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Gen Y “The Lost Generation”

| October 27, 2009 | 93 Comments

the lost generation

BusinessWeek’s cover story “The Lost Generation” frames Gen Y as a pathetic generation surrendering to our circumstances. Yes, the economy is piss poor, but is it true that “young people can’t even grab on to the first rung of the career ladder?”

Millennials are not helpless and are certainly not entitled. This may be exactly what the doctor ordered–a wake up call. The level of frustration stems from a generation who believed all their life, as long as they showed up for class they’d be funneled through a system and handed a job with their diploma. After growing up in a time of prosperity, many of millennials are now learning that job paying $50k is no longer interviewing. Take Dan for example, our cover boy. “Dan Schmitz, 25, a University of Wisconsin grad, hasn’t had a job in months…I’ve applied for a whole lot of restaurant jobs, but even those, nobody calls me back.”

…Allow me to interject…

Dear Dan,

WTF are you doing curled up under a tree in the picture? While I don’t know your exact circumstances you don’t give Gen Y a very good image. You look victimized, feeble and weak. Thanks for being our spokesperson.

So what do you do everyday Dan? Do you stay under that tree and hope one of those restaurant jobs calls you back? Is serving food the only thing you could think of? Don’t you know every single high school and college student probably applied for that same job? Isn’t there something you can do besides feeling sorry for yourself?

Listen Dan, if you were that hungry you’d dig holes all day, but that probably doesn’t sound too inviting does it? It probably sounds like something our grandparents had to do in the depression or something. I know it doesn’t sound much like opportunity but isn’t the only way to grab the first rung of the career ladder.

There has never been a luckier time to be alive. We are connected to opportunity every day at our fingertips. The power to come together online, rise up as a generation and collaborate has never been stronger. Please Dan, do something. There are millions of things you could do to make our world a better place and improve your reputation as an employable individual who contributes to society. So let’s start simple.

Go pick up garbage. I’m serious, go to a not so nice part of Brooklyn, pick up garbage and bring your camera. Instead of looking pathetic you are going to look empowered. You are making a difference in the world. After that, it’s time to tell some friends. It’s no use doing something good if you don’t tell anyone about it–it’s time to become a leader. Take those pictures and post them on Facebook or start a blog. Do something productive today besides surf Craig’s List; why not make a contribution?

Speaking of Craig’s List, create a posting telling your community about your project. Start bringing together your unemployed friends and random people off Craig’s List and create your own opportunity. Send your blog post to the local newspaper as you grow your project and get some media coverage that makes you look like a driven young man ready to take on the world.

Now you have something to talk about in that next interview.  You went out and met people, you created some credibility in your community, so when you go into those restaurants they’ll have a reason to call you back. Go to local businesses who you’d be interested in working for and tell them about the project. Don’t beg for a job on your hands and knees, ask them to get involved and give back to the community.

Imagine connecting with other people in similar situations across the world through Twitter and sharing how you created lasting change during your period of joblessness instead of coming “to be seen by employers as damaged goods.” Now you are in a position to showcase your skills you learned at UW and at least stop feeling bad for yourself by sitting on the couch all day. This day in age gives us huge advantages to become leaders and make the world a better place–please take advantage of this opportunity.


Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO urging people to drop the 9-5 and get passionate about something. Follow him on Twitter @MattWilsontv as the Gen-Y spokesperson looking to help every young entrepreneur on the planet.

Photo Credit Jennifer S. Altman

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  • Jared O'Toole

    The problem is the education system. People are still being trained to think good grades = good job. When that doesn't happen they don't know what to do. I don't think it has to do with laziness but has much more to do with students never even considering starting a blog or brainstorming ideas for a movement.

    It's the best time ever but everyone has to start realizing that and thinking like that.

  • Rd99Hse1

    Yes, I think a problem is the education system. That, and misguided expectations turned to – I dunno, self pity? Also the storyteller, Business Week, is putting a face on.

    In my second year at Uni, CBC Vancouver did a story on the apartment rental shortage in Vancouver. They found us through a friend who worked at a pizza shop and came and interviewed us because a friend and I were couch surfing for two weeks. We looked pretty sorry. Magazines and PS2, a metalhead and a punk dude layin' around.

    Lo and behold we scored a sweet place with a an ocean/mountain view a few days later.

    The guy in the pic is probably an administrator's assistant's intern now.

  • travoholic

    “It’s no use doing something good if you don’t tell anyone about it”… really? You think that? Or are you just talking about using the trash-picking-up thing to get a job?

    I agree with you though. Making your own opportunities is key and it's never been easier. Plus I think university is the biggest con going. It's great for many people but if you head into it not knowing what you want from it and end up with some general degree where they didn't actually teach you any practical skills, it'll end up being an expensive time suck.

  • Grace Boyle

    Ha, I really didn't like how he was looking feeble in that picture either.

    It's not as though he is the ONLY person in that predicament. But what they don't highlight are the amazing, innovative Gen Y entrepreneurs or those that have jobs they enjoy and are constantly pushing the envelope. Every generation has their downfalls, but motivation, spirit and drive are things that Gen Y doesn't lack.

    I like the letter format, btw. Maybe he will respond?

  • colleendilen

    I'm confused by the education system blame here. Don't get me wrong– there are absolutely things that could be better with the system, but I respectfully think that the confident connection here is a stretch; I think it's our own responsibility to learn to think for ourselves (in fact, it is the aim of many universities is to get students to be able to do this). Yes, there are a lot of kids who got good grades who are currently without jobs… but there are probably more kids who did not get good grades and don't have jobs. And there are also plenty of kids who did not get good grades that DO have jobs. Chances are, @Rd99Hse is right and this fellow will take charge and get a great job and his high expectations and grooming will pay off in the long run.

    I think you are absolutely right that “it has to do with laziness but has much more to do with students never even considering starting a blog or brainstorming ideas for a movement.” (though I would change “students” to “Gen- Yers” because there are several Gen Y-ers who haven't been students for a few years who are facing this problem.) When I read the article, I did– like the author of this post– immediately start brainstorming all of the things that this guy could do to make himself stand out.

    I hope that he starts branding himself and takes matters into his own hands. If everyone in his position did this, we would certainly never be called the “lost generation.” We'd be unstoppable.

    On that note, if anyone reading this comment is in Dan's position and is trying to arrange something for the betterment of the community, let me know. I'm in.

  • Scott Jones

    I think it may be the education system as well but I think it is the new graduates listening to much to their teachers and just taking their word for it. They should be finding out things on their own and looking for answers and solutions to finding a job. As a recruiter I am seeing so many recent graduates that all have the same exact resume. This baffles me as we have thousands of new graduates without jobs how do they expect to stand out with the same old bland thing?

    The main problem is Gen Y's give up to easily and to many of them are subjects to their own demise. Such as trying the same method even though it is proven wrong multiple times in the past they expect it to work eventually by magic or something. Take some initiative it is the Social Media Era put yourselves out there and be heard and it does not take much to stand out with all of the technology that is at your fingertips.

  • Tony Ruiz

    Get up and do something. Our generation has so much potential to reach new heights. Its now up to us to take action. We have been programed to always seek approval but now the rules are changing. You want something, go get it. Think outside the box and build your personal legacy. I hope the letter you wrote reaches out to Dan and he is inspired to be a success story the next time he is featured in an article. Keep us updated on his response Matt.

  • David Spinks

    It's a tough one. You can't assume that the majority of our generation has the same level of motivation as those of us who have worked hard to brand ourselves in our industry. That's certainly not something that's taught in schools.

    The “it's the school's fault” is similar to the argument against the “content is king” mentality. You can be the greatest, smartest student, and best worker, but if no one knows you exist, your chances of being hired are reduced drastically.

    This article made me question, is it an issue with the economy or with the generation? Are young people unemployed because of their habits and their mentality? or because the jobs aren't available? I think that there's no question, the job market is pretty terrible. The ones with jobs are the ones that earned the jobs. Survival of the fittest.

  • Jared O'Toole

    Great points colleen. For me thinking like I do now comes %100 from my friends. Now my school had no entrepreneurship program so maybe that would have helped. But it was my friends from home who got ideas from family or some cases entrepreneurial programs at their schools that got me thinking differently.

    I spoke at the CEO conference last weekend consists of about 1500 college kids. When I would ask who had twitter or a blog and would get 10-20 hands in a group of 100-150 i was like wow something is missing here. Most students didnt even recognize the idea of personal branding outside of building their resume.

    I guess i look to schools as playing a big role in that because they are supposed to be the building blocks for whats next. But of course there are other factors. Either way hopefully we can all help better the system for Gen Y and future generations!

  • Adam Kuebler

    I think it is the generation. In a better job market, Dan might be employed at a restaurant. The thing is that people are being employed below the level they are capable of. If our generation takes some initiative, it can do amazing things regardless of the job market. But because we have a culture where you don't have to work to receive, people don't think about going out and creating their own job, they just think about “companies” “giving” them jobs, and that's not how it works. You contribute a skill to an organization, and the more you develop the skills you have, and the better you market them, the higher demand there will be for you, and thus, the higher salary you can make.

    But at the end, if you can't find a job, find a problem. Then fix it.

  • Tony Ruiz

    Good response David. Schools are just teaching traditional values when the rest of the world is changing faster than ever before.

  • MattWilsontv

    Great discussion going on here. Getting a job depends on a lot of factors for new graduates–the reputation of your school in it's region, your grades and how hard you hustle to get that job.

    How are you showing that you are a competent employee in your field? Are you calling places everyday, networking to meet people who work at the company you want to be hired at? Are you doing things to make yourself look attractive both on your resume and in person?

    At Bryant University, literally my house would sound like a calling center, students calling employers relentlessly looking for opportunity. Either let your career happen to you or go out and make your career happen.

  • mgeorgieva

    Although I get the point of this call-to-action letter to Dan, I find it absolutely unfair to all other Millenials. As I fellow Generation Y-er, I see my friends taking leadership positions–not curling up under a tree. I see my graduating classmates traveling the world boldly and taking chances.

  • MattWilsontv

    Doing good is good. Leading by example is better. If you are going to do something good, you need to tell people about it. Not to brag, or look like a do-gooder, but to become a leader.

    Humility and anonymous contributions are nice in theory but leadership is what our generation needs in time like this.

    “it's no use doing something good” was a little overstated.

  • thomasmcmillanjr

    Wow…now that was an interesting read. I love the comments on the cover photo…hilarious.

    I think that Gen Y can and should have no problem grabbing the first (or second or third) rung of the career ladder. Does the economy suck? Yes. Does everyone have slackers in their generation? Absolutely. Obviously, this is the route BW went in their article.

    I do see many Millenials networking and hustling to find jobs. It's not about sitting on your laurels and waiting for the job to come to you but going out an working your butt off to get the job you want.

    Speaking of climbing a few more rungs, I even promoted a Gen Y working for me this year…he was kicking butt and not taking anything for granted and working his tail off. For this I say, Gen Y can even prosper during these times.

    Also of note, hasn't anyone heard about all of these homes that Gen Y is buying up while they take advantage of the First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit —seems to me that is sign that there is a large group of Gen Y'rs Crushing It (tribute to @garyvee).

  • Trace Cohen

    I commented on the article as well ripping him a new one because he just makes the rest of us look bad. There are joba, their is hope and we – GEN Y – will get us our of this mess. We are currently in a paradigm shift where the older generations can't keep up with the younger generations. This is what happens at the dawn of a new age, where the industrial age ways no longer apply and the new information age is born. Old habits die hard.

  • Trace Cohen

    Oh man do I have a bone to pick with the educational system… After doing all of this work outside of the academic environment and then trying to apply it to my classes is like trying to put the square block through the circle hole.

    Granted I have to be open minded about it and realize that the majority of them are non-for-profits and a running empire themselves, change does not come easily. At my school I can honestly say I have rocked the foundations of it and have got the gears turning to facilitate this change. I do it because it will make the lives of every other student better once the change is implemented and it's affects are felt campus wide. Also it's fun and if your not pissing someone off then you're not doing your job :)

  • Uptin Saiidi

    Matt, I agree completely with your point, however I think the tone of the article actually places a large sense of responsibility on the baby boomer generation for this happening and thus making it extremely difficult for generation Y–especially college grads to find a job that that is a good match for them. Ultimately, this causes them to be a few years behind compared to if they came out of college during a booming economy.

    Yes, you are right Dan shouldn't be sitting under a tree, but at the same time, I think this needs to be looked at, at a macro-level; not micro. But again, I agree with your letter!


    At a macro level, I agree with you, the article places blame on the older generation. However, I still don't like the idea of Gen Y playing the part of the victim. It's like the kid who complains over and over how his parents don't buy him PS2 even though all the other kids have it. After a while it gets tired. Go shovel some driveways, go rake some leaves. Is the job market terrible? Yes. Are the baby boomers to blame? Maybe. Is sulking and trying the same methods over and over again helping? Absolutely not. As a generation it is time we get a little more creative. Instead of asking what the job market or the world can do for us, what can we do for the world. Think about adding value before you think about extracting it.

    Great article matt

  • MattWilsontv

    Hi Grace, I'm not sure if I'll get a response but I'm going to send it to Dan and the author of the original businessweek article. I'll keep you posted!

  • MattWilsontv

    Leadership comes down to the society you grew up around and the people that influenced you. I was taught at a very young age to go out and make things happen for yourself. It was very obvious to me that this was the way to make things happen–I always aspired to business leaders and read stories about how they got there. I have always applied this to my own life and leadership.

    Other Gen Y's have just gone though the motions–everything was handed to them, including that diploma–now they are looking for that job. These are the ones that give up easily.

    I think struggle like this is good for our generation! It'll teach some quality life lessons and create more of desire to achieve success rather than going through the motions.

  • MattWilsontv

    Thanks Tony, it is certainly up to us and nobody else. Too many people are reliant on the government and the education system to help us, when really it's our future.

  • Adam Kuebler

    My economics professor has a saying, virtually all unemployment in voluntary. You voluntarily do not work to focus on searching for a job. If you were really having that much trouble, go door to door asking to do odd jobs and go from there.

  • MattWilsontv

    Survival of the fittest it is–the big question: how do we inspire more people to become leaders and take control of their own destiny?

    America was founded as the land of opportunity and that mentality needs to be injected into our generation to get them moving again. It's time to turn around these terrible habits and mentality. We need better teachers who inject this into our students and into our education system.

  • MattWilsontv

    BusinessWeek's article was very unfair to Millenials as a whole. It stated our generation couldn't even grab onto the bottom run of the ladder.

    Where did you go to school? What socio-economic background are your friends from? How can we get these fellow graduating classmates who are boldly taking chances to help people like Dan?

  • MattWilsontv

    I like it Adam. Find a problem and fix it. If you struggle with the question “how can i make money at this” long enough you'll get the the answer. Even if you aren't looking to start a business, solving problems shows the world you are a go-getter and you can make things happen. I don't want to hear people sitting around when they could be out making a difference!

  • MattWilsontv

    Thomas, glad to hear your experience with Gen Y has been positive. I'd like to hear more statistics on Gen Y buying homes if you can find them! Please let me know.

  • MattWilsontv

    I think that our generation can take advantage of the technology that is bringing the world together to make huge positive impact. This is only the beginning and we are the ones who need to teach the world how to utilize this technology to change the world.

    The people who have commented on this article are incredibly lucky to understand what it takes to build a presence online and become a leader. We need to come together and educate people to use these tools to impact both the economy and social causes.

    Let's make this a big part of the alliance.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hi Uptin, thank you for the feedback. I think the people who raised Gen Y are more responsible than anyone. The middle class worked hard, but put way too much on credit–buying their children cars, clothes and giving them spending money. So many people in Gen Y were simply handed things instead of having to work for them. They were told to study and get a good job out of school just like the Boomers did.

    If you were a Boomer and you went to college you were probably pretty much set–sure you scored a job because you were top tier. Now that all those Boomers taught their children to go to school, a Gen Y college graduate isn't so rare anymore.

    How are we going to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the world? It's time for us to work harder, continue to educate ourselves and do things to build our credibility so we can earn a place in the world.

  • MattWilsontv

    Just received some feedback from BusinessWeek:


    Thanks. I read your interesting piece. I've contacted people here about whether/how we could feature your piece and other reaction we're continuing to get. Will let you know.

    Peter Coy
    Economics Editor

  • Magdalena Georgieva

    I am a senior at Mount Holyoke College, MA and am observing how proactively my classmates are searching for jobs that get them passionate. All those undecided majors who were going to take economics classes because that seemed profitable are now changing their minds. Through creativity and openness to diverse experiences, they become more competitive in the current labor market.

  • Diana Wright

    I got to say that many of the students surrounding me each day are a lot like Dan. Can't say that's inspirational! Yet, they've been pulled into the mindset of traditional education. Even at college, it's all wrong. Many students jump into college just picking a major that sounds good. Really, the sounding good part is that after the end of four years they'll land a job. Nope.
    Why is it that after high school edu that we have to start the same process over for college? And it's only AFTER college that we learn what we really love to do through EXPERIENCE.

    Where do I find the sign-up for experience education?

    Matt, great discussion you started!

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  • Jared O'Toole

    I agree man. I didn't start any of my ventures in college but the stuff does not apply to the school stuff. I almost feel like I have entered year 2 of a graduate program where I am learning all this entrepreneurship stuff.

  • Jared O'Toole

    agreed diana. Its tough because your given a list of maybe 50majors now pick the best choice not necessarily what you love. So right from the start your mindset is that there are only that many options out there when in reality there is no limit! Its a tough course to break but I think with posts like this maybe we can continue to break the trend 1 person at a time.

  • JohnExley

    Did you get any feedback from Dan? This article in letter format seems like the exact thing he needs: an urge to take action. Whether it is a common characteristic of Generation Y or not, anyone in this economy who goes about with the sense of entitlement that 'I deserve a job, I am a hot commodity, employers/investors/customers ought to come to me' is missing the picture.

    Stop thinking recruiters will come to you once you're given your diploma. Stop thinking your latest beta version of your product is so good investors can't wait to get their hands on it and will come calling at your doorstep starting tomorrow. Stop thinking there are millions of customers out there who are just clamoring to buy your widget.

    Instead, like Matt so perfectly puts it and many of those who have left comments have agreed, you need to get out there and MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN. Make a difference. Create opportunities that develop your leadership, impact others, and open new doors. Network. Hustle. And stop watching TV all day and posing helplessly in the woods, pretending you represent a generation of uninformed slackers.

    I hope Dan takes your advice Matt, and I hope he finds scores of new opportunities by following some of your terrific advice. Very good read, and great discussion going on here.

  • Nick Armstrong

    Speaking as someone who actively does 50% pro-bono work at any given moment, teaches social media classes each week for $1/head and donates that money to charity, I think “do something” is exactly what a lot of us should be doing. With a caveat.

    Now, you can call me whatever you want – but I believe in responsible capitalism. 98% of the wealth belonging to 2% of the country is not responsible capitalism. And when that upper 2% tells you to go and volunteer (I'm looking at you @APlusK), so you can move your little share of the 2% you own around (pocket to pocket, in essence) then, as a country, we seem to be missing the point.

    50% of those under 24 are unemployed (source: New York Post – That doesn't even take into account “under”employment (the digging holes jobs you talk about – my buddy worked 20 jobs just like that. They hire you for a week and spit you away, sometimes without paying you… so that's not much of a solution, is it? Want further proof? Ask a construction management major where the jobs are. These are guys that don't usually cry. Bring tissues.)

    It's on our shoulders to build the next generation of authentic, responsible, businesses. We also have to acknowledge that until we do, we have to live simpler, help each other out, and reduce our participation in businesses that don't respect their employees, their customers, or the community they serve.

    -Nick Armstrong

  • MattWilsontv

    Our generation should know better–just like the guy with the 1600 who didn't get in Harvard, what makes us think our 4.0 GPA would get us a job? It's time to go above and beyond normal expectations. These aren't normal times.

  • Sam Diener

    Great article Matt. Not much to say. I agree with you.

  • Thomas Hart

    People are afraid to be different. They want to take traditional methods that have become outdated. Everyone “knows” they need to differentiate themselves but not enough people will.

  • Thomas Hart

    People are afraid to be different. They want to take traditional methods that have become outdated. Everyone “knows” they need to differentiate themselves but not enough people will.

  • Adrianaology

    Get off your lazy bum and take ownership of your life Dan! I agree with your point Matt about how Dan should do something productive while being unemployed instead of waiting for the phone to ring. In this economy people are getting jobs through networking and being recognized as a doer. I admire those who have started a blog and have become experts in their field instead of hoping that something will come through without any hard work. Thanks for your blunt insight and hilarious description of Dan's photo.

  • Jared O'Toole

    So true. Its one of those things everyone says they will do…tomorrow. But the actual process of sitting down and planning it out rarely happens. Not to mention when you hit a bump in the road. That knocks %95 of people out.

  • Jared O'Toole

    It was a hilarious description haha. But its true about starting a blog. So many people have proven that taking action in their field leads to great things. It has never been easier! Maybe $100/year to get hosted and in return a community and unlimited opportunity.

    Just takes drive and commitment.

  • MattWilsontv

    People are afraid to be different because they are afraid of what people might say. It's not failure that scares people, its the people waiting around ready to pounce on you when you do fail. Going above and beyond what society expects us to do is often a threat to other people. They see someone messing with the status quo and it makes them think what they've been doing for their entire life might be in question. Pushing the envelope and continuing to innovate is what creates positive change.

    My hope is that Gen Y will learn to innovate during the very beginning of their career because of the recession and then keep this mentality over the next 50 years in the workplace.

  • MattWilsontv

    Sometimes being blunt and controversial is the best way to get people to take notice. Dan is one of millions that feel they have been “victimized”. What really happened in the picture is that Dan let life happen to him, instead of taking control of his own life and making sh*t happen.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Sam, thanks for dropping a comment here. Even though you didn't have anything to say, it's cool that you made it known that you were reading. If we are trying to build our personal brands here, it's important that we let it be known we are “on the scene”. Tweeting about what you are reading, letting authors know how you feel about their article and taking a stand are all part of developing our own leadership. You'll notice the other people who've commented on this post are top quality leaders in GenY; people who have made names for themselves like Grace, Trace, Tony, David, Jared, and John.

    Keep up the good work.

  • HeresaGem

    BRAVO! What a great article. This is the basic mindset you MUST have if you care to consider yourself an entrepreneur. It needs to be followed up with action, a willingness to adapt, and perserverance. A willingness to start at the bottom is a must if you think you deserve to be on top.

    I'm a little bothered by the fact that the first comments to follow this post are concerned with assigning blame. Is it educations fault? Is it the economy's fault? Is it the fault of previous generations? My question is: What does it matter? It is what it is! Find a lesson in it and GROW. Look forward, be positive, be creative. It's times like these that spawn innovation from those willing to work hard for success.

    It doesn't happen overnight. Trust me, I'm a GenX “What NOT To Do Guru” :) But the tough blows and mistakes only make me stronger.

  • HeresaGem

    BRAVO! This is an excellent article on the mindset you must have if you want to consider yourself an entrepreneur. This needs to be followed up with action, the ability to adapt, hard work and the mettle to perservere through tough times. It's a positive, forward thinking mentality that you have to be able to maintain.

    I'm a bit bothered by the bulk of the initial comments. Why the focus on finding something to blame? It's educations fault? The economy? The generation? The previous generations? Who cares! Whatever went wrong wherever is simply an opportunity to learn a lesson and do something with it. Times like these spawn innovation from people who have what it takes to succeed.

    It's not easy and it doesn't happen overnight. Trust me: I'm a GenX “What NOT To Do Guru” :) But those tough blows and mistakes only make me stronger!

  • Jessica Best

    It's no one's “fault” (in reply to the previous posts). We're not merely victims of our surroundings or upbringings. Sure, we're all *influenced* by our education, our news sources, our social networks and our friends, but people choose the life they want to lead. If you want to throw your hands up and say “not fair,” just know that you're wasting your energy.

    Better yet, Gen Yrs, we aren't the first group to be portrayed in an over-simplified, slightly sensationalized version of the truth on the cover of a national publication. Doesn't mean it's true and it certainly doesn't mean we should be affected by it. Dan's inward hunch and furrowed brow don't have any effect on my work ethic. I still rock my world and I know the readers of Under30CEO would agree: our fate is in our own hands, matter the circumstances, challenges or economy. When the going gets tough, we get creative.

  • ellebell

    Awh the blame game… I love this one… Ok, so let's blame it on education… Well then since we are going to play this game let's look at the rules of the education blame game……

    Here's a little history lesson on our education system. Our current education system was modeled after what is called the Prussian-style compulsory education System. This goes back to Napoleon’s defeat of the professional forces of Prussia at the battle of Jena in 1806. Here's a link if you want to know more about it.

    How about instead of the blame game we simply call it for what it is… There are people who “Can Do, Will Do, and Do It” and then there are those who sit back with their hands out. Do you honestly think this started with Gen Y… Nope if you take a look back through history you will find that it's part of the lifecycle of any great nation. Great nations become great because they have great people (the visionaries, the givers) who set the foundation for everyone else (everyone else being the takers). The further you get away from the ideals of these nation builders and the fewer and far between the “Visionaries” you create an imbalance between “Givers” and “Takers” This is what is called a civilization killer. When you have more Takers and less Givers finite resources are overused, used up, and you start the decline. Unfortunately we are in the decline. Too many people are standing around with their hands out instead of giving back. You will find this imbalance in the demise of every great nation that has ever been… NOT just GenY…

  • jabb1991

    I would strongly suggest reading Me 2.0 by Dan Schawbel. This author is amazing and is all about personal branding and social branding. Read his book and following some of the ideas and more than anything be confident in yourself!! I have a job whenever I apply for one, the second i walk into the interview I already have the job!! Im confident, i can sell myself, I dress my absolute best (suit, tie AND jacket) black leather porfolio extra resumes AND AND AND AND personal BUSINESS CARDS. or you can become an entrepreneur which is what I am in the process of. I am sick and tired of teenagers being labelled as lazy and partying all the time!!!

    Do something with your life and stop being so pathetic!!


  • ellebell

    Well put Nick… I am also a responsible capitalist. This year I created a new social responsibility platform within my company that organizes large charity events on a quarterly basis. We choose two different local charities to support and throw all of our resources behind creating killer events that not only involve my company but others as well. It's a great way to get yourself out there, meet new people and support some really good causes. Self Serving… Yes, we have gotten in front of a lot of large corporations that otherwise we may not have been able to reach with a sales call, but we have also built strong relationships based on more than just business. Plus it's fun, and gratifying.

  • HeresaGem

    I love the point of this this comment, ellebelle. We all need to be responsible, pointing fingers does not accomplish anything, it is a huge resource suck. Unfortunately, it has been the social norm for far to long. We need to be more proactive, we need to be accountable, we need to be brave enough to do something for ourselves.

    “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” ~ Albert Einstein

  • andymoose

    Conformity Sucks!

    Decide what you want,
    Decide what you don't want,

    Grow some cajones and do something about it.
    Do something that'll make a difference and
    get your butt moving forward toward your goals.

    Need ideas? Talk to your grandparents and
    their friends. Odds are, their stories of what they
    did and the conditions they faced will blow you away.

    The Bizweek article is nothing new… there's
    always a new label for the generations, especially
    the up and coming ones.

    It's up to us to make things happen in our lives,
    so get up get going…
    and have fun doing it!

    take care

  • ellebell

    I am all these things for myself. I cannot change anyone, or motivate anyone.. This is what I subscribe to. My choice is to always take the higher road regardless of how much it hurts in the end the view is always spectacular looking out over everything I have made… On a less philosophical note, anyone who wants to wine and complain can suck it.

  • Dan Schawbel

    Thanks for the shout out!

  • MattWilsontv

    Well said Hersa. We can point fingers all day long but that only alienates groups of people and creates more animosity instead of working together to move forward.

    We do however have to get to the root of this problem–all people whether they are in business, education, parents, generation x, y or z need to realize it's time to pull up the people around us and inspire them to create positive change. We can all agree people need to become more active in seeking what they want out of life, their communities and country.

  • Sam Diener

    John Exley! Whaddup Bro! Jared. I think we have send an email or two. Matt. I love the writing style, reminds me of, well, me. (That's a joke…. You are a much better writer than I.) Can't wait for you all to break out the “BLING.”

  • HeresaGem

    Agreed, Matt. It's exactly that positive, take charge, create positive change attitude that made this such a wonderful and inspiring article. Well done! :)

  • ConnieFoggles

    From the perspective of an older person who would never consider myself wiser, your suggestions are on track. They are the “back to basics” things I grew up with, but with a twist on using new technology to our advantage. For those that say they have no experience, go back to every person you did anything with, be it work, volunteering, family friends who know you well and even professors and teachers. Ask them for recommendations.

    Your idea of picking up trash is perfect too. Go recycle something! Tutor some children in need, paint houses for senior citizens, the list could go on and on. Get more referrals. Tell everyone you're looking for work.

    Get online and become an authority about something you enjoy. Blogging is totally free but the connections you can make and the money you can earn is right there for you.

  • Andrew Hill

    Good to know that ears are open and heads are being turned over at their offices!


  • Dayna Boyer

    I completely agree, Matt! Although Generation Y has been labeled all kinds of bad things like entitled, coddled and overly-privileged there's no need to accept those labels without putting up a fight. Think outside the box (Gen Y is good at this!) and create something. Who says we even need to climb this corporate ladder, there is more than just one path to the top!

  • BradleyWill

    Tremendous post Matt. Way to step our and be the voice of this generation!

  • patriciaharding

    Seriously?! Stuff happens all day long – the economy, politics, life, etc..etc. If we lived our lives constantly watching and fearing – then ya… go curl up under that tree.

    Matt – I love your take on Dan.

    People who say Gen Y is lost has not looked up from under the rock or desk they've in habited for the last 10 years. By the way, I think the same thing was said about the generation that came before mine.

    Coming from one particular generation does not make a difference. Self-starters from Gen XYZ are making the change / thinking differently (defiant even) re business, giving back, relationships, etc. Challenging the status quo.

    If I got a nickel for naming every established company out there (including the Fortunes) that was established during a recession, I could retire. I'm going out on a limb and say this: there are opportunities out there. Tons of it.

    Let's not squander this crisis. Entrepreneurs, innovators and opinion leaders are already thinking of what they will look like when economic order in restored.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hi Patricia, thanks for your response. I think you are right–it doesn't matter what generation you come from, we all need to step up as a society. The BW article happened to be aimed at Gen Y, but there are a lot of people out there who are struggling to find employment who could be doing much more about it!

    Can't wait to see where we are when we come out of this–it'll only make our generation stronger.

  • RyanAngelo

    Haha… Awesome dude.

    Very very Awesome.

  • mattackerson

    Matt, I do not believe that Ayn Rand herself could have put it any better. The first line of the “interjection” says it all.

    Excellent post. I could not agree more.

  • Kim

    I have a 23 yr old Nephew that dropped out of school when Hurricane Katrina hit and up-rooted everything he knew. Here is an excerpt from the Resume I created for this “never employed” unmotivated young man:
    My family was displaced from New Orleans, LA when Hurricane Katrina hit in late 2005. As a result I was unable to continue my High School education and am working to obtain my GED. I have spent the last four years caring for family members that were injured or became disabled, including my mother, two aunts and my grandmother. I also cared for my now 5 year old nephew so my older sister could attend college and work to aid my family in recovering from the total loss we endured. Part of my family has since relocated back to Louisiana and I am free to begin my own work career.
    PROBLEM: This resume has never been used. He was raised by a single mom that wouldn't even let him play sports. Always told he was worthless and has pretty low self esteem. I DO NOT WANT TO ENABLE HIM, I want to figure out how to EXCITE HIM to get his GED, hold his head up, stop smoking dope and find something that EXCITES him other than grafitte, rap and numbing.

    I personally am very ill with Sweets Syndrome and he just moved in with me and my elderly mother and really does help around here…but I would rather he help himself. I have offered to study for the GED with him, to no avail, I do not enable his vices and I (as we all know) can not make him want this for himself. But there has to be a way to insppire this kid! ANY IDEAS?

  • Aunt Kim

    Interesting posts. Here is where I am and what I would like to get feedback on: I have 23yr old Nephew that recently moved in with me and my elderly mother. He is a help getting both of us to Dr appts and around the house but that is not what I want for him. Here is an excerpt from a resume I made for him:

    My family was displaced from New Orleans, LA when Hurricane Katrina hit in late 2005. As a result I was unable to continue my High School education and am working to obtain my GED. I have spent the last four years caring for family members that were injured or became disabled, including my mother, two aunts and my grandmother. I also cared for my now 5 year old nephew so my older sister could attend college and work to aid my family in recovering from the total loss we endured. Part of my family has since relocated back to Louisiana and I am free to begin my own work career. This is all true….This resume has not been seen by one company!

    He has no ambition to get his GED or look for a job. He would rather get up, get high and waste his life. He was raised by a mother that would not even let him join sports, he was always told he was lazy, not smart, not worth anything, never praised when he did something right. Now he is here with me and I want to HELP him find his way. NOT ENABLE him INSPIRE him. But I am at a loss! I know you can not make anyone change or “do it for them” but there has to be some answers on INSPIRING this young man. He loves to write Gafitte style, make up rap songs, and of course facebook and myspace.

    ANY INPUT is welcome…all you WISE ones have any game plan ideas for Aunt KIM?

  • MattWilsontv

    Haha, hey Matt, I'm glad you think I'm a master of objectivity.

    Let's light a fire underneath some of these Gen Y!

  • MattWilsontv

    Hi Kim, I responded to this in the forum you started in our community.

    Check it out

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  • hershelll

    100% faggot. Enjoy your condo and Prius, Yuppie scum.

  • zcferres

    Very well spoken. Differentiate yourself.

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  • jack

    dan is nothing but a typical gen y drop kick all theses bums need to stop blaming everyone and everything and wake up and grow up time to bring national service back make there little brains develop give them sonthing to think about instead of them feeling sorry for themselves

  • jack

    dan is nothing but a typical gen y drop kick all theses bums need to stop blaming everyone and everything and wake up and grow up time to bring national service back make there little brains develop give them sonthing to think about instead of them feeling sorry for themselves

  • BahamasDread

    This was a great post. I never laughed soo hard until i read the part ” WTF are you doing curled up under a tree in the picture?…
    But the article resounded with me, young grads are just hoping and waiting for the dream job/career to land smack dab in their laps. Get off your laurel's and do something already!!


  • BahamasDread

    This was a great post. I never laughed soo hard until i read the part ” WTF are you doing curled up under a tree in the picture?…
    But the article resounded with me, young grads are just hoping and waiting for the dream job/career to land smack dab in their laps. Get off your laurel's and do something already!!


  • Josh Graham

    As an incredibly cynical (now an unemployable multiple technology graduate degreed, bankrupt welfare recipient) Generation Xer, I like the idea that there are still folks such as the author who want to create wealth. This will com in handy as the unemployed mass from my and the author’s cohort vote in politicians who will institute confiscatory taxes on the wealthy to fund a robust welfare state.

  • Christine

    I’m frankly appalled with your self-righteousness and lack of compassion. It’s a shame it appears you need to put down others – about whose circumstances you know so little – just to use as an opportunity for self-aggrandizement.

  • Christine

    I’m frankly appalled with your self-righteousness and lack of compassion. It’s a shame it appears you need to put down others – about whose circumstances you know so little – just to use as an opportunity for self-aggrandizement.

  • none

    I love this. YOu actually offer some sound advice as to what this guy can do. Hell I’m helping a friend run a club right now here in Japan. It isn’t galmorous, but its a JOB, and it pays ok. beats working at McDonalds, and will be useful when I start my own company later because of the management, and overall business skills I am learning, and the social skills I am learning is quite useful. People need to remember that a company may say you have no work skills, but if you grew up and you weren’t rich, your family taught you some things that would prove useful in your adult life. My mom taught me how to repair, and build PCs. I fall back on repairing computers when I am low on cash. I live in a college town these things are easy to do. back at home in the US and overseas. I knew how to do those things since I was 8 and have kept up with the latest technology and how to use them ever since. I’m the guy who installs everything in my family if its a new gadget for the house.. point in blank. I don’t blame education, you learn things there besides your class work, but I won’t go into that. Our generation needs to be more creative, and innovative; otherwise we will become a lost generation.

  • none

    the funny thing is, very few people know how to make it happen. Ask any African American that was born and raised in a ghetto or project, or even African Americans who grew up in all black middle class areas, or were the only black family in their area, but of middle class origin. You will be shocked, but even the black middle class knows that what they have can be lost within a day, and it has always been a known fact for decades. For us this is nothing new. For White Americans this is something new. Wonder why African Americans are so creative? Well there you go. hard times, and even in good times insecurity in employment etc etc, makes you do some creative shit to make it.

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  • dui lawyer

    look at me, i have fought tooth and nail, and made something of myself, i am a successful dui lawyer in massachusetts. do no tell me this crap that its impossible. it’s tough, but you put your tidey whiteys away and put big boy pants on. stop the blame game as ellebell said. peace mother lovers.

  • Skeet093

    Another online “article” that completely misses the mark.  The one theme all of these articles the criticize Generation Y have in common is victim blaming.  How exactly does picking up garbage, taking photos of it and creating blog entries about it earn Dan any money?  We live in a capitalist society and everyone needs to earn a reasonable income to survive.  Passion can only take someone so far.  Eventually they’ll have to face financial realities. 

    If society did not want to create an entire generation of college graduate young people who are unemployed and feel victimized maybe society shouldn’t have lied to them  by telling them that earning a degree will guarantee them a good job.

    Being an entrepreneur or creating your own job isn’t the magic bullet that is being preached by many of the so called experts. Close to 80% of small businesses fail in their first year.  This means most people who go this route end up in more debt than they already are.  Other face bankruptcy.  Generation Y should be weary of anyone spouting this “advice”.  After all, we were told a College education would guarantee meaningful employment and look at how that turned out.  

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  • Digital Earthenware

    I’ve picked up trash in a park many times before, a park that I visit frequently and feel some connection to. It never occurred to me to bring a camera; isn’t there enough content already competing for our online attention? Would such a small act really make me a leader, or is it just common decency?

    A job is not a handout. A job is where you do work that is somehow useful to your employer, and hopefully fulfilling to you as well. And if you can’t do the work, you get fired. But as long as you’re qualified, you at least get a chance to prove yourself. That’s common sense in an economy operating near full employment, i.e. in a time of reasonably sane economic policies, not austerity and deflation. Dan is doing the exact same thing (looking for a job) that several generations before him did successfully.

    Yes, being enterprising and going above and beyond is fantastic. But when the bar is set so high that everyone has to reinvent the wheel in order to survive, this is a dysfunctional situation, and the solutions to that dysfunction go beyond personal choices, to politics.