Heard the most depressing ad on the radio this weekend.

Some yahoo has decided to launch a national search for the “Top 20 Under 20”. Just what I needed the week of my birthday is to hear that. First off I’m already a decade past being eligible for “Top 40 Under 40”, and I’m sure there is a “30 Something” award program that probably wouldn’t even let me attend their ceremony.

But Top 20 Under 20?

One of the advertised criteria is for candidates to identify their contribution to the world. Wow, we hope to find twenty teenagers in this country who have already made a contribution to the world? Seriously, there may be only twenty living teens on the planet that have truly impacted the world.

Perhaps we need to flip this paradigm on its head. Instead of awarding the young, why not recognize the worthy? Recognize those who have accrued, achieved, accomplished.

Top 100 over 100?
Top 90 over 90?
Top 80 over 80?
Top 70 over 70?
Top 60 over 60?
Top 50 over 50?

These awards would be a marketer’s dream, perfectly targeting the wealthiest cohorts in society, and loaded with rich content.

I’m a fan of today’s youth and their potential, enthusiasm, and creativity. Young minds today are powering the greatest innovations of the business world. Young minds are pushing the boundaries of how politics are conducted. Young minds are producing the charities that are tackling the biggest issues created by our flawed world.

Without today’s youth, my company doesn’t exist.

But without the Great Ones who will qualify for my Top “Over” awards, the stage upon which youth perform today would not exist. The Great Ones fought off dictators, stared down oppressive regimes, created a stable economic model, built robust education systems, and made health care attainable. All of which will produce more nominees for my awards than I can possibly imagine.

Good luck to all the Top 20 Under 20 nominees. But when I’m blowing out the DOZENS of candles on my birthday cake this week, I will be wishing for those who deserve even more recognition.

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