Sometimes, the identity of these millennials is overlooked. We don’t think to put a face to the inventions we use every day. Alternately, millennials who work as producers or actors seem to be more recognized by the public. In any case, these awe-inspiring and innovative millennials have spent their years dancing to the beat of their own drum. Influential millennials have helped grow a culture of new innovation, communication, business philosophy and political equality. Their contributions will hardly go unnoticed, as they have set the precedent for future generations and overall cultural evolution.
Here are a few of the most influential millennials to date:
Mark Zuckerberg: While the founder of Facebook may be seen as one of the more obvious influential millennials of the time, his contribution to society will never go unnoticed. Zuckerberg was one of the social media pioneers. He succeeded in fulfilling his vision to connect people by creating a virtual, social network. As of 2014, a whopping 58 percent of the U.S. adult population uses Facebook. This is an astronomical number, considering its very specific purpose. While LinkedIn remains designated for business culture, and Twitter connects the world population over common interests and news, Facebook serves to keep intimate relationships alive. The notion that a person could maintain personal connections online was bizarre, if not unheard of, 20 years ago.
Sophia Amoruso: The CEO and founder of Nasty Gal is a millennial virtuoso, known both for her trendy style and unconventional, entrepreneurial process. Her fashion retailing company, founded in 2006, was named one of the “fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.” by Inc. Magazine. In her New York Times Best Seller #GIRLBOSS, Amoruso recounts the path that led her to create her thriving business, describes her off-beat entrepreneurial attitude and defends her general refusal to adhere to the status quo. This is what business looks like now. Amoruso not only understands her young clientele, but she has critically been able to build her empire based upon this knowledge.
Emma Watson: As a star of one of the greatest film series of the millennial era, Watson has since dedicated herself to setting a grand example for young girls and women as a United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador. Through her HeForShe campaign, she has been able to diminish gender inequality. During a worldwide Facebook conversation in March 2015, Watson addressed the misunderstanding between Millennials and many traditional Generation X parents about societal roles. She set forth several calls to action, noting, “I think it starts young, I think it starts really young with girls and boys being told what they can be. It’s not about men saving women. We need yin and yang. We need that balance. We need female representation. We need female leadership.” By using her celebrity to bring attention to these gender inequities, Watson is making a worldwide impact. As a Goodwill Ambassador, her focus is not limited to any one country.
Jaden and Willow Smith: This millennial sibling duo has gained quite a following in recent years, first through their acting and musical projects and now through their new existentialist philosophies. Like most millennials, they embrace boundless creativity and resplendent ambition, spending their time reading up on quantum physics and ancient texts. Reflecting on her work so far, Willow explains her debut song “Whip My Hair” as “a great thing […] When I look back I think, wow, I did so much for young black girls and girls around the world. Telling them that they can be themselves and to not be afraid to be themselves.” Now, Willow feels that she is making a difference inspired by “source energy and universal truths” in her philosophies. Jaden has found his own niche in Twitter, where his idiosyncratic posts are some of the most popular on the site. These two millennials are truly in a category of their own.
David Karp: While this web developer’s name may not be as widely known as Zuckerberg’s, Karp’s contribution is to the World Wide Web is just as monumental. Karp, founder and CEO of the blogging platform Tumblr, not only streamlined the blogging world but has also fostered a more relaxed work culture within his corporation. Karp once said he abhors scheduling, citing his belief that appointments actually blight creativity. He explained, “It’s so frustrating when you’re in the middle of a great conversation or work groove, and you realize, ‘Oh, I’ve got an appointment. I’ve got to bolt.’” Karp’s relaxed workplace is yet another example of the flexibility of Millennial company culture.
Malala Yousafzai: This 18-year-old Pakistani native gained the support of many after surviving a physical and targeted attack by radical terrorists against women’s education. Since the 2012 attack, this millennial has been named one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” She has continued her activism, written a book about her journey and won a slew of awards for her bravery, courage and dedication to women’s right to education. Malala now holds the title for being the youngest Nobel Prize Laureate. More than anyone else, Malala disproves the stereotype that millennials are inwardly-focused narcissists.
For all the criticisms leveled against it, Generation Y continues to find its voice in part through the efforts of these people.