Posts tagged ‘inspiration’

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

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.

The One Post I Hope You Read

Three Generations + the Opportunity of a Lifetime

My Mom and Grandmother

Who inspires you? For me, it’s the heart of service that my family has lived for and stood for that inspires me everyday. This is why, I am so thankful, humbled and hopeful that later this month, my mom, my grandma and I are joining a group of good-hearted and high-spirited individuals on a service trip to Guatemala through the organization the Amistad Foundation.

On our trip, we will visit Guatemala City, La Limonada (see picture below) and some of Guatemala’s villages. We will be working with the Guatemalan people to help them develop skills to grow and develop sustainable businesses and relationships. From helping their crop program to teaching them business skills, basic communication and motor skills, as well as administering eye exams and mainly–sharing love and support.

The Guatemalan Situation

Image of La Limonada

La Limonada--The Largest Slum in Central America

Guatemala has recently been served a triple blow: 1) The Pacaya Volcano erupted spewing lava, rocks and debris just south of Guatemala city; 2)  This past Sunday, a sinkhole in the middle of Guatemala City swallowed a whole three-story building; and 3) Tropical storm Agathe hit parts of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras causing 150,000 people to evacuate due to heavy flooding and landslides. Adding to the situation, the United Nations recently reported that:

  • An estimated 43% of Guatemalan children below the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition, one of the worst rates in the world.
  • Guatemala has been hit by one of the worst droughts in 30 years, causing their worst famine in 30 years with 2.7 million people requiring urgent aid.

#loveroofs: 7 Roofs, 7 Families, 7 Days

Where do you turn during the rainy seasons in your life? For me, it’s home–it’s family. There are families, in one of the villages (vagueness is for security reasons) we are visiting that don’t have a safe place to go when the torrential rain comes. We want to help provide them a safe home by providing them roofs over their shelter–what I call #loveroofs for they will be funded and built with love to support the growth of love. The cost to do this is about $157 per home. Our goal is to raise $1,100 to provide seven roofs to seven families within seven days!

While there, I will be able to capture photos of the people in the village and help us all connect and enjoy in this journey together. Upon my return, I will share the pictures and insights with you so you know your money went to a good cause.

How You Can Help

Can you help us raise $1,100? I’ve been looking into ways to go about this so that we can all see the progress while being transparent at the same time–and I discovered CrowdRise. I’m a first timer, but I hear good things about the platform and will be able to report to you about how it all goes. All funds donated will be donated to the Amistad Foundation who will work with their contacts on the ground in Guatemala to make this happen (and I’ll provide images and updates as well). THANK YOU

DONATE:

Go to http://www.crowdrise.com/loveroofs, and give what you can. Our goal is to raise $1,100 to provide seven roofs to seven families within seven days!

Trust me when I say that both my family and myself understand the economic times–for us, this is truly a trip based in love and faith, so know that I understand if you can’t give–but we’ll take encouragement too. I plan on sharing this post with all those on the trip–so please leave a note of encouragement below. =)

Google.org on How-To Choose the Right Cause

The other month, I wrote about choices. I wondered if we needed to commit to a certain cause if we truly want to make a difference. The answers were inspiring–motivating. It seems I’m not the only one who has asked this same question.

If you’ve been here, then you’ve also asked: How do you know what the right cause is (and how do you choose)? Larry Brilliant, former Executive Director of Google.org, has some answers–or better, some more questions for us to ponder:

What’s the single most important criteria?

–is it big enough?

–will it scale?

–is it different?

–is it sustainable?

–is it helpful?

Before you act…consider the face of the poorest person you will ever meet. Then ask yourself if what you are about to do will benefit that person–if not, think again.

Brilliant offered this advice in his presentation at Stanford, which was part of Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Lectures. You can view this video in full, as well as other videos from Brilliant (including the one where he shares the five areas Google.org decided to focus on in Jan. 2008) on Stanford’s Web site.

I think another important question is–does it get your heart pumping and blood moving? I think these questions are great, but if you choose one cause–you are about to get even more up close and personal, and you want to avoid cause-burnout. What about you? What are other good questions to ask yourself?

PS: Apparently, I’m on a question-spree with these last two posts. Hope you find it as helpful as I do–thank you all for your valuable input on the awareness fever post. 😉

The Fight for Good: Disney vs. Pepsi

Lots has been said about Pepsi’s Refresh Everything Project. However, not as much has been said about Disney’s “Give a Day. Get a Disney Day.” Why?

Both projects launched around the same time and both stand to do good. Thus, let’s match them up and see who’s left standing: Disney or Pepsi. Let’s begin.

********

Disney: Give a Day. Get a Disney Day.
What: Inspire one million people to volunteer a day of service.
How: Individuals can sign-up to volunteer at participating community organizations in their area. In return, that person will be awarded with a 1-day, 1-theme park ticket to the Disneyland® Resort or Walt Disney World® Resort, free.
When: Jan. 1, 2010–Dec. 15, 2010

Pepsi: Refresh Everything Project
What: Award a total of $20 million in grants.
How: Engaging in a social good crowdsourcing experiment.
When: Early 2010

Round 1: Program

Disney: It’s simple–give a day, get a day. It’s easy to understand and process. It’s national yet local–and is on the tail of national calls to service and volunteerism. It’s also collaborative by working with organizations across the nation. It’s also customizable and has something for everyone as any person wanting to participate can type in their zip code and find volunteer opportunities in eight different categories: animals and environment, arts and culture, children and youth, community, education and technology, health and human services, hunger and homelessness, and seniors and elder care.

Pepsi: It’s innovative, creative and “sexy.” It’s also a big investment–$20 million big. Pepsi is also a heavy hitter, and has entered the social good space by doing something new and doing it first, which can work to their advantage. The project is also inclusive–where anyone can submit an idea and anyone can vote up projects and ideas. Pepsi, like Disney, has also divided up the entries into different categories for people to consider: health, arts and culture, food and shelter, the planet, neighborhoods, and education.

Round 2: Usability

Disney: The landing page for this initiative is a bit buried and there is no friendly URL. However, once there, Disney outlines the steps a person needs to take pretty well and makes the process relatively simple. The downside-there’s a lot of small print.

Pepsi: For both Disney’s and Pepsi’s initiatives, you have to create an account. However, for those less technical, the Pepsi site may be harder to navigate and understand–given the complexity of the competition.

Round 3: Authenticity

Disney: This is being promoted–but not as heavily or perhaps just more traditionally as I have seen TV spots. You can argue you this two ways: First, perhaps Disney doesn’t want to dedicate as many resources to a do-good promotion. Or secondly, maybe they don’t want to wave their do-goodness around. Out of the two companies, I’d say Disney has had a tougher road to climb to gain consumer’s trust.

Pepsi: For Pepsi, the Refresh project was a cheaper investment than the Superbowl, and some would argue, is having a higher return on investment. However, it may be too early to tell just what the return on investment really is. What I have noticed–is that they are definitely promoting it through blogger outreach, social media, celebrity endorsement, television ads and Pepsi was also a sponsor to the Superbowl Fan Jam that aired on VH1. Some have also commented that Pepsi’s set-up of the Refresh Project doesn’t express a true commitment to the social change community and dub it more cause-washing. Either way, we’re all talking about it.

Round 4: Impact and Sustainability

Disney: In the short-term, a lot of projects will be accomplished. In the long-term, hopefully people will be inspired to continue volunteering and giving back to their communities. In addition, the participating organizations have an opportunity to engage new community members to their cause and build a long-term relationship with them.

Pepsi: In the short term, people can be inspired by the dreams and ideas for a better world. In the short term, many groups and individuals will receive much needed resources to make things happen and take the efforts to the next level. However, it will be the responsibility of these organizations to put the funds to good use and create and drive the impact and its sustainability. One could also argue it’s the voter’s responsibility to vote for those projects that will be sustainable.

Winner: Disney

While I give props to Pepsi, I think Disney edges them out and this is why:

1. I understand it. My friends, who aren’t bloggers and aren’t techy, know about it, get it, and are participating. It’s simple.

2. It works for both the short-term and the long-term. In the short-term, it encourages volunteering, while working to inspire volunteering as a normal and frequent experience in the long-term.

3. Everybody wins. The organizations get help and an opportunity to build a long-term relationship with volunteers. The volunteer gets a free ticket to Disney. Disney gets people in their parks where they are bound to buy food, souvenirs and more–not to mention the engagement and positive press.

4. It’s collaborative. Disney found a way to not just talk about collaboration, but actually do it. The Huffington Post even claims Disney’s program “is beautiful on so many dimensions.”

********

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

When defining the success of these initiatives, here’s the more important question:

  • For Pepsi/Disney, did the project increase sales of Pepsi or encourage more people to visit?
  • For the do-good community, what is the overall impact of these initiatives to our communities?

Now, what if it’s found that there is a larger impact to our community, but not an advance in sales? That is where I think the rubber will meet the road.. My hope, is that we can continue to learn from one another to make it a win-win so that more organizations think about doing good.

What are your thoughts–Disney or Pepsi?

Note, this write-up is without any specific background knowledge, research or documentation about these initiatives. Also, thank you Pepsi and Disney for embarking on these efforts, as I hope all of us continue to learn and discover new ways to make our world better.

flickr credit (in order): mrkalhoon, vrogy, Express Monorail

One Book, Two Questions and Three Words for 2010

With a new year, comes a lot of reflecting. Whether this describes you as an individual or as an organization, I’ve got one book, two questions and three words you need to read in 2010. These will help you identify your core values, focus your motivation and goals, and help translate all the above in your day-to-day activities. Let’s get reading.

1. One Book

I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard of this book. If you have, please comment. The book is titled five, and is across the board, a five-star book. So many books tell you what to do and think about your life. Stop reading those books. They take valuable time, and they often don’t provide any answers. Why? Because you have to provide the answers. The reason I like the book five is not because it’s simple, design-based and interactive, but because it forces you to reflect on your own life, your own goals and your thoughts. This is often the hardest part–but most rewarding. It provides prompts and questions, along with lines to pencil in your ideas. It’s a work book–but it’s not work. It uses creative design and textography throughout to draw you in and inspire. So, stop doing the easy part by reading what others think you should do, and focus on you.

2. Two Questions

These two simple questions could change your life. They are provided by author Daniel H. Pink, author of the book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, which looks at human motivation. These two questions are:

  • What is my sentence?
  • Was I better today, than I was yesterday?

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

3. Three Words

If you’ve quickly skimmed down here to read the three words, I’m sorry to say, it’s not that easy. You see: It’s not my three words you need to read. It’s your own. Beth Kanter clued me on to this as she was inspired by Chris Brogan. Kanter’s three words were: Networked, Generosity and Full of Life. For Brogan, his were Ecosystems, Owners and Kings. According to Brogan, your three words should:

“…help you the way a lighthouse helps a ship in a storm. Give yourself a word that guides you towards a powerful new opportunity, and that keeps you focused on what comes of this year. Use these words as starting points for tangible goals, SMART goals that can be measured and have dates to accomplish tasks by. These words sit above the actual goals, and set your guiding principles in place.”

What I like about the three words, is that they are your words. So, do what works for you. For me, my three words are: Simplify and Focus. I don’t have a third, because, well, re-read my first word. 😉

Conclusion

They say people who write down their goals are more successful. You can define success any way you want–as long as you define it for yourself. So, even if you aren’t sure what your goal is, start writing down something and logging your ideas. Eventually, something will come, and when it does, it’ll be powerful because it’ll be born from within.

A Single Thought for 2010

This thought actually echoed across the channels in 2006 when Randall Pinkett won Donald Trump’s Apprentice. I’m passing it on to you as a mentor shared the thought with me–with a bit of a twist.

“Would

you

rather

make

the

news

or

report

the

news?”

Chew on it–and go. How’s that for a typical “Ode to 2009/New Year’s Post?” I hope not typical.

Nuggets of Social Change–Round 2

Perhaps it’s the time of year, but has anyone else noticed that more people are churning out more good content? Many different items I come across deserve its own post, however, then it’s on to the next good nugget I find. Thus, I’m going to do these round-ups every once and awhile as I don’t want you to miss out on all the good information.

  • Have a cause or issue that you’re passionate about? If so, you will love this article by Michael Silberman on the Huffington Post. In it, Michael shares lessons learned when it comes to digital organizing from the 350 days movement–what he terms the “most widespread day of political action in history.” I personally like how Michael emphasizes the importance of mission over technology, and how he creatively shows the importance of creative storytelling by effectively telling the 350 days story to us.
  • Are you or your clients curious about the latest and great in customer relationship management models? Web Strategist Jeremiah Owyang recently wrote up an in-depth post that gives an overview of 31 different CRM companies that are worth a look through.
  • Recently, I touched upon how online contests and competitions were growing in popularity–seems it’s still growing. Pepsi recently announced that they were going to fore go Superbowl ads, and instead, create a micro-site slash giving competition called the “Pepsi Refresh Project.” Beth Kanter shared her thoughts about Pepsi’s move following the Chase Bank fund-raising issue as well.
  • Twitter is the Oxford Dictionary’s 2009 Word of the Year. However, another contender could have been the word innovation. Look at Time Magazine’s list of the “Top 50 Inventions of 2009”. Or, check out Popular Mechanics list of “The Best 50 Inventions in the Past 50 Years.” (Guess Santa isn’t the only one making his list and checking it twice this time of year.)
  • Social marketeers: Are you looking to connect with colleagues? Try one of these three upcoming social marketing conferences summed up nicely by Craig Lefebvre. A conference of sorts that I also look forward to debuting is BIBA, presented by Peter Corbett’s iStrategy Labs. BIBA looks to gather big minds with big ideas to make big actions.
  • Because it’s worth mentioning again, did you get a chance to read Philip Kotler’s and Nancy Lee’s article in Stanford’s Innovation Review about Corporate Social Marketing?

A Social Shout-out

Not only are good news items coming up, but I’ve also expanded my RSS reader with some blogs I encourage you to get to know:

Social Herder: If you don’t know Will Robinson, you might want to. Will writes on all things social entrepreneurship, non-profits and general do-goodery. You can catch Will at his blog, on Twitter, or at his current gig with Ogilvy PR.

Justice for All: If you are interested in a mash-up of human rights, social enterprise, democracy and law, then you’ll appreciate the enthusiasm of Northwestern senior Akhila Koliset. Not only do I share an interest in advocating human rights with Akhila, but I continue to be inspired by her passion and the voice with which she writes. You can tell she loves to be inspired as much as she is inspiring–just check out her reading list!

What We Give: You’ve probably heard of this one, but if not, you should. Larry Blumenthal is the director of social media strategy at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and adds much value back to the marketplace through both his blog and on his Twitter stream where he talks about how social media is changing philanthropy.

What about you? Any newly discovered blogs or colleagues you’d like to give a social shout-out to?

PS: Often, these “nuggets” are shared sooner through my Twitter account. If you’re on Twitter, let’s connect @socialbttrfly.

Being Empowered in Government 2.0

The other week I had the honor of chairing the Advanced Learning Institute’s “Social Media and Government” December conference. There were some great presentations, even better discussions and what I was impressed with most–many more sophisticated questions. In government communications, it’s no longer good enough to be the first or to be using social media. More and more, you have to show a return on investment. You have to tie what you are doing to why you are doing it–and focus on what you are trying to accomplish.

When it comes to social media and government, some do not know where to start. Thus, as my keynote at the conference, I presented: Being Empowered–Faces and Places You Need to Know. To me, being empowered is closely related to leadership. We can’t lead our organizations or our colleagues if we aren’t first leading ourselves. Hence, why we must become empowered. Being empowered means two things: being encouraged and being equipped. So, I share my presentation with you here to help you achieve both of those items. The faces will help encourage you and the places will work to better equip you.

If you have added “faces and places,” please leave them in the comments as we are all always learning.

Some Golden Nuggets of Social Change

In between turkey and tweeting, I caught up on some of my online do-gooders, as well as explored and discovered new (and highly valuable) minds who are doing good. Thus, this post is filled with some true golden nuggets of social change. Enjoy!

  • Find new friends in this list of the top 100 Social Entrepreneurship Tweeple to follow, put together by @socialedge, a program of the Skoll Foundation. What I love most, is that this post also gives you a great listing of hashtags and what their purpose is as well.
  • Speaking of @socialedge, I discovered that they host weekly live discussion around numerous social change topics, including this one: What works in social change? Feel free to give input based on your knowledge and experiences–I did.
  • Can prevention PROSPER? Read up on this prevention program–backed by the CDC, NIDA and the Annie E. Casey Foundation–whose trial shows a $10 payback on every $1 invested. Now, it’s getting ready to go national.
  • Going to be in D.C. on February 12? If so, you may be able to catch the Non-Profit 2.0 Conference organized by Geoff Livingston, Shireen Mitchel, and Allysin Kapin.
  • Even though I did my own research on millennials for a project I did for Special Olympics Missouri, it’s always good to see what others found out as well.  Those at Millennial Marketing put together a FREE e-book titled “Marketing to Millennials.”
  • On someone’s Twitter list and you don’t want to be? Read up on how to opt-out of someone else’s list through this back door trick.
  • Have some doubters in your presence? Share Valerie Maltoni’s free e-book, Twittertales, a collection of Twitter success stories.
  • Seeing the time of giving is upon us, check out this article on Barron’s that lists the Top 25 Philanthropists.
  • Keeping with the giving theme, did you know you could start a fundraiser with wine? Find your favorite charity or rally friends around one–and buy some wine in support of it. I discovered this while doing my own holiday shopping, so I wanted to share the idea with others. Think goodsearch–just with wine.

People Doing It Right (hat tip to Chris Brogan)

  • Health Populi. Written by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, I find just about every single post of hers helpful, thought-provoking and insightful. Lately, it’s become a blog staple–the kind that you can’t wait to read when you see there’s a new post in your RSS reader.
  • Prevention in Action. With its focus on prevention and research–how can you not be a fan of this organization’s news content? They are writing about topics not everyone writes about, pulling evidence, timely events and research together in a way that gets the mind ticking.
  • 501derful.org. We all already know he’s doing it right seeing as David Neff won AMA’s Non-Profit Marketer of the Year award. But with Neff’s recent announcement that has left the American Cancer Society to pursue his next big adventure, I’ve been staying tuned to his blog ever more closely as I admire his leadership and courage to follow his passion of Lights. Camera. Help.

What about you? What golden nuggets did you discover over the holiday?

flickr photo credit: Curtis Gregory Perry