CNN’s Ali Velshi, 43, is firmly in Generation X but much of his staff is in what is called the “Millennials” generation, born between 1982 and 2002.
He will be parsing what this generation is and how they will influence the future of America tonight (October 4) at a free 90-minute “CNN Dialogues” forum at the Rialto Center For the Arts from 7 to 8:30 p.m. You can pre-register to attend at www.cnndialogues.com or call either the Center for Civil and Human Rights at 404-991-6988 or the James Weldon Johnson Institute for Race and Difference at 404-727-2515.
“This generation has different challenges than we did,” Velshi told me (I’m the same age) at CNN Center this morning over Starbucks coffee. “They are better informed than we were but in some cases, less employable.”
Based on meeting and talking to people of this generation, Velshi says they seem both “amorphous and adaptive.” At the same time, they are more multicultural, less religious and (naturally) more technologically savvy than older generations.
Millennials make up about a quarter of the American workforce. Velshi, whose specialty is business, will discuss their role in business and how the lousy economy is affecting them.
He watched some of his staff, who are in this generation, fact check the Presidential debates last night without ever having to pick up a phone. Everything was available to them at their fingertips.
“Some people say because of their higher education levels and ability to manage information,” Velshi says, “they feel entitled. But people said that about us!”
Velshi is a survivor on CNN, adaptable in his own way, having anchored every time slot at some point on the network. He is currently the network’s chief business correspondent and anchor of “Your Money” and “World Business Today” on CNN International.
He works out of New York but did spend a year in Atlanta while anchoring during the day a couple of years ago. He has logged tens of thousands of miles, flying all over the country and the world for CNN. He’s covered elections, hurricanes and oil spills.
“CNN has been remarkable, letting me be flexible and versatile,” Velshi says. “We’re a place of evolving taste.” [Yes, that's a nice way of saying CNN has had trouble finding consistent programming.]
I joked with him, using a Gen X reference, that he’s like Mikey in those Life cereal commercials: he’ll try anything and he’ll like it! “After 20 years, I still put my hand up. Let me prove to you what I can do. Sure, I still trip and get it wrong. But great companies allow you to do that. Not that it doesn’t hurt.”
Panelists tonight will be:
• Dev Aujla, is the founder of DreamNow, a nonprofit that helps young people organize community volunteer projects. Together with Billy Parish, Aujla interviewed hundreds of Millennials for their book Making Good: Finding Meaning, Money and Community in a Changing World (2012);
• Nadira Hira, is a journalist, author, and a Millennial, and has completed extensive research on Millennials in the workforce at companies including UPS, Syfy, and Ernst & Young;
• Neil Howe, the social generations scholar who coined the term “millennial” is the author of Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation (2000);
• U.S. Brigadier General Loretta Reynolds (U.S. Marine Corps), is the commanding general of the Marine Corps Eastern Recruiting Region and of the Recruit Depot at Parris Island, S.C. Under her command are 1,600 recruiters tasked with identifying and enlisting the next generation of Marines; and,
• Marian Salzman, is the CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR North America, who manages about 70 Millennials in a workplace environment she has designed to leverage their most creative capabilities.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk