The Paula Gordon Show
Globalism, Tribalism And Your Kids

Janine Lopiano-Misdom

. . . is co-founder (with Joanne De Luca) of "Sputnik," a network of individuals who listen to young leaders and visionaries in North and South America and in Europe. They report their findings biannually in Mindtrends", translating what they learn on The Streets into marketing information for clients including Reebok International, PepsiCo., Levi-Strauss, Burlington Industries, Shiseido International and the National Football League Properties. Misdom lives in New York.


A coming creative renaissance, a retreat from racial distinctions, a focus on community and individual spirituality, a revival of poetry set to music -- young visionaries worldwide are leading a quiet revolution which will influence mainstream youngsters' actions, thoughts and buying patterns according to Janine Misdom. She tracks emerging trends among the young. And she says we should all be optimistic. Young leaders are.

Misdom and her colleagues are listening to young leaders and visionaries from underground fashion designers to youthful entrepreneurs, people shaping how computers are used to creating new music and club scenes. And she declares these young leaders have all the tools to BE optimistic.

Gone the days of market surveys, which Misdom believes only captures a static status quo. Listen instead to those already creating the future -- leaders and visionaries. Why? Because mainstream youngsters are right behind them. Major international consumer-oriented companies are convinced. They apply Misdom's and Sputnik's findings to their marketing, new product development, brand management and advertising.

Misdom sees distinctly different economic models emerging. She finds young visionaries want to enter strategic partnerships with corporations, not go to work for them. They don't want to be gobbled up by corporations, they want mentorships with them. They're fearless. They're out on their own, into "D.I.Y." -- Do It Yourself, do your own thing. They want to be a company's creative extension, not it's employee. And Misdom believes mainstream young people will follow that lead. Competition is out. What's "in" is "where you want to bring yourself."

The most direct link to young people is their music, according to Misdom. They look up to and follow music artists, not sports superstars or movie stars as other generations have. Their music is global and poetic, sturdy enough to carry powerful messages. Record labels no longer dictate the music now that young people can produce and distribute their own. How? New technologies and self-promotion.

Self-promotion, in fact, is a hallmark of the era Misdom believes. It's a specialty of today's leaders and visionaries. And at the same time, these same individuals also celebrate community -- from "the club scene" to the Internet.

Misdom says there is no one distinctive "youthquake" in our future. Instead, she and her colleagues have identified an enormous amount of creativity, which she compares to the Bauhaus era when everything was fair game. Leaders don't congregate, they see themselves as tribal. They're known in their own communities which have Raves, may be Bionic Beings, into Freestyling, Technorganics, or the Immaculate Perception. (Translations available on request.)

Misdom urges adults to be respectful of today's young individuals. Many of them have already followed their generation's visionaries to a new place. Or soon will.

Conversation 1

Janine Misdom tells Paula Gordon and Bill Russell that she is no futurist -- she doesn't think anyone is -- she's just a person willing to listen to the ideas being generated by today's young visionaries, help corporations and other adults to move beyond their fear of people different from themselves, i.e., young. She describes the mindsets of young leaders and visionaries who are difficult to reach but worth the effort. She describes how fixating on market surveys and studying today's mainstream youth mires one in the present.

Conversation 2

Misdom talks about underground designers to whom her colleagues listen and describes fashion, advertising and marketing's responses to young consumers. She identifies the fear factor which keeps corporations from reaching their audience, from accessing the people who will shape their markets. She distinguishes between mainstream young people and those who are visionary. She tells how what she and her associates are learning reflects broader societal trends, using "club culture" as an example. She tells why she and her company concentrate on the younger market, providing a window into creative thinking which yields some very surprising perceptions on the part of young people.

Conversation 3

Two schools of thought exist among young individuals thinking about the future, an "Armageddon" mentality and an optimistic one which sees a creative renaissance on the horizon. Misdom describes both. She describes the "diversity" going on in youth culture. She describes the important role of the hip-hop scene for young people, the music of which she describes as poetry set to a rhythm. She compares the "youthquakes" of prior generations to today's more diffuse cultures and movements among the young. She makes a plea for adults to learn not to edit to their own taste, using young people's urge to promote themselves as unique as her example.

She describes her entry into the consuming world of the very young.

Conversation 4

Misdom describes how her correspondents go into the environment of young visionaries and leaders to listen to their opinions. She describes "the scene" in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Austin, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, London, Berlin and Brazil and to a lesser extent, Tokyo. She identifies the "global" aspects which all share, including a strong bent toward individual spirituality. She tells how specific music, musicians and fashion leaders are affecting mainstream young people

Conversation 5

Misdom continues describing the importance of music and the new ways it is finding its way into the mainstream youth culture, changing the music business. ĘShe tells how the sense of community is being totally redefined by the young, both locally and globally. She talks about "creative anarchy' and gives examples of its positive impact. She draws parallels to the Bauhaus movement early in the century.

Conversation 6

Optimism is what Misdom finds among young visionaries and leaders. She urges an equal sense of optimism for adults in all capacities as well and tells why. She describes the eagerness of young leaders to be involved with but apart from major corporations and tells why she thinks that can be a profitable mix.

She names companies she believes are effectively listening to their young customers and celebrates the demise of competition as a driving force among the young.


Janine was a remarkably patient translator. She was good humored in bridging the linguistic gap between the very young and those of us who are less so. We enjoyed the visit into unknown territory!

Aditional Links:
Janine Lopiano-Misdom and Joanne De Luca's book Street Trends: How Today's Alternative Youth Cultures are Creating Tomorrow's Mainstream Markets is published by HarperBusiness, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

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