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Compelling challenges
July 20, 2007, 8:17 am
Filed under: Digital Strategy


I’m working on the most delicious challenge. Engage and excite the students who have the right stuff to rule the world.


It’s a tremendous relief- the solution doesn’t have be be cool or catchy, but the hook must be very, very smart. Compelling. It must challenge and excite engagement and understanding. It’s an invitation to those that get it and barrier to those that don’t.

The reference image is the wording of an ad  Ernest Shackleton placed to solicit men for his 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Not a very enticing offer, but 27 men did sign on, and although they were unsuccessful in the technical sense—before they even set foot on land, their ship was crushed in a vise of ice, marooning them for more than a year—they did manage, miraculously and heroically, a safe return.

While the men who took the challenge earned their place in history, the ad itself seems to be a fable. I’m hoping to create a real call to action that inspires heroes too.

Research can just open your mind. I’m loving our Millenials. What an amazing generation we see growing up before our eyes. They are formally educated, technologically literate, adept at multitasking, intuitive detectors of bullshit, an ambitious bunch of young people who have a pretty good handle on the kind of world they live in.

I take my hat off in awe and thoroughly believe that the world will be in very good hands.


4 Comments so far
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Hi Katie, I’ve had the same experience while studying Asian kids. They are quite inspirational for being more open minded than our’s and previous generations. But I would love to know how you worked out that they detect bullshit so well. Any feedback would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Comment by charlesfrith

G’day Charles.
This would have to be one of the most quoted insights into Gen Y in this country- you can see it reported not only in the ad industry, but in mainstream press too (go on just for fun do a Google search on Gen Y or Millennial and ‘bullshit”)
My favorites asking and observing techniques:
• online conversation/ meme mapping (there’s a million blogs written by and talking about GenY, like
• syndicated research like Lifelounge Urban Market Report
• books like Peter Sheahan’s “Generation Y”
• and guerrilla focus groups (my favorite question to uncover tone is “tell me what you think is naff”)

Comment by katiechatfield

[…] Charles over at Punk Planning had some interesting observations on some of the statements I made in the post Compelling Challenges. […]

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[…] I’ve been working on a project, to create a compelling challenge to match energy and enthusiasm with experience and opportunity, a challenge for economic […]

Pingback by Challenges for the 21st Century « Get Shouty

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