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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 January 25, 2021

                      How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

                      How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

                      So you have a dream, but you have no idea how to get there? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Many people are in the same boat. They know what they want, but sometimes they don’t even believe it’s possible. So what happens? They either don’t try, or, if they do, they give up before they achieve their goal.


                      If you’re one of those people, here are 7 things you can do to visualize your results and make them happen:

                      1. Focus on what you can do now.

                      Let’s say you have no money in savings because you are literally living paycheck-to-paycheck. How is it possible to ever imagine having a few thousand dollars in savings when all you see is money going out the door? You may not think it is. But you don’t have to start big. Reach in your purse or pocket and grab that spare change. Put it in a jar. Make a habit of doing this. If you do it long enough, it will add up. Then move up and put a dollar in the jar–then five. If you get a tax refund, stick some of it in savings. I think you see the point. Just do something. Any little action toward your goal makes a difference in helping you get there.

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                      2. Break down your goal into small steps.

                      Maybe you want to start your own business. And you might be great at seeing the end result. You get excited about it, but then you realize that your big vision is at least 10 years off. Then you get overwhelmed, frustrated, and you convince yourself that you can’t do it. Think in terms of baby steps. Start by building a website. Educate yourself on how to attract clients. Slowly, you will make your way toward your end result. Remember, it’s not a race. No one is judging you for how fast you get there.

                      3. Turn your steps into a chronological plan.

                      Once you have the small steps broken down, prioritize them. Maybe you want to lose 50 pounds. You have already completed the first step by eliminating one particular food from your diet that will cut out a lot of calories. Then you listed out the other foods you can eliminate and calories you can count. Now, for step three, put them on your calendar. For example: “by June 1st, I will have eliminated these three foods from my diet. By July 1st, will be eating 1,700 calories a day.” You get the point. Put your goals on a calendar and stick to it.

                      4. Pretend that it has already happened.

                      With any of the three scenarios above, you can act like your goal is already accomplished. Get your bank statement out and write in the amount of money you want to see in your savings account. Hang it up somewhere. Talk to yourself about how awesome it is to have $2,000 in your savings. Or pretend that the business you just started is a smashing success. Clients are breaking down your doors. Or see yourself feeling great after losing all that weight. Trick your mind into believing it has already happened.

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                      5. Figure out what proof you need that you have achieved your goal.

                      It is so easy to get frustrated and give up. But if you do, you’ll never get where you want to be. How much money do you need in your savings to feel like you are actually making progress? How many clients or website traffic do you need to feel like your business is on its way to success? How many pounds do you need to lose to get excited and feel like you don’t want to give up? It’s up to you. But you need to figure it out so you don’t quit.

                      6. Visualize it.

                      If you are visual person, close your eyes, and see it done. Do this in the morning before you get out bed, and when you go to sleep at night. Or meditate on it at your convenience. The key is to do this every day. The more you can do it, the better. Not only does it get you into the habit of focusing on the end result, it really does trick your subconscious mind into thinking it is reality. If you’re not a visual person, write down affirmations and repeat them every day. However you choose to do it, the key is consistency. Keep doing it.

                      7. Talk about it to everyone.

                      Telling other people about your goals makes them real. And it represents a commitment. If you tell your friends, “I’m starting a business,” then they will keep asking you how it’s going. Or if you want to lose that weight, your friends and family will most likely support you. The more you talk about it, the more you get caught up and excited about the end result. It will go from fantasy to reality.

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                      Remember, everyone gets discouraged at some point when they try to achieve a goal. It’s normal. But the difference between the people who succeed and the people who don’t is commitment and consistency. They don’t give up. They keep going. You can too, if you follow these seven simple steps.

                      Featured photo credit: on a way to horizon/Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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