Note to Gen Y’s: Drive the Car, not the Tools…

I’m sharing with you some of the most interesting responses to a question I asked on LinkedIn: What’s remarkable about Gen Y workers?

Kenneth Larson, Retired Aerospace Contracts Manager, MicroMentor Volunteer and Founder “Smalltofeds

As a small business counselor I have noticed the symptoms of the “Technology Monkey,” particularly among the younger Gen Y Entrepreneurs.

(Photo by graur codrin,

The “Technology Monkey” is a new kind of beast these days that will bury us if we don’t learn to deal with him. We are so busy tending our gadgets that we lose site of priorities, get wound up in minutia and end up with a meaningless zoo.

There seems to be a belief that automation, the Internet and social networking can make the business succeed when in fact the real design of the enterprise itself is lacking (niche, market base, business plan, competitive analysis and financial forecasting)

I hear from many Gen Y clients who ask, “What Now?” having launched an enterprise that is going nowhere because they are driving the tools and not the car.

I take them back to the garage, design the auto to see if it can run and then apply the wrenches retroactively if that is possible. It is usually a traumatic experience and could have been avoided with strategic and business planning before launch.

My response:

That is one of the more thoughtful replies I have received, Kenneth. I like the way you frame it, and really like the way you approach the issue. Did you coin the phrase “tech monkey?”

The interesting thing to me is that the economy is driving a great deal of Gen-Y’s to start businesses rather than keep looking for a job. I really admire that as someone that got tired of taking what companies could give and decided to hang a shingle.

And I hadn’t thought about getting lost in the social media shuffle. WOW. Big concept. My assumption is that most people are like me, scrambling to keep up without letting it monopolize my time. The balancing act of traditional marketing approaches, sales activity and new media, has made for an interesting mix. What I hear you saying is that new media is all Gen Y is thinking of.

Thanks for your time, and for your post,


Ken’s response:

Thanks for the feedback, Chip,

Yes, I coined the phrase “Technology Monkey” and I have used it regularly in my volunteer counseling efforts and here on LinkedIn.

I have noticed the same trend you have in Gen Y starting businesses. Not only them but also many others in Gen X and the Boomers for the same reason you have cited.

I use a great deal of the social media mix to promote my counseling web site and the foundations I serve as well as get out front from a research perspective on behalf of my clients. It is that base from which I am commenting.


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