The Gen ‘Z Factor’

Yes, ‘Z’ factor… not ‘X’ factor. Is this the latest reality talent show? Well, in a sense, YES. We are talking about the elusive Generation Z – the children of Generation Y.

The reality is that Gen Z’ers, born from 1995 on, will make up a powerful part of the mounting talent pool.

What we do know is that Gen Z’ers are as perplexing as they are intriguing. Defined as pragmatic idealists, they are the first fully global generation without borders and cultural barriers. By the end of the first quarter of the 21st century, it is expected that they will make up nearly a third of the US population and the largest hiring pool surpassing both ‘millennials’ and ‘boomers’ (EY, 2016).

Gen Z’ers would seem to live an abstract existence communicating through visuals and contracted words, but the reality is they are acutely aware. They are socially sanctioned to set consumer trends, shape popular culture, and stimulate political consciousness. They have a voice and they want to use it. This is their ‘Z factor’ – their personal power.

The challenge lies in how to stimulate and support them in a climate of instant gratification, constantly changing workflows and blurred cultural and generational lines.

So, knowing what makes them tick is the WHY that motivates them and it is key. More importantly, how do we prepare for them to our mutual advantage? Facilitating Gen Z’ers to develop their personal brand power will capture their fleeting attention spans. These Gen Z standouts have realized the power of their reach:

  • Mary Grace Henry: Now 18, at 12 years founded Reverse the Course Foundation providing education opportunities to African girls through online sales of her fashion hair accessories
  • Rohith Varanasi: Now 17, at 14 years first shared his code to develop an app that offers inexpensive internet service to the countries with poor access
  • Lilian Pravda: Now 15, at 8 years founded Vision For and From Children raising online funds for disadvantaged children in need of medical eye care

They epitomize the everyday Jack or Jill making their mark and ‘doing good’ in the eyes of their peers.

For those Millennial CEOs still hoping to capitalize on the Gen Z talent, the difference is currency. For Z’ers, the currency is experiences… meaningful ones. Once a Gen Z commits, you have a loyal fan… a ‘raving fan’ that has the power to engage followers and lots of them. It is about relating in a real way. They are far too savvy and socially empowered to be induced by overused clichés and contrived connections. They are a fascinating generation worthy of befriending. In fact, if you exemplify something meaningful for them, they may even make the first move!

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