of my criticism, nor is Ms. Hassler herself the point of my criticism. My problem lies with the widespread notion that the inclinations of Generation Y are something foreign and unique. When Ad Age coined the term Gen Y in 1993 ("Generation Y" Ad Age August 30, 1993. p. 16), it was used to identify a target market, not to develop a philosophical inquiry to the human nature of those born between the 1980's and 1990's. The same traits of Gen Y are depictions of youth seen throughout history and academia. From Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to Jane Austen novels to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, it's all there. Although it is important that the context of our time has changed, the nature of youth has not. 

So thank you Ms. Hassler for recognizing my generation's strengths, but the virtues and vices of youth are not new. What is new is the imprint on the world we will make, whether good or bad. By upholding valuable traditions and progressing beyond our weaknesses,  I intend to be a part of the lasting and beneficial difference to the world Gen Y can make.

'Til next time,


Thursday, August 5, 2010


Welcome to "Y the World Goes 'Round." I am a Gen Y'er straight out of college with an insatiable desire and curiosity for the true, the good, and the kinda interesting. And, here is where I'll home my utterly biased, completely skewed, and unarguably prejudiced observations of the world around me. I won't exhaust myself by writing prose completely void of my subjective opinion. I don't think that's worth while or even possible. One of the witty authors I've read, Oscar Wilde, once said, "Be yourself, everyone else is taken." And, that's what I intend to do. I am a son. I am a friend. I am a working professional. I am a learner of life, and I am part of a group of individuals so arbitrarily labeled, Generation Y.

Now, my intention is not to waste countless hours of my life in cyberspace to explain to the random passersby why my Generation is misunderstood, misrepresented, and desperate for attention. Rather, I hope to create a log of all those fleeting sparks of interest, anger, and inquiry that would otherwise be lost, and if anyone happens to find it interesting, so be it. 'Til next time.

Gen Y Mike