The five E’s of social networking generation

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(NNPA)—Today, we see an entire generation of new young leaders and entrepreneurs alike struggling to make an impact. This is the age of social networking with Facebook, Twitter, Google and mobile technologies enabling people to connect with millions in geographically dispersed locations worldwide. Enterprises from home-based startups to Fortune 500 companies are restructuring workforce and productivity models using efficient collaborative network tools.

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Government institutions are undergoing historic generational shifts in leadership with the election at age 48 of the first African-American president, Barrack Obama. It is truly a brave new world both economically and socially under construction with new hopes, leadership and definitions of what I call the five E’s of success including education, empowerment, excellence, entrepreneurship and ethics.

Often lost in the shuffle, as accelerating trends that overwhelm us daily in wireless cells, WiFi, text messages, and online collaboration tools for management cost controls, the seemingly forgotten art of face-to-face personal interaction has become rare. People often ask me, “Farrah, how will this ubiquitous dynamic shift affect the core process of business.” If I am doing business with a person in China or India, is it reasonable to expect a shared definition of ethics or entrepreneurship? Would these foreign counterparts perform business in the same manner or do they have a completely different approach? Is it OK, during lean economic times to take risks doing business overseas with relatively unknown entities for most small businessmen in America?

Initially, many potentially innovative entrepreneurs fear the unknown—shy away from doing business with foreign contacts. This is prevalent as the worldwide economic crisis not only seeks to redistribute wealth but also introduce modern social network technologies that enhance the ability to instantly connect with millions of like people worldwide. However, having traveled worldwide extensively, it is generally safe to consider all human beings, i.e. people around the world, share many common traits found in the five E’s. These are not traits unique only to the majority of Americans but shared by people worldwide.

Therefore, as the social and economic world becomes more cohesive through technology, it enables ordinary Americans at low cost to reach out, sharing ideas, innovations and passions. Today, we generally see a redefining of how human interaction occurs. In many cases the tangible lasting value of a handshake or face-to-face meetings looking into another individual’s eyes is becoming a thing of the past.

The convergence of this deep shift has caused some disillusionment of large segments of the U.S. population, specifically older generations over 65 who often state, “I don’t understand all that Internet stuff. It’s all gibberish to me.” Recently, I recall an elderly man stating to me, “Farrah, I spent 40 years with the same company but never had to use a computer, why start doing it now?” Turning to him squarely I replied; “Sir, today’s text message is yesterday’s handshake. Today’s Facebook or Twitter information contains yesterday’s print newspaper media.”

Further, the mission among home-based start-ups and Fortune 500 companies has undergone significant shifts in direction and goals. For example, the ventures now start with a business plan that not only incorporates the price, product, place and promotions but also its impact on social and environmental factors. These elements go to the heart of what I have termed the five E’s—education, empowerment, excellence, entrepreneurship and ethics.

For example, most businesses would never dream today of launching a cigarette tobacco company knowing it would damage the health of millions worldwide. Even more significant a start-up business that had no regard for social or environmental concerns would hardly receive the venture capital seed money necessary to succeed.

The average workers and consumers today have instant access to vast amounts of educational knowledge on the Internet previously never available. Furthermore, individuals can gain valuable solutions and competitive market data-free online using methods such as crowd sourcing and virtual support.

Countless, examples exist of entrepreneurs with a purpose that raise money online to provide anything from clean water (Doc Hendley, “Wine to Water”), education (Efren Penaflorida, Dynamic Teen Company) to music mentoring for troubled youth (Derrick Tabb, (“The Roots of Music”)—inspiring hope and opportunity for millions of underprivileged living in poverty.

Suddenly, even small-home-based entrepreneurs can provide innovative solutions having a major impact not simply within a local community but worldwide. We are truly witnessing a generational paradigm shift under way redefining business leadership and social interactions expanding opportunities for people at all levels.

(Farrah Gray is chairman of the Farrah Gray Foundation. Dr. Gray can be reached via e-mail at fg@drfarrahgray.com or his website at http://www.drfarrahgray.com/.)

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