What this 17-year-old CEO wants you to understand about Gen Z

(Photo courtesy of Jared Makheja; Artwork by Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)
(Photo courtesy of Jared Makheja; Artwork by Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)

Jared J. Makheja is 17 years old and is in 11th grade. He is also a CEO. Jared founded a company called the Elevator Project, with a mission of helping people to find their way out of poverty through education. While Jared has already made a significant impact on his local community, he has aspirations of helping the whole nation and even the entire world.

Name: Jared J. Makheja

Age: 17

Favorite app: Pep Talk. While it’s not very common with people my age, I use this app to motivate and prime myself every day before school. It has numerous compilations of motivational speakers and celebrities who send messages to listeners that inspire them to become the best versions of themselves. During my drive to school, I listen to the “For Your Mornings” playlist, and it has hours of motivation that help me to perform my best in school, on the field, or while on stage.

What he does: I am an 11th-grade student at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., and also the founder/CEO of the Elevator Project.

Three words he’d use to define Gen Z: Innovative. Altruistic. Resourceful.

How the Elevator Project become a passion: When I was younger, my parents took my siblings and me to a D.C. soup kitchen every year as a community service outing to give back. I would serve food to the impoverished community and sit down with some of the people I served. During my conversations, a man named Juan told me about the intense struggles of living in poverty and how there was a lack of jobs that he could get because he had minimal education. I realized I was so blessed growing up, as I was able to live to my full potential, but unfortunately Juan was not as lucky. This led me to creating the Elevator Project. It would enable Juan and other impoverished individuals to live to their full potential by attaining a higher education and one day rising out of poverty.

What he wishes older people understood about Gen Z: While it may look like all members of Gen Z are attached to their smartphones and refuse to help people but themselves, in reality, all Gen Z-ers just need to find a passion. But once they find their why or purpose, nothing can stop them. For example, I never fully saw the value of helping others until I actually did it. After the first few times, I went to help and serve others, I realized that serving others was my calling, and then I made it my mission to look out for others before I looked after myself.

How he thinks Gen Z will change the world: Gen Z-ers are very innovative and resilient. We can look at a problem, find many ways to solve it, and will not give up until we actually execute our plan. Using this creativity, Gen Z can solve the problems that have plagued our world for too long. For example, poverty has plagued our world for too many years. I believe with the tested method of the Elevator Project and my passion for serving others, one day I will eradicate poverty.

His greatest accomplishment, so far: While getting a perfect ACT score and doing well at a great high school are some of my best accomplishments, my greatest accomplishments in life are when I can look any of the graduates of the Elevator Project in the eye and know that I have enabled them to change their life around for the better and now he/she is out of poverty. Knowing that I made a positive impact on that man’s/woman’s life is more of an accomplishment to me than any test score.

What he’ll be doing in 10 years: When I get older, I see myself still embodying the traits of serving others, no matter if it is 10 years, 20 years, or even 50 years, I know that my personality and outlook on my service mentality will never change. I also know that I will continue the Elevator Project into my adult life, as it is a very large part of my being. While I hear my friends say they want to be doctors or lawyers, I know that I want to be in the service industry in some capacity, as I feel truly fulfilled every time I do something, no matter how small, to help others and expect nothing in return.