I just watched two documentaries on the Fyre Festival (one on NetFlix and one on Hulu). Both are very good. Each help explain the style over substance affliction that likely has affected all generations but which seems highly prevalent in the millennial generation and far more so in Generation Z
In discussing career paths with those under 30, I am often amazed by the disproportional focus on style over substance. Katie, a 23 year old from Milford, CT, relayed that she spent 6 hours a day – every day – on her Instagram account. “I have 3000 followers.” Katie posed in fashionable clothes as well as scantily clad outfits in different locations that showed her living in her words: a fabulous life. Pictures of Katie on the beach, at parties, at bars, at clubs, and traveling proliferated her page. At the time we met, Katie was living at home, having dropped out of college, and working part-time retail at a clothes shop. Not really fabulous. And, she was beginning to realize that her dreams of being Kendall Jenner (she has a mind blowing 84 million followers!) were likely not going to happen.
Indeed, Katie had not really embarked on the new career field of Social Influencer. This is a legitimate job/business for some. Most Social Influencers are already famous and then leverage their social media following for marketing contracts. Kendall Jenner was paid $250,000 for a single post to her followers to laud Fyre Festival. There are plenty of lesser known influencers, who are well known in certain niches, and they, too, can leverage their followers for marketing contracts. If Katie had wanted to pursue that path, we could have discussed creating a business building work plan. But it soon became clear that Katie was more focused on just looking great to a mass of mostly random people. She devoured the positive comments about her looks. But she also suffered when other posts were ignored. In either case, she had a 40 hour per week hobby and a 20 hour a week part time job that wasn’t leading anywhere.
Months before, Katie’s parents had contacted Career Counseling Connecticut because they knew she was floundering. Katie had initially resisted. But then she told her parents that her anxiety was becoming an issue and she realized it was because of the lack of her career.
Surprisingly, Katie listened to me when I discussed substance (career building skills which could include some of social media marketing skills that she demonstrated in building her following) over style (nothing to offer beyond pictures of herself looking good.). She left fired up and will be coming back for a strategy/tactical meeting soon.