Oh, I know, I’m an ageist. But I don’t mean it that way. In fact, I firmly believe people in their twenties, officially one generation behind me, are better than my generation. What I mean by this is they are more altruistic, more international, more objective and less fearful than any generation in recent history.
And yet, they are also delusional. And here’s why:
1. They believe they are special.
2. They believe the work their parents did is the work they did.
3. They believe passion displaces work.
I’ll break it down:
1. You are not more entitled than any generation before you. Even if your parents paid for your education, and you have an iPhone (that your parent’s generation created) and can tell one-thousand people what you ate for lunch, you are not special. You are one in several billion people who God made, and you are equal to each of them, no matter how wealthy they were or how poor they were. In fact, with the tools you have been given, much more is expected of you than of any previous generation, and much more will be expected of your children (you will soon see them as spoiled brats, don’t worry.)
2. You did not make the iPhone. When the iPhone was being dreamed up, you were in kindergarten. You use the iPhone. And when you post a picture of your vacation, it doesn’t make you a genius, it makes Steve Jobs a genius. Steve Jobs is dead. And he died when he was your parent’s age. You’re alive. He can’t create something new, but you can. The ball is in your court.
3. I know you read a Seth Godin book convincing you you could be a billionaire by creating a tribe. And you read a Timothy Ferris book convincing you you could work four hours a week and be rich. Guess what? Both of those guys work as tirelessly as depression-era farmers. They do this because the laws of the universe haven’t changed. You have to work to eat. And you have to work hard.
And let me add this. Sell out. Scrub a toilet. Nothing is beneath you.
I’ve watched scores of twenty-somethings quit their jobs and start businesses based on books written by people who sell fantasies. These writers tell one story about a guy who bought an island because he created some online business and convinced people they could do it too.
Don’t be fooled. The chances of that happening to you are about the same as winning the lottery. Writers are making millions by convincing people they can win the lottery too.
But the rules of free commerce have not changed:
1. Identify something people need or want.
2. Create that thing and create it well.
3. Sell that thing at a competitive price.
4. Clearly communicate what that thing is.
5. Give half the money you make to the government.
6. Give a percentage of your money to causes that need your money.
7. Love your spouse and your children, because in the end little else will matter. They don’t care about your money.
Remember, you are of the most altruistic and kind generations in history. But the rules haven’t changed. You can do this. We love you and believe in you. You are better than we were. But not that much better.