Forbes’ CEO on What Millennials Really Want



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Although conventional wisdom and primary results from this year’s U.S. Presidential election indicate that Bernie Sanders has attracted a major segment of a disaffected millennial generation, one fact stands out in Forbes’ recent survey of nearly 500 American entrepreneurs under 30: — the vast majority still believe in the possibilities and opportunities expressed in “The American Dream.”

To one-third of the recipients, that meant “owning their own company some day.” A surprising percentage even declared they wanted “to become incredibly wealthy.”

Only a tiny fraction replied that they still lived with their parents and an imposing 80 percent disclosed that they were active in community affairs. Virtually all remain totally optimistic, purpose-driven and highly entrepreneurial. They are also notably idealistic with nearly 50 percent asserting that their goal in life and career is “to change the world for the better.” By any measure, however, it would be hard to describe them as “revolutionary” or “radical” underscored by the fact that almost all fell into the category of “upward mobile.”

Yes, young people want change in many areas of their lives today, but they are not mounting any barricades and, in some instances, are more conservative than many of their elders. Our survey suggests that they still uphold all the basic tenets of democratic capitalism that have made this nation exceptional for well over two centuries.

In many ways, as a demographic group, the Forbes millennials mirror current popular trends. For example, some 79 percent in our survey underscored the current national move towards urbanization, affirming that they now live in or plan to live in cities rather than rural or small town localities. Asked what are the “biggest challenges facing the world today,” their responses were almost equally divided. Twenty-seven percent replied global warming; 24 percent stated terrorism and 22 percent said the economy and future recession.

Avid users of social media, Facebook, by far, is their No. 1 choice for posting content, followed by Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and SnapChat. Video clips, primarily news segments, are overwhelmingly their favorite smartphone content. It’s noteworthy that more than half said they did not pay for access to TV on their television sets or the Internet. Citing The New York Times and CNN among the top five most preferred news publishers, some 67 percent replied they still got most of their news directly from trusted web sites.

Whatever conclusions one may draw from the scores of responses we received, one fact appears inarguable: young people today want to continue working within the system they grew up in only “make it better.”

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