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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


The TGIF Generation

Futurist Leonard Sweet has become a friend over the years. He’s spoken at our National Leadership Forum and he writes incredible books—which I recommend. One quality I like about Dr. Sweet is his ability to summarize realities in our culture that provide a gauge for those of us who lead students. He and I both agree that these kids are natives in the world of tomorrow…and we are immigrants. They grew up in a Google world, while we grew up in a Gutenberg world.

As I lead and train students—I often refer to a little comparison Dr. Sweet makes. He reminds us that growing up, we were called the T.G.I.F. Generation (Thank God It’s Friday). Today, kids can more aptly be called a T.G.I.F. Generation:

T – Texting (They text instead of call or have face to face conversation)

G – Google (They Google instead of research in a book or encyclopeida)

I – iPhone (They are entertained more on-line than by TV or radio)

F – Facebook (They connect with friends on Facebook more than in person)

Need some documentation on these?

The average teen now texts approximately 3,000 times a month. Do the math, that’s about 100 times a day.  This has become a quicker way to communicate, requiring less effort. It has sped up communication but slowed down the development of emotional intelligence.

Google remains one of the most visited sites in the world, every year. It is our default mechanism when we don’t know what, how, why or where something is. Some even use Bing to find Google. It has expanded our research but reduced our patience and work ethic.

Kids today spend more time on the Internet than they do television…and they do it on a smart phone. Whether it’s YouTube, directions, games or websites they get their entertainment through a portable mechanism.  It has opened up a whole new industry, but has confounded adults who resist change.

Finally, Facebook is now the largest social networking site in the world. You’ve heard it before—if it were a country, it would be the third largest nation on the globe. Kids today are getting their drivers license later and buying cars later because they don’t need to travel to see their friends. We connect faster but we sit still.

Evaluate Yourself…

I invite you to do what I do. Ask yourself: as I lead, coach and teach young people today, do my words and style reflect the TGIF Generation? Do I engage students in a way they like to be engaged? Certainly, we must equip and mature these kids into adults with a good work ethic, some patience and a sense of responsibility, but we must begin where they are and develop the qualities they need, having grown up in a TGIF culture.

Let me ask you something. When you lead young people, what’s your system to ensure you will be relevant?

National Leadership Forum


  1. Ballen on June 12, 2012 at 7:22 am

    And it’s not just young people.  I am in my mid-50’s and one of the best ways I communicate with some people my age and older has been Facebook messaging, I coach others using FaceTime, and have entire conversations with other leaders in their 50’s and older via text.

    • Tim Elmore on June 12, 2012 at 10:58 am

      So true! It’s exciting to see adults embrace the technology. We have a responsibility to show the next generation how to use it most effectively, not be afraid of it.

  2. Bbrooks on June 12, 2012 at 9:34 am

    btw teens dont’ use blackberry

    • Tim Elmore on June 12, 2012 at 11:01 am

      Haha! Your right. One thing we can count on is that technology will continue to change – using it effectively is a continual learning process!

  3. Andrew Lim on June 12, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    The teens in Malaysia are mostly on Facebook, but the ones with golden spoons are sharing more stuff on Twitter. 

      Engaging the youths in this era of over-dependence on cloud computing systems, require us to be more willing to learn from them, empathize with them, and text more with them. You might think they are texting just using the normal short-messaging services, but nowadays there are free applications or freewares (such as LINE, Whatsapp and Viber) that allow for unlimited free messaging as long as the mobile gadgets are connected through wireless local area networks. 

    If we are not pumping the words of life into these channels to lead them in authentic relationships, the next generation will be one that has no emotions about increasing abortions/divorces/human-trafficking, and about increasing usage of artificial intelligence in military might. 

      Are we too rich with excuses and satisfied with chasing the plans and purposes of our own ideas? Let us not be found with our knees bowed to the wrong master. You will hate one and love one.

  4. Sudha on May 9, 2013 at 5:29 am

    In India the teachers have started sharing notes on (groups) facebook.. Maybe we have to adapt to their methods than the other way round. But as a parent it becomes annoying when I find my child texting the whole time.

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The TGIF Generation