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Opinion Editorials

Lily Born is the kid-preneur we don’t deserve

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Lily Born is a kid who saw a need for a cup for her grandfather with Parkinson’s and decided to do something about it.

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lily roo

This is a story about an adorable child who did a great thing. That being the case, some trigger warnings:

Get some Kleenex
Check the immediate area for people who may be unsympathetic to ugly crying at your computer.
Prepare epic slow clap GIFs now.

Ready? So.

Lily Born has a grandfather she loves to pieces. Her grandfather suffers from Parkinson’s Disease. You’re probably familiar with it. Short version: it sucks.

Long version: it really sucks, it’s a degenerative nerve disorder in which – incredible oversimplification – the patient’s brain slowly loses control of their body, starting at the extremities and working inward.

The classic symptom is tremor, uncontrollable shaking of the hands, feet and head. Cures and treatment are both in the works, but seriously, it’s just awful. Some of the biggest brains in the world are working on a cure, but diseases of the nervous system are infamously difficult. In the meantime, living with Parkinson’s is brutal, and care is tragically difficult, because seriously: how do you help somebody use their own body?

Apparently, the trick is to be Lily Roo. Lily Roo was eight years old when she took on her grandpa’s Parkinson’s. Based on the fact that she was eight years old, I confidently expect her to be Queen of Space by forty, because she chalked up a win.

Against Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s Disease, which stomps out Nobel Laureates and chews up research money like candy, had nothing on eight year old Lily.

She thought up a cup. This cup, in fact. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Stop. Think. How much of literally everything you do comes down to being able to hold things in your hands? Lily’s Kangaroo Cup isn’t just a vector for tea or Campbell’s, and frankly that would be a big win by itself.

But that cup can be a vector for every small, vital object that is effortless for the able-bodied and a permanent detriment to quality of life for a Parkinson’s sufferer. Cash. Phone. How many things do you use daily that fit in a cup? Because that’s the list of things someone with a severe tremor of the hands can’t get to. Until Lily.

But having an idea when you’re eight does not equal a lifechanging creation. First, she had help. Of course she had help, she was freaking eight. Second, oh my Deity of Choice did she work hard. She and her dad put it into production, which took them through the entrepreneurship process (and to China) to make the perfect ceramic design.

Now, with help from funders, they’re looking to move this quiet gamechanger into inexpensive plastic.

Oh, by the way – the Roos’ company, which they call Imagiroo (literally everything about this story is adorable) also put some of their profits into funding STEM education for young girls, and freely donate their cups to nonprofits all over the world.

That’s how you entrepreneur.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ve got something in my eye.

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

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Opinion Editorials

If Reddit goes IPO, will it have to shed its soul?

(EDITORIAL) Reddit is known as a firebrand, a bastion of free speech, but if they go public, will they be able to remain as they are now?

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Reddit, the eighth-most popular website on the Internet, is reportedly considering an IPO. As a site valued at over 1.8 billion dollars, this is great news for the company itself – but how much of Reddit will remain if the IPO goes through?

Reddit’s history is steeped in controversy, from minor incidents such as invasion of privacy and a few creepily quirky community members to allegations of child pornography and egregious hate speech. While Reddit’s policy has allowed it to tighten posting restrictions regarding the latter two, the fact remains that Reddit – for all its usefulness – is viewed by many as a ticking time bomb.

An IPO would certainly lend back to Reddit a degree of credibility not seen since its inception, but the problem is that Reddit itself (the haven of free speech and original content that made it so popular in the first place) might not survive the offering. Given the platform’s controversial past, many believe it likely that stakeholders would move to tighten further the restrictions on the platform, ultimately ending a significant era in Reddit’s history.

Admittedly, Reddit has come a long way since its early days of supporting user-created content regardless of persuasion: this past year saw entire subreddits shut down for violating the terms of use regarding hate speech, and the platform certainly has cracked down on illegal and abusive content. Unfortunately, the history might be too much to shake off going forward, which is why we think that Reddit’s branding won’t be a part of the final IPO.

The platform’s developers’ dedication to free speech and truth-seeking is what makes Reddit so fantastic, and that’s not liable to change – it’s the most marketable aspect of the site, after all – but perhaps the rationale behind going public lies in a sense of duty rather than routine. 2017 has seen some of the most reprehensible instances of false reporting and deliberate misguidance in recent history; maybe Reddit’s team feels that they can provide a stable news platform at the cost of some personality.

At any rate, the IPO itself isn’t set in stone, and is unlikely to take place for quite some time. As the situation develops, it will be interesting to see if Reddit embraces its past, or sheds it altogether.

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Opinion Editorials

‘Follow your passion and the money will follow’ is bulls**t advice

(EDITORIAL) Following your passion can create success, though it may not be financial. So should you really just “do what you love” and hope for the best?

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If you asked anyone who knows me, they would tell you that I’m a strong advocate for people following their passion. However, when I encourage people to pursue their dreams, this comes with a big asterisk.

I recently heard someone use a phrase along the lines of, “if you do what you love, the money will follow.” Um… no.

While it’s great that you’ve found something you’re passionate about, that’s only a trillionth of the battle. You need to be willing to work your ass off and be willing to sacrifice everything in order to make that enthusiasm into a success.

Most people that have started their own business will tell you that it took a while into the process to begin paying themselves. Again, if it truly is your passion, this is all worth it in the end. But if you like food and shelter, it might not be.

Say, for example, your passion is acting and your goal in life is to become a famous movie star. Now, you can’t pull a Tobias Funke and simply say, “I’m an actor” and then expect everything to miraculously fall into place.

Like any other passion, you need to invest in yourself. You’ll need to get headshots, take acting classes, and find a flexible day job that allows you to go on auditions. Cutting corners on any of this in order to expedite the process or save a few bucks will end up hurting you in the long run.

For the sake of this article, let’s define “passion” as loving something so much you couldn’t imagine doing anything else… you would even do it for free. And, as there is no correlation between having passion for something and money, you just might.

While doing what you love is admirable, be aware that it may take an incredibly long time to see results in the form of numbers. Because of this, it’s wise to always have a back up plan to support yourself financially and pursue passion with a strong business plan in tact.

It is never wrong to want to follow your passion. I personally think that everyone should give it at least something of a shot during the course of their career so that you never ask “what if?” But following passion because you read a cliche statement can lead to major financial and emotional losses, so put on your business hat before blindly chasing dreams.

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Opinion Editorials

Tech CEO tweet ruins years of a young designer’s hard work

(EDITORIAL) With a tweet here and there, thoughtless questions have potentially bullied a young Asian woman in tech out of her career.

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naomi wu tweet

It’s hard enough for women, particularly women of color, to make it in the world of tech, without rude jerks questioning if you literally exist.

Sadly, that’s what happened to Naomi Wu, also known as “SexyCyborg,” a 23-year old cyberpunk superstar from Shenzhen, China who has amassed a huge following for her 3D printing experiments and other techie pursuits. Wu has 140,000 followers and millions of views for her YouTube channel, where she shows off her experiments and provides educational tutorials.

Unfortunately, some rude dudes from America can’t seem to imagine that a young Asian woman is capable of the feats that Wu has accomplished.

Dale Dougherty, CEO of the DIY magazine Maker (and an official schmuck), has cyberbullied Wu so badly that it is said to have damaged her career. He tweeted, “I am questioning who she really is. Naomi is a persona, not a real person. She is several or many people.”

This despite the fact that Wu says that she has actually spoken to Dougherty, and that he knows she is real. “For Westerners who don’t understand the important of reputation in China it seems like a very minor thing,” says Wu, “it is everything here and there’s no repairing this.”

Wu has even lost a sponsorship deal from a 3D printer company over the accusations that she isn’t who she says she is.

Dougherty eventually apologized, but Wu says that “the damage had been done” at that point, and that Dougherty knew the accusations would be “devastating” to her “reputation and professional prospects.”

Wu says that the attack is motivated by white male entitlement to tech spaces.

She says that she can’t imagine Dougherty attacking “a white lady from San Francisco.” Wu has been an advocate for diversity in tech and maker spaces. “I kept pushing for more inclusion – not just me, other underrepresented people,” she says. “They didn’t like being pushed. This is payback.”

We stand behind Wu as she continues to push the edge in tech spaces, and say shame on you to bullies who won’t make space for women and racial minorities. Sorry you’re not as cool as SexyCyborg, but that’s on you and you need to get over it.

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