Shark Tank goes to college. Colleges that foster the entrepreneurial spirit of their students now host Shark-Tank like challenges for college students – and the winners can walk away with serious stake money to see their ideas come to life. It’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur, and this generation of college students – the Gen Z generation – was born to be entrepreneurial.
These students bring their innovation, collaboration, and enthusiastic vision of the future to the competition. They stand before judges and investors, having worked all year to create businesses with the help of mentors and advisors. They have honed their pitches. And they usually knock the socks off the judges.
As I spend more time with Gen Z and young working millennials, witnessing their ideas and presentations at university entrepreneurial challenges, I have continued hope for the future of business and the world. As Gen Z enters the workplace, they bring with them that entrepreneurial energy and their innovative outlook about how to improve the world. With the right training, coaching, and mentoring, organizations can develop the skills of these newest employees to accelerate their contributions and their ability to drive the success of the organization.
Telling compelling stories
Crisp emails, short texts, and memes are their communication mediums of choice – not long meetings and phone calls. These skills translate to the perfect elevator pitch – whether it’s in the elevator, across the table from a new client, or in the boardroom. If you need a polished pitch, Gen Z has already mastered the succinct introduction, problem, and solution. What they’ll need is help pulling it all together – telling the story in a compelling way and making an emotional and personal connection to their audience.
Gen Z knows how to work in teams, collaborate, and bring fun and creativity to the group. To be successful, they understand that they need open communication and access to higher-ups for questions. This generation wants to know how your specific organization functions, and building strong relationships with them will pay off short and long term. Understanding that collaboration is at the heart of innovation, Gen Z expands on the millennial impact that has been transitioning the workplace to be less about the individual. Working together has the best results, and Gen Z knows how to make the most out of every collaboration. Where they will need help is in identifying and accessing the right people outside of their immediate network to build stronger relationships.
Every solution has a technology component and Gen Z creates with that in mind. Whether the app is the product itself, or a key part of the experience, these digital natives are the people with the skill sets and mind sets to make it happen. What they need is help developing the strategy behind the solution and guidance in building a solution that enhances user experience for all users, not just other Gen Zers.
Making the world a better place
Businesses know that consumers are driving a socially-conscious market, and those entering the workforce have the same mindset. Gen Z is passionate about social and environmental issues, and they will bring those concerns to the boardroom. Impact investing will drive budgets as Gen Z strives to make the world a better place with products and services and relationships that matter.
Gen Z is coming, and with them will come all the advantages of their enthusiasm, dedication, and innovative mindsets. The future of the workplace will rely as much on soft skills like communication, collaboration, and relationship building as it will on technical prowess. To make the most of this bright, young talent, provide them with the training and mentoring they need to leverage their innate talents.