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The Lazy Brats BY SOULAIMA GOURANI ON OCTOBER 26, 2012

I just spoke with a young guy who has been called “unrealistic” and “spoiled” by a potential future employer. Hmmm… These years, many fresh and promising young people are entering the job market, but the integration of these new graduates into the workforce is not going all that well! You may have heard the terms “generation Y,” “generation Z,” and “generation alpha.” But very few people know the meaning of the terms and what really makes these youngsters tick. Every week, I speak for at least a few companies who ask me if I believe that it is possible for them to attract, retain, and motivate the next generations. This is a question that preoccupies many companies. Will your company survive or die within the next five years? The companies that will survive this exciting “post crisis time” think, act, and see our differences as an opportunity—not as a challenge. The successful company trains managers and organizations in making individual considerations and strengthens their ability to communicate on the platforms that people are actively using. Successful companies do away with the idea that everybody is equal, must learn the same curriculum, and have the same experiences to bring value to the company. In five years, job descriptions will no longer exist. The young people will define their own tasks and bid on them, as we know it from online auctions. The young people will choose their manager and switch to another when they want to be inspired and learn something new. Traditional systems, measurements, and control measures are on the way out. What will replace them? Meaningfulness, passion, and authentic forums, where individuals work for a manager who is value based, competent, and personally involved. Why should the young people choose to work under your management? What strengths or talents do you have that will appeal to the next generation? Those are important questions in the battle for the very scarce resources five years ahead. Through my lecture “Take Power Over Your Career” and in my book Ignite Your Career, I had the opportunity to discuss career with many young people. Actually, many young people in high schools and universities give me the feedback that they feel frustrated about their future career. They say that their competences are not utilized at work and that a lot of talent is being wasted. They feel that they don’t earn the professional respect that they deserve because they don’t have a certificate to document their competences and because they don’t have a lot of experience. Their boundless energy and positive attitude are being overlooked. Is eight to ten years’ experience with IT, media, and online social networking not a competence? As I see it, a young person must possess three key competences to be able to help companies into a new era:


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Language and understanding of different cultures IT and multimedia competences Social networking and emotional intelligences (that stimulate collaboration)

Personally, I belong to the so-called generation Y. We are called everything from “lazy” to “indifferent.” That is not true. We are very dedicated, but we just don’t want to work on the same conditions as our parents did. Actually, many of us think that baby boomers (people aged forty-five to sixty-five) seem a bit envious of us. A young guy once said to me, “You who are managers today, you belong to the generation who believe that work comes before everything else.” He is absolutely right. I have seen many marriages between baby boomers end up in divorce. We do know that we are the first generation who googled the word “passion” in the context of work, and we are aware that you laugh a little about that. But we actually believe that it is impossible to create great things without being passionate about what you do. I attend numerous meetings with managers all over the world, and I have to say that I meet many people who look completely burnt-out—particularly when you are sitting in your car on the way to a job that you don’t really like and where you work for a management that you don’t even like. We hope that you will be the last generation that chooses to live such an undignified life. The new generations do not want to live like that. We want to be allowed to be passionate about what we do. Life is too short to be wasted on a job that we don’t like. Okay, sometimes we do have a job just to earn money to pay the bills. Every time I do something just to earn money, I remind myself that this is not really what I want to do with my life. I want to work with activities that I can be passionate about, but sometimes it is necessary to do stuff because of financial reasons. Some people are capable of doing a job just to earn money, just to survive. They just close their eyes and spend their hard-earned money on a new car or on an expensive vacation to make themselves believe that it is really worth it. I know that I am paying a high price when I do something only for the money—I almost feel like a victim of physical and mental rape when I do that. That is probably pushing it to extremes, but I honestly feel that way. In generations Y and Z, we thrive from strong experiences and exciting projects, and we want a rich life together with inspiring people. We want to make the world a better place, and we would love to do that together with you. But then you have to promise that you stop calling us “spoiled brats.” It is we who are facing the challenge of cleaning up after many years of overconsumption!

We want to create new jobs We from generations Y and Z do not want to just have a job. We want to create jobs—new jobs that do not exist today.


We have to be creative, innovative, open-minded, and curious. We have to consume less, and we have to create cohesion in a country where it is every man for himself and where people take antidepressants more, smoke more, and drink more than they do in any other country. I think that many baby boomers envy those from generations Y and Z because they have sold their souls to unimportant organizations that are selling products that nobody would miss if they disappeared! And it is incredibly difficult to make a manager who is a baby boomer understand something that his pay slip doesn’t ask him to understand! So no, we are not lazy—but we are a very small generation of employees, and we do have purchasing power. So if you would like to see us as your customers, you also need to have us on staff as your employees.

The Lazy Brats  

Blog from Soulaima Gourani