“Youth Is the Engine of the World” – Matisyahu
Since I started writing my new book, YouthNation, last summer, the changes I have been studying have evolved in some instances more quickly than I could type. The groundswells from urban corners to suburban shopping malls are dictating the future of the American business economy.
Where would our nation be without Google, Facebook, Amazon, Tesla, or Twitter? Apple, a technology company, has the largest market cap on Wall Street and looks to be running away with that title. No longer do bellwether blue-chip titans hold the keys to our future. Instead, it’s a group of upstart millennial-minded organizations that are changing the face of communications, media, commerce, and transportation.
The problem is that there are still so many companies whose leadership is on the outside looking in. When I spoke at a conference of more than 200 digital marketers last month, I asked how many had heard of WeWork — a $5 billion company that’s changing the face of commercial real estate. Just two raised their hands. And this was an audience of professional digital marketers! Most of the rest of the country is even further on the fringe of this revolution.
In the 1960s and 70s, youth culture was counterculture, fighting big business and big government in an effort to be heard. They had to protest in big groups and stage be-ins and other happenings to effect change. The seminal event of that counterculture, Woodstock, attracted what was, in 1969, a mind-blowing 400,000 people. The Electronic Daisy Carnival draws more than that to Las Vegas Every Year. The power of youth in sheer numbers, share of voice, and macroeconomic impact is greater today than ever before.
So what can you do, as a modern marketer, to stay on the right side of disruption? Here are a few modest suggestions:
- Change the way you consume news: Curate your news from those who you respect, using tools like Nuzzle, which aggregate the headlines that are shared by the people you follow.
- Learn about emerging startups. Attend conferences and read blogs to keep abreast of companies like the aforementioned WeWork, Kickstarter, Postmates, and so many others, which are disrupting fabled industries that have remained static for nearly a century.
- Search platforms like Skillshare where (very inexpensive) classes can keep your skills fresh in shifting areas such as search engine optimization and mobile design.
- Choose your sources wisely. Increasingly, traditional media sources are becoming also-rans, as the most important news is broken by platforms like Mashable, and by influencers who are close to the industries being affected.
- Learn the new social platforms, even if they seem silly at first. If the first wave was Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the second wave is Instagram, SnapChat and Pinterest. Doing a deep dive and using them actively will enable you to fully understand these tools, and will spark ideas on the ways your business can use them.
Yes, the world continues to change, and for many, the changes are scary. But the new forces are easily accessible, so you are now more empowered than ever before to harness these changes and catapult your business to new heights. If you’d like to go deeper, YouthNation may serve as a roadmap.