ARE WE ALL GENERATION Z NOW?
If your first reaction to that question is “the who, what?” then read on, because Generation Z (‘Gen Z’) are now your customers, your employees and also some of the most exciting entrepreneurs and changemakers around. Think Greta Thunberg, Billie Eilish, Desmond Napoles (okay, I googled the last one).
Gen Z are defined as people born between the mid to late 1990s and 2010. Half of them are already adults and the remainder will reach adulthood before this decade ends, and unlike their millennial cousins and parents (yes you heard me right, some millennials are fast approaching 40) Gen Z are digital natives.
It’s not just that they had a computer from an early age, this cohort have never had a mobile that couldn’t access the internet. They can’t remember a world without social networks and the younger ones don’t remember TV that wasn’t streamed.
Millennials were born in a period of economic prosperity and are regarded as being more oriented towards the ‘self’ and less accepting of diverse views. Gen Z are radically inclusive. They believe in resolving conflicts through dialogue rather than confrontation. These are not the teenage rebels of yore, they drink less, take drugs less, have sex less and go ‘out-out’ less. They already have all the experiences they could want at the touch of an icon on the small screen in the palm of their hand. Their rebellion is against narrow, singular ways of defining the self – they recognize and embrace the multi-faceted nature of the human experience.
But despite their propensity for multi-screen, always on, immediate communication, Gen Z crave face-to-face interaction. And this desire is driven by their search for truth, intimacy and authenticity. However unlike older generations, Gen Z see no distinction between their online and offline selves. Whilst we might default to a catch-up over a cappuccino, Gen Z are as comfortable finding out the ’T’ over a cold brew coffee as they are over real time channels like Snapchat or FaceTime. Their channels of choice replicate face-to-face interaction. Once our catch-up over coffee ends – it’s gone, and if you weren’t there then you missed it. Chatting over Snapchat or FaceTime is the same, it’s more like the experience of being physically present with someone and it encourages the same intimate sharing of experience.
In some senses then our means of communication during lockdown have turned us all into GenZ –we may have our preferred methods but we have all become a lot more comfortable with online face to face communication. My 85 year old mum is as happy as my 18 year old playing board games on our daily video call; I can see the friends I never have time to ‘see-see’ on a four-way WhatsApp video call; and I can raise a birthday toast over Zoom with a good friend many miles away.
I’m not saying communications will be transformed by Covid-19, but it will have altered how some groups communicate and understanding that will be essential to how we communicate in the ‘new normal’.
That’s why we spend so much time on understanding your audience in Actually’s ‘How to actually spread the word’ online training course and we explore what communications channels they use and how to create compelling content for those channels.
To book your place on the next ‘How to actually spread the word’ course, email: email@example.com
To make sure you are in the loop and get notifications of all our training, including our free Masterclasses, please join the Actually Community.
Join me next time to learn all about the ‘AA generation’…
Let’s ACTUALLY make a difference!
YOU HAVE MARKETING SUPERPOWERS®
You’re not bad at promoting your business, you’re just trying to do it in a way that doesn’t work for you.
Find out what your MARKETING SUPERPOWERS ® are and start communicating with your audience in a way that resonates with them & feels comfortable, authentic and natural for YOU.
Phew! Doesn’t that sounds awesome?
week I wrote a newsletter that caused more people to unsubscribe from my list than almost anything I have ever written before. I'm not concerned - clearly they are not my people - but I thought I'd share it here so you can tell me: would this cause YOU to unsubscribe?
"Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels."
I remember the first time I heard that quote.
I was in my teens. I laughed.
Then as I began to think seriously about my career, my Mum explained to me that to be a successful career woman meant working twice as hard as a man to be considered half as good (and paid half as much).
I was in my early twenties. I thought she was exaggerating.
After I burnt out for the second time, I went to a conference and listened to a passionate and eloquent woman - who has subsequently become a great friend - explain something that should have been utterly obvious to me: that our entire cultural paradigm is based on structures set up by men and for men.
I was in my forties. And I cried.
Because it is exhausting having to don your Superwoman cape every day to ‘compete’ in the workplace.
As a single woman, I didn’t have to juggle work with family.
As a white, middle-class, cis-gendered, heterosexual and mainly able-bodied woman, I wasn’t dealing with the raft of intersectional prejudices beyond your average, everyday sexism.
But I was still exhausted.
And it wasn’t just because the systems that we work within weren’t designed for women but for men who had stay-at-home wives doing all of the work in the home.
It’s because for me - as for so many women - every day was and is a balancing act.
Every day is a tightrope walk between safety and danger; between being listened to and dismissed; between familiarity and harassment; between authenticity and playing the game.
Every day is a fight to be seen, to be heard, to be respected, to be autonomous, to be considered, to be valued, to be safe.
In the workplace, in our social spaces, in our homes, in our politics, in our media.
This week my friend and client Harriet Waley-Cohen shared a post about this on LinkedIn. I’m going to share a section of her post here because she has put this so much more eloquently than I could:
"Sometimes it amazes me that there isn't a massive uprising.
Women are fed up of being objectified and judged on our looks, and only respected by how fu*&able we are deemed to be.
We are exhausted by feeling unsafe everywhere we go and watching our backs.
We are exasperated with not being paid the same, of our careers, choices and finances being marginalised because of caring expectations.
We are in despair about our allegations against powerful men being ignored because these men are too valuable to be held to account.
We are done with being told our tone of voice is the bloody problem, that we are too emotional.
We have had enough of not being able to trust the police or the legal system, and of people saying 'innocent until proven guilty' when the stats for prosecutions are laughably low and we all know most rapists never face any real consequences.
We are fed up of being told that it's not all men, because we never said it was, and it hurts to see so few men actively working towards making things better."
There has been an outpouring of grief, support and righteous anger in the comments on Harriet’s post. Of course there has. Because this is nearly every woman’s lived experience. And it is not OK.
I have written about these issues before in this newsletter. In the wake of the Sarah Everard murder and after the US Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade. And there’s a part of me that didn’t want to write about this again. A part of me was concerned that you - my wonderful community - would grow bored of me ‘ranting on’ about this issue. A part of me that feared being judged or dismissed.
And that’s exhausting too, right?
The constant self-censorship. The constant voice in my head telling me that I can’t say this, shouldn’t write about that, mustn’t be too emotional, too strident, too ‘shouty’.
Well, in the nicest possible sense: f*&k that.
I am in my fifties now and as tired as some people may be of hearing me talk about these things, trust me I am WAY more tired of still having to talk about them. But until there is equity, it is up to every one of us to keep ‘banging on’.
And we need to do more than rant, we need to ACT.
Because here’s the thing, whatever your gender, you can either be an ally or you can be complicit in the problem. Please choose to be an ally. Here are three things you can do:
- Support people like Harriet when they share publicly about these issues. This kind of content often attracts trolls and the ‘not all men’ brigade - and it can be overwhelming to have to do all the rebuttal yourself. Another friend and client - the fabulous Stephanie Aitken, also did a post this week on a related topic and spent many hours having to deal with trolls in the comments. Help them.
- Call out misogyny, sexism, harassment, prejudice and bigotry when you see it - and when you feel safe to do so. I’m not advocating that you intervene when doing so would put you in real physical danger. But if a colleague makes an off-colour remark; if a family member behaves in a way that is inappropriate; if a friend displays ignorance, aggression or bias: name it. Don’t just smile and secretly roll your eyes. Don’t dismiss it. Don’t be afraid to be ‘awkward’. Have the conversation.
- Engage the next generation. Several of the commenters on Harriet’s post talked about children watching violent porn. They shared stories of how boys’ attitudes to girls are in some cases worse now than they were when I was a teen. The murder of Elianne Andam this week makes it clear just how important it is to speak to our children about these issues. Talk to the young people in your life. Find out about their experiences. Give them a safe space to explore these issues. And educate them about respect and equity. If we are going to break this cycle, this is VITAL work. Don’t shy away from it.
There is so much more that we could all be doing but this would be an amazing start!
OK. Rant over, for today.
I’m not promising I won’t come back to this again.
My most fervent wish is that there will come a day when it won’t be necessary.
I hope to see that day in my lifetime.
My biggest fear is that I will not.
I think that will do for now - I do hope it has been helpful!