The Best of OZY’s Rising Stars: Sports, Politics and Tech
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because the next great stars are always first found at OZY
By Jose Fermoso
OZY is celebrating its two year anniversary this week and we couldn’t think of a better way to do it than by highlighting some of our favorite profile subjects. One of the website’s key missions is to be ahead of the curve and we’re happy to report many of our subjects have only grown in influence and success since we first met them. Check them out below and follow through on each of the links to read brief updates on where they are now.
OZY profiled Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo on the site’s very first day, when she was still a fresh-faced state treasurer. In the time since, she’s had her first budget approved as Governor and is already pushing a broad coalition for a state-sponsored college tuition plan. As always in politics, the ride hasn’t been trouble-free: she recently championed reforms that amended the state’s retirement age and suspended cost-of-living expenses, putting her in hot water with unions. But she’s maintained a strong sense of her own political values, which largely involve a strong analytical approach, as seen in the following excerpt from the article.
Never underestimate the power of good analytical thinking and looking at the math,” she says. “So much of what I’ve done as treasurer has been cutting through the emotion … cutting through the game of politics to focus on the substance and to remember that at the end of public policy, and the end of politics, it’s all about helping somebody.”
In small and large offices across America today, everybody seems to be Slacking. No, we’re talking about an affinity for laziness. We’re talking about Stewart Butterfield’s Slack, the business communication application that had 90,000 customers when we first profiled him but has now skyrocketed past a million and gaining more by the minute. The entrepreneur found success many years ago as the co-founder of Flickr but lost his way after selling the technology to Yahoo in 2005. After years of trying to launch other companies, Butterfield stumbled upon a software that separated web communications into “channels.” As found in this small excerpt of the original article, the company realized they had to make the product to improve communications.
Convinced their situation wasn’t unique, the team looked around to see if anyone had come up with a better solution for team communication — and couldn’t find one. “If it was something that none of us … would work without, a system like this, then there would definitely be other people who felt the same.”
OZY first profiled Simone Biles in October of 2014 and since then, the 18-year-old is now the front-runner to lead the U.S. gymnastics team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Only a month ago, she stunned the crowd with top scores, winning the U.S. National Championships. She’s a formidable presence in the sport and has all the tools to succeed, including a muscular, compact body that can be alternately explosive or graceful depending on the event. In the following excerpt, we get a glimpse of how Biles is coping with her newfound fame: with joyful enthusiasm.
Before the Wheaties box and the inevitable corporate sponsorships and advertisements, there are a few small, silly signs. In China, while on the podium (for gold, of course), she discovered a bee in her bouquet. The video clip of her swatting away at it with a big smile went viral. She told OZY how on the plane back from the China meet, her seatmate pointed to a photo of her in the paper and tapped her, asking “You?!” The next day at the gas station, a man shouted in the store, “This girl is Simone Biles!” before hopping in his truck to drive away cheering, “Go USA!!!” It’s charming to hear her enumerate these first few moments of recognition with bright eyes and a giggle. In a few years, she won’t be able to count them on one hand. By then, we realize, nothing will be quite the same.
Sailors Kahena Kunze and Martine Grael are becoming well-known in Brazil for their prolific athleticism and recently, for their political involvement. Just last month, the duo thrilled Rio when they came from behind to win the gold medal in the Olympic test event for their racing division, a preview of things to come at the 2016 Olympic Games. But recent reports that the water they’ll be racing on is still contaminated by sewage and trash has forced them to speak out against authorities to clean it up. Grael said that because they swallow lots of water during competitions, they are concerned for their safety. In this brief excerpt, we get to find out about the difficulty they face moving forward.
Despite promises upon promises of cleanups and dredges, visitors can smell the polluted bay from miles away. And since Kunze and Grael are the ones who’ll be in the water, they’ve been speaking out about the bay’s conditions ahead of time, throwing their hats into a political bog in a way athletes rarely do.
OZY first profiled Caraun Reid during his Princeton days, when he was in line to be a top draft pick. The Detroit Lions drafted Reid in the fifth round in 2014 and already, he’s turned heads. But not always for his play, although that has usually been excellent. Instead, Reid is getting noticed for his leadership skills, on and off the field. Could he become the next great athlete who becomes an important public figure? He might, as evidenced by this excerpt from our original report.
Reid says he wants to follow in the footsteps of legendary Green Bay Packers player and fellow defensive lineman Reggie White, whose own devout Christianity and ordination as an evangelical minister earned him the nickname “Minister of Defense.” Like White, Reid aims to be the kind of player who “influences everyone he plays around and makes them better, not only as a football player, but as a man.
- Jose Fermoso