This month I gave a talk at the famous youth conference TINCON in Hamburg. It's a super uplifting conference about all kinds of different topics. You can basically listen to social media stars talk about their work or join panel discussions about mental health.
They're not endorsed by one specific company (like Think Big for example) but have rather kept their neutrality by having lots of sponsors.
So it was particularly interesting to watch these young people organize this whole event with very little help from "grown ups".
I have to be honest: I was a bit hesitant to join the conference when I first heard about it a year ago. I'm wondering why.
Maybe it's because I had internalized all the bad opinions grown up people or rather the media in general had about my generation. I thought it's gonna be dull event where maybe a couple activists showed up and that's about it. I was dead wrong.
When I arrived I was greeted by a professional team, they gave me my ticket, made sure I had something to drink and introduced me to the camera teams.
As I was walking through the different areas, I realized that a couple hundred teenagers had come to this event. They were not just from Hamburg, they had travelled here from all over Germany! As we arrived back stage I was told that I was gonna speak in about 15 min. I took a look behind the curtain and saw this (picture on the right).
Of course I knew what I was getting into since this had been the second time I had been invited to Tincon. But still. It can be overwhelming to see so many people just waiting for you to speak. I took a deep breath and went on stage with my laptop and my bullet points.
You could say I was trying to give back to the community with my keynote. I had met so many people that supported my cause back when I was 15 and I remember how motivated I would be going home from little conferences and workshops. I was thankful for every info that would get me closer to my goal.
So I started talking about the supporters, the organizations, websites and the scholarships I applied for. I tried to give these teenagers a sense of "Yes, everything you set your mind to can be achieved if only you work hard for it!" They were particularly interested in my Silicon Valley experience and asked a lot questions afterwards. We actually used the whole 40 minutes of my slot - you know how rare it is on normal "grown up" events to have a Q&A that lasts longer than 10 min?
I was so surprised to be asked so many things. It showed me that these young people were truly interested in turning their world upside down, willing to work hard for things.
They're not lazy. They're inspired. They're not dumb. They're our biggest chance to solve our challenges today and they're already working on solutions.
Many talks (mine as well) have been recorded by a professional film team. Soon they'll be uploaded on the website.
So if you want to get inspired, take a look!