The Class of 2011 is going to college and in 4 short years they’ll be out in the marketplace. My nephew graduates from college in December with a double major in Accounting and Energy Management. And he’s not just smart. He can talk on any number of topics to anyone on any socio-economic level. His older brother works for Ernst & Young in Houston and will also slay whatever obstacle is in his career path. All of their friends are equally as sharp. (Well maybe not all of them.)
These kids are gunning for your job. I don’t mean that they want to sit at your desk and take your phone calls and write your reports and go to your meetings. I mean they want to make your job obsolete. They want to find a way to do it faster, smarter, cheaper and on a larger scale. And they’ll probably succeed.
Can you name a single profession where the way you are doing things today will not be radically different than the way it will be done in 5 years? Just look at the way you did things 5 years ago. Medicine, law, business. They’re all different than they used to be. With global technology, we are experiencing the biggest paradigm shift in commerce since the Industrial Revolution.
The point is this. Kids today are smarter, technologically savvier, more creative, and better equipped for the future than you and I. Forget everything you’ve heard about students in the United States being behind in math, science, technology and language. The ones I know can compete with any of their peers on any subject. And my sixth grader is learning at an even faster rate than her older siblings.
I recently saw an interview with Jack Dorsey, the 34 year old co-founder of Twitter and the CEO of Square. Square is a mobile payments system. It allows your phone to accept credit card payments. He was asked about his goals for Twitter and Square. He stated very matter-of-factly that he wants Twitter to be the platform for every online conversation in the world and he wants Square to be the platform for every payment transaction in the world. Every. Single. One.
So what can you do about this?
First, get in on the conversation. Engage kids in a meaningful, non-patronizing manner. Learn from them. Collaborate with them. Collect resumes for no reason and see what you get back. Then meet with some of them.
Second, dive headfirst into technology. Stop complaining about the evils of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare and learn from them. What do they do? How are they different? How can they benefit you or your business?
Third, go back to school. This doesn’t mean you have to go back to class. But spend a few hours a week exploring the latest trends in your field. Are you an investor or an investment adviser? Go check out https://www.secondmarket.com/. Are you an educator? Visit http://www.knewton.com/. Are you a health professional? You might enjoy http://www.medicineinneed.org/.
These are some of the most exciting times to live. That is why I smile when I hear parents bemoan our children’s future. I’m not afraid for our kids. I’m afraid of our kids.