Dear Media and Advertising Industry Colleagues: Turner, Horizon Media, MediaVillage.com, 1stFive.org, several major media and advertising firms and I were very pleased to welcome 350 interns working in our business this summer at the 4th Annual 1stFive Summer Intern Experience last week, held at Horizon. They are the first class of Generation Z to join our community and our goal was to welcome them to our business and to each other. Born after 1995, they are a part of the first generation to have grown up in a world in which the Internet and mobile devices were always present. Unfortunately for them, they've often been grouped and defined with Millennials.
Based on my conversations and interviews with hundreds of young people and their parents over the past decade, a study I commissioned among more than 1,000 young men and women, and three books I authored about Gen-Z and young Millennials, I can confidently report that Gen-Z and Millennials are dramatically different generations. Millennials are the offspring and inheritors of many of the qualities of Boomers, Gen-X and Gen-Y, while Gen-Z represents a completely new entry into the genetic pool, bred as much on the Internet and media as they have been by their parents – and in many cases even more so. As member of Gen-Z, they're part of a small generation but an exceptional one from which we can learn a great deal. Those of us who make the investment to understand them will find they offer uniquely valuable insights and organizational value. Those who assume they are Millennials on steroids will miss an opportunity to be witness to a generation who will be our guides and leaders through a period that will be so tumultuous it will make the past two decades seem like they passed in slow motion.
They have seen the old systems fail and see no reason to keep them around. After all, in their lifetime technology has advanced so quickly that phones are considered outdated within a year. Gen-Z does not believe in perpetuating anything that isn't working. They are not destructive, simply disruptive. They believe themselves to be both responsible for and capable of manufacturing their own happiness and success. In order to do that, they have no qualms about breaking down long-standing institutions and transgressing traditional boundaries. We all need to encourage them not to hold back; to break down barriers they see as artificial and outmoded, such as gender and ethnicity. They need to challenge barriers to their growth and seek experiences and opportunities to pursue their passions. They are the disruptors; they can help create the solutions; they can help us navigate through a future landscape that they will recognize and understand far more easily than most of us. So, we welcome them and we hope they'll stay a part of our community.