Pay attention. Be informed. Make a difference. Keep it real.

I’ve been noodling through a couple of interesting books lately, “When the Boomers Bail” by Mark Lautman and “Oatmeal v. Bacon” by Justin Foster. They discuss the coming population crisis in America and how cities and businesses can avoid being caught holding onto the wrong end of the stick. I’ve jotted down some of my reading notes (with thanks to my “Gen Y” associate, Jason Baumgartner, for recommending Foster). I hope these notes will stir some thinking and conversation around the water cooler this week.

As regards Economic Development, Lautman says our most looming problem is not “jobs”. Its finding employees who are capable of doing the jobs we demand in industry to grow an economy.

He says there’s a demographic shift occurring in America and across the northern hemisphere. 78 million American Baby Boomers are in the process of retirement and we, (as Baby Boomers), did not have enough replacement babies who are well-enough educated to take our place in the work force. The problem’s so prevalent that in Japan, the government pays families $80,000 after the 4th child is born and in Russia they have national procreation day – where everyone is told to go home and, well, you get the idea…

Lautman says we’re engaged (realized or not) in a zero sum game – that to fill our pipeline with qualified workers we’ll have to steal Gen X and Gen Y from other cities (and countries). That to thrive long-term, cities need to continuously evolve, enhancing its cultural and opportunities climate so it naturally attracts young creatives (Gen X and Gen Y), specifically Gen Y, which is the smart, hip, creative, entrepreneurial demographic mother lode.

Some interesting facts:

  • Gen Y – 22 to 32 years old
  • Gen Y – a population of roughly 85 million (for comparison purposes, Gen X is 25 million)
  • Gen Y – capable of spending over $200 billion annually
  • Gen Y – 95% more likely to do web research for all products over $10 in value not just homes & cars, but everything – from mops to phones – producing a paradigm shift for those interested in collecting sales tax
  • Gen Y – entrepreneurial; there are now more millionaires under the age of 30 in US than ever

What influences Gen Y?

  • They are health conscious
  • They are tech savvy: think of the MAC; I-Pad, I-Pod, the tablet, the Kindle, the Net, the Cloud, the hand-held (Quit thinking of Motorola’s Brick (if you remember the brick, call me – you need help!)
  • They can handle 7 X’s the content with 2 X’s the retention of a Baby Boomer; Gen Y can produce more, more quickly, with better retention

How Gen Y thinks

  • They are individualistic – self expression
  • They are authentic – sensitive BS radar
  • They are transparent
  • They are fun – and you have to be fun to attract them
  • Gen Y will find you – pull vs. push marketing

You can’t market to this generation; you have to attract them by being fun, authentic and unique.

Pay attention. Be informed. Make a difference. Keep it real.

I’d love to hear what you think.