Exclusive Interview with author Jamie Borromeo on her new book, Young, Educated and Broke.

Young, Educated and Broke: Finding Hope For American in the Next Generation of Leaders
 
I have the honor of knowing Filipino American Author Jamie Borromeo, who shares about her exciting new book, Young, Educated and Broke. She highlights the experience of young people post economic recession, the relevance of Asian Americans in the national discourse, and her ambitious new mission to promote the next generation of business leaders in this exclusive interview. 
 

Young Educated and Broke book cover

 
RN: What inspired you to write Young Educated and Broke?
 
JB: Young, Educated and BrokeAn Introduction to America’s New Poor is a travel journal memoir. I take the reader to different locations around the world in the seven years after the recession through my own personal financial recovery and that of my peer group. From meeting the President of the United States, to my time working on Capitol Hill, to owning my own government contracting firm in Washington D.C. to chairing philanthropy events with President Clinton, I reflect on my unique experiences in public policy and its relevance to the national discourse. My observations point to the importance of having the next generation, Millennials (those born roughly between the years 1980-2000), work alongside generations that came before us to fix America’s economic problems. I highlight the need for an intergenerational discussion of what we want America’s future to look like. Baby Boomers cannot retire comfortably if they are still taking care of their adult children and their retired parents in the Silent Generation; Millennials cannot continue to enter the workforce without the mentorship and the resources from Gen X and Baby Boomers. Every generation must be at the table with solutions for America’s future at such a critical juncture in our country’s history.
 
RN: Why would you define this time in history as a critical point?
 
JB: Everyday, 10,000 Baby Boomers (those born between the years 1946-1964) will reach the age of 65. And this trend will continue for 19 years. When we have the largest generation to retire—Baby Boomers—being taken care of by the largest generation to go through a financial meltdown since the Great Depression in the 1930s, we run the risk of having a “lost generation.” When I say lost, I mean, for example, my graduating class didn’t even have a chance to gain the professional skills in the workplace our first year of college. My peer group was the first graduating class into the recession, so many of my friends couldn’t even get a job for a few years. And this lasted a very long time for some of them. I had one friend tell me they filled out 200 applications before they even got a call back for an interview. And mind you, this is someone who was a top student at a UC; this was not someone who was not already professionally developed. They majored in the sciences, dressed appropriately for interviews, arrived at least 15 minutes for any meeting scheduled, and worked very hard. High quality graduates from my college were “fermenting under the auspice of recovery,” as one friend said so poignantly. While the average American’s financial picture today has been, at the very worse, stagnant, our financial picture has been non-existent because we have no assets, low-paying wages and a lot of personal debt—not to mention the $17.6 trillion debt of our nation that we will have to pay off in the future.
 

Author Jamie Borromeo

 
RN: You deeply researched the state of Millenials and found them to be some of the poorest Americans. What else did you discover?
 
JB: The statistics are discouraging, that’s for sure.  There are 78 million Millennials in America. 6 million Millennials are neither in school nor in the workforce. 50% of us are taking a serious toll on our Boomer parents. Those between the ages of 18-39 are still being supported financially by mom and dad, including living expenses, transportation costs, spending money, medical bills and help with paying off debt, like student loan debt. 22 million Millennials still live with their parents. We, on average, carry $45,000 worth of debt per Millennial. We are marrying later, having kids later, and buying houses later. We, essentially, have an extended adolescence because we simply cannot afford to start families.
 
RN: History has shown other generations have overcome economic downturn. What makes the Millenial experience unique?
 
JB: Other generations certainly had their share of sacrifice and financial turmoil, but what makes this generation different is that we have a perfect storm of terrible scenarios we were born into that still have not been solved. 
 
In the 1980’s when I was born, the deregulation of television had a huge impact on the worldview of Millennials. We were practically commoditized out of the womb.  America put toys in our cereal boxes, toys in our Happy Meals and we were bombarded with commercials in a way that had never been seen with other generations. Corporations had free reign over the airwaves, so whatever they were selling, we were buying.
 
Then in the 1990’s, a PBS documentary titled “Merchants of Cool”, revealed this corporate ploy to capture Millennials as consumers. They discovered my generation to be a lucrative consumer market. So what did they do? They hired “cool hunters” to go on school campuses and find the coolest kids in high schools to wear their name brands, buy their products and essentially sell their brand to other students. They used guerilla tactics to get in with our peer group. Corporate now had access to young people directly through peers. Through focus groups, studying the habits and behaviors of Millennials, and by covertly marketing to us on school campuses, corporations had found a way to distort youth culture. This was done in a way in which no other generation had been manipulated or commoditized.  
 
So now you have a generation obsessed with consumerism, with the American Dream defined by what you own, how much money you have in the bank, and what brand name you are wearing. Well, the Great Recession didn’t allow for the consumer culture to thrive, so we now have to redefine the American Dream. 
 
Another key characteristic is that we have an extended adolescence during very critical years in adult development. Just as there are critical years for a child’s development, there are critical years for an adult’s development, and that is the decade of the twenty-somethings; the decade all of this happened for my graduating class. Dr. Meg Jay wrote The Defining Decade and said 80 percent of life’s most significant years happen before the age of 35. So for me personally, a lot of this financial turmoil started when I was 21. I am now 29, and my generation has spent almost a decade of our lives experiencing what the entrenched poor has always gone through: trouble finding a job, not being able to pay for rising food costs or cost of living, trouble paying rent, homes getting foreclosed on, debt collectors harassing you, not enough money to pay for health care… the list goes on and on.
 
RN: How can this situation be resolved? Do you see a solution?
 
JB: Yes, there are numerous solutions. The main solution I propose is that we need to have an entrepreneurial and workforce development movement. Our country has not invested in teaching entrepreneurial skills, financial literacy or basic business skills. If young Americans cannot find jobs, we should be teaching Americans how to create their own jobs. Young people should be learning the skills for future industries, and we should be interacting on a global level. This is a global economy, so we need to go further than domestic enterprises; we need to educate young people about our value in the global marketplace so we can begin to export our products and services to other countries.
 
The second solution is that more conversations and solutions need to come from having intergenerational discussions. Baby Boomers need to be willing to mentor Millennials, and Millennials need to have the humility to know that we still have a lot to learn—a Google search will not give us all the answers we need. Conversations around the kitchen table with mom and dad, grandma and grandpa can be a great starter. Millennials need to re-learn American history so that we remember 1) America has not always been this way and 2) we have an incredibly resilient country; one in which we fought some of the most challenging societal situations. Women’s Rights, Women’s Suffrage, World War I and II, the end of slavery, the end of segregation, the list goes on and on. 
 
The third solution I pose is that Millennials can use technology and social media to tell our stories and to organize around this issue. This is where we are powerful and where I believe we will make the greatest impact.
 
RN: How can the Asian -American community come together to help find a solution?
 
JB: Well, it’s interesting you bring that up, because in Chapter 6, I actually talk extensively about my Asian American roots. As an Asian American, Filipina American, and woman, I found it disingenuous if I did not discuss my Asian heritage in a memoir. There are not enough Asian American authors telling our story, so to tell my story from the lens of a Millennial who happens to be Asian American, gave it a very unique perspective that I think some readers will appreciate.
 
It is clear that this generational problem is universal; this has nothing to do with race or gender initially. The Great Recession hurt most Americans, regardless of color, race or creed.
 
But here is why minorities and Asian Americans are so important to this discussion: By 2043, ethnic minorities will be the majority. The Black, Latino, Asian American, and Native American populations will exceed the number of Caucasians for the very first time. Studies have shown that communities of color have historically lower graduation rates, lower lifetime incomes, lower homeownership rates and are not traditionally in leadership positions in corporate boardrooms or in politics. 
 
So this poses a problem: if historically underserved communities will become the majority in America, wouldn’t that mean a majority of Americans will be underserved? When the majority of our citizens are members of a minority community that is underserved, this becomes a serious national problem that should be worked on with the same urgency as our most pressing domestic concerns. 
 
If the future majority (minorities), can work with America’s future generation (Millennials) to solve these problems, we can work on a united front to address the needs of the marginalized of society. The very good news to this rather depressing story is that the children of the very wealthy are even struggling in this economy; no one is immune at this point, except for the richest people in America; the 1% of the 1%--where most of our country’s wealth is currently concentrated. 
 
Income inequality in the United States is at an all time high, and if the marginalized in society can band together with a shared mission of ensuring we restore our national ethos, there is certainly hope. I think that the minority community, including Asian Americans, will play a significant role in the next few decades in redefining this American Dream and ensuring that a diverse set of solutions are brought to the table. I don’t believe the American Dream will necessarily be about money and prosperity and owning things; I think our values will be placed more on who we are as a society rather than what we have. And that, to me, is the hope in this whole story.
 
RN: What strategies do you have in mind to share the important information in your book?
 
JB: Well, I’m having a few pre-release events this year, and next year I have ambitions to visit every UC and Cal State in California to recruit other like-minded Millennials to create awareness of this very large problem. I plan on using the performing arts, media and the entertainment industry as the medium for my message.
 
My first stop was at the National Association of Asian American Professional Annual Conference on September 5. It was at both their career fair at the Anaheim Hilton and at their evening reception at Downtown Disney House of Blues with my Millennial Street Team.
 
 
I was joined by my dear friend, Actor and Filmmaker Michael Copon, who also happens to be Filipino American. Michael has acted in movies such as: Scorpion King 2, Bring it On and in shows like Hawaii-Five O, One Tree Hill and most memorably, back in the day, he was the Blue Power Ranger!
 

Actor Michael Copon will be on Jamie's book tour

 
Michael has such a big heart, and he and I met at a Filipino American Summit at thie White House this year. The minute we met, we knew we had to work together. His studio, Michael Copon Studios, will produce a documentary to highlight the stories of Millennials in America—through the lens of Asian Americans young entrepreneurs. It is a very exciting project. Since I am now living in Hawaii these days (I am originally from LA), we plan on shooting the scenes here on the Big Island and then taking the documentary to each tour stop to film this Millennial Movement. It feels fantastic to know that Filipinos and Asian Americans are becoming more relevant in the discussion, and that we have found agency in changing the world together.
 
My first pre-release fundraiser will be at the Beverly Hilton on September 26, in partnership with the Asian Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. We do plan on attending the panel discussions before the awards ceremony, and we will be at the VIP Cocktail Reception.Special guests include Actor Michael Copon, Jason Le’au, a Samoan-Hawaiian DJ here on the Big Island who spins for the Top 40 radio station here in Hawai’i, as well as Radhaa Nilia, a Filipina American actress, model and filmmaker. 
 

Actress Radhaa Nilia will be at Jamie's book tour.

 

Jason Leau will be attending Jamie's book tour.

 
Following my pre-release party, on October 4, I was invited to be a speaker at TedxKamuela in Waimea, Hawaii to discuss my book. TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world. It has been an honor to be among the many experts and public speakers who have done Tedx Talks.
 
The official launch party for my book will be held at the Four Seasons Hualalai in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i on January 2015. I have Kumu Keala Ching, a well-respected spiritual Native Hawaiian teacher on the island, who will lead an intergenerational healing ceremony where young people lead the leiing ceremony for the kapuna (elders), and the kapuna pass the torch of knowledge in 2015 to the young people through a candle ceremony. It will be a beautiful event to bless the New Year using Native Hawaiian ritual and chants. 
 
RN:  Fantastic. Where can your book be bought?
 
JB: They are always welcome to come to the pre-release events, but they are also welcome to visit Barnes and Noble nationwide to pre-order the book. My book is also available on Amazon.com and at Powell’s Books, which is the largest independent bookstore in the world. Any support right now would be much appreciated. Whether buying a book, or purchasing a ticket to the book signing parties, the financial contributions really help us get this message out to as many young people as possible. I believe in America’s young people, and I believe we can solve these issues if we are united in our mission.
 

Author Jamie Borromeo

 
About the Author

Jamie Borromeo is a Millennial commentator with a uniquely illuminating perspective on Gen Y and its interaction with the business, political, and social spheres. She currently is the President of THE E&J COMMISSION LLC, a marketing and contract strategies firm based in Washington, D.C. She is also co-founder and CEO of GenerationDrive Entrepreneurs Network– a national non-profit that mentors young adult start-up firms. Ms. Borromeo has co-chaired the Clinton Foundation Millennium events in both New York City and Hollywood with President Clinton and Honorary Chair Chelsea Clinton to engage the next generation of leaders and philanthropists on global issues. She formerly served on the Small Business Advisory Group for the U.S. Department of Energy and was a founding member of the Democratic National Committee’s Small Business Council. Borromeo was named one of “America’s Top Women Mentoring Leaders” in the 2011 issue of WOW Magazine. She has been a featured speaker at the White House Filipino Leaders Summit, Tedx, CNN’s Reliable Sources, NBC, CBS Radio, and AsianWeek. 

Borromeo graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from the University of California Santa Cruz, and is a graduate of the UCLA Anderson School of Management, Management Development for Entrepreneurs Program.

For more information on Jamie’s Book Tour, visit her blog at:
www.jamieborromeo.com
Tickets for Book Tour:
www.jamieborromeo.com/bookstore/
Pre-order a copy of Jamie’s book at:
Amazon.com:
www.amazon.com/author/jamieborromeo
Barnes & Noble: 
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/young-educated-broke-jamie-borromeo/1118882138?ean=9781630470913
Powell’s Books:
http://www.powells.com/biblio/62-9781630470890-0
 
 

Celebrity Journalist Radhaa Nilia

To keep up with my latest travels, red carpet events, fashion and films, follow...

Radhaa Nilia Productions: http://www.radhaaniliaproductions.com
 

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