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.

Think Before You Type Interviews Roxie Bardo

This photo is owned by Roxie Bardo.

This photo is owned by Roxie Bardo.

We caught up with singer-songwriter Roxie Bardo. We chatted about her music, songwriting process, and taking the time to be kind.

TBYT: You’ve been performing since a really young age. How did you get your start?

Roxie: When I was very young I’d put on shows in my front yard. I would perform songs from Brittney Spears and Mariah Carey for my family. When I reached middle school I began attending a performing arts school that really allowed me to branch out performance wise.

We did musicals mostly but it was a crucial time in my life with regard to setting my career choice in stone.

TBYT: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

R: I would say that being artistic in any sense is difficult. When you’re young you don’t fully understand what makes you different, but you know that you don’t think the same as your peers. I would tell myself to relax and to not worry so much about what others think. To not be concerned with blending in with the crowds and to embrace my view of the world.

TBYT: Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

R: Not particularly. At some point in my life someone told me to “Just Be.” It hit home for me. I’m such a perfectionist and those two words get me threw a lot of hardships.

TBYT: What is the one thing that keeps you from getting discouraged on a bad day?

R: I go through quite a few ups and downs in my line of work. Every time I feel hopeless I remember all that I have. All the support I have from my family, all the love I get from my fans, and all the opportunity that’s in front of me. When you find gratitude in your life you’re able to accomplish so much more because all the worry is gone. I have everything I need right now. All my future accomplishes will just be excess.

TBYT: Who are your musical influences?

R: I’m really into Die Antwoord and The Weeknd right now. They are both free, musically speaking. I’m hoping some of their bravery will seep into my subconsciousness!

TBYT: What’s your favorite part of your job?

R: I’m most joyous when I’m performing usually. Although, as of late the creative process has been very exciting. I’m just loving writing right now.

TBYT: How do you deal with negative comments online?

R: Well, as an artist I’m a sponge. I absorb everything around me or being told to me. Because of this I tend to try and stay away from any negativity or cruelty with regard to my music. If I don’t see it or hear about it, I’m good.

TBYT: Do you ever get stage fright?  If so, how do you overcome it?

R: Every time I perform I have a deep nervousness. It comes, for me, before I go on stage. While I’m immersed in the performance I’m fine. I think that’s the key – completely loosing yourself in your music and lyrics. It makes performing an elevated experience that can be quite spiritual.

TBYT: What advice do you have for young people who want to follow their dreams, but might be too afraid to try?

R: I would say that if you love it, do it. There are so many minuscule things that cloud our minds when we are making these life decisions that can drive us crazy. We think too much, all of us. When you let go a bit you end up being the best you. So let go, and if you naturally are steered towards one direction then follow it. Don’t ask questions.

TBYT: You’ve stated that you want your music to have a “deeper meaning” how does this perspective impact your songwriting process?

R: I want my music to evoke emotion. I want it to make you consider ideas and experiences you never have before. So naturally when I’m writing I’m aware of the end goal. I tend to try and surprise or shock myself. If I can make myself question my thoughts and feelings then odds are whoever is listening will feel the same way.

TBYT: Why do you think that it’s important for people to think before they type?

R: Everything you put into the world matters. Every statement, every good or bad feeling, it all can have a domino affect on not only you but those around you. My generation is very careless it seems when it comes to how we treat each other and I pray that we are able to realize that above all else we have to be kind to one another. If you only do one thing in your lifetime let it be being kind to all you come in contact with whether they deserve it or not.