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25 BIG IDEAS FROM GEN-YERS UNDER 25
On December 14th, 2009, Seth Godin released an ebook called "What Matters Now".
It featured big ideas from some of the most interesting and accomplished people in the world. People like Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of e Acumen Fund, an organization that invests in projects to ﬁght global poverty. Or Hugh Macleod, a former ad man who turned weird scribblings on the back of business cards into a best-selling book and a thriving company. We took in his work - reveling in the insight and inspiration of the book. And then one of us (Crystal) had the great idea of creating similar book ﬁlled with contributions from the younger generation. She asked Seth, who said "Great idea! Go do it!". So she emailed her friends, including one of us (Jason) who was just as excited about this project as she was. us together we created this "25 under 25" project. But what to name the endeavor? We liked Seth's title "What Matters Now" as it acknowledges that ten years into the 21st century, we are awash in the change that we knew was coming in the 90's and 00's. But we realized that while many adults have adapted and learned to thrive in this bold new world, our generation, Gen-Y (or Millenials as some call us) are right at home. And we’ve got our eyes on the future. Among us include a newspaper executive/nonproﬁt founder/former NCAA athlete, a college dropout startup CEO, a 24 year old war refugee turned activist doing youth
empowerment work in Kenya, a graphic designer who's the guy behind Design for Obama, Design for Haiti and coauthor of a book with Spike Lee, a 12 year old two-time published author who’s spoken at TED, and a computer science women’s rights activist from Uganda. ese people have done incredible things in less than two and half decades of life and have exciting ideas for what the future holds. We don’t intend for this book to showcase a bunch of “stars” that far outshine “mere mortals”, but to emphasize that anyone can do this. Being remarkable is not a magic trick, it is a decision to go beyond what others think is reasonable, to set high goals and strive to achieve them. What we hope leaps out of the pages is this: “It’s never to early to choose greatness.” So what is this book? It is an record of how we, the young, are integrated members of this cloud-computing, mobile apping, social do-gooding world and how we are making a di erence now and for years to come. And it is a call to action to youth, parents and educators everywhere - yes, some Millenials are entitled, self-absorbed and lazy. But many of us just need a spark, a chance to take responsibility, an opportunity to show the world what we’re made of. Our generation is going to change the game. proof. Are you ready for what’s next? Jason Shen and Crystal Yan May 16th, 2010 is book is
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.”
The Cupcake Maker, The DJ, & The Engineer
ARIELLE PATRICE SCOTT
I have some good and bad news. I'll start o with the bad as I've been told that's a better way to do these things. e bad news is the term 'diversity' was o cially added to the business buzz words list. It can be found sandwiched between "synergy", "leverage" and yes, "social media". If I could deﬁne our generation in one word, I would say 'diverse' but it would not mean the same thing to someone over 35 as it does to the 24-year-old sitting at Starbucks working on a selfheating music-based sweatshirt. We are diverse. We are engineers who practice
Jam Session 2.0 by Cain Mosni
salsa, chefs who help our friends with their taxes and runway models who quote Marx in interviews. I titled this e Cupcake Maker, e DJ & e Engineer not because I have had the pleasure of working with all three, but because I have had the pleasure of watching their unstoppable ﬂow of creativity once placed in the same room. ey did not have a systematic approach to innovation nor access to inﬁnite resources. ey had their individual hopes and the ability to work together. Remixing and mashing up
We are engineers who practice salsa, chefs who help our friends with their taxes and runway models who quote Marx in interviews.
individual passions was all it took. anks to Generation Y, that's all it takes today. Just like the baker, the DJ and the engineer fusing their goals to change the world together, these small groups of people with diverse backgrounds and diverse futures are sprouting up across the world. ese small groups are ﬁlled with bright-eyed young people who actually believe they can inﬂuence; young people who are just as terriﬁed of the unknown as everyone else but driven by that fear. All that said, I guess I never quite got to the good news. e good news is: through our youthful acceptance of each other and our uncanny ability to blend dreams, we've already changed the world. So, what's next?"
Arielle Patrice Scott is a Berkeley senior, founded internshipIN and is building a network of young entrepreneur meetups called GenJuice. She is a youth digital strategist and helps companies understand how to join youth conversations online. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @ariellescott
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s mission is to provide entrepreneurship education programs to young people from low-income communities. I love their work and want to support them.
Climate change. Global poverty. Environmental devastation. These are haunting words. And they are accompanied by haunting images. Africa’s population will double by 2050 as our planet’s population rockets towards its high point, some 9.2 billion people. e next forty years will bring increased heat, scarcer water supplies, and desertiﬁcation. ey might also bring largescale drought and agricultural failure. is transition is hard to imagine on a human scale. Will this new generation ﬂood into crowded mega-cities like the Joads of e Grapes of Wrath? Or will they try against all odds to eke out a living among dark clouds of dust? ese sorts of jeremiads invoke instinct on our part- surprise, sadness, fear, surprise, and maybe even guilt. But what do we think next? We make these issues into problems
Picture courtesy Chris Bennett
that require solutions. We consider what the obstacles might be- fossil fuels, bad government, capitalism, whatever- and how we might overcome them. I want to suggest that this sort of thinking is misguided. We must focus on positive possibilities, not deﬁcits, if we are to make a di erence. We
We must consider not only root causes, but also how we can create and continue sustainable abundance.
must consider not only root causes, but also how we can create and continue sustainable abundance. So let’s try again. e coming years won’t be an easy transition. But they also present our best chance yet to reinvent a sustainable global society. ese challenges gives us pause and possibility to create an extraordinary future- one in which an emerging planetary civilization can embrace, in the words of Lincoln, the better angels of our nature. How might we realize this sort of transition? We must ﬁrst recognize and use the immense abundance we already possess- in wealth, talent, and knowledgeto design our future. I’m the co-founder of an organization called Evolving Heroes that wants to spark personal to planetary transformation by doing just that. In close, I want to contrast images of challenge with that of possibility: of an employment system that prioritizes compassion and global reform in addition to material wealth; of an educational system that breeds dreamers with a pragmatic twist; and of a society in which ﬁnancial and human resources are available to all, and not just the lucky few.
Chris is a senior at Stanford University and the co-founder of Evolving Heroes. He loves to travel and has appeared in a Bollywood movie opposite Snoop Dogg. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: EvolvingHeroes.com
The Acumen Fund. Why? It’s the only organization I know of that has the moral imagination to change the way we think about poverty.
Investing in People & No More Boundaries
Investing in People. How many times have you heard the words ‘investing in people’ as a nonproﬁt slogan or a corporate tagline or touted as an international development policy? at phrase has been recycled into many di erent avatars in as many contexts. But what if you took this phrase literally? What if you could actually invest directly in people, the way you would in a company, and receive dividends per an equity stake in their future income? I believe that human capital investments are the future of ﬁnance. Venture capitalists and angels invest in companies primarily on the strength of their founders because there is little data to evaluate the performance of startups. If they believe in the founders’ potential, they wager on the company’s success. Yet, as Mark Suster, a VC at GRP Partners, points out – VCs’ incentives regarding the performance and sale of a company are o en misaligned with founders’ incentives. A multi-million dollar company sale could be life changing for an entrepreneur but only represent 2x return for a VC, tempting him to block the sale. While I certainly don’t advocate doing away with the venture capital system, I think that VCs could stand to literally have an equity stake in founders, such that they
Picture used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of m00by (via Flickr)
help entrepreneurs realize their full potential over time and are invested in their continued success over the course of several companies. In 2010, three social entrepreneurs made the decision to take cash infusions in exchange for a percentage of lifetime equity. I believe we will witness more such cases over time. I came to this idea of investing in people to solve the enormous global problem of education ﬁnance. e potential of millions of students around the world is tragically wasted because they lack the funds to pursue higher education. I founded a company Enzi that lets people invest in the education of talented students in exchange for a share in their future income for a ﬁxed period of time. e current system of education ﬁnance via loans is broken. Students have to repay ﬁxed debt loans regardless of their circumstances but in Enzi’s model, repayments
Human capital investments are the future of ﬁnance.
are always a ordable because they are income-based. Traditional lenders don’t care how well students do in life but investors’ incentives are more aligned – they accrue greater returns if students realize their full potential. I believe in a future without the ﬁnancial barrier to education, where investing in people is mainstream and individuals’ future potential has real value. No More Boundaries. Facebook recently included in default settings the ability for friends of friends to view your photos. Twitter’s follow model doesn’t empower you to decide who gets access to your thought trail, unless you protect all your tweets. Location-based/geo services like Foursquare, Loopt, Gowalla, and Brightkite broadcast where you are at any given moment to people in your social network. Mint.com collects your credit card, purchase, assets, loans, and other ﬁnancial data to o er you hassle-free money management tools. Blippy broadcasts your purchases – what you bought and how much you paid for it – to your followers on the network. While these services are opt-in, others are not. Google Maps cameras have captured the likeness of thousands of citizens in their street view snaps. CCTV is ubiquitous. We live in a world where organizations have access to our data whether or not we give explicit permission. e Patriot Act has allowed the U.S. government shocking access to citizens’ personal data in a move unseen in history. But you already know this. And you probably fear it a little – this loss of privacy. So I challenge you to consider the potential for social good a orded by these blurring boundaries. By permanently recording everything we do and say, the new web is shunning traditional notions of privacy. Could the tools of this new open society elicit greater transparency and accountability? Businesses could drive deeper e ciency and collaboration by tracking inter-o ce communication. e fear of a haunting digital trail of crumbs would force politicians to mean what they say and say what they mean. Citizens could be empowered to monitor public and government spending down to the last penny. Could the loss of boundaries actually make a more honest society out of us?
Ashni lived in Bombay for 18 years before attending Stanford, where she studied Human Biology, English, and International Education in her undergrad and graduate years. She is Founder and CEO of Enzi, a social venture that lets people invest in students' education in return for a share in their future income for a xed period of time. She has previously worked for two social ventures, Mobile Metrix & Gumball Capital, and has blogged for PopTech! on social innovation. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @ashni
Connecting women, refugees and youth to life-saving work. Because it respects the dignity of labor instead of giving handouts.
“Fashion and breakdancing” aren’t normally the ﬁrst words that come to mind when someone mentions “social activism and entrepreneurship”; but actually, teenagers around the world are doing what they love to convey much larger messages to the world.
Picture courtesy of Stitch Tomorrow
Last November, I was presented by the British Council with the ultimate platform to scale my activism up with a Global Changemaker Summit in London where I met 60 active teenagers from across 44 countries. Beyond forming unbreakable bonds with my new family, I returned to Japan with a new perspective on activism by listening to their stories. e key aspect I learned was that what each of us had in common was that the broader goals of our activisms were centered on our personal passions. Take Joao from Portugal, for instance. He uses breakdancing as a means to eliminate criminality in his community by providing youth with an alternative method of expressing themselves. Zuhal from Iraq formed a youth led orchestra to emphasize the peaceful side of her country. Sarah from Sri Lanka is no
exception with her anti-smoking teen campaign Kick the Butt. is in mind, Dinar (co-founder of Stitch Tomorrow) and I decided to adapt this model to address an issue in the region we’re from, South East Asia. I love shopping. I can spend hours in the streets of Harajuku feeling constant rushes of excitement when I see pieces of fabric designed into dresses that I would never have imagined. Dinar shares this outlook and is also intrigued by the art scene. We thought that perhaps, if we could use this language of art and fashion—which teenagers already speak and love— to stem from another language of social activism in poverty, we would be able to draw more teenagers to be active to help underprivileged teens. us, a few weeks a er the Summit, Stitch Tomorrow was born.
The truth is, our community projects are our playtime. We’re having fun while enriching others.
Stitch Tomorrow is an entirely youth-led microﬁnance initiative that ﬁghts poverty using fashion and creativity. It guides poor South East Asian teens to create their own fashion lines and gets the privileged youth involved in the process, whether that’s by helping to design clothes, modelling, journalism or even simply buying clothes. Although Stitch Tomorrow has not done much groundwork yet, I feel blessed everyday when I see how far the organization has already come in one of its main goals of stimulating teenagers to get involved. I read recruitment applications and sense the overﬂowing excitement from teens all over the world (even as far as teenage boys in Switzerland and Austria!) as they tell me why they want to be part of the team. Yet what really motivates me to keep going is when I read that it’s the ﬁrst time these teenagers have ever done community work and view Stitch Tomorrow as a stepping stone to do what they love in a meaningful light. When I had the chance to attend the World Economic Forum 2010 in Davos, many of the world leaders asked my fellow ﬁve youth Global Changemakers and me where we ﬁnd time to do our activism in the middle of schoolwork and playtime. e truth is, our community projects are our playtime. We’re having fun while enriching others. Being a Global Changemaker and the cofounder of Stitch Tomorrow for me is exciting, powerful, and beautiful. All it took was trust in God and the willingness to do try something by doing what you love with a di erent pair of eyes. You’re a Changemaker, too.
Picture courtesy of Yomiuri Shinbun
A 16 year old Filipino living in Japan, Carmina Mancenon is the cofounder of the 1st Kanto Plains Global Development Essay Competition and committee leader of her school’s Habitat for Humanity Committee and church's JapaneseFilipino Community. Carmina was also the youngest participant in the World Economic Forum 2010 and was named a Global Changemaker by the British Council in 2009. Besides having the heart for fashion, Carmina be pursuing nancial engineering at Princeton. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @carmiina
"The barriers are not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, 'Thus far and no farther' "
Ludwig van Beethoven
Entrepreneurship, Nonprofits & Change
In the past few years, something has changed with the perspective and mindset of the members of the "new generation."
Indeed, we call this group Generation Y. It represents not only a change in the modernity of the generation, but also a dramatic change in both forwardthinking as well as access to technology and resources at a younger age. One of the a ected areas is entrepreneurship. A gradual change in entrepreneurship has been taking place in the past few years, towards the idea of creating businesses and products as something that's more approachable than before. With the resources available to anyone in today's times, the barrier to entry to entrepreneurship is lower. Creating value is a term that reverberates throughout the halls of this new entrepreneurship. Creating value, or as entrepreneur and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki puts it, making meaning—is quite
important to the development of your company as well as evaluating the beneﬁt your company and your company's products create. However, as more entrepreneurs emerge and start creating value, I want to make sure that doesn't go in a dead-end of monetary gain. Entrepreneurship has two halves: creating a business, and then giving back. Giving back can be attainable in quite a large number of ways. Your goal is to maximize both the e ectiveness and far-spreadingness of the beneﬁt you give back. One thing I highly suggest is creating a part of your company that is devoted to nonproﬁt
Entrepreneurship has two halves: creating a business, and then giving back.
work. For example, my business Genevine, which helps families keep in touch online, has a side foundation called e Genevine Foundation, the mission of which is to ﬁght homelessness and promote family and community values. A portion of Genevine's revenues goes directly to e Genevine Foundation. And if you don't have a company at this time, create one! Or, focus on creating a nonproﬁt: one of mine, e Center for Ethical Business, is an independent nonproﬁt working towards business ethicality change. Older businesses lose sight of the value of giving back. You can't exactly quantify the magnitude of your impact perfectly in any kind of metric, nor will many of the things you do to give back result in higher proﬁts. at's good. What really does matter is the simple fact and action that you're making an impact—and making meaning—to make the world better. at's your personal impact on the world, and as a member of the global society, your goal is to maximize that. ere's a lot you can do, and you can start now. Go and create what's next!
Mark Bao is a 17-year-old technology entrepreneur and nonpro t founder and advocate, based in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a Chinese immigrant, born in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China, in 1992. He has started 11 businesses in the web and technology sector and 3 nonpro ts since 2006. He wants to make an impact and enjoy life. Email: email@example.com Blog: journal.markbao.com
They focus on both aiding crises as well as helping in everyday needs in impoverished and needing countries. They're also one of the best run charities/nonpro ts in the world.
Three Little Words
ough I wrote this essay while I was in high school, I'm now a college graduate. is essay still resonates with me so much. It not only was the start of my bestselling memoir, " ree Little Words," but it helps to remind me of how much work there is to be done to insure other kids like me have the same opportunities I did. I am more grateful than ever to have my adoptive family in my life. ey are incredible people who have seen me through tough times year a er year. Because of them, I had somewhere to come home to while I was away at school. ey are there for me even still as I come into my adult life--getting married, buying a house, starting a family (not all at the same time, of course! haha). Having a family is the most wonderful gi . And I am thankful for my parents every day of my life--the life that they changed and saved. ~ Ashley I never thought three little words would have such an impact on my life, even though they weren't the words I was supposed to say. Every time I see the videotape, I cringe. It was one of those memorable occasions that families treasure, but this is one "treasure" I would rather bury. It was July 28, 1998, my adoption day. I had spent almost 10 of my 12 years in foster care; I was now living in my 14th placement. Some homes had lasted less than a week; few more than a year. So why would this one be any di erent? Before this placement, I had been in residential care (the politically correct name for an orphanage). Do you remember the movie " e Cider House Rules," when the orphans try to smile in just the right way so they will be picked by the couple shopping for a child? While it wasn't supposed to be so obvious at the Children's Home of Tampa, prospective parents did act as
Photo courtesy of Ashley Rhodes-Courter
though they were looking at puppies in a pet shop. For more than two and a half years 1 watched the few lucky dogs pack up their belongings, wave goodbye and exit the gate. I also saw them return even a er being placed with a family with their tails between their legs. People made promises about "forever families," but o en something went wrong. I don't know what families expected. Nobody is perfect, and children who have already been rejected by their parents or at least feel they've been are hoping that someone will love them no matter how they behave. I had been living with my new family for eight months. Everything seemed to be going well, but would that change a er the papers were signed? And just because it was "o cial," did that mean they would not send me back if I didn't live up to their expectations?
“Nothing in life comes easy. If it does, you should be suspicious.”
My parents have two biological kids who are grown; they thought raising a daughter might ﬁll their empty nest. I loved my new waterfront house, with my own room and a bathroom I didn't have to share. For the ﬁrst time, I could have friends over, and my all-star so ball team came to swim a er our games. Overnights are forbidden in foster care, but now I had and went to slumber parties. I could use the phone anytime I wanted, and lots of the calls were for me. I had my ﬁrst pet, a kitten named Catchew that slept on my bed. ere were no locks on the refrigerator or scheduled mealtimes. I could help myself to as many boxes of macaroni and cheese, bowls of ramen noodles or grilled-cheese sandwiches as I wanted. When I did something wrong, my pre-adoptive parents docked my allowance or cut back on TV or telephone time. In one foster home, I was beaten with a paddle, denied food, forced to stand in awkward positions, swallow hot sauce and run laps in the blistering sun. Other times, I was removed to a new home with a new set of rules and promises. Nobody really lives happily ever a er, do they? So when was this picture-perfect story going to fall apart? Before or a er the "ﬁnalization"? You can see how terriﬁed I am on the videotape as we enter the courthouse. My eyes seem to be searching for away out as I am led into Judge Florence Foster's chambers. On one side of the conference table are the people from my old life; on the other, those who represent my new one. I am placed between Gay and Phil, who are about to become my new parents. Across the way are two representatives from the Children's Home, both therapists. ey are happy for me, but that is their job. Mary Miller is smiling and holding a bouquet. She had been my volunteer guardian ad litem for four years and did the most to help me get a family. "Our" side is also represented by Gay's father, Grampy Weisman; one of my new brothers, Josh, who is home from college and acting as the cameraman; and my new godparents, the Weiners, who have brought their three small daughters. e proceedings are delayed because the Department of Children and Families representative is late. He also held up the adoption by neglecting the paperwork for months. While the others chat, I am biting my lip and biding my time. Finally the representative arrives, and my attorney, Neil Spector, who is also Gay's cousin, begins the proceedings. I wait for my cue. But what am I supposed to do? Act as if this is the happiest day of my life? How can it be, when I am petriﬁed that everything is a big fat lie? A er some legal jargon, the judge turns to me. "Nothing in life comes easy," she begins. "If it does, you should be suspicious." She may be trying to comfort me by saying that she knows I've overcome many hardships to get where I am. Instead, she just reinforces my fears that life with my new family is too good to be true. Because of my age, I have to consent to the adoption. A er talking to my parents, the judge asks me, "Do you want me to
Ashley is author of the NY Times bestseller, Three Little Words. She is an honors graduate from Eckerd College and serves on several child welfare boards. From age 3 to 12, she lived in 14 placements before being permanently adopted by Phil & Gay Courter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.rhodes-courter.com
I am a guardian ad litem in my area, sometimes called CASA's (court appointed special advocates) and help protect foster children.
Participation is Not Enough: It’s Time to Lead
Imagine yourself in line for a cashier at the grocery store: wouldn’t it be absurd if the person in front of you asked you to pay for her stu ? Yet, governments in dozens of countries amass huge national deﬁcits and shamelessly hand out the bill to the next generations. And how would you feel if what happens in your o ce is largely determined by somebody who is not even working with you? You could then probably understand the di culty of millions of students, who are regularly and consistently deprived of control on their own education. Why is it so unjustiﬁable for others to decide on your behalf, yet, when it comes to young people, not allowing them to be involved in decisions that a ect them is the rule, and not the exception? Questions like these are seldom asked, and even more rarely given an answer to. Aside from a few pockets of excellence in wealthy developed nations, where young people and adults are equal partners in governing their communities, in most of the world the situation is nothing short of catastrophic. Su ce to say that, in some places, students are even frowned upon for speaking up at school! And even in most instances where adults value young people’s capacity and listen to their voice, they rarely take their ideas into account, let alone give them any sort of decision-making power. Sure, they would seem to think, let’s invite the kids at the adults’ table, but they can’t stay long and we
Picture courtesy of Esther Agbarakwe & photographer Lisa Develtere
certainly can’t talk with them seriously about issues of common concern. Now, getting a sit at that table is important, participation is paramount. When sociologist Roger Hart devised his 8-rung Ladder Of Participation, he labeled its last and more advanced step in the process “young people and adults share decision-
Young people today are the most informed and better educated generation in history.
making”. To most, that step is still the ideal realization of youth participation in society. However, while youth-adults partnerships might be a reasonable approach for many kinds of decisions, and as much as it would be quite an improvement over the status quo, it hardly seems enough when it comes to issues that a ect directly young people, more than any group in society. When it comes to those issues, shared decisionmaking is not enough, participation is not enough, and the only appropriate kind of involvement is leadership. Undoubtedly, the concept of putting young people in charge might seem absurd for a modern society that is so strongly a ected by adultism, and where children and youth are so o en negatively and stereotypically portrayed in the media and by a whole generation of parents (in a phenomenon that experts call ephebiphobia, “fear of young people”). But if we look back at history, we might ﬁnd, for instance, that at the end of the 11th century, at the University of Bologna, one of the oldest in the world, students were, e ectively, its principals and administrators: they hired and paid for their teachers; they also ﬁned or ﬁred those who didn’t live up to their standards or displeased them. Examples like this are not hard to ﬁnd and prompt even more urgent questions: what other issues are young people prevented from taking leadership on? Aside from education, what other critical infrastructures of our societies are a ecting their lives? For instance, why are they given such a marginal role in protecting the environment, when they’ll be breathing the air and drinking the water of our planet, long a er many adults will have gone? On a wall in my room hangs a poster carrying the words “In charge of dreams”, reminding me daily that I’m solely responsible for ﬁnding out what makes me come alive and make a life out of it. I have been blessed with a high quality education and the freedom to choose the path to selfrealization and fulﬁllment, and I have acquired enough experience on issues that concern me to allow me to do something about them. I’m not the only one out there: young people today are the most informed and better educated generation in history. And, as far as experience goes, who, better than them, knows better how our systems of education are functioning, what are the obstacles to a ﬁrst-time employment, or what particular challenges they face as one of the most vulnerable groups in society? ey, just as any other individual or group in society, have the right to determine their own present and future. How about putting them back in charge of both?
Nicolò Wojewoda is the founder of the Global Youth Participation Week. He is an advocate of youth as leverage for global systemic change. Web: NicoloWojewoda.com Email: email@example.com
One World Youth Project is a youth-for-youth powered movement linking schools globally in service-learning to prepare the next generation for the globalized 21st Century.
Build Your Personal Brand
Never before have you had the ability to build a personal brand as you have today. With the rise of social networking, blogging, micro-blogging and video, anyone, anywhere, now has the ability to build a personal brand out of thin air.
Picture courtesy of agilitynut (via Flickr)
Seriously out of thin air, spend a few minutes on YouTube and you will see what I'm talking about. ink back, ten, twenty years ago, the only way anyone could ever build a personal brand would be to get the approval of mass media (radio, paper, television). Without their approval, you had nothing, period. Mass media controlled everything, they controlled the message, the delivery and most importantly, the audience. is is no more. You now don't need anyone's approval to start and grow your own
personal brand, and the best part is that it doesn't cost you anything. What it does cost you, is your time. From my perspective, what in the world is a better investment than investing in yourself? My big idea is simple, invest in yourself, invest in your personal brand and you can turn my big idea into your big reality. I invest time in making brief videos on my blog, eDerekJohnson.com where I talk about things that aspiring entrepreneurs need to know, like what “ e buck stops here” means, online business tools that save time and money
My big idea is simple, invest in yourself, invest in your personal brand and you can turn my big idea into your big reality.
and the importance of overcoming fear. is allows me to share what I’ve learned and build my own brand at the same time. Right now my focus is on entrepreneurship and helping other entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality. at's why I o er space in our o ce for other entrepreneurs, I mentor students, write on my blog, speak at schools, conferences and am always available for any entrepreneur to call/text me 206.334.4012 (yea, that's my personal phone number).
Derek Johnson is the CEO of group SMS startup Tatango and social media agency Derek Media. Derek is a 25-year-old college dropout and self proclaimed workaholic who has been selected as one of the top 25 under 25 entrepreneurs by BusinessWeek magazine. He’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch and other national publications. Blog: TheDerekJohnson.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
BUILD provides real-world entrepreneurial experience that empowers youth from under-resourced communities to excel in education, lead in their communities, and succeed professionally.
"Never, ever, for the rest of your careers, hire someone who had a GPA of 4.0. Ever. Because the definition of a 4.0 is that this person buys the act; they don't screw around. Tommy Jefferson, Al Hamilton, and Georgie Washington, they were screwing around. This was a dinky doo-dippy country and they said, let's go after that George dude. Now that was not smart. If they had 4.0 grade point averages, they would not have started this revolution."
The Power of Profit
Usually when you think of “do-good” organizations, one of the ﬁrst phrases that pops into mind is “non-proﬁt.” More and more, though, people are starting to realize that putting proﬁts and social impact in the same sentence is not a contradiction! I’m not just talking about corporate social responsibility, but for-proﬁt social entrepreneurship, even if the latter term has been rather di cult to deﬁne. Speciﬁcally, I’m talking about for-proﬁt social ventures, whether in the U.S. or abroad, whose ﬁnancial success and social impact are intrinsically tied. To put it another way, let’s talk about the concept of scalability, the ability to grow and expand. From a traditional venture capital perspective, scalability is a big part of what makes startups successful, and what enables VC investment to obtain “home run” returns. At the same time, scalability from a social perspective means big social impact. Now put these two together, and you’ll see that the same scalability that contributes to ﬁnancial success is the same as the scalability that contributes to social impact. (Look up D.Light as an example). More users of your innovative product or service = more people impacted by your company = more proﬁt.
And the best part? If for-proﬁt social ventures can be demonstrated as companies worthy of receiving investment, then a sustainable capital market for investing in social good will have been established. e implications of this would be huge, because organizations that do good would no longer have to depend solely on donor funding as they expand their operations to impact more people. Now, one big issue currently is that this “capital market” / system of funding hasn’t really been established quite yet. Nathaniel Whittemore, editor of the Social Entrepreneurship blog at Change.org , recently discussed this subject at length. One way to present the current situation is as a “chicken and egg” problem. Without an abundance of existing social ventures, it would be di cult to create a
Social entrepreneurship needs its own “home run” to jump-start widespread traction, to serve as a “poster child” and source of inspiration.
sustainable social VC fund. On the other hand, without an abundance of existing social VC funds or angel investors to ﬁll in the current funding gap, many founders may decide to go the non-proﬁt route, or even abandon the social enterprise format entirely. Now that would be a great shame. Another important issue is the fact that there have been very few examples of “home run” social enterprises, or “successful case studies,” if you will. Because for-proﬁt social entrepreneurship is such a young and undeveloped way of doing things, there simply has not been much time for the “home runs” to emerge and for those “home run” founders to begin new start-ups. E-commerce had Amazon. Search had Google. Social networking had Facebook. Social entrepreneurship needs its own “home run” to jump-start widespread traction, to serve as a “poster child” and source of inspiration. ere are already a few pioneers investing in this space (Good Capital, Village Capital/ Gray Ghost Ventures), but the potential has barely been tapped! To learn more, check out the Monitor Institute’s report on impact investing. As Monitor explains, the ﬁve to ten years may very well set the stage for “[building] the marketplace required for impact at scale,” so don’t just sit around. Read, learn more, and get involved!
Mark Chou is a recent graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and is currently working in nance. He is also a 2010 StartingBloc Fellow and can be found blogging about social entrepreneurship and venture capital at SocentVC.com. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @markdchou
Starting Bloc - because they empower young leaders to drive positive social change.
We’re Lost But We’re Making Good Time
We’re lost, but we’re making good time.” - Yogi Berra Our world is lost. We’re chasing the wrong goals and we’re taking for granted the most fundamental things in life family, health, society, culture, education, and well being, to name a few. We’re caught up in a materialistic culture that’s focused on money, success, prestige, and glamour, whatever the cost. Now, don’t get me wrong, materialism has some beneﬁts, but for me, it has never outweighed my core values. I grew up in a poverty-stricken household. A family of ﬁve growing up in a two bedroom trailer house on a turkey farm. We were making approximately $20,000 at the time, my mom was getting her GED, hoping to go to a community college for her RN degree, and ﬁnally live the American Dream. We did it, although it took quite a few years. Unfortunately, our family then hit a ten year rough patch: towards the time we were planning to move, one of my best friends passed away in an accident. Not much later my mom developed skin cancer, my sister developed diabetes, and in my sophomore year of college, my stepfather also passed away in
Photo courtesy of Travis Kiefer
an accident. I don’t say this to make you feel sorry for me but to help you understand what’s important in life. roughout theses experiences, money o en seemed to be the solution. With more money, we could a ord the right medical treatment. With more money, we wouldn’t have to worry about the electricity being shut o . With more money… But no amount of money will bring my stepfather back. I fell into the materialism trap that says if you only you had more stu , everything would be better. Our world needs a change of priorities. Instead of chasing more money, we should be living our values and pursuing our hopes and dreams I came to Stanford excited about doing a startup, and not just any startup, but the next Google. I know all about entrepreneurship in general. e process of creating a startup, being resourceful, innovative, tenacious, etc. But why? Why get
I want to make the world a better place. And I know I’m not alone in this feeling.
involved? Why do something? Very few do it for the sole sake of making money, and even fewer succeed at that. I don’t simply want to make an iPhone applications company or insert-buzzwordhere company. To me, there has to be some underlying reason that drives the startup. For me, it’s to make a di erence. I want to make the world a better place and I know I’m not alone in this feeling. I’m becoming more and more convinced that social entrepreneurship is about justice – or rather, injustice. ere are serious injustices in the world – in both our backyard and across the globe. Social entrepreneurs tackle these injustices and do not stop until these injustices are eliminated. But then the question comes up, what is an injustice? Who do we help? e homeless people in the city next door or the people without food, medicine, or education access on the other side of the world? Are we trying to ensure equal opportunity? Equal access? Should it be based solely on merit? Do we give the disadvantaged a leg up? I’m afraid I have many more questions than answers. But the point isn’t to get “the right answer” - it is for each of us to think hard about injustice and how we are either contributing or eliminating said injustice. Why? Because I believe what Yogi Berra said “We’re lost, but we’re making good time.” Traditional entrepreneurship rewards ‘making good time’, but if we’re going to make a di erence in this world we need to stop, ﬁgure out what’s important to each of us in life, and create a new roadmap. en, we need to work hard and get things done to bring our vision of the future into the present. Each of us can. We have to. ere’s too much at stake for us not to.
Travis Kiefer is a junior at Stanford University majoring in Urban Studies with a concentration on Social Entrepreneurship and a minor in Computer Science. Travis got started with Gumball Capital in freshman year and now serves as its Executive Director. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @kieftrav
Gumball Capital’s mission is to engage students with entrepreneurship in pursuit of ending poverty.
The Digital Divide and the Youth
Today, the world is referred to as a Global Village as communities in every nation are transforming from being economic based to information based. Information and Communication Technologies have brought many exciting opportunities in areas of social, political and economic development - and today, these tools are becoming more essential in everyday life. Everyone in the community needs to communicate or access information. e Inconveniencing Truth: Sadly, access to information and communication technologies remains unevenly distributed and are sorely lacking in the developing countries. is is referred to as the “digital divide”- the gap between the information haves and have-nots. Because of the immense poverty that exists in these nations coupled with high unemployment rates, ICT tools (computers, cell phones, internet access) remain expensive and una ordable. e youth remain extremely vulnerable to the long term consequences of the digital divide. Youth are our future leaders and answer to the next generations. ey are the future ambassadors and they are the ones to that will need to solve the world’s “Grand Challenges”. But how likely are they to achieve all this when they don’t have access to technology and information? Or even the basic skills needed to operate said technology! On a recent tour around 3 districts of Uganda (Hoima, Kabarole and Kasese) through the Gender and ICT Youth Forums, organized by Women of Uganda
Picture courtesy of Ssozi Javie
Network, I got a chance to interact with over 600 youth face to face – I was the ICT practical skills trainer. I got to learn the expectations of the youth in each of the forums. Surprisingly they were not even informed of the opportunities presented by ICTs for social, political and economic development. e high school students will ask, "What are Information and Communication Technologies?" A er explaining what they are, the students will shoot even more questions, mainly around new media. "So what’s e-mail? What’s the internet? What is a website? Social networking?" It turns out only 1 in 25 students knew how e-mail worked and the ones who knew about it barely get a chance to check their email. is indicates two major things: students want to know about new technology and just don’t get a chance to access them. e State of Information Access
What we need to create is a platform where the youth can interact, discuss and exchange ideas about the grand challenges threatening the future.
In schools it gets worse: the blackboard and chalk system is still everywhere in schools and tertiary institutions; learning is very theoretical and hardly ever interactive. ICTs provide platform for students to have interactive lessons – making learning more fun and interesting. Let’s face it: the chalkboard is rather boring. In Uganda today, HIV/AIDs is spreading wildly among the youth. I believe that this is because they lack access to information. e youth need educational resources on how to stay safe from STDs and how to cope with positive living. e increasing level of unemployment and underemployment has sparked rural urban migration amongst the youth in search for a better life. is has weakened the country’s food security as the energetic youth leave the role of food production to the elderly who are less vibrant and productive. We are missing an opportunity for the youth to apply their knowledge and modernize the agricultural sector. e Ultimate Solution: What we need to create is a platform where the youth can interact, discuss and exchange ideas about the Grand Challenges threatening the future. In the short run, this remains a responsibility of our governments, stakeholders, the private sector and concerned citizens. We cannot say that “one computer per youth” but all we need is access. Probably set up public-access places where the youth can collectively get access to both the tools and information. Of course the issue of skills sharing remains very important. I personally prefer “skills to ﬁnished technologies.” Give skills not just ﬁnished technologies. e ﬁrst step is to introduce youth to information and communication technology tools. Make them realize the opportunities and challenges ahead of the information age. Once they have learned this, they become motivated to be more creative and can choose how to use the available technologies to access and disseminate information. And those who get the information also know how to use it productively. By doing this we shall facilitate not only equal access to information for the youth but also equal participation from the youth in identifying innovative solutions to the world’s Grand Challenges.
Ssozi Javie is a Technical Support – Volunteer at Women of Uganda Network. He graduated a BSC Computer Science from Makerere University. Also trained as a citizen journalist through the Citizen Journalism in Africa project. Ssozi has trained over 1000 youth in Uganda on how to use the ICTs and New Media to network and share information. Email: email@example.com Blog: http://jssozi.wordpress.com
Women of Uganda Network is an NGO that develops the use of ICTs among women as tools to share information and address issues collectively.
"Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment." - Barry LePatner We learn quickly when we make serious mistakes. And it's expected that we'll make serious mistakes when we're young. To be the best we Picture courtesy of vishal (via Flickr) can be, it's our responsibility to know that the value (even in the worst experiences) is the It turns out there was no better way to become selflesson that makes us a better person a erwards. aware. I discovered my strengths because I had to. I put myself in situations where people relied on me I somewhat accidentally shaped my life around this so my abilities were forced to surface - if they premise. For some reason I chose to learn lessons didn't, there would have been consequences. fully, with the complete spectrum of my experience, tackling problems in my own way, even I became aware of my weaknesses. I put myself in if it took longer than normal, and even if it didn't situations where I was constantly pushed, really make sense at the time. stretched, challenged and tested. If I hadn't, I'd never know the boundaries of my own capabilities. FOR EXAMPLE When you step out of your comfort zone enough, it becomes addicting. Seemingly impossible feats
For some reason I chose to learn lessons fully, with the complete spectrum of my experience, tackling problems in my own way, even if it took longer than normal, and even if it didn't really make sense at the time.
become simple tasks. But you’ll never know until you try. So be conﬁdent and comfortable enough with yourself to try anything. If you're afraid to take the plunge at any point, get excited by asking yourself: "What can I potentially learn from this?" Do a million things when you're young and surround yourself with people who push you to be the best you. Ask people how you’re doing. You’ll slowly uncover what you're great at and what you love. When you're selfaware and you set out to achieve something, you become a magnet that attracts the people and opportunities that will make your life fulﬁlling. ey’ll see that you know yourself, be energized by you and want to be around you - because you (unlike most people) will actually know what you want in life. Invest thought and energy into selfawareness, and nothing is impossible.
Pete Kistler is the founder and CEO of Brand‐ Yourself.com, an award winning social media toolset to manage your online reputation. An author, speaker and entrepreneur, Pete was one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 5 College Entrepreneurs of 2009 and is cited as a leading Online Reputation Management and Personal Branding expert. Pete writes the Wednesday column for PersonalBrandingBlog, the #1 job blog by CareerBuilder syndicated by Forbes, Reuters and Fox Business. LinkedIn: in/petekistler Twitter: @pete_kistler
Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe.
"Youth is wasted on the young."
George Benard Shaw
I have news for you: e world's biggest problem is probably not on your radar. It's not disease, poverty or climate change. e world's biggest problem is that we have too few people engaged in trying to solve these issues. Human drive and ingenuity is the lever that moves the world, but the complexity of the challenges we face has grown, and we need a longer lever. But increasing the number of people working on solving the world's most important problems is no easy task. Even the most developed societies are pervaded by apathy and escapism. I think escapism is our unconscious response to dissatisfaction with life in the status quo, when people are unaware of any options for improvement. is rampant disengagement in workplaces and educational institutions is characterized by two primary symptoms: 1) people doing work they don't care about just to pay the bills or get a good grade and 2) hating Mondays because they live from weekend to weekend. e culprit is immersion in organizations that haven't adapted to the 21st century, engendering learned helplessness by putting impressionable people in roles that systematically stamp out inspiration, creativity and passion. e urgency of solving disengagement is such that we cannot wait for incremental change. Rather than trying to improve old systems our best bet is to make something new that makes them obsolete.
e solution to disengagement lies in the cultivation of entrepreneurship and encouragement of entrepreneurial lifestyles. Entrepreneurs can create highly idiosyncratic, meaningful lives, by making an impact on problems that matter to them. Additionally, entrepreneurs aren't dependent on bureaucratic approval, so new organizations can be erected quickly and thrive in any place where there is a big enough need. Entrepreneurship in a broad sense is the process of seeing a problem in the world, coming up with an idea about how to solve it and turning that idea into reality. Problems can be solved through technology, organizations or even a piece of art that triggers reﬂection. What's important is working on something that matters to you, because then you have motivation, then you want to learn, then you enjoy putting in the hours so that you can become all you can be, to contribute all that you can. To solve the complex problems of our era we need more people to embark on this life path. In our highly interconnected world the impact of an inﬂux of engaged
The solution to disengagement lies in the cultivation of entrepreneurship
individuals will create exponential not linear change, because projects can feed o each other creating network e ects that accelerate the exploration of uncharted territory and the solutions that exist there. Awareness of this life path is the ﬁrst step. And culture is shi ing to meet this need, with the future already here on the fringes. I know an extraordinarily high number of people in technology and social entrepreneurship sectors working on something amazing, yet amongst these people there is no feeling of isolation or self-congratulation; trying to change the world is just the norm. And that energy is contagious. As a growing number of individuals who take the initiative to design lives suited to their strengths and interests are highlighted and rewarded, an entrepreneurial culture will be collectively fostered that will cascade across social circles, sweeping up those with latent aspirations and dropping them on the other side of the status quo; ready to begin the ﬁrst day of their new life when all hours of the day are looked forward to. An awakening is on the horizon as a critical mass of young people turn o autopilot and decide for themselves what matters to them and how they want to live their lives. It's not the majority yet, but the momentum on the ground is palpable. e cultural shi that is happening now is provoking many to at least begin pondering opting out of the status quo to focus their energy on things they love, solve problems they care about and sidestep the drudgery of antiquated institutions. But we need engagement to start snowballing across society now, and to have that happen we must consistently make the dream for this entrepreneurial lifestyle a reality. Our task is to create systems that capture people's inspiration and provide the tools and resources to turn their energy into high leverage actions that are directed towards solving important problems. Humanity has never possessed more power nor faced more complex problems. If we build new organizational structures to accelerate engagement, we can tip the scales in our favor. Major problems will be eradicated, individual fulﬁllment will be found and the abundance of the information age will ripple throughout the world. A new societal golden age is within our grasps. Let's not miss this opportunity.
Max is a young entrepreneur taking a gap year before starting at Stanford. He recently founded Founders First, a post seed accelerator program for entrepreneurs who are alumni of accelerators like YCombinator, Tech Stars and Seedcamp. He currently lives in his hometown of San Francisco. Web: maxmarmer.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Unreasonable institute has done a fantastic job bringing all the pieces together to catalyze amazing ideas in the social entrepreneurship space. They've built a lot of momentum going into their inaugural session this summer and I'm excited to watch the impact they make.
The Power of Private Markets
I have o en wondered whether our national system of education could be more e cient. If we had to design from scratch a way to educate millions of people on the basics of math, science, and literature, why would we Picture used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of olpc (via Flickr) choose to spend billions of dollars a year to support thousands of schools homework assignments by hand, an iPhone nationwide and hire teachers to teach the application could stream physics lessons, same material at the same pace to every kid automatically generate unique practice in America? problems, and evaluate proﬁciency - all without the need for teachers! e big idea In a digital era where consumer-driven isn't the application itself, but new models for preferences lead companies to develop learning. Interested in learning computer applications that scale cheaply and can be science? Instead of shelling out tons of money accessed anywhere on-demand, our current at a private university, how about system of education by contrast looks downloading all the content you'll need in incredibly archaic. the click of a button, with an optional online membership to talk to fellow students? Want e next big tech revolution will be (and to learn a foreign language? ere should be should be) in education. Instead of physics (and are a few) apps for that - complemented teachers going through practice problems on by practice conversations with someone in an an overhead projector, assigning homework actual foreign country. problems from a book, and grading student
In a digital era where applications scale cheaply and can be accessed anywhere on-demand, our current system of education by contrast looks incredibly archaic
So why hasn't the revolution happened yet? Despite for-proﬁt companies like AcademicEarth, which aggregates lectures from universities worldwide, BarMax CA, a $999 iPhone application for prospective lawyers preparing for the California Bar Exam, and the popular preschool application games that dominate Apple's AppStore's educational section, much of the innovation has been incremental rather than transformational. Part of the challenge might be around certiﬁcation. If you learn marketable skills but didn't go to an accredited university, it might be hard to convince an employer to hire you. Or it might be something as complicated as the combination of entrenched industry players, public funding crowding out private innovation, and the enforceability of intellectual property rights that prevents real change from happening. It'll probably take a breakthrough development before people get in the habit of spending a few hundred or thousand dollars to learn something new in the same way people pay for digital books. We'll need new ways of evaluating potential employees besides the uninformative resume, programs that connect potential employers with selftaught individuals, and a completely di erent model for marketing the entire educational experience. But I'm optimistic that through entrepreneurship and the private markets, we can reduce the costs of education so much so that virtually anyone who wants to learn anything can.
Tony Wang studied philosophy and economics at Stanford and spent the rst few years of his career working in the philanthropic sector. He is a board member of Social Enterprise Alliance SF Chapter. In the fall of 2010 he will begin a dual JD/MBA program at Duke University. Web: tonyjwang.wordpress.com Twitter: @philosopher20
The Education Expert Mutual Fund at Philanthropedia, because it represents a combination of the top nonpro ts many experts in education have identi ed.
Design for Obama
I was recently asked to speak about campaign management at a Stanford conference aimed at inspiring students to come up with new sustainable business ideas that instill lasting behavioral shi s.
I DON’T WANT TO BE A GRAPHIC DESIGNER; THE TITLE IS TOO CONSTRICTING. IF YOU TRY TO DO ANYTHING OTHER THAN SELL THINGS YOU’RE SEEN AS A PREACHER AND MOST OF WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY WON’T BE ABLE TO ESCAPE THE DESIGN WORLD. I DON’T WANT TO SELL SHIT AND I DEFINITELY DON’T WANT TO BE A PREACHER FOR A SELF-CONGRATULATORY COMMUNITY.
Picture courtesy of Aaron Perry Zucker
I was asked to speak because during the summer leading up to Barack Obama’s election, I started an online poster collective that connected hundreds of designers and aggregated about 400 posters in support of Obama’s candidacy. anks to Taschen books, Spike Lee, and Steven Heller, the best 200 posters of our collection were compiled into a book, Design for Obama – Posters for Change: A Grassroots Anthology, which was released on the anniversary of Obama’s election and is now on sale at book stores around the world. e surprising success of the project illustrates what a group of passionate and talented people can achieve together and it was an amazing experience.
I WANT TO BUILD AND INVIGORATE COMMUNITIES. I WANT TO USE BRILLIANT IDEAS TO TRANSFORM THE WAY WE LIVE. I WANT TO BE A DESIGNER, A WRITER, A PHILANTHROPIST, AN ACTIVIST, AN ACADEMIC, AND A SMART-ASS. I WANT MY WORK TO BE BOLSTERED BY A MYRIAD OF DIVERSE AGENDAS YET BE FREE OF THE CONSTRAINTS THAT COME WITH SUCH LABELS.
Design for Obama happened to be the right idea at the right time. e will, eagerness, energy and talent of the designers already existed - I simply housed the community by providing the ability to share their work. e sense of belonging and common purpose was exhilarating and propelled us all forward. I have experienced the same feeling of communal empowerment in creative energy twice before, and it was no accident that I found it again. I went to a public, performing arts magnet high school in Los Angeles. It was there that I was ﬁrst surrounded by passionate people not simply enjoying, but living for what they were doing.
Since graduating from RISD I have been looking for ways in which to manifest similar conditions and build new creative communities.
When I made the somewhat rash decision to pursue graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design (never having studied art previously), I found the same sense of belonging in a new art-form with a di erent group of people. Since graduating from RISD I have been looking for ways in which to manifest similar conditions and build new creative communities. e level of conversation in a community like this is not unintelligent, reactionary or fearful; they are philanthropic, innovative and imaginary. At the Stanford Conference I began to notice a common theme in the questions I was hearing and discussions I was having. Everyone was coming up with ideas to collectively solve social problems but we were all stuck at the same barrier: how to engage a group of people in a more meaningful way than voting or sharing or buying, etc. I sat there getting more and more giddy. I had the answer to everyone’s question. I had seen the types of communities they strove to build and energy they wanted to cultivate. Creative engagement is the key. If you can construct, grow and mobilize a community that reinforces and rewards creative expression and/or active engagement, then you will have created a vehicle that will develop new things, ideas and solutions. Since graduating and publishing Design for Obama, I have started a design studio with Tino Chow called Big New Ideas. We have set up shop and are growing a talented team that is helping us design businesses, non-proﬁts, campaigns and events for entrepreneurs, activists and crazy people.
Aaron Perry-Zucker is a RISD alumnus, a partner at design studio, Big New Ideas and creator of Design for Obama, an online poster collective which was published by Tacshen books and Spike Lee as Design for Obama - Posters for Change: A Grassroots Anthology. Aaron is currently located in San Francisco starting the West Coast Branch of Big New Ideas. Web: bignewideas.com/ Email: email@example.com
Why Kids Should Be the Customers
e world would be better if it were designed with kids in mind. A er all, haven’t you had a hard time reaching up for things in high-up cupboards before? Imagine if those cupboard manufacturers thought, “Huh, a child might want something in here.” Or when you walk into a room of noisy adults who aren’t too careful with the expletives. If you were a child, they might tone down a bit. e world has come a long way since the “Don’t speak until spoken to” of Victorian times, but it’s still not far enough. Although many venues have become more kid-friendly over the past few years (with some even serving exclusively children), it’s still an adults’ world, an old boys’ (and girls’) club. If more homes, stores, schools, and even corporations thought of kids as their customers, then we’d all have
Picture courtesy of conlawprof (via Flickr)
better lives and a greater sense of accountability. Who can pass up that? To begin with, did (or do) you like school lunch? For many of you, the answer is probably no. School lunches are typically frozen, shipped, preserved, reheated, and served in the driest, wettest, mushiest, or blandest way possible on unappetizing trays. You can ﬁnd the same unhealthy items at schools around the country—pizza, chocolate milk, corn dogs, burgers—and sometimes, they are next to posters which declare the beneﬁts of healthy eating. Talk
If more homes, stores, schools, and even corporations thought of kids as their customers, then we’d all have better lives and a greater sense of accountability.
about hypocritical. ese meals were not put forth with kids (or their waistlines) in mind; they were put forward with government subsidies and school budgets as the top priorities. Speaking of top priorities, from the amount that the average country spends on maintaining their military, war seems like a top priority for many nations. To say that war is not good for kids is to state the obvious; armed conﬂicts are not good for anybody, except maybe weapons manufacturers. en why do adults get into so many wars? Because insurgents and extremists and even, sometimes, governments don’t think about the e ect war will have on children; they think about the e ect that war will have on their organization and their cause and their pocketbooks. Were they to think, “Some child might not be able to go to school because of me,” or “Some child may lose their life,” every single time they brought a gun up to ﬁre or a bomb to deploy, I think we would have fewer wars and fewer deaths. What exactly does a world with children in mind look like? It’s one with big parks and green spaces, reachable cupboards and no loud swearing adults. Do you have a problem with that? If adults felt a responsibility—an accountability— toward kids, toward the next generation, maybe such a world would be possible. Ultimately, it’s the adults who have the power to make such a vision a reality. But if you think of us kids as your customers, then remember: the customer is always right.
At twelve, Adora Svitak is the published author of two books and the world’s youngest teacher. She promotes literacy and lifelong learning worldwide, including speaking at TED2010. Web: adorasvitak.com Twitter: @adorasv
Save the Children is one of my favorite nonpro ts for the work it does for kids around the world. As a youth advocate (and a kid myself!) their mission is "near and dear" to me.
“I’ve given nobody the authority over me to say I can’t do anything — I can do anything I want or can achieve. I don’t ask permission. I might ask forgiveness, but I won’t ask permission."
Zero Tolerance for Abuse
In spite of the global call for zero tolerance for child abuse and violence, human rights violations on children, especially girls; continue to be accepted as a way of life, particularly in traditional communities in Sierra Leone. In rural areas and slum communities in Freetown, where majority of the residents are internally displaced persons from the provinces, the level of child abuse is alarmingly high:ranging from food deprivation (sometimes deliberately) to female genital mutilation of girls well below the age of ten years. Unfortunately, child rights violations, particularly those related to girls are signiﬁcantly under-reported, under-documented and under-prosecuted. A good number of traditionally bred educated elites and non literate elders have misconstrued advocacy for child rights as the cause of the current immoral behavior of children - especially their lack of respect for elders. is notwithstanding, popularizing provisions in the recently enacted Child Rights Bill could make a di erence in improving outcomes for children. As the current debate ensues among academics about whether the slow progress to reach zero tolerance can be attributed to legal inadequacies or cultural norms, we must expedite new initiatives that can adequately address the two factors simultaneously. Hence, I propose an integrated and interactive approach that will permanently establish and enhance the capacity of Community Human Rights Volunteers in selected slums in Sierra Leone. eir role will be to: 1) advocate for the rights of children, and 2) monitor, document, report & prosecute cases of child abuse and violence through a consensus of community elders and stakeholders.
Consultative and constructive engagements with tribal and societal heads, heads of institutions of social services and development agencies have the potential to eliminate child abuse and violence that are hinged on traditional norms and practices, while at the same time induce positive changes in other areas of development of the child and the community at large. However, since the idea involves attitudinal and behavioral change, it will ﬁrst be piloted for three years in eleven slum communities in the west end of Freetown, and will therea er be replicated in selected slums in the east, villages in Freetown Peninsular, and ﬁnally in the provinces. In recent years, following the end of the decade long rebel war in Sierra Leone, “Human rights” has become an household phrase as a result of considerable progress made by Human Rights Organization in advocacy. Yet in many communities, especially ones that are predominantly traditional like the slums targeted in my proposal, child abuses and violence are at critical levels, and
Hence the long term objectives of this idea are to persuade community members to adopt an attitude of zero tolerance for all forms of child abuse and violence
remain signiﬁcantly under-reported and unprosecuted. Residents in these communities live in abject poverty, and are completely ignorant of provisions in the recently enacted Child Rights Bill and its beneﬁts to the socio-economic development of the child and the community at large. Hence the long term objectives of this idea are to persuade community members to adopt an attitude of zero tolerance for all forms of child abuse and violence, and to facilitate improvement in their livelihoods. In the short term, the idea will popularize, sensitize and raise awareness about the project concept and the need for urgent actions on provisions in the 2007 Child Rights Act among relevant government institutions, development assistance agencies and a cross section of residents in target communities with the view to inspiring commitment to support project goals morally, materially, and ﬁnancially. My plan will also enhance the capacity of female dominated Community Human Rights Volunteers, (10 in each of the target communities), and elders, (5 in each community), to serve as the Community Stakeholders Oversight Committee in design and implementation, child rights advocacy, monitoring, documentation, reporting and prosecution of cases through a consensus of community elders/ stakeholders. Prior to the capacity building training sessions, focus group discussions would have been held in each community to obtain and compile a database on the nature, causes and extent of child abuse and violence, which would henceforth be used as reference in measuring progress in CHRVs’ ﬁeld work. e latter will be carried out through Child Rights Centers in the target communities and supervised by ﬁeld supervisors for eight months in the ﬁrst year of implementation, and then ten months in the second and third year. Monthly monitoring and evaluation sessions report will be sent to stakeholders, and the ﬁnal evaluation session report will be submitted each year (within the 3 years idea span) in the form of a journal, accompanied by child rights related community development projects to relevant government institutions, stakeholders, and development assistance agencies for funding.
Born in Sierra Leone, Mohamed Kanneh was forced by the brutal civil war to ee to Liberia as a refugee. Currently a Program Coordinator at the West Africa Youth Network, he studied Peace and Con ict Studies at the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology. Mohamed Kanneh became the founding member of the National Youth Coalition Student Assembly (NYCSA) in June 2003 and in National Coordinator in 2005 due to his relentless eﬀorts towards development. He is also Secretary for Parliamentary Aﬀairs in the Mano River Union Union Youth Parliament-Sierra Leone Chapter. Twitter: @medkwak
The West Africa Youth Network is a regional youth empowerment organization established by four young people from West Africa in March 2001. They serve as a primary catalyst for enhancing youth participation in issues relating to governance, human rights & peace building.
Cut the Bullsh*t and Get Things Done
We are the generation that will get things done, spark change. We have no choice. We've reached a point in this country where we can't move forward without some fundamental changes.
Picture courtesy of herval (via Flickr)
As a generation, we are about halfway there. We went out in record numbers to vote for a black president with new ideas. We protest for gay rights, choose socially responsible brands and care about the environment. However, we are also the generation that feels victimized by the job market. We were expecting them to be waiting for us, and they aren't, and we don't know what to do.
For all of our great ideas, we also feel a sense of entitlement. As if having our ideas is enough. Unfortunately it isn't. Too many of us have ideas, but aren't willing to make the sacriﬁce necessary to launch them. Having ideas is the easy the part. Making them a reality is the hard part. It's going to be our job to pave the new landscape. Turn our ideas into new companies, new jobs, new branches of organizations, new charities, new causes, and a new way of doing business.
Too many of us have ideas, but aren't willing to make the sacriﬁce necessary to launch
We have the social technologies and drive to be more collaborative than any generation before us, and we need to take advantage. An old cross country coach used to say "you either ran today, or you didn't." No more excuses. It's time to turn our progressive thinking into tangible results. It's the di erence between talking in a circle about the way things ought to be and working around the clock to make them that way. Yes it’s harder, but it leads to change.
Patrick Ambron, an 09' grad, is Chief Marketing Oﬃcer and a Partner at Brand-Yourself.com, a platform that allows individual and businesses to build, optimize and promote their relevant content on the web. He also works with dozens of businesses as a new media consultant, and teaches the social media curriculum at Syracuse University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @pcambron
12y is charity that addresses an overlooked problem: Lack of support resources for young adults with cancer. It is led by a team of innovative, young individuals who are truly bringing a new face and new way of doing things to non-pro ts.
Gaia Evolving Heros
We are currently experiencing a global reversal of attitude, from one of ‘each for himself ’ – which has prevented many brilliant ideas and plans from being developed and put into practice – to one of widespread cooperative enthusiasm. e results of these ﬁrst cooperative successes (ie. the current wave of activity in Haiti), will demonstrate to all that trust and integrity combined with willingness and enthusiasm, without doubt, are extremely e ective means to bring to all on the planet the services necessary to release them from the grinding drudgery of daily survival, and give them the time and the energy to indulge in their creative pursuits. e term ‘Gaia’ is commonly used to describe the interconnected, living organism that is planet Earth. It was popularised by James Lovelock in the early 1970s where it was used in his Gaia hypothesis – a theory that portrays the Earth’s ecosystem as a giant super-organism. rough the evo.net platform, Evolving Heroes looks to stretch Lovelock’s notion of singularity beyond its ecological focus: expanding it to encompass the sphere of human interaction, and in so doing, describing (and visualizing) a new paradigm of human consciousness.
Picture courtesy Eno Inyang
Within this paradigm, Gaia is the vision. e vision of a world where human society recognizes itself as a living organism - interwoven with the greater, living organism of the planet. A world where human interaction is based on principles of mutual support and synergistic interconnectivity, and everyone has an abundance of what they need to maintain a comfortable living standard, as well as complete freedom to explore and develop their creative skills and talents. Like the cells in the human body, we see each one of us - for better or for worse (as in the case of a cancer) - contributing to the well-being of the whole.
Gaia is the vision. The vision of a world where human society recognizes itself as a living organism - interwoven with the greater, living organism of the planet.
Furthermore, each individual, like the cell, is naturally predisposed to a specialized function. It is the distinct creative skills, talents and passions of each individual that constitute his/her 'specialized function'. What I like to call their 'inner genius'. It is the full expression of this genius, along with the individuals' enthusiastic willingness to share their gi s that allows a community living in 'Gaia consciousness' to collectively manifest a self-elevating loop – a synergistic e ect that brings upli ment not just to the individual members, but to the greater organism that is the community (and land) of Gaia. In this way, Gaia is the vision of a glowing Earth and through evo.net, Evolving Heroes is our contribution to this all-too-necessary shi in human conscious, common practice and collective action. As a collective, we can move out of the realms of greed, selﬁshness and fragmentation and step into the experience of one-unity consciousness. We call ourselves heroes because we, like every man, woman and child, have the power to create change within us. But, unlike every man, woman and child, we have chosen the way of compassion - and are ready to "Be the change" (Mahatma Gandhi). We know we are evolving because our paths, like that of mother Gaia (our planet) is in a state of constant change - together, we are surﬁng an ascending spiral of personal and planetary transformation.
Eno Inyang is a Nigerian native, moved to Malaysia when he was 3 years old, and eventually transferred to a boarding school in South-East London - at the age of 13. He was the rst ever black student nominated as Head Boy (aka. Student Body President). Eno is currently a Senior at Stanford University; majoring in Urban Studies with a self-designed concentration in 'community design & social entrepreneurship'. He is one of the co-founders of Evolving Heroes, as well as the Heroes group @ Stanford. eno.evolvingheroes.com @enoinyang
Introduction age “Youth cannot know how
thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”
J. K. Rowling
The Online Entrepreneurial Landscape
Starting your ﬁrst venture can be a daunting task. For the uninformed, the complexities of raising capital, grasping the legal system and establishing an online presence is certainly overwhelming. is need not be the case, as with a little guidance and support, almost anyone can launch a company (though keeping it aﬂoat is another matter!). One of the ﬁrst organizations to be established promoting entrepreneurship is the Kau man Foundation, founded in the mid-1960s and now with an asset base of $2 billion. With a global reach (including ties with the US Department of Commerce) and a number of initiatives such as FastTrac, the Kau man Foundation is undoubtedly a substantial player in entrepreneurship training. However, one of Kau man’s biggest shortcomings is that the majority of its services are o ine. If you’re an intrepid entrepreneur striving for some quick and targeted answers or aren’t located near a big city or campus, then you’re out of luck. In recent years a plethora of sites, targeted speciﬁcally towards entrepreneurs, have sprouted up to meet these needs. Each of these sites provides a slightly di erent o ering. Some focus on raising capital (iValueRich.com and YCombinator.com), some on ﬁnding partners (PartnerUp.com), some on general coaching (HorsesMouth.co.uk) while some try to cater to everyone (EFactor.com). One demographic that appears to be gaining traction is the university student market. Recognizing that the web giants Google, Dell and Microso all started during their founders’ university days, several online platforms are trying to appeal to young students. While some e orts have failed (BanyanLink.com and more notably, Yahoo’s Kickstart), a few sites are becoming increasingly popular. One such community is FledgeWing.com, founded in October 2007 by two NYU Stern students. A free site with no advertising, FledgeWing seeks to be a ‘onestop shop’ for entrepreneurs providing students with all the collaboration tools necessary to springboard their vision to the next level. A er agreeing to an intellectual property document (for the protection of other user’s rights), students can create their own
“A keen and established entrepreneur, I check every box for involvement and love to mentor students, yet still get but a couple of e-mails a year.” - Stanford Alumni
project online, share ﬁles, comment on discussions and enter business plan competitions. What’s more, a detailed search engine for ﬁnding fellow students and a Facebook-style news feed facilitate interactions and content generation. Taking LinkedIn’s Answers section to the next level, FledgeWing’s mentor feature is an immense help for users lacking connections or needing quick answers from real-world professionals. ese ‘mentors’ can, in turn, beneﬁt by investing in million-dollar ideas at early stages, bringing these students on as interns or employees, linking students with their other contacts, or simply being socially responsible. It might come as no surprise that several well-known business schools have their own mentoring platforms already (i.e. Stanford’s Alumni Mentoring or NYU’s Stern Worldwide Alumni Platform). However, it is an arduous a air for students to be matched with mentors and the sites are ‘closed-wall’, restricting access to those that attended the institution. One Stanford alumni said, “A keen and established entrepreneur, I check every box for involvement and love to mentor students, yet still get but a couple of e-mails a year”. e ability of social networking type sites, like FledgeWing, to transcend these virtual borders provides a signiﬁcant value. Despite the inﬂux of new online spheres of entrepreneurship, it is important to remember that real-world networking and pitching has its beneﬁts too. Be sure to browse through the ‘Events’ pages of the sites mentioned above (and GarysGuide.org) for regularly scheduled meetups in your area. If nothing else, public speaking helps you to reﬁne your elevator pitch for investors. In addition to networking, events and competitions, most entrepreneur sites (and even some government ones) o er a vast array of articles and example legal documents to help get you started. With the recession inspiring creativity and overnight success stories emerging every week, maximizing your entrepreneurial potential with these new
Lewis Drummond is an American/British citizen with eight years experience as an int’l IT consultant, including clients such as FOX Interactive Media (inc. MySpace). He founded his rst company, a European internet hosting solutions provider, at age 16. His most recent venture, FledgeWing, an online community for entrepreneurial students, has recently launched after two years of development. An NYU Stern undergraduate, Lewis currently lives in New York Email: lewis@FledgeWing.com, Twitter: @ edgewing
I very much like StartingBloc, a network of fellows that tackle social, economic and environmental challenges. I like them as they have helped a number of FledgeWing members in the social entrepreneurship scene
I’ve found that the people I really respect, admire and enjoy hanging out with are People-With-Projects. One thing I love to do is ask: “Have you been working on any interesting projects lately?” en I shut up and listen. If you know exactly what I’m talking about, then you’ll love reading the rest of this entry. If you don’t have any interesting things you’re cooking up on the side - then you’ve GOT to keep reading so we can get you your own Stretch Project. A Stretch Project is a personal endeavor that has a clear deliverable, is doable in your spare time, within your budget for discretionary income, and generates strong feelings within you - fear, excitement, fascination, anger or something else. A Stretch Project’s gotta move you in some way. You should not be 100% sure you can get it all done. So why do you need one of these? Stretch Projects provide you a special opportunity to do something new, something di erent. It’s a break from the mundane day to day. It’s an opportunity to learn, connect and grow in a way that will beneﬁt you both personally and professionally. is fall I did NaNoWriMo, aka national novel writing month. You write an original novel (50,000 words or more) in just 30 days. I actually tried two years ago
Picture courtesy Jason Shen
and came up short with only 35,000 words, so this time I made a plan: I’d use my 45 min commute to work o cial NaNoWriMo time. I bought a tiny netbook that can go anywhere and power through long writing sessions, canceled social events and got the thing done. Making it to 50k was so sweet. Now I can say I’ve written a novel, but more importantly I got to exercise my brain in a creative fashion that I rarely get to do at work (crunching numbers, managing projects and handling operations for a newspaper). NaNoWriMo gives people a reason, an excuse, a golden opportunity, to ﬁnish a crappy ﬁrst dra of that novel they’ve been saying they’d write “someday”. Over 100,000 people participated in 2009 and 20% of them crossed the ﬁnish line in 30 days - not bad! What if novels aren’t your thing? No worries - your Stretch Project can be about anything! Gretchen Rubin has written an amazing blog and now book called e
Now I can say I’ve written a novel, but more importantly I got to exercise my brain in a creative fashion that I rarely get to do at work
Happiness Project - where she chronicles the things she’s learned over a year of trying everything she can to be more happy. You can download a happiness project startup kit and use her hard earned wisdom for yourself. Maybe your project is the Get Fit For Summer project, or the Set Up A Personal Blog project or even the Cook Everything In Julia Child’s cook book (as chronicled in Julie & Julia the blog/book/movie). Find something that you are passionate about (or at least a little curious about) and go for it! ere is a reason teachers o en make their students do ﬁnal projects because they demonstrate ability to apply knowledge to the real world. Sounds like a useful thing to be doing all the time, no? Make your project just a bit bigger than you can handle, make it something you’d be proud to say you did and get your friends and family involved in supporting you. Special projects make life richer and more interesting. Start one.
Jason Shen is a startup junkie, co-producer of What’s Next and Chief Operating Oﬃcer of The Stanford Daily. He cofounded Gumball Capital, a nationally-recognized social venture and studied biology and philosophy at Stanford. He has a decade of experience as a nationally-ranked gymnast and lead the Stanford Men’s Gymnastics team as captain to a NCAA championship. Twitter: @jasonshen Web: jasonshen.com
College Summit is a national nonpro t organization that partners with schools and districts to strengthen college-going culture and increase college enrollment rates, so that all students graduate career and college-ready.
People and Collective Intelligence
When looking at what’s next for the 21st century, it’s important ﬁrst to look at what’s been for the last several centuries. In doing so, while we ﬁnd clear progress and little overlap, there remains a consistent, fundamental theme that cannot be overlooked: the value of human thought and the power of collective intelligence. For the last 400 years, global society has undergone shi a er shi in paradigm. e 17th century saw the height of the Scientiﬁc Revolution, a movement that rejected centuries-old doctrine and replaced it with the foundation of modern science. e 18th century saw the birth of the United States and the emergence of novel thought and lifestyle in the Age of Enlightenment. e 19th century saw the height of the Industrial Revolution and the global inﬂuence of such ﬁgures as Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin and Karl Marx. And the 20th-century world progressed at a rate so rapid that it o en seemed to trip over itself, devolving into global war and neglected genocide yet also giving rise to transportation and communication infrastructures that have brought seven billion people closer together than ever before. Transformations of this magnitude are sure to continue in the increasingly dynamic world of the 21st century. But the focus of this entry is the question: What remains constant, and has remained constant, in the face of transformational forces over the last four centuries? If we can identify a fundamental aspect, a connection, that underlies each of these paradigm shi s, we can likely conclude that it will remain an important feature of what’s to come. As a journalist and student of history, I can immediately and unequivocally encapsulate what I believe to be the most important of these constants into one word: people. For as long as people have walked the Earth, it has increasingly been the coming together of human minds that has dictated the way in which “global society,” however deﬁned, Picture used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of nielspicy (via Flickr) has operated. is uniquely has held true since the advent of agriculture and metal tools prompted trade, cooperation and the development of complex societies in Africa and Eurasia. e ﬁrst proto-states grew out of societies in Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, Rome, India and China, before the rise of inﬂuential religions and a revolution of ideas then came to dominate the Middle Ages. Finally, global society gave way to the Renaissance, which laid the groundwork for the Scientiﬁc Revolution, where this entry began. Each of these paradigm shi s was initiated, executed and brought forward by collective intelligence. At the most basic rung of life as we know it—existence—nature has increasingly given way to human nature. Once prey to elements like disease and natural disaster, humans now retaliate with our own arsenals of medicine and technology. e potential today to increase quality of life may be the highest it’s ever been, and that fact is a orded by human collective invention. As we push forward into this new century, whose outcome it would
It entails engaging interpersonal conﬂict with conversation and mutual understanding instead of shying away behind assumption and hearsay.
be foolish to predict, the importance of people and their ideas must remain paramount. What does remembering the “the importance of people” entail? It may entail never forgoing human interaction for other, “modern” forms of communication or networking. It entails picking up the phone and calling a friend or family member instead of sending her or him and email. It includes thoroughly getting to know another person before imposing an ounce of judgment on that person. It includes ditching stereotypes and embracing the countless intricacies that make up a person, let alone a society or a religion. It entails engaging interpersonal conﬂict with conversation and mutual understanding instead of shying away behind assumption and hearsay. In a truly 2010 context, it may entail resisting the urge to pull out one’s iPhone, iPad or iAnything while spending time with other people. To be sure, none of these is easy to do. Indeed, some may argue that to continue to cling to basic personal interaction is to resist the waves of today’s Information Age. Yet, the historical context of human ideas and collective intelligence must not be undervalued. Today’s technological age was born out of these same values, all of which played the same transformational roles in the Scientiﬁc Revolution, the Enlightenment period, the birth of America and even the global wars that irreversibly molded the world. So, to give credit where credit is due, never forget the value of the person, the power of the human mind and the potential of interpersonal collaboration. One may certainly try to postulate the outcome of the 21st century, but given the rate of progress we have witnessed for the last 400 years, that would be a foolish endeavor. What one can say with near-certainty, however, is that, with any 21st-century paradigm shi , human thought and collective intelligence will be the fundamental factors behind it. As the world changes rapidly around us, we must not forget that.
Devin Banerjee is The Wall Street Journal's eighth Daniel Pearl Memorial Intern, and he will join The Journal's New Delhi bureau in June 2010. At Stanford, Devin served as president & editor in chief of The Stanford Daily and as codirector of the student body's publications board. He has written for the San Jose Mercury News and the JoongAng Daily in Seoul, Korea. In his free time, Devin enjoys studying international affairs and piloting single-engine airplanes. Twitter: @devinbanerjee
The Stanford Daily Publishing Corp. is a notfor-proﬁt organization dedicated to informing the Stanford community. and educating students about journalism and business.
Empowering Beneficiaries Into Advocates
Most people consider themselves advocates for people being served by causes. e man who says, "Oh, I'm speaking on behalf of the homeless" has likely never been homeless. I admire and appreciate these activists. But just as the traditional channels of media Picture courtesy of Crystal Yan (newspaper) are making way for new channels (blogs!) and traditional revenue models (charging everyone) are making organizer didn't happen to also be at the last way for new models (freemium), the traditional women-in-tech event I went to, and I knew she ways of enacting change will make way for the was looking for more mentors to be a part of the new: activists should strive not only to reach out program. So I took the liberty of uno cially to help others, but empower those they help to be appointing myself, a girl, as an advocate of other proactive in helping themselves. girls, my peers, and promoted the opportunity on behalf of the program. It's programs like these, I am a 17-year-old girl. I like math and science, that foster that kind of sheer determination in and I'm pretty good at them too. However, there their students, that deserve to be showcased more aren't many of me. Most would think programs for its innovative practices. at's why today should reach out to me, that people should speak when I learned of W.TEC camp, I was struck by on behalf of me. I disagree. In fact, I actively how forward-thinking this organization is. ey promote the very programs I'm in, and I believe started in Nigeria, and work in Nigeria. ey're more programs should empower their addressing issues of the shortage of women in participants to do the same to realize their vision technology at its root: by exposing girls in to of making a true impact. In a couple weeks, I'll be technological knowledge, and making it fun. part of a program that teaches girls how to Likewise, ZMC's Empower She movement seeks program mobile applications. e program to take preemptive strikes at AIDS: education and
So I took the liberty of unofﬁcially appointing myself, a girl, as an advocate of other girls, my peers, and promoted the opportunity on behalf of the program.
prevention by gaming. AIDS isn't fun and games, but for them, AIDS awareness can be. Women are changing the world everyday. But it's not only we in developed nations who are creating change for others. Women in developing nations are creating change for themselves. ey are making advocates of themselves when most consider that one should advocate for them. For a young woman like me, that gives me so much hope for not only the future of technology but also for the future of women.
Crystal C. Yan (严晨) is a Trilingual ChineseAmerican 18-years-young Blogger,Graphic Designer, and Social Entrepreneur. Right now she's working on starting up Social Startup Summit, a high-impact, social entrepreneurship bootcamp for youth to incubate their service project ideas and Velocity, a mobile app that helps professionals calculate mileage for expense tracking. Crystal will be a freshman at Amherst College in Fall 2010. Web: crystalcyan.com LinkedIn: in/crystaly
Though most believe we've eradicated this fatal, crippling disease that has affected everyone from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Francis Ford Coppola, it still exists in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Nigeria. One vaccine is only $0.60, and every child deserves a chance at life.
that is great has been done by youth.”
Introduction “Almost everything
Risk - It’s More Than Just a Board Game
Let’s say that you’re faced with the choice of living at your current home for the next year or living in a di erent country where you don’t know anyone, don’t know the culture, and don’t know the language for the next year. Which would you choose? Most people would choose the ﬁrst option without question. It’s safer, it’s easier, and it’s not crazy. But what about the ones that choose the second option? Assuming it’s a developed country, then one would probably learn a new language, make new friends, and experience things that one never even knew existed. Even assuming it’s not a developed country, if one were thrown into a war-torn nation, then one would gain survival skills they didn’t even know they had because of the circumstances. In both cases, these people would come back with an unbelievable story, are considered life-experienced and leave their friends back home in awe. Yet these people are deemed the crazy ones. My big idea is about taking risks and why people don’t take risks even though they admire the ones that do. We praise people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg for dropping out of college to start their company yet we ourselves are hesitant to do so because it’s too “risky”. We love watching people go on American Idol at their chance for world fame yet many talented singers won’t even sing outside of their shower because its too “risky”. Why?
"Picture used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Better Than Bacon (via Flickr)
Uncertainty, fear, failure, there are many reasons that people give for not doing something outrageous. But the bottom line is that for every talented entrepreneur with an idea that doesn’t pursue it, the world has one less innovation. For every talented singer that doesn’t sing in front of others, the world has one less beautiful voice. What happens is that these people are not adding any new value to the world. e risk-takers are the ones who make change and progress society forward. Excuse me for the exaggerations but one has to wonder why all the people society has deemed “successful” are also in one way or another “crazy”. e Wright Brothers for building their crazy ﬂying contraption. Christopher Columbus for crazily sailing west to reach the east. President Obama for using social media to connect with the masses. ese people do things that are unheard of given their situation but given the opportunity, would
For every talented entrepreneur with an idea that doesn’t pursue it, the world has one less innovation
you have done the same thing? Now you might remark, “not everyone has those ridiculous opportunities!” You would be right and not everyone even has to take a huge risk, those were just examples most people could understand. My life has always been about the small risks — personal, academic, and career risks. I learned a lot by hanging out with di erent people outside of my comfort zone to see how other people live and think. I risked a lot by allowing everyone to see and proofread my college essays to gather more feedback. And I got to where I am today by reaching out and befriending industry leaders and presidents of organizations who ﬁnd a genuine enthusiastic youth refreshing. I have done many things my peers would deem crazy or not something we are supposed to do but have experienced more because of it. Risks lead to living the fullest extent of what life has to o er and from what I learned, life will almost always give you second chances. You might also be thinking, “I have responsibilities to hold, I just can’t a ord the risk!” ere does get to a point where taking risks lead to bigger consequences (losing your job while raising a family) that one should not risk but before that point comes, there is no reason why people should take the safer road. is period is usually a er college and before marriage where one can reach their fullest potential. “But I don’t want to change the world, I just want to live a happy life which I’m doing right now!” you might also be saying. at’s perfectly ﬁne, as long as you are sure you are 100% happy and are not lying to yourself. I continually see many talented engineers and humanitarians graduate from college and go into the ﬁnance or consulting industry because of the stability and high pay. On the surface many appear happy with their grandeur lifestyle but many more just psych themselves out to be happy because they are too afraid to quit. ey admire their peers that are chasing their dreams but can’t get to do it themselves. Imagine a world where people are not hindered by opportunity, responsibility, or fear and each individual can lead a life experiencing everything they want and chase their dreams. Why can’t one start now? All it takes is a simple change of mentality. When confronted with a new radical idea/plan, most people respond, " at's crazy, what if it fails?" but the risk-takers, the crazy ones, respond, " at's crazy, let's do it!"
Kevin Xu is a freshman at Stanford University with a serious case of the entrepreneurial bug. Originally from New York, Kevin loves everything related to startups, TEDTalks, and Internet funniez. Heavily involved with BASES, he is learning the ropes until he can create the next biggest change the world will know. He is currently interested in the mobile technology and social media space. Web: imkevinxu.com Twitter: @imkevinxu
I support the Asian Liver Center (ALC) in their eﬀorts to research and ght against the high incidence of hepatitis B and liver cancer in Asians and Asian Americans. They run one of the most successful educational outreach programs I have ever seen, bringing awareness of this illness to many Asian American communities preventing cases before they happen.
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