#SWAAYthenarrative

2 Billion Under 20: Changing Millennial Stereotypes

Career

For Stacey Ferreira, invention is the name of the game. At the ripe age of 24, Ferreira founded two companies and she's not done yet. Her current venture, Forge, is an on-demand temp agency, in the form of a mobile app. Right now, the popular gig is to be an Uber driver or a Postmates delivery person. The trend of working in an open format, where you can set your own hours affords you the luxury of supporting yourself while pursing a dream or other career, such as acting. That is to say, Forge retains the concept of flexible hours, but takes it beyond courier or transportation provider, into stints as a retail sales associate or working in QSR.


Ferreira, who wrote the book 2 Billion Under 20, is a college drop out. While this may not offer images of success, the one-time NYU student aims to challenge the notion that there's one right way to do something, specifically that you need to go to college to be great.

No one needs to read the book to know that a formal secondary education is becoming more of a financial burden with lifelong repercussions than the key to success.

While some millennials are lazy and entitled, the same can be said of every generation. Ultimately, it comes down to media’s specific narrative, and the “lazy, entitled, etc.” narrative just stuck. Maybe it's because of social media, maybe it's because of the fact that most pre-teens have cell phones, but either way, is it Millenials fault that they were born into this digital time?

Another part of the Millennial narrative is the notion that they are over-dependent on their parents. Ferreira likes to give the credit of her initial success to social media, but really she should be giving her parents the credit. “If I hadn’t logged on Twitter and I hadn’t seen that Tweet coming through my feed,” she says, “we wouldn’t be where we are today.” The story goes that Richard Branson Tweeted about an opportunity to have dinner with him for the reasonable price of $2k a person. Being two “broke college students,” Ferreira and her brother borrowed money from their parents. Their parents said they wanted the money back in two months, (which was paid back using one million in seed funding from investors).

“If I hadn’t logged on Twitter and I hadn’t seen that Tweet coming through my feed we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Ferreira isn’t just another trust fund baby who wouldn’t be where she is without her parents. But even if she were, is it such a crime to accept help from parents who are willing? It’s true that not everyone has that luxury, but does that mean that people who are able to get family assistance shouldn’t? That being said, few people who responded to Richard Branson’s tweet – irrespective of how they funded their invitations – did great things with the results. And there are certainly people who took more than $2K from their parents and did absolutely nothing with it.

There is no one way to achieve greatness, or even mediocrity or failure. The founder of Snapchat graduated from Stanford University, while Stacy Ferreira, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs didn’t finish school. Clearly, an education is more than just a degree.

5 min read
Self

Lessons Learned and the Power of Turning 50

Except for 16, I have celebrated all of my milestone birthdays in New York City.

I turned 16 in Arnold, Missouri. Arnold is a small town (though not small anymore) 20 miles south of St. Louis. St. Louis is known for the Gateway Arch, a beautiful arch of shiny stainless steel, built by the National Parks Service in 1935 to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's vision of a transcontinental U.S. St. Louis is also known for its custard, a frozen dessert that is so thick, they hand it to you upside down with a spoon inside. Something else about St. Louis you should know is that there is a courthouse just steps from the base of the Gateway Arch where one of the most important cases in history was tried: Dred Scott v. Sanford.

I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive.

Mr. Scott was born into enslavement around 1799 and, in 1830, was sold to a military surgeon who traveled back and forth between his military posts in Illinois and Wisconsin, where slavery was prohibited under the Missouri Compromise of 1820. In 1842 the doctor and Mr. Scott both married, and they, all four, returned to St. Louis. Still enslaved, Dred Scott filed a lawsuit against the doctor's wife for his and his wife Harriet's freedom. We don't know exactly why he chose this moment in time to file a lawsuit, however, he did. At the time of filing his, now, famous lawsuit, he was 50 years old. Ultimately, The Scott family did not gain their freedom, but their profound courage in filling this case helped ignite the Civil War and what we would come to know (or think we know) as freedom from enslavement for all human beings. Powerful then and even more powerful now.

My next milestone was turning 21, and I did it in the Big Apple. Having only moved to "the city that never sleeps" a few months prior, I knew nobody except my new friends, the bus-boys from the restaurant I was working at, Patzo's on the Upper West Side. And, yes, pazzo is actually the correct spelling of the Italian word, which translates to "crazy." Trust me we all had several laughs about the misspelling and the definition going hand in hand. I worked a full shift, closing out at around 11 PM, when, my kitchen team came out from the line with a cake singing, "Cumpleaños Feliz." It was fantastic. And the kindness of these almost-strangers was a powerful reminder of connection then as it still is today almost 29 years later.

I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy.

When I turned 30, I had just finished a European tour with Lucinda Childs dance company. The company had been on tour for months together and were inseparable. We traveled through Paris, Vienna, Lisbon, and Rome. We ate together, we rode on a bus together, we had drinks after shows together, and we even took turns giving company class to get warmed up before a show. It was deeply meaningful and dreamy. We ended the tour back in New York City at BAM, The Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was an incredible way to end the tour, by being on our home court, not to mention I was having an important birthday at the culmination of this already incredible experience.

So, when I invited everyone to join me at Chelsea Pier's Sky Rink to ice skate in late August, I was schooled really quickly that "tour" does not mean you are friends in real life, it means you are tour friends. When the tour ends, so does the relationship. I skated a few laps and then went home. This was a beautiful lesson learned about who your real friends are; it was powerful then as it is today.

Turning 40 was a completely different experience. I was in a serious relationship with my now-husband, Joe. I had just come off of a successful one-woman dance show that I produced, choreographed, and danced in, I had just choreographed a feature film, John Turturro's Romance and Cigarettes, with A-list actors, including Kate Winslet and James Gandolfini, who became a dear friend and had even been on the red carpet with Susan Sarandon at the Venice Film Festival for the movie a year earlier.

And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age.

This was a very special birthday, and I had, in those 10 years between 30 and 40, come to cultivate very real friendships with some wonderful colleagues. We all celebrated at a local Italian restaurant, Etcetera Etcetera (who is delivering for those of you in NYC — we order weekly to support them during COVID), a staple in the theater district. Joe and I were (and are) regulars and, of course, wanted to celebrate my 40th with our restaurant family and friends. We were upstairs in the private room, and it was really lovely. Many of those in attendance are no longer with us, including Joe's Dad, Bob Ricci, and my dear friend Jim Gandolfini having transitioned to the other side. Currently, that restaurant is holding on by a thread of loving neighbors and regulars like us. Life is precious. Powerful then and today even more so.

I write this article because I'm turning 50, still in New York City. However, I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive. And I could not be more filled with hope, love, possibility, and power. This year has included an impeachment hearing, a global pandemic, and global protests that are finally giving a larger platform to the Black Lives Matter movement. Being able to fully embody who I am as a woman, a 50-year-old woman who is living fully in purpose, takes the cake, the rink, and the party.

I'm making movies about conversations around race. I've been happily married for 11 years to the love of my life, Joe Ricci. I'm amplifying and elevating the voices of those who have not previously had a platform for speaking out. I choose who to spend time with and how long! I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy. Being 50 is one of the most amazing things I ever thought I could experience. And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age. I'm 50 and powerful. Dred Scott was 50 and powerful. This powerful lesson is for today and tomorrow. We have the power. No matter what age you are, I invite you to use your powerful voice to join me in making the world a better place.