The Internet Mogul: Juliette Brindak
Middle school can be tough, which is why Juliette Brindak wanted to create an online haven for tween girls to help get them through those tricky years. So, in 2005, Brindak launched Miss O and Friends, a girls-only online destination known for its games, articles and social community. She was 14.
Today, the site has more than 4 million users, and Brindak, now 24, is a self-made millionaire. The key to her success? “We’ve really been able to understand our target audience because we’re constantly asking for their input,” she says. Not to mention that it’s a website parents can get behind: “Our safe socialization is what makes us unique compared to other sites. Anything that a user types isn’t automatically submitted. Instead, it goes into our admin, where human eyes approve every single piece of content to make sure that no identifiable information is in the posts, and that they are age- and topic-appropriate.”
Brindak is now hard at work turning her website into a brand, with the hope of one day creating Miss O personal care products, clothes, accessories and stationery—all with the intention of building teen girls’ self-esteem. “The opportunities are endless!” she says.
Brindak’s Advice to Wunderkind Wannabes: “Don’t give up! If there is a will, there is a way. I am so happy that I didn’t give up—even after people told me it wouldn’t be successful. Not everyone is going to believe in you, but you have to find the people who do, and you will be successful.”
The Born Leader: Adora Svitak
When Adora Svitak was three years old, she’d take walks with her mom and sister at a park in Washington state, where she’d climb atop boulders to deliver impassioned speeches to a fictitious crowd.
“I drew inspiration from the 2000 election cycle in those early days,” says the 15-year-old motivational speaker and author of “Flying Fingers.” Her passion to share her love of reading and writing led to her book deal at age seven. By 12 she was speaking at her first TED conference, explaining to the audience why the world needs “childish thinking”—bold ideas, creativity and optimism. Today, the well-known literary prodigy is organizing the TEDxRedmond youth conference for the fourth year in a row, and researching a nonfiction book about her generation.
So what makes her different from other kids? “I try not to think of myself in terms of what sets me apart,” she says. “Progress needs solidarity, and that takes people realizing they have a lot in common—not superheroes or saviors.” This explains why Svitak wants to do more with her life than just write and speak—her goal is to change the world. “By 25, I hope to have attained some elected political office or other policymaking position,” she says.
Svitak’s Advice to Wunderkind Wannabes: “Accomplishing your dreams begins with grounding them in reality: Build foundations of experience—learn everything you can about what you’re passionate about—so you can excel. And find supporters who will provide unconditional encouragement as well as honest criticism.”