Get ready for a new generation of young, bold innovators. I’m talking about an elite group of corporate professionals, entrepreneurs, and inventors, between the ages of 21 and 35, already making their presence felt in global business. These men and women are quickly becoming a transformative force, applying novel ideas, fresh approaches, and technological know-how to solve today’s business challenges and, in the process, change the way we work, communicate, consume, live, and play. More than ever, industry needs young people who are not bound by convention to find the next invention. It was that identification of fearless, creative, and energetic achievers that spawned “BE Next”—an apt tag that defines not only our latest editorial franchise but those leading the movement that will reconstruct the business landscape.
I urge established business leaders, like many of you, to fully harvest this bumper crop of talent. Why? Their strong entrepreneurial bent can help companies, large and small, stay competitive. They’re children of the digital era, attuned to the Internet and social media as powerful, inventive means of communication and information-gathering. Moreover, they’re not tied to outdated modes of operation. So whether you’re an entrepreneur or senior manager, you don’t want to overlook a valuable asset to your employee or vendor pools—regardless of age.
Too often, older executives and entrepreneurs—even some of my business peers—have been rather dismissive of young professionals. Many have the tendency to silence these voices, ignore potential contributions, and snuff out enthusiasm, maintaining that the under-35 crowd hasn’t sufficiently paid dues. Facing relentless competitive forces on a daily basis, companies must be receptive to individuals and concepts that will give them a much-needed edge. In fact, I have found that young blood serves to replenish companies by pumping them with a much-needed infusion of passion and energy.
Identifying and tapping the value of young talent has been one of the hallmarks of black enterprise throughout the four decades of our existence. This philosophy has been demonstrated in the presentation of content in our magazine, at our events, on our television shows, and Website. For example, it was be that discovered a young Wall Street attorney in the 1970s who would eventually develop into a dealmaker nonpareil orchestrating one of the largest global business transactions in history and, as a result, creating the first black-owned company to gross $2 billion. That man was