Posts tagged "Purpose"

Don’t Stop Believing

Just over a year ago, I attended the inaugural World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon, which would come to be an experience that motivated and inspired me in ways I find difficult to fully convey. This past weekend, I returned to beautiful Portland for the second WDS, and it was nothing short of magical for me. Allow me to take you on a journey, if you please.

I will never forget walking into the Portland Art Museum last year on the first morning of WDS and seeing Chris Guillebeau’s welcoming smile (the conference creator) as he asked me if I would go down to the front row and help fill it out shortly before the first presentation began. Never one to argue with one of my biggest personal heroes, I happily obliged.  Read more…

Spirit of the Gulf Coast Exhibition

My experience with Spirit of the Gulf Coast is culminating in a public Exhibition tonight (10.14), and I’m feeling the incredible rush of energy that I only get when really big things are on the horizon.  The night before our trip down to the coast in August, I stayed up very late and got barely any sleep before we left.  It’s now 4:08am, and I’m still not ready to call it just yet.  See, when I sink my teeth into something, it’s hard for me to let go, even if it means pushing myself beyond anything I think I’m capable of.

Spirit of the Gulf CoastI’ve been fortunate to have some incredibly passionate people around me throughout this process of learning and discovery.  Perhaps most exciting to me is that most of them I have only known for a short time.  It’s been very rewarding to meet people with similar passions and have them jump right into something as challenging as this initiative.  I feel extremely lucky to have this incredibly inspirational creative energy in my life right now.

Today is a big day for me.  The auditorium that we’re holding our event in seats ~350 people, and I’m expecting it to be pretty full if not over capacity.  This will mark my first time speaking to a group this size and there is definitely some pressure there, but for some reason, I’m really not worried about that aspect of this experience.  I feel very comfortable with the material, and I am looking forward to getting up there and sharing my truth in front of a crowd of people that are coming out to hear about our experience along the Gulf Coast.

I have to continually remind myself that everything is going to work out perfectly, and I don’t need to second guess any decisions I’ve made up until this point.  I’m really good at beating myself up for the ‘should have done’ or ‘could have done’ things, but this time around I really don’t know how I could have done much to make this any better than it’s turning out to be, given the resources I had to work with.

Spirit of the Gulf CoastPart of this for me is pushing the envelope on what’s possible.  I’m pretty good about that actually, and what we are producing (with essentially no budget) is quite remarkable, all things considered! I have to remind myself and the rest of the team often that this is a volunteer initiative and the fact that we’re doing it in the first place is a big deal.  Whatever we can do to make it great from here is the icing on top.

Nothing I’ve ever worked on in my entire life has felt this fulfilling or important.  It’s been an incredible journey thus far, and I know that it’s only going to get more exciting as the day unfolds.  I haven’t really given myself much of a break lately, and that part of it isn’t healthy for me, no doubt.  I can’t imagine not doing this actually, so waking up on Friday without a major rush to produce something like this event is going to seem pretty unusual I suspect.

Earlier, I had the opportunity to look at one of the film edits that Nathan has put together for tomorrow’s exhibition.  I am honestly blown away by how powerful the documentary is turning out to be! There is one section that I got a little emotional over, which I was really not expecting.  Nathan’s a very talented individual, and it’s been amazing to work on this with him.  I also got some great input from Kim on the action items that we’re going to leave people with at the end of tomorrow’s event.  She’s been burning the midnight oil as well, and I know she’s really excited to see all this come together.

On that note, I’m going to call it a night (or morning), and get a few hours of sleep.  If you are in Atlanta Thursday night (10.14), I really encourage you to check this out.  It’s going to be quite a night!

Thanks for following along.

Photos courtesy of Terrell Clark

My Visit to the Gulf Coast

In my blog title, Embracing Community is highlighted and is a major part of what I do.  Whether it’s online community or physical community – the idea is the same.  The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has had a major impact on me and I have been on a mission to organize an expedition down to the Gulf to document and bring back stories of the communities and the people impacted, while using social media to propel the message far and wide.  If you are not interested in hearing this perspective or would prefer not to get into the touchy subject of oil addiction, feel free to stop reading now.  But if you want to hear my perspective on the subject, by all means stick around.  I feel that it is my calling to spread this word, and I’ve made it a priority in my life and in my work.

I drove down to the Gulf this past Saturday to see for myself what was going on.  I must say, it was very different than anything I was expecting.  I didn’t go out on the water and didn’t see any oil firsthand, although there was definitely evidence of the disaster all around.  With Tropical Storm Bonnie approaching, the people down there got pretty nervous – mainly because of their experience with Katrina.  That came up several times in my talks with the locals.  I talked with a homeless man Gary out on the beach at Biloxi – he had ridden Greyhound down from Wisconsin with his bicycle to look for cleanup work. By the time he got there, there were no jobs left. He was riding his bicycle from New Orleans to Florida in search of work.  He was happy to have someone to talk to though, so I hung out with him for a while.

I kept driving and pulled off at Bay St. Louis and talked to another homeless man that was ranting and raving about all kinds of stuff and how our country was on the wrong track.  I took several pictures around the area – there was orange and yellow boom all over the place, and families and kids were in the water right beside it.  It was so bizarre to me – it just didn’t look right.  The water was very calm, which seemed strange to me since there was a tropical system offshore.

I drove through the Mississippi bayou and ran across a place called Turtle Landing in Pearlington.  The sign outside got me to turn the car around and go back.  I went to take a picture and knew that I had to go inside.  I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer and a Po’ Boy.  I started talking with the guy next to me at the bar and ended up staying for 4 hours just listening to him.  He is a school teacher in Slidell and a Katrina survivor.  He was telling me the stories of what they went through, which was pretty potent I must say. The people down there are pretty beaten down by it all and are fed up with the government to put it mildly.  The handling of Katrina and now the response to the BP spill have them really exasperated by the situation.  They don’t understand the moratorium at all – I heard it over and over again.  The industry is such a huge part of the economy there, and they just can’t comprehend how we can shut down all drilling indefinitely.

On Sunday after talking with Glenda at the Olde Town Inn I stayed in Saturday night in New Orleans, I decided to drive down to Venice, LA for one more trip to the water before heading home.  Glenda was pretty vocal when I asked her about the oil spill and how they had been affected.  The first thing out of her mouth was ‘Oh, bullshit!”  She went on a rant about how there is nothing to be worried about in terms of health impacts of the oil.  She went on to tell me how her father had worked in the Texas oil fields and never had health problems.  She did eventually say that the dispersants were another story and there might be some concerns there.  It appeared that New Orleans was alive and well, and there was no evidence that tourism had been adversely affected by the spill, which Glenda confirmed.

Anyway, Venice is about 2 hours south of New Orleans, and when you get down there, it’s basically the belly of the beast.  Oil company plants, heliports to transport workers out to the rigs, and other evidence of the pervasiveness of the industry on the local economy is everywhere.  I went down to the marina and talked with a couple of fishermen.  There was very little activity around the marina – all of the ships had come back into port in preparation of the storm that ended up fizzling out on Saturday.  They were getting ready to head back out on Monday to see what had happened over the weekend with the storm.  Of course, their main concern was not being able to fish, and they were really nervous about the impact of the dispersant on the fish population. They didn’t expect to be able to fish for at least a year.  The guys I talked to were being taken care of financially and were doing cleanup work for BP.  One of the guys I talked to though said that there were about 60,000 boats available, but only 40,000 were being used in the cleanup effort.  He said some people didn’t get picked – not sure how that is being handled and if those people are just out of luck.

The oil had not made it to Venice – evidently a lot of it was in the Grand Isle area.  I didn’t visit Grand Isle on this trip, but definitely plan to when I go back down in August.  By mid-afternoon on Sunday, I decided to head back to Atlanta and continue planning the trip later in August.  I felt that I had enough information to understand how our expedition could be structured to have the most impact here in Atlanta and beyond.

Several people asked me why I came down and what I was doing there.  Honestly, I was there because I care.  I care about what is happening down there.  I care about the people who have been impacted.  I care about the environment and the animals that have been impacted.  I care about our future and can’t stand the thought of this type of thing happening again.  Most of all, I believe that we are all in this together – we are each a part of a larger community and we can all play a part in moving beyond this disaster.

Stay tuned for the follow-up expedition back to the region.  If you’re interested in learning more or getting involved, please drop me a line and let me know.  Thanks for being here – I appreciate it very much!

Shifting

Lately I’ve been putting the foundation in place for some really amazing work that I believe is about to take off, and I have been thinking about how I use this blog.  In the past month or so I have shifted my focus toward pursuing consulting opportunities and even partner opportunities with a start-up community, which I’ll talk about as soon as I’m able to.  I would like for this blog to be much more about what I’m doing and the business that I’m creating and less about commentary on the social media and marketing field.  I hope that’s OK with the readers out there that have been following me.  And by the way, I think this will be much more interesting actually!

This doesn’t mean that I won’t be talking about social media, because it is a major part of what I do, but I want to show how I’m using it personally and also for clients.  I’ve written about this before, but I want to work with clients that are really trying to have a meaningful impact in the world, and I can’t think of a more important time for this to become a reality.  One of the clients that I’m working with is focused on helping people discover themselves through a unique, transformative experience with horses.  More on that soon.  I’m also working with the Atlanta Community Food Bank (I am also on the Advisory Board) creating a social media strategy, internal policy, and tactical plan for the organization, which is one of the biggest Food Banks in the country and serves over 700 partner agencies in North Georgia.  These have been really fun to work on because I can see the difference they are making in the world.  This is what I’ve been wanting to do with my career, and it’s turning into reality.  I believe it’s because I put my focus squarely in this area, so the opportunities are lining up.

I run across so many blogs from people that are truly living mindfully, and I thought it would be appropriate to highlight some of the people that have inspired me over the last 6 months or so.  Perhaps most significantly is Chris Guillebeau.  His blog, The Art of Non-Conformity is one of the most inspiring of any I have ever read.  Chris has chosen a different path for himself that is far from the mainstream, and he is on his way to achieving his goal of visiting every country in the world by his 35th birthday.  Another is Sarah Robinson and her blog Escaping Mediocrity. She has been very transparent with how her journey is unfolding and I find her writing to be quite refreshing.  Hildy Gottlieb and her Creating the Future blog is also a big one – she is in the process of renaming the Community-Driven Institute, and she is doing so out by allowing her readers to participate in the renaming process.  Very cool!  And of course, my good friend Lewis Perkins, who was inspired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and created a blog called Women Are Saving The World Now.  Lewis is very passionate about this topic and has interviewed some amazing women that are doing exceptional work out in the world. These are some of the people that inspire me in my daily life.

So, as 2010 progresses, you can expect to see more of this type of writing on my blog.  Especially after I sell my loft!  I plan on traveling quite a bit this Summer and meeting some of the people that have inspired me in my own work.  My road trip to Alaska that I’ve wanted to do since I was 19 is on the agenda for this year.  Who knows what exciting connections I’ll make along the way?  Stay tuned if you’re interested in following me on this journey.  I promise I’ll be more active with my updates.  Thanks for being here!

Photo: ACFB Advisory Board’s annual Kids In Need toy drive

I Am Not Superman

This is a post that is weeks in the making and one that has been pinging around in my head consistently as I’ve been going through some big changes.  Despite loving the REM song back in the 80s, I’m in fact NOT Superman.  This is hard for me to accept, but alas, it’s true.

I was reading Chris Brogan’s post a couple of weeks ago on Redrawing, and it really resonated with me.  I’ve never been able to wrap my head around how he has kept up with everything he has going on for this long.  My hat goes off to him not only for keeping all the balls in the air, but for realizing something needed to change and taking steps to make the situation workable for him.  A couple of days ago, Chris posted another entry about the importance of story in our lives.  Immediately I knew this was going to be an element of this blog entry.

Stacks Tower LoftI have been doing a bit of redrawing myself lately, and I have come to some pretty big decisions on what I want to get out of life, my career, etc.  The biggest of these decisions is that I’m selling my loft, which is the place I’ve lived for the past 8 years – the place I’ve lived the longest of anywhere except the house I grew up in.  You see, I have become attached to it and it’s been a large part of my persona, and for good reason – it’s a great space!  But what I realized is that the attachment to it was no longer healthy for me and I need to move on in order for the next chapter in my story to open up. This is huge for me, and I could not be more excited about this decision!

I have worked for the past 6 weeks on prepping the loft to put on the market, and if you know me, you probably wonder what I could have possibly been doing all this time because the loft has been pretty much ‘done’ for several years now.  But I’m a perfectionist, and I wanted to make things a certain way before I invite the next owner in.  After much thought and careful consideration, I decided that I was going to list and market the property on my own, without a real estate agent.  I came to this decision because I know that I’m the best person on the planet to tell the story of my loft and to truly give it the best push it can get.  I also figured this would be a good case study for my business, as it will give me a great example of using digital/social media to spread awareness and find the perfect buyer for the property.  There is no doubt in my mind that this is the best way to go, and it feels like it’s done already – all I have to do it let it unfold.  My long silence here is due to the immense work that has been occurring on that front, and the fact that I was advised that a strong push right out of the gate was the best option for generating buzz.  Now it’s out there, so I’m off to the races!

So, what does this have to do with being Superman?  For one thing, I have had to be gentle with myself during this process, because I have been going in a million directions all at once and trying to achieve big things on multiple fronts.  I wanted to believe I could do it all, but the truth is I am only one man and I have limits.  What I did realize however is that for me, it’s truly about being present and paying attention to the signals that I’m getting.  Sometimes I have to say ‘no’ to opportunities when they are not the right fit for me, and at the same time be willing to say ‘yes’ to others that might not seem proven or guaranteed.  I trust my heart more than ever before, and the work that I’m pursuing is truly the kind of work that I want to do moving forward.  I have been presented with some incredible opportunities to work with amazing people that are doing meaningful work in the world, and these connections are part of what is propelling me forward along my path.

I was talking to my good friend Lewis Perkins last week about being gentle with ourselves when we get frustrated that we haven’t accomplished everything we want in the time we think it should happen.  We came to the realization that for us, if we start doubting whether or not we are accomplishing anything of if we’re on the right path, we need to step back and look at the past 30 days.  This was a big realization for me.  I’m great at looking at a 24 hour period and beating myself up for not getting everything done that I wanted to get done.  But when I look back at a 30 day snapshot, It’s amazing the level of achievement!

Just in the past 30 days, I’ve done considerable work on my loft (installed additional lighting in 3 rooms, painted, cleaned, organized, installed shelving, developed a website, Facebook page and Twitter account for it, and 45 other things that I checked off the list I created), worked on a consulting assignment with an agency that resulted in another 4-week contract for April, connected with Lisa Dee at Vista Caballo, my newest client and all-around inspiration, and made several other client connections that I’m in the process of nurturing.  Also during that month, I helped my aunt and uncle move into their new house in SC, which involved two Uhaul trips and a lot of driving, and I participated in the Hunger Walk where my team exceeded its fund raising goal significantly.  So, while I would love to have everything ‘done’ on my list, the truth is that I’m making great progress and have achieved some fairly remarkable things.

We all have our dreams, our desires, and our life’s work, but it’s not always obvious what we should be doing about it.  For me, it has taken a lot of trial and error, but I believe I’ve come through the process with a sense of clarity of purpose that I didn’t have before.  I know that I can’t be all things to all people, but I realized that I can do my best with what I have to work with if I pay attention to the signs and stay present.

Lately, I’ve connected with some incredible people that are helping me realize that the story of our lives has so much more potential than we often realize, but we have to get still and be ‘present’ in order to make these connections count.  We don’t have to chase everything that appears in front of us, but we do need to pay attention to the signs along the way.  We don’t have to be Superman (or Wonder Woman if you like), but we just need to be our very best self.  For me, that means helping to develop community around shared interests and causes, while aligning relevant brands and organizations with these communities.  This is what I’m best at, so it’s what I’m doing.  Who’s with me?

Photo: My Loft at Sunset