Are millennial-led panel events helping or causing stagnation?

Millennials have a soft spot for panel discussions. Panel discussions have become the rule, not the exception for a generation that outnumbered everyone in the labor force in 2016. There are numerous connotations that older generations pigeonhole millennials in. Lazy, entitled, and ungrateful are a few of these, ricocheting through corporate buildings and quaint coffee shops. But you can’t call millennials uncooperative, or unengaged. With each passing day comes another mention of an upcoming panel discussion on social media, meaning that discussions are being had and opportunities are being shared. The consumption of this information is the real question at hand.

A beautiful graphic, comfy venue, esteemed speakers and reasonably priced Eventbrite tickets are all one need to host a panel. Some would argue that panels and events are an oversaturated market, but numbers say otherwise. According to event marketing company splashthat.com:

  • 73% of millennials want to attend a panel because of the topic being discussed
  • 56% of millennials attend panels for networking and new connections
  • 53% of millennials go to panels for free food and drinks
  • 47% of millennials show up for free merchandise

The aforementioned reasons represent the mindset of most people when attending an event. Everyone loves free items and cool merch, but is there any amount of knowledge being shared? Are there solidified opportunities at the end of each face-to-face interaction and handshake at the conclusion of each panel? Will millennials put the information they’ve learned to use, rather than let it lay dormant in their Notes app? Do we even need any more panels?

There are national-international panels out there that people receive tangible knowledge and big breaks from. Two of them, Young Moguls With A Plan and Millennial Empowerment Expo were created by Detroit creatives.

Young Moguls With A Plan is the brainchild of Chi “Le’Don” Uwazurike. He started the panel series after finding runaway success in fashion and events. He’s currently planning for the 13th edition, which takes place on January 25. “I founded Young Moguls With A Plan in 2014 in hopes to bridge the gap and connect young millennials on the rise,” said Le’Don. “In five years, I’ve presented over 12-panel discussions all over the country. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with a few names that are successful in their discourse, who were generous enough to help me with this vision.”

Rashad “Bald Jesus” Hosea and Kuddles “Kuddi” Hopkins, owners of popular clothing brand “WEALTHY” created the Millennial Empowerment Expo in 2018. Their goal was simple; They wanted to honor their peers who are causing positive disruption in the world. Before the actual event, they release a “Top Millennials List” representative of their intrinsic mission.

Outside of Detroit, events such as the REVOLT summit and the Forbes Under 30 Summit are also great representations of substance-based panels. I’ve attended the Forbes Under 30 Summit Conference in 2018 and 2019 and received life-changing opportunities each year. I took advantage of every connection, improved job-based documents, and followed up with individuals after the event.

Panel events should empower other millennials, not provide a quick dopamine hit along with a creative Instagram recap. Furthermore, panels shouldn’t serve as platforms to belittle others because of individualized journeys and pathways. With every panel should come an increase in exposure and opportunity for others. And if this goal is met, then others will be inspired to carry the baton of success through panel discussions.

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