I have long been fascinated by talk about generational trends, and particularly that of the Millennials (or Gen Y, born roughly 1980-early 2000s). Perhaps this is because, born in 1980, my identity vacillates between Gen X and Millennial. There has been much written (Forbes and Inc. recently) about the challenges of working with and managing Millennials. The Week calls this new generation narcissistic and stressed out, while Chelsea Clinton testifies to their tendency to be do-gooders.
So I was thrilled to read a different perspective today, written by Jeffrey Walker, co-author of The Generosity Networkand a Baby Boomer, that, "when the generations connect, their work is dramatically enhanced: more sustainable, more creative, more energized, more connective." Maybe this means we have moved beyond a generation gap to something more like this:
And not only can we tweet our grandparents, we can make the world better too. Walker’s proposes that we "match those early and late in their careers and use their combined talents to dramatically advance the work of any cause." Being lucky enough to have several mentors ‘of a certain age’ myself, I can testify to the power of cross-generational cooperation, and Walker’s suggestion that both groups are particularly eager for such relationships rings true.
This hypothesis was strengthened later on in a working session hosted by Columbia Business School, which gathered practitioners and experts from social enterprise to discuss the ecosystem (actual and aspirational) for the field. The group felt strongly that social entrepreneurs suffer the lack of mentorship and pro bono resources that have made such a difference to so many traditional non-profits. Walker uses the case of Harvard, and other Business Schools around the country, to demonstrate his point that young people are "eager to connect with experienced business people and work collaboratively on the big social issues of the day."
Let’s get to it! I will start designing a mentorship program for Inspiring Capital sponsors to connect with social entrepreneurs who want and need their experience and wisdom… Watch this space for more details! And please reach out to me if you have ideas, or would like to get involved.