Kenyan TikTok sensation, Kui Gakuo gave us all the tea on Gen Z and the workforce, her perspective on work, and her content creation journey.
Every generation has its own way of dealing with things. We have been used to society running in a certain way for so long that seeing Gen Z change the status quo took us by surprise. Gen Z's do not take disrespect from anyone within the workplace, they know their worth and are not afraid to stand up for themselves.
Charlette Gakuo Wambui is popularly referred to as Kui Gakuo or “Ule dame wa Gen Z” on social media. You may ask what Kui has to do with Gen Z and the workforce. Well, she has been creating content over the last few months centred around Gen Z in various societal and professional roles. Her videos are a hilarious reflection of what it would be like to have a Gen Z boss, doctor, teacher, or even therapist to name a few.
When you’re not chuckling at her videos on your social media timelines, then you’re probably wondering which Gen Z character she’s going to embody in her next video. Luckily, we got a sneak peek into Kui’s perspective on Gen Z and the workforce, which proved quite illuminating. Read on below.
So tell us about yourself
My name is Gakuo Charlette Wambui but I prefer going by Wambui Gakuo because I’ve tried getting people to pronounce Charlette and they just can’t (laughs). Nowadays, I’m known as “Ule dame wa Gen Z” everywhere I go, b
How did you first start creating Gen Z content and what inspired you to start?
I started creating Gen Z content at the end of June. I was seated in the office and it occurred to me that we as Gen Z will be future leaders and career professionals. So I thought to myself that if I was a doctor and someone told me they were sick, what would I do? I thought this would be a good source of content and is something I relate to because other ideas have already been done. I wanted to do something different so that when you see me, you immediately think of Gen Z.
There are different definitions of Gen Z out there, but what is your description of who Gen Z is?
One sure thing is that we love enjoyment, but the older generations often think we are lazy or don't have much to contribute. We are very misunderstood and I wish more people would have an open mind about who we are.
As much as I portray Gen Z as being clueless or not knowing what we're doing and we joke about it, at the end of the day, we always get the job done.
Would it be fair to say that Gen Z in the workforce is trying to break that barrier where you can show your personality while getting things done and progressing your career?
Yeah, I’d say that.
From personal experience, I have multiple piercings and two tattoos. When I'm going to work and wearing a skirt, the tattoo will show. I don't try to hide it or make it look like it is wrong to have because, at the end of the day, it is not going anywhere.
I'm thankful that my boss is not one of those employers who insist on me covering up my tattoos or piercings because of what clients will think. I feel like we should embrace that - not judging people based on whether they have piercings, tattoos, or dreadlocks.
How can the different generations in the workforce do better to understand how Gen Zs communicate, establish boundaries, and cooperate?
I’ll share another personal experience. When I was applying for my current job, my boss asked me what I would bring to the company, what they could expect from me and how I would better the company and increase traffic. The first thing that came to mind is that I could take pictures when clients come and post them to attract attention. However, that wasn’t what he thought at first. Of course, you can share content with people and tell them about the business, which seems like a lot of work considering you’re doing the same thing repeatedly.
Gen Z is very digital. If something happens to me right now and I post about it, someone will screenshot, and repost it and the message will get a lot of attention within a short time span. Gen Z needs to understand that we do not think in the same way as older generations. So if someone wants you to explain to them how Instagram works, you’ll have to explain it step by step. You need to be patient with them.
The older generation also needs to understand that we are very hands-on and quick to come up with solutions. In short, all generations should figure out how to work together one way or another.
There's an ongoing conversation about Gen Z quitting jobs and being always ready to leave. Is that true and what can companies do about this to ensure they're not always afraid to bring young people into the company because of it?
Many people in my generation face depression due to growing up in toxic homes, bullying, or other reasons. So as you grow up, you might become very sensitive. If such a person goes into a company where they constantly experience triggers, it could become a toxic work environment for them.
I don't want to say it is true, but it is. The slightest thing can trigger someone nowadays and their work performance may drop or they'll start coming in late. You’ll also find that they don't want to leave the house because they know when they go to work, they’ll experience triggers for things they don’t want to remember. Essentially, If you treat Gen Z in a certain way, they’re out of the door.
Read also: Is Gen Z misunderstood or do they just suck at keeping a job?
We’ve talked a lot about how Gen Z is shaping the workforce. What does an ideal work environment look like for you?
First of all, our generation is very smart and I wish parents would stop pushing the idea that you cannot get a job if you don't have papers. Do you see how the CBC curriculum is focusing on kids’ creativity instead of teaching them about the Pythagoras Theorem?
P.S. I haven't used the Pythagoras Theorem since I finished high school, (laughs) but I can sing, dance, write and do so much more.
Our generation is not really looking for a 9 to 5 job where you wake up, go to work to sit behind a laptop all day, go home, and then do the same thing the next day. That's why most of us are venturing into music, vlogging, or social media content creation. We want people to see that we are more than what society says we are. Just because someone did not finish school or pursue a Master's degree or a conventional career path, does not mean they are stupid.
We want to be out and about in different places and be active. It's not always about 9 to 5s, laptops, skirt suits, and high heels.
What would you tell people who don’t know how to speak for themselves at work? Also, how can Gen Z in the workforce handle the criticism they receive from employers?
Do not limit yourself. I think it’s the worst thing you can do to yourself. If for example, you're in a workplace where people are leaving their jackets on your desk to hang because you're the youngest, you have to say no. Respect is a two-way thing.
You can't expect me to respect you just because you're older than me while you do the opposite. I also deserve respect. Most of the time you'll find that a Gen Z will disrespect someone who's older if they disrespected them first.
Don’t sit in silence because you need that job or you want that money. You’d rather say something and they don’t do anything about it, instead of suffering in silence every day because of money. God will open doors elsewhere and you will thrive.
What are some of your red flags in a boss?
Do you see those suits that you wear and each button looks like it’s fighting for its life? That is one. Because why are you forcing issues? That is probably the type of person who would ask me to write a report when it's not my job to do that. (laughing).
The second one is discrimination because of gender, skin colour, or any other reason. We should all be treated equally in the workplace.
Third, when they’re not willing to listen to whatever ideas I bring to the company or always shut me down because they assume I don’t understand that things have been done a certain way for a long time.
The last one is if they just look fishy. There are some people whom you’ll just look at and something about them just doesn’t sit right with you.
We know content creation is not easy. Do you feel any pressure from yourself, your followers, or others to keep creating content?
Yes, I do, especially from other people. But it’s not bad pressure. They want me to post because they want more, they love what I’m doing and relate to the content, so it’s a good kind of pressure.
As a content creator, you have to be consistent, keep people interested, and attract followers. Initially, when I started content creation, I used to post a video every day from Monday to Monday, but then I realized I also need to give my followers that anticipation of when and what I was going to post next. So I decided to switch to at least four videos weekly.
Also, whenever I post a video, usually within 20 minutes the comment section is already filled with suggestions for Gen Z content. I have to deliver all of them because I honestly love what I do. There's no internal pressure, but sometimes I'll push myself to get up, think of something, and post a video for people. That's as far as it goes.
What is your goal in terms of content creation in the near future as you keep growing and look forward to new opportunities?
I’ve gotten a lot of comments on social media to retire the Gen Z content, especially on Twitter. However, the love is so much more than the hate and I don’t get fuelled by these negative comments.
Anyway, with time, I will evolve and progress to something different other than Gen Z content, but I want to be known as “Kale kasichana ka Gen Z.” I also plan on doing brand collaborations and I see myself going far. There's so much ahead of me and I am stopping at nothing.
One final question, what’s your favourite Gen Z video that you’ve created?
I really love the one I made about a Gen Z being kidnapped. I actually woke up at 7 a.m. to post that video straight from bed with my hair looking crazy. I took my gown and the car keys and then went to the car because I wanted it to look as realistic as possible. Also, the one I did about Gen Z as traffic police.