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Thank You For Being Young

Thank You For Being Young

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Thank You For Being Young

Longitud:
162 página
2 horas
Editorial:
Publicado:
Oct 7, 2011
ISBN:
9780984701605
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

A venture capital executive draws on a wide variety of business, government, and societal trends to illustrate how most major challenges facing younger adults are exacerbated by age biases. 2011 eLit award winner.

Kirkus Review:

Venture capital investor Lerner calls attention to the alarmingly prevalent, counter-productive discrimination that thwarts young adults in the United States from making their mark on the culture.

It’s Lerner's desire to right a somewhat inconspicuous but pernicious, sweeping wrong: Young adults, say in the age range of 18 to their mid-30s, do not have nearly the same opportunities as older adults, which "is unfair, unjustified, and unsustainable, and therefore discriminatory." (That discrimination is even written into the Constitution; witness the age requirements for various offices.) Adding to the young adults' problematical situation, adults who are upwards of 40 years old have used their baseless entitlement to take a myopically short-term approach to their political, fiscal and social responsibilities—from natural resource depletion to issues of public debt, infrastructure and healthcare—which are then fobbed off on young adults to handle. Lerner can get a little hot under the collar when addressing the more egregious, mean-spirited acts perpetrated by oldsters, and the fumes add a nice acrid bite to the proceedings. But mostly he has plain-spoken commonsense, backed by a thoughtful array of statistics, on his side as he asks that if we are going to demand that 18-year-olds are adults, they must be given a fair, equal shot at tapping into the many great potential benefits that come with those responsibilities. Lerner presents all the roadblocks young adults find as they pursue careers in medicine, law, academia and the corporate world—"[p]romotions do not come quickly when there are layers of older mid-level executives clamoring for the executive suite," especially when seniority is the measure of all things—as well as plenty of instances in which youth trumped age in thoughtful decision-making. Most of all, he makes the case for the youthful qualities of risk, thinking big and embracing innovation as a boon for the greater commonweal, and the importance of high-quality jobs being available, through merit, to young adults.

Spirited and grounded, Lerner's condemnation of the institutional nature of youth discrimination and plea for fairness is, quite simply, right on.

Editorial:
Publicado:
Oct 7, 2011
ISBN:
9780984701605
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Andrew Lerner is the Managing Partner of Inter-Atlantic Group, a New York-based venture capital firm.

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Thank You For Being Young - Andrew Lerner

Thank You For Being Young

So We Can Dump Our Problems On You!

Younger Adult Age Discrimination in the United States

Andrew Lerner

Copyright © 2011 Andrew Lerner

Smashwords Edition

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. Please do not participate in or encourage the piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

Written in support of the

Workplace Initiatives Campaign

of the

National Youth Rights Association

YouthRights.org

Facebook.com/YouthRights

@youthrights

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1: What Are Your Greatest Challenges? And Why?

Chapter 2: Younger Adults Are Second-Class Adults

Chapter 3: Age Discrimination

Chapter 4: Older Adults

Chapter 5: Reaching Adulthood

Chapter 6: Race, Sex and Age

Chapter 7: Government Policies

Chapter 8: The Workplace

Chapter 9: The Best and the Brightest: Low-rung Employee or Entrepreneurial CEO?

Chapter 10: Your Government

Chapter 11: Assessing Younger Adults

Chapter 12: I Paid My Dues

Chapter 13: Behind Workplace Barriers

Chapter 14: Breaking the Cycle

Chapter 15: Action

About the Author

Children = persons under 18 years old

Adults = persons at least 18 years old

YAs = younger adults, who do not enjoy full legal rights

(Exact age depends on context. For example, when referring to The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, YAs are 18-39 years old.)

OAs = older adults, in their 40s and older (including the elderly), who enjoy full legal rights

Introduction

Every day, brilliant younger adults (YAs) walk into my office. Hundreds of times a year, they give polished and thoughtful presentations to me. These YAs are extraordinarily impressive. Their intelligence, dedication, and ambition are unsurpassed. They are graduates (or occasionally dropouts) of the best U.S. and international universities. Although younger than most accomplished executives, they are often among the leaders in their specialized fields. These YAs are the best of the best, among the most capable individuals in America. I almost always turn them down.

I run a venture capital firm in New York City. My job is to identify and bankroll the best emerging entrepreneurs in America. I consider hundreds of possible companies for investment, but I have the bandwidth to invest in only a few per year. While I am forced to turn down about 99 percent of the companies that approach my firm, I am almost always impressed by the YAs I meet. They amount to a tiny fraction of the population, but they are making a huge impact. It's hard to think of a similar-sized group of individuals that is changing the world as much as YA entrepreneurs are.

Most start-ups fail, but the minority that do succeed really can change the world. And companies that do not succeed financially are often successes in terms of technology and innovation. The stories of venture-backed companies such as Google and Apple are legendary. One flourishing company will hire more people than nine failed start-ups will let go. One company with revolutionary technology will impact lives worldwide, while others that come up short will hardly be missed. And one skyrocketing initial public offering will make my investors forget about a few write-offs.

But why do the majority of start-ups fail? Many of these financially unsuccessful companies are staffed by incredibly bright YAs with fantastic business plans. They all have (or hope to have) a better mousetrap: a new product or service that is faster, easier, or cheaper than the competition’s. They are certain their new mousetrap will revolutionize the industry, and often their vision is correct. YA entrepreneurs are ready and willing to change established paradigms. Often, the answer to why they fail is simply because sometimes the world around them does not change quickly enough.

Virtually every new entrant, successful or not, underestimates how hard it is to change the status quo. Governments, companies, and individuals are set in their ways. Powerful people view change as an existential threat. If a start-up develops a product so efficient that it will enable a large company to reduce its headcount by 50 people, how will those 50 people feel about buying the product from the start-up? If the dishwasher did not exist and you invented one today, there would be a rag manufacturer or a dish washers union somewhere trying to kill your new company.

New entrants will always face hurdles in trying to change the status quo. Even the most successful venture-backed companies have war stories about the roadblocks that were thrown up in their path to success. A start-up needs to work twice as hard as an established company to break into an industry. A better mousetrap will only take a new entrant so far. A young company needs relationships with distributors, suppliers, customers, unions, regulators, and bankers, to name a few. Merit alone is insufficient—a new entrant needs connections.

YOU, a younger adult, are the ultimate new entrant. New to the workforce and not well connected, you face enormous challenges in taking on the protectors of the status quo. Older adults have created formidable roadblocks on your path to a well-paid job, attractive benefits, and reasonable taxes. If you believe that older adults are willing to make sacrifices to accommodate you into the workforce, you are sadly mistaken.

About You (If I Had to Guess)

You are an intelligent younger adult. Perhaps you’re in college or just starting your career. You aspire to have a great job, but are worried about an economy that has significant numbers of unemployed and underemployed. Down the road you would like to be able to count on your government for healthcare and retirement, but the overhang of trillions of dollars of government debt makes you uneasy. For you, a strong economy over the next few decades is a priority. You believe in public purpose investments in education, infrastructure, and research, but you notice that others are loath to pay for anything that does not offer short-term rewards.

You find discrimination abhorrent. You firmly believe that people should be judged by the choices they have made in life, not the circumstances of their birth. You’re bothered that America has a legacy of racial and gender discrimination, but at the same time you realize how much progress the country has made in 200 years. You are also acutely aware that, while no longer permitted by law, racial and gender discrimination exists every day in the United States. You may also be concerned about other types of discrimination, such as that based on religion, sexual orientation, appearance, and possibly age.

What you may not realize is that you too are a victim of discrimination. While inherently different from other types of discrimination, age discrimination against younger adults is pervasive throughout the workplace and across American society. It’s a problem that has exacerbated your generation’s most intractable challenges.

About My Objectives

It would be easier to write about a problem that everyone already acknowledges exists. The challenge is to write about the ramifications of a problem that many don’t even view as a problem. So, my goal is threefold. To convey the indisputable fact that younger adults do not have nearly the same rights and privileges as older adults, especially in the workplace. To persuade you that a disparity in rights and privileges between younger adults and older adults is unfair, unjustified, and unsustainable, and therefore discriminatory. And to connect the dots between a society that discriminates against its younger citizens and a society that dumps its problems on those younger citizens.

By focusing solely on age discrimination against YAs, I do not intend to marginalize other types of discrimination. Discrimination based on older age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, and countless other factors is all too commonplace. However, long-term trends generally seem to be moving in the right direction in countering these other forms of discrimination, at least legally and officially. And each of these groups that is discriminated against has a voice in the American political process. Some groups are particularly powerful, such as older people. YAs, however, stand out as particularly marginalized. For example, Congress welcomes female, African American, Asian American, Native American, gay, disabled, Jewish, and Muslim members, but prohibits Americans under 25 years old.

Age is the final frontier of legal discrimination. My intent here is not to imply that U.S. laws are free of all other types of discrimination. Gay marriage, for example, is a topical issue that illustrates how the country still grapples with laws that many view as discriminatory. But laws that prohibit gay marriage are being actively contested and have the possibility of being chipped away on a state-by-state basis. Discrimination against you, on the other hand, is unique, because it is enshrined in the Constitution. It has become an unassailable part of the legal system. No one disputes that workplace discrimination against YAs is currently legal. It is truly the last legal form of discrimination.

About Me

I was born in 1965. While I am an advocate for YAs, I am as guilty as anyone else of judging people by their age. In the 1980s as a high school and college student, it became clear to me that individual responsibility and societal rights did not go hand in hand. Too many OAs were making poor choices in life, while my underage friends and I were capable of making responsible decisions but were not given the opportunity to do so. We were far from perfect, but by any objective measure, my close friends and I were more responsible than millions of OAs. We were not old enough to vote, but we were capable of making more thoughtful electoral decisions that many OAs. Our high school discussions about the candidates focused on real substance, while much of the country was talking about the candidates' physical appearance. We were not old enough to enter a bar, but we would not have made the decision to drive after drinking.

My friends and I were more responsible than the average teenager, and that is exactly the point. At any given age, some people are better citizens than others. This is a fundamental reason why age-based laws are unfair: one size does not fit all.

Today, I have the privilege of being affiliated with the National Youth Rights Association (youthrights.org), a nonprofit advocacy organization that fights for the civil rights of high school students and YAs. However, when I was a teenager, my interest in this subject was clearly self-serving. I wanted to enjoy the rights and privileges of an adult, so it was hard for me to separate my genuine concern for YA rights from a preoccupation with my own interests. So other than sending a few letters to government officials (sorry, Governor Kean, for that unfairly personal and strident letter), I was hesitant to speak out on the issue of YA rights, fearing that I would be dismissed as having selfish motivations. I grew older and eventually enjoyed the full privileges of a middle-aged adult. Fortuitously, I entered a profession where I meet the most incredibly smart and talented YAs. My job as a venture capitalist involves empowering YAs and helping them succeed in the workplace against long odds. Hopefully, in some small way, I will be able to empower you and help you

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