Help guide younger generations toward light at end of tunnel

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Generational expert Mark Perna speaks about “Anwering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose and Performance in Younger Generations” on Monday. Roughly 80 people listened to his presentation.

Mark Perna is asking people to connect, engage and answer the “why” questions young people have. He said by doing that, adults can help the younger generations see the light at the end of the tunnel as they strive to reach their life goals.

Perna gave a virtual presentation Monday night to residents of Marshalltown and school district personnel.

During Perna’s presentation, he said there are three critical things young people need to have in order to be successful in life:

• Robust academic knowledge.

“There was a time in America when you could have just robust academic knowledge,” he said. “This is no longer necessarily true.”

• Technical skills.

“It’s the skills necessary to actually do things whether you are going to be a surgeon or an accountant,” Perna said. “No matter where you go in the world today, you have to have the technicalities to do that.”

• Professional skills, such as work ethic, punctuality, stress management, networking and more.

“The Wall Street Journal did a survey of CEOs, executives and hiring managers across America and what they found was astonishing,” Perna said. “Ninety-two percent of those individuals stated that they value professional skills over both technical skills and academic knowledge. They believe that if someone shows up on time consistently, they are drug free and have critical thinking and care the entire time they are there, that is the person they want to train.” Perna said young people need to string together all three of the critical things to succeed.

He also introduced the younger generations — Z, or Millenials, which range in age from 8 to 23; and generation Y, which range in age from 24 to 39.

Perna said some of the most common characteristics the younger generations are believed to have are laziness and entitlement. He believes they are the most intelligent and resourceful.

“They will move heaven and earth to get to that want,” he said. “Our challenge as educators, parents and employers is getting them to want something. That’s the battlefield.”

One question young people love to ask when told to do something or how to do something is, “Why?”

Perna said they are not asking why they should do it, but rather why the task needs to be done that way.

He said when young people choose between lifestyle and career, the most important thing for them is lifestyle.

“More than half of every decision they make effects their lifestyle,” Perna said. “Career has actually become a lifestyle decision.”

He suggested conversations should focus on lifestyles, rather than careers in order to gain the attention of young people.

“We have to be better tour guides of showing them what’s possible,” Perna told the people listening to his presentation.


Contact Lana Bradstream

at 641-753-6611 or



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