Jonathan Haidt, Shark Tank, and the Millennial Mindset
Why letting people you love fail is better than clearing the way for their success
In my free time, I enjoy watching Shark Tank pitches. I was never an entrepreneur, but I find the game theory about what and who you want to pitch fascinating.
For the record, the top shark I’d pitch is Lori. Too many people fall for the allure of Mr. Wonderful or Mark Cuban but miss that Lori is by far the most successful shark on the show with her products. The only other shark I’d want to work with is Daniel Lubetzky, founder of KIND Products, given he also graduated from Trinity.
The reason I mentioned Shark Tank is a pitch I watched recently given by a recent college graduate. The intelligent guy gave a product pitch that, while good, was not good enough to have gotten an offer by a shark. What was striking was before his pitch, his mom told him how proud she was of him. When Mark Cuban gave him honest feedback, the guy broke down in tears over rejection.
Jonathan Haidt is a professor at NYU’s Stern School. In 2018, he wrote the book “The Coddling of the American Mind,” about how millennials have been coddled by helicopter and bulldozer parents. It was a great read and one that I had seen up close both my college and graduate school. I will never forget the shock I had one Saturday morning in 2014 when I walked into the laundry room at college and saw a mom doing laundry for her child, who was still asleep in her dorm room. Thankfully, my mom made me do my laundry since middle school, and I couldn't help but be embarrassed for this student and mom.
For the first time, I had seen a mindset of people my age and how a lot of time parents tell them how great they are but don't prepare them for failure. Because of that, Haidt wrote that anxiety and depression was on the rise the first time adversity hit.
In January 2014, there was a college student-athlete named Madison Holleran who made national news. Holleran was someone on my radar because she was my age and also a runner for her cross country team at Penn. Tragically, Holleran passed away that January. ESPN’s Kate Fagan wrote an excellent profile after her shocking death. It's something I read every few months. Here's the thing: Holleran’s family started a foundation focused on mental health for college students like Madison who may not have known that it's okay to not be okay. Her story resonated with people her age, and her foundation has grown exponentially.
In an interview with Bill Maher, Haidt talked about how antibacterial wipes are bad for immune systems. That parents even with the right mindsets hurt their children when wanting to clear the path only for their success. I'm thankful that my parents weren't that way for me. I'm hopeful that my generation will learn from this and be better for their generation. Do it for Madison.
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