The following is an excerpt from the book titled “Investing in the Impact Generation,” written by Bill Davis, CEO of Stance Capital. This is the first installment of a six-part series.
Attaching labels to generations is somewhat new, relatively informal, and has no real science behind it. Nonetheless it is fascinating, and makes a great deal of sense when you consider that people who come of age (teen through young adult) at specific times in history are shaped by the physical, social, economic, and political environments around them. Tom Brokaw coined the term The Greatest Generation to assign a label to the cohort of Americans that grew up in the Great Depression, fought in World War II, and went on to make America a dominant economic power. And in his book by the same name, he went on to characterize this generation’s greatness as a selfless conviction that fighting in World War II was simply “the right thing to do”.
Since then we’ve had Baby Boomers, Gen Xers (sometimes known as the Latchkey or MTV Generation), Gen Yers (Millennials) and Gen Zers, some of whom are still in high school. Each of these groups has defining characteristics, and of course these characteristics are inextricably shaped by what has come before them. Baby Boomers have been defined as competitive, self-assured, and goal oriented. And why wouldn’t they be? They inherited an expanding economy and global authority.
Their Gen X and Millennial children, on the other hand, inherited dramatic and growing wealth inequality, environmental degradation, mountains of student debt, and the Great Recession. Perhaps nowhere is the generational linkage better defined than with Gen Z. In a nation with seven million assault weapons in the hands of literally everyone who wants one, is it any wonder that this generation may well be defined by the #neveragain movement considering the fear of senseless gun violence that faces these kids every day?
While it might be tough to top the “greatest” generation, I believe Millennials will do just that. Historians will know Millennials as “The Impact Generation”, and this chapter will demonstrate why this is their destiny. Their future will be driven by a combination of their unique values and worldview, unparalleled access to information and the tools to use it, sheer size (nearly 80 million members), and an estimated $24 trillion of accessible wealth by 2024.