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||Volume 11, Issue 35
||Week of October 20th, 2008
How the Millennial Generation
Is Taking Over America
and Changing the World
By Eric Greenberg with Karl Weber
Not long ago, I was at a FORTUNE Brainstorm conference at which Newsweek editor David Gergen, then also teaching at Harvard, spoke briefly about his experiences. “Don’t worry about young people,” he told us (and I am paraphrasing). “They are great people, with the ability and drive to work together to solve tomorrow’s problems. There is only one way we can mess up: by discouraging them. They don’t need to hear from us about the infinitely horrible condition of the world we are handing over to them.”
Everything I have seen about this generation – including all of the work I have done as CEO of SNS Project Inkwell (www.projectinkwell.com) – indicates to me that Gergen is right,
Although I don’t know Karl Weber, who is eminently qualified by past experience to have taken on the challenge of organizing and co-authoring Generation We (see author bios below), I have had the pleasure of encountering Eric Greenberg nearly everywhere philanthropy crosses the road of science. He is often a participant in our Future in Review conference, and I once spent a couple of days with him at Larry Brilliant’s Pandemic II meeting in the Valley.
In doing the survey work behind this book, in writing the book and making it freely available on the Net, and in proposing his “Project FREE” challenge agenda for the Millennial generation, Eric is doing exactly what David Gergen would, I think, most applaud. He is asking, not telling; helping, not controlling; and, most important, providing a positive, and not a negative, set of choices for the future.
The children of today in this country, and perhaps around the world, have arrived as though by some Just In Time manufacturing miracle. Following a few generations that moved from outright greed, through the selfless-turned-yuppie Boomers, to self-focused GenME, to antisocial GenX, we suddenly find ourselves surrounded by children who: believe in community service, own passports and have traveled internationally (when money allows), often have friends in other countries, have an innate grasp of technology, and are deeply committed to improving the environment.
Whether you are in the business of product design and marketing or the technology of education, you will want to read Eric’s and Karl’s work closely. The world is about to change, again, and Just In Time. – mra.
» Generation We:
How the Millennial Generation Is Taking Over America
and Changing the World
By Eric Greenberg with Karl Weber
A Unique and Powerful Generation Comes of Age
A new generation is about to seize the reins of history: the Millennial generation. Born between 1978 and 2000, the Millennials currently include 95 million young people up to 30 years of age – the biggest, most diverse age cohort in the history of the nation. In 2016, they will be 100 million strong and positioned to dominate the American political scene for 30 to 40 years.
The Millennial generation has already begun to emerge as a powerful political and social force. They are smart, well-educated, open-minded, and independent – politically, socially, and philosophically. They are also a caring generation, one that is ready to put the greater good ahead of individual rewards. And they are already spearheading a period of sweeping change.
For our new book, Generation We: How American Youth Are Taking Over America and the World Forever, Eric Greenberg sponsored a major research study into the characteristics of the Millennial generation. It was conducted by Gerstein | Agne Strategic Communications, one of the most respected research organizations in the U.S., and included both extensive oral and written surveys and a series of in-depth focus groups. The Greenberg Millennials Study (GMS) offers the most detailed portrait available of the attitudes and values of today’s youth, and we’ve supplemented it with extensive research into other indicators of the behaviors and beliefs of the Millennials.
The GMS began with an in-depth national survey of 2,000 individuals of mixed gender, aged 18 to 29, conducted from July 20 to August 1, 2007. The study also included a series of 12 geographically and demographically diverse focus groups, conducted during the first week of December 2007. Each group focused on a particular demographic subset of the Millennial generation.
Taken together, the 12 focus groups captured a unique cross-section of various slices of the Millennial pie and provided some vivid personal stories and testimony to flesh out the more general observations made possible by the broader survey.
This research revealed that the Millennials are very different from Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, and are now creating a new politics in America.
A Different Worldview
The worldview of the Millennial generation is shaped by two overriding dynamics that set this generation apart from those that have come before them:
- A commitment to the common good over individual gain; an ethos that reaches across traditional divisions such as race, ideology, and partisanship. The Millennials are not a “Generation Me” but rather a “Generation We.” They are strongly progressive, socially tolerant, environmentally conscious, peace-loving, and poised to lead the biggest leftward shift in recent American history. They volunteer in record numbers and declare themselves ready to sacrifice their self-interest for the greater good. They do not fit neatly into any classic ideological category and are clearly eager to establish a new paradigm.
- A comprehensive rejection of the country’s current leadership and dominant institutions. Whether it is Congress and the federal government, major corporations, or organized religion, these young Americans believe the large institutions that dominate so much of our modern society have comprehensively failed, placing narrow self-interests ahead of the welfare of the country as a whole.
We conducted our research to gain the first deep political understanding of Millennials from an objective, non-partisan basis using the world they are inheriting as the context by which their generation is characterized. Their concern about the world mirrored ours, and formed the basis of the book we wrote. This article describes some of our findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
Millennials See Themselves As Unique
Millennials have a clear sense of generational identity. By 10:1 (90% to 9%), respondents agreed that their generation shares specific beliefs, attitudes, and experiences that set them apart from generations that have come before them. By 68% to 31%, they feel that their generation has “a great deal” or “a fair amount” in common with young adults of their generation in other countries, rather than “just a little” or “nothing at all.” They even say, by 54%-44%, that they have more in common with young adults of their generation in other countries than they have with Americans of older generations.
Millennials are almost evenly divided on the question of the similarity of their needs and goals to those of older generations in their own country. Almost half (49%) believe that the needs and goals of my generation are similar to those of older generations, and our best course is to work together to advance common interests, rather than the needs and goals of my generation are fundamentally at odds with those of older generations, and accomplishing our goals will require removing those currently in power and replacing them with ourselves.
Millennials pride themselves not only on their recognition that the status quo has failed, but also on their refusal to be constrained by past conventions. When asked which attitudes and behaviors they were more likely to be characterized by than those of earlier generations of Americans, more than three-quarters (78%) think that they are more likely to embrace innovation and new ideas, compared with a mere 7% who think they are less likely than earlier generations to do so. A full 44% say they are much more likely to do so – more than 10 points higher than any other variable tested. This is by far the strongest result for any of the 14 characteristics we tested.
Sober About Their Future and Ready to Do Something About It
Millennials identify a series of political and social issues that they believe have not been adequately addressed, and so have shaped their worldview and set a clear agenda for them:
- America’s dependence on fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and oil (76% identify this issue as very important in shaping this generation)
- America’s dependence on foreign oil (75%)
- Declining quality and rising inequality in America’s public education system (75%)
- The rising cost of healthcare and the growing number of uninsured (74%)
- Lack of long-term job and retirement security (74%)
- Increase in obesity and chronic disease (74%)
- The rapid shift of the U.S. economy from manufacturing to services (73%)
Millennials are not willing to sit back and wait for others to respond to these and other major problems; rather, they are ready and willing to take on the responsibility of leadership themselves. In our studies, they reacted strongly to the following statements: Young Americans must take action now to reverse the rapid decline of our country. If we wait until we are older, it will be too late (89% agree, 48% strongly agree). Life in the future in America will be much worse unless my generation of Americans takes the lead in pushing for change (85% agree, 42% strongly agree).
Millennials are extremely negative about the direction of the country, and that in turn has made them pessimistic about the outlook for their generation, with two-thirds saying they believe that, 20 years from now, they will live in country that is worse off than (46%) or about the same as (20%) it is today. However, they are far from resigned to their fate and believe they can make a difference, personally and collectively:
- My generation of Americans has better opportunities to make a difference and produce structural change than previous generations. (79%)
- Addressing the big issues facing my generation starts with individuals willing to take a stand and take action. (80%)
- Individuals can’t make a real difference in addressing the big issues facing my generation. (20%)
Millennials see their embrace of innovation not as a radical departure from earlier generations, but rather as a new step forward in a tradition that highlights the best of our country and the unique American spirit. Throughout our history, America’s success has been built on innovation and entrepreneurship. As we confront the many challenges facing us today, it is that same spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that is needed to maintain America’s strength in the 21st century (87% agree, 38% strongly agree).
Their belief in the ability of Americans to innovate, no matter how dire the current situation, is the foundation of how Millennials view the future. Despite their current frustration, they remain optimistic for the future and maintain a strong belief in their own ability to effect change on a national or even global level.
Frustration with Existing Institutions and Handling of National Affairs
The dismay that Millennials express about the current leadership in our country – not just in government, but in corporations and other large institutions as well – is stunning. They reject the two-dimensional partisan and ideological axes of modern politics and refuse to be constrained by traditional political labels. Instead, they define themselves largely in opposition to the status quo and express a fervent desire for new ideas and new leadership that will offer them fresh alternatives to the partisan, “lesser-of-two-evils” choices they are now forced to make. Frustrated and seeking an outlet for their innate idealism, they are eager for wholesale change.
By a margin of almost 2:1 (49% to 25%), Millennials say they are less likely than previous generations to believe that government has a positive role to play. By a margin of nearly four to one (63% to 17%), they are less likely than previous generations to trust government and political leaders. Their core frustration with government lies in the rejection of their common good philosophy by current leaders, as well as the broader political and partisan system in which those leaders thrive.
The extent of Millennials’ rejection of politics and the two-party system cannot be overstated. They simply do not trust government and political leaders, who they strongly believe are selling out the country for selfish goals, partisan advantage, special interests, or pure greed. And while Millennials manifested their desire for change by voting in large numbers for Democrats in 2006, it is clear that their skepticism extends to both parties. Seventy percent say that Democrats and Republicans alike are failing our country.
When asked how they identify themselves in partisan terms, a plurality of Millennials call themselves Independents (39%); this is approximately 15 points higher than in polls of all adults. Another 36% consider themselves Democrats (only 16% strong Democrats) and less than one in four (24%) identify themselves as Republicans (only 10% strong Republicans). Perhaps most important, a clear majority of Millennials (56%) say they are likely to support an emerging third political party.
A Generation Driven by Technology and a Belief in Collective Social Action
Despite their harsh assessment of the current state of affairs and leadership, Millennials are quite optimistic about the future and believe that new leadership can transform government and corporations. Seeing little hope for real change within the current political system, a majority of Millennials believe that innovation and new ideas are the only path forward, and they are eager to engage in collective social movements to reshape the world around their own values and priorities.
Millennials believe they can innovate themselves out of the messes they are inheriting, based on the unique role technology has had in shaping this generation and the confidence it has given them in the power of innovation to fundamentally change the world. Those we surveyed said that the most important factor, of 14 cited, shaping their generation has been the rise of the Internet, cellphones, text messaging, email, and similar advances in personal technology.
The degree to which technology has affected their personal interactions, intellectual development, and relationship to the world around them is profound. Millennials firmly believe that new technologies and innovation can fundamentally reshape the world. This conviction is evident in their ability to reconcile profound pessimism about the country’s current direction with a passionate belief in their own ability to put the country back on the right track and to solve challenges that have haunted this country for generations.
Millennials understand that the challenges facing the country are tremendous and that, while individual actions can make a difference, that is not enough. Having grown up with today’s unprecedented levels of global social networking and information sharing, they identify a “collective social movement” as the most effective means for addressing the major challenges facing the country. They believe that ordinary citizens rallying together can and will force these massive entities (i.e., federal government, major corporations, and organized religion, as noted above) to equate the common good with their own self-interest and to then hold them accountable for short-sighted actions that betray these principles. Their commitment to the common good defines their rejection of the current societal institutions as well as their prescription for transforming those institutions.
When asked about the best way to address the challenges facing the country, the leading choice by far was “through a collective social movement” (60% made this their first or second choice, 38% their first) as opposed to individual action and entrepreneurship (35%), media and popular culture (33%), government action (40%), or international cooperation (30%). Note that the number choosing a collective social movement as their first choice (38%) was more than twice the number choosing any other option as their first choice.
A Strong and Activist Sense of Generational Mission
Consistent with their belief in collective action, Millennials have a strong and activist sense of generational mission. The results of these four questions demonstrate just how robust that sense of mission is:
- In our country, each generation has a responsibility to wisely use the country’s resources and power so that they can provide the next generation a secure, sustainable country that is stronger than the one they inherited. (91% agree, 53% strongly agree)
- Young Americans must take action now to reverse the rapid decline of our country. If we wait until we are older, it will be too late. (89% agree, 48% strongly agree)
- Life in the future in America will be much worse unless my generation of Americans takes the lead in pushing for change. (85% agree, 42% strongly agree)
- My generation of Americans has better opportunities to make a difference and produce structural change than previous generations. (79% agree, 31% strongly agree)
Moreover, Millennials explicitly reject the idea that individuals shouldn’t step forward and try to make a difference. Over three-quarters (78%) say they are willing to make significant sacrifices in their own lives to address the major environmental, economic, and security challenges facing our country. And, by 4:1, Millennials say that Addressing the big issues facing my generation starts with individuals willing to take a stand and take action (80%), rather than Individuals can’t make a real difference in addressing the big issues facing my generation (20%).
A Role for Government
Although Millennials are harshly critical about the current failures of government, the scale at which they want to tackle problems suggests a potentially large role for government. They believe that Government needs to do more to address the major challenges facing our country (63%), rather than Government is already too involved in areas that are better left to individuals or the free market (37%).
The Politics of the Millennials
The Millennials have already begun shifting the nation’s politics. Having come of age with Washington dominated by Republicans, they lean strongly the opposite way. Although they reject both “liberal” and “conservative” labels, they are especially scathing in their denunciation of conservatism, which they associate with hypocritical moralism, administrative incompetence, ideological rigidity, and corporate scandal.
In the focus groups, the overwhelming majority of Millennials – even self-proclaimed evangelical Christians – rejected the word “conservative,” saying that they associated it with people who are narrow-minded, judgmental, intolerant, backward-looking, and inflexible.
In 2002, Millennials voted Democratic by a 49%-47% margin. Since then, their progressive tilt has steadily increased. Their votes made the 2004 presidential race close and decisively tipped the 2006 Congressional elections, with 18- to 29-year-olds favoring Democrats 60%-38%.
The under-30 voting trend for the 2008 elections is likely to show a further large increase. In the GA survey, 75% of respondents stated that they were registered to vote, and 63% declared that they were almost certain to vote, while another 16% stated that they would probably vote. When combining this increased potential turnout with their recent track record for voting progressive, America is now in a political environment in which the Millennials own the swing vote that just may control the national electoral system.
Millennials have turned out in record numbers in the 2008 primaries, helping to create the amazing groundswell for Sen. Barack Obama. His optimistic message of change and hope, his use of social networking and other electronic campaign tools, and his personal appeal as a symbol of a youthful, educated, and diverse America make Obama the archetypal candidate for Millennials to rally around.
Post-Ideological, Post-Partisan, and Post-Political
Millennials are post-ideological in the sense that they are uninterested in learning about and defending the “conservative” or “liberal” approaches to the problems our country faces. Instead, they are pragmatic, open-minded, and innovation-oriented, eager to experiment with new solutions no matter where they may come from and no matter what political orientation they may be associated with.
They are post-partisan in that although they lean Democratic, they are disgusted with what they perceive as the narrowness, pettiness, and stagnation that often characterize both major parties. Though they are open to the possibility of a third party, the Millennials are far more interested in getting beyond party identification altogether and in focusing on cooperative efforts to make America and the world a better place.
And they are post-political because they are fed up and bored with the interest-group conflicts, identity-based appeals, and power-seeking maneuvers they see as dominating the public arena. More tolerant and accepting than any previous generation, Millennials are ready to call a halt to “culture wars” that pit people of different religions, races, ethnicities, regions, cultures, values, and sexual orientations against one another for political gain. They believe that all of us – not only all Americans, but all humans around the planet – will ultimately share the same destiny, and therefore must find ways to work together for the common good. And they stand ready to lead the effort.
A Damaged Birthright and a Need to Restore the American Dream
We believe that the youth of the United States are badly served by the governance and direction of our nation and the world. Their future is in peril. Getting past the obvious long-term problems we face, from environmental degradation, seemingly endless war, and dysfunctional systems of healthcare and education, events of the last several weeks have highlighted the perilous state of the Millennials’ future, as we witness financial collapse (described by the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and the Secretary of the Treasury as the worst since the Great Depression), our invasions of sovereign nations, politically motivated energy threats, and blatant superpower aggression.
If this misconduct against our youth, humanity, and the planet continue, the American Dream we elders have experienced will become the Millennials’ American Nightmare.
In a nation founded on equality, all people have a guaranteed birthright of freedom, opportunity, fairness, health, and well-being. We rely upon the institutions of government, society, and business to protect this birthright and to behave justly. This American birthright has been violated for the young, and we are handing them a damaged future.
This is the first generation to be left worse off than prior generations in our nation’s history. They should not have to accept an unfair future of incomprehensible debt, punitive taxation, economic disparity, military conscription, chronic disease, and environmental disaster.
Many in the establishment are robbing our youth of their future, the American legacy, and the health of the planet. These plunderers exploit the institutions of government, society, and business to create a global empire and a new nobility that controls all resources, manipulates the media and markets, exploits current events and disasters, and treats the world as their private property. They have attacked our well-being and created a political and business machine based on short-term greed and thirst for absolute power.
The United States was formed to protect the interests of all citizens, including its young people. Our Constitution mandates liberties, rights, duties, and protects the people from oppression. Our Constitution also sustains our nation from one generation to the next, where defending the future and its legacy are as important as caring for the present.
The time has come for our government and the establishment to respect our youth’s birthright and manage affairs based on long-term interests and the greater good. The nation’s leaders must be held accountable for their actions and end the plundering of the future.
Many aspects of the world are in decline, and if things are left to evolve as they are, our nation and planet will suffer a Millennial Collapse. Our future prospects will go down or up, but we know that things will not stay the same. Timeless wisdom tells us that without our action, things will not miraculously get better.
Advance Lessons from the Millennials
The youth, the fair-minded, and the legacy bearers must seize this great divide as a tremendous opportunity. We must all immediately unite to end plundering and transform our current condition. Either we will create our future and define the next era by our actions, or we will suffer the consequences. We must assume the heroic role of leading the Millennial Emergence, a movement to change and save our society and planet.
The youth of the United States must also be committed to ending plunderism and its attacks, to answering the call of our times to repair our world, creating fairness, justice, and opportunity for all. A Millennial Emergence is only possible through hard work, shared sacrifice, and unified purpose. There is no other choice.
The young must vote in unprecedented numbers and exert their political power to become a force with which the establishment must contend, using the size of their numbers, the loudness of their voice, and financial power as instruments of change and accountability. As the largest age demographic group in the United States, once unified, they can control America’s political landscape.
The process of restoration and transformation must immediately begin by creating a culture of plentitude rather than plundering and contention. Additionally, the nation must innovate itself out of the mess it is in.
Project FREE: A Millennial Agenda
In hopes of helping the Millennials jump-start their reclamation of the American dream, we’re offering them a change agenda – not a plan, which only the Millennials themselves can create, but an agenda for discussion and analysis.
The agenda begins with Project FREE, a concept that earned overwhelming support from the Millennials who participated in the Greenberg research (GMS). The idea is to create a major technological and scientific project to invent new sources of non-fossil-fuel energy, free from carbon emissions, based on hydrogen, fusion, or other means.
The political salience of Project FREE is obvious. Since the oil crunch of the 1970s, America’s unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels has hovered at the fringes of national consciousness. But not until this year has it taken center stage in a presidential race. Today, with gas over $4 a gallon, a sputtering economy, oil-linked wars threatening the Middle East, and climate change heating up, voters are finally demanding action.
We need to invent our way out of the energy mess, and soon. The task is daunting. But it’s not the first time the United States has faced a seemingly impossible technological challenge. In 1962, John F. Kennedy successfully set the startling goal of sending a man to the moon and returning him safely to Earth within a decade.
Kennedy was taking a page from the playbook of World War II. Like the Apollo moon landing project, the Manhattan Project was an audacious technological challenge that an earlier generation of Americans had met, keeping us free by developing atomic weapons just months ahead of our Nazi enemies.
Project FREE is in the tradition of the Apollo and Manhattan projects. Its ultimate goal is to take Americans “off the grid”: to end our dependence on centralized energy in favor of power sources generated at the point of consumption – the car, home, business, or factory – thereby liberating us from the limiting factors introduced by long-distance transmission and its regulatory roadblocks.
If Project FREE is to have a serious chance of success, it must meet a number of specific criteria. It must be a national program driven by the president, created with Cabinet-level authority, endowed with $30 billion to $40 billion in funding per year, and, like the Federal Reserve, independent of partisan machinations. The mandate: to invent our way out of our energy dilemma within the next 10 to 15 years.
Forty billion dollars may sound expensive, but it barely equals the 2007 after-tax profits posted by Exxon Mobil ($40.61 billion), and it’s dwarfed by the hundreds of billions being spent on the war in Iraq and the $700B we are currently paying foreign oil suppliers, many of which are considered our enemies.
Two other important points. First, Project FREE should be established with powers akin to those granted high-priority wartime programs, so as to remove all clearance and cooperation impediments that might otherwise slow its progress.
Second, it should be temporary, as permanent bureaucracies tend to become special interests, intent on prolonging their own existence rather than on getting the job completed. The legislation creating the project must mandate its dismantling either upon fulfillment of its commission or after 15 years have passed, whichever comes first.
Project FREE is not about incremental technology, like improving the 100-plus-year-old coal, gas, and oil platforms we use today. It’s about innovations that can free us of foreign oil dependence and conflict, restore the environment by eliminating carbon emissions, make energy cheap and plentiful, and provide a vast growth and job engine for the American economy.
Perhaps the most exciting possibility is energy based on hydrogen or on fusion reactions, the source of the sun’s own energy. Science-fiction fantasy? Not really. Fusion power is one of 14 “Grand Challenges for Engineering” selected by the National Academy of Engineering in February 2008 as top priorities for the 21st century. (Two other energy-related priorities – solar power and carbon sequestration – also made the list.) The United States has an intrinsic innovation advantage over the rest of the world, and we must not squander the opportunity to lead and own the most important inventions in energy.
Project FREE would also be a winning political move. It could capture the long-term allegiance of the future’s most potent political force – the Millennials. According to our research, the Millennial generation is primed to rally around Project FREE.
Ninety-four percent of the Millennials we surveyed agreed with the statement Our country must take extreme measures now, before it is too late, to protect the environment and begin to reverse the damage we have done. Seventy-four percent agreed that We must make major investments now to innovate the next generation of non-fossil fuel based energy solutions. And 70% endorsed the idea that America should launch a concerted national effort, similar to the Apollo Program that put a man on the moon, with the goal of moving America beyond fossil fuels and inventing the next generation of energy, based on new technologies such as hydrogen or fusion.
Project FREE is ambitious. But except for the opposition it will attract from entrenched interests, it is not controversial. It will be eagerly supported by the greatest generational power bloc of the next several decades.
Inventing the next source of energy is the single greatest thing that will change the world for the better. There is nothing more important to our society. It is the call and legacy of the Millennial generation. It will be the greatest achievement in the history of mankind.
It could also be the cornerstone of a powerful bipartisan agenda, embodying goals both liberals and conservatives can embrace: energy independence, enhanced national security, economic revitalization, and environmental protection, all produced by American ingenuity.
Project FREE isn’t the only item of importance on the Millennial agenda. Others include:
- Restore and protect the environment – not only through energy innovation, but also through fair, firm, market-based rules and systems that will reduce air and water pollution and protect our planet’s natural diversity.
- Provide quality nutrition and healthcare for all – replacing America’s jerry-rigged healthcare system and its industrial food supply system with a medical system and a sustainable agricultural system that focus on human needs.
- Provide quality education to people of every class – eliminating the class, racial, and geographic disparities that condemn millions of young people to an education that does not prepare them for the 21st century.
- Balance the national budget and eliminating the national debt – eliminating corporate tax loopholes and subsidies, creating a fairer, simpler tax system, and restructuring and fully funding Social Security and other crucial entitlements.
- Eliminate structural trade imbalances, rebuilding the industrial base and restoring job security.
- Develop and implement a sustainable strategy for planetary economic development.
- Restore civil rights, freedom of expression, and individual privacy, and reinvigorate the system of free and open media that inform the public and hold the powerful accountable.
These agenda items have several things in common. All reflect bipartisan goals with broad support among members of both major parties. All are future-oriented, aimed at getting America back on the path of progress, so that the Millennials can pass along an improved nation and world to their own children, something every generation aspires to do. And all garnered strong support from among the young people we heard from in the Greenberg Millennials Study. Thus, the agenda we’re suggesting could well become a generational rallying cry to which tens of millions of young people will be ready to devote their energies.
The political leaders who act first to join Generation We in its quest for a new era of American freedom, security, and prosperity will become generational heroes and benefit spectacularly from the epochal political realignment that has already begun.
We are happy to announce that we have released Generation We: How American Youth Are Taking Over America and the World Forever and all of the research that went into it FREE as open source at www.gen-we.com. It’s the open-source publishing model that makes Generation We a landmark for the information industry. The proprietary data behind the book was released on August 25, 2008. The book itself was released via free Internet downloads on September 15. Physical copies will be available through bookstores and other traditional outlets in October. It’s a unique approach that sacrifices profit to make the ideas as accessible as quickly and broadly as possible.
The theme of the book and our publishing model are deeply congruent. The Millennial Generation has pioneered the use of communication and collaboration technologies to change the world, as the influence of Facebook, MySpace, and free music file-sharing have demonstrated – so it makes sense that we’re using the same technologies to reach out to today’s youth with the story of their own incredible potential to change the world.
1 The GMS used a mix of methodologies to explore the unique beliefs and attitudes of the Millennial generation. By moving beyond standard questions of behavior and traditional political measures to a deeper understanding of the core values that animate their daily lives and vision for the future – both in their individual lives and for the nation as a whole – the survey provides critical insights into this potentially historic generation.
2 Our three focus groups conducted in New York City included one made up of white college graduates, one of white non-college grads, and one of African Americans. We conducted two focus groups consisting of evangelical Christians (one in Birmingham, Alabama, and one in Denver, Colorado) and two of Hispanics (in Denver and Los Angeles). Two additional groups were selected to include Millennials with children of their own.
About the Authors
Eric H. Greenberg is president and chief executive officer of Beautifull (www.beautifull.com), a prepared, fresh-food company focused on providing tasty, healthy, and real food for retail and home delivery.
Eric has founded and established many businesses in his entrepreneurial career, including: wind farms in partnership with Native American tribes in the Great Plains; Acumen Sciences and the Acumen Journal of Life Sciences; Scient, a consulting firm focused on eBusiness and emerging technology; and Viant, an Internet systems integrator.
Eric received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin. He serves on the board of the Shoah Foundation; received Shoah’s Ambassador to Humanity Award for 2001; was on the fundraising campaign committee at UCSF for its new Mission Bay campus, where the human genetics lab is named after him; has endowed genetic research treatments at Columbia/Cornell for breast cancer and pediatric cardiology; is a recipient of the Einstein Technology Innovation Award from the State of Israel and the Jerusalem Fund; and was named by Worth magazine as one of the “10 Most Generous Americans Under 45.”
Karl Weber is a writer, editor, and book developer with over 25 years’ experience in the book publishing industry. He is an expert in general-interest, nonfiction publishing, specializing in topics in business, politics, and current affairs.
Karl’s recent projects include the New York Times bestseller Creating a World Without Poverty, co-authored with Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize (2008); The Triple Bottom Line, a guide to sustainable business, co-authored with Andrew W. Savitz (2006); and The Best of I.F. Stone, a collection of pieces by the famed independent journalist which Weber edited (2006). Karl served as project editor on the #1 New York Times bestseller What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception, by Scott McClellan (June 2008).
Karl has advised and assisted authors in a wide range of nonfiction areas, including, for example, former president Jimmy Carter, author of several New York Times bestsellers, including An Hour Before Daylight (2000), which Weber edited; business guru Adrian Slywotzky, a director at the consulting firm of Oliver Wyman and author of The Upside (2007), How To Grow When Markets Don’t (2003), and How Digital Is Your Business? (2000), all of which Weber co-authored; and executive Jonathan M. Tisch, who wrote Chocolates on the Pillow Aren’t Enough (2007) and The Power of We: Succeeding Through Partnerships (2004) in collaboration with Weber.
Many of the Millennial inclinations documented here remind me strongly of conversations held over the last few years at Future in Review. Specifically, I am reminded of an onstage conversation I had with our good friend Bob Hormats, Vice Chair of Goldman Sachs International, who had just given a keynote discussion that focused on changes in education needed in the U.S., one of the key areas picked for needed change in Eric’s study.
“Who is going to make this happen?” I asked him. “Is it the government?” No, he said, it isn’t the government. “Then it must be the people in this room,” I suggested, and Bob agreed.
A year later, this and related conversations led me to propose the FiRe Mantra, which seems a direct reflection of the Millennial perspectives Eric describes:
It isn’t about problems, it’s about solutions.
It isn’t about the future, it’s about now. And
It isn’t about them, it’s about us.
I think, with assistance from Eric and Karl, we may have found real reason for hope after eight years of increasing darkness.
I would like to thank Eric for even thinking of doing this, and him and Karl for doing it in this particular way. Having just received one of the first physical copies of the book, I highly recommend that you simply buy it, so that you can share it easily with others. Here is the Amazon page:
As Eric mentioned above, you can also download a digital version for free, at:
And finally, in the spirit of Eric and Karl’s efforts, we are relaxing the copyright requirements we normally attach to SNS issues: our members are free to circulate this to anyone they wish, in any number, as long as they keep the issue intact.
I would also like to thank Sally Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, for her extensive work with Eric in getting this made-for-SNS work into its current format.
Your comments are always welcome.
Mark R. Anderson
Strategic News Service LLC Tel. 360-378-3431
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