Advertising
Advertising

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

obama

    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

    Advertising

    Flynn-McGarry_011

      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

      1402504733-how-teenage-entrepreneur-built-startup-bitcoin-riches-erik-finman

        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

        Advertising

        f64ac422206e1be

          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

          Malala-Yousafzai1

            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

            Advertising

            Fox-On-Stocks-Rachel-Fox-hollywood-celebrity-and-wall-street-personality

              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)

              14th Annual Young Hollywood Awards Presented By Bing - Portraits

                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

                lorde-grammys-20140129

                  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

                  Advertising

                  joshua_wong_felix

                    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

                    Jazz-Jennings_TINIMA20141014_0970_5

                      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

                      More by this author

                      12 Weekend Habits of Highly Successful People 10 Things We Can All Learn From TIME’s 2014 Most Influential Teens 15 Secrets To Running Meetings Like The World’s Top Innovative Companies 16 Best Travel Apps You Need For Your Next Trip

                      Trending in Productivity

                      1 8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More 2 How Exercising Makes You More Productive 3 10 Practical Ways to Drastically Improve Your Time Management Skills 4 15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success 5 How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

                      Read Next

                      Advertising
                      Advertising

                      Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                      8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                      8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                      You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

                      Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

                      When you train your brain, you will:

                      • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
                      • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
                      • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

                      So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

                      1. Work your memory

                      Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

                      When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

                      If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

                      The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

                      Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

                      Advertising

                      Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

                      What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

                      For example, say you just met someone new:

                      “Hi, my name is George”

                      Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

                      Got it? Good.

                      2. Do something different repeatedly

                      By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

                      Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

                      It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

                      Advertising

                      And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

                      But how does this apply to your life right now?

                      Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

                      Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

                      Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

                      So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

                      You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

                      That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

                      3. Learn something new

                      It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

                      Advertising

                      For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

                      Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

                      You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

                      4. Follow a brain training program

                      The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

                      5. Work your body

                      You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

                      Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

                      Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

                      Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

                      6. Spend time with your loved ones

                      If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

                      Advertising

                      If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

                      I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

                      7. Avoid crossword puzzles

                      Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

                      Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

                      Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

                      8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

                      Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

                      When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

                      So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

                      The bottom line

                      Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

                      Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                      Read Next