This generation has seen the carnage greed can cause.
What child of the Reagan Era doesn’t remember Gordon Gekko’s address to Teldar Paper Stockholders in the film,”Wall Street.” As Michael Douglas’s character so poignantly asserted, “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind.”
Well, as a former greedy SOB, I can tell you this logic is inherently flawed (especially in our current society). John F. Kennedy got us thinking “a rising tide lifts all boats”, but we’ve deviated from that spirit (until recently.) President Kennedy’s vision was the more we help others, the more we actually help ourselves. I’ve experienced this personally (if you’ve got 18-minutes to spare, you can learn more in my TEDx Talk, “How to Walk Through Hell with a Smile on Your Face”)
Let’s examine Greed from Gekko’s perspective.
Greed is good? Greed is right? It motivates humankind forward? I’m going to need some deeper explanation, Mr. Gekko. In my experience, greed leads people to lie, cheat, and steal. Greed provides us with dishonest leaders and horrible corporate citizens. That’s ginchy for them, but what’s in it for us; the other 99 percent of the planet trying to make it through to payday? Greed leads us to poisoned water, bilked consumers, and wood in our Parmesan cheese (just watched an NBC News report- scarred for life.)
So, greed kinda sucks (in the end.) Sure, you can become more profitable by screwing people over, but in the era of communication, it’s a death sentence. Not only will it dilute your brand, it costs you resources (and ultimately, revenue.) People want to work with purpose, and not the purpose of lining their bosses pockets with money. They want to change the world; especially Millennials.
This generation has seen the carnage greed can cause. The financial collapse, rampant foreclosures and layoffs, skyrocketing education costs, Subway raising their prices to $6 for a hoagie – mass hysteria. In my view, Millennials take an entrepreneurial approach to life. They saw getting a degree, buying the car and the home, working 40 to 50 hours with no palpable job security sucks. So, they want to do things differently. They want a life of abundance where they can enjoy themselves, make a difference, and leave this world in better shape than they found it. People paint these individuals as unmotivated, but nothing could be further from the truth. Millennials are motivated, they’re just not charged-up about the things myopic thinkers and old fogies cling to.
As for me and the tribe I surround myself with, greed doesn’t get us out of bed in the morning. Greed doesn’t encourage us to take entrepreneurial risks. What does? Solving problems! And Lord knows we’ve got plenty of those. The silver lining is Millennials – a generation of ‘doers’ not beholden to a philosophy of “that’s how we’ve always done things.” They are the murderers of greed, and I for one give them a full pardon for their dastardly acts.