Archives For Generation iY

You probably remember being a young teenager—and likely are glad that period of your life is over. This week, I am blogging about Generation iY students who are exceptions to the rule—those who are not slackers, poor communicators, entitled, or self-absorbed. Today, I’d like to share a story that will restore your faith in teens making those years productive.

generation iY app

A 17-year-old boy created an app called “Summly” which neatly summarizes news stories for quick reading on mobile devices. The creator of Summly is a tech geek named Nick D’Aloiso. He began working on the app when he was only 15 years old. (Isn’t that our freshman year of high school?) This app delivers snapshots of stories, giving users a simple, elegant and fast way to find the news they want. For publishers, Summly technology offers a new approach to drive interest in stories and reach a generation of mobile users that want information on the go.

The incredible part of the story is that he sold the app for $30 million to Yahoo! The company was aware they had no real presence on mobile devices—and found one from a teenager in England. Wow.

May I tell you what I love about Nick’s story?

1. He began to care about things beyond his own life.

Teens today are generally not interested in the news. They’re on YouTube, Facebook and Instragram—but generally not on CNN or Fox News. Nick realized at 15 years old that an app to help people process the news quickly would catch on.

2. He sought to add value.

Contrary to so many adolescents who are narcissistic, Nick created something that actually had value; an invention that others can benefit from. His device broadcasts important news about world events to his generation.

3. He understood the culture.

His app met a need that wasn’t being met in the same way. He looked around at his generation and observed they were on “the go” and didn’t have time to stop and watch the news. They will, however, check out an app.

4. He communicated with others.

He wasn’t satisfied with merely creating something—then taking a “selfie” on his phone and posting it on Facebook. He let companies know about what he’d done to see if anyone was interested. Yahoo! desperately needed what Nick offered.

5. He dug his well before he was thirsty.

All of this took place while he still lived at home with his parents. He didn’t wait until he was established before he became ambitious about serving the world around him. He started early—and now this teen is a millionaire.

What else do you like about Nick’s story?  Leave me a comment with your thoughts.


This week I am blogging about students from Generation iY (those born since 1990) who don’t fit the stereotype: they’re not lazy or entitled, not addicted to rewards, and they have a good work ethic. Today—I plan to venture over to India.

generation iy

You probably know, India has a relatively young population. The mean age hovers around 27 years old. Many of those kids are not “lazy slackers,” in fact, they’re just the opposite. They push themselves so hard to get ahead and to become something, they are experiencing both stress and distress.

Many teens and twenty-somethings are in IT jobs and are pushed to make money for their family or their future. (Not a common thing in America). The industry has moved to “outcome based” rewards meaning they get paid only as they produce. It’s a cut-throat industry, just like American companies who pay on commission and create workaholics. The difference is—in India, some can actually lose money if they don’t perform. What is the result?

Doctors say enormous amount of stress is resulting in early onset of blood pressure, diabetes, urine infections and cardiac diseases. “They are down with depression, lack of sleep and excess sleep. In addition to this, girls are reporting polycystic ovary syndrome, which in turn could result in infertility problems later on,” Dr Prashanti Raju, a physician with wellness clinic, of CARE Hospitals group, says.

Further, in the multi-generational workforce of the IT industry, there is a distinct difference in the tolerance levels between Gen-X (born 1960-1980) and Gen-Y (born between 1980-2000). Gen-Y is more vulnerable to the pressure than Gen-X.

“Gen-Y is exposed to a higher cost of living that puts tremendous pressure on their financial needs. Today you see the Gen-Y employees not even hesitating to put more than 60-70 per cent of their income to buy a bike, a car or swanky phone or even a flat,” Raj Reddy, Senior Vice-President and Chief HR Officer of CSS Corp, feels.

If this feels familiar to your pressurized situation—may I offer some advice?

1. Change Your Scorecard.

If you’re caught up in the rat race, you’ll become addicted to comparing yourself to others. On your own, choose your own scorecard, and become comfortable with performing against it, not someone else’s iPhone, home, job or income.

2. Seek Work-Life Balance.

The concept of work and life is also blurred now with social media giving rise to an ‘Always-On’ generation. This further puts more pressure as there is no switch-off time available through out the day. Turn it off, and find ways to de-compress.

3. Find a Partner to Hold You Accountable.

If you plan to get off the fast-paced treadmill, you should not do it alone. Find a friend who can support you and hold you accountable to this “new lifestyle.” You’ll need someone on the journey with you to prevent you from caving.

4. Sleep and Exercise.

The top two elements in a healthy life (outside of spiritual commitments you can make) are sleep and exercise. Most of us don’t get enough of either of these. They will aid in navigating your high-pressure personality and keep you healthy.

What else would you recommend to this kind of young person?


I received an inquiry a few weeks ago from Karen, a student who read my blog. She made an interesting request:

“I was wondering if it would be of interest to look into the effects of typical Gen iY and their over-indulgent parents on other Gen iY persons and parents who may not fit this mold.”

“For example, I find myself quite bitter about others my age. I feel that I work hard, I play by the rules, yet I am never praised or given freedom/trust from my parents. As a result, I find that I am extremely jealous and somewhat depressed. I always see others doing supposedly “worse” than me and reaping many rewards, and can’t help but feel entitled to at least some reward.”

“Perhaps I am not the only one who shares this view and maybe others do too. This may be an interesting side of Gen iY you may be interested in looking into.”

Karen—you bring up a great point. Count me in.

generation iY

As I speak at student events, I meet “exceptions to the rule” almost everywhere. They are young adults who break the mold and don’t fit into the typical stereotype, as an entitled slacker with low emotional intelligence. (Pardon my bluntness, but so many articles I read these days are totally down on teens and twenty-somethings.)

Karen is an example of an uncommon student who sees the apparent pay-off for so many kids who get praised for the smallest of effort, somehow pass a grade in school even if they read at a fourth grade level, and who have an adult swoop in and save them whenever they fail. Indeed, it is enough to make a student with a good work ethic jealous.

Karen—allow me to speak very personally to you in this situation:

1. When you feel jealous, think long term. In the long run, students like you who do work hard and play by the rules will be in such better shape than entitled kids who have no work ethic. You’ll be ready for adulthood. In the end, we reap what we sow.

2. Count your blessings. I know this sounds old fashioned, but when you hate your life, reflect on all the good you’ve received or even earned. Things could always be worse and your happiness will expand as you focus on the good, not the bad.

3. Find someone—a friend, a mentor, a boss, a teacher or a leader—whom you can meet with and receive positive feedback. We all need encouragement, and if you get little of that at home, you must find it elsewhere. Keep your emotional tank full.

For the rest of this week, I will write about Outliers; kids who are different than others in Generation iY. Readers—what else would you say to Karen?


In my work at Growing Leaders, we enjoy the privilege of serving numerous NCAA and professional sports teams each year. After meeting with hundreds of coaches and athletes, I noticed an issue kept surfacing in our conversations. Both the student-athlete and the coach were trying to solve the same problem.  What was that problem?

The parents of the student-athletes.


You may or may not believe this, but even in Division One athletics, parents stay engaged with their child’s sport, often at the same level they did through their growing up years. Moms will call coaches and advise them on how to encourage their daughter or son. Dads will call coaches and ask why their kid isn’t getting more playing time. Parents will call strength and conditioning coaches and inquire what they’re doing about their child’s torn ligament. Each of these calls is understandable. After all, no one has more at stake than the parent of a performer. They love their child, they’ve invested in their child and they want to see a “return on their investment.” Some athletes refer to their mom as their P.A. (personal assistant) or their agent. I know a mother who watches her collegiate daughter’s gymnastics practice behind the glass, all the while, calling and leaving voicemails for the coach on what should be done for her little girl. I even know sets of parents who moved into a condo across the street from their freshman athlete’s university. They didn’t want to miss a thing, and they certainly didn’t want to neglect to provide direction. I understand this. I am a father of two kids myself.

What we parents may not recognize is the pressure and angst this kind of involvement applies. May I tell you what student-athletes are telling me?

  1. I love my mom, but when she does this, I get the feeling she doesn’t trust me.
  2. My parents are great, but I feel like I have multiple coaches telling me what to do and I get stressed out over it.
  3. I’m getting blackballed by my teammates because my mother keeps texting me and my coach, to give suggestions. I wish she would chill.
  4. I feel like I’m never quite good enough; I can never fully please my parents.

Moving From Supervisor to Consultant

According to years of research on athletes, I believe parents have a more productive impact on their kids by making a change in their style. When our kids were younger, we played the role of supervisor. We were right there on top of the issues. And we should be—they were young and needed our support. As they age, parents must move to the role of consultant. We’re still involved, still supportive, but we allow our kids to grow up and self-regulate. When we fail to do this—we can actually stunt their growth. It’s a bit like teaching our kids to ride a bike. Remember this process?  First, we gave them a tricycle. The three wheels made it almost impossible for them to fall off, and they got used to pedaling a vehicle. Then, they moved to a bicycle. It was bigger and had only two wheels. A little more scary. So we initiated them on that bike with training wheels. That prevented bad accidents. Eventually, however, we took the training wheels off, and our involvement became a tender balance of two ingredients: support and letting go. Did you catch that? Support and letting go.

What We Should Say When Our Kids Perform

The most liberating words parents can speak to their student-athletes are quite simple. Based on psychological research, the three healthiest statements moms and dads can make as they perform are:

Before the Competition:                                    After the competition:

  1. Have fun.                                                    1. Did you have fun?
  2. Play hard.                                                    2. I’m proud of you.
  3. I love you.                                                    3. I love you.

Six Simple Words…

For years, I wondered what the student-athlete would say about this issue. After decades of work with athletes, Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller found out. They suggest six simple words parents can express that produce the most positive results in their performing children. After interacting with students, they report:

College athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame. Their overwhelming response:

“I love to watch you play.”

That’s it. Those six words. How interesting. How liberating to the parent. How empowering to the student-athlete. No pressure. No correction. No judgment. (That’s the coach’s job). Just pure love of their child using their gift in competition.

When I learned this, I reflected on the years my own kids competed in sports, recitals, theatrical plays, and practices. Far too often, I wanted to play a role that added more stress to their life. Instead, I now realize—I just need to love them. And to love watching them play.

From a parent’s view—this is the best way to cultivate an emotionally healthy kid.

I am pleased to introduce a brand new book. It’s titled Twelve Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid, and it’s a collection of research and ideas to help you as a parent, teacher, coach, employer or youth worker to better equip your students to thrive in life.

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Lynn Austin learned the “price” of little, white lies.  She writes, “My five year old son had been looking forward to visiting the planetarium while on vacation, but when we arrived, we learned that children under age 6 were not admitted.”

“’Let’s pretend you had a birthday,’ I told him. ‘If the ticket man asks you how old you are, I want you to say, “I’m six.”

“I made him practice it until he sounded convincing, then bought the tickets without any problems. When the show ended, we moved on to the museum. There, a large sign read, ‘Children 5 and Under Admitted Free.’ To avoid the $5 admission fee, I had to convince my son to forget his pretend birthday.

“The consequences of my lie became apparent as we walked up the steps to our last destination, the aquarium. ‘Wait a minute, mom!’ my son said with a worried look. ‘How old am I now?’”

lead students

As sweet and innocent as this story is, Lynn puts her finger on something important for every adult. Eventually, our lies, which were intended to help our children get something, actually begin to confuse them. This is true with each of the lies we use.

For years, I have warned teachers, parents and coaches about how much we “lie” to kids today. We don’t mean to—but we do. Even to teens, we say things like:

  • You can be anything you want to be. (So they assume they’ll be the next American Idol).
  • You are awesome! You’re the best! (They assume they’re entitled and can act arrogant).
  • You are smart. You’re gifted. (They assume they shouldn’t have to try hard in school).

We mean well when we say these things, and they’re probably OK when students are young. By the time they reach middle school, they figure out someone’s not being honest with them. The difficult truth raises its ugly head.

There is a reason why these lies are dangerous. Each of them is built on a fallacy. The false foundations are not stable enough to build a life on, and will ultimately crumble. A young person who buys into a lie will eventually sabotage their future. What’s more, the lie will not allow them to become the person they are capable of becoming. Consider this. If the truth makes us free, then lies must put us in bondage. Emotional chains.  I believe part of the reason for Generation iY’s struggle to launch is their propensity to embrace lies about themselves and life in general. Examine below the fallacies upon which our lies are built.

Five Fallacies Our Lies Stem From:

a. Instant customization – The belief that I should have a customized experience in all that I do. This is damaging because life is about more than me and my needs. We will all have to compromise a bit on our preferences and fit into something much bigger than us. Life is about finding our role within the big picture and adding value.

b. Instant gratification – The belief that if I want it, I should have it now. This is damaging because I must learn to delay pleasures and be disciplined to work for them.  Generation iY hates this phrase, but they must learn to “pay their dues.” Patience and persistence are virtues. They must pay now so they can play later.

c. Instant socialization – The belief that I must stay in constant communication with others to be happy and fulfilled. This is damaging because contentment should not require someone provide it for us. Also, with “instant socialization,” I fail to build relational skills that come only through real life face-to-face time with people.

d. Instant affirmation – The belief that I need immediate, positive feedback from others to feel OK. This is damaging because life doesn’t always instantly reward what is right. In fact, our world may never notice quiet acts of kindness or deeds of service done from proper motives. We must do what is right not what gets applause.

e. Instant information – The belief that I must have all the available information on a subject right away.  This is damaging because educators and psychologists will tell you that young people are not emotionally ready for everything their brain can take in. There’s a difference between the ability to consume information and process it.

Do you see any other fallacies we’ve accidentally led from?