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North Coast Chamber of Commerce Annual Mayor's Luncheon; The Millennial Miracle: Lessons from the Greatest Generation of Business

On Wednesday, March 16th, we went to the monthly meeting of North Coast Chamber of Commerce for their annual Mayor's luncheon which was held at Tom's Country Place in Avon.

It was very well attended with 165-170 people present including Ohio State Senator Gayle Manning (District 13) and Ohio State Rep. Nathan Manning (District 55).

Before the program started we visited with a banker who may refer a local landscaper to Margaret W. Wong and Associates because he would like to retain some of his hired help who are working in the United States on a temporary basis.

IMG_9076The program consisted of four of the local mayors speaking for about 10 minutes each. These mayors were Mr. Bryan K. Jensen of Avon, Mr. Greg Zilka of Avon Lake, Mr. John D. Hunter of Sheffield Village, and Mr. Dennis Bring of Sheffield Lake. All of them thanked their staffs and talked about recent economic development in their municipalities as well as the particular challenges they face and what their recent accomplishments were.

The only time immigration came up was when Mayor Zilka talked about the increased deer population in Avon Lake. He joked that some of them must have wandered over from other places so he was considering building a big wall to keep them out (referring to what Mr. Donald Trump would like to do at the U.S./Mexican border). His remarks were greeted with great laughter.

Afterwards we spoke with Mayor Hunter about the diversity of Sheffield Village. Mayor Hunter said that his village was about 11% ethnic, mostly Hispanic, and there were 11 churches representing all a rich variety of faiths. He said that all of the congregations collaborate on putting on a Pre-Thanksgiving Day dinner that serves 750 people each year. Mayor Hunter said that they are all bound together by the worship of God and they all respect each other's beliefs.

Next we went to the Maltz Performing Arts Center on Ansel Road to hear Mr. Randall Lane speak as part of CWRU's "Thinkforum" series.

Mr. Lane is the celebrated  and respected editor of "Forbes" Magazine and the topic of the evening was "The Millennial Miracle: Lessons from the Greatest Generation of Business" but as he said, the millennials often do not start off with the goal of creating a business but to solve a problem by using the latest technology available to them. If they succeed, the lucrative "business" prospects will follow.

Mr. Lane believed that we are living in a "special time" now where the young people who grew up with computers and the internet as a way of life are using technology "to its fullest potential" and are thus advancing in entrepreneurship and wealth accumulation at a faster rate than their parents or their grandparents ever believed possible.

According to Mr. Lander, it used to be that if something went wrong with an office machine or a household appliance, its owner would take it to the oldest, most experienced person that he/she could afford to fix it properly but now, if a computer goes down or a business experiences a problem with its expensive technology, a young person might be called in to make repairs.

It used to be that it took a significant sum of money, time and effort to get a business off the ground but now all that is necessary is a young person with a computer to lay the groundwork/formulate a promising concept and soon a lot of digital capital will line up to help him/her.

Mr. Lane talked about the success of Mr. Jan Koum, a young man who immigrated to the United States from Ukraine when he was a teenager without any financial resources. Today he is the CEO and co-founder of "WhatsApp" a mobile messaging application acquired by Facebook, Inc. in 2014 for $19 Billion.

Another example that he cited was Mr. Felipe Gomez del Campo who immigrated here from Mexico when he was six years old. Mr. Gomez del Campo (who was present at this gathering) is a CWRU student who started a  company that creates a product that promises to reduce fuel consumption in jet engines.

After his presentation, Mr. Lane was joined on the stage for a moderated conversation by Dr. Michael Goldberg, Assistant Professor, Design and Innovation at the Weatherhead School of Management; and Mr. Anand Swaminathen of Accenture Digital who "Fortune" Magazine dubbed "Accenture's youngest-ever global leadership council member" who "runs its fastest growing business."

During the course of their dialogue, they agreed that even though there is a lot going on in Silicon Valley,IMG_9090 promising young millennials like to explore new things and settle in "cool, fun" places and are finding that Cleveland fits this category. They also like working for companies that have a certain culture that appeals to their individual tastes.

But what we really liked was hearing that millennials will accept less money if they are engaged in work that they really like if it makes the world a better place. Of course, many people believe that they can change the world but it seems that this young people actually have a shot at doing it and, what's more, are doing it through endeavors like the Global Poverty Project which, as Wikipedia states, "is an international education and advocacy organization working to catalyze the movement to end extreme poverty." It has set a goal to end poverty by 2030.

What we also like is that the millennials seem to have a sense of purpose and are not afraid to fail; in fact they are willing to fail time after time until they get whatever they are working on right. They are excellent multi-taskers and are always thinking about solving the next problem.

We left the Maltz Center that evening feeling optimistic about the future but a bit on the "old" side ourselves  because our knowledge of technology is...a bit sketchy. We still don't fully understand our cell phone but we don't really worry because if we have a problem with it, we only have to stop a young person on the street (and we have done this more than once) and say "excuse me but I need help" and the young person very kindly straightens our cell phone situation and is on their way in less than two minutes.

Michael Patterson  Community Liaison, Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.