There is something that bothers me deeply about young people. We’ve given birth to Generation Snowflake…
Earlier this month I shared a panel discussion at the Sunday Times Generation Next Youth Marketing Conference with the luminous Sylvester Chauke, digital native Dan Calderwood and one of my earliest interns, the super smart Arye Kellman. One of the things we all agreed on is that speaking to the youth involves listening to them and involving them in your business. And I agree. But there is something that bothers me deeply about young people. We’ve given birth to Generation Snowflake.
Generation Snowflake, according to The Spectator’s Claire Fox, is a barrage of young people who simply can’t abide by anyone challenging their world view. In short, a combination of me-centric reality TV that suggests overnight stardom born out of ‘talent’ and the advent of helicopter parenting and anti-bullying campaigns has created a bunch of people that are offended by everything.
Now, of course, there is a certain amount of monitoring that has to happen to ensure that people aren’t targeted and victimised, but it worries me that the real world doesn’t abide by a neat set of rules. The world is a complicated place and quite literally is not black and white but mostly grey. Achieving your dreams involves a lot of hard work over a lot of time to achieve something of value. An overnight success takes 10 years and it’s only great TV editing that makes it look different. Let me offer some examples:
- 5FM’s Rob Forbes spent nine years as an unpaid presenter on Tuks FM before he got his shot at 5FM to host a daytime show. He woke up at 5am to deliver breakfast radio for five years for free.
- 5FM’s DJ Fresh and Euphonik have been attending the Miami Music Conference for eight years; 2016 is the first year that they played on stage at Ultra in Miami.
- South African DJ and music producer Black Coffee was the only South African artist to perform at international music festival Coachella this year. He is 40-years-old.
These are tangible stories about hard work paying off. You can’t cheat experience. The number of knocks these people endured to achieve success cannot be counted. But they withstood pressure, lack of support, disappointment and loss of opportunities to triumph in their ambitions. They had to toughen up. They didn’t cry out when they got punched, they stood up again and fought forward. The hard knocks shouldn’t be avoided; they are valuable ways to learn and to stay consistent.
But before I start sounding like an American army movie (“pain is your friend, it lets you know you’re not dead yet”), I want to offer three things young people can do to embrace the school of hard knocks.
Three things Snowflakes can do to avoid melting under real world pressure:
1. Listen, don’t defend
Listening is not the same as being quiet while waiting for your turn to speak. Listening is actively engaged and absorbing the meaning put across by someone else. If someone is saying something that doesn’t agree with your point of view, engage with it, don’t put up your shields and write them off.
2. Get to the bottom of your feelings
We all get upset about things. We are all trying to make our way in the world. When something upsets you instead of reacting, try to understand why it’s upsetting you. You might find that you aren’t really sure, you are simply reacting. Instead of expending emotional energy on getting angry, spend it on understanding WHY you feel upset.
3. It’s not about you
Thanks to social media and the ‘you’re worth it’ approach to marketing, a lot of us think that work is about what you are capable of. Truthfully it’s about what you can do to add to the objectives of the business. It’s not about you, it’s about the collective and its goals. If you can find a way of benefiting from the value you add to the company then you’ve achieved that golden state of job satisfaction.
Image: DJ Fresh / Facebook