A Generation of Creators. Makers. Doers.

The stereotypes of Gen Y have been beaten to death. Arrogant. Ungrateful. Rebellious. Stubborn. Know-it-alls – and the overarching idea that we’re better than anyone and everyone who’s come before us.

Some have truth, others, not so much. I’ve held firm to the belief that we are a victim of circumstance. That our beliefs and ideals are not drastically different from those of previous generations, but that our circumstance, the environment we’ve grown up in, and the tools at our disposal, has a dramatic impact on the way we think. The way we tick.

I’ve tacked the label of Generation Now, Justin Kan, a 28 year old entrepreneur and founder of Justin.tv, labels us as Generation Make“. Last week on TechCrunch, he shared some great insight into the mindset of a millennial.

“We are a generation of makers. A generation of creators. Maybe we don’t have the global idealism of the hippies. Our idealism is more individual: that every person should be able to live their own life, working on what they choose, creating what they choose. If you want to build a company to change the world, go for it. If you want to be an independent knife maker, what is stopping you?

We follow our passions. If we do it as a business, then we can create the ability to support ourselves doing what we love, and with some measure of security and autonomy that no institution is going to grant us. The Millennial path to self-actualization is the individual path, each man to create it for himself.”

In short, we believe the world is at our fingertips. That we have shit to say. That anything that can be done, will be done, and that we can do it, or find a way to make it happen.

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Have You Already Peaked?

I love my generation. I respect the hell out of the fact that there are so many people doing so many amazing things. It’s like one big idea-crazed, brain-mash, collaborative orgy out there – and baby, I swing. I swing to the cows come home with the movers and shakers out there who have accomplished so much at such a young age. I don’t want to be them, or even be like them, but I do everything I can to learn from them – I want them (you) to push me to be better and try harder – I want to grow and learn TOGETHER.

I speak very highly about our generation (when a lot of folks think very negatively about us) because even through the drama, even after all of the nay-saying and “taking sides”, even with all of the competition, I genuinely believe in what our generation represents and what we’re going to do to change the world, just as every generation before us has – they laid the groundwork for us to succeed, and now it’s our turn to seize that opportunity and clear a path for our children, our children’s children, etc. That time to make things happen is right now.

I genuinely believe I’ve associated myself with people who are going to be the proverbial game changers in their respective fields – People who have already done so much more than I have that I LOVE talking to, learning from and sharing ideas with. Every day I go to bed with a nugget of knowledge that I didn’t wake up with that morning – and to say the least, it’s pretty damn exciting.

Generation Y’s Fatal Flaw

The problem, and only problem I see getting in the way of our success is ourselves – our ego – the mindset that we’ve already done so much – that we’ve already arrived and that we “deserve” to be recognized, praised, and admired. That somehow we’re owed something – and that at the age of 25, we’ve hit our peak.

It’s bullshit.

I have no doubt every single one of you have done great things. I have no hesitation in saying that you’ve overcome adversity and accomplished (a lot) in the “first quarter” of your life. But if you think you’ve already “arrived” and you’re at your peak – if you think “this is it” and you’re at the top of you’re game…what comes next? What do you have to look forward to? Where could you possibly go? Are you already thinking that “it’s all downhill from here”?

Think about this, if you will: What have you really done up until this point (professionally)? What tangible things have you created for yourself and your future? Are you actually doing things, or just talking about doing things?

Me? I’ve built a thriving community of forward-thinking people here at Life Without Pants, I’ve gained solid “nine to five” experience in both agency and non-agency environments, and I’m in the (very) early embryonic stages of building my first business.

I’m proud as hell for accomplishing each of these things at the ripe old age of 24. I’ve surprised myself over and over again along the way. But I also know that in the grand scheme of things none of this gives me “status” – nothing there warrants me the “I’m Matt Cheuvront, don’t hate me ‘cause you ain’t me” badge. (For you Sara Davidson)

I’m a very small, tiny, microcosmic fish in a massive pond of movers, shakers, and opportunity. I know my place and I love it – and honestly, I’m thrilled just to be swimming with so many unique fish getting around in the deep blue sea. You should be too…it’s a pretty frickin’ exciting out there.

Keep the ego in check

Don’t let your ego take over. Don’t be “that guy” who acts like he “deserves” to be where he’s at. Maybe you do, maybe (and more than likely) you are where you are because you’ve busted your ass and work hard. But it’s “that guy” who demands an unwarranted status that gives our demographic a bad rep to the “outside world”.

My advice is to stay humble and grounded – know where you’re going and never forget where you came from. Don’t sit there and tell me that you’ve reached your peak – because at twenty-something years old, you’re kidding yourself if you think it’s the truth.

You have a long way to go and a LOT to learn, my young Padawans, and I’m right there with you – learning the ways of the force every step of the way. Enjoy the journey, celebrate the success of others, learn, and hold on tight as we all roll on with this crazy momentum our generation possesses.

It’s fun – and it’s supposed to be enjoyable. Negativity isn’t sustainable, so don’t fall into that trap.

And don’t focus on “keeping up” – don’t worry about what everyone else is doing or how fast they’re moving – you go at the pace YOU are comfortable with and be content with that. Push yourself to do more, but don’t let anyone else dictate what you should or shouldn’t be doing – take ALL advice (both positive and negative) with a grain of salt. Make your own decisions.

Know your worth, value what you bring to the table, stand firm that you are a hell of a contribution to your business, community, etc – but stay grounded, remain humble, and stay classy. It’ll get you far.

(Image c/o C. Engelen)

13 Generation Y Rockstars Who Need to be on Your Radar

When you hear ‘Generation Y’, what do you think of? Some would say, “Brilliant, thought-provoking, eager, and exciting” while others would say “Over-entitled, egotistical, know it-alls.” While I may be a little biased, I tend to side with the former over the latter. Generation Y is a community hungry to learn, yearning for information, and open to sharing ideas and opinions. We are a group who isn’t wasting any time in becoming the future thought leaders of the world. Blogging is a beautiful thing because it provides everyone with an outlet to be heard, to learn and grow, engage in conversation, and facilitates the development of long-lasting relationships, partnerships, and connections. I owe a lot to my blog – it’s helped me get to where I am today. I’m sure many of you can say the same.

Today I’m shining the spotlight on you – 13 of you to be exact. 13 Generation Y Rockstars who deserve to be recognized. 13 blogs that need to be read and subscribed to by everyone. 13 people who have added so much to my own blogging experience and continually provide unique and interesting content day in and day out. Cheers to all of you, and keep doing what you do!

David Mullen | Communications Catalyst

David’s focus in primarily on public relations and integrated communication. He provides wisdom for businesses, entrepreneurs, and bloggers alike with topics ranging from social media marketing to branding and creativity. David openly welcomes conversation and criticism within the comments of each post and is great at getting you not only responding to him, but conversing with the other members of his community – the mark of a truly great writer is when you can sit back and watch your readers drive the conversation themselves and David is fantastic in this regard.

Jun Loayza | Young Successful Entreprenur

In short, Jun Loayza is a hustler. I bust my ass and keep on the grind but somehow this guy is always doing more. He is a testament of what it means to work hard and get results. He’s young, has started his own company, and is amazing at reinventing himself and coming up with new and exciting ideas. The best part? He challenges (in a good way) everyone he comes into contact with. He pushes and motivates his readers on and off his blog. He listens, but is also never afraid to voice his opinion. With a his work ethic, there’s no doubt he will achieve success again and again. For anyone who is passionate about leaving the grind and making it on their own – Jun and his blog provide all the information, inspiration, and motivation you could ask for.

Adam Baker | Man vs. Debt

Not so much a ‘Generation Y’ blog – but very much relevant to the people of our generation, Adam Baker talks everything personal finance related. Not claiming to be a financial specialist, Adam instead speaks from personal experiences, both good and bad, in dealing with debt, and more importantly taking control of your own financial situation. I love his in-depth articles and his ability to relate what would normally be un-interesting topics in a way that appeals to everyone. Did I mention that Adam and his wife sold everything they had and moved halfway across the world to backpack in New Zealand with their one year old daughter?! Between his own experiences and the insight provided by his community, there is a wealth of information to be had here.

Sydney Owen | Sydney Owen on New Media

Sydney and I have very similar stories: We both quit our jobs. We both packed our bags and moved to a new city (Chicago). We both networked like crazy and ended up at jobs we love (much of which we owe to our blogs). We are both open to sharing our story and providing content that will hopefully help/motivate other people who are in similar situations that we were. If you’re wondering how to effectively network, meet new people, and find the job of your dreams using social media and blogging – Sydney is an amazing example and has a story well worth following.

Stuart Foster and Carla Blumenthal | The Lost Jacket

No pants? Lost jackets? What’s with the missing clothes references? If you want a no-bullshit tell-it-like-it-is approach, Stuart Foster is your man – and adding Carla to the mix was probably one of the smartest things he’s ever done. A movement by themselves, but a force when they’re together (thanks Ne-Yo) these two are revolutionizing the way we think about Social Media, online marketing, and Public Relations. Based out of Boston, they’re both able to consistently connect the dots between old school marketing and new media with topics ranging from social media, public relations, and brand management.

Jenny Blake | Life After College

There is a reason Jenny, in her mid-twenties, is already working up the ladder of one of the most successful companies in the world (ehem, Google). In short, she’s just that good! A model of efficiency and productivity, Jenny Blake has the uncanny ability to give advice and coaching that is specific and measurable, yet general and accessible enough to anyone and everyone. I leave her blog with a clear takeaway, a new methodology, a challenge or fresh outlook and perspective. Jenny is the first person I would point any young adult to who is out of college, starting their career, and finds themselves in the purgatory of “what’s next”? From financial advice to stress management – Life After College is an outstanding resource.

Carlos Miceli | OwlSparks

I like to call Carlos “Seth Godin Jr.” – Hailing all the way from Argentina, Carlos says a lot without saying a lot. His daily posts are always (ALWAYS) thought provoking. I don’t know how he continues to do what he does, and in so few words. I’m lucky if I can finish a thought in a couple paragraphs, much less a couple sentences. But sometimes less truly is more. Carlos is wise beyond his years and is an exceptional conversation-starter – Agree or disagree, each “spark” will leave you walking away with a new perspective on life.

Sam Davidson | Sam Davidson’s Blog

I have had the pleasure of working with Sam and his company, Cool People Care, both personally and professionally. Sam writes about everything from social entrepreneurship to sustainability, marketing advice to wisdom for first time Dad’s. He’s the kind of guy that is more than happy to sit down and grab coffee (or a pint of Yazoo) and bounce ideas back and forth. Sam is an inspiration for all aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those who are passionate about running a business that serves an added bottom line of giving back to the community. Head over and read his blog, and book him at your next speaking event, he’s worth every penny.

Grace Boyle | Small Hands, Big Ideas

Grace is another great example of a motivated gen-yer who isn’t afraid to take risks (in her case moving across the country to a new home in Boulder, CO without anything lined up). She now works for an amazing company in one of the most exciting cities for anyone our age to call home. The title of of blog sums it up perfectly – that we are all only one person, but as one person, we can have big ideas, and collectively, we can make a difference. Grace writes about public relations, marketing, social media, blogging, and business philosophy, offering a unique ‘feminine’ perspective to many of her articles. There’s a reoccurring theme here that Grace models beautifully – if you’re about to make a big life decision (as she did with her move) – start a blog. It’s pretty amazing to witness your own evolution, and it gives the rest of us the inspiration and motivation to do that much more in our own lives.

Ryan Stephens | Ryan Stephens Marketing

I can’t leave out the man who inspired this post in the first place, can I? Ryan Stephens is great at what he does – he writes about marketing for both individuals and businesses, and usually infuses sports into the topic at hand. You can see his passion for marketing and PR in everything he writes – and has established himself as one of the primary thought leaders within the Gen-Y community. He is spot on in his belief of relationship marketing, and preaches the mantra of successful business being foundationed in the forging and nurturing of relationships.

Tim Jahn | Beyond the Pedway

Tim Jahn is a Chicago native who excels in multiple platforms – while he also blogs at “The Sun Rises Today” – I chose to highlight his video-series “Beyond the Pedway” in which he highlights (weekly) some of the best and brightest businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the Chicagoland area. Tim has a passion for filming and editing, and is an amazing, down to earth person to talk to if you live in the Windy City (or anywhere for that matter). He no doubt has some exciting things in store for us in the future.

Lisa Barone | Outspoken Media

Again, I’m not sure if Outspoken Media can be considered a Generation Y blog, but it is always an outlet for amazing content and thought provoking articles. Lisa and the rest of the Outspoken crew continually put out timely and relevant articles that challenge you to think outside the box. Don’t be mistaken, Outspoken Media is a company first, blog second – offering an array of SEO and marketing services. Lisa does a great job of being brutally honest, genuine, and (ehem) “Outspoken” in her writing style – an admirable trait that shows she isn’t afraid of a little criticism or disagreement.

Matt Cheuvront | Life Without Pants

What can I say about Matt that hasn’t already been said. He defines what it means to be awesome and his blog is top-notch. Ok, seriously, getting away from speaking in the third person, I honestly believe there is a lot of value in what I’ve managed to put together in less than a year – and I owe most of it to all of you. I rely on you, the reader, to take the conversation I attempt to spark and steer it in new, thoughtful, and exciting directions. So far, you have not disappointed, and thus, Life Without Pants, the unrestricted thoughts on life from a twenty-something perspective, has amounted to what it is today. With no clear end in sight, I can only hope this blog, this community, continues to thrive and flourish in the days, months, and years to come.


Top 10 Gen Y Blogs (Ryan Stephens Marketing)Every other month, Ryan Stephens over at Ryan Stephens Marketing puts together an amazing list of the top Generation Y blogs as voted on by you, the readers and fellow bloggers. I, or should I say Life Without Pants has been voted as the #1 Generation Y blog two times in a row (both in June and in August). Not only has this introduced me to amazing people who would have never known about me otherwise, it has also been extremely humbling to be so new to the ‘game’ and receive such accolade and recognition from my peers – people I look up to and admire. Be sure to head over and send in YOUR vote for your favorite Gen Y blog(s) today!

(Photo by McFull)

Generation Y Independence: Mission Impossible?

“We will not go quietly into the night!” We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

Get by with a little help from my friends

The economy is tough. The stock market is down, layoffs are up, new jobs are at a premium. Many of us are just starting out in the ‘adult’ working world or maybe you’re about to graduate and you’re looking for your first job. A lot of you may be thinking “What am I going to do? How am I going to support myself”? As someone who has been through the initial ‘first job’ hunt – I can attest to the overwhelming level of stress young adults are faced with as they end their collegiate tenure and look to start their career.

As we navigate through the barren wasteland of job opportunities and stare financial independence directly in the face, many are forced to side with the fact that they can’t support themselves. That somehow, either through loans or through familial support, getting some help is going to be inevitable.

Over the past several months I have noticed an ongoing debate 20-something Gen-Yers are faced with. Should you move back in with the folks, or tough it out on my own? What’s more important? Staying home and saving money or achieving independence and being able to say, “I got where I am today entirely on my own”? Is it seen as a sign of weakness to move home and accept support from your parents, or is it just an inevitable stage in the ‘new’ growing up process and a sign of these difficult times? And what about mom and dad? Should they welcome us home with open arms or push us away and encourage (or force) us to take care of ourselves?

A little about my background and situation. I have been very independent (financially and otherwise) since a very young age. When I was 15 I started a job bagging groceries and I haven’t stopped working since (not as a bagger – that was a one-time summer gig, thank God). I’ve taken financial responsibility for pretty much everything along the way. I was lucky enough to get a lot of help with college – the one benefit of my parent’s divorce was that they set up a college fund to dump money into starting when I was only a wee lad. Since graduation last May I have become 100% financially independent – I’ve got an apartment, the whole lot of bills, a car note, you name it – but I’m making it. Comfortably? No – but I’m getting by and doing ‘OK’ for myself considering I’m only 23 years old.

Is it OK to move back home?

All of that being said, I’m not writing this to toot my own horn, but I think it’s important for all of you to know my background to better understand where my perspective is coming from. Personally? I think there is a lot to be said for those people who are able to support themselves, and I couldn’t be happier about where I am today. I tried moving back home after college, but my parents encouraged me to stay on my own, and while I was hurt at the time, in the end, it made me a stronger person and it’s taught me a lot about myself, my personal ‘will’, and how to effectively manage a limited amount of money.

But it’s not for everyone. It’s not possible for everyone. Or is it? There are clearly two sides of this argument. One will say that moving back home is inevitable, that it’s better to not worry about being proud, suck it up, and move home while saving and pursuing your dreams. But others passionately attest to the idea of hard work, making it on your own, earning everything for yourself and not taking handouts from others.

None of us want to be the 40-year-old living in his parent’s basement playing Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, chatting in online sex forums. But many of us are fine with living at home in our 20’s while we ‘get our feet on the ground’. Where is the cutoff? Is there a certain age when it’s ‘OK’ for parents to push us away? Hopefully I will get the perspective of both parents and children here, as there appears to be a clear difference in opinion amongst generations.

So I turn the discussion over to you – tell us your story – what are your thoughts on the concept of living at home vs. being on your own? Should we be able to rely on our parents for financial support while we chase our dreams – or is the real ‘American Dream’ about making it on your own, dealing with the difficulties that come and maybe taking two steps back to take a step forward. Is someone who has ‘made it on their own’ more highly regarded than someone who had to rely on others? Share your stories and thoughts in the comments below.