Jan 29, 2009

Jon Favreau: boY GENius

In the struggle to cut costs and grab what little resources are still available, many businesses are tightening their belts and changing their management strategy, from a ‘looser’ style, as preferred by Generation Y, to a more ‘authoritarian’ approach - thereby exerting maximum control relieving the feelings of fear of wasting precious time and money.  Jobs have also suddenly dried up for Generation Y: 40% of the predicted three million unemployed at the end of 2009 will be under 25[1]. Does this mean that Gen Y needs to both ‘pipe’ and ‘knuckle down’, at least until the storm has blown over?

Well, how does this sound? Working most days till 3am and doing vast amounts of research in personal time, breaking only to spend a few hours gaming;-[2] This is the work pattern of Jon Favreau, the 27-year-old speech writer for President Obama. Hailed as ‘boy genius’[3], Favreau is the youngest Director of Speech writing to the White House on record.  As a Generation Y, by all accounts he should be making ‘unreasonable’ demands of an employer; flexible hours, Facebooking his friends during work, and generally openly questioning the command of authority. Instead, Obama’s ‘mind reader’ works day and night for his ‘master’[4].  Jon organised a team of talented researchers, spending weeks gathering information from which he worked into the early hours crafting Obama’s speeches. And the result? From a little-known politician, Barack Obama succeeded against all odds in winning the Presidential election in November 2008 and is now taking his throne as, essentially, world leader.

This should send a strong message to employers that if their Generation Y really believes in the organisation, and that they feel trusted, they will reveal themselves to be an incredibly loyal, productive and all-round powerful workforce.

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