When companies want insights into how to reach teens and young adults, they call 19-year-old Jonah Stillman.
Stillman, who skipped college to jump straight into the workforce, is co-founder of Gen Z Guru, a consulting company that he runs with his father. Gen Z refers to anyone born after 1997, and Stillman is selling himself as the poster child of the post-millennial generation.
LinkedIn hired him to speak at its Talent Connect event and consulted with Stillman for a program with company executives. The Minnesota Vikings tapped him to to help with team marketing, fan events and digital media content. Intuit revamped its recruiting strategy after meeting with Stillman.
Other clients have included 3M, Deloitte, Fannie Mae and Land-O-Lakes.
"I'm one of the very few Gen Zers talking on the topic of Gen Z, and there are very few that actually have data," said Stillman, who lives in the Minneapolis area. "It doesn't take much to share an opinion, but numbers don't lie."
Stillman sees Gen Zers as "digital natives," who grew up in a post-9/11 world in the middle of a recession, when the average household lost one-third of its net worth. In other words, they're very different from the entitled millennials who preceded them.
It's a whole new population, just graduating from college, for corporate America to comprehend. Employers have to thoughtfully consider how to recruit the youth, and then retain them.
"I really hadn't considered there was this new generation joining this workforce," said Nicholas Mailey, vice president of talent acquisition at tax software company Intuit. It affects "the things we need to do in terms of to engage talent and attract talent," he said.
The challenge is particularly acute for a company like Intuit, which has to compete with all of its better known Silicon Valley neighbors.