5 Lessons Learned from Investing in Young People

by / ⠀Startup Advice / October 7, 2011

Concluding the International Year of Youth, this summer the United Nations gathered for a high level meeting of General Assembly on the topic of the Youth. In conjunction with the Nexus Global Youth Summit, I was invited to attend the initiative and represent Under30CEO.

The discussion topics included a call for decisive action to overcome young people’s widespread unemployment as well as achieving the highest standards for health and reaching the UN’s Millenium Development Goals. See our post on the 8 Goals for the World and How You Can Help.

After being addressed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, and meeting some of the top young social innovators, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists in the world there are several lessons to learn from the people who support the $1Billion investment the World Bank makes in youth .

Here are 5 key concepts that you can takeaway with you from investing in young people which can be applied to all facets of business and philanthropy…

1. Revolution Can Be Started By Anyone. Earlier this summer, Senator John McCain inspired young entrepreneurs on Capitol Hill by telling the story of a 27 year old Tunisian street vendor who committed suicide in protest to the restrictions on free enterprise that sparked the Arab Spring. The same story was reiterated by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in order to emphasize the importance of capitalism. It only takes one person to make change as shown by this young business man whose heroism led to the downfall of autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Regardless of how big the fight is, the problem can be solved with one small action.

2. The Facebook Generation Can Create Real Impact. As shown by Under30CEO feature David Gorodyansky, one piece of software can allow millions of people to unite across social channels and be part of something larger than themselves. Today we have the technology where our own unique voice can be heard across the world. Creating something that you are passionate about and sharing it with others who support your venture is incredibly possible. No longer do we need the support of mainstream media to perpetuate the mission of what we most care about.

3. Intergenerational Experience Is Invaluable. At Under30CEO we often fall into the trap of supporting what young people are doing so much that we often forget how much there still is yet to learn. Our generation is known for being particularly open minded and accepting of other’s ideas, except when it involves our elders.  I witnessed first hand that the United Nation’s leaders are on our side, and as the Secretary-General said, “Failing to invest in youth is a false economy. Conversely, investing in young people will pay great dividends for all.”

4. Our Energy is Unmatched.  It is completely evident to our generation that if you are driven by your passion, you’ll have boundless energy. There has never been a time in history where it has been easier to surround yourself with people whose energy you can feed from.  Nobody can deny that an investment in youth is the real way to give a spark to any project.

5. Speak With People Not At Them. Being addressed in Washington DC by Senators and Members of Congress, and at the United Nations by Heads of State, a lot of time is spent hearing what our officials think. There is no better way to make young people less interested in your agenda than to bore them. Monique Coleman, star of Disney’s High School Musical and the United Nation’s Youth Champion summed it up best, “We must spend less time talking about young people and more time talking with them.”

With that being said, let us know how these lessons from the people who are changing the world can help in your future business ventures by simply writing in the comments below!

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30CEO.com.  Find him on Twitter @MattWilsontv.

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