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"Millennial Mentor" Gerard Adams Talks Mentoring, Social Media at 1871

Serial entrepreneur, angel investor, philanthropist and co-founder of Elite Daily Gerard Adams wasted no time in sharing his thoughts on social media when he took the stage for a Fireside Chat Nov. 8 with 1871 CEO Howard Tullman.  “Had to grab my phone to get a SnapChat of this!,” he said.

But Adams, 31, wasn’t always so cozy with the concept of sharing his life through social channels. During an hourlong chat and Q&A, Adams -- the self-styled “Millennial Mentor” -- shared a variety of insights on how mentorship has shaped his life, what he’s learned through success and failure, and some very frank perspectives on how millennials think.

Here’s what we learned:

On his evolving views of social media: “I’ve been an entrepreneur for 13 years and I was completely against social media for most of my career.”

Adams said it wasn’t until he started seeing founders and entrepreneurs sharing their own advice through social media that he knew he had to “step up and do more for this generation.” Now, he starts his day at the crack of dawn with an inspiring SnapChat to his followers, and posts throughout the day. He’ll even give a shout out in each city he is in hoping some of his followers will come meet him. But, mentoring can’t be accomplished through social media along. Adams said face-to-face communication is key, and he tries to facilitate it as much as possible.

On his father, who he considers his greatest mentor: “(My dad) used to leave notes for me all over the house. I would go to get a glass of milk and there was a note there for me with a quote from Marcus Aurelius.”

After a fire destroyed his mother’s house after coming to the US, Adams said he learned it was possible to start over and overcome. After launching his first company, StockSpot, before the age of 20, Adams admits he was jaded by his success. But after the stock market collapsed in the late 2000s, he struggled to begin again. He went on to found the “Voice of Generation Y” Elite Daily, grow it to 200 employees with 80 million unique visitors a month, and later sell it for $50 million.

On keeping employees consistent with a mission: “How well you’re able to tell your story from the very beginning to the very end when you go to sell your company is the critical driver in getting someone to write that check.”

Everyone in your company needs to buy in to the company’s mission. Adams said he’s reluctant at first to assign specific titles to employees at his companies. “They have to sell the story, more than anything, he said.” Titles will come later. By his own admission, Adams said employees have to grow into what they excel at. “I’m a visionary, but there are some things, operationally, I suck at. I’m not a COO,” he said.

On the millennial mentality and connecting to brands: “I think that we just smell bullshit. Everything shifted for us (millennials) when the economy collapsed. We had to think outside the box. You had to start breaking the rules. If you really want to captivate us millennials you have to see eye to eye with us. Millennials connect more eye to eye, it’s authentic.”

Millennials demand authenticity from brands and influencers they follow. Adams said he admires the work of Adidas and Tesla as companies he personally connects with. When specifically seeking out advice and mentorship for himself, he’s “...not just listening to podcasts, but watching (mentors’) actions.”

For more information about Adams, his bevy of social media accounts and his YouTube series Leaders Create Leaders, click here.

Topics: Events, Insights