africaRecently I listened to a presentation given on TED (www.TED.com) by a respected Ghanaian economist George Ayittey. He won the H.L. Mencken award for best book in 1992. In Ayittey’s presentation he said the future of Africa lies on the new Cheetah Generation. This generation he believes is “a new breed taking their future into their own hands instead of waiting for politicians to empower them.” He compares the Cheetah Generation to the current Hippo Generation. The Hippo Generation he believes is “stuck, lazy, slow, ornery, complacent and greedy.”

As I listened to Ayittey’s message I couldn’t help by think of our own country, and our emerging new Millennial generation. In many ways this new Millennial generation are Cheetahs. So why the Cheetah? Here are some interesting facts about the Cheetah according to National Geographic.

  • The Cheetah is very flexible and able to change direction in an instant
  • The Cheetah is able to quickly go from 0 to 70 mph in 3 seconds- making the animal one of the fastest- due to its enlarged heart
  •  The black tear marks under its eyes help keep out the glare so the animal can see better
  • The Cheetah does not roar or growl but yips, yowls, and purrs
  • The Cheetah must rest after a hunt

How does the Cheetah relate to the new Millennial generation as a whole? Just who are the Millennials and why the comparison to the Cheetah? The Millennial Generation is a generation of people born between 1981 and 2000. The millennial Generation is 76-80 million strong. They are independent, motivated, and technologically savvy individuals. They grew up with self-esteem, confidence, and their own computers.

Flexibility: Like the Cheetah that is able to quickly change direction, make quick decisions in catching it prey, the Millennial can be very flexible in decision making. When confronted with a problem this generation looks for solutions rather than waste time wallowing in the problem. If one solution doesn’t work out they are quick and flexible enough to change direction and look for another solution. When the Millennials see there is a need they swiftly move to meet the need with solutions. It is not surprising that there are so many Millennial Millionaires before the age of 25.

Speed and enlarged heart: Like the Cheetah that can reach speeds of 70 mph in 3 seconds. The Millennials don’t wait for the go ahead to move or act from someone else. They see a need, and move on it. They see an opportunity and quickly act. This generation is use to filling a void and many times making thousands of dollars in the process …while in grade school or high school. Like the Cheetah that strategically stalks its prey and carefully moves into position to charge. Millennials do the same. Millennials identify a need /opportunity, do their research, then methodically charge forward. The Enlarged heart of the Cheetah allows for the animal to have more speed and power. An enlarged human heart overflows with kindness and seeks to give and serve, rather than being served. The gift of giving and hundreds of hours of volunteering for worthy causes, civic-mindedness and service-oriented attitude, has been well documented for the Millennial Generation. The Millennial generation will bring to organizations their spirit of service and infuse a “can do” attitude into the corporate cultures they serve.

The “black tear” marks: For the Cheetah these marks help keep the sun out of the animals eyes to aid in hunting. The Millennial is able to stay focused. Avoid distractions so he/she is able to concentrate on desired outcomes. I wonder how many of us could learn a lesson here. How much more we’d be able to accomplish if we were able to stay focused?

No Loud Growling…but yips, yowls, and purrs: Unlike previous generations that make a loud noise … Millennials are by contrast quiet. Many neighbors living next door to a millennial don’t know they have a successful entrepreneur living next door. It is interesting that even the many Under 30 Millionaires typically don’t make a lot of noise (well except Lady Gaga – age 25). I think many would be shocked to know that Justin Beber – singer- age 17, Alexander Levin – WordPress- age 23, Kevin Rose- Digg- age 30, Chad Hurley- You tube- age 30, all started on their own, recognized a need, acted, and stayed focused on success.

And Finally- Rest: While the Cheetah must rest after every hunt, the Millennial believes in balance. The Millennial values balance between work and play or rest. Unlike other generations that were so focused on work the Millennial believes in a time-out period, a time to rejuvenate. Again there many documented studies that say that a body that has rested will be more alert and able to function and produce better outcomes. Are you a Hippo or a Cheetah? I think Ayittey might have it right. The Cheetah generation is coming, and many have the similar characteristics for success. They are focused, confident, optimistic, strong sense of goals, with self -esteem. No surprise that so many influential members of the communities, the business world, government, and Hollywood are Millennials.

Deanne DeMarco

Yes, the Cheetahs are coming……Hippos Move Over

By Deanne DeMarco, “The Gen X Biz Coach”

Deanne an international speaker, coach and respected expert on organizations and the changing workforce. She coaches individuals on breaking through career roadblocks.  She also trains managers how to be more effective with the changing workforce. To reach Deanne Visit Her Website.  Deanne DeMarco is also a Radio Show Host for Today’s Inspiring Women.


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