Back in 2007 I read a post on a site that is no longer showing up in a google search. So much for the internet “always” remembering. (But I do. Ping me if you forgot where you put your keys.)

The post was in the training section of the Manager Smarter website. The article was called “Straight Talk – Generation Why?” and detailed the author’s experience taking some twenty-somethings on a quick sailing adventure on Lake Superior.

The author, in full-on “Dad mode” thought it would be fun to explain the ins and outs of sailing using the navigation tools such as nautical charts, compass, etc. To his dismay they were all “meh” about the whole thing. However, the next day – when he turned on the GPS – with its color screen and buttons – the group was agog over the exact same information. The author leaves us with the words…

“No conclusion, no generational theory to advance. I’m just saying it was a little spooky.”

Here’s my quick conclusion…

The GPS was interactive (from their point of view.) They could push buttons, they could zoom in and out, they could change perspectives… they had some control over the interface and the information.

Today we live in a world where we have some control over the way information is presented. From the web, Snapchat, phone interfaces – we now control the experience – or at least a good portion of it.

From a motivation and influence perspective this is an important point.

Create all new marketing initiatives with user control built in. The less control the user has the less interested they will be and the less successful it will be.

Your audience will only feel like participants if they are participating. 


[Note: Originally published in 2007 – this has been updated and edited for 2017 audiences. Specifically, in the original article I focused on “Gen Y” vs. all generations. That was before I did more research and became more generationally educated and still believed millennials were different. They’re not. #fact. This applies to ALL of us anymore.]