In this BIT: Viola Seda, a 14-year old teen entrepreneur, shares her advice on how to stand up for yourself and dealing with peer pressure.
Viola Seda is an incredible 14-year-old teenager. She is a climate change activist, and is currently learning about improving and commercializing alternative energy. Viola is also a published poet, an innovator, and more. Viola lives in San Francisco, California, and over the last few years she has grown from helping protect wildlife in her community and writing poetry, to working with students at Berkeley University to identify oil refineries, as well as speaking at large-scale business conferences, such as C2 Montreal. At the C2 Montreal Conference, Viola was speaking among well known individuals, such as the President of Shopify, and David Suzuki. In addition, Viola has also worked with billion-dollar companies to apply AI to customer service systems, as well as worked with a team to use nanotechnology in the search for a cure to type-2 diabetes. While Viola is very busy pursuing her many interests, at the end of the day she is still a teenager, just like all of us. Similar to many of us, she sometimes struggles with peer pressure, and staying true to what she believes in without letting others opinions affect her work. In this BIT, Viola shares with us her perspective on these topics, and her top tips for teens on how to stand up for yourself.
SBOH: Do you ever face people who disagree with your opinions on climate change? What do you do to not let their opinions affect you and your advocacy?
Viola Seda: I have always been relatively supported by my community in terms of my activism and climate-related projects, but I still face some skepticism, especially at school. Going to climate marches, attending conferences, and visiting labs is not a particularly normal thing to do, and in middle school, it’s not cool to try hard or care about anything, which is definitely not true for me! The most common reaction to my work at school is some variation of ‘That’s weird,’ but I have realized that what I care about is all that matters, and while other people may have their own opinions, continuing to do what makes me fulfilled and happy, as well as creating an impact for others is my goal in life, and so I should do what works for me, not what works for them!
Viola: As an activist and builder, having a community of supportive people around me is one of the most important things that has made me grow an incredible amount! One of the most important things I have learned from my community is actually not finding people who agree with me, but people who disagree and give me valuable feedback. I truly believe that a strong feedback culture is a vital part of a community, where people give you feedback to help you level up, not put you down, and for me, this has definitely been the #1 source of growth as a part of a community of curious, motivated, and impact-driven people, especially being a part of the amazing community at The Knowledge Society (TKS).
Pictured: Teen entrepreneur Viola Seda at a conference. In this BIT, she shares how to stand up for yourself.
SBOH: Many teenagers feel the stress of peer pressure, so they are hesitant to voice their opinions. What are your top three tips for teens to overcome peer pressure?
1. Find people who support you. It’s best if you don’t even have to deal with peer pressure in the first place, so a really important thing to do is surround yourself with people who support your opinions and decisions and don’t pressure you into things you don’t want to do. While making this happen may come with hard conversations with friends, and other short-term challenges, having friends who support you and want the best for you is a 100x better situation for you in the long term!
2. Do what feels right to you. For example, most people at my school would say that going to climate marches and speaking at conferences is a weird thing to do, it feels right to me, and I know that I love it and it’s my passion, so I do it because I know that it is right for me, rather than them. Doing what feels right might come in the form of a decision or challenge, but honestly just follow the gut feeling of what feels right and makes sense for you, and not others.
3. Be authentic! Whether this means pursuing your passions or speaking up for something you believe in, do what makes you uniquely you, and as mentioned before, what feels right. A lot of the time it might be easy to listen to peer pressure in hopes of fitting in, but it’s so crucial to remember that authenticity is key because it makes you so much happier, more fulfilled, and even more confident because you can be the authentic you, rather than the person other people want you to be.
Viola: I have been working on some pretty exciting things and recently gave a talk on my project building a new encapsulation layer for perovskite solar cells at a conference in Montreal, but after exploring and building the solar space, I’m now working on some exciting projects in battery storage! Renewable energies such as solar and wind face an issue called intermittency, which means that unlike fossil fuels, which provide a constant flow of energy, renewables rely on the availability of sunlight and wind, which are not consistent, but we need a constant energy flow if we want to transition to a 100% clean energy grid and ditch fossil fuels for energy. The solution to the problem is batteries, but current lithium-ion batteries (the most commonly used kind) are not very energy dense, meaning they can’t hold much energy, which creates higher prices, and a lack of scalability which is vital for grid-scale storage. So, right now I’m at the beginning of a project looking into an incredibly dense battery called a silicon anode lithium-ion battery, and looking at solutions to a key limitation of this kind of battery: silicon expansion during charge and discharge, with the potential solution to be changing ion size (possibly replacing lithium-ions with aluminum ions) to increase density and decrease expansion. I’m incredibly excited about the project, and if you want to stay updated, connect with me on LinkedIn, and follow me on Medium and Substack to learn more about the project and see where it goes!
Viola: I love nature, and it was one of my earliest motivators to get into the climate space – seeing how the nature I loved was being degraded. Every day, I try to spend some time outside, whether it’s in the forest, beach, or just in my backyard, going outside always gives me a breath of fresh air – literally and figuratively, and always brings me a little bit of happiness!
Pictured: teen entrepreneur Viola Seda, who in this BIT shares how to stand up for yourself.
SBOH: What are some words you live by or an inspirational quote?
Viola: I have the quote “The road to success is paved with failure” taped on the wall of my room, as a constant reminder that even when I fail (which happens a lot) it’s all a learning experience for every exciting thing that’s coming next! I reflect on every failure as a positive thing, because it teaches me what a success never would have, and makes me grow so much.
SBOH: What is one food that gives you a small bit of happiness?
Viola: It’s a bit random, but I love cherries, and I have since I was little! I don’t exactly know why, but it might be because cherry season is always around my birthday, so they remind me of fun times and family, and they just taste delicious!
We hope that Viola Seda’s tips from a teen entrepreneur help you be inspired to pursue your dreams, know how to stand up for yourself, and resist peer pressure, as well as give you a small bit of happiness.
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How to stand up for yourself? Viola Seda, a teen entrepreneur, shares her advice on peer pressure, and how to stand up for yourself. Additionally, read this BIT for more advice form a teen entrepreneur.