First, this book is nothing short of painful to read...in fact, it is nearly embarrassing at times. The author, a young "Millennial" as he likes to remind the reader at least once per paragraph, seems to truly believe the Millennial generation is of a totally different substance than any before in history. Ahh...the arrogance of youth.
To substantiate this claim, the author goes on to provide numerous examples of how he and his friends in high school put together a film festival, participated in elections and so forth.
The book skips around from high school film festivals to elections, social media to political elections again...it was all over the place. A few facts and stats were scattered about to show the rapid growth of new tech use and how it is concentrated among the younger generation....a conclusion that is more than just a little obvious for just as equally obvious reasons. In fact, that is one of the major problems with this book...it is so UNaware of the reason, cycles and systems behind all these (less than) "exciting" differences.
Next, the author makes a mistake which is all so very common to his generation...not understanding the difference between a business and a project. Throughout the book he cites "examples" of "innovative business" which is not a business whatsoever. It is a cause, it is a project, it might even be a wonderfully worthwhile undertaking but it is not a business. It doesn't make money, it uses up a lot of time but fails to generate revenue. Ironic since many recent IPO's into some of the best known Millennial owned corp's have taken a beating for the same reason...lots of hype, little substance. Very much like this book...
Lots of hype - little substance. In fact, the author seems blissfully unaware of how easily manipulated he/others seems to be; throughout the book there was one example after another which the author felt to be a bragging point but which would chill the blood of any free-thinking, creative individual from prior generations. That was perhaps the biggest 'take-away' of the entire book. If THIS is the future...heaven help us all.
The book is almost a series of essays into the trends and nature of the Millennial Generation, but it's not very balanced. The author does acknowledge some negatives in several areas, but very briefly. The book mostly seems to center around four ideas. 1. That the Millennial generation is far more awesome in every way than everyone thinks. 2. They are far more political than anyone thinks and all moving toward liberalism. 3. They are all about technology which is awesome because it will cure the world's ills. 4. That all of the problems of the world that this generation experiences will be solved through idealism and newly learned/acquired know-how as the generation adapts.
While the author does debunk some common generational stereotypes, he creates new ones (are there any Millennial CRIMINALS or other undesirables in this shining new "Fast Future"?) , perhaps simply out of sheer enthusiasm and idealism for his subject-matter. And while an in-depth discussion of what this generation needs to do to overcome the enormous problems plaguing the world would be welcome and interesting, blind faith rather than real answers is the message of this book (if I were writing such a book I would mention the need for new centers of power created by this generation, new leaders who inspire and push hard for change, etc, etc rather than just saying in effect "They will figure it out".
Likewise the potential negatives of technology, while very intelligently debated against, are almost not even considered. Yes, people are adapting to a world literally overrun with technology. Yes, they are developing shorter attention spans and a totally different set of social and behavioral skills to navigate this Information Age, but NO ONE can be sure that this will result in a better world. And many very strong negatives were glossed over that I feel should not have been (social isolation, Internet addiction, anger and hatred spread through technology, health problems caused by inactivity). The author would have done better to give these some serious consideration. My view of the negatives of technology? I'm picturing something more akin to the song "In the year 2525".
If you're looking for a Millennial view of Millennials, this is your book. The author is full of enthusiasm for his subject, you've got to give him that. And his knowledge is closer to the source than many of the people who write about generation issues for well-known news websites (I know because I've read a lot of the stories that he cites and wondered about their statements a bit).
I do have to say that it's nice to have some of those generational myths debunked (it should be obvious by now that all old people and all young people naturally feel some resentment toward each other justified or not simply because of a lack of understanding). And the light and breezy writing style of the author makes for a quick, enjoyable, read. If you are looking for more than an advertising brochure for the next generation that discusses the REAL problems (all government funding for education being slashed into oblivion, the 1% gobbling up all the money and resources and blaming everyone else for worldwide financial collapse, global warming causing worldwide climate shift, the end of oil dooming us all to starvation when it runs out, nuclear waste, a decline in birth-rate resulting in millions dying or being cared for by robots) look elsewhere.
Every generation likes to toot its own horn. Explain why it is better or at the very least, speaking as a GenXer myself, why it isn't doing as bad given the circumstances that it came from.
David D. Burstein's "Fast Future" is much like the latter in that he argues that the Millenials, those born in the 1980s and 1990s, are far more than how they've been sold. That they are more industrious and savvy regarding the circumstances and events that is shaping this particular generation.
Burstein uses many examples. Most revolve around the Internet which makes sense because as he points out, this is the generation that came of age as the Internet became common place to use.
But while Burstein is very good at giving a background of his generation, there was, for me, a bit too much of a cheerleader tone. Each generation has challenges in some form or fashion. Each generation slips and slides up and down the scale as it evolves.
So while I appreciate reading how Millenials (especially since my son is a Millenial) feel towards the world, Burstein's rah-rah was a bit off putting. Still, there is value in reading it and it was a very smooth and easy read.
on September 12, 2013
Burnstein writes what he wants us to think about millennials but I am not sure it fairly represents exactly what millennials are actually all about. Every generation thinks they are "the" generation, the answer to all of societies ills. Baby Boomers were much like the millennials Burnstein writes about. In fact change a few phrases and terms and insert Baby Boomers every time you see the word millennial and this book could have been written in 1976.
Burnstein in my opinion, as a millennial writing about millennials, cannot be objective. He is too close to be objective. Though his writings are filled with interviews and survey data it is skewed to making millennials out to be the answer to all our problems. As such it is a chore to work your way through the treatise.
Burnstein to easily dismisses any objection or criticism of millennials. He also has a one sided political position that limits this work.
I think it would be interesting to read what Burnstein has to say about this book twenty years from now. It is an informative work now but also a flawed work.
This is a very timely book, and is really useful for people in all disciplines, but especially marketing professionals. The author is an expect on the subject matter of today's newest consumers, disruptors, and workforce members. I found that it was somewhat fascinating, and helped me regain touch with the new mindset.
One thing I should caution you about though, is the book's overstating of the difference between the younger generations and the ones that came before them. The author lacks any historical context for his experiences and the experiences of his generation. You'll have to get past this significant flaw to the book before you'll be able to get all the potential benefit out of reading it.
If you can read it without getting hung up on its flaws, you will learn from this book. I recommend you read it with an open mind.
Many other reviewers have said it better than me, but I'll try to explain just how painful it is to read this book. As the author right points out, a discussion of millennials is entirely appropriate and interesting. They are the last generation to remember how things were "before" the age of everything being computerized, and the first to be comfortable with it. Managers and marketers both need to be cognizant of cultural differences in how millenials think. A book which focused on these differences could be important to write. Everything from their view on work/life balance to how they choose to communicate can differ from their Gen-X or Boomer co-workers. A book on these sociological difference should be written, but sadly, the author here failed to do so.
Instead, what we got was a book that acts as if youth is a new phenomenon, and no other generation before had youth who thought things could be different. Did the millenials invent youthful rebellion? The author would do well to study the 1960's, Romeo and Juliet, or even Pyramus and Thisby from Ancient Greece! The author acts like all idea of youth are important and valuable - has he ever heard of the Hitler Youth? Youth is neither novel nor is it necessarily positive, yet the author assumes both of these to be facts as he proceeds to write his book.
About all we can glean from the author is that millenials really like Barack Obama. In fact, the book makes it sound like the future of America's youth is working on political campaigns and making YouTube videos. He doesn't seem to recognize that even millennials who support the President do not base their entire worldview and lives around a political election, but to read this book, you would think every millenial was descended from James Carville and Mary Matalin - living and breathing nothing but politics.
As another reviewer pointed out, millenials live in a world of contradictions. Outwardly they believe in free exchange of information and distrust large institutions, but their political choices contradict their philosophical views. They claim to be entrepreneurial and inventive, but they also believe that the best solutions come from Washington and not themselves. The author himself misses this distinction, at one point grouping Michelle Bachman and Ron Paul together, noting both are "trying to get the youth vote like Obama". One need not support any of these candidates to note that the message of Bachman and that of Paul were radically different from either other, and Obama.
I would say the only use of this book is sadly unintentional - by reading its vapid hubris and sweeping statements on people born across a 20 year timespan, you may get to know that generation better. The Campaign for Liberty and the Tea Party were both heavily stocked with millenials - how do those millenials differ from those in Organizing for America/Occupy Wall Street? Once again, it would be a better book if it discussed it. At its heart, this book is a political consultant and documentary director living in New York City speaking for an entire generation. I would wager most millenials voted for the person who seemed cool and then went about their lives. Many likely went to college, got jobs, got married, and are working on developing their careers while building families. In other words, they aren't that different from Generation X or even Baby Boomers. As they age, they will mature. This book describes how young New York political consultants view the world, but hardly speaks for a generation. It will be quickly forgotten.
on May 9, 2013
There is much that I learned from _Fast Future_. Throughout, I found the writing to be accessible and, the style, fluid. As both an observer of and advocate for the Millennial generation, David Burstein makes a strong case for his cohort being in the vanguard of social and technological change. His second and third chapters are particularly strong and offer a font of useful information as well as a wellspring of insightful observations. At times, he assumes the role of Millennial defense attorney, although his is an assertive rather than defensive book. When and where necessary, he qualifies his sanguinity and strikes the right note of caution. I felt much better informed and optimistic about the often derided Millennials after reading _Fast Future_.
In this age of mounting inequality between haves and the have-nots, some might understandably focus on class inequality, rather than age cohort, as the great divide. Still, Burstein's argument is a compelling one. While the ruin of large swaths of America makes it difficult to remain buoyant, my encounter with _Fast Future_ leaves me feeling better rather than worse. This is a book that should be read by everybody with an interest in the young people who are, and will be, shaping our futures.
Thomas M. Grace
I'd think that the author might be the person who once informed me that it was my generation that messed everything up, but this happened some 20 years ago so he would be older than those in the millenium generation.
I wish the author and his generation all the luck in the world, but it's way too early in the game to guage what the millianist's accomplishments and failures will be. There's much to be said in favor of the enthusiasm of youth, but only time will tell.
This is interesting reading, but I don't recommend buying it because I doubt it's a book you'll want to keep and refer to in the future. And I hate to say this, but there really isn't very much of value here, so if you don't have time to read it, the loss is minimal.
I have no doubt that this review will accrue a lot of negative votes from millianists and I appreciate their optimism for their generation. I just hope it's accurate.
Who are the "Millennials," exactly? One definition is someone born in the 2nd Millennium who attained the age of 21 in the 3rd Millennium. But the author elects to focus on the subset that was "born between 1980 and 1994." Even with this narrower definition, there are more American Millennials than Boomers living today, and of course the margin will grow as the Boomers start dying off.
As the author informs us often enough, the Millennials are a rather marvelous and unique age cohort.
They are old enough to remember visiting libraries, etc. and they collectively experienced 9/11 as an event (not something told to them afterwards); they are young enough to have mastered cell phones, social media, etc. initially versus trying to learn them later, i.e., are digital natives versus digital immigrants.
They are currently having difficulty finding good paying jobs that will make full use of their educational credentials, have piled up big student loan balances, and in many cases have moved back in their parents while waiting for jobs to materialize. Yet many have proven adept in creating entrepreneurial roles for themselves (often of the nonprofit variety, with glorious exceptions like founding Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), and polls show they are more optimistic about the economic future and their place in it than older Americans tend to be.
They are idealistic, pragmatic, and group-oriented. They embrace a breakneck pace of change. They don't spend every waking moment supporting the causes they believe in, nor do they automatically turn out for rallies and such. Their efforts to change opinions and policies on the issues of the day, such as gay marriage or manmade climate change, fall under the heading of sustainable activism.
They get along with their parents (somewhat in contrast with earlier generations), and respect the opinions of their elders. However, they don't take information and opinions at face value - unless it is embraced by other Millennials. Thus, "a [web]site that has clout among our peers - that has been recommended by people we know personally and trust - will gain our own confidence quickly."
They tend to favor governmental solutions to economic and social issues, but don't have a high opinion of governmental institutions and disdain the gridlock in Washington. They do not gravitate towards political parties, but appreciate the importance of the electoral process. They expect the candidates to engage with them and ask for their vote. If well impressed, they will reward the candidate at the ballot box - as shown by the support they gave to Barack Obama in 2008 and - albeit with less enthusiasm - in 2012.
To me, as a member of an older generation, this recitation seems superficial and rather tiresome. Millennials are not the first generation to consider themselves superior to their predecessors, nor will they be the last. Also, some significant questions are not addressed. Why do Millennials favor a bigger government role, for example, if they are so innovative and entrepreneurial? What is the basis for their opinions about climate change and gay marriage? Are they simply representing what they were taught in school at an impressionable age, or did they actually research these issues and weigh the information and arguments on both sides?
And about that confidence in where things are headed, I see the Millennials as blissfully unaware that this country is headed for a very big fall.
That being said, the discussion is cogent, cites contrary views (if only to disagree with them), and has been reasonably well researched as indicated by scores of footnotes (including quite a few to Pew Research Center studies). If you belong to a different generation, expect to come away with a better understanding of the Millennial mindset.
on April 3, 2014
If you are tired of watching your 17 year old study until 2 am every night, ace his SAT's with a top 1% score, peer tutor his friends and neighbors, help the elderly become computer literate, and create a successful company from scratch only to be broadly accused of entitlement, laziness, and ignorance, read this book. Millennial's are not just savvy and entrepreneurial, they are resilient in the face of some of the nastiest criticism aimed at youth since the 60's. To all the haters out there who don't get Burstein's lucid perspective, well, I don't need to tell you to get over it. You'll retire soon enough and likely receive benefits from the very generation you've heaped criticism on.
Burstein proves that Millennials are not throwing away the past: his work is informed with the depth and breadth of a classical education. But his spin is utterly original and brimming with innovation. These kids are not idealists. They are visionary, savvy, and unbelievably motivated. Watch this gen. They are poised to clean up the mess we left them, and make the world a profoundly better place in the process, not just for themselves but everyone.