You’re Young. I’m 18. So what?

You’re Young. I’m 18. So what?

Sep 14, 2012 Opinions

Today’s my 18th birthday.

I’ve contemplated keeping my age a secret until I was old enough to buy someone a drink. Or at least until my age didn’t end with “teen.” That way, people would “take me seriously.” But I’ve gotten over it.

It really amazes me how much the world focuses on one’s age and degree(s). Even more so than skill and personality, the most important factors. But today, for my birthday, I’ll try to debunk the silly notion of age > skill. I’ll tell you a little story about me, who helped me grow as a writer, designer and leader, and my advice to young creatives.

Age: 0 – 7

I was born in Brooklyn, NY on September 14, 1994. My passion for design and business was evident from a young age. After daycare, or whatever it was called, I’d grab a few sheets of paper and draw – anything, really. I’d then collect all my artwork for the day and lay them out on our living-room couch. When friends and family would stop by and visit, I’d immediately ‘pitch’ them my artwork. They’d give me this awkward smile and purchase one of my drawings for $1 or something. Unbeknown to me, they thought it was crap, but also found the artist cute.

But that was just my design side.

If the buyer forgot their purchase (who remembers to pick up terrible art?), which was almost always the case, I’d put it in a special box labeled “taken.” The next time they stopped by, I’d remind them of their purchase, but would recharge them and add interest for “human error.”

Since then, I’ve learned a lot about both business and design. My artwork is now considered acceptable, and my business skills are more people-friendly.

Age: 8 – 15

When I first discovered the Internet, I was mesmerized. I knew I had to learn how it worked. Eventually, I found W3Schools and it served its purpose well for me. I taught myself XHTML and CSS, and began playing around in Photoshop. I finally reached a level where I felt comfortable charging people for my work. I became a freelancer. Like anyone else, my first clients were family members. I designed business websites for two of my aunts, and made some mediocre logos here and there.

Eventually, I felt confident enough to do work for people who didn’t change my diapers as a child. One of my first was a guy who wanted a site for his car shop. I made him a logo and website in no time, got paid, and felt a sense of confidence. Two more clients followed suit. “I could really do this,” I thought. And all before I reached puberty! It was a great feeling.

But here’s the thing. None of these people had known my age. I thought it wasn’t a factor, but that’s because it was never brought up. I was soon convinced otherwise when I turned 13.

One of my clients wanted a website for a new book. I showed them a mockup of what I’d create. Everything was dandy until I said too much. In the webpage’s copy, I noticed a line that referenced Horatio from Hamlet. Coincidentally, I was currently reading that in English class. I mentioned this. And long story short, the deal was off.

I’ll never fully wrap my head around what happened, and that’s probably because there was no sense to it. After all, I had shown what I’d done in the past and what I could do for the client. Were they worried that the end result would be terrible because I was ‘just a kid?’ Or was it all laughs when they figured I had just graduated from middle school?

I was hurt. I felt like a rock had fallen in my path of progress. I remember wondering if that was how it would always be. Would people’s first impression of me always be based on my age? So that day I decided to never again share my age. And until last year, that’s exactly how it went. No one knew who I was, what I looked like, and most importantly, how many years had passed since my birth.

It served me well. I encountered both good and bad clients, but the point was I got work. All the while I was teaching myself more design and web development skills.

Age: 16 – Present

The Dabbling Phase

Fast forward to 2010, the year I jump started my career. I had blogged before then, but never seriously. I wanted to change that. After all, writing was a skill I’d developed over the years in both home and school. So I went to GoDaddy, registered a domain, and launched Mediain5 the next day – a Friday. At the time, my WordPress and PHP skills weren’t so sharp, so I bought a theme. I launched the site with no clear focus or goal. I just wanted to write on anything that fancied me. Which more or less centered around design and technology. Even with homework after school, I’d sometimes crank out up to ten articles. But of course, growth was moving at the pace of a slug. I remember telling my mom to share my site with everyone at work. Then I’d log in to Google Analytics and spot an extra page view or two. I jumped for joy the month my tiny blog passed 100 uniques. Though minuscule today, I knew one had to start from somewhere.

I found out about a weekly chat on Twitter called Blogchat by Mack Collier. Essentially, each week a topic of discussion centered around blogging would be announced. Someone with authority would lead the discussion and everyone was encouraged to pitch in with the hashtag #blogchat. I met many friends on it including one of my closest, Brian Mongold of FiveFreeApps. He was much more experienced in blogging than I, but still gave me advice where he could. That December he and I decided to team up and create a blog together, UnfollowMe. At its core, the blog was a curated list of all the things on the web worth an unfollow. I did the coding and he brought in the ideas. We begged for the .com from Merlin Mann, but eventually settled for unfollowme.net. It lasted for a short period, but was fun while it lasted and we got a kick out of it.

But I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. Occasionally I’d get a burst of traffic and discussion to Mi5, but still felt like I was giving up homework time to pursue something that was getting me nowhere. So when finals came around (May), I decided it was time to pack it up. However, if there’s something I’ve learned these past few years, it’s that when you’re truly passionate about something, you can run from it. You can even hide. But eventually, it will find you.

I hid under a rock labeled “fear of failure” until July 2011. That’s when withdrawal began to kick in. I wanted to write about design and technology again. So I bought TrendingWeb.com and started over. But this time I took it slow. I aimed at one article per week. Each piece was a short interview with a design focused startup (remember that phrase?). It was a blast. I built strong relations with startups like Zerply, 6Wunderkinder, Pulse and Readdle. I was finally getting somewhere.

Going Pro

One day, my friend Brian told me about AppAdvice and how it was a great opportunity to gain experience writing for the “big leagues.” I was excited! Afterall, it involved writing about the startups behind great apps and trying them out for free, all while gaining exposure. So, I emailed them. One day went by, then a week, and then two. Eventually I gave up on that. I thought they’d simply passed over my application (0ddly enough, I explicitly told them not to in my email). But then my phone buzzed. It was a response from Mahmoud Hafez, the co-founder. I quickly opened it and was surprised to learn he was interested in me. We then began a short email thread which eventually ended in a long PDF doc and new email address: jared@appadvice.com.

I then began what was basically an internship. For a month, I was groomed as a professional writer by then Editor-in-Chief, Alexander Vaughn. When my time was up I left with a boatload of new confidence and resumed school the next day.

All the while, I was sharpening my design skills here and there. Forcing tutorials down my throat from sites like PsdTuts. I also saved a ton of designs from Dribbble and tried to replicate them in Photoshop for “muscle memory.” But then the writing withdrawal began again – specifically on the day Steve Jobs died. I knew I needed to get back into writing, but where? I wasn’t going to start my own thing again. Mediain5 was long gone by now, and TrendingWeb was simply a personal summer  project. Then I remembered one of my favorite Apple tech news sites, Macgasm, and their founder/editor Joshua Schnell. I had bumped into him occasionally while at AppAdvice. So I shot him a quick DM on Twitter asking if he was looking for a columnist. He said no. One week later, I was on the team as a part-time writer, not a columnist. Week one was amazing. Four days in, one of my articles had hit Google News and brought in well over 20,000 pageviews that evening. “Dude, you broke our website” was the message I got from him. I also joined Envato around that time.

At the same time, something else amazing was happening. Jason Calacanis was holding the Launch ‘Pad conference that October and had some spare tickets left over to give out. Somehow I ended up with an email asking if I’d like to attend. I wanted to instantly reply with “of course,” but remembered the travel and lodging expenses would be on me. But I presented the opportunity to my parents, told them who’d be there, who I could meet, connect with, and the overall learning experience. They were convinced and before I knew it, I had landed in SJO (I pitched in). But I had forgotten one thing. I had just turned 17.

Conference Time

Now until then, I hadn’t told anyone my age since that crazy client. But after seeing “open bar” in the itinerary I had just received, I panicked. I quickly responded to the email explaining that I was 17, silly move. Thankfully, I got a response that it would be fine. “Just leave before the open bar… opens.” I sighed with relief and got ready for the one-day conference in the morning.

The conference was great.

I learned a lot about the advancement of tablet technology. I saw presentations from people like Ryan Block (GDGT), Phil Libin (Evernote), Mark Johnson (Zite, acquired by CNN), ConditionOne, Showyou, Sencha, Dolphin Browser, UrbanSpoon, and even eHarmony, amongst others. However, the amazement didn’t end there. After his presentation, Mark Johnson came and sat down right in front of me. And little did I know that was the beginning of a strong friendship. I tapped him once with no response. I couldn’t tell if he didn’t feel it, or was simply ignoring me. So I counted to 10 in my head and tried again. This time he swung around with glee. I explained to him how much I loved his presentation and app. We then swapped iPads to compare our Zite interests. We found many similarities. He asked where I hailed from and what I did. I told him I was a tech reporter for Macgasm and lived in Maryland. But our conversation was cut short when Phil Libin wanted a word with him. But I didn’t mind. Five minutes in person with a great CEO was good enough for me.

But once again, it didn’t end there. While sitting down, I turned around and spotted Christofer Karltop, CEO of Zerply. Although we’d communicated in the past, I’d never met him in person. I had planned to connect with him after the end of session 3, but he had to leave early so I never actually got to talk to him. On reflection, though I was disappointed at the time, I realize it happened for a reason.

When break time was over and we began returning to our seats, I noticed that mine was taken. So I went four rows further down and found three empty seats. I took the end seat and rested my backpack in the next. I settled in, got comfortable and brought back out my Mac for note taking (if you’d like to see my notes, ping me), which I shared with Pulse since they couldn’t make it.

Ten minutes into session 4, two guys approached me and asked if they could sit next to me. The lights were dimmed so I couldn’t really see their faces. But I was brought up well, so I said yes and took my bag off the seat next to me. They took their seats and I was back to my notes. While giving my eyes a break, I glanced at these two strangers and noticed the TED logo on the guy next to me’s bag. I was shocked! So during the break I sparked a conversation with him beginning with, “you work at TED?” “Yes,” he responded kindly. I told him we watched a lot of their videos in my AP Psychology class (yes, I slipped). We then went on to talk about TED the product. He asked me for my feedback on their iOS apps. I was completely blunt and honest. I told him they were sub par to the website. I told him why and how they could be fixed, then we exchanged contact info. “Thanks for your honesty, Jared,” he replied. “Most people think I’d fire them for it, haha.” It was then that I began to recognize this stranger. A quick google search confirmed. I was sitting next to Chris Anderson, the owner/curator of TED. Even Tom Anderson, founder of MySpace, came and took a seat on the floor next to me (I took a photo). Humble guy.

Keep the conversation going

The next day I was on a flight back to boring Baltimore, but enlightened. I was so pumped to just do stuff. I especially wanted to interview everybody in that room, but decided to go one person at a time.

When I got back home, I quickly emailed Mark Johnson for a potential interview. I explained that I wanted to begin a bi-weekly column on Macgasm about people who were inventing, rethinking, or simply doing amazing things. I believed he was on a mission to reinvent tablet technology and wanted to share his story with our readers. He agreed and so my column began. We held our meeting over Skype (he was in the conference room). I had planned for it to be 10 minutes, but it ended up passing an hour. We had a great discussion afterwards. A day or so later, after destroying the replay button, I had a piece ready entitled, “A look at tablet technology with Mark Johnson, CEO of Zite,” the post was a hit.

From there, I went on to interview Paul Mayne (Day One app), Bobby Ghoshal (Flud), Dom Leca (Sparrow, acquired by Google), and Martin Hering (Instacast). All of whom I’ve built relations with. Especially Bobby, who on a visit to Baltimore requested we meet up. The funny thing was he wanted to go to a bar. But I was 17. When I told him I wasn’t old enough, he guessed that I was probably 20, and so suggest a famous hookah restaurant. Yet again, I was one year shy. The whole meetup fell through and I was dismayed. Here had gone a chance for me to meet a great entrepreneur.

But something happened and the day he was supposed to go back, he hit me up and asked me to recommend a place. I suggested a Panera Bread close by and we made it work. We discussed The Industry and Flud in-depth. He gave me advice on growth and focus, and I shared some with him on how to make Flud better. It was an awesome thing he did for me. Especially since he had first canceled out of me being “underaged.”

Even the TED thing went further. I found myself on a Skype chat with editor Emily McManus, then the whole API liaison thing began.

All the while, yet another thing was brewing.

The Industry

Drew Wilson had an idea for a new blog. Somehow we met up and bounced ideas off each other. When he gave me a background of himself, he mentioned his age. All that was going through my head was “dammit, now I have to say mine.” And he sure did ask, but gave a non-expected response. “Cool,” he said. “I started young, too.” I couldn’t believe it. Drew didn’t give the slightest that I wasn’t an adult or anything. Why? Because his impression of me was based on what I could bring to the table. I’d even go as far as to say he probably experienced the same on some occasion. “Was way different when I was 17. I always wished someone would recognize me,” he told me today. “But I grew up in the stone age when people were prejudice against those of lesser years.”

He explained the idea he had for months, and I explained my similar one that I had actually began to execute with TrendingWeb. A blog covering design focused startups and people was what we agreed upon. Eventually, we got to work as co-founders, built up a team, and launched The Industry on December 12, 2011. It was a rocky start, but growth came.

In January, I Skyped with Ben Parr (thanks for that Ben), Mashable’s former co-editor, and he gave me some real world advice on the bumps we’d reach as a small-niche publication. I took it and used it as a weapon. I changed up our workflow and we began executing efficiently.

When February came around, Adam Stacoviak came on board and started The Industry Radio Show, our weekly podcast. That too started off slow, but has since reached an average of 20,000 plays/episode, been featured in iTunes, and has had amazing guest appearances. As for our team, we’ve grown into a strong, in-sync, family.

And all the while, one last overlap.

Treehouse

In June, I saw a job opening at Treehouse. I read it over and over again, and concluded that I’d fit the bill. I sent out my letter of interest and before I knew it, was on a Skype call with Ryan Carson, their fearless leader. Few days later, I was on the team. Few weeks later, on a flight to Orlando for our quarterly meetup. I knew everyone was going to figure out my age. After all, I don’t have a single wrinkle. So I began to prep myself for impact. And sure enough, someone asked. Word got around, and before I knew it, people were asking me left and right for “confirmation.” But to my surprise, they were warm and welcoming about it. In fact, Ryan took it as a diversity call. “Look at our company’s wide age range. Isn’t it amazing?” I remember him saying over our team dinner.

Currently

Today, I’m 18. I have worked at two major startups, I have written for AppAdvice, Macgasm, Envato, and brushed Mashable (briefly), I have encountered numerous entrepreneurs, I am running The Industry, I am advising two startups, I am a team member of Advise.me, I am building a pretty big iPad app, and I am weighing jobs at two billion-dollar startups, yet just as discontent. Why? Simply put, because there’s so much more to do. And that brings me to the greatest point of all.

Age is just a number.

If there’s anything I want the reader to take away from my story, it’s to chase your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, or that you’re too young. Rather, set out to prove them wrong, and yourself right. I’ve come a long way since that crazy client. And I want my story to be an inspiration to others in any way possible. When Steve Jobs said “stay hungry, stay foolish,” he couldn’t be more right. When you set out with an agenda to learn and do all you can – my friend – you’ll achieve greatness.

My Advice

Attend conferences: You’ll meet great people. At Launch ‘Pad, I realized that the big names are people, too. I was able to converse with people I’d only read about. There’s nothing different between you and Sergey Brin rather than paycheck sizes. Before he started Google, he was just another guy out of boring Maryland. I’m sure there were people who told him Google was a silly idea.

Reach out to people: Not everyone is as stuck up as you may think. Yes, at times you’ll get rejections, and sometimes they’ll just be too busy, but on other occasions, you’ll get through to them.

And my biggest suggestion. Keep building and keep shipping.

I’m not the greatest

People tell me that I’ve accomplished a lot for my age, but I’m definitely not the biggest. There were many before me that did what I did on a larger scale. Jack Dorsey pretty much had Twitter figured out as a teenager. David Karp was whipping up Tumblr and sitting on boards. Even people a tad bit older like Sahil Lavingia. At 20, he’s running Gumroad, a venture-backed startup. And I’m guessing he was active as teen since he has worked at both Pinterest and Turntable.fm. Even my bud Sam Soffes. He built the very popular Bible app, lead product at Hipstamtic, and was living on his all at a tender age. At 23, he’s running Nothing Magical, cranking out Cheddar, and turning down offers left and right. And don’t even get me started on Drew Wilson. Simply put, he’s not human. I’m sure all of these people were told they were too young at some point.

So I’ll direct this message to young people out there. Keep chasing. People who say you’re too young are probably just too old. When chatting with my close friend Josh Long at Treehouse, he told me “honestly, your age group will be the most influential demographic in our history. You’re the first group to truly understand the web’s role in our lives. I wouldn’t waste 2 seconds worrying about what anyone says about your age.” And I’m passing that message on to you everyone.

It really bugs me how many creatives there are out there that mask their identity because of age, gender, and/or race. All out of fear. Fear of people not seeing them for what they can do, or even who they are, but for their age and appearance. This needs to stop.

We should measure ones ability by what they can bring to the table and not their D.O.B. What’s the difference between an avid teen coder and a 32-year-old besides facial hair and selection of music?

But I do highly applaud those who don’t judge that way. People who encourage the young to be proud of their age and what they’ve accomplished. Galen Gidman is one such person. He runs a podcast called Young Guns Show, which is a show about “people who make the web.” People like David Silverman of Instant Bight. The kid’s in middle school, but could probably share more business advise than some of us adults simply by the amount of influential people he’s genuinely interviewed. People like Drew, Bobby, Mark, Brian, Ryan, Mahmoud, and Josh that despite my age, took a chance in me simply because of my passion and skill.

I hope to one day be just as influential.

So if you’ve somehow made it through my nearly 4,000 word birthday message and can relate with this article, I just have one thing to tell you.

You’re young, so what?

Seriously.

 

  • http://twitter.com/johnmills John Mills

    Too young? That’s the best time to be innovative and entrepreneurial! It gets harder when you have a family, a mortgage and other obligations along for the ride.

  • http://twitter.com/ethercycle Ethercycle

    Someone older than you will always discriminate against you for your age. I’m 29 and I still get “Oh, I thought you were older.” Don’t listen to them. You’re doing great with The Industry.

  • http://www.fivefreeapps.com/ Brian

    I sure did have a great time with UnfollowMe Jared. Still think we had a great idea there, I just didn’t have the time to fully apply myself, since my full-time job consumed me. I saw the talent you had and knew you’d go very far, which is why you were my first and only business partner. But more than that, whether virtual or not, you became a great friend.

    I didn’t know you were 16, but it wouldn’t have changed a thing. I’ll take a good kid, with a great attitude, talent and the energy you had any day as a partner. Keep going man, I’m very happy for you and you deserve all your accomplishments. Happy birthday man!

    • http://jarederondu.com Jared Erondu

      thanks a lot man :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaredonline Jared McFarland

    I had the same issue (and funny enough we have the same first name), but with programming. I broke through when I was a bit older, glad to see you’ve managed to be successful despite the discrimination.

  • CJ Melegrito

    True. It isn’t really all about age. Especially when you’ve got a few degrees under your belt.

    • Bob

      or ON your belt, your black belt that is! :-P

  • middle8media

    Great article Jared. I would say the same thing about being too old. I am 37 and I started my web design /development business about 2 years ago and I feel like I am just getting started. Everyone has something to offer. I bring life experience, communication skills and a creative passion to the table. A healthy mix of positivity & enthusiasm. I have seen the world and know how fortunate I am to own my own business and pursue art everyday. As people who live and work on the web, we are part of an amazing community and I am proud to be along for the ride with everyone, both the young and the old.

  • caio1982
  • James Rivers

    I understand what you going through. Not as young as you (I’m 26). I just finished my 2 year degree and I’m thinkin’ I’m better off on my own. After finishing school, I know my weakness and I’m taking them head on. I agree with John Mills but it is hard as hell when you are black (considering this field is majority white and indian) and with a criminal background. I’ve been off the grid for well over 5 years and it’s still hard to get in what you want. Employers will choose the lazy person with no degree instead of taking a chance on the black guy. Off of that. Keep doing what you do. Because I am.

  • http://C0deMaver1ck.github.com/ Caleb Albritton

    You couldn’t have put it better my friend. I’m but a year and a half older sitting at 19. I went to college for 2 semesters. I then decided they weren’t teaching me anything I hadn’t already been doing for the past 5 years. In the middle of my second semester I took a software development job at a startup in New Orleans. I’ve been there over 4 months now and got married 1 month ago. All before the age of 20. Keep up the good work.

    (however I do catch a lot of flack from everyone else in the office about my age)

  • http://twitter.com/_ndrw Andrew Chen

    Dawg, you’re young, but I’m also 18. =0

  • aaronbassett

    “To become a chess grandmaster also seems to take about ten years. (Only the legendary Bobby Fisher got to that elite level in less than that amount of time: it took him nine years.) And what’s ten years? Well, it’s roughly how long it takes to put in ten thousand hours of hard practice. Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness – Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

    You’re obviously a very smart guy regardless of age, but please keep in mind that while age doesn’t necessarily play a factor, experience can and does. And unfortunately the younger you are the less time you’ve had to build up experience. Does that mean that a 40 year old is automatically better than a 20 year old? No. But someone with 20 years experience in a market is more often than not better than someone with 10.

    • bob

      He obviously started at age 8 so he’s doing fine :-)

      • Simdor

        I started programming at age 9 but at 39 I can tell you that while all of my experience was useful, only the last 5 years is meaningful and relevant to today. Experience and wisdom are valuable commodities. Jared seems to be a young man with a solid foundation but how much more valuable will his skill and expertise be in 20 years?
        Respect for People, Age and Property. If you have respect for those 3 at any age you are “doing fine”. That would include an understanding that at 18 you simply have a limited experience. Some more limited than others, and Jared is on the far opposite end of that spectrum, but limited none the less.
        Great article, an inspiration to all ages.

    • Yotam

      I agree, emphasis is put on age because sometimes experience matters a lot.
      Sometimes you get to be in the right places at the right time and you move up without any experience.
      But, in most occasions experience plays a big part in your career.

      This article is a good motivator for many young adults starting out the big push in a certain career and direction but it must be said that Jared is a considerably rare and unique person that was in the right place at the right time.

  • Johan

    Inspiring article. Keep it up.

  • Isabel

    Gee Jared wait until you’re my age, 66, and you try to talk to customers about web design — I’m in the same boat but on the opposite end. So I agree with you, age doesn’t matter. When I want to know what’s new on iPhone’s, I ask my grand daughter. I’ve been listening to young people as my boss since I was 30, and the new wave of college graduates were coming in. I agree with you about attitude too. I hate it when people cop a condescending attitude. It really sucks. I can’t wait to get away from them. This is my first day roaming around Treehouse and i love it. I’m getting my sailing shoes, because its all about learning. I admire your track record — thank your parents for their encouragement and allowing you to explore. Some of us had parents who were afraid of that. And I’ll be looking for you featured in Fast Company magazine as an up and coming designer! Great article!

    • BFab!

      Thank you for you words!

  • Joel

    I can not express how proud I am of Jared. I’ve known him for all of those 18 years and there are many words that I can call Jared: Hard working, focused, confident, mature, passionate, resourceful, creative and persistent. But there is one other word that I call Jared that trumps all of the others: Brother. Jared, I want you to know that you have reminded your older brother of the importance of pursuing your dreams no matter what. The old can indeed learn from the young.

  • http://davidweekly.org/ David E. Weekly

    If you represent your generation at all, America will do just fine in the 21st century.

    • http://twitter.com/unknwntrr Wenzel Massag

      Let me rephrase you: If he represents our generation, the planet will do just fine in the 21st century.

  • http://blog.seangransee.com/ Sean Gransee

    this is one of the top 5 blog posts i’ve read in the past year. i definitely relate to this a lot. keep up all the awesome stuff you’re doing and don’t let anyone stop you!

  • kevinwilliamdavid

    Wow!.impressed man..good luck..would love to meet you someday

  • Danielle

    I’m a bit late with this, but happy birthday! I just wanted to thank you for this article; I found it supremely inspiring. Your story is just so grand. I’m just positively glowing from this post. It supplied me with this fresh, new hope for myself, my future, my family’s future, and over all our generation’s future! That bit, ”
    When you set out with an agenda to learn and do all you can – my friend – you’ll achieve greatness.” it really struck a cord. With bright minds such as yourself, with your talent and drive, we’ll be going places for sure. Thank you and keep doing what you’re doing! :)

  • http://joshuasortino.com/ Joshua Sortino

    The only downside to being 18 is the inability to buy drinks. You pretty much summed up everything. I too started at a young age, and am still one of the youngest at the company I work for. It was difficult to get over being self-conscious when I was younger, but at some point in my life I realized age is just a number that will slow you down if you let it.

  • http://songz.me/ Song Zheng

    I can’t believe what I just read. When I was 17 I spent my time trying to fit in and sneaking alcohol into my possession just to be cool.

  • james r

    You. Are. Awesome. I wish I was half as wise as you are (i’m 29 FWIW)

  • http://www.facebook.com/zrhill Z.r. Hill

    Hey Jared,

    Great read man, age is just a number, do what you love and that’s all that matters. Instead of being told I was too young I was constantly told I was too old. I decided when I was 25 to drop my English major and study/work as an artist and designer. Now I am 29 and I’m still working towards being a designer. I wanted to be a writer for the longest time and then suddenly I decided I wanted to paint and eventually that evolved into wanting to be a designer, I faced a lot of criticism when I made that decision but I’m happy and I get to study and do what I love…. aka… I am participating in the pursuit of happiness, something that everyone should try at some point no matter what age. It’s never to early too start, but it’s also never too late! Keep up the good work man, enjoy the blog, enjoy the words…. good stuff!

  • http://twitter.com/jethroksy Jethro Kuan

    Turned 17 not too long ago, and now wondering, “Damn, what have i been doing with my life?”

    I’ve only started web dev this year, attended a Rails conference, and met really big people, (people on the Rails core team and such). And it’s not true that they all condescend youngsters; these people have helped me a long way and I appreciate that.

    It’s our personal attitude that “oh we can’t do it” that gets in our way. Once we get over that hurdle, nothing’s stopping us.
    Thanks for the inspiring article.

  • http://www.benjaminlang.com/ Ben Lang

    Jared, you’re the man.

  • Dude

    Don’t rush it! You will get up there in time. At least you’ve got the peak ahead of you. In the mean time, enjoy the climb, and don’t forget to check out the girls.

  • http://deadpsyq.com/ Suraj Thapar

    Nice move Jared. What should I say? Ditto.

  • http://www.bennesvig.com Ben Nesvig

    This reminds me out of the quote that goes something like this, “Most people have 2 years of experience repeated for 10 years.” Quality of time>quantity of time. Keep up the hustle.

  • http://www.marketing.fm EricFriedman

    Great post!

  • http://twitter.com/iqonicd Ari

    Amazingly awesome. That is all. :)

  • Rd md5

    Thumbs up

  • Black Hat

    I find it odd that you think Baltimore and Maryland are boring places.

    • http://jarederondu.com Jared Erondu

      My part of it. Rosedale is a deadzone :)

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  • http://twitter.com/edfryed Ed Fry

    Hey Jared,

    As a just-turned-19 year old, I LOVE this story. I totally get where you’re coming from with the “your just x-teen?”, ravenous hunger to ship things and see what happens.

    From the outside, “agism” can seem an outside problem – what can a 15-year old in their bedroom accomplish? But it turns out, we can ship quite a lot! The sceptics are missing out…

    Conferences – totally agree! Go, go now and keep going.

    Looking forward to hearing the rest of your story unfold :D

  • http://purepassive.com/ Danny

    Awesome. Kudos for stepping up and posting this, I hope it inspires other young entrepreneurs to realize that age is just a number.

  • http://twitter.com/instantbight instant bight

    I am constantly impressed by you Jared. I hope our paths cross in the future. Keep doing what you do best, which I have come to learn is a lot of things!

    David

  • http://searchmarketingwisdom.com alanbleiweiss

    Jared, I really respect you on so many levels. You’re dead on of course, about age. And skill. Yet it goes way deeper. You’re forward thinking, intelligent, passionate, and have enough humility to balance it all out. So you bring way more than most people twice your age. Stay focused on following what you’re passionate about. That will take you to many more great places and experiences over the decades than you can even begin to fathom…

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  • http://www.inboundmarketinginabox.com/ Tiffany Britt

    You are an inspiration Jared. Showing this to my teenage son right now…you just raised the bar for him!

  • Woob

    I’ve been in a similiar situation, but in my case the fact that i was young was and is seen as something positive. I work with z/OS and IBM mainframes. A year after i started it was concluded that the youngest person after me was 44, i was 22. Just goes to show that age can be perceived in very different ways.

  • Sheldon Campbell

    Great story, Jared, and one that translates well for folks of all ages. Young in years or new to the industry… newcomers are often put in the position of having to “make their bones” before they’re taken seriously. It can get discouraging, and a lot of people just lose their drive out of frustration or fear. Obviously, you have no intention of letting that slow you down.

    Kudos to you for making your passion and ability out-shout the (erroneous) impression that you’re “too young” to be given due consideration. I suppose it’s natural to equate experience to credibility, but believe me, at 60, I’ve seen plenty of people a LOT closer to my age than yours that disprove that theory. And at your age, you’ve already amassed more productive experience than many.

    As an aside, I’d wager that on your second and third encounters with some of those people that were unimpressed with you because of your youth, you’ll find them more receptive. Once it’s obvious that your interest isn’t just a fleeting interest or an infatuation with something new, the smart folks will pay more attention. The not-so-smart… well, you have better places to focus your energy.

    Keep it up! I’m betting that you’ll be having a lot of fun in the years to come, and will inspire a lot of other young people to keep chasing their dreams.

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  • Mike

    One thing I’ve found is that, with a client, presentation is actually 8/10ths of the package. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed (and, if I’m honest, at earlier stages of my career been a part of) substandard deliverables been dressed up with flowery language and a good powerpoint deck resulting in a client left happy. And I’ve seen clients go who really got their monies worth because the reporting or whatever was a bit loose around the edges.

    Being 18, or 66 as Isabel pointed out in her excellent comment, means that your already on the back foot with your presentation, and you’ve really got to knock it out the park in a way that someone in their mid 30′s wouldn’t have to. It looks like your capable of doing that, though. Good luck, mate.

  • geekuillaume

    I really loved what you just write, it is just like my own life (except for the writing and success part). I just turned 17, I graduated, I’m in a little startup with other great people. I stopped talking about my age about a year ago, and I think I should have stopped a long time ago. I also started seeing great persons from France and building very strong links with them. I love the internet and I strongly believe our generation will make the biggest invention of the entire history. Thanks for your (long) article and happy birthday !

  • http://twitter.com/scott5cents Scott Nickels

    Jared – u rock! Passion cannot be taught! Hold to it tightly. Push outward and upward! A lot of us will be watching.

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  • http://John.do John Saddington

    like++.

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  • Writearm Communications

    Love your message and your writing style Jared. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about you.

  • http://twitter.com/jyoungblood jonathan youngblood

    you have the coolest signature.

  • http://twitter.com/JunkyardSam Junkyard Sam

    Ha! 18? Really? That’s awesome. I’ve listened to every The Industry podcast and I had no idea!!! Keep it up man, you’re going to have a nice career!

  • http://www.facebook.com/the.emahzheng.one Evadora de Zhengia

    This is one of the few most amazing long blog posts worth reading. Thank you for your inspiration, Jared. I’m still 16 year old female who’s just below the surface of tech industries, but am continuing to dive deeper. I hope to meet you one day!

  • Maddox

    Congratulations Jared! I’m proud of you. Your message definitely needs to be shared with others. If every teenager had your drive the world would be a better place. Keep moving forward and don’t ever give up.

  • MightyAfro

    facinatin’ article. I was sent a liknk to it by my mom, due to my own issues with age and accomplishments. In my case, I’m 30 and feel I haven’t gone nearly as far with my art as I think I should have. A lot is due to me comparing myself (a hard habit I’m trying to break) with other artists who’re 5-6 years younger than me and are already making high-grade comics and video game art.

    This article has helped me some in not being so self concious in being older. Hopefully, in time, I’ll be able to fully ignore this “fear”

  • Thomas Lord

    I’m a 15-year-old designer/programmer. What’s the best way for me to seek freelance work?

  • mustefa

    Jared… Age ain’t nothing but a number, and throwing down ain’t nothing but a thang. Keep it up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/davefontenot David Fontenot

    Age doesn’t matter….some of the coolest apps I’ve ever seen have come from student hackathons….btw for sure, check out http://facebook.com/mhackshackathon Young people are going to be building some really awesome apps!

  • destraynor

    Great post! Really enjoyable read.

  • http://www.weareboogie.com/ Jacques Bastien

    Fantastic article.

    I’m assuming I’m a year late on this but I had similar issues when I was younger. Now I’m 23 and I didn’t release my age until I was 21… Websites, social networks, etc. Similar to you, I was afraid people wouldn’t take my company Boogie (known as Boogie Graphics at the time) seriously. Then I grew to understand that some people actually appreciate young talent. So I started building my team (of young people) and it worked out great.

    Age is nothing but a number but there’s still that surprised reaction that I get when people learn my age. And then there’s you, much younger than me, kinda, and I’m sure there are others out there even younger.

    I recently accepted a professor gig at the University at Albany and you’d be surprised to how hard that is for some people to wrap their heads around.

    Ps: I am also a designer, that’s how I got started.

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