There’s a quote that is in perpetual circulation across the internet—probably misattributed a million times over—about how smart people learn from their mistakes, but wise people learn from other people’s mistakes. Enter the mentor.
What we may overlook in this hot-pink celebration of girl culture are the pernicious and persistent problems Gen Z women in the workplace face (for those of you who watched Barbie, the movie tips its ensemble of pink hats at the topic). These challenges include everything from the gender pay gap to conscious (and unconscious) bias, and they can be found globally—in Asia, Canada, Spain, even the metaverse—and across industries, such as sports, government, and healthcare. You get the picture.
Booktok, or the corner of TikTok where users recommend their favorite books, is the best thing to happen to long-form reading in years, delivering the latest literary must-haves directly to Gen Z. Views of the hashtag have grown to more than 90 billion, up from 60 billion last year, which have in turn driven higher sales for authors whose works become popular on the platform.
Thanks for being a valued subscriber to Mind the Gap, our weekly roundup of must-reads for Gen Zers and the Z-curious. As we hit the dog days of summer in our part of the world, we’ll be taking a two-week break from our typical send schedule to rest and recharge
Gen Z’s obsession with time is apparent all over the internet: there are countless “5-to-9” videos with millions of views, along with headlines that claim Gen Zers demand a workday free from the constraints of the eight-hour window that has largely defined office work for the last century, or to make life their full-time job and work their part-time job.
A new day, a new portmanteau—or two—for our working world is here. “Workation” is the concept of working from a vacation locale for an extended period. There’s also “bleisure,” or business plus leisure travel.
For Gen Z, the quarter-life crisis—that existential dread that comes in your 20s as you try to figure out who you really are—can be a debilitating struggle. Later, this kind of early angst can seem trivial: How can a 20-something, with an expanse of possibilities and relatively few responsibilities, feel so much anguish so early in their life?
We spend a lot of time in this newsletter talking about Gen Z’s experience entering the workforce, starting new jobs, and figuring out how to make the most of their early career years. Is it possible that some of the most ambitious within this generation have bypassed those growing pains and leapfrogged all the way to the C-suite?
Is Gen Z generally willing to take risks or is it risk averse? It’s hard to tell because there’s limited survey data on the topic. Some data found in the far corners of the interwebs suggest that Gen Z is more risk averse when it comes to investing. But it’s a little tough to square that in the age of meme stocks.
As Gen Zers find their way back to the office (or begin to navigate it for the first time), mentorship is an oft-overlooked and underestimated tool that helps everyone—not just Gen Z—find their way at work.
If you watched TV or went to the movies during the 1990s and 2000s, you were regularly treated to an unapologetically romantic view of New York City. Films and series such as Living Single, Sex and the City, The Devil Wears Prada, How to Make It in America, and even The Apprentice helped sell people from all over the world on the dream that they, too, could conquer their big-city professional dreams, share an elevator with a CEO, or start their own business.
If you’re reading this newsletter, chances are you’re already familiar with many of the stereotypes about Gen Z at work: they want to work from home, they’re “quiet quitting,” they’re actually quitting, they won’t answer a phone call, they don’t want to work hard.
Gen Z is often thought to be a generation of activists. While that identity might result in picking up a protest poster, so far it hasn’t translated to an interest in civil-service jobs, at least according to current employment numbers.
Even though the technology is sparking a ton of excitement in every industry, the latest evolution in AI has also brought with it a collective anxiety about job displacement and robot overlords. Joking. Kind of.
Consumer brands spend a lot of money to attract and retain customers. In the past, that meant focusing on splashy advertising campaigns and, eventually, digital marketing to convert interested consumers into paying and, crucially, repeat customers.
Anyone who describes themselves as “extremely online” can confirm that time is compressed on the internet. News, fads, and controversies that once dominated our collective consciousness for weeks have just a fraction of the shelf life on social media. The swiftness with which a video goes viral also characterizes the speed with which it fades to black.
There’s plenty of data indicating that Gen Zers are pessimistic about the world. It’s not hard to see why, considering that most of them experienced a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic during their formative years, sparking a loneliness epidemic and making everyday life newly challenging. All this coincided with global unrest and overheating economies, making job prospects in some industries iffy.
When musician Olivia Rodrigo released her debut single “Drivers License” in 2021, the song was an instant hit. At the time, it broke the most single-day streams for a non-holiday song on Spotify, spending multiple weeks at number one and becoming a bona fide Gen Z anthem. But when it comes to their own driver’s licenses, Gen Zers are somewhat less enthusiastic.
Capturing the food preferences of an entire generation of consumers is a tough nut to crack. While avocado toast reflected the zeitgeist in which millennials came of age, Gen Zers’ tastes are a little all over the menu, so to speak. Still, there are some consistent behaviors that these younger consumers have come to exhibit.
Given recent tech sector rumblings, Gen Zers aiming to work in the field may feel like the short-term hiring outlook is relatively bleak. But even before this year, one group was already underrepresented in tech: Black Americans. This group makes up 12 percent of the US workforce but only 8 percent of employees in tech jobs, thanks to structural barriers and holes in the talent pipeline.
Do you feel like the protagonist of your own life? If not, perhaps you need to move out of NPC (nonplayer character) status and harness the much-loved trend of “main-character energy” when planning your 2023.
Consider this: you start a brand-new job. Your only introduction to coworkers is an email with your professional bio and that one cringeworthy headshot. The “tour” is a training packet that tells you where the online files live. And the watercooler is your own kitchen sink (dishes included).
Gen Z is infamous for having a short attention span. Young people do love an endless stream of content, and short-form video is king—many spend more than six hours a day watching—but it’s not true that Gen Z can only pay attention for eight seconds.
Ads for apparel are part of the ever-growing body of sponsored content that people consume daily alongside regular videos and social-media posts, and they are part of an influencer marketing economy that hit $16.4 billion this year.
With August in full swing, back-to-school days are just around the corner. This year, make sure you avoid that last-minute scramble for college-ruled composition books (that is, if you still use paper). Internet ubiquity has already set Gen Z’s education apart, but there’s a lot more to the picture.
Do you follow a sports team? Ever buy some merch? The NFL’s chief marketing officer said that “if you don’t acquire a fan by the time they’re 18, you’re most likely never going to get them.” A few years ago, execs feared that millennials would be the death of sports fandom—they were largely wrong, but now it’s Gen Z’s turn in the hot seat.
Where do you get your news? I get mine from a whirlwind of my favorite digital-newspaper home pages, a couple of podcasts, and the clickbait headlines from my feeds. And of course, push notifications sharing all the news that’s fit to blast.
It’s graduation season! You may be tossing your cap and doing champagne-spray photoshoots on your favorite campus steps, but soon you could be starting your first professional job. That’s why we’ve got The Graduate’s Guide to the World of Work, a first-stop destination for making sense of the world you’re entering—curated by the Gen Z folks here.
Fashion is one of the top three categories for Gen Z splurges. But there’s a real divide: half the fashion posts I see are people modeling gorgeous thrifted finds, and half are massive fast-fashion hauls. We’re split on high-quality, long-lasting “slow fashion” versus the cheap, trendy clothes that are quickly made—and just as quickly discarded.
One in five Gen Z adults in the US now identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, according to a recent Gallup poll. Our generation has seen amazing strides when it comes to all people living openly and authentically in all parts of their lives.
Do your social values shape where you shop? Mine do, and that makes me what’s called an “inclusive consumer.” Like 45 percent of America (and growing), inclusive consumers think that retailers should support and uplift Black-owned businesses and brands.