An Open Letter to Digital Natives

Dear Digital Native,

How fortunate that you were born with these all these technologies, technologies that we could have only imagined. The Internet and the technologies you use to reach it and communicate have changed the world like nothing else in a Century or more, and we are just getting started.

Let’s outline a few responsibilities you have as a condition of being born in this time, and let’s also look at some of the challenges you face.

Go Create: You have access now to tools that creators in the past could have only dreamed of. The Beatles didn’t have access to the recording equipment you can buy for a few thousand dollars. Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese didn’t have access to capture video as cheaply or as easily as you do now. Lorne Michaels didn’t have the ability to shoot sketch comedy as easily as you can now. There is nothing stopping you from creating. There is nothing stopping you from expressing yourself in whatever way works best for you.

Market Yourself: No one before you has had greater access to the global marketplace at such a low cost. Literally, you can sell whatever you decide to offer to anyone anywhere on Earth. Because you can so easily communicate with people from around the world, you can offer services to people who live in far away places, creating value for the exact people who need you. To succeed in business, you will need to learn to capture the attention of the people who would benefit from your offering, and you are going to need to learn to sell.

Develop Real Human Relationships: You have already spent too much time behind the screen. While you were communicating with people over your gaming platform, like Xbox, we were in the street with our friends from the time the Sun came up until our parents forced us to come inside. For us, there was nothing to do inside. For you, there is nothing to do outside. The difference is that we developed deep human relationships and people skills, and you haven’t developed these skills to the same level. You aren’t as comfortable in your own skin. You don’t look people in the eyes. You aren’t as confident dealing with difficult people. You are going to have to come out from behind the screen and get uncomfortable until you have some chops.

Be A Force for Good: You can use the tools that have been here since your birth to do good. You can use them to help people, to build them up, to make a difference. Many of the people that have come before you believe that these tools are a place to spread fear and hate. They believe that the social networks are a place to share their political opinions, not recognizing that they are not making a difference, but that their energies directed in some other way could produce real change. You have a chance to do good. Do it.

Create Real Wealth: You are growing up in an age where people have a strong misunderstanding about building a business. There are many, especially in the technology space, who believe that you create a business so investors can fund a project that you will flip for billions of dollars. In your lifetime you are going to more than a few stories where this will be true. But you don’t start a busy to gain investments from venture capital firms or angel investors, and you don’t start a business just to flip it. The real path to wealth is to create a business that serves a customer so well that you can grow that business over time. Build something that you will be proud of, and don’t dabble around the edges.

You were given the tools and the opportunity to make a difference. Take this opportunity and do good work.

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