Posted September 18, 2018 by Mark Perna
Today, my first book, Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose, and Performance in Younger Generations, officially releases nationwide. It’s been an extraordinary journey to reach this point!
Answering Why was born of my desire to truly make a bigger difference in the lives of the younger generations. They need a competitive advantage in today’s shifting education and training landscape, and we can help them create it. I have always been a fan of young people and all they can achieve when powerfully motivated with the answer to that one burning question “why?” My book is part of that answer.
Generations Y and Z are intelligent, tenacious, and resourceful: our next “greatest generation,” if we can unlock their true potential. I realize this perspective flies in the face of the negative stereotypes out there, and I hope my book will help people see these generations in a new light. As the largest generational cohort in the workforce today, they can accomplish amazing things.
I also want to influence our education and workforce development arenas by raising the level of awareness of the multitude of careers that are available today. We need to spark a dialogue in this country about the value of every pathway, career, and occupation. Young people should be made aware of ALL the viable career choices available instead of being shown only one route (which is usually college).
Though college can be a great option, it’s not the only one. All educational and training pathways should be part of the conversation, empowering the young person to make decisions based on his or her own unique interests, talents, and abilities.
When that happens, a “want-to” can be created. This allows the individual the opportunity to move in the direction of the want-to, thus creating sustained self-motivation. It’s a simple fact of human psychology: when we do the things we want, we propel ourselves forward.
Another pressing motivation behind my book is our national skills gap. This gap represents a major challenge for America, as business and industry are in desperate need of a talented workforce that just doesn’t exist right now. We should be making young people career ready—period!
In my book, I coined the term “Awareness Gap” to describe an underlying cause of our national skills gap. Young people just aren’t aware of the possibilities in these high-paying, high-demand fields. When people do know about these careers, they often have a skewed or outdated perspective. We as a nation have chosen to portray these professions as somehow lesser, and our young people are paying the price.
We can do better. We can transform the paradigm and change the Awareness Gap and misperceptions that persist in our education system and workforce. Answering Why was written to help move us forward in the direction of purposeful, career-ready education that gives young people a competitive advantage.
Last but not least, I wrote Answering Why because I wanted to encourage parents in the ever-challenging task of rearing their children to become self-motivated, successful citizens. As a single dad to my two sons, I know how hard it can be to guide our children in a productive direction. My family’s story is a case study of how everything can change when a young person sees his personal Light at the End of the Tunnel.
I never cease to be amazed at how universal this dynamic is, and just how many parents are grappling with the same struggles my family experienced. I share our story and strategies to encourage parents—there is hope!
Changing the lives of the younger generations, influencing education and workforce development, narrowing the national skills gap, and giving hope to struggling parents — Answering Why addresses them all, and now the challenge rests with us. It is my hope that, in our multitude of varying roles and positions, we can work together to recognize, unleash, and celebrate the amazing potential of our younger generations.
And it all starts with answering their why.