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

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