I have been researching and writing about our First Global Generation for most of this past decade. Americans born after 1979 fit the bill and I have said that HERE, HERE and HERE. These citizens of the planet Earth are just slightly less numerous than the Baby Boomer Generation (whom I call Woodstockers in my book.)
But today I am worried about a growing subset of First Globals - the CENGAs, i.e. college educated and not going anywhere. This nearly four year recession and general slowdown has taken its toll. I remember well the twenty-somethings who used to visit or write me looking not for a job at my company but the quickest path to becoming chief operating officer. Gone is a lot of that cockiness and it isn't simply that I miss it, I am thinking about all of the wasted human capital. These kids are well trained, enthusiastic, quick to solve problems and eager to network with fellow globals worldwide. They bring so much to the table: they are not steeped in my cohort's modus operandi of solving problems big and small: i.e. move it up the ladder and at some point it will just go away. They use their networks , grow them, nurture them, and believe in them. And they have made believers out of me.
But today they need help. Today, right away. The economy is missing them; management is missing them; the next great creative economy is being stalled in its formation because no candidate for president, neither political party, no church, no nothing are using their uncanny skills and energy.
At the same time, we are being offered choices between extreme austerity and tax cuts on one side and a huge outlay of government for stimulus and infrastructure on the other side. (Remember the election of 2000 when one candidate was giving "back" a projected $10 trillion surplus and the other was finding a way to spend as much of it as possible? That all went the way of the "projected " surplus.
But here is the reality: there is plenty of capital, approximately $2 trillion in private cash, that is just sitting there. And there are CENGAs who need to get started, who need to develop and hone their entrepreneurial skills so survive and thrive in the gig economy. So I see plenty of need combined with plenty of money.
So here is my proposal:
1. A Presidential Summit Among Corporate and Wall Street Leaders - only one agenda item. How much is it worth to you to develop America's highly talented next work force? He needs to extract promises from these leaders for actual amounts of money to be investment. The alternative? They watch their money stagnate and both the economy and human capital languish.
2. The Creation of America's First Global Citizens Fund - a huge fund is created to be managed by private equity and NGO professionals
3. The First Globals Network - President Obama is a genius at using networks and social media. In Africa and Asia, microloans are awarded and governed by village committees. Let First Global Citizens review proposals for new business and technical training loans. Good proposals that will allow young people to become business, social capital, or independent contractors will be reviewed, awarded and tweaked by this large social network. Awards can be small and mid-sized , in the form of cash or extensions on student loans. Paybacks can be made in cash or forgiveness on student loans.
All of this done by private equity and generated by presidential leadership. Add to that full support from both the Democrats and GOP because we all pledge allegiance to private equity. Besides, the stakes are too high. We need to all address our CENGA problem to prevent it from a longer term crisis.
Anyone out there have a better idea?