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It has been four years since I wrote an email that changed my life. The email was sent to Arianna Huffington — an email address she publicly shared on Twitter — and, after, she gave me access to publish my articles on The Huffington Post. “Four Years Since You Gave Me My First Shot” was the subject line of the email I sent her a little under a month ago. In that email, I recently reconnected with Arianna and, once again, asked if I could contribute to her new platform, Thrive Global. The resurfacing of this connection has me reflecting on that moment — of clicking send — from four years ago at 16 years old. I realize how impactful a simple connection was in my life; and how many cascading events were a result of those micro-moments that defined how I view the world, and my position in it.
When I first wrote Arianna, I was 16 years old with 20 chickens in my backyard. I had raised them myself while in high school in the Bay Area. At that point in time, I had an array of entrepreneurial ventures exploring all of my interests; I was breeding and selling reptiles, hydroponically growing and selling saffron, and, of course, raising and selling my chickens’ eggs. Since then, I’ve matured my interests and gone on to build three start-ups: Dormzi, Guin Records, and The Doe. As I reflect, I realize, The Doe exists because of the opportunity that Arianna gave to a 16-year old by simply responding to an email.
I saw the opportunity to completely alter the way something was being done for the betterment of the world.
You see, from a young age, each venture I worked on meant the world to me; in my eyes, I saw the opportunity to completely alter the way something was being done for the betterment of the world. What I lacked, which most young entrepreneurs do, was validation or a proof of concept, per se, in what I was trying to accomplish. Even in raising chickens to sell eggs, if your main motivator is something other than making money, there has to be some other intrinsic value that outweighs the monetary value. And while I believe those types of motivators are ultimately the strongest and best forces for good, they are often difficult to measure. This is where Arianna, and the role of mentors and validation come in.
I was 16, and I was motivated by the thought that I could someday go on to build micro-networks of farmers: farmers who humanely raise their chickens within regions to aggregate their produce under one brand name and sell in major supermarkets — thus making access to quality, sustainable, and humanely raised produce easier and cheaper. Remember that email I keep referencing? Well, here’s where it comes into play: I wrote an article about the poultry industry and sent it to Arianna, describing why I felt my perspective was valuable, even at 16. She gave me the opportunity. No other platform was doing this, and I know this because I emailed most of them and never heard back. After Arianna’s response, cascading events followed that eventually allowed me to create The Doe.
She gave me the opportunity. No other platform was doing this, and I know this because I emailed most of them and never heard back.
I wrote for The Huffington Post as a contributor until they shut down the contributor portal in 2018. When they shut down the portal, I was sad that I lost a place to publish my voice, but I understood why and moved on with life. But, in that time, I stopped writing “articles.” The reason I put that in quotes is because I found that the material I was considering “articles” were miniature lessons for the public — from the eyes of a teenager with no inherent unique value other than the perspective they were coming from. So as I began to write again, but for myself at this point, I began writing what I now am calling “narratives.” Narratives are first-person accounts about a relatable situation that may be valuable to others, in part, because it’s coming from one’s unique perspective.he content as a whole is selfish — i.e., it’s all about me — but it may matter to you. The difference between narratives and articles, in my mind, is that articles were from me but they were never about me: They were about educating you, something I don’t consider myself very good at in writing.
Now that I had defined my writing and its intention for myself, I wanted to find a home to publish my narratives. I looked at all of the popular mediums, but ran into a large roadblock. The trick with narratives is that they’re all about the writer, they become super personal, and while their value lies in the impact they may have and the personality that comes with them, they can expose you to a myriad of other elements you probably weren’t looking for. My quest, then, became searching for not just a platform that could amplify my voice, but one that would recognize and celebrate my writing while also keeping me and my name separate from it. At the time, it didn’t exist, and that’s where The Doe was born. A publication somewhere in between WikiLeaks and Reddit. A platform in every sense of the word. A home for the narratives.
I’m sharing this story today not to self-promote The Doe (although you should totally check it out) but rather to explain the greater point I’m trying to make here, which is two-fold: It begins with being brave and taking the chance on reaching out to the mentors who you may feel are too famous, too accomplished, or too busy to take a chance on you. The second, is addressed to the leaders of change in the world, who hold the power to cause cascading impacts on young individuals who will change the world because you take the chance on them. This is to both the 16-year-old kid who is considering taking the shot and to the leaders who hold the power to change a life with an email reply.
This is to both the 16-year-old kid who is considering taking the shot and to the leaders who hold the power to change a life with an email reply.
I’d like to conclude this letter with a sincere thank you. Thank you, Arianna, for changing my life, and giving me the opportunity to at least try and change the world. I’m still not grey with wisdom, and rather naïve to think that I can make any lasting impact on any field or industry, but if I can look back and say that I at least tried, my time won’t have been wasted. And the opportunity you gave me will have changed, at least, my life.
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