I’ve had the privilege of speaking to people from many different walks of life in my line of work and have interviewed many of them for the Namastir Podcast, but not all of them have their own Wikipedia page. I recently sat down with George Chanos, Nevada’s 31st Attorney General, and we took a deep dive into his work with the millennial generation, how disseminated information isn’t always what it appears, and how information should be approached by the discerning mind. Listen to the whole conversation on Namastir here.
Turning Tragedy into Teaching
Brushes with tragedy have a way of re-centering one’s priorities. What might seem important one day feels trivial the next and thoughts about things you wished you had accomplished in life take center stage. For George Chanos, that brush came in 2012 when he suffered a heart attack. Despite a successful law career, followed by a stint as Nevada’s Attorney General, Chanos’ first impression of near-death was an urgent need to pass what he had learned in life on to his daughter.
Says Chanos, “I wanted to download whatever knowledge I had to my daughter as an asset, so that she could use it in the event of my death. So I began to write a letter to her and that letter became very long. And the longer it became the more I started looking at it as a book.”
However, the more Chanos wrote, the more he realized that the lessons he was trying to impart were, in some cases, outdated. “I was essentially telling her and other young people what I had learned in 30 years of professional experience. Then I realized that the world I had lived in was not the world they were going to live in.” This realization prompted Chanos to begin researching the millennial generation, the challenges it faced, and the challenges it would face in the future. From this analysis sprung his book: Millennial Samurai: A Mindset for the 21st Century.
A Generation of Millennial Samurais
Talking heads have had a lot to say about the new generations as baby boomers and Generation X have grown older, and millennials and Generation Z have arrived. In particular, millennials have had a hard time taking up the mantle, according to economists, social scientists, and even everyday Joes. “As we aged out and the new millennial generation rose up, the media was talking about them very differently than they had talked about us,” Chanos says. “They were disparaging them, basically saying they’re entitled, they don’t care about hard work, they don’t share our values.”
As Chanos dug further into the millennial generation, he found that the challenges facing millennials are not only vast, but unprecedented. “There’s going to be massive change that occurs over the next 10 years and the people that are going to have to deal with that are millennials. The world is going to be met with a technological tsunami that is going to create rapid and radical change. We’re going to be retired. The younger generations – millennials, Gen Z – they’re the ones that are going to have to tackle the world’s problems.”
As a generation that has been unfairly maligned as unable to cope with the world around them, how should millennials decisively and confidently take the mantle from the older generations? According to Chanos, the key is to be aware and flexible. “You’re going to have to have an open mind. You’re going to have to be a lifelong learner. And you’re going to have to continuously adapt to a seismic shift in technology and automation and advanced learning and artificial intelligence.”
Unlocking Your Learning Potential
As the first generation to be children after the advent of the internet, millennials have been a potential target of bad actors for their entire lives. As such, they have been forced to build walls to protect themselves that previous generations never dreamed of having to create. But there are powerful forms of protection that millennials and younger generations can utilize to separate the wheat from the chaff, namely critical thinking.
“First of all, you need to be aware of the level of change that’s coming. You also need to understand that a closed mind doesn’t learn. You don’t have all the answers. We all have malleable brains that are extremely susceptible to manipulation. My phone has 100,000 times the computing power that Apollo missions had in 1969. Everyone has one and everyone can reach anyone. Using that power to manipulate other people is a huge potential vulnerability.”
Approaching every piece of information that you encounter with the mindset of neutral observation and critical thinking can help you uncover instances where you are being manipulated to believe one viewpoint over another. This takes time and effort but can help you remain above outside influence. “You have to interrogate information. Brains are affected by confirmation bias, group think, tribalism… When information is presented to me, I don’t just assume it is true. I don’t take those ideas at face value. Like Aristotle said, the man who thinks he knows everything knows nothing at all.”
A Long Road Ahead
Millennials and Generation Z face unique obstacles as they begin to acquire a deeper understanding of the world around them, the exploding advances in technology, and the shadowy figures who would exploit their learning curve for their own gain. But these younger generations are not without support or resources. Learn more about George Chanos’ work and research in technology and community at PeopleReign.com. For more conversations like this on learning, growth mindsets, management, and more, visit Namastir.com.