millennial influenceOn this Saturday morning, many thoughts stream through my mind like a mediocre movie with a solid theme. Thoughts are somewhat random yet connected by an emerging theme of strength in social good. The characters escalating this theme are Millennials, joining with individuals who are older yet have the youthful desire to always make a difference.

MCON Stage

The stage was set at MCON. Influence is the verb woven through art, media, business, and place. In action come questions:

  • Who is influencing a better way forward?
  • What is being done differently to drive bigger impact?
  • Where are the good actions happening?
  • How are they moving social good forward in meaningful ways?
  • What are the lessons to embrace and use?

MCON succeeded in answering many of these questions while opening up a new set. Influence is a verb here, so the examples showed how complacency is not an option, ever.

Someone used the term “relentlessly resilient” and this fits in many examples including:

Levi Strauss & Co.: Jeans. Jeans may be where our awareness of Levi Strauss & Co. ends yet they have been leading a broader awareness of social changes required in our society long before it was popular to do so. Daniel Jae-Won Lee, executive director of the Levi Straus Foundation, told their story well and showed how business can take risks beyond new products.

Baltimore Corp: Too many cities lately have experienced intense tensions, and Baltimore is no exception. Fagan Harris, CEO of Baltimore Corp, is unfazed and even more diligent in driving social change to create a better city and better citizens at all spectrums – raising everyone up to better engagement and better results. Go beyond the headlines. Get your feet on the street to make good things happen where you live.

The Art Assignment: Organizations need to embrace art much more. Sarah Urist Green, creator and curator of the Art Assignment, was poignant in so many ways.

  • Art is the manifestation of an idea.
  • Good art is the manifestation of a good idea.
  • What makes great art then?
  • Great art is the manifestation of conviction.

Too often, people wait for permission. Imagination moves us beyond this stationary stance. We need to use our imagination much more.

KIND: The path for Daniel Lubetzky was filled with detours, yet KIND has emerged as more than a product. KIND is a movement. Through tough lessons, we do become stronger when we take action.

Much, much more was said and highlighted at MCON. I hope this gives you a taste and encourages you to explore the speakers and the ideas. So many more people and organizations are leading good things, like American Express and their focus on emerging leaders, Anna Palmer and The Fashion Project through sales of used clothing and funding social causes, and Cheryl Hughes of The Chicago Community Trust and her work to engage community conversations to identify changes requiring attention and action.

Millennial Influence and Social Good

Achieve, sponsored by The Case Foundation, conducts research and interviews of Millennials with the goal of understanding how purpose and meaning are being shaped by this new generation. The Millennial Impact Report is a worthy read.

Millennials are a giving generation, with 84% making a charitable contribution. A strong desire to contribute to social good is very strong, volunteering time and skills through company-sponsored initiatives or on their own. Organizations need to step up and create the environment that encourages and supports such good works initiatives.

Social good is not new age stuff. See Levi Straus & Co. or Sweet Green for examples of a legacy of continued action and a fresh start.

What I took away from MCON and The Millennial Impact report is a single word: Tangible.

  • Tangible actions – work that matters
  • Tangible results – business growth
  • Tangible outcomes – social good

Tangibility creates a powerful mix.

What’s Next?

This simple question motivates me. Standing still is mediocrity. Standing still means stagnation. Standing still is a lack of growth, a lack of betterment.

Not wanting to stand still may be why I have a Millennial Mindset. I wish I would have kept my youthful spirit alive of wanting to make a positive impact. Years later, this spirit returns, making me restless.

Just as my early spirit may have faded, Millennials need to guard against this. Keeping the spirit of doing good alive is possible. Doing good is more possible now because Millennials are starting organizations that embed this spirit within a team, purpose, and profit. Doing good is more possible because great businesses have set great examples. Millennials will bring a certain momentum to this change.

MCON brings this community together, across the generations. Social good needs to be cross-generational. Each generation brings experience. Together, we can leave our business and community better than before. A new activism is coming.

Do your next thing well and make a big difference along the way!