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In Defense of Generation Y

October 11, 2010 12 comments

 

They say we hop jobs too often. We have no work ethic, expect too much, and want to be famous despite having no talent. We expect too many thank-you’s and pats-on-the-back, and we don’t take criticism well. Oh yeah, and we just don’t have enough respect for our elders.

At some point, hearing the same anti-millennial garbage over and over gets old.






Millennials get a bad rap. Look, I get it: Some of us are easy targets. Many people my age are poster-children for the Gen Y stereotype: They have helicopter parents, they received praise all of the time and thus expect a reward for everything they do, and they try to emulate Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Snooki .

Unfortunately for us, this is a case of a few very rotten apples spoiling the bunch. For every Snooki-obsessed Gen Y stereotype, there are a ton of entrepreneurial, hopeful, caring, and hard-working millennials that go unnoticed.

Things are going to change for the Boomer generation, and they’re slowly catching on to this fact. Naturally, they’re terrified, so they’re lashing out and trying to discredit us. There have already been some quality posts in defense of Gen Y, but I think it’s time to throw my hat in the ring. It’s time to stick up for my generation by explaining or attacking some of the common misconceptions the best I can.

Those darn kids want everything RIGHT NOW!

Yeah, we’re a generation of impatient, ADD-addled people. We want “instant” everything, and waiting on anything is annoying. We want and need everything to be instant: Communication, customer service, information, feedback…everything. It’s not natural for us to wait on these things.

We grew up with the internet and instant messaging, so we had a world of answers at our fingertips and indirect contact to every single one of our friends at all hours.  We grew up with mobile phones and text messaging (or at least came of age when they became popular), so we always have had instant access to our friends, family, and customer service, wherever we are. Our life is instant. The older generations are used to waiting for everything, but we aren’t. This is something the older generations are going to have to learn to deal with, because we are in a culture of “instant.”

Those darn kids are unrealistic and entitled

One of the often-used words to describe Gen Y is “entitled.” They say we believe we’re entitled to unrealistically big salaries. And you know what, they’re right. We DO feel like we deserve all of that. But who can blame us? We’re the ones who are paying an incredible amount of money to go to college, yet many of us still haven’t landed a job after graduation. We need a nice job with a big salary because the previous generation made student loans a HUGE hurdle in our twenty-something lives.

We believe in our own abilities to an “unrealistic” level (yes, it’s overconfident, but at least we actually believe in ourselves) because we’re the “good job for trying!” generation that “earned” a trophy for being in last place, just because we participated. There’s a quote attributed to Alex Bogusky, and it goes something like this:

“Being nice about someone’s mediocrity is the worst kind of mean”

We’re a generation that has been constantly rewarded for mediocrity, so of course we’ll feel entitled to unrealistic jobs, salaries, and lives.

Just remember: We’re praise-hungry, entitled monsters because you made us this way.

Those darn kids don’t know how to work

Yeah, we don’t want to work 9-to-5 desk jobs in traditional offices. Get over it, because that’s not going to be the norm in 10 or 15 years.

Who wants a desk job? We’ve seen how miserable our parents could get because of their crappy, thankless desk job. Of course we’re going to fight against having that, and we’re going to do anything we can to avoid it. For us, it IS avoidable….we’re the generation of dorm-room entrepreneurs. We have laptops, the internet, and smartphones; “work” isn’t bound by location or time.

Those darn kids whine on social media

Hell yeah we whine on social media. It works; smart brands understand our influence and want to make us happy (ALL brands should want to make their customers happy). We found a way to be heard, so we’ll send out our grievances in 140 characters or less and hope it reaches someone important.

We found a way to create communities that aren’t bound by geography. We found a way to band together and take the power back from the massive institutions that we can no longer trust. So yes, we’re going to keep writing tweets & blog posts to get your attention, and we will broadcast our negative experiences and expect them to be rectified (instantly, of course).

Those darn kids are…just like us?

There are a lot of things that separate our generation from the Boomers or Gen X. We’re very different because we grew up in different time periods, with different cultural norms and different situations. But, remember this: Just like your generation and the next generation after us will, our generation wants to laugh, love, and live. The definitions of what these things mean may be different, but we’re still driven by the same desires. Of course I’m going to complain about the next generation, and I hope the next generation feels free to challenge their elders like we do.

But for now, shut up and give us some respect for once, will ya?

What do you think about Gen Y?

Mobile Technology is Going to Rock Our World

August 19, 2010 2 comments

Life is increasingly mobile. My entire life is connected to a tiny rectangle in my pocket. I’m always “on” and connected to Twitter, Facebook, email, and a slew of other useful apps. Smartphones are projected to account for over half of the US cell phone market in 2011. The number of tablets and iPads is steadily increasing too. For the first time ever, e-books are outselling hardcover versions. This trend has incredible implications for the future of, well, everything. This post is an awesome wake-up call to everyone who is stuck talking about social media when mobile is truly the future. Mobile technology is going to change how we think about the world and interact with it. In short, the future is mobile.

Advertising On-The-Go

We’ll soon be getting ads sent directly to our mobile devices based on our location. Recently, this article highlighted the partnership between two companies that allows brands to send you SMS (text) ads, as long as you opt in. This means that even if you don’t have a smartphone yet, you can still join in on the fun. You only get the ads when you are around certain “geo-fences” that the stores set up (hence the location aspect). This sounds horrendously intrusive, but fear not: these ads are opt-in. You have to choose to receive the ads. Mobile advertising is going to be a hit because it allows for targeted messages that are more relevant to the consumer than the giant blasts sent out over the TV or radio.

Foursquare and other location-based services also provide you with special promotions based upon where you visit. I’ve talked about that before, so go ahead and check that out. While I’m not too hot on Facebook Places right yet, I will admit that it is a very powerful tool for businesses. Imagine having Foursquare, Yelp, and Facebook Fan pages all integrated together. Businesses will be able to have reviews, pictures, coupons, check-in information, and its own information all on one page that is accessible on-the-go.

You control when and where you want to access content

Technology is increasingly able to fit content around your schedule instead of content dictating it. “Timeshifting now” is a phrase I heard Faris Yakob use, and it’s an interesting concept. Timeshifting already has changed how we watch TV, and over half of the US has timeshifted a TV show. Now extend this idea to your phone or other mobile device; you can choose to watch content (on Hulu, on Youtube, etc) on your phone whenever you want. I can’t explain it as well as him, and I might have misinterpreted the idea, but the concept led me to another conclusion:  You’re able to control when and where you want to access media because your mobile device is stuck in a constant present tense defined as your “now.” When something is being broadcast and where you are during this broadcast no longer matters (save for some events like the Superbowl, awards shows, that sort of stuff). Mobile devices allow you to timeshift content to your “now” instead of dictating when your “now” is. Watch the video on the link. You’ll be smarter because of it.

Content is going to become more and more interactive

Here’s where everything gets really interesting. Imagine what a school armed with iPads would be like. All content would be up-to-date, textbooks would be interactive, and kids wouldn’t have to lug around 30-lb backpacks. Kids would want to learn if they could click on a video and watch it, or if they could learn a subject through an interactive game right on their iPad.  They would also learn to interact with the digital world at an early age, something that will be enormously beneficial in the future. If colleges embraced digital textbooks, the books would be a LOT less expensive than purchasing hardcovers; anyone who went to college knows how expensive books are. (this iPad-as-textbook idea came from a brief Twitter conversation with Olivier Blanchard. He has a lot of great ideas).

Imagine what a hospital would be like with the interactive capabilities of new mobile technology. Doctors wouldn’t have to worry about losing papers and every patient’s information could be transferred instantly between doctors and hospitals. Mobile technology will bring forth a revolution in nearly every industry, from education to healthcare to media and everywhere in between.

Mobile will change how we talk to each other and how we pay for things

I’m not going to touch on this very much, because we all know about mobile social interaction. We text a lot. Teens 12-17 use texting as their main mode of communication; they text more than they send email, call on the phone, or have face-to-face conversations. We have been able to connect with our online social networks via mobile device for a few years now. This isn’t really new, but this mobile social interaction will certainly grow with the number of smartphones being used. Mobile technology is definitely changing the way we interact with our social networks.

Mobile technology is going to change the way we pay for things too. PayPal has an app out that allows you to “bump” phones to complete a transaction. Soon, we could be paying with our phones like we do with credit cards and cash. This idea, while still in its infancy, could turn smartphones into wallets. Obviously, there are many issues that need to be worked out, but I definitely see this concept becoming a reality in the future.

So here we are, in the brave new world of mobile. It’s a technology that will cause a permanent shift in the way we interact with the rest of the world. Mobile is a technological advance that is probably the most important thing since the internet, and I can’t wait to see what happens with it in the future.

What do you think? Is mobile really as important as I think? What other mobile technology is going to freak the world out? Leave your ideas in the comments.

(Image via)

Facebook Places: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

August 19, 2010 3 comments

Realtors have a mantra: Location, location, location. That might as well be 2010’s official slogan, because every social network is getting on the LBS-train. Now, Facebook has entered the ring with its “Facebook Places” application. At the moment, it’s sort of like Foursquare with a few more bells and whistles.

Look, Zuckerberg, I get it. You want to play with the other cool kids in the location arena. It’s new, it’s fun, and it’s eventually going to be lucrative. But I’m not sold on Facebook’s foray into location-based services yet. Here are a few reasons why:

Foursquare was opt-in

I have 356 friends on Facebook. I maybe care where 10% of them are at any given moment. I don’t need to know where that-girl-I-met-once-in-college is eating lunch and I don’t care where anyone from my high-school is partying. They don’t care where I am, either. I joined Foursquare and chose my friends on that platform because I do care where they are. I chose them specifically because their location might interest me. I joined Facebook and friended people for different reasons.

I think Facebook would have been better off if they had created Places as an opt-in service within someone’s existing Facebook profile. In this service, you would have to choose to join Places, and then you would have to invite people  from your existing pool of Facebook friends to accept your “Places Friend Request.” This way, users would have the decision to share their location and they would be able to share their whereabouts with a limited number of people. I imagine Facebook didn’t go this route because they wanted location-based services to become more mainstream; by creating an opt-in service, less people would be interested, and they’d essentially just be creating a Foursquare clone.

Caveat: I’m sure Facebook will allow me to fiddle with the privacy settings of this application so I only see the location of people I choose, but I already did that on Foursquare. It seems a little redundant.

Clutter

Remember when Farmville became popular and everyone’s newsfeed was clogged-up with annoying notifications? Remember how angry everyone was because they didn’t want to see every update about lonely cows and awesome crops? It’ll happen again with Facebook Places, and it won’t be pretty.

Caveat: Again, I’m sure they’ve already thought this through and will allow you to block/hide location updates. Still, I’m haunted by memories of homeless animals and crop-growing updates littering my feed.

Counterpoint

Here’s the sad but realistic news: Facebook Places will probably be a hit. According to Facebook, “there are more than 150 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices.” Obviously, not every mobile user will be checking-in, but the number is pretty astounding when you consider that as of today, Foursquare is approaching 3 million users. If even a tiny fraction of Facebook Mobile users begin to check-in , the number of Places users will surpass Foursquare. Having Facebook Places will open up the world of location-based services to many, many people, which is good in the long-run.

Not only that, but it’ll be much easier for businesses to give out coupons and special deals. Since businesses can link their pages to the Places application, it’ll be a nicer integration than Foursquare can currently offer. You will be able to learn a lot more about the place of business when you use Facebook. This means that for businesses, Facebook Places may be more lucrative than Foursquare.

Our new time capsule?

At last night’s Places introduction, VP of Product Chris Cox channeled Don Draper and made a bigger point about location-based services: It’s not just something cool to do now, it’s a time capsule:

“Cox is really making a higher level argument for Facebook Places and location-based services in general. He’s talking about how Facebook Places will be a collective archive of our memories of what we experienced at a specific location or event, such as Lollapalooza. The company sees it as an evolution of the scrapbook or the photo album — now those stories will get more attention, those stories will be pinned to a physical location.”

As cheesy as it is, I think that’s a pretty cool. Whether we completely understand it or not, everything we put on the internet leaves a mark in time, and eventually they’ll become our society’s cave paintings. Yikes.

Obviously, it’s too early to tell if Facebook Places will be more like Google Wave or, well, Facebook. Right now, I think they have a lot of things to iron-out before I become a gung-ho user. Whether or not Places takes off, having Facebook enter the ring means location-based services have hit the mainstream public, which is think is a great thing for transparency, technology, and innovation.

What do you think? Are you going to join Facebook Places?

(Image via)

Check Out Checking-In

July 29, 2010 7 comments

| Why your business should embrace location-based social media |

The other day, an article came out with the title “Study Says Most Marketers Should Forgo Foursquare.” Naturally, a title like that is going to entice me to a read it. It explains that only 4% of adults use the location-based social media service, and 80% of the users are male. It also stated that 70% of users are in between ages 19-35, and 70% have college degrees or higher. Now, do these stats sound like a dead zone for marketers? Of course not! If anything, these stats are conducive to huge growth in the future, as the millennial generation grows older and Foursquare becomes more popular.

Think about it; what Foursquare does is entice consumers into your place of business, restaurant, or bar. It creates competition to see who can visit your venue the most. I’ve talked about Foursquare before, but this time I want to talk about how businesses can use it to increase their revenues. I recently read an article about how you can use Foursquare as a marketing tool, and it gave me some ideas. In the article, Danny Brown mentioned that you can use it as a cross-platform tool (enticing people to go to a bar after a movie, for example). Here are some other ideas on how to monetize Foursquare for your business, beyond just having specials for the mayor.

Loyalty Program: Use it as a reward for stopping by more than once. Make a special that says you’ll get something for free (or a discount) on the tenth time you go in. Entice the customer to continue to come in, and reward them for frequency. This allows more than one person to be incentivized for frequency, while still letting one person continue to be mayor (regardless of the prize, it IS fun to dethrone a mayor).

Swarm Party: Believe it or not, one of the more innovative Foursquare ideas I’ve heard of came out of Milwaukee. AJ Bomber’s has used Foursquare very well, and more restaurants should take notice. Bomber’s had an idea to host a “Swarm Party” on a Sunday. Basically, they offered the possibility of a coveted Swarm Badge (for those not in the know, you get one for checking-in to a venue with more than 50 other Foursquare users). 161 people showed up, and everyone got their swarm badge. Additionally, this stunt increased sales by 110%. Your business could go further and say that everyone in the building gets a free drink if you get enough people for a swarm badge. Even if less than 50 people check in, you’ll still have a decent-sized crowd ready to spend money. This is just a case of people lusting after something with no inherent value; consumers will gladly spend money if they get a chance at a swarm badge.

Check-in With a Friend: Have a special that rewards bringing new customers in. If you can show them that you’re bringing a friend in and it’s their first time checking in, reward the word-of-mouth with a special. This is easy enough to prove (and, I’m assuming that as the software becomes more advanced you’ll be able to track the number of people checking-in to your business), and it promotes new business.

Obviously, there’s a very large space for innovation and creativity when it comes to using Foursquare as a marketing tool. As the stats say, very few people currently use it, but that number is growing. The great thing about technology like this is that the possibilities for using it are endless; all your business has to do is embrace Foursquare and get to work counting your money. Let’s hear it: What are some other ways you think businesses can use Foursquare as a marketing tool?

(photo via The Dog & Pony Show and ThinkGeek)

A Millenial Dilemma: Trying to Find a (Work/Life) Balance

July 9, 2010 Leave a comment

My generation is a lot of things. We have a lot of great traits: we’re tech-savvy, we’re mobile, we’re driven (albeit in a different way than the other generations), and we’re always trying to be better. We’re also viewed very negatively by “them.” They say we have a high sense of entitlement without having earned it and have no attention span, but that’s for a different post. We tackle work differently too.

The 9 to 5 work schedule is crumbling because of technology. Smartphones are keeping us connected and able to answer emails all day and night, but they’re also allowing us to access our Facebook and Twitter accounts while we’re “working” (a lot of companies are very worried about this). We can stay connected to both worlds all day very easily. More than any previous generation, we’re seeing a merger of professional and personal life.

In the past, it was easier to keep work at work. If you were someone like Don Draper (Mad Men is back on July 25th!), you didn’t bring work home and definitely didn’t have the wife and kids on your mind at work. You’d go to work, flip on the “work mode” switch in your brain, and get working (admittedly, “work mode” in Mad Men sounds pretty great). Then, you’d come home (or the home of a mistress, or a bar, in Draper’s case) and flip that switch off. Now, we’re never completely “off” and never completely “on,” which is restructuring how we spend our time. So the real question is this: How do we separate work and our personal lives? Here are a few ideas.

Read more…

Life 2.0

June 28, 2010 1 comment

When I was a kid, I remember how awesome renting a video game was (yes, I’m old enough to remember video stores. When I was a kid, we didn’t have Netflix). I’d play as long as my parents would allow it, then wake up SUPER early the next morning so I could beat my brothers to the SNES. I’d play and play and play, only stopping to eat and sleep. Because we only had the video game for a few days, it was important to play as much as I could to get as far in the game as possible. It was a good childhood.

Even though I no longer really play, I still like the idea of video games, how you can jump into an entirely different world for a few hours and do strange, impossible things. Luckily enough, we’re entering an age where life itself is turning into a video game. This is facilitated by mobile services and new technology, each seeming more like science fiction. Here are just a few of the relatively new services that make life just a little bit more fun. This new technology is probably going to become (or already is?) the next big thing.

Read more…

RIP Privacy, Hello Transparency

May 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Mark Zuckerberg is watching you. Facebook has been getting a lot of negative buzz lately because of its privacy settings and how intrusive they seem. Facebook also added the ability to “Like” things all over the internet, meaning it can see and aggregate all of your likes together and hopefully derive some meaningful insights from them (like the Black Keys? Here’s an Ad!). If this seems a little Orwellian, you’re probably right. Zuckerberg thinks that privacy is dead, that it’s something we no longer really desire. I think there’s a little bit of truth to that.

Think about your life online. You probably have a Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn account if you’re my age (or at least one of them). You’ve probably shared most of your public contact information (email, phone number, Skype/AIM name) with something on the internet, and you probably also skipped over the legal mumbo jumbo that tells you how they are able to use it. Anytime you send an email, researchers can scour them for keywords and use that data. Here we are, in the age of rabid transparency.

In this strange new world of transparency, how you interact on the internet will be remembered forever. The pages you view, the comments you make on youtube, the tweets you send out. It just makes me happy that I barely missed the age of putting your baby doing stupid stuff on Youtube (I’ll take 5 sets of eyeballs over 13 Million, thank you very much). These things are all being archived (if they aren’t, somebody is missing an opportunity). Eventually, this archive will be a time capsule, a small look into our lives in the new millennium (BEFORE everyone had hover cars and jetpacks and sentient housemaid robots). But now, it can be used for research and meaningful insights, delivering you targeted advertising based upon your internet habits. What we’re seeing now is a rise in accountability. Your 15 minutes of fame have been extended indefinitely (Andy Warhol would have loved the internet). You can’t burn your online diary, shred your emails, or hide the video tapes Watergate-style. Once it’s on the internet, it’s there for good.

So, what do you do to hide from Big Brother Facebook? You could just avoid the internet completely (Brother Jebediah), but that doesn’t seem realistic these days. The key to surviving this new world is to manage your online presence. Make sure that nothing too inflammatory comes out of your keyboard, keep the dirty pictures out, and watch where you visit. Make sure everything you do online is really just an extension of who you are. If everyone’s watching, at least wave your flag.

All this being said, I think this transparency is a good thing; it makes us look more human when some of our failures are up on the internet. It’s also nice to know that most of the time when you’re giving out information, you’re not really your name. You’re just an 18-34 year old male from Wisconsin. None of the personal information is collected; your likes, dislikes, and visits are aggregated to form a larger data set. This data is then used to figure out what advertisements to send you, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just an internet experience catered to you. So, the key to surviving the brave new world of internet transparency is the same advice your mother has been telling you all of your life: be yourself.

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