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10 Things We Can All Learn From TIME’s 2014 Most Influential Teens

10 Things We Can All Learn From TIME’s 2014 Most Influential Teens

Each year since 1999, TIME magazine has ranked the world’s most influential people. The list has included heavyweights like Oprah (10 times), Barack Obama (nine times), Nelson Mandela (three times) and the Dalai Lama (three times).

It’s not necessarily political power, wealth or a talk show that make someone influential though. It’s widely acknowledged that “the key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority,” and influence is achievable at any age. Teens often have that fearless courage (or sometimes, worldly naivety) that, combined with easy access to millions via social media, gives them the ability to be incredibly influential too. It might not be as obviously profound as the US President or His Holiness, but there’s often a real and valuable message there, untarnished by jaded decades and mid-life crises.

Here’s what we can all learn – whether we’re 17 or 70 – from TIME’s most influential teens in 2014.

1. Sasha Obama, 13, and Malia Obama, 16: Be true to your own passions

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    Last year, the youngest Obama daughter, Sasha, was photographed wearing a $19 unicorn sweater from ASOS at a university basketball game – it sold out online almost instantaneously. Malia has reportedly dabbled in filmmaking in Hollywood too. These girls are a great reminder to forge your own path and be true to your own passions and style, regardless of what others might expect of you.

    2. Flynn McGarry, 15: Start with what you have, where you are

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      Flynn has proven that culinary genius is not just born in the Michelin restaurants of Paris and New York, and you don’t have to work a lifetime to achieve your own restaurant success. At 12, Flynn started a monthly supper club, Eureka, in the Californian bedroom of his family home. It’s now a pop up restaurant serving eight to 10 courses of “progressive American cuisine” for up to 50 guests. He’s now working with the world’s top chefs in LA and NYC and has appeared on the Today Show and the cover of The New York Times.

      The most common excuse for not pursuing our dreams is that we’re waiting for the ideal tools or circumstances to align. Flynn is a great reminder to ditch the excuses and start with what you have, where you are.

      3. Erik Finman, 15: Stay curious – be an eager learner

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        This teen founded Botangle.com, an online community that connects eager learners with experts and educators for a per minute and/or per hour rate (Botangle takes a 15% cut of the fee). Subjects covered include everything from aviation, architecture and crowd funding, to dance, Mongolian and violin.

        Erik – an eager student and grateful for his own diverse educational opportunities – wanted to make stimulating education easily accessible to everyone, so Botangle uses alternative learning tools such as video tutoring and virtual whiteboards. But that’s not the really impressive part. Erik funded the start up project by investing $1,000 his Grandma gave him at Easter in Bitcoin and turning it into $100,000. Here’s proof that being an eager learner and student of life will always bring a “return on investment” in one way or another.

        4. Salma Kakar, 17: Push the walls of the world you find yourself in

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          Salma is both a patriotic, teenage girl from Afghanistan and the lead rider on the co-ed Afghan National Cycling Team. She says that she is using her bike as a “vehicle for social change” – to show the world how far Afghan women have come from the overly conservative and oppressive traditions of her parent’s generation.

          Whilst many Afghan women cannot get an education, employment or even a driver’s licence, Salma insists that views are changing. And despite the verbal abuse and harassment for being “un-Islamic,” she also receives messages of support from many Afghans, men included. She has a more progressive and supportive family than most – her mother is a pediatrician, her father an engineer and her elder sister a publisher of Afghanistan’s first feminist magazine, Riudad – but she has refused to accept the traditional boundaries of the world she was born into.

          5. Malala Yousafzai, 17: A single defeat is not a final defeat

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            Malala has always been an advocate for girls’ education – at 11 years old, she was speaking out at events and blogging for the BBC on the topic. It earned her both death threats from the Taliban and an International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011.

            On 9 October, 2012, Malala was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen while riding the bus to school. Most would be forgiven for taking a step back from the spotlight and feeling defeated – but not Malala. She has since started the Malala Fund to continue to promote girls’ education, assist Syrian refugee children and raise awareness of the kidnapped Nigerian girls. She has gone on to receive an honorary doctorate in civil law from the University of King’s College in Canada, spoken at the United Nations and is now the youngest ever recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize (October 2014). Her influence is undeniable and her message – “We will speak, no matter how hard it is to do so” – is a reminder that a single defeat is not a final defeat.

            6. Rachel Fox, 18: Look past the stereotypes

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              Don’t be fooled by the stereotypes of Hollywood’s teen actresses. She’s starred in TV shows like Desperate Housewives and Private Practice, but Rachel Fox is also an avid day trader – and a successful one at that! Now she’s started a blog, Fox on Stocks, to demystify finance and investments for teens. She also tracks the influence of pop culture on stock trading – everything from Gagnam Style to Justin Bieber – and lists the top 20 companies teens love to buy from on a “MyGenLoves Index,” which includes Netflix and Urban Outfitters.

              7. Rico Rodriguez, 16: Let your personality shine (quirks and all)

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                So, Mum wasn’t lying when she said personality always wins! Better known as Manny in Modern Family, Rico Rodriguez is one of the youngest and richest teen actors of the moment. And it’s not because he’s a typical Hollywood heartthrob. Rodriguez is a young comedic genius and has a lot to say as well – in 2012, he published a book called Reel Life Lessons…So Far. His character in Modern Family is brimming with personality and is a testament to embracing your own uniqueness – he has influenced the masses with his character’s confident vulnerability and dramatic flair. If Modern Family continues into Season Eight, he’ll be earning around $115,000 per episode too. As Beatrix Potter said, “I hold that a strongly marked personality can influence descendants for generations.”

                8. Lorde, 17: True beauty is in the imperfections

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                  Two Grammy Awards, a platinum album, an MTV Video Music Award and selected to curate the Hunger Games soundtrack – this girl has well and truly earned the spotlight. But rather than twerking her way to the top, Lorde has let her natural talent shine and has used her influence to do something else for the sisterhood – promote body love, in all its flawed glory. Earlier this year, she posted two photos on Twitter – one Photoshopped and one au naturel – to remind her fans (or 1.3 million Twitter followers) that “flaws are OK.” Well done Lorde – let’s keep it real #nofilter.

                  9. Joshua Wong, 18: Speak up – every voice counts

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                    Most 18-year-olds are barely able to legally vote in their own countries and would rather spend the Saturday morning in bed than at the polls, but Joshua Wong is leading a pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong (via a student activist group called Scholarism) to scrap mandatory “patriotic education” and demand that the people be able to elect their leader. He’s led demonstrations, sit-ins and petitions around the country and managed to convince the Chief Executive to meet with him to discuss his requests – undeniably the influence that TIME picked up on. Wong is a reminder to us all that our voice and vote counts – don’t take it for granted.

                    10. Jazz Jennings, 14: See the rainbow in the world – it’s not all black and white

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                      Since the age of two, Jazz has identified as a girl despite the body she was given. She’s now an advocate for transgender teens and has written a book and reflective memoir, I am Jazz, to help kids understand what it means to be transgender: “I have a girl brain but a boy body … I was born this way.” She made The Advocate‘s 40 Under 40 in 2012 and was the youngest person ever featured on the Out 100 in 2013. This girl has a magnetic sparkle and an unwavering commitment to live her truth that makes her a powerful and beautiful inspiration to many – so much so, that Bill Clinton and JLaw insisted on meeting her! She’s earned a well-deserving spot on TIME’s most influential teens list for sure.

                      According to TIME, “Teens today might have a mixed reputation, but there’s no denying their influence.” The rise of social media has undoubtedly played a big role in that, but these teens have achieved more than most and have a message worth spreading. The rest of the world can just sit back, and have greatness thrust upon them.

                      Featured photo credit: Wikimedia via upload.wikimedia.org

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                      Last Updated on November 19, 2019

                      7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy

                      7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy

                      “Busy” used to be a fair description of the typical schedule. More and more, though, “busy” simply doesn’t cut it.

                      “Busy” has been replaced with “too busy”, “far too busy”, or “absolutely buried.” It’s true that being productive often means being busy…but it’s only true up to a point.

                      As you likely know from personal experience, you can become so busy that you reach a tipping point…a point where your life tips over and falls apart because you can no longer withstand the weight of your commitments.

                      Once you’ve reached that point, it becomes fairly obvious that you’ve over-committed yourself.

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                      The trick, though, is to recognize the signs of “too busy” before you reach that tipping point. A little self-assessment and some proactive schedule-thinning can prevent you from having that meltdown.

                      To help you in that self-assessment, here are 7 signs that you’re way too busy:

                      1. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Took a Day Off

                      Occasional periods of rest are not unproductive, they are essential to productivity. Extended periods of non-stop activity result in fatigue, and fatigue results in lower-quality output. As Sydney J. Harris once said,

                      “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

                      2. Those Closest to You Have Stopped Asking for Your Time

                      Why? They simply know that you have no time to give them. Your loved ones will be persistent for a long time, but once you reach the point where they’ve stopped asking, you’ve reached a dangerous level of busy.

                      3. Activities like Eating Are Always Done in Tandem with Other Tasks

                      If you constantly find yourself using meal times, car rides, etc. as times to catch up on emails, phone calls, or calendar readjustments, it’s time to lighten the load.

                      It’s one thing to use your time efficiently. It’s a whole different ballgame, though, when you have so little time that you can’t even focus on feeding yourself.

                      4. You’re Consistently More Tired When You Get up in the Morning Than You Are When You Go to Bed

                      One of the surest signs of an overloaded schedule is morning fatigue. This is a good indication that you’ve not rested well during the night, which is a good sign that you’ve got way too much on your mind.

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                      If you’ve got so much to do that you can’t even shut your mind down when you’re laying in bed, you’re too busy.

                      5. The Most Exercise You Get Is Sprinting from One Commitment to the Next

                      It’s proven that exercise promotes healthy lives. If you don’t care about that, that’s one thing. If you’d like to exercise, though, but you just don’t have time for it, you’re too busy.

                      If the closest thing you get to exercise is running from your office to your car because you’re late for your ninth appointment of the day, it’s time to slow down.

                      Try these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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                      6. You Dread Getting up in the Morning

                      If your days are so crammed full that you literally dread even starting them, you’re too busy. A new day should hold at least a small level of refreshment and excitement. Scale back until you find that place again.

                      7. “Survival Mode” Is Your Only Mode

                      If you can’t remember what it feels like to be ahead of schedule, or at least “caught up”, you’re too busy.

                      So, How To Get out of Busyness?

                      Take a look at these articles to help you get unstuck:

                      Featured photo credit: Khara Woods via unsplash.com

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