The Truth About Youth
The chief lesson I have taken away so far from working with the competition team at my local college, is that the efforts the students undertake, whether they are practicing for a case competition or involved in a student club that leads to a student competition, help the brand and status of a college. At the college level this is actually business as usual.
Beyond the college level to the space I am observing in here, young people are coveted in a far different way by online networks. Some new emerging online applications have garnered far more attention of young people than have others, and this is equally true of the best one finds within the best students in a higher education body.
What surprised me about the last workshop we conducted is that I had no notion that what we were engaging offline was also being live tweeted online - and that is chiefly because I am not used to seeing technology as an extension of the physical room I am in, or my friendships. I am deeply wrapped up in matters of permission and privacy, that one of the truths of modern youth - are that technologies are viewed not as a broadcast but a fellowship.
These young students are first of all bright enough to know which technologies suit their purpose and means. To these students the technology simply extends the space they are in and the live tweeting was only meant to involve those who could not attend the workshop in person. For these students "outsiders" wanting to know what they are doing, is no different to a group of students chatting among themselves and having someone eavesdropping on their conversation. This is the normality students pursue, though they don't put as much regard to actual eavesdroppers (which is not the same thing as hackers).
When I close my LinkedIn application, the truth of youth from a provider point of view is far different from a competition team seeking to disseminate information for learning purposes. The focus on youth is not expressed in words, but speaks in volumes when we become aware of the subconscious programming socially engineered - or at least I perceive it this way : When I look at the screenshot example of the LinkedIn page - there is nothing but a sea of millennials on the sign up page. If older people who seek to create their brands on this platform feel like the network is not listening to them, the clues to that are not in the internal groups that are vying for the battle for attention. It is the things we do not focus upon and this is what I bucket into this idea of "The Truth of Youth".
The Competition Team might use an online network to search for members but they don't use these platforms for day-to-day operating realities. I have never had a snapchat account, and it is weird recognizing that during the workshop, that kind of application would be delivering live streaming. The value of snapchat to youth is that the media is highly temporary - it is not meant to be stored and saved - but simply consumed and watched in the moment - no different to being at a live event in person (albeit the value of being in-person is greater).
The real acid test of learning is in actual practice, or should I say in competition terms, actual cognitive and emotional combat. Another truth of youth is that because they are immersed in so much study, their brains are far more alert and eventually when they do go back into the workplace, they will mentally adjust to the rigours and ways of worklife and begin to lose their sharpness as students. That is why I stress the importance of recognizing a given workshop not for benefits that are an immediacy, but cultivating a mindset of life-time learning.
When I talk of youth culture it is cross-generational and includes the youth culture that was actually a product of babyboomers. If young people feel that boomers have neglected them, that is not far from the truth for the simple reason that baby boomers want to remain relevant.
Why am I helping the competition team? The BS and naive answer is that we boomers are "paying it forward". That is nice if we really think we have come to the end of the road, when I see decades in front of me that are not about retiring gracefully way but I see myself as a life-long student. Boomers do have control of power, money and influence - after all they invented the youth culture - not the millennials. The millennials helped create youth apps.
Being born in 1961, I am either classified as being at the end of the boomer generation or the earliest of the Gen-X. That I am kind of anti-boomer suggests more Gen X than boomer, yet the truth of millennials is that this particular generation coined the phrase "haters will hate". The truth of youth however is that it is the boomers who are trying to hold onto the youth and that is what explains outcomes like Brexit and Donald Trump - especially when it was older folk who had enough votes to put youthful hope and change on the backburner.
The value to anyone running a competition team in a college in understanding this wider context, is that it helps them understand their stakeholders much better, including judges, some of whom will come from the boomer generation. If a student competition was founded by a boomer, that is far different from a student competition founded by a millennial. That is why I was so enthused by the sales competition - while the young executives of the competition team simply took things in stride because they are looking at preparation and readiness for the competitions their members have progressed to - and they want to progress here.
The competition teams that eventually beat them will have impressed judges with what they would see as the winning edge, which is whether students are practical and have kept up with leading edge thinking. They want to see market place realities and even visionary thinking appear in the case, as well as logical argument and well presented facts. For my perspective, which is what this buzz is about a.k.a. my learning, the truth of youth is not them, but "youth" as it has been defined over the generations - of which the boomers have been the definers of youth and young people today defined by that definition. I find that part of youth culture absolutely ironic but it is also the basis of how millennials go about reshaping what youth culture is.
In the meantime, case competitions need to evolve as well - or as in the case of the Talking Heads song that I love to keep dragging out, it is a case of "same as it ever was" . . . Now, that is the real truth of youth, boomers are not ready to die and millennials are not ready to live. How it applies to a competition team is in learning to look at the much bigger picture - for a case competition team that has a winning edge will present a bigger and compelling picture.