What’s Your Story?: Jason Dorsey
The author, speaker, and chief strategy officer at the Center for Generational Kinetics — who will be presenting a PCMA Convene-sponsored keynote session at DMAI’s Annual Convention this month — explains how he came to be known as the Gen Y Guy.
It was unintentional but it’s been inspiring ever since. When I was 18, I had a lot of job offers, and my friends, who were the same age as myself, didn’t. I really wanted to do something about that, so I wrote a book called Graduate to Your Perfect Job. And then the book became a big best-seller and a course in all these colleges across the country, and so I started speaking to people who were in Gen Y — my own generation — about how do you get great jobs, how do you get promoted, all those kinds of things. And that evolved into really large companies hiring me and saying, “Whoa, we hired your people! Their pants are falling off. They have an earring in their nose. Come help us! We don’t know what to do.”
And so it spread, and I began working with executives and managers on how do you really lead Gen Y in a multigenerational environment. There was a real challenge facing a lot of companies around, how do we best connect with and develop the talent of Gen Y within this broader context? The more that went along, I kept getting all this media attention, from “60 Minutes” and “20/20” and the “Today” show, as kind of the voice for Gen Y.
I grew up in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t fit in. I was constantly told what I couldn’t do. So I ended up going to college early, and while there, we had a guest speaker who helped me to see that my real passion was helping other people like myself who had challenging situations to make the most of it. It was really purpose-driven, in the sense I just wanted to help people my age overcome all the stuff that gets in our way.
When you look at, in particular, associations and events and the whole [meetings] industry, Gen Y does not feel an obligation to go to other industry events or optional association-type meetings. And this is both a threat to the industry and an opportunity. I’ve keynoted 100-some events a year, and they’re all struggling to attract and keep younger members. As the median age of members continues to increase, it makes it even more of a challenge to reach back and pull in those younger talented people. And you can do it, and it doesn’t cost a dollar extra. It’s just choosing to say, “we really want to make sure that we’re really relevant for each of these different generations.” .
— As told to Christopher Durso
For more information: jasondorsey.com
First published in PCMA's Convene Magazine. Click here