You've heard of the 30 Under 30 list, right? You know, that list of the year's best and brightest young entrepreneurs. Well when it comes to Generation Z (the generation after the Millennials), we may need to compile a "10 under 10″ list. The first contender would be Abi Smithson, the successful 10 year old CEO of Love Sandal. You read that right. 10 years old and already the CEO of a successful shoe company which gives 10% of net proceeds to Sick Kids Foundation. "Love Sandal is about inspiring and empowering women and young entrepreneurs" says Abi Smithson. Bright, successful, generous, inspirational, forward thinking, entrepreneurial and still in the 5th grade. Seriously!
I learned about Abi Smithson from another successful Gen Z leader named Kelly Lovell, who at 18 years old, decided to share her teen struggles to a theater filled with 7,000 people. This kicked off her successful career in motivational speaking (including Kelly Lovell's TEDx talk) and becoming CEO of 4 successful startups, along with earning her a designation as one of Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Woman ... at age 21!
"My goal is to empower the voice of my peers," Kelly Lovell told me in our interview this week. "I believe today's youth are a change generation and we should consider their voice in boardrooms of corporate America." Kelly Lovell believes that now more than ever, companies need a good dose of optimism and the fresh perspective young innovators bring to the table. Today's youth are growing up with unprecedented access to the sum total of human knowledge combined with a stark absence of a fear of failure which just isn't a driving force in Generation Z.
"I am grateful for those who tell me what I'm doing is too ambitious or impossible," Kelly Lovell says in her TEDx talk. "People tell me that I should give up, I am too young or don't have the resources to bring my ideas to life. It is these people who have given me an unwavering drive to succeed." And given Kelly Lovell's passion and drive, she has become one of North America's top Youth Experts and a critical resource for Fortune 500s to gain keen insights on what motivates and drives Generation Z (and their predecessors, Millennials). Here are some of Kelly Lovell's observations on motivational drivers for Generation Z:
When discussing some of these themes, I asked Kelly Lovell how these themes differ from the passion points that motivate Millennials, to which she replied, "Every generation has key drivers, but each successive generation is more open to accepting and embracing these traits. Millennials are also driven, but Generation Z is more extreme and doing incredible things at an even earlier age."
Kelly Lovell should know. She runs four businesses targeted at youth, reaches hundreds of thousands as a motivational speaker and interviews incredible examples from her generation on her show "YOU Effect."
You can gain more key youth insights from Kelly by following @kellyalovell on Twitter or learn more about Kelly's work at http://www.kellyalovell.com/ where you will also find one of her TEDx talks, Stop listening to the No's. We are just starting to get a sense of the incredible minds that are shaping Generation Z. If Abi Smithson and Kelly Lovell are any indication of what's to come, our collective future looks incredibly bright.