Why we must champion younger people

I meet many young(er) people who are looking for work. 

Young people who have completed tertiary study or pieced together a few years of experience and now have a look in their eye that worries me.

Each week (on average) I'd meet with 2 - 3 people who are seeking guidance for their careers.

I'm not sure if it's my 40-something outlook or the fact that my son goes to the coolest barber shop in Melbourne and I wish I had hair enough to warrant to go to a barber shop at all, but...

But I'm worried about the young people I meet.

I've met people who are scared of sitting in an interview. I've seen job-interview fatigue in the eyes of people whom I know have been seeking work for far too long and are simply getting desperate. Not realising that there are other options.

I've met young women who have been afraid to enter a boardroom meeting. Petrified of a room filled with yet another boys club.

I've met young men who fight with themselves; a fight between building a career and the pressure of identifying themselves as a version of 'man' that they don't truly understand just yet.

I've met young people who suffer from serious anxiety, the word 'presentation' or the notion of executing on anything they say leaving them trembling in a sweaty fear of failure.

I've met young, job-seeking people who have suffered from serious depression. Leaving me worried about the outcome of the meeting itself.

I've shared meals with young men and women in tears when they realise that I'm not hiring at the moment, and I'm in a long line of 'I'm not hiring at the moment' meetings they've had.

I recognise some from working-class neighbourhoods like the one I grew up in — and empathise with them because I see the expectations of achievement, and the pull of escaping weighing heavily on their shoulders. 

That need to break out of social circles that are holding some kids down, because they're surrounded by negativity and complacency and some are simply too fucked-up to even mention.

I've mentored all of these kids. Spending time with them, offering them advice and guidance where I can. 

I haven't had all the answers but I've been able to offer them a perspective that has challenged their preconceived ideas, the 'truthiness' of what academia has fed them and the exploitative practices peddled by weak-minded businesses.


Because I'm a father before anything, and one day my own children will be seeking work within an industry; and I hope that industry is filled with capable, purposeful leaders who support, respect and value them as people.  

Amongst all of this, I also field questions from more experienced people on how to become "a leader" in their career and I have an answer to this question, and it's short.

If you're asking yourself what you need to do, to become a leader — do this:

Mentor a young person who needs mentoring.

Don't exploit them. Mentor them.

Listen to them and provide value. 

Connect with them and then connect them to your network.

Offer them paid work when you have it. Don't offer it when you don't. 

Don't bullshit them and don't dangle carrots. 

Don't ask of them anything that devalues them but return value to them with everything you've come to know in your career.

When I first started this journal on March 1, 2016 — I asked myself "What have I learned in 26 years that someone who has been in the industry for 26 minutes would value?".

The answer was between my ears.

I've been mentoring people since 2006 and it has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my career.

I hope you can share everything you know with those that value it most.

And here's Bill Gates with some advice via a 14-post Twitter thread, that's so much better than mine: