The millennial generation is, as they say, an enigma wrapped inside of a contradiction.
In a column at Forbes, Dr. Steven Berglas wonders about the entrepreneurial mettle of those born from the 1980s to the 1990s:
I admit I harbor some concerns about the country’s evolving entrepreneurial ego. Joseph Schumpeter, the famous economist who coined the term “creative destruction” and likened entrepreneurs to nothing less than “heroic” innovators, believed that self-made men and women possessed a “rugged individualism” and a “will to conquer”–not exactly millennial DNA.
I think what we have to get used to is that they are redefining what entrepreneurship is all about. To them, it is not simply a ticket to unimaginable riches.
When I talk to students about why they want to be entrepreneurs, the answer “to become the richest person in town” does not come up like it did back when I was teaching Gen X-ers.
They are using entrepreneurship as not just an economic tool, and not just a social tool as we see with their fascination with Social Entrepreneurship, but as a cultural tool.
I go back to a comment one of my students posted at this blog a few years ago:
My generation is really focused on keeping family first, even before career. Some say that this is because we watched so many baby boomers screw this whole family thing up. My take on it is that because the baby boomers sometimes grew up wanting, they determined in their minds that their families would want for nothing. Unfortunately, my generation has all they want, but grew up with workaholic parents who were absent in their lives. I believe we’re searching to find that balance between family and career.
And they view entrepreneurship as the path to help them rebuild what they see as a damaged culture.
Paul Orfalea, Founder of Kinko’s, succinctly summed up this viewpoint when asked shortly after selling to FedEx about his biggest success:
“Success in life is having kids who want to come back to visit your when they’ve grown up.”
Berglas ends his essay as follows:
My prediction: The best and brightest millennials will combine missionary zeal, hardcore management skills and Silicon Valley-style creativity to attack social ills. Will that recipe lead to serious overall wealth creation, even if piles of money aren’t the stated goal? I think so, though the paradigm shift will take some time.
A paradigm shift indeed!
Today’s young entrepreneurs are telling us that “this is not their father’s entrepreneurship.”