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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 12, 2018

                      Do You Want to Know the Secret to Living a Fulfilling Life?

                      Do You Want to Know the Secret to Living a Fulfilling Life?

                      Don’t we all want to live a full, happy and satisfied life? For some of us, it need not be a long life as long as it’s been a fulfilling life of achievements, happiness and no regrets. But, how many of us actually go on to experience that entirely? It sometimes sounds more like a pipe dream–a fantasy rather than reality.

                      And then you’ll also get comments from some, saying that this ‘fulfilling life’ is only possible if you’re so rich that you don’t have to care about working, paying the bills or providing for your family. While there is some truth to that, I’m happy to say that financial freedom isn’t the only answer to living a fulfilling life.

                      Living a Fulfilling Life is Within Reach

                      Anyone can pursue a life of fullness, and it all starts with the willingness to learn. How many years has it been since you last attended a class in school? If you’re well into your adult years as a working professional, chances are it’s been a while. Do you remember the times where you had to wake up for early morning lectures? Or the times where you were rushing through a paper or project? And, of course there were the endless exams that you had to cram for.

                      As a young college student, I remember looking forward to the time when I would finally be done with school! No more homework, no more grades to worry about, no more stress! The learning was finally done and I could enter the working world.

                      Not so much!

                      Now that I’ve finally entered the working world, there are moments where I do wish to be a student again; it seemed less stressful then!

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                      There is simply so much out there that I still need to learn and experience. Yet I find myself pressed for time. With family commitments, my business and my own social life to juggle, I’ve had to keep on finding for new ways to learn and absorb new information efficiently. Over the years, I’ve found that by learning new skills and knowledge, I was able to find answers and solutions to my problems, which allowed me to achieve a greater sense of fulfillment.

                      Learning Never Ends

                      The truth is, learning never ends. Generally speaking, it is true that a formal education and the resulting qualifications are important in securing good jobs; jobs that allow you to excel, earn more and perhaps become more successful in our chosen career. But going to school is only one type of learning. All throughout your life, you’re learning in many ways. All these experiences shape and grow you into the person that you are today.

                      There are many opportunities to further your knowledge and develop the skills you need throughout life. Knowledge can be acquired and skill-sets can be developed anywhere. However, lifelong learning is about creating and maintaining a positive attitude to learning both for personal and professional development.

                      Many people overlook the fact that learning can take place anywhere and in many forms. Most would tend to think of learning as the years spent in a learning institute, which occurs mostly in their younger days. And once you go out into the working world, your ‘learning’ ends.

                      This is not how it has to be–in fact, lifelong learning is a gift that keeps on giving.

                      The Importance of Lifelong Learning

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                      Why is it important to become a lifelong learner?

                      A lifelong learner is motivated to learn and develop because they want to; it is a deliberate and voluntary act. Lifelong learning can enhance our understanding of the world around us, provide us with more and better opportunities, and improve our quality of life.

                      You’ll Remain Relevant in the Workplace

                      With advancements in society today, the human life expectancy continues to increase, which means more people are also retiring at a later age. So no matter what stage of life you’re in, being a lifelong learner brings its own rewards. It means we can get more personal satisfaction from our lives and jobs as we understand more about who we are and what we do.

                      This can lead to better results and a more rewarding working day in turn. Whether it’s for advancing your career, a personal interest or wanting to pursue new dreams, learning automatically pushes you forward towards progress and enhances your wellbeing.

                      You’ll Increase Your Earning Potential

                      From a financial point of view, a more highly skilled and knowledgeable worker is an asset to any company. This also leads to faster promotion with associated salary increases.

                      Someone who can offer more expertise will be of more value not just to employers but also to customers. Expertise is also, often, a key quality of an effective leader.

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                      And since you’ll constantly be accumulating knowledge, you’ll have an edge on those who don’t value lifelong learning and can’t bring as much to the table. Your extra knowledge will translate into transferable skills, which means you’ll always be primed to blow the competition out of the water.

                      Learning Gives You Options

                      Of course, one of the most rewarding reasons for continuous learning, is that it gives you options! Successfully changing career path in mid-life and spending time informally developing expertise is more common than ever, especially during rapidly changing market conditions.

                      Whatever your age, it’s never too late to start fresh in life. When you start educating yourself and exposing yourself to new knowledge and information, you widen your opportunities. This will allow you to do more than what you may currently be doing, or give you a way out if you’re not happy or fulfilled with where you’re at now.

                      Our economy is shifting increasingly towards short-term and part-time contracts with more flexible work-patterns. We have to adapt to changes going on in the work-world, make more of ourselves by stepping out of our comfort zones, and break the false ideas about our potential and how we believe life is going.

                      Gain More with Cornerstone Skills

                      You may be well into your career, but feel like somehow, something is still missing. Or maybe you’re not entirely happy with where you’re at in your career path and feel it’s time to reflect and perhaps do something new. Or you might be thinking of retiring soon, and thinking about next steps after retirement.

                      The learning never needs to stop!

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                      This can be your chance to go after a dream or interest that you’ve always had (but never had the opportunity, or time, to pursue). This could finally be the time for you to create the change that you know you should have made ages ago.

                      Why not take the first step to learn about 7 important Cornerstone Skills, which will help take your life to the next stage?

                      Whatever situation you’re in, having these 7 Cornerstone Skills will no doubt equip you to tackle the challenges of life much more efficiently. Don’t let age, your limitations or a comfort zone stop you from seeking greater rewards and self-improvement.

                      Transformation and change is in your hands–you have the power to make big things happen, and we can help teach you the skills. Don’t let life pass you by! It’s time to pursue a fulfilling and happy life.

                      Featured photo credit: Joseph Chan via unsplash.com

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