Living in a Digital Age - The New Wave of 30 Under 30

In case you missed it, Forbes released their 30 Under 30 list for 2016. The list, for those who do not know, is a celebration of people who have made major accomplishments while under the age of thirty. Originally published in 2011, the 30 Under 30 is actually a compilation of multiple lists. In America, the lists include thirty individuals in twenty different categories, ranging from media to retail, games to energy, and everything in between.

Now, before you get your hopes up, I did not make the list. Shocking, I know, but I still have another six-and-a-bit years, so give me some time!

What I really wanted to talk about and celebrate is the fact that approximately 13% of those on the twenty lists are what can be classified as digital stars. These are individuals who have succeeded by utilizing channels on the Internet and other new forms of entertainment to achieve their accomplishments. These stars range from YouTube personalities to eSports hosts. I was thrilled to see individuals such as Ana Kasparian and Jordan Maron (better known as Captainsparklez) who I have frequently watched online. These people have become so well-known that Google actually corrected Captain Sparklez to Captainsparklez as I typed it! As impressive as they are, what truly astounds me is the recognition that they are getting. Even five years ago, when the list started, no one would have thought that a YouTube personality would be recognized as one of the most distinguished 30 Under 30. Even today most people scoff at the idea of someone making a living off producing YouTube videos, but they don’t see the work that goes behind the scenes.

As someone who is working towards building a personal brand through social media, blogging, writing, and networking, I understand the work that these individuals have put into their channels, networks, websites, etc. I don’t just understand it, I admire it! These 13% of the list represent a new medium for creativity, media, and career. They show roles that did not exist a decade ago and they show that they are not roles to be taken lightly.

And do not get me wrong: I am not, in any way, trying to diminish the efforts or achievements of the other 87% of the list. These include newspaper contributors, reporters, entrepreneurs, inventors, software engineers, CEOs and presidents. Their accomplishments cannot be understated, and I want to congratulate each and every person who made the list.

But the 30 Under 30 is not just a list of names for us to admire. There are some real lessons that we can take away from this list. Here are just some of the takeaways from these incredible young people:

44% describe their generation (my generation) as creators. Compare that to 36% change-agents, 12% curators, and 8% consumers. These individuals recognize that those under 30 are obsessed with making, with bringing something to life, and it is how a lot of them found their success.

63% grew up in a middle class family. 20% came from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and 17% came from an upper class family. Again, what I find most impressive about these 30 Under 30, especially the 13% who utilize digital means, is their ability to take non-traditional approaches and make them work. By investing time and energy into things like social media and content creation, they have pioneered new roads to happiness and success.

The single most important traits include: Persistence, optimism, drive, confidence, passion, resilience, grit, focus, humility, and vision. What strikes me the most about these traits are the notion that none of them are “hard skills”. You do not need a certain degree to succeed, you clearly do not need to come from a certain background. What will fuel your journey to success lies within you. As an individual who is pursuing the path of indie authorship, comments like these really serve to reinforce my decision.

They define success as “Liking myself and what I do”. 50% claimed this as their definition of success. 44% cited achieving their full potential as being their measure of success. 4% defined it as being first, and only 2% claimed that wealth defined success. Similar to the above point, this only further inspires me to continue the path I have set myself on. Even if it means working harder to support that dream, our world is not one that settles for the status quo.

The Forbes 30 Under 30 list is a celebration, that is true. We should be happy for those who made the list, congratulate them on all that they have done in less than three decades of life, and hope that they continue making such great strides in their fields. But we should also learn from them.

The world is changing. Jobs, lifestyles, ideas of what does or does not constitute a career is changing. We live in a digital age where content creation is an incredible way of pursuing your passions. In the comments below, let me know what your passion is and how you are pursuing it! I know I will keep pursuing mine.

Who knows, perhaps you will see my name on that list in the next six years!