I tell people that prior to the elections I received at least one e-mail a day from Obama asking for something. Would I attend a rally, send some dollars, talk to a friend or attend a barbecue? The barbecue sounded interesting, so I made the phone call and asked where it was to be held. I was told Lexington Avenue in the city of Albany, my home town. I said to the caller, do you know where Lexington Avenue is? I guess he thought I needed directions so he proceeds to read me the mapquest directions from my home. No, I said I know where it is, it’s definitely the wrong side of town and certainly not a place where I should go alone at night. He proceeded to tell me that one of my neighbors was going (who I knew) and that she would be happy to pick me up. It would be a great time and he could assure me I would meet some great people who were supporting Obama. Wow, I thought, the power of networking and these tireless folks.
So, about the barbecue, it was splendid. The people were gracious and I left my $25.00. It was a college student who had called me, someone from the new "generation O.”
The 18-29 year olds came out in droves to support Obama and the numbers are staggering, between 22-23 million, according to the Center for Information and Research of Civic Learning and Engagement. This is the group that managed Obama’s Facebook page, raised over $125 million dollars online and who sent me a text on Election Day asking me to vote for Obama. When it came to the electronic media, Obama had it all tied up. Following the election, Obama posted pictures of election night on flickr and introduced a new Web site, change.gov, on Thursday. Tell me what you think it said, be part of the change.
There were the Obama Girls — the YouTube bunch that tied up the electronic media 24 hours a day, manned and femaled the Facebook, posting daily and answering the phone calls and emails. The tireless bunch who knew that they could make a difference because of what they knew and that Barack was in their corner. To them he was Barack, a friend with the same values, who didn’t mind them knowing him personally.
This is the bunch that read the book, drank the Kool Aid and wanted to live their dreams. According to a New York Times article written by Damien Cave on November 9, 2008, “A government under Mr. Obama, they believed, would value personal disclosure and transparency in the mode of social networking sites. Teamwork would be in fashion, along with a strict meritocracy.” This is the group that doesn’t mind if you know who they are, are forever blogging and MySpacing and value informality. They scare some of us too. How could they be pouring their hearts out for anyone to see? How frightening and look at those tattoos!
This was the group that opened remote offices all over the country; tied together by values and a culture of change. In addition, they understand the value of teamwork. Lazy you say? Not if they believe in what they are doing. With their social networking skills they can find you and bombard you with data. Obama himself is 47 years old and part of the post-boomer era.
The group believes in social networking and complete disclosure. The rest of us are trying to hide from social networking and can’t believe that someone can not only find out where I live and who I am, but can get an aerial view of my house!
I had a good chuckle as I listened to CNN and they talked about the old Jewish ladies living in Florida and how important their vote was. No problem, Generation O organized “Jew for Obama,” hit the streets and the nursing homes in Florida to bring out the vote.
So, what does this mean for your business?
In 5-10 years the O generation will be shopping in your store, looking for jobs and they'll know more about the electronic media than you care to know. But you will need them.
Learn to embrace change. Research how technology can grow your business, get someone to teach you. I got a great email from a 60 year old plus retailer the other day with an invitation to visit his Facebook. I said, you sign up for my blog and I'll join your Facebook!
Listen, be open with an eye for the future. It will always be the future; all of us are just passing through.
Boy I hope my new spell check will have some new words: blog, Facebook, MySpace as well as Obama in it. Oops, I have an email asking me to make a donation to help get the Democratic National Committee out of debt; for $30.00 or more I can get a limited edition 2008 Victory t-shirt.
It came from my very close friend David, whom I’ve never met.