More than a Number

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The other morning, I was listening to the radio while driving to school. My radio was tuned to a popular morning show, and I caught them in the middle of a segment where they acknowledge people who are doing positive things in the world around them. I missed the part where they told listeners about the person, but I did manage to catch was one of the hosts calling an individual “legit” because “he has a lot of followers”. What a conclusion to come to. That statement really rubbed me the wrong way. How is it that a person could do incredible things for the world around them but only be “legit” if they have droves of social media followers to back that up? Is that really where we are as a society?

That statement made me question myself. If I’m being honest, I have a tendency to look at the numbers far too often. Since when did the number of followers or views have anything to do with the things that really matter? Some of the most incredible, thoughtful, giving people I know are not on social media. And I think they’re better for it. Instead of focusing on what the world has to say about them and the things that they are doing, they are out there defining themselves. I know that I could stand to be a lot more like them.

I don’t think that we will be able to see a kinder, more positive internet if we do not change our priorities. So much of my time is wasted putting too much value into the numbers. We cannot just pay attention to the people who have the followers. We should start listening to the people who have the heart, who have the new ideas, who are truly impacting the world. This is not a change that will occur overnight, but I believe the first step in addressing this problem is to acknowledge our bias. We have a tendency to use numbers as a metric for legitimacy instead of taking the time to look deeper. I am challenging myself, and all of you readers, to look beyond the numbers and start focusing on the things that really matter.

Happy National Bullying Prevention Month!

-Lauren

Interview with William LeGate

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via @williamlegate Twitter

We had the opportunity to chat with the co-founder of Ponder about what it is like to be a young person in the start-up world.

TBYT: You got into technology at a very young age. What got you so interested, and how did it all start for you?

William: I got an iPhone for my birthday and wanted to make an app for it, not knowing the extensive work & programming knowledge required. Despite it being much harder than I originally thought, I knew that the reward of having something I made being available to the world would be more than worth it. There were lots of hurdles and road bumps, but it was something I was passionate about doing, which is what allowed me to push through the harder times. The most important thing when creating a startup is being passionate about what you’re doing.

TBYT: What advice do you have for young people who want to get into the startup world?

W: If you’re wanting “normal” work hours, a steady salary, or a stress-free lifestyle, the startup world isn’t for you. That being said, if you’re willing to put the work in it that’s required, it’ll prove to be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

TBYT: During the crucial time in which you were learning all these things and putting yourself out there, what kept you motivated?

W: Knowing that my work will someday impact lots of people and knowing that once that happens, I can change the world for the better.

TBYT: Have you dealt with any age discrimination? If so, what have you done to get past it?

W: Yes. I was about to close a 6-figure investment at 16… I flew to San Francisco to sign the papers, and when they saw me, the company decided to retract their offer. It was devastating, but after getting over the initial pain, the urge the prove them wrong kept me going.

TBYT: What experience have you or people in your life had with cyberbullying?

W: Too many to list. Cyberbullying sucks. Don’t do it, and if you’re the one being bullied, talk to a parent or some other trusted individual about it. In addition, it’s illegal in many jurisdictions, so if all other means of intervening don’t succeed, consider contacting the authorities. If you let whatever someone says about you, online or otherwise, negatively affect you, you’ve allowed the bully to win. Just know that they are the weak one since they have such little self esteem in themselves that they have to revert to hurting others to make themselves feel better. It gets better.

TBYT: Who is your role model?

W: Elon Musk

TBYT: It’s really fascinating that you didn’t take the traditional path. How can people who don’t have the means to get a traditional college education use the resources that are out there to achieve their goals?

W: There are so many free resources out there available to people who, for whatever reason, don’t want to go down a traditional education path. If you decide to not go to college, I’d ensure that you first ensure that you’re making that decision for the right reasons (i.e. financial issues or a desire to learn in a non-traditional environment… hating homework isn’t an excuse because real world work is even harder). Services like Coursera, Udacity, Khan Academy, and iTunes U are great.

TBYT: What’s the best part about what you do?

W: Waking up every day excited to work and knowing what I do will become a part of people’s daily lives.

TBYT: At TBYT we are all about encouraging people to use the internet for good. What is one positive way that you would like to see the internet change?

W: An increase in crowdsourcing, whether that’s for funding an idea, locating a criminal, or sharing thoughts & opinions.

TBYT: You’re only 20, and you’ve already accomplished a lot. What are your long term goals?

W: It’s hard to tell as I don’t even know where I’ll be a year from now. That’s what’s exciting about the startup world. I’d like to be in a position where I can influence others and help shape a better, brighter future.