Technology: Collapsing Industries and Training Risk Takers
The other day I was talking to Mary, a high school student I mentor once a week. I’ve known Mary for two years; she is finishing up her senior year and is about to head off to college. Rather than come down with senioritis, she is working harder than ever. She was telling me about her economics class, where she had to do a report on entrepreneurship. She did so well, she told me, that her teacher asked her if she would one day start her own company.
“Yeah, of course. Why not?” She shrugged nonchalantly, smiled and then checked her iPhone for a text from her boyfriend. Why not? There are hundreds of reasons why one should never, ever become an entrepreneur. The biggest and most severe one is the risk involved.
And then it hit me. Today’s children have access to information and technology at an increasing rate. This changes the very mentality of an entire generation. Today’s kids see industries transform overnight and then hear success stories of twenty-something billionaires. Kids are naturally nomadic in their interests, and today’s environment rewards, rather than punishes, such riskiness.
Many roll their eyes at the millennials. They dismiss them as lazy or pampered. However, there is something else going on. Technology is training an entire generation to take risks, the most important American trait. It was the risk-takers who first ventured to the New World. It was the risk-takers who piled into covered wagons to explore the west. And it was the risk-takers who started the world’s biggest companies and cured the world’s most powerful diseases. Now, it seems, there is an entire generation for whom risks don’t seem as severe. And for them, the strain of entrepreneurship has easily taken root.
Thanks to technology, our youngest generation may be the country’s next "greatest generation."