I recently met with our company’s Rosenberry Society members – these are young professionals, mostly in their 20s, who are making a difference in their community by supporting the United Way with their time and their talents … and their money. We have around 100 Rosenberry members who are learning together about philanthropy, networking and service.

I also believe these will be our future leaders.

Listening to their stories reinforced how important this decade – their 20s – is for tomorrow’s leaders. Finishing studies at college, moving to a new city to take a new job, learning how to be productive for a company that hired you, starting to get serious about personal relationships, perhaps marriage and/or thinking about a family and kids … there is no decade with as much change and disruption and growth as your 20s.

This time truly sets the stage for the next several decades. And yet, in talking with this group, I’m reminded of how wide the range is for each person’s individual development.

For example, during introductions, one person had just started a new job and was super excited; another was having her third child; one had just moved; and one was excited about his new video-game high score.

Different roles and different developmental stages, yet each of these individuals was excited to talk about where they were headed and how they were supporting their community with their gifts. Each wants to make a difference now – and at the same time, I believe, pave the way for their futures.

It was a privilege to address this group, to hear them talk about their lives, and to talk about leadership. I came away energized!

The discussion with this group reminded me of Meg Jay’s book, The Defining Decade, which I recently read. This was recommended by a friend who, like me, is well past his 20s. But he shares the same passion I have for trying to help young people develop and grow.

The book by Dr. Jay dives into the unique power of our 20s and the formative role these 10 years play. As I met these young people, I thought about Dr. Jay’s research and advice for people just getting started with careers, families and roles in our society. And I thought about how it related to this group of young leaders.

Dr. Jay’s research argues that this time period – the 20s – should be an intentional time. The time to think about getting a job is … before you have a job. The time to think about a family is … before you have a family.

And from a workplace standpoint, the same logic applies. The time to think about managing others is … before you are managing others. The time to think about leadership is … before you’re a leader. And, more to the point with this group, the time to start giving to charitable causes, like the United Way, is … before you have your highest earning power.

All of these attributes can be considered “habits” that can be thought about intentionally, nurtured, and developed in your 20s.

So, it’s important for current leaders to recognize how important this time is – for our workforce and potential larger role employees, for our kids or grandkids, and for others we interact with who are in this great decade of personal growth.

“There are no guarantees,” Dr. Jay says. “So claim your adulthood. Be intentional. Get to work. Pick your family. Do the math. Make your own certainty.”

The Defining Decade message makes me even prouder of and more impressed with the group of young people in our company. This Rosenberry Society, which doubled in size in 2013, is living intentionally, creating the culture they deserve by constantly learning, honing their craft, and living to lead and serve.

Get the book. Pass it on to a twentysomething you know. And maybe, just maybe, this book will have a nugget or two of advice for thirtysomethings, fortysomethings or higher.

Thank you for the great session, Berries!