Posts from the ‘Passion + Purpose’ category

Gratitude Goes Viral

What are you thankful for?

This is what Facebook asked its members Nov. 22 in a rare switch from its usual “What’s on your mind?” prompt. Little did it know (perhaps), that a number of Facebook users were already sharing what they were thankful for–once a day, everyday–throughout the month of November. To my knowledge, this was no organized effort, just an organic effort that snowballed.

30 Days of Thanksgiving

My friend (and one of the best designers I know) Katie Keys, participated and shares: “I saw others posting things they were thankful for, and thought it would be a great way to reflect on my own blessings in my life each day. It inspired me and I decided to join in.”

Katie wasn’t alone. I also saw posts from other friends,  family and colleagues all sharing what they were thankful for each day.  Surely, this couldn’t have been a coincidence. Did you participate or notice your friends doing the same? Please share in the comments!

The Secret Isn’t in the Sauce

It’s time to take off your floaties and do more than follow your passion.  If you’re trying to figure out what career to pursue or how to make the biggest difference in this world, you’re going to be searching for a long time.

The secret is that no one area of concentration is magical, all-knowing or more important than the other. The architect can design the house, but without the brick layer–it’ll never get built. Making our world better takes a multi-disciplinary network of individuals, communities, organizations and talents. Your passion only gets us so far. So stop searching and start doing.

Before You Eat Your Breakfast

Go. Don’t put if off any longer or wait until “you have it all figured out” to cultivate your talents, expand your knowledge, build connections and move plans forward. Albert Einstein once said “success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.” In other words, ideas inspire but execution leads to impact.  How are you going from dreamer to doer?

Make the Leap

Traditional models for change are not keeping pace with today’s challenges. The remedy? “Be fearless,” says the Case Foundation. To help you move from dreamer to doer to achiever, they suggest adopting a five step mantra:

  1. Make big bets and make history.
  2. Experiment early and often.
  3. Make failure matter.
  4. Reach beyond your bubble.
  5. Let urgency conquer fear.

Is there room for more bravery in your mission? Let it marinate. When you’re ready, consider making the “Be Fearless” pledge.

Once you know fearlessness, it’s easier to recognize. You may even decide to nominate a Fearless Changemaker who has touched your life in the Case Foundation’s Finding Fearless competition which offers $650k in prizes and awards. In a guest post written for Marketing for Change, I share Laura Vandekam’s research on what successful people do before breakfast. Some additional motivation may also be found in the Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki, Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun, Rework by the founders of 37 Signals and Echoing Green’s Work on Purpose resources.


Is Talking About Spirituality and Social Change Taboo?

What shapes your world view? How does your world view influence your work to change the world for the better?

Growing up, we’re told we shouldn’t talk about two things: politics and religion. Yet these two things often help set the foundation of one’s world view. How do we go about changing the world for the better if we can’t talk about either? It’s not realistic–Is it?

“If I hear one more politician croak out the words that his or her faith is a private matter, I may just have to go smack them. That is so not reality. All of us have a worldview and that worldview shapes everything we think, act, or do.”  –Kay Warren, Saddleback Church

How does Spirituality + Social Change Add Up?

This post is prompted by two different events:

  1. Learning about the upcoming Justice Conference taking place next month, and
  2. Listening to a keynote address by Kay Warren at Pepperdine University’s 2010 conference, The Role of the Church in Doing Justice

The role of spirituality in social change has a lot to answer for–humans have a history of twisting one to achieve selfish desires and horrific acts. That said, does this mean that spirituality should not be a part of the social change dialogue? When you read social marketing texts or go to conferences, you don’t always hear a lot of chatter about mobilizing the network of the church or other faith-based organizations in efforts. Is it too taboo? How can we bring these two worlds closer together for good?

Mobilizing the Place “P”

The PEACE PlanIn 2009, President Obama created the Office of Faith-Based Organizations and Neighborhood Partnerships, but how can we challenge ourselves–as both practitioners and people with our own world views–to go a step further?

In social marketing circles, practitioners often look at the distribution network of Coca-Cola and ask how can we utilize the place “p” and mobilize it for good? Some, like ColaLife, are already a step ahead of many. In Kay Warren’s address, she discusses how the widespread distribution network that local churches offer can offer a sustainable solution to global health and international development efforts. To highlight the potential of this network, she shows how there are three rudimentary hospitals in Western Rwanda yet 726 churches.

Kay Warren goes on to present The PEACE Plan, a “hopeful response to the five giant problems in the world: spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease, and illiteracy.” Kay and her husband Rick Warren (author of a Purpose Drive Life) created The PEACE Plan with the goal to mobilize a billion ordinary church members–or half of the world’s Christian population–to do normal tasks that make a difference in the world.

Who is the Hero?

One of the key points from Kay Warren’s keynote is the value and dire need for servant leadership, people who lead by serving others. This is a mentality and perspective we can bring into every meeting, every conversation and every interaction with others. No matter where you stand on whether or not spirituality is appropriate to discuss in social marketing circles, I personally encourage you to watch the video above. You’ll see common themes between that which we work to achieve in social marketing and the spirituality expressed.

What do you think? How does the spirituality fit into social change? Or, is it too taboo to discuss?

Fame, Impact and the Rat Race We Run

“It is easier to reach fame than impact.” These wise words were shared by the great Hans Rosling, global health professor and economic development extraordinaire, in a recent interview. For someone who has had such an impact on a variety of fields and influences in ways that are too many to count and are applicable across so many different disciplines–we should heed these words.

What are you striving for? It’s so easy to get distracted, disillusioned or just discouraged from the full potential and possibility of what we as individuals, teams and communities could achieve. And achieve isn’t the right word–but more so: experience, live, build and share.

We get comfortable. We feel as if, because people know who we are or rely on us–that means we’re having a long-term impact. We start to feel stress, pressure and anxiety to get X deliverable done–and expend energy focusing so much on the little things–we lose sight of the greater impact that’s possible. Sometimes I just wonder what would happen if we just took more time to talk to our neighbors, to hold the door open, to listen to people’s hurts, to encourage people to chase their dreams with purposeful abandon–just how much we could truly accomplish.

It’s easy to get lost in these thoughts (and I apologize if you feel I’ve rambled)–but this is why Rosling’s quote resonates. It’s simple and direct. So the next time you find yourself rushing, impatient, tired, proud, accomplished, rich–ask yourself if you’re feeding your desire to reach fame–or your desire to have an impact.

So How Do We Align with Impact?

Here are some initial thoughts:

  • Be a team player–not a team slayer. Words of encouragement go so far–and all it takes is one harsh criticism, look or experience for someone to be completely cut down.
  • Self-Awareness. Realize that how you walk, act, speak, listen (or not listen!) all communicate to others how you value them, their work and yourself.
  • Encouragement. The more I realize how much people are isolated anymore, the great need I see for a culture of encouragement. My mother is the ultimate encourager–she calls me, writes me, emails me, posts on my Facebook wall–words of encouragement. Encouragement can change lives, build bridges of understanding, create common ground and develop a deep sense of trust.
  • Take time to reflect. You can do this however you prefer–running, driving home, in the shower, before you go to bed. Reflection provides time for us to assess our actions and learn from them.
  • People matter. This might seem obvious, but people–no matter their gender, age, race, creed, income, education-level, etc. matter. We are all members of the global citizenship–let’s not overlook anyone.

Please share your experiences in the comments–let’s learn together and kick fame’s butt–by reaching (living!) for impact.

flickr credit: Kate’s Photo Diary

Hope is Rising

If we are afraid to respond–who will? To call these individuals unsung heroes–is an understatement. The people featured in the documentary Reparanda (trailer below) are warriors of humanity fighting for hope. The hope they bring can’t be seen, can’t be touched but it can be felt and in Guatemala, the hope is rising.


As many of you know, my grandma, my mom and I traveled to Guatemala last June to be fellow soliders in the fight for transformational change in what some think is a hopeless situation. The tragedy is real (10 minutes after we entered a homeless shelter–a man was shot and killed right outside the shelter’s door!). But the change is real too–Mother Tita as many often call her has built not just one, but two schools(!) in the largest slum in Latin America located in Guatemala City.

This documentary, produced by the group Athentikos, highlights the work of Mother Tita and some of the people we met on our trip in Guatemala. The people in the trailer–I’m honored to say I’ve met, I’ve shaken their hand, I’ve seen their tears, I’ve prayed with them and I respect, admire and love them.  Words aren’t enough–When people make impressions on your heart–on your being–you can’t fully express what that does to you.

Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience? Some people experience this and start their own company. Some people create a nonprofit. Some people work to tell the stories of those who share in the same experience. Others just do.

Believe in your story. Online, we talk about influence to the point of fatigue. We are all so much more than influencers–We can be changemakers. How will you respond?

Where You Place Your Time and Attention Changes You

There’s a new Twitter in town. With new functionality, a new look and feel and lots of new chatter about the future of Twitter and online communications. Maybe you were a part of the live press conference? Or maybe you stopped everything you were doing to follow along?

This is fine. But I can’t help but offer up a thought…  What if we paid as much attention to:

Following Twitter’s news has a place in our life–but there are so many different aspects to life outside of the Internet and technology. I feel it’s okay to follow the hype–but let’s not get caught up in it. I say this as much as a reminder to myself, as I do to my fellow bloggers and readers. Where we place our time and attention, influences our thoughts. And our thoughts can become our actions.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

So I ask you: What are your thoughts?

Facing Social Change at the Dinner Table

My dad, Scott Rampy, is a free agent advocate, activist, and fundraiser working to end multiple sclerosis. He’s also humble. So he doesn’t say it in his post, but in one year, with two events, no budget, and a handful of volunteers, my dad spearheaded the effort to raise over $250k for the National MS Society–and that was just in his spare time. Below, read about his latest effort in working to crush MS and where he finds his inspiration. Reading the post and typing this intro, I have tears in my eyes. Our family’s fight is real. It’s personal. And it’s persistent.

By Scott Rampy:  The word “social change” for me is intimidating.  It implies that there has to be an attempt to resolve a social injustice, shortcoming or reversal of public opinion.  For me, social change can be as simple as the inspiration that sits across from you at the dinner table.  In my case that is Jo Rampy, my wife of 26 years.  From a pure grass roots perspective, social change can be motivated by inspiration to inform others in an effort to spark a movement in a small way to solve a larger problem.

This is the case with the National MS Society.  Multiple Sclerosis (aka many scars) affects nearly 400,000 people in the country and selfishly I’m focused on the one person, Jo, who deals with it everyday.  She has been diagnosed with this disease for the past 7 years.  MS attacks the myelin that surrounds our nerve endings in the brain that control our central nervous system.  The damaged myelin forms areas of “sclerosis scars” that over time, affects ones ability to talk, see, feel, walk and concentrate.

Jo has been an athlete since the first day I met her, as she was running stadium stairs when I first noticed her.  Since the diagnosis, she has maintained an active lifestyle just trading her running shoes to walking shoes.  Jo walks 30-35 miles a week and regularly engages in health education to learn how to manage and live with MS.  As a result of her commitment, I’ve taken the challenge to SWIM, BIKE and RUN so that someday people with MS can again.

For the past several months, I have been training for my first half iron-man in Branson, MO Sept. 19. This race is not only a tribute to the endurance and strength I observe in Jo everyday but a tribute to people that deal with MS on a daily basis… so I SWIM, I BIKE and I RUN so that they can again.

There is no cure for MS, but my goal is raise money so the research can continue to find a cure in our lifetime.  My call to action is to have you join our cause and if motivated, donate $70–a dollar for each of the 70.2 miles traveled in my race.  A half iron-man consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.  At the writing of this post, we have raised $2,100 and have 106 members supporting the cause.

Please join, invite or donate and support a cause that will make a difference for someone dealing with MS.

Quote of the Week: Are We Ever Done Working?

I was out at dinner tonight and overheard another table. Maybe you’ve heard something similar before. It goes something like this, “He made how much? from that? If only I’d thought of that, I could cash out. Call it a day and be done.” The truth is though, we are never done. I mean really, what is done?

So, as you wrap up your week, ask yourself: What am I working for? Are you working for retirement or are you working with a purpose? Clayton Christensen, over at the Harvard Business Review, offers some great insight into work, meaning and our purpose in life. In his words:

For me, having a clear purpose in my life has been essential. But it was something I had to think long and hard about before I understood it. When I was a Rhodes scholar, I was in a very demanding academic program, trying to cram an extra year’s worth of work into my time at Oxford. I decided to spend an hour every night reading, thinking, and praying about why God put me on this earth. That was a very challenging commitment to keep, because every hour I spent doing that, I wasn’t studying applied econometrics. I was conflicted about whether I could really afford to take that time away from my studies, but I stuck with it—and ultimately figured out the purpose of my life.

Had I instead spent that hour each day learning the latest techniques for mastering the problems of auto correlation in regression analysis, I would have badly misspent my life. I apply the tools of econometrics a few times a year, but I apply my knowledge of the purpose of my life every day. It’s the single most useful thing I’ve ever learned.

Working with a purpose–no matter what that purpose is–whether it be to put dinner on the table, to provide opportunity for your family to doing what you love, matters. And we are never done. Call it an end-of-the-week rant, but what do you think–are we ever done working?

flickr credit: markbarky

PS: Christensen’s HBR article is quite possibly the best article I’ve read to date. It’s worth the read.

Our Purpose is So Much Greater

My favorite word has always been hope. I find that in hope, there is belief, faith, excitement, and a sense of purpose. Over the years, hope and I have become good friends–she’s been a shoulder to cry on, a friend to share life’s greatest moments with and an ideal to hold onto. Thus, it was my surprise that while in Guatemala, I learned something else about my good friend hope.

Hope is not what we expect. It is a dream much bigger.

Along our journey, we met a number of people who know the greatness of hope. Meet:

  • Hugo and Susannah: Two missionaries living and working with the villages in Northern Guatemala. The villages they work with often have no running water, no electricity, and little opportunity. However, the are bringing light (hope) in the hearts of those they serve.
  • Pastor Saul: Runs the Church by the Dump in Guatemala City. The Dump is one of the largest landfills in Central America. Our team got to walk amongst the people who live and work, literally, in the dump. It was extreme poverty at its saddest. Residents (400 families) register for a permit to scavenge through the dump for one item (i.e. tire parts, blue plastic). As they go through the trash, the trash is moved so that more people can move into the dump and do the same work. Thus, many are left with aluminin, tarp and dirt as their “home.” Kids run through the stream of sewage barefoot and make a playground from the rolling heaps of trash that surrounds them. Pastor Saul is working to bring hope to this area by building a community city to serve the people of the Dump.
  • Mother Tita: Tita founded a school in La Limonada, a slum of about 60,000 people, where five different gangs runs and owns the streets. Today, with her courageous teachers and volunteers, La Limonada now has two schools. The goal: To keep the kids off the streets and hopefully, away from gang life. Tita is literally a Mother Teresa–thus those she serves call her Mother Tita.
  • Kate, April and Kerry: Each of these women are teachers at Tita’s schools in La Limonada. They all left their lives in America to tirelessly serve the La Limonada community. They are young. They are fearless, and they are hopeful.
  • Evelyn: In the trip to the mountains, Everlynn basically summed up how social marketing can be applied and used within the church. Before hearing about “social marketing,” she described to me how she is working to identify benefits and barriers to holding certain values (i.e. honesty) and how she is developing a self-evaluation checklist and how she wants to plan for the short term as well as the long term in working to ignite sustainable change in her community. She is an amazing, talented and inspiring woman.
  • Peggy and Dwayne: The founders of the Amistad Foundation, they are the liaisons between the missionaries and the service organizations they help in Guatemala. They give with their hearts, minds and hands.
  • Janet: Is an American who came to Guatemala years ago to play volleyball–and has never left. Instead, she runs a soup kitchen in one of Guatemala City’s most dangerous areas. In fact, the night our team was there to help her and serve the people, there was a shooting right outside the soup kitchen. The man shot had just finished his meal and had just left the center.

How many of us have expectations? We make plans and stress if they don’t turn out right or question them when there’s a bump in the road. Those expectations fog the path. If we let go of what we expect, then we can prepare for something much bigger and greater…in our work, at home and in our lives.

What would have happened if Tita, Janet, Hugo and others held onto their own personal expectations? What wouldn’t have happened? This is what I learned in Guatemala—> Let go of your expectations. Something bigger is waiting…you just need hope by your side.

PS: More pictures coming soon!

The Right Place at the Right Time

This is my fifth post in the seven-day quest to now raise $2200 to provide not just 7 roofs, but roofs for all 14 Guatemalan families. In these seven days, I’m posting updates, answering your questions and sharing insights gained. This post elaborates on why I chose to focus on Guatemala and #loveroofs. So far, we’ve raised $1590–only $610 more to go! Please consider donating and spread the word.

Have you ever been in the right place at the right time without meaning to be? In a previous trip to Guatemala, my mom was in one of the villages we’ll be visiting. If you visit this village during the day, you will see many children and few adults. Most of the adults are working out in the fields and the children have no where to go and nothing to do. The only food they have are the limes that grow on the trees nearby whose citric acid breaks down their teeth and mouth.

Meeting Asa

While walking in the village, my mom noticed three children walking ahead of her. One of the children, she noticed wasn’t responding to the other two. On a hunch, she started clapping–still no response from the 8-9 year old girl. Catching up with the girls, she realized her hunch was right–that the one girl, whose name is Asa, was deaf.

Pulling out her compact mirror, my mom worked with Asa, making sounds and showing her how to use the mirror to watch herself try to mimic the sound. My mom then had Ana touch my mom’s throat and then touch her own throat to feel the vibration of sound. We later learned that Asa was not only deaf, but was also thought to be mute, as she had never said a word, nor made any sound. Asa was not born deaf and mute–rather she became deaf when her father threw her against the wall when she was a little younger than 3 years old.

Within 15 minutes of working with my mom (who just so happens to have a degree in speech pathology), Asa made her first sound.

Finding Your Voice

On this trip, there is a chance that my mom will get to see Asa again and that I will get to meet her. We hope this happens, as the moment was meaningful for not just Asa, but also for my mom. In March, Asa was seen again in the village and the picture to the right was taken. Do you see what’s written on her shirt? Maybe, someone meant for my mom to be in the right place at the right time.

For those of us who are on Facebook, have a blog or Twitter, we take for granted our ability to have a voice–to express ourselves. Imagine 1) not having that opportunity and on top of that 2) never learning how to communicate not just words, but also sounds.

Let us be thankful, willing and giving.