I like time-travelling…I do it a lot. I often choose a year and travel back to it. The only glitch is that it has to be within 24 years I have been on the planet and I have no power to change what has happened – but nonetheless – I love time-travelling.
So I’m going to quickly travel back to 2010. That golden year, the year when many things changed for me; the year where my path in life became a little bit more clearer. See, in 2009 I spoke in the House of Lords, was invited to the Lord Speaker’s private quarters beforehand and made history in doing so. While it was a proud moment it did not define my path, so…fast-forward to 2010.
In 2010, I was the brainchild of O2 Think Big’s first national campaign and not to toot my own horn but we blew it up. The idea was to create a platform that would allow adults and young people to communicate, specifically helping adults understand why young people did the “stereotypical” things associated with them. The campaign was called ‘Why Do?”
The premise was simple create a website, get a group of young people to answer questions asked by adults and then promote the website. Over 8 weeks the campaign interacted with 250,000 people and O2′s facebook ‘Likes’ went up by 68% – I told you we did it big.
Now, whilst I was going through the paces on the campaign I had a lightbulb moment -“why don’t I write a book about the generation gap and attach it to the campaign? Use the questions and answers from the website as a starting point for the book, yeah! This is BIG! I’m going to pitch that to O2″
So, one sunny day I am walking over Westminster Bridge to hold a meeting with two executives from O2 and a few executives from the Advertising company responsible for my campaign; my spirits and enthusiasm were high. I entered the meeting and exclaimed, “I’m going to write a book on this campaign! I’m going to collate all the questions and answers from the website and put them into the book and make it like a – like – like a manual for parents and adults – a “go-to” guide for adults. What’d you think?”
“Erm, Sabian. I’m not sure we have the budget to sanction that and as the campaign is coming to a close we’re not sure the timing is great,” one of the executives replied.
All I heard was “I’m not sure we have the budget to sanction that…” and the world came crashing down. I pinned a lot of hope on O2 buying into the idea and giving me the support I needed to get writing but hearing that they wouldn’t was a sure blow.
“Don’t worry Sabian, we will help you. We’ll sit down and think this one out,” the comforting words of the MediaTrust staff member who had been accompanying me throughout the campaign and help she did until all avenues had been exhausted and again I found myself between the jaws of obscurity. An idea going to waste.
Despite all of this, I began writing my book, my mother was enthused by the idea and was constantly pushing me to get it finished and basically she said, “Just do it.” However, my will to complete it was not as strong as it was when I first had the idea. I was writing in bit part, I think at one point I even stopped writing for a good six months even though I had completed over 50 pages of writing. My mother kept telling me “you’ve written enough, get it out. You are wasting time and losing money.” In my head, the only thoughts were “yeah yeah yeah, but who is going to buy this book?”
I just happened to be browsing ebooks and I saw and advertisement for Kindle Direct Publishing MAA LO!!!! (Yoruba for “Go Away!”) All this time and there was a platform for me to publish my books myself? I was dragging my feet and moping like my mother confiscated my playstation (she actually made me throw it away as punishment when I was 9, in hindsight I wonder if that affected our relationship…hmm that’s for another post) I could have just listened to her and done it myself.
Another barrier was that some of the adults I’d spoken to were sceptical of what a person my age with no children could possibly tell an adult with years of experience and a family. While I accepted that many adults may be sceptical. I also believed that what I had to offer is something no one else has even attempted to bring to parents – an objective view of the way young people see things.
I want to tell parents about what goes on in school environments that they may not be aware of because they lead such busy and stressful work lives. I want to tell parents about how their children are joining gangs because they feel part of a “family”. I want to show parents how the traits, skills and competencies that they may or may not have had when they were younger has shaped the negative and positive traits in their children. I want to show young people that they do not need to throw their lives away for the sake of wearing designer clothes. I want to prove that if it is done correctly, wisdom can come from the mouths of babes and that adults can put their pride away to listen.
That is what my book is all about proving that the solution to the generation gap has to be a two-way process. Something needs to come from both sides and that is commitment and understanding.
The book is titled “Bridging The Gap: Understanding Young People Today” I can guarantee that you will not find another book that goes back through history and looks at the traits of the older generations and then analyses the young generation. I can guarantee you will not find another book that takes stereotypical questions from adults and provides you with unedited answers from a large number of young people over a range of stereotypical topics. I can guarantee that you will not read another book that breaks down the world in which young people live without all the stereotyping associated with such tasks. I can guarantee that MY book will enlighten you.
There will come a time when the ‘generation gap’ will pop up and
I can also put in a cheeky guarantee and say YES, a young person CAN teach a parent about parenting but not from the seat of a parent rather from the seat of an objective observation. Don’t take my word for it…my ebook has a preview on amazon…see for yourself!
Sabian Muhammad is a 24 year old entrepreneur and educational worker. He has worked with children from the age of 9 months old to young people aged 21 years old for the last 9 years. His experiences has seen him work on policy development with the Department for Education, sit on the LOCOG youth panel for London 2012 and speak at various education forums around the UK. He currently co-directs an educational agency that bridges the gap between businesses and educational providers and also provides skills enrichment training to young people around the world in employability and enterprise. Follow him on twitter: @TheRealSabian and check out his blog