America’s graduating youth is faced with more challenges than any generation since the Great Depression.
We are also faced with more autonomy and more decisions about time-management, because many of us are not employed at the normal 9-5 job.
In the age of the Internet, there are more opportunities to do something we are passionate about, connect with other like-minded individuals, and get behind a cause and innovate.
I’ve lived in downtown Manhattan for four months and it’s been quite eye-opening. To date I’ve been a lot of things, but most recently I was a ski bum-entrepreneur. Now I’m in the big city of dreams and I see a Lamborghini everyday. But that’s not what impresses me.
I moved to New York City to surround myself with the world’s most amazing people. Everyone in this city trying to make something of themselves and I want to be around the people changing the world.
Being a young CEO, I’ve been given the chance to meet with world leaders and gain some perspective. Last week at the United Nations Global Assembly I got the chance to hang out with Elizabeth Gore, Lupe Fiasco and Craig David–seriously successful young people making their mark on history. I was incredibly fortunate to be able to connect with these guys.
We connected because they wanted to know what I care about. I pitched my company, Under30CEO.com, to Lupe Fiasco, a nationally-known rapper. I told him our message is to make money but also to do good at the same time. Lupe, who describes himself as an “NPR-listening, Volvo driver,” retorted: “Man, that’s what it’s all about right there. You know what, I like your swag.”
That was pretty awesome. I was wearing a tie, and Lupe called me out on stage for being a “business man,” but again, he told me afterward he was just kidding–he didn’t care what I was wearing. He just cared about what I cared about.
John C. Maxwell said it best: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Lupe could tell I was insanely passionate about what I do and he was down for finding out more. He didn’t care whether I was making money hand over fist or bootstrapping every penny. He and I connected because we share similar passions.
The big city of dreams got even more interesting when I hung out with my friend and fellow entrepreneur, Ankur Jain. The kid is 20 and he is tremendously talented. He created Kairos Society, an amazing organisation for entrepreneurs at the top institutions in the world.
I knew he was awesome, but his 2AM toast to “changing the world” is when it hit me–Ankur is legit. His dad has appeared on multiple Forbes Lists and Ankur is dedicating his life to social enterprise. He couldn’t be more fun, down to earth, or genuine.
So I think, rather than being narcissistic, our generation is defining success by “doing well by doing good.”
Personally, my definition of success is “doing what I want, when I want, how I want.” And again, I know what I want. I want to help broadcast to the world the message of people doing amazing things and I want to inspire our generation of leaders to follow suit.
That’s what Under30CEO.com is all about. And yes, I want to make some serious money along the way too, but I don’t care about sitting next to Lindsay Lohan or Lil’ Wayne at Marquee unless they are 1) interested in contributing positively to society and 2) cool with talking to me because of who I am, not how much money I’m blowing.
I want this article to serve as a call to action to stop being impressed by auspicious consumption, to cut through the flashing lights of NYC and surrounding Jersey Shore blowouts and realise that yes, image is everything, but use this sexiness to bring attention to the things that really matter.
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