Mallory Brown with EthiopianPhotos courtesy of Travel Mal

Companies are still adjusting their business strategies and workplaces to maximize the potential of the millennials who work for them, and to best serve the millennials who are their customers. Right behind the millennials is Generation Z, the generation that’s come of age in the age of social media. In this Q&A, social entrepreneur Mallory Brown shares how these two groups — people who are extremely tech-savvy, who have been key drivers of consumerization and mobility, and who are acutely aware of the world at large, thanks to social media — are influencing business today. And she tells C-level executives exactly what they need to know about these young people.

 

QYou are a millennial, and you’ve been able to tap into the power of social media to do some pretty powerful things, including raising more than $41,000 for 30 Ethiopian women to start their own business — in 24 hours, no less. How did you do that?

AI believe in the power of storytelling and human connection. Often, people want to give back and truly don’t know how. I work to bridge that gap and provide direct, personal ways to help people in need.

On my 30th birthday, I traveled to Ethiopia and published a crowdfunding campaign with a goal of helping 30 impoverished women start earning an income. I filmed a heartfelt video introducing the women, sharing their need, explaining exactly how much money was needed and detailing what it would be used for. Then, I promoted the campaign through social media, corporate partners and press outlets. When donors can watch it all unfold, see photos, watch videos and read messages from the ground, it’s truly a powerful experience.

Mallory dancing with EthiopianPhotos courtesy of Travel Mal

QWhat do business leaders need to know about millennials and Gen Z, as they reshape their business strategies in the 21st century?

AMillennials live in a connected and fast-paced world. We are curious and caffeinated, and that leads us to crave personal experiences. We are well aware that there are 7 billion people on the planet and therefore want to feel individually important. As employees, this creates a desire to make an impact. We prioritize personal satisfaction and meaningful contribution more than job consistency or financial stability. As consumers, we seek the same personalization. Millennials have a million options and see through an inauthentic sales pitch fast. My fundraisers are so successful because the donors receive a truly intimate experience. They may donate $10 and see their name flash on the screen, see the faces of the people they are helping and perhaps even receive a personal shout-out.

 

QHow can companies best tap into those qualities?

ALet your youth innovate. Trust me, we have incredible ideas. We spend our evenings on Instagram watching expressions of art and creativity. We have access to all information at our fingertips and move at lightning speed. We dream about visiting Antarctica and get fired up about social injustice. Give us a task, clearly set your boundaries (so we don’t go off on too much of a tangent), and then sit back and watch us create.

 

Millenials are curious and caffeinated, and that leads us to crave personal experiences.

 

QHow do you see digital technologies such as mobility, cloud and robotics changing the way we do business, for better and for worse? What advice do you have for leaders about these technologies?

ADigital technology makes so much more possible. Take my business, for example. I’m a self-employed business owner advocating for social issues. My laptop is my office, allowing me to work from all corners of the globe. My team is self-taught (you can learn anything with Google and YouTube) and creates incredible content that is viewed by millions. Technology allows us to expand our capacity and our efficiency. This year, I’ll run charity campaigns from 12 different countries!

But technology also increases competition. There is more noise, constant distractions, quickly outdated technology and digital dependency. My advice? Embrace technology for the good and think ahead. Your organization is going to get wherever you are going faster than you think. So, be agile and use technology for positive change. Brands have a huge platform to reach millions — use that in a powerful way. Manufacturers can increase efficiency and safety — use that in a powerful way. Service providers can dramatically transform lifestyles — use that in a powerful way.

Mallory Brown with coffee beansPhotos courtesy of Travel Mal

Mallory Brown is a successful social entrepreneur, worldwide adventure traveler, and humanitarian. She is an empowering female speaker who inspires audiences with her presentation from traveling through remote regions of the globe for humanitarian causes. Mallory has been featured by the Today Show, The New York Times, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Crain’s Detroit Business, the Huffington Post and Ambassador Magazine for pioneering a new, engaging approach to philanthropy. Mallory’s causes have attracted corporate sponsorship from organizations such as the Ford Motor Company, Zappos, CrowdRise, Moosejaw Mountaineering and Meijer.