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Shauna-Faith Graham

What Gen Z Teen Entrepreneurs are Teaching Me in my 30’s

By Thoughts

I started working with Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) in 2021 as a Speaker. NFTE is an organization that supports High Schoolers towards entrepreneurship. Their students come from a variety of backgrounds from all over the world.

As someone who wanted to work for herself as a teen and lived that reality for many years, I admire this program and wish I had something like this growing up to help me understand things I had made mistakes in learning over the years.

In my first virtual conference with students, I discussed the significance of branding and marketing. The follow-up conversation was about my experience and where I am now, as well as addressing questions about the business models and products they were developing.

There were several brilliant ideas. In India, for example, one student and her mother opened a commerce business selling bags made from recycled materials. Another student considered revamping spoons to make them more economical. The concepts were varied and inventive.

I also served as a judge for their annual competition, and the student who received the most votes from our cohort ended up taking home the grand prize of $10,000 to go toward his plan to unite content creators and businesses under the MdrnMedia umbrella.

This teenager had been studying and perfecting his art since he was a child, and he now had a massive fan base to support his idea.The one thing I can admit is that these kids were far more proficient than I was. I’m glad there are such initiatives now to support the next generation.

For instance, I used my entrepreneurial spirit when I was between the ages of 14 and 16 and used my artistic abilities to earn money. I became known for my skill at braiding hair and soon had a steady clientele. My service business, including working at a salon, netted me at least $500 weekly. But I never would have guessed that these young people would be making such a significant contribution to the advancement of our society with a keen eye and outlook.

It’s true that each new generation improves upon previous ones, and perhaps even outdoes them thanks to the availability of more knowledge and better tools. At this point, in this day and age, there is no excuse; information is available and free.

Think about the planet


Growing up in the 90s and 00s sustainability of our planet was not harped in my ear as it is today. However, teens today are thinking of business ideas that make money and are sustainable.

At an NFTE event, one student asked me, “Can sustainability and capitalism coexist?” It is clear that with today’s access to information, they recognize that what their predecessors did and are doing does not sit well with them. To be sure, it feels wrong to the majority of people. But are most people considering how to fix it like the teens today? I, for one, was not considering the environment. Growing up as a Millennial meant 9/11, double recessions, and more. I prioritized survival over saving the trees.

Distinct generations create different issues. I knew the systems were old, and they are still old. With an emphasis on increased cooperation with Gen Y, Gen Z considers truly influencing the world now that we have so much access to information and knowledge and know what is going on in the globe. Nor for money, not for a lifestyle like the Boomers and Yuppies had in the past, but for the sake of everybody.

The most intriguing aspect about this is that it is possible. There is a way to accomplish both aims: profits and humanity. This is being introduced through technological advancements daily. Unfortunately, from my perspective, greed and opposition to change are the only hinderance.


Speak Up and Ask The Hard Questions

Transparency & Authenticity

The big questions to me are the hard questions. Some hard questions include, “Why should I give a two week notice, if my boss can fire me on the spot?” Or “Why do you stay with some who abuses you?” These are one of many questions that many superiors would avoid, but with Gen Z, transparency and authenticity is very important. Unfortunately, but I was trained to listen to my Elders or don’t talk back or rock the boat. Gaslighting, question dodging, passive aggressiveness, and other manipulative strategies began to appear on social media, expressing how I felt when I tried to question the status quo.

These kids, on the other hand, refuse to shut talking about anything. They criticize past generations for their capitalist greed and inhumane behavior. They are making waves by recognizing the facts of the broken world they have witnessed over the years, including 9/11, the Great Recession, Covid-19, and the Pandemic Wars, and participating in political discussions. Like, WTF?

No one is perfect, but Gen Z has embraced Cancel Culture forging new waves of authenticity and transparency regardless of age, race, or creed. No one is exempt. With all of the knowledge available, each generation grows and becomes wiser than the preceding generation. They are doing their best to locate the truth while avoiding fallacies and critically developing their own views, which frequently make sense.

They spoke more intelligently when they were thirteen than I did when I was 22. Though they haven’t lived “life,” they are more prepared than I was. They are straight up. Taking a firmer position, which I sometimes struggle with nowadays due to previous indoctrination.

I value their honesty and integrity. Keeping secrets that might harm many people is for the birds. In order to connect with others, we must first connect with ourselves, truthfully. Today, more than ever, it is essential to each individual to take responsibility for their actions, and I applaud the youth who are speaking up against the injustices they see in our modern world.


Mental & Emotional Health Matters

Take care of yourself

Friends and coworkers have expressed concern that these kids are sensitive, spoiled, and demand a great deal of care. I’m also guilty of questioning my interns about why they require so much feedback or input. From my experience, they become unresponsive if they believe their requests for assistance are being ignored when they are feeling invalidated.

From my perspective, I believe that the emotional toll suffered by Gen Z has sparked from the expectations of perfectionism, and that this generation has begun to push back on what is good for humans and what is not. Gen Z supports therapy and quiet quitting rather than the “eat or be eaten” or “suck it up” mentality of previous generations. Younger generations know the rat race does not work because they have witnessed firsthand back-to-back recessions, a Pandemic, record-high unemployment, and endless wars.

In some sense, the feeling of safety and security is required by younger generations. The most diverse group of youngsters in the US embrace being comfortable with who they are and considering how their feelings and circumstances affect them. We are human and should all have, at minimum, find happiness with who we were born to be.


Every day, Gen Z shocks and amazes me. I admire their unwavering commitment to maintaining their unique identities while also pursuing an understanding of what it means to be really content in life. Everyone’s experience is valuable, but the numerous transitions that are taking place in society with Gen Z, are ones that I can appreciate.