Cross-posted to The Green Suits: Happy after Labor Day.


Children across the U.S. returned to school and their parents went back to work--or went back to work looking for work (or additional work).


Today at breakfast I looked across the table to my daughter who was pulling herself together for her first week in fifth grade. I was filled with pride and excitement, but also much anxiety. And I wondered to myself: what have I given her to dream about?


Sometimes in the car I ask her, "what do you want to be when you grow up?"  Forty years ago to my own parents, I recall answering that I wanted to be an architect, or a journalist (it was the age of Watergate, after all). Sometimes, I mentioned that I wanted to be an advertising executive or a television producer.


But when I asked my daughter the same classic question today she shrugged, then plugged in her iTunes.


In that respect, I fear my kid is like others in the vast Millennial cohort. Tuned out? Perhaps. Dream deprived? For certain.


When I--a late Baby Boomer--was her age, I looked up at the evening sky and wondered aloud about the next moon shot. During the Space Age, our imaginations ran wild. And our futures seemed limitless.


Many of her peers look down at their smart-phones and wonder "who IM'd me?"


How did a generation like mine that thought so BIG birth a generation like hers that thinks so small? (Or am I imagining things?)


Later, I logged on for some quick online reading and I immediately stumbled upon New York Times columnist David Brooks' latest op/ed Where the Jobs Aren't, a sobering piece about the best of [green job-producing] intentions gone awry. In it, he writes:


"The gigantic public investments in [green energy] may be stimulating innovation and helping the environment. But they are not evidence that the government knows how to create private-sector jobs.


A punch to the gut that was.


Yet, I still think there is a causal relationship between a big positive turnaround in the job market and encouraging our children to dream big dreams. As people become fully employed again, many will connect with great jobs that will launch satisfying careers.


As they dream. They will innovate. And as they innovate, they will create new opportunities (for many who follow them).


Despite the sobering message of Mr. Brooks' op/ed--that the Federal government's attempts at promoting green jobs cost billions and created few if any jobs--I remain convinced that developing new technologies--especially green technologies--will drive our New Green Economy for generations.


And yes, these developments will yield so-called green jobs. Whether or not my daughter pursues a "green" career is for her to decide. Still, we owe her--and her generation--their dreams.


And let's teach them to DREAM BIG.

Views: 198

Comment by Tim Spagnola on September 7, 2011 at 10:04am
Dream Big - great post Dan!
Comment by Dan Smolen on September 7, 2011 at 10:23am
Thanks, Tim.
Comment by Doug Munro on September 7, 2011 at 10:32am
That's a fantastic sentiment. Any parent, any human being for that matter, would want this for our children. I hope we can all nurture and encourage their dreams.
Comment by Fawn Price on September 7, 2011 at 10:52am

Dan - great post!

Being someone who graduated college in 2009 (when it felt like the job market couldn't be any worse), I found that many of my friends and I all lost a little hope with the idea of our dreams coming true.  Yes, I was that big-eyed student trying to soak up as much information as possible ready to take on the world before I graduated.  Then, once I started the job hunt, I realized - my generation has to settle.  We have to settle for mediocore jobs in fields that are probably not even close to what we dreamed of our entire life.  Granted, I went through many dreams and changed what I wanted to be when I grew up every so often, but I still think about that "dream" job that I don't have because it just wasn't in the books.  The job I have now is amazing and I love being a recruiter, but sometimes I look up to see a plane stretching across the sky and think "What I would do to be that pilot."  Maybe one day. :)


To wrap up my rambling, I think that our generation is really just afraid to dream - afraid our hopes will get crushed.  Everyone is taking the safe road by picking fields that are still hiring.  It's a sad reality and hopefully, one day soon, we can remind kids how great it is to dream and to dream big. 

Comment by Suresh on September 7, 2011 at 11:24am

Great post, Dan. Having a son in 5th grade, can relate to what you are going through.


I try to emphasize to my kids, that the world is getting flatter and just being an American is not an inherent advantage. They will have to earn it.


Comment by Dan Smolen on September 8, 2011 at 10:03am
Thank you to Doug, Fawn, and Suresh. Great comments.


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