Adora Svitak

Adora Svitak Interview: Tiny Literary Giant at 12

by Nick Scheidies and Nick Tart on June 30, 2010 · 27 comments

Adora started writing when she was four years old. She hasn’t stopped since. At six, Adora received a laptop computer from her mother, on which she quickly amassed a collection of hundreds of short stories and hundreds of thousands of words – typing at 70 words per minute.

At the age of seven, Adora achieved her dream of becoming a published author with the release of Flying Fingers: Master the Tools of Learning Through the Joy of Writing. The book featured several of Adora’s short stories, along with her writing tips, typing tips, and advice from her mother. At age 11, Adora published a second book, Dancing Fingers, with her older sister, Adrianna.

Today, Adora is 12 and she has transformed her writing success into speaking and teaching success. She has spoken at over 400 schools and presented at the annual TED conference. She’s also planning a conference of her own, for kids and by kids, called TEDx Redmond. She has been featured on Good Morning America and on CNN. Adora also maintains a blog and attends an online public school. She is in the eighth grade.

The following is a short excerpt from 50 Interviews: Young Entrepreneurs (Volume 1).

Q:  What challenges have you faced specifically because of your age? How has your age helped you to succeed?

Adora Svitak Flying Fingers

Adora with her books.

A: People sometimes close doors and make judgments based on your age, how short you are, or the way you speak. That’s one of the things that I hope to change.

When people look at me, they think, “Oh, a little kid who’s just walking along and talking to her mom.” There are low expectations. But my parents obviously look at my sister and me as individuals who can do great things. Other people just look at me as a kid.

At the same time, being 12 and having published a book makes people think, “Wow, that’s pretty impressive.” It’s not something that I really capitalize on too much because I’m obviously going to grow up. So I hope to make what I do special, as opposed to it only being special because I’m 12.

My age has also helped me in that I’m able to relate to kids at a level that an adult speaker might not be able to do. As a teacher, I’m able to say, “This is what my generation thinks.” Having that voice and being able to speak for my peers is definitely an advantage of being 12.

Q: How do you think entrepreneurship can change the world?

A: Obviously, everyone knows about Bill Gates and his foundation. But, young people have also been able to do tremendous things, like Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Alex Scott was a four-year-old girl who had cancer. She started a lemonade stand that raised thousands of dollars for cancer research. Being able to help a cause is something that anyone can do with their business.

When I was selling my book, Flying Fingers, in Vietnam, I was able to raise $30,000 for schools. That was through donations from sponsors, but also through a book auction. You’re definitely able to do wonderful things when you put your
company behind them.

Anyone can change the world. When we think “change the world,” we think of presidents, world leaders, and religious leaders – but it doesn’t have to be a bunch of old people. Whatever age you are, you have that ability.

You can change the world by inventing something or by sharing your views. There’s no committee that says, “This is the type of person who can change the world – and you can’t.” Realizing that anyone can do it is the first step. The next step is figuring out how you’re going to do it.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: It’s important for kids to know, “I can do this. I am fully qualified.” All that you need to become an entrepreneur and change the world is a working brain – and pretty much nothing else.

Adora’s TED Talk: What adults can learn from kids

If you make it to 50 seconds, I bet you can’t stop!

“One thing I noticed was that a lot of people were skeptical I wrote the speech myself, citing some of the words/phrases I used. I write all my speeches myself and my vocabulary is a “side effect” of reading a lot. :D”

~ Adora replying to comments on TED.com

This is an abridged version from Adora’s interview in our latest project, 50 Interviews: Young Entrepreneurs. We came across Adora’s TED talk about three weeks ago and instantly thought, “how do we get her in the book!” As our youngest interviewee, Adora kicks it off with her remarkable story and prodigious advice. (Had to beef up my vocabulary a bit to keep up.)

Adora Svitak’s Top Quotes

“If you pursued something that you felt strongly about, then I call that success.”

“There’s no committee that says, ‘This is the type of person who can change the world – and you can’t.’ Realizing that anyone can do it is the first step. The next step is figuring out how you’re going to do it.”

“All that you need to become an entrepreneur and change the world is a working brain – and pretty much nothing else.”

Want even more inspiration?

40 Entrepreneurship Quotes You've Never HeardDon’t miss 37 more inspirational quotes from crazy-young kids like Adora:
40 Entrepreneurship Quotes You’ve Never Heard >>