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Young entrepreneurs and the myth of the lazy millennial

For many young people, millennial is something of a dirty word.

Where once the word served as a label for a generation – not unlike baby boomer or Generation X – over time, the term "millennial" has become synonymous with a demographic that is perceived as self-centred, lazy and unable to put down their phones.

But the truth is that millennials get a bad rap. They may go about things differently, but today's young people are socially engaged, community oriented, and dedicated to pursuing careers that are not just about money, but also about making an impact on the world around them.

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Having the chance to work with those kinds of bright young people is why I'm a board member at Enactus Canada, a community of student entrepreneurial leaders who are passionate about advancing the economic, social and environmental health of their fellow human beings. I am consistently amazed at the innovation and creativity of the work these inspiring entrepreneurs do as part of Enactus Canada and its parent organization.

Next week, Toronto will play host to the Enactus World Cup, which brings together a group of more than 3,500 student, academic and business leaders from around the world to share projects of entrepreneurial action and business innovation with the power to create a better world.

This year, Canada will be represented by a group of students from Memorial University in St. John's who have developed an efficient, low-cost and environmentally friendly hydroponic growing system that can produce affordable, high-quality fruits and vegetables all year round.

The students created this system to address food security issues in their home province of Newfoundland, but their technology could have practical applications in regions all over the world. So far, they have sold more than 100 of these systems, creating a business that now has 18 employees and has had a direct impact on more than 500 people.

This year alone, the systems will collectively grow nearly 72,000 pounds of produce for local consumption.

These are motivated Canadian students, making positive changes in their community. Not only does this excite me about the next generation of leaders, but it also reminds me about how we in the business community can do simple things in our life to make a difference for positive change.

There are plenty of great entrepreneurs out there, but those who can build businesses while also looking to have a positive impact on their community truly stand out.

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Television pitch shows like Shark Tank and Dragons' Den show a never-ending parade of millennials looking to make money, but success as an entrepreneur shouldn't be solely defined by your bank account. That's why I like the different approach that Enactus takes, and it's clearly resonated with young people who want to build a better Canada.

What's more, thinking about how your company can be socially responsible isn't just the right thing to do, it's good for business. Millennials – and indeed many consumers – are drawn to brands that look to help communities around the world.

Take a brand like Toms Shoes, which calls itself the "one for one company." For every pair of shoes Toms sells, the company donates a pair of shoes to someone in need.

Whether you're wanting to change the world through entrepreneurial action, or just want inspiration to revitalize your career, we can look to the students at the Enactus World Cup next week. The students will restore your faith in humanity and leave you with a new-found motivation to do better and more in your life.

By educating this next generation about the power of entrepreneurship and social good, we are helping the world to become a better place.

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About the Author
Social and Earned Media Columnist

A combination of entrepreneurial spirit and timing led Mia Pearson to co-found North Strategic, a communications agency built on the belief that social needs to be integrated into everything you do. A serial entrepreneur, Ms. More

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