Last week I received an email with three questions from Hofstra University student, Lauren. These questions are incredibly authentic, and represent the questions that so many young people face as agents of change and innovation. I have shared my responses to the questions below. However, I know that there are a wide variety of ways to answer these questions, and I believe our young people need to hear from as many people as possible on these important issues.
Please join me in answering Lauren's questions by commenting with your response(s). I will compile all of the responses to create a valuable resource for our young change agents. After I compile the responses, the document will be available as a free download on the iBooks store, and a link to the PDF will be shared on this post.
**Please comment on the post using Q1, Q2, Q3 to identify the question, and give your response.**
1. Firstly, what would you say to students who don't think their idea is good enough or they are afraid to talk about it?
Many young people struggle with thinking their idea isn't big or bold enough to talk about, but simple ideas change the world. Kickstarter.com is a great example of sophisticated simplicity. It serves as a mechanism for artists and inventors to post a project, engage their fans in backing the project with a donation, and allowing for founders to maintain ownership of their art. Crowd-sourcing support for an idea is a simple concept, but it has revolutionized the start-up community by connecting ideas with a fan base. We cannot discount our idea as not being big or bold enough. Simplicity always beats complexity when it comes to big ideas, so if you have an idea that you think is not big enough, think again! You might be on to something.
Talking about your ideas is tough! It is important to remember, "80% is showing up". This means, 80% of the battle is raising your hand in the meeting, or signing up to present your idea. The other 20% is easy when you start with purpose and you're passionate about your ideas. Anytime we need to have a hard conversation or go out of our comfort zone we just have to remember that it's uncomfortable and it's supposed to be. This is a temporary nemesis, which usually results in personal growth. It sounds silly, but sometimes when I remind myself of that, I feel a little more confident to take on the uncomfortable task.
2. It's not easy to get your big idea in motion. What advice would you give students when they get turned down time and time again?
There is no way around it; people that want to change the world have to be resilient. J.K. Rowling's first manuscript for Harry Potter was turned down 12 times before getting picked up by a publisher. The problem with innovative ideas is that most people see them as crazy ideas, especially at first. My advice is to have a strong support network. You will need someone that will be there to cheer you on when you have big wins, and will be there to dust you off if you get knocked down time and again. Also, build a network of innovators that will listen to your ideas and help you improve upon them.
3. Lastly, while it's not easy to change the world it is possible. What would you say to students to empower them and make them feel like they can make a difference?
This is why I get up every morning...to answer this question and hopefully inspire someone to think big. The game has changed. It is no longer about senior level executives in ivory towers having all the power to make change. Young people are making change every day. What students need to remember is that everyone started somewhere. The most influential and revolutionary people of our time all started out thinking their idea wasn't big enough, they weren't smart enough, and changing the world was impossible...until the day they took on a new perspective. There will be enough people who get in your way, don't let yourself get in your way. When you're young you have so much less to lose, so just go for it!