Rise of the Millennials

Peace, my name is Chris Wise. I’m a writer, artist, and activist from Brooklyn, NY. Kareem is a great friend of mine and I’ve been a subscriber to Aghanomics for a few years now. I’m here to relay some of my life experiences, hoping to impart the spark for your personal evolution.

This is me (right) with the founder of Sneakers for Success (center), an educational non-profit using sneakers as a transformational medium to connect with underrepresented youth. We teach students about the origins and significance of sneaker culture and expose them to opportunities in the sneaker industry. Kenny, on the left, is one of my best friends. Teamwork makes the dreams work!

“As digital natives and emissaries from the future, the millennials hold the keys to unlocking the secrets of tomorrow.” – Forbes Leadership Forum

With each passing day, it may seem that the decks stacked against you heighten exponentially. The struggle to find meaningful employment is absolutely serious: only 25% of graduates in 2010 had a job secured on Graduation Day. This is a grim figure but, I assure you, there is light.

The world is yours. I find myself passing this message along to one of my peers practically every day. The key to your destiny lies within you. As the children of the digital+information age, the world is literally at our fingertips. Once immovable barriers to entry in many industries are falling by the wayside, causing a boom in entrepreneurship. Creativity is abounding, as the youth are inspired to make a difference in this heavily-flawed world we inhabit today. Here in New York City, I meet talented young artists daily, and we are building a renaissance to raise the level of consciousness among our peers and become the changes we wish to see.

The first building block to achieving your dreams is knowledge, the foundation of life. You are what you know. The most vital knowledge to possess, and remain cognizant of each day is knowledge of self. Get to know yourself: meditate on your desires and your dreams; establish goals (Note from my mentor: It is only a goal if there is a deadline); examine your network of friends and family; analyze some of your previous decisions to discover your inner-motivations. Once you have a strong knowledge base, you can begin a course of action (read: work absurdly hard) to reach your destination. Enjoy the flow of life, but always dedicate time to strategic planning.

We are trapped within the college-industrial complex, but it does not have to be an oppressive situation. The onus is on you to cultivate a college experience that is worth the exorbitant amount of time, energy, and resources that you will be giving to this school. Four years is a LONG time; do not waste any of it.

In retrospect, I wasted far too much time while racking up more than $15k in loans during my two years at UMass. However, the work I did and the connections that were forged will pay major dividends in my future. Now I attend the City University of New York where I attend school for free! The degree will look and feel exactly the same, and I am more than happy with this decision to stay home.

Subvert the school system: get the degree that best suits your passions in life, take the classes that matter to you, join student organizations that will further your social capital and stimulate your thinking. Perhaps most importantly, associate with people who can empower your success: choose your friends wisely, and find mentors that can provide specific wisdom on how to seize your aspirations.

I will graduate next year with a degree in Hip-Hop Studies. I’ve always been a great student, but the confinement of college caused me to sour on the concept of school. Today I woke up with clarity: this final year of school, taking a course load entirely created by me, will be a great experience and make me a better artist.

My advice to you: Discover your true passions and dedicate your life to pursuing them. Give every joule of potential energy that you have toward making your dreams come true. Align with the people who can help you get to the top, and reciprocate that same love to them. Trust your struggle. I can’t express the supreme importance of goal-setting enough: establish your vision and stick to it.

NEVER GIVE UP! Just work harder.

Peace and blessings on your journey.