I had a great conversation with my dad this morning over a cup of coffee at our friendly-neighborhood Starbucks. Among various topics, we got on the subject of how to fix the US economy, specifically looking at flat tax rates, job creation, and mentoring the next generation of business entrepreneurs. While there are many theories as to how we, as an American people, can get ourselves out of the mess we are in, I believe that the number one area of change has to do with attitude. Yes, attitude.
The Old Way: Figure It Out On Your Own
There is a certain attitude that successful people over the age of 50 have: a combination of entitlement and arrogance, mixed with a sense of arrival. They created a gigantic economy with their own blood, sweat, tears and brains, often at the expense of their families and friends. Now that they are ready to retire and live off the fruit of their labors, they sit on their wealth and knowledge continuing their mantra: “If you want it, figure it out on your own. Just like we did.”
While there is a certain amount of positive value to this mindset, it unfortunately perpetuates a very significant problem: How do you teach leadership when those that have the ability to mentor the next generation choose to sit upon and hoard the necessary knowledge that helps navigate the systems of business?
The New Way: I Will Help You Figure It Out
Instead of hoarding knowledge and charging thousands of dollars for leadership seminars and programs designed for the best and the brightest, it’s time for the leaders of the Baby Boomer Generation to create systems of sustainable leadership training for every level of business entrepreneur, ranging from the solo-preneur (like myself) to the small business that employs a few hundred people. They need to be mentoring young business owners, not only in how to develop positive cash flow, but how to be long-term visionaries. They need to start helping the next generation create a new future, instead of golfing all day long and cashing in their entitlements.
Mentor Everyone, You Might Be Surprised In What Is Found
It seems that a lot of leadership programs exist solely for those who will figure it out on their own anyway, thus creating a system that is inbred and preaching to the choir. Instead, everyone should have access to leadership development and mentorship programs, regardless of aptitude and attitude, gender and race.
By mentoring and leading a diverse group of individuals, not just the sons and daughters of the entitled, there is tremendous potential for developing leaders that otherwise would have not been created. By exposing more kids and young adults to the power and success of the established and proven, imagine what could be accomplished in this country. We could inspire people that want, and are able, to contribute to our economy.
It is time for leaders to mentor the next generation! As a solo-preneur for almost six years, I have yet to have a single successful business owner pull me aside and want to mentor me. For the most part, I have figured everything out on my own or with the help of my peers. I have sought after others, I have shown initiative, but there is a lack of reciprocity from the leaders that I admire. All that teaches me is that when I am successful, I need to make sure that I am approachable and that I seek those that are in need of leadership and mentoring.
Until then, I’m going to continue figuring it out on my own, because I can’t afford to play golf or the stock market. I’m going to get to work and focus on taking care of my family, encouraging and inspiring my fellow business owners, and continue looking in dismay at the amount of greed coming from the older generations, not in terms of economics, but in the areas of knowledge and wisdom.