More than a Number


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!


Interview with William LeGate


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.

5 Reminders for the New Year


1. Breaking a resolution is not the end of the world

Statistics show that over 30% of people break their resolutions within the first month. This can be really discouraging and can hinder your progress. Instead you should set attainable goals and build on them throughout the year. Once you get something simple done, take it up a level and keep going until you reach the larger goal.

2. A little bit of kindness can go a really long way

Think about a time when a complete stranger made you smile. There probably was not a grand gesture involved, it may have been as simple as them smiling at you first. Impacting others’ days and even lives can be that simple. Take time to think of others this year, and watch how much you will change.

3. Words are powerful

If you haven’t noticed, one goal of TBYT is to remind others, and ourselves, of the power of words. The words that we speak have the power of life or death. The impact that they have is up to us. Our words can either help or hurt others. This is true both online and in the real world. Take the time to think before you speak and type. How will your words define you?

4. There’s only one you!

Conforming can be the easy thing to do, but that will hinder you from reaching your full potential. Everyone is unique and we forget that so often. By trying to be like someone else you’re leaving an empty space, and only can you fill that void. Each person has something incredible to add to the world just by simply being themselves. This year figure out who that is, and work on embracing it.

5. You are not alone

Not every day is easy. Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes things that are out of our control make our lives a million times harder than we could have ever imagined. These times make it hard to even get out of bed, let alone live our lives. If this happens to you, don’t try to carry everything yourself. Sometimes the strongest thing that you can do is let others share the weight. Your friends and family are there to help you through tough times. Lean on them. Let them help carry you through. If you feel like you don’t have anyone like that in your life, we’re here, and we’re just an email away. We’re wishing you a happy and healthy 2015. Remember, to step back and enjoy the beautiful adventure that you’re on. We’re rooting for you this year!

Little Me

Image from flickr

Image from Flickr

I’ve had ideas about this post bouncing around in my thoughts for the past couple of weeks, and I spent way too much time thinking about it instead of just sitting down and writing it. During that time, I kept running into things that reminded me of this post, so I knew that I couldn’t just let it go. I’m glad that I’m finally taking the time to blog about this.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my younger self and the role that she plays in my life today. Have  you ever looked back at something that you wrote, posted, or recorded in the past and cringed? I’m sure the answer is yes. This is something that we often do. We look back at our younger selves and can’t believe how embarrassing, naive, or immature we were. We criticize our past fashion choices, hair styles, and a lot of other decisions that we made. Sometimes I think we miss the beauty of who we were then. Yes, there were bad decisions and negative experiences, but we often forget about the simple things that used to make our eyes light up, and the incredible dreams that we had before people told us that we couldn’t. Why is it that when we look back, we see the negative pieces of who we were and miss out on the positives?

I really hate the feeling of leaving things undone. I’m sure I’m not the only one. And do you know what’s worse? That point when it feels like its too late to go back and finish what I started. I realize that I have procrastinated or let fear take control for too long, and I feel powerless. I feel like I missed my chance to fix things, and I’m stuck living with the consequences. Most times I am the only person standing in my way. At times, I sabotage my own dreams and give them up in exchange for temporary comfort. I’m tired of giving up for the wrong reasons, aren’t you?

I wonder how much better off we would be if we looked back and tried to embrace some of the positive parts of who we used to be, if we dusted off an old dream and paired it with the new lessons that we’ve learned and skills that we picked up along the journey. Think about how unstoppable you could be if you combined your old dreams with your new experience. Don’t be afraid to take a chance, and don’t let your new found doubts, and past disappointments, keep you from being the person that you’ve dreamt of becoming.

British girl-group Little Mix recently released a song that I think is a perfect illustration of this idea. The song is called Little Me, and it talks about how much potential they now see in their younger selves. Their music video adds a new dimension to the song’s message and focuses on the “Little Mes” that surround them. Check out the video, it’s pretty incredible.

I have two things that I would love to see you do. First, I want you to work towards realizing an old dream that your younger self used to hold.  This is your chance to do something incredible, so don’t hold back. Second, I want you to find a little you in your life and help them realize a dream that they have. Tell him or her, and yourself, that anything is possible, and watch both of you soar. I dare you!

– Lauren

P.S. It’s been way too long since my last post. I sincerely apologize! My goal for this semester is for us to upload blog/vlog posts bi-weekly. So stick around for more content coming soon :).


We Want YOUR Stories!

We think that this blog would benefit a lot from personal stories of cyberbullying and stories of when people have made you smile and helped you build a better self image. So send them in! You can email us your stories at Please no profanity.