When I was first invited to co-host the red carpet for Rare’s Under 40 Awards, I was beyond thrilled. It would be an incredible opportunity to meet and chat with so many game-changing millennials. The movers and shakers of our country that not everyone has heard about, yet we need to hear about. Their stories and accomplishments are not only inspiring, but in some cases truly heartbreaking as well.
Rare’s Co-Founder, Will Alford gave a beautiful opening speech at the event, which took place in Washington, DC on Saturday night (April 16, 2016). The evening was hosted by Grace Killelea. Wade Ishimoto was the keynote speaker, who also lead us in a beautiful rendition of America the Beautiful.
At dinner, I had the pleasure of sitting with Rare’s publisher, Leon Levitt, as well as Diana Kim, another one of the award recipients. Aside from being an absolute delight to chat with at dinner, Kim’s story was one of the ones I was most personally touched by. You can see it highlighted below.
Everyone honored during the event just filled the audience with so much positivity and inspiration. I wanted to highlight a few more of my favorite interviews and stories from Rare’s Under 40 Awards. Take a look below.
Rare’s Under 40 Awards Red Carpet
Harris: I worked for Senator Cruz for 3 years, let me preface that answer, I think it’s going to go to convention. I think that Senator Cruz looks like he’s in a wonderful position to take this to convention even if Donald Trump wins New York by 36 points, which everyone thinks he’s going to do with the big blowout on Tuesday. Senator Cruz and his team are incredibly intelligent, I think they are really taking this delegate by delegate. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see Senator Cruz win this at the end at convention.
Being a rising star in politics, any tips you can offer based off of how you have achieved your success?
Harris: I recommend, certainly to the folks that I work with, to just stay up on the digital trends. One of the cool things that really keeps me excited about my job is that every day is so different. I saw that Rare has an awesome Snapchat filter here tonight, Snapchat wasn’t even in politics a year ago. There’s already beginning to be a gap between me, I’m 27, and some folks on my staff that are right out of school, or 21 and 22. I try as much as possible to read Tech Crunch or to read Engadget, to read sites like Rare, to really get myself as involved as possible with what’s trending online and try to bring that into politics, because people aren’t online to interact with politicians, they’re online to interact with interesting information and interesting content. If we’re not interesting and we’re not engaging with the voters then they’re simply going to turn their backs to us and our political message, and they’re going to go watch sports or they’re going to go share cat memes. How can we as people who are political practitioners get people more involved in the political process? I think finding interesting, entertaining ways to deliver information like sites like Rare do, is the way to do that.
Do you ever kind of get overwhelmed with how many social media platforms are out there that you have to take into account for all these campaigns? Is there a point where you’re like, we’re not going to do that one, that’s just too much to do, or that’s not going to hit the audience we need to hit even though it may be a popular one?
Harris: Yeah, that’s a wonderful question. Yes, we do get overwhelmed. In the last cycle we were talking about Pinterest, and now Instagram is pretty much a must have platform of every campaign. Now we have Snapchat, but Snapchat has been hard to actually engage with people on – except for doing things like filters. It’s hard to build up an audience on Snapchat and the majority of people on Snapchat I think are less than 25, so most of those people don’t vote or they can’t vote legally. Being on all these platforms is important, but certainly Facebook continues to be the most dominant platform. Almost everybody that has internet access is on Facebook, people spend more time in this country on Facebook than they do with their pets. Facebook is the #1 platform, we raise money for our clients on Facebook, we get emails through Facebook, and you can reach voters through Facebook.
Learn more about Vincent Harris and the other Rare Under 40 here!
Klay: Thank you very much.
It’s received so many awards and so much attention. I know you have another one planned. Can you talk about what you have coming up, or what can you tell us about that?
Klay: The next thing that I have coming up is an long essay that I wrote for the Brookings Institution about moral risk in warfare and the citizen-solider army. I’m slowly at work on a novel. We’ll see how that goes.
No kind of timeline just yet?
Klay: No timeline just yet, yeah. I work slowly. The first book took me four and a half years. Hopefully, I’ll have something worthwhile at the end of this process.
What’s your thoughts on our current political landscape?
Klay: It’s a crazy political landscape. The part of it that I focus the most on is foreign policy, military policy, and veteran’s issues, obviously. I think in many ways, as a culture, we’ve made a lot of progress. Obviously, every time there’s a presidential election, the clown show comes to town. Despite that, I think that there is a lot more understanding of the issues that are really important. Hopefully we see a better and more thoughtful response from political candidates.
Certainly, I’m deeply disturbed when political candidates talk about returning to torture, or very aggressive techniques, because I actually think that it’s actively dangerous. The aftermath of Abu Ghraib, for example, undoubtedly lead to a lot of dead marine soldiers. I think that we backslide on those issues at our peril. Specifically, at the peril of the people out on the front lines. But, nevertheless, that particular caveat aside, I think we’ve made a lot of progress.
Can you talk a little bit about being part of this event? I know meeting everyone you’ve met here, is there someone that you were really excited to meet once you heard their story?
Klay: It’s been amazing. One of the things, and we were just talking about the political landscape, was public engagement. For me, one of the things I’m often very concerned with is practical politics, local engagement in your communities. That’s something you see from a lot of vets, and there’s some amazing veterans doing some amazing work here at the awards ceremony. But also, one of the guys here has developed a smartphone app specifically for people engaging with their local communities. Alerting local government about infrastructure problems and enabling people to talk about issues affecting them at a local level and local government. I think that’s a pretty tremendous tool, and a pretty wonderful thing for somebody to have had developed. It’s been great. Everybody that I’ve met here has been incredible.
Learn more about Phil Klay and the other Rare Under 40 here!
Urruela: Yeah, I have a co-authored book that came out last October, and it’s doing really well. I’m going to start on the sequel to that with my co-author at the beginning of summer. Then I have my first solo novel coming out the end of June.
There’s not much I can tease about it. What I can say, though, is at the end of May I’ll be releasing the cover and the blurb. That’ll give them the whole story behind it. As of now, I can really give anything away.
What’s your thoughts on these awards, and what does it mean to you to be apart of it?
Urruela: You know it’s funny, watching the videos and reading the stories online, and all that, you get an idea of the kind of people that you’re being honored with. But after the power breakfast this morning and just hearing them speak, and hearing the passion behind their missions so eloquently spoken, every one of them, it’s absolutely an honor to be even in the same category as these people. I’m just so thrilled to be here and to be a part of it.
Who are you most excited to meet?
Urruela: Mason… I think it is just a brilliant idea, Rosa’s Pizza. So innovative and so easy to do, and he’s making such a huge significant difference. It’s almost so simple it’s crazy, but it’s working. He’s feeding a hundred homeless people a day and allowing people to give back to them in an easy, efficient manner. It’s just, it’s beautiful. I was really impressed by him, and happy to talk with him.
Of course, we’ve got another army veteran here, Mohammed Shaker, awesome talking to him. I absolutely love Seth Jordan. His idea behind the brewing company is genius. It is treating a segment of society that doesn’t necessarily have a lot of support, which is Gold Star Families. I love that he’s emphasizing that. They’ve all been awesome to meet, though, and all impressed me vastly.
Learn more about BT Urruela and the other Rare Under 40 here!
Robertson: It was like a crazy experience. You know, ask me on one day, I’m like, “It was the best experience of my life!” Ask me on the next and, “It was the hardest experience of my life.” Both ways. Truly, without that, I don’t know who I would be, because it kind of shaped me. It was a pivotal time in my life. I was 17 years old. I still wasn’t sure who I was. Without the show, I don’t think I would be who I am.
I know you have a line of school supplies, and you’ve got all this cool stuff you’ve done. What’s next? How do you figure out where to go from here?
Robertson: Really, I just leave the door open for God, and he takes me. I have not planned anything that I’ve done so far. I think that that’s why I’ve been successful. If I would have planned it, I would just be a senior in high school like everybody else. I would just be playing tennis, playing basketball, and I would be graduating. I’m still getting to do that, but I’m also getting to do other things too. It’s super cool. I would have never guessed any of it.
What did it mean to you – being nominated for Rare’s Under 40 Awards?
Robertson: Being nominated for this was huge because Being Rare is a lot like Living Original, which is my message. Whenever I heard about it, I was like, “Wow, that aligns perfectly.” Also, just to be in a room with so many people doing such good things for the world, and believing that the world can be a better place. It’s just really cool and such an honor to be here.
Learn more about Sadie Robertson and the other Rare Under 40 here!
A huge thank you to Rare for an incredible night that left me returning home to Atlanta feeling inspired and motivated by all 24 of the award recipients (and by the awesomeness of the Rare team). Each and every one of us have the opportunity to do something for the greater good. Whether it’s starting an organization to support a cause you’re passionate about or even just volunteering on the weekends, don’t miss the chance to help the world.
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Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Rare; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Photo Credit: Getty Images, Kris Connor, and Rare