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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Connecting with Generation iY

All week, I’ve been blogging about observations I’ve made about connecting with Generation iY (the students born since 1990). I believe adults need to rethink the way we deliver our message to these kids that grew up online. Here are a couple of other observations…

Observation #4: They want a guide on the side before they want a sage on the stage.
Finally, keep in mind that young people today aren’t necessarily looking for experts, especially if they are plastic or untouchable. They would rather have someone authentic to come beside them. When students were recently asked about their heroes, for the first time in over twenty years they did not list an athlete at the top of the list. Their number one response was “Mom and Dad.” They hunger more for relationship than for information — even relevant information. They are accustomed to learning on a need-to-know basis — but their need-to-know will increase if a person they trust and know well is the one sharing the information. They’re looking for mentors — authentic mentors.

Observation #5: They want to play before they pay.
I find many characteristics of Generation iY healthy and fascinating. However, this one may cause trouble for them later in life. Almost everything for students today comes instantly. They don’t like waiting for anything. Shows like American Idol are appealing to this generation because one of their peers gets to become famous overnight — and they get to determine the winner in a short amount of time. Usually, they love events but don’t enjoy the process of growth. The “pay now, play later” mentality tends to be foreign to them.

For iY kids, in other words, results have to come quickly or they may lose interest. For those who seek to influence them, this means we must connect quickly. As communicators, we have to grab their attention up front, demonstrating swiftly that our content is relevant.

If you missed the other observations on this list, check them out in the archives. I am excited to announce that my new book is loaded with research on this topic. I worked to make it researched-based and solution-biased. It is called: Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future. You can order it now on Amazon!

What observations have you made on Generation iY?


1 Comment

  1. Richard on April 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Here’s a few thoughts from a 35 year-old layman who thinks a lot about this stuff.

    A significant characteristic that distinguishes iY with previous generations is that X-ers experienced first-hand the degeneration of society. Within their formative years, they were able to perceive degradation of morality thereby having the increasingly degenerate society of their latter life to compare with a somewhat more moral world in their earlier life.

    The iY knew only the post-internet ultra-degenerate society and has no first-hand experience with which to compare it. Therefore their “baseline” is stripped of the traditional human tenants that the rest of us remember–the tenants that comprise the lens through which we view the world today.

    The interesting flip side to this reality is that because iY did not experience the gradual perversion of society the way we did, they are left to compare this societal perversion not to their past experiences but rather to their own conscience. When their conscience experiences the current world, one of several different things happen:

    1) They become extremely depressed, confused and suicidal. This comes as a result of their conscience being at such great odds with the reality of the world around them.

    2) They blindly submit to the world and repress the conscience, which ultimately leads to self-distruction.

    3) They fight hard, often using intellectual arguments to justify the state of the world around them. They perceive this justification as a way to find a false comfort—a sort of coping mechanism for the disparity between conscience and society.

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Connecting with Generation iY