Help! The Nation’s Smartest Young People Aren’t in America

by / ⠀Startup Advice / September 30, 2010

Yesterday I poured myself into an article that really meant a lot to me, my work at Under30CEO and my career as a leader.  In case you missed it…

How Gen Y Needs to Redefine Success and Change the World

There was already been interest for it to be featured at Entrepreneur, Business Insider and Huffington Post.  I’m completely honored of course, but that wasn’t nearly the biggest compliment I received.  It was actually the text message that woke me up sometime after 1AM this morning from my good friend John Exley (who I met because of U30).  He told me how he was in the middle of pulling an all-nighter and how excited he was to leave a diesel comment on Under30CEO.

That’s the kind of enthusiasm that makes it all worth it.

Read the comments, none of them are less than 3 paragraphs, and Exley’s was so good, it’s getting republished as an actual article.  Pretty amazing stuff and a true testament to the brilliant community we have here at Under30CEO. Without further a due, Mr. John Exley…

The World is Changing; We Need to Catch Up

First of all I think the “Generation Y is lazy, self-entitled, not committed blah blah blah” is getting a little tired. There are still scores of hard working, loyal, committed, sharp young peeps out there who are putting in 90+ hour work weeks. NYC, The Valley, Boulder, Chicago, Boston…just look at the ecosystems where our top universities are and I do not think you will struggle to find ’20-somethings’ who are more than worth hiring and investing in.

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I think the “Gen Y talk” is all over-hyped…journalists looking for page views, employers having trouble understanding the changing paradigm of new hires no longer staying on for decades but looking for a change of scenery and/or responsibilities after 3-5 years. That said, there is something to loyalty, read Mark Suster’s controversial post “Never Hire Job Hoppers. Never. They Make Terrible Employees“.

The real challenge I see for Gen Y is debt

College loans. Students are graduating with more debt than ever before. Want a comparison? A couple weeks ago the USA Today reported that credit card debt in the US is about $828 billion. US Student loan debt is $850 billion, read “Student loan debt exceeds credit card debt in USA“.  This is a challenge the previous generation didn’t have to face to such a severe degree, and unfortunately it might hamper our generation’s ability to start companies, innovate, and rebuild our economy (which is why I respect Matt so much for taking the enormous risks associated with launching his own companies straight out of college…and doing well. And urging others to think creatively and create jobs as well).

Another much, much larger problem (IMHO) than all the over-hyped “Gen Y discussions“? The smartest students (engineers especially) are arguably not on our soil…they’re overseas. And guess what? Our country is making it harder and harder and harder and harder for foreign entrepreneurs to immigrate here and start their companies here in the US. Personally, I know at least 5-10 entrepreneurs overseas (Singapore, China, Germany) that would immigrate to the valley or NYC to start their companies and have access to our venture capitalists and consumers if they could (not to mention benefiting from the storied entrepreneurial camaraderie in our ecosystems like Silicon Valley and NYC)…but getting a Visa is so difficult.

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Entrepreneurs are the driving engine of our economy & of economies all over the world

Countries like Singapore get this.  They make it easy to start companies, and as a result startups are launching left and right, and GDP is increasing. Chile gets it. They’re inviting entrepreneurs from all over to come to Chile and start their companies (read about it here: “Start-Up Chile Program Launched for Entrepreneurs Interested in Starting Businesses in Chile”.

Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO) has launched a new program aimed at world-class bootstrapped organizations, high-potential entrepreneurs and early-stage companies with innovative and high-growth business plans to enable them to quickly launch and run operations in Chile.

This consequently paves a path towards improving their economy and creating jobs. Don’t agree?  Inc Magazine does. Read their support of Chile’s new initiative here: “For Tech Entrepreneurs Looking Beyond Silicon Valley, Chile is Ready and Waiting”.

Why aren’t we concerned that it might be in the best interest for our top students to go work for startups overseas or for our top entrepreneurs to take their companies outside of the US?

It seems we’ve lost sight of this

Especially amidst all of the hoopla surrounding Gen Y. Let’s focus on something more important…creating jobs for our economy like Matt and Under30CEO are doing. Renowned venture capitalists Brad Feld and Fred Wilson, seasoned entrepreneurs like Eric Ries, angel investors like Dave McClure and more are pushing a visa that would enable foreign entrepreneurs to bring their companies here to the US: it’s called the Startup Visa Act.  Please, support that.

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Memo to other Gen Y’ers…

We’ve got a lot of work cut out for us. Debt, stupid perceptions to change, and so on. Here’s to those who ignore over-hyped trends and just hustle forward. Haters will hate, but players continue to play. Just keep moving. On that note, back to homework…

John Exley is currently studying at American University and is an intern at Syncables.

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