Is Youth Really Wasted on the Young?

It was the great Irish dramatist and author George Bernard Shaw who famously declared that “youth is wasted on the young.”  He later expounded upon his derogatory remark about young people of the day that “they’re brainless, and don’t know what they have; they squander every opportunity of being young, on being young.”  I imagine general sentiments from older generations haven’t strayed too far from that opinion so directly expressed many years ago.  But does it carry any weight today?  Are the benefits and gifts of being young truly unused and unappreciated by younger generations?

With more children among differing socioeconomic classes seeking betterment in this country, and the number of students enrolled in higher education programs greater than ever before, I believe, for the most part, the young people of today are better prepared scholastically and philosophically than those of previous decades.  They have the tools necessary for self-realization of the benefits and gifts that come with youth.  Many of you will argue that young Americans have been pampered by parents and have remained relatively sheltered from similar periods of financial hardship and social atrocity that previous generations have witnessed.  But no matter if Shaw was correct in his feelings or just spouting-off like a grouchy old man, we must embrace the fact that Generation X’ers and Millennials are the future, all of our future.

With regards to the life and health insurance industry, young people are more important to the business than ever before.  A vast majority of active insurance agents and brokers are over the age of 40.  This trend must be tempered or we face the slow extinction of the agent – an imperative role in the worlds of finance and insurance.  Mentoring and educational programs must be revisited and enhanced to cater to the interests of younger advisors, something that insurance companies have widely neglected in recent years.

Organizations like NAIFA and their Young Advisors Team (YAT) are taking the steps necessary to close the generation gaps between the ranks of insurance advisors.  They work to bring progress and excitement about the future of a business traditionally run by reactionary, gray-haired executives.
Now is the time to accept that young people are the future of our business.  They have the intelligence and drive to evolve the business, expanding our influence and increasing the chances of success for every agent and broker.  But they need veteran guidance.  They need to be respected as colleagues and praised as the next step forward.  Youth, therefore, is not wasted on the young as long as they are guided by the wisdom and experience of the old.