Our knowledge of demographics and trends has been massively enlarged thanks to the countless studies, research projects, and data collection on millennials (those born approximately 1980 to 1995). As grateful as we are for all that millennial insight, a new wave is rolling onto the demographics landscape. Move over, millennials! Here comes Generation Z (those born in or after 1996).

As with every generation, Generation Z will bring its own unique influence to all aspects of how we live, do business, and function in the exciting future that awaits us. Fascinating insights also arise by comparing Generation Z to its older sibling generation, the millennials. Based on research by the new agency, “sparks & honey,” Erik Oster, writing for Adweek, shares an example:

Millennials grew up alongside the Internet. Generation Z is immersed in social media, relying on it for socializing and also for school, with 52 percent using social media for typical research assignments, and around one-third working with classmates and watching lessons online.

This means that Generation Z understands how to self-educate by using the Internet to locate information. With our Internet world in general, and with higher education in particular, this of course is a necessary qualification for success. Generation Z is the first truly native digital generation. Millennials grew up alongside social media, but Generation Z was born into it.

Speaking of unique characteristics, Generation Z happens to be the largest generation in the United States today. That might come as a surprise, but here is the breakdown:

  • The “Silent” Generation—10.5%
  • Baby boomers—23.6%
  • Generation X—15.4%
  • Millennials—24.5%
  • Generation Z—25.9%

Many organizations, businesses, and individuals did much work to understand the millennials and prior generations. That investment generated and still generates a return. Now, to get the same ROI with Generation Z, that work is just beginning.



A young person choosing to go or not go to college is pondering an immensely important decision. Regardless of which way that decision goes, it should be made as intelligently as possible. For maximum benefit, the potential student should have a high level of informed consent concerning all the consequences.

Depending on the potential student’s career goals and salary desires, college is not always the best option. Bloomberg Businessweek makes a simple observation about the financial consequences of replacing the college path with a skilled trade path (“Rubio Makes a Good Point About Welders” 11/23/15–11/29/15, p. 14):

An 18-year-old who spends four years as an apprentice plumber might earn a total of $100,000 or more during that span and avoid paying the same amount of money in tuition for college. After the apprenticeship, that young plumber can make $50,000 a year, with the prospect of steady income growth over the span of a career: Master plumbers can earn $100,000 to $200,000 annually.

Similar observations have been made by many about various skilled trades and technical occupations. The takeaways for potential students?

  • Do your homework.
  • Think carefully about what you want in your career.
  • Choose wisely.
  • Never be afraid to try something new.



Just in case you were wondering about the current state of social media minute-by-minute, we can thank Larry Kim (Founder of WordStream, Inc.) for gathering some data. Here are some of the highlights about what is happening every 60 seconds on social media:

  • 9,722 pins to Pinterest.
  • 284,722 snaps to Snapchat.
  • 347,222 tweets to Twitter.
  • 1,041,666 videos played on Vine.
  • 1,736,111 likes on Instagram.
  • 4,166,667 likes on Facebook.

I have a sneaking suspicion that social media will be around for a while. What do you think?



Leadership is as much about getting your facts straight as it is about having the right attitude. Here is an interesting example of that. When you analyze the nearly $100-billion revenue to smartphone companies last quarter, the clear market dominators are Apple followed by Samsung. Those two companies collectively enjoyed over 60% of the quarter’s revenue. The remaining revenue was split up among Huawei, LG, Xiaomi, Lenovo, ZTE, Oppo, Microsoft, and many smaller companies.

One of those smaller companies is HTC. HTC’s leadership reveals that it not only understand the facts, but it also brings the right attitude (Ashlee Vance, “Smartphone Margins” Bloomberg Businessweek. 10/12/15–10/18/15, pp. 33–34):

HTC is also moving beyond phones by forming partnerships with companies such as Under Armour, helping the sportswear brand build mobile technology into its products. ‘It could be very easy to get depressed around Apple eating all the margins,’ [HTC president Jason] Mackenzie says, ‘or you can be super optimistic around everything in the world being connected.’” (p. 34)

Sure, get your facts straight, but be sure to bring the right attitude. It is sort of like the difference between the two bicycle salespersons. Once comes back from the assigned territory gloomily complaining:

Nobody here rides bikes!

The replacement salesperson comes back from the assigned territory joyfully exclaiming:

Everyone here needs bikes!



Nostalgia is a powerful force in people’s lives. It is equally powerful in the business world and in the entertainment arena. Flocking to nostalgia is something we do as humans almost without thinking.

In Robert Trussell’s concluding thoughts from his excellent nostalgia and entertainment analysis, he raises an interesting concern (“Awash in Nostalgia” The Kansas City Star. November 15, 2015, pp. 1D, 12D):

When Broadway stages are filled with vintage musicals and musty dramas, when TV screens are filled with series based on older series, when movies are based on films from a generation ago, you must wonder if an artist with a creative idea or a new kind of storytelling could even find a place at the table—and whether audiences would embrace anything other than the familiar.” (p. 12D)

I have thought about this many times for many reasons:

When The Repetition Of Nostalgia Is A Bad Thing. Audiences can become bored when plotlines become predictable and so-called new releases are repetitive. Is there anything new or different in the story? That gets old fast.

When The Repetition Of Nostalgia Is A Good Thing. By their very nature, some of the best stories are the stories that stand the test of time, no matter how many times we repeat them. These include stories of love and loss, family and friends, war and peace, winning and losing, trust and betrayal, sin and salvation, crime and punishment, life and death, sickness and healing, joy and grief. Audiences are drawn to these stories because they are the shared stories of our humanity.

Creativity That Capitalizes On Nostalgia. For the creators of stories, nostalgia is a winning ticket. The artist’s creativity is not diminished just because the larger plotline follows a well-worn path. The artist must still summon creativity in the use and application of that nostalgic template.

Creativity That Does Not Capitalize On Nostalgia. For creators of stories, there is nothing as challenging and artistically fulfilling as masterminding a story that breaks all molds. Regardless of how universal the nostalgic plotlines are, we must never lose our artistic desire to tell a new story.

The Audience’s Appetite. Although audiences can be finicky, my hope is that they will be hungry for new creative approaches in story. That openness of course never guarantees that the next dish on the entertainment table will be exquisite. However, you will never enjoy the exquisite unless you are willing to try something new.