America's graduating youth are not only faced with more challenges than any generation since the Great Depression, we are also faced with more autonomy and more decisions with what to do with our time since so many of us are not employed at the normal 9-5. In the age of the internet there are more opportunities to do something we are passionate about, connect with other like minded individuals and get behind a cause and innovate.
I've lived in downtown Manhattan for four months now and it's been quite an eye opener. For those of you who don't know I've been a lot of things, but most recently a ski bum-entrepreneur. Now I'm in the big city of dreams and I see Lamborghini's literally everyday. I'm not really that cool with that.
I know what I want.
I moved to New York City to surround myself with the world's most amazing people. Everyone is in this city trying to make something of themselves and...
I want to be around the people changing the world.
But I could care less what type of watch you are wearing.
On the same token, I'm meeting world leaders, people who have created ultra wealth for themselves and others, people with ridiculous influence and you have to look the part. Last week at the United Nations Global Assembly I got the chance to hang with Elizabeth Gore, Lupe Fiasco and Craig David -- seriously successful young people making their mark on history. I was incredibly fortunate to be able to connect with these guys, hopefully all do followups for Under30CEO and help perpetuate their respective missions with the UN Foundation, clean drinking water and Tuberculosis. And guess what, I don't think they even cared that I had a watch on. (Yes, I've invested in one.)
We connected because they wanted to know what I cared about.
I pitched Under30CEO to Lupe -- I told him our message is to make money but also to do good at the same time. Lupe, who describes himself as a "NPR listening, Volvo driver... but I don't drive a Volvo (insert charismatic smile here)," retorted "Man, that's what it's all about right there. You know what, I like your swag."
That was pretty awesome.
I was wearing a tie (had a big meeting afterward) (look forward to a followup on How To Fit in Anywhere and Get to Know Anyone Including Lupe Fiasco). Lupe called me out on stage for being a "business man", but again, he told me afterward he was just kidding -- he didn't care what I was wearing.
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." -- John C. Maxwell
Lupe could tell I was insanely passionate about what I do and he was down for finding out more. He didn't care whether we are making money hand over fist or bootstrapping every penny. We connected because we share similar passions.
The big city of dreams got even more interesting hanging out with my friend Ankur Jain. The kid is 20 and is tremendously talented through his work creating the Kairos Society, an amazing organization for entrepreneurs at the top institutions in the world. I knew he was awesome, but the 2AM toast to "changing the world" is when it hit me -- Ankur is legit. Dad has appeared on Forbes List and Ankur is dedicating his life to social enterprise. Couldn't be more fun, down to earth or genuine.
Our generation is defining success by "doing well by doing good."
Personally, my definition of success is "doing what I want, when I want, how I want." And I know what I want.
I want to help broadcast to the world the message of people doing amazing things and inspire our generation of leaders to follow suit.
That's what Under30CEO.com is all about. And yes, I want to make some serious money along the way too, but I don't care about sitting next to Lindsay Lohan or Lil' Wayne at Marquee unless they are 1) interested in contributing positively to society and 2) cool with talking to me because of who I am, not how much money I'm blowing.
I want this article to serve as a call to action to stop being impressed by auspicious consumption, to cut through the flashing lights of NYC and surrounding Jersey Shore blowouts and realize that yes, image is everything, but use this sexiness to bring attention to the things that really matter.
Follow Matt Wilson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MattWilsontv