By Rob Kinslow, Sr. Strategist, Brand Communication, KHJ Brand Activation
There is a lot of talk these days about the Millennials, those 20- and even 30-somethings previously labeled Gen Y. Millennials want meaningful work, we are told. Millennials care more about making a difference than making a huge salary. Milllennials won’t cop to the work-’til-you-drop mentality of Baby Boomers or the work hard/play hard mantra of Gen Xers. Millennials don’t join companies; they join cultures.
It’s risky to generalize, of course. What I do see is Millennials finding new ways to innovate that reflect their values, as evidenced by a post from The Daily Muse this past week featuring the winners of its 50 Fearless Minds Changing the World search. Most winners are Millennials and more than a few are innovating in and around healthcare. I find their ideas, compassion and entrepreneurial drive inspiring and they make me feel hopeful for the future.
They make me feel a little threatened, too.
After all, I’m well past the cutoff point for any business journal’s "30 Under 30" list. I’ve hit the age where I’ve accepted that I may not change the world after all. I have college tuitions to pay and a couple of 20-somethings of my own to continue guiding into full-blown adulthood. Certainly I no longer have the wherewithal or gumption to invent something, start a company or write a mindbender of a book. Not the way those young, fearless minds featured by The Muse are doing.
Or do I? Do you?
"You’re never too old to be what you might have been," wrote the novelist George Eliot, and she should know – she wrote her first novel at age 40. Forget "50 is the new 40;" maybe old is the new young. Forget "You’re as young as you feel." Maybe you’re as young as your idea feels. There is no cutoff point for creative problem solving.
Clinicians and scientists coming up with new ideas were featured in another list that came out recently: The Cleveland Clinic’s Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2014. At least several on the list have gray hair and some are bringing to market ideas that had been years in the making. I take that as an encouraging sign that those of us who wrote our college papers on typewriters and onion skin paper can still be at the forefront of bringing new technologies to light.
Besides, do young folk really have the discipline or experience we have? Have they ever? Consider this comment from someone famous:
"Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers."
A university president? Op-ed columnist? Social blogger? No, that was Socrates, more than 2,400 years ago. There really is nothing new under the sun. Unless, of course, you put it there. And whatever generation you call home, there’s no reason it can’t be you.
This is the Brand and Beyond™ blog, a new resource for the medical device industry. Brand and Beyond™ is sponsored by KHJ, headquartered in Boston, MA. KHJ is a strategic brand activation firm that is passionate about helping people see and realize what’s possible for themselves and the world around them.