An important element of Helena’s identity is found in its younger members. They are leaders in their respective fields; pioneering new social movements and technologies, expanding scientific and literary knowledge, and challenging the underpinnings of long-held orthodoxy.
Yet they are not selected because they are young. We are also not a youth-focused organization. Helena does not choose leaders of this age group for the purpose of education, mentorship, or development. The younger members are not selected to disproportionately direct Helena’s focus towards the “next” generation or youth issues, nor are they selected due to their proximity in age to Helena’s executives.
Why then, does Helena select younger members? The answer reveals two essential tenets of our philosophy.
The Decentralization of Power
The digital age, manifested in the form of breakthrough communication technologies, has democratized information itself. More knowledge is available to more people, in more places, than at any time before in all of human history. This shift has enabled a set of leaders to procure unprecedented global influence before reaching the age of 30.
This trend is only picking up pace. Of the top 5 technology companies in history by market capitalization, four were founded by entrepreneurs under the age of 25. An 18 year old has taken home the Nobel Peace Prize, as young people around the world have toppled governments, pioneered decentralized currencies, influenced hundreds of millions through social media.
That is not to deny that younger leaders have made their mark on history for thousands of years – but never before in history has such a high concentration of young leaders inhabited positions of influence in such a wide range of fields. These individuals are not “in development” or “on the rise.” Empowered by the networks of the digital age, many are current counterparts to the leaders of our time. Organizations that seek to create an impact must factor this change into their thinking.
The Next 50 Years
We are living in an especially important time in history. Over the next 50 years, society will have to make decisions of epochal consequence.
Many of the leaders that are beginning to make these decisions, and many the leaders driving the underlying movements and technologies that contribute to these decisions, are currently quite young. The unfolding 50-year future of arenas like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, synthetic biology, and energy production may hinge on technological developments that are only beginning to, or have not yet taken place. An unavoidable share of the leaders creating pioneering research, disruptive businesses, and policy developments in these fields are quite young.
For Helena to succeed in representing the leaders that will continue to be behind these developments, a proportionate membership of different generations is required.