>> Thursday, August 13, 2009
All I hear everyone saying is that it hardly feels like summer. Not at Saatchi Wellness!
This summer, we were lucky enough to work with Leah Gorky and Ali O’Shaughnessy, two outstanding about-to-be college seniors, who joined us as interns in the Strategic Planning Department.
It’s no exaggeration to say we put them to work: not only did they each support two planners, they had a special project of their own.
This past week, their last with us for now anyway, Ali and Leah presented their insights to a large group of folks here -- what wellness means to the youth generation, their generation.
The applause – and the interest – were real.
These young women are on their way to being great planners, marketers, or whatever they choose to be.
To cap off their experience, we asked Leah and Ali to blog a bit about what they learned in their ride with us this summer. I think you’ll enjoy what they have to share.
Hope this finds you well -- Jim.
Take it away Leah and Ali:
From Leah: “I just want to wake up in the morning and be happy”
That’s what one man said to us in a randomly conducted street interview. We were working on a wellness project—more specifically, what wellness means to 18-25 year olds and how it’s different from older generations—and we had ventured out into the city to ask people for some answers.
Despite the fact that a lot of people were unwilling to spend a few minutes talking with us, we did come up with a decent amount of data. After looking at all of the responses we’d obtained, we came to a shocking conclusion:
Our generation isn’t thinking about the future.
We asked, “What changes would you like to make in the next five years to be happier?” The responses were typically on par with the “deer in the headlights” look—lots of “um’s”, an “oh God” or two, and a “that’s a really hard question”. I think it’s safe to say these people hadn’t ever thought that far ahead without being probed by someone else...and even then they really didn’t want to.
At first, I found this fairly surprising because I am a planner. I am constantly thinking about where I am going to be in life in 5, 10, 15 years. I’m not saying I do actually know where I’ll be, but I’m always thinking about it. So naturally I think everyone else is doing the same. After getting past the initial shock, Ali and I had time to discuss.
Eventually, I realized a lot of people would have responded the same way. They weren’t the “weird ones” for not thinking about their future, but instead I’m the “weird one” for giving it more than a passing thought.
Most people my age are not concerned with after-graduation plans—they seem to think things will just fall into place. In fact, little to no thought is given to job security, financial stability, or even preventive health measures.
But who knows…maybe my generation has it right. Not burdened with the stresses that often come with thinking about the future, this generation is concerned with the here and now. While these individuals will eventually start thinking about their future more seriously, the current mentality can best be summed up by the respondent who told us, “I just want to wake up in the morning and be happy.”
From Ali: "wellness isn't always a solo venture"
I had a bad day. I pushed my way through the crowd in Penn Station and dodged people like they were obstacles in my way. I was commuting back home to New Jersey on a train like I did every day. I usually put my earphones in and blankly stare out the window waiting impatiently until we pulled into Princeton Junction. This day, however, I forgot my IPOD. I didn’t have my book, and my phone was dead. I knew this was going to be a long ride.
The train was packed that day. A man next to me gave up his seat to an old woman. She fell asleep 2 minutes after the train pulled out of Penn station. I heard a phone ringing from inside her bag. It must have been ringing for at least 10 minutes before I decided to wake her up. Maybe someone needed to tell her something urgent. She yelped and quickly opened her eyes.
“Excuse me, I’m so sorry to wake you, but I think your cell phone is ringing.” I explained. She looked at me, confused. I apologized again for waking her up and then she started hysterically laughing. At that point, I quickly regretted my decision. I apologized again and awkwardly scooted closer to the window.
“Oh, no! Don’t apologize dear. Thank you for waking me up. I just think it’s hysterical. You thought I had a cell phone! Hah!” She said still giggling. Her laugh was contagious. I immediately started laughing with her.
“Why do you think that’s funny?” I asked, “Everyone has a cell phone now.”
“You shouldn’t go jumping to conclusions,” she said with a serious tone.
I learned that she was 79 years old. She commuted every Wednesday to New York from Trenton to work in publishing.
“I used to get up every day happy because I loved where I was going. I still love what I do and that’s why I’m still doing it once a week,” she explained.
We talked the whole way home. I didn’t even realize that I was pulling into my station. Before I got off the train, she gave me a couple expired senior citizen tickets. I refused, she insisted, I graciously accepted.
“Just in case,” she said. “We commuters have to help each other out.”
For the first time all day, I was smiling. I looked down at the tickets in my hand and began to laugh. Nothing, not my IPOD, my phone, or my book has made happier than these expired New Jersey transit tickets.
I keep them in my wallet to remind me of her optimism. It made me realize that wellness isn’t always a solo venture. It’s meant to be shared perhaps through a favor, some good conversation, or even a useless gift.
- Ali O'Shaughnessy and Leah Gorky, Summer Interns in Strategic Planning at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness