by Jared Kleinert
“Millennials are screwed.”
Over two years ago, a then-twenty year old Stacey Ferreira and a then-seventeen year old version of myself set out to share the stories of ambitious, talented, and misunderstood young entrepreneurs, creators, and doers from around the world.
We met at at Thiel Foundation Summit in New York City in November 2012, where the final speaker of the conference shared with us the fact that there were 2 billion people in the world 20 years old and younger – the “2 Billion Under 20”. And that’s how it all started.
A few months later, I posted in the online Facebook group shared by members of the Thiel Foundation’s community of entrepreneurs, techies, and scientists. I asked them whether or not they’d like to share their stories in order to inspire other young people to act on their passions in life and that, contrary to popular belief, Millennials across the globe are succeeding in changing the world with their alternative, ambitious paths.
You see, when we started research for the book, if you typed “Millennials are” into Google, the autosuggestion tool for the world’s most popular search engine would list options such as “lazy”, “stupid”, “the next hippies”, and “screwed”. However, as we’ve found out after literally studying, interacting with, and befriending hundreds of the world’s smartest and most talented young people over the last few years, we’ve quickly come to show that Millennials are actually quite entrepreneurial, caring, and ambitious.
Within half an hour of making the post about “2 Billion Under 20” on Facebook, the thread had over fifty likes and sixty comments. Three or four stories for the book had already been sent in for review, and over the course of the next few months, me and Stacey combed through our personal networks, introductions and referrals from trusted sources, and media outlets featuring the stories of talented young people, ultimately receiving well over 300 one-to-three page anecdotes to choose from in creating the book’s content. In the end, we chose to include the seventy-five stories we thought were diverse and inspiring enough to lead a generational rallying cry in sharing how Millennials are breaking down age barriers and changing the world.
Next up: securing a publisher. Originally looking to self publish, we ended up choosing to partner with St. Martin’s Press, one of the largest and most reputable publishers in the U.S. in order to provide a credibility boost to all our book’s contributors as well as create a high-quality, reader-ready product.
Now, after over two years of hard work, thousands of emails to and from contributors, months of planning press coverage and book launch events, and weeks of less than normal sleep, we’re proud to share 2 Billion Under 20: How Millennials Are Breaking Down Age Barriers and Changing The World with you today.
So far, the book has been reviewed and endorsed by business celebrities such as Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, #1 NYT Bestselling author Keith Ferrazzi, and the Chief Revenue Officer of Mashable Seth Rogin, as well as director, writer, and actress Talulah Riley, social entrepreneur and Co-Founder of The Malala Fund Shiza Shahid, and even Kristine Barnett, the mother to the world’s youngest astrophysicist. Publisher’s Weekly says, “This book would make an excellent graduation gift for ambitious Millennials,” and the official Coca-Cola Twitter handle has previously tweeted that, “@JaredKleinert and @StaceyFerreira show us the @2BillionUnder20 who can change the world.”
With the release of 2 Billion Under 20, we have created a new holding company, the StartsWith Group, and are launching a consulting firm, StartsWith Insights, to help large companies better work with Millennials. Whether your company needs help marketing to Millennials, recruiting and hiring top young talent, or engaging and retaining current Millennial employees, we’ve built a foundation of research and a network of the world’s smartest and most talented Millennials in order to provide insights and solutions to large companies who have the biggest influence on our generation. Starting with talks at a handful of Fortune 500 companies during our book tour, as well as sharing my thoughts at the upcoming TED@IBM event in October about “Millennials – The End of Corporate America (As We Know It!)”, we are excited to start this new chapter in our work piggybacking off the book launch.
Through the personal anecdotes from 75 contributors at or under age 20 (at time of writing) who have involved themselves in remarkable things, from entrepreneurship to athletics to music and more, we are slashing negative stereotypes to prove that our generation is making an unprecedented and positive impact.
Millennials are not, in fact, “screwed”.
Jared Kleinert is the co-founder/co-author of 2 Billion Under 20, Founder of Kleinert Ventures, and in-demand public speaker. As a speaker, Jared’s spoken to audiences of 20 to 1000+ around the world, from TEDx stages to corporate boardrooms, about Millennial empowerment, youth entrepreneurship, community-building, and more. He’s shared the stage with various thought leaders including Peter Diamandis, Kevin Harrington, Les Brown, Charlie Hoehn, and even Pitbull. Learn more at jaredkleinert.com, and find Jared on Twitter @