Risk Insider: Jack Hampton

Millennial Optimism

By: | June 27, 2017 • 3 min read
John (Jack) Hampton is a Professor of Business at St. Peter’s University and a former Executive Director of the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS). His recent book deals with risk management in higher education: "Culture, Intricacies, and Obsessions in Higher Education — Why Colleges and Universities are Struggling to Deliver the Goods." His website is www.jackhampton.com.

If you are between the ages of 13 and 35, you are a “millennial.” Don’t be embarrassed to admit it.

Sure, they say you don’t know anything about politics or money and you don’t read newspapers. You’re lazy, even as you think you’re smarter than everyone else. The United States is losing its edge and you are the cause.

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Dominik and Jan respectfully beg to differ with this description of their generation.

Dominik just graduated from high school with plans to take a “gap year” before starting a college program in computer engineering.

For him, high school was not all that interesting. The subjects taught in traditional classrooms prepared him for standardized exams but he does not really understand why that was important. He basically taught himself, helped by a few friends, to learn about things that he really wanted to know.

Take, for example, cryptocurrencies. At age 17, he’s not entirely sure that the bitcoin is the way to go. Using his smart phone, he will show you the code to open his digital wallet, but only briefly, explaining that he will not allow someone enough time to memorize it. Good risk management.

Knowing the technical skills their generation brings to the table have largely developed as a result of their own energy, Dominik and Jan are participating in or even leading a revolution.

I saw the code. It is something like 2BF46KW3EM539QZG46NX93. I do not remember it exactly.

Dominik got no help from his teachers when he started building a half-finished phone “app” to calculate the statistics of a baseball game as events occur. When the game finishes, the app will provide a complete picture of who did what and when and how often.

Jan, his older brother, is a sophomore in college. Also interested in computer engineering, he reports getting little help from professors. “I learn this stuff from the other kids.” By his estimate, Asian, Indian, and other foreign students make up about 60 percent of the student body. Jan fits right in with them.

Jan wants practical experience. He is spending the summer writing software for his father’s high-tech manufacturing firm. The company employs industrial robots, some of the two million of them in the United States. Jan is customizing his father’s robots to fit local needs. Doing so will improve efficiency, lower costs, and eliminate jobs.

Do either of these young millennials worry about what they are missing from the past? Not really.

They never typed or mailed letters, pursued jobs from classified newspaper ads, or bought music at Tower Records.

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They ignore the criticism that they don’t read books but do send text messages while teachers drone on in large lecture halls.

Are they concerned about allegations that their generation will cause the demise of American civilization as we know it? They don’t care.

Knowing the technical skills their generation brings to the table have largely developed as a result of their own energy, Dominik and Jan are participating in or even leading a revolution.

Their outcomes are not guaranteed. We can only hope Dominik does not get into trouble using his bitcoins for money laundering and Jan’s programming does not create robots that eliminate his own job.

Go for it guys!

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