A Penny on the Ground

Every penny has a story. 

It's often a painful story that transcends just laying on the ground being ignored and trampled all the time. 

A penny goes through a lot. 

It has an origin story that celebrates creation and craftsmanship. 

But we still choose to see it for what it's actually worth.

One cent. 

As it looks up at all of us, it sees you the opposite way. It views each of us as a potential hero that understands that there's another side to, not only every story, but to its own body that is currently being hidden away from the world.  

Pick up the penny. 

You may uncover more than just a single cent in the process. 

Lin-Manuel Miranda's Acceptance Sonnet

Not only am I a big fan of Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda's beautiful mind, but I am a sucker for community building based around love. 

His acceptance speech during the Tony's was perfect. The words were powerful and the emotion was heartfelt.

If there is only one thing I can do acknowledge the recent tragedies, it would be to emphasize the feeling of community that we all embody when we genuinely feel human compassion. 

I can't wait for the country to bounce back stronger than ever from this. I also can't wait to see what Miranda works on next. 

The 4 Things To Say To a Loved One Before They Die

In his book, “The Four Things That Matter Most” hospice specialist Dr. Ira Byock writes that there are four things that dying people long to hear and say to those they love before they pass.

Please Forgive Me

We all hold regret or remorse for something we've done to those around us at some point. Casting a wide net to catch all of this with just one statement allows the loved one to accept those moments and move on. 

I Forgive You

A solid relationship is based on reciprocity. If you've been forgiven, it's only right that you tell them they're forgiven too. There doesn't even have to be a single moment you can remember that you need to provide forgiveness for, but just hearing these words is like a comfy blanket covering you to keep you warm before sleep. 

Thank You

This can accomplish so much at once. We always hold the respect and admiration within, and most of the time, the simple outward acknowledgment goes a very long way. 

I Love You

There are no stronger three words in the world. 

More than anything, I've learned that these 4 words transcend those that are slated to expire from this Earth. These 4 sentiments are what can solve any tension, save relationships, and remind someone how important they are. 

Never forget to leverage these as often as necessary. Keep them in your back pocket and tell those around you how much they mean to you more often. I guarantee that it will make both of you feel that much better. 

Meritocracy

Forget about the other economies at play right now.

Let's focus on returning to meritocracy. 

It starts at the workplace. It works it's way up to the ladder. 

If we continue letting authority fall from the top down, we will fall even further off the tracks.

Let's reward those that deserve recognition and refrain from giving attention to those that are set out to seek it. 

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Attention shouldn't be given because it was requested.

Attention should always be earned.  

Just Say Thank You

Don't complicate the exchange.

If I do something for you, accept it with grace. 

There don't have to be any checks and balances involved. You don't owe me anything in return.

Just say thank you. That's all I need to hear. 

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Acknowledge that something was done, or value was provided, or that you are grateful....

...remember the gesture, and move on.

All I need to hear is thank you. Your happiness and satisfaction is why I did it in the first place. 

Autodidact

a person who has learned a subject without the benefit of a teacher or formal education; a self-taught person.

I'm proud to consider myself an autodidact for a lot of things in my life. 

  • I taught myself how to play the drums (and music)
  • I taught myself how to start a business
  • I taught myself how to love unconditionally

For as many skills I've learned on my own, there are far more that I learned from teachers, mentors, family, and friends. To everyone that has helped me along the way, I would not be the person I've become without you. 

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So thanks for everything! 

Hour of Code

It is officially Computer Science Education Week this week.

Two years ago, the folks at code.org launched a movement called the Hour of Code to help celebrate Computer Science Education Week. The original idea was to encourage schools and students to spend at least one hour writing code during the week.

The result? Ten million people did it. And so began the viral movement of spreading the importance of programming to the youth of the world.

Fast forward to two years later, during this same week, almost 200,000 different groups will do an Hour of Code. This means that 50 million people will spend an hour writing code this week.

The point of this is not to turn everybody in the world into software engineers. Instead, we want to demystify the perception of computer science to make it seem approachable. And again, enlighten students on its capabilities.

The Hour Of Code becomes the foot in the door toward a more comprehensive computer science program for students.

If you are a teacher, check out this page on how to get going with an Hour Of Code in your school. It’s actually really easy to do.

Eleemosynary (#FundraiseFriday)

I have made a habit out of donating to a charity or cause every single Friday. I've been doing this for almost two years now. 

To be clear, I don't do this for publicity or to impress anybody. Far from it.

I choose to give money to charities for a few reasons:

  • It makes me feel significant.
  • I enjoy hearing back from the recipients. 
  • I can't donate as much time as I would like. 
  • I'd like to inspire others to do the same.

To me, this weekly action is not about the money at all. It's about caring. 

The amount given could be $1. That's not the point.

The acknowledgement that you are aware of how much help nonprofits need and the ability to show them support is where the value is. 

Start a conversation about a cause you are passionate about. Even if you don't donate money - donate exposure and spread their message to your network. 

Let's use #FundraiseFriday to slowly change the world for the better. After all, it's the little things that make a difference.  

Bryan Stevenson on Justice

I'm very glad I learned about Bryan Stevenson at Google's Zeitgeist event. Here's why:

"I believe really simple things:"
  • No one is there worst act. Each of you is more than the worst thing we've ever done.
  • If somebody tells a lie, they're not just a liar.
  • If somebody takes something, they're not just a thief. 
  • Even if you kill someone, you're not just a killer.
  • The opposite of poverty isn't wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice. 
  • We have to judge how we're doing by how we treat the poor. 

We are Humans

It takes a lot for me to stop everything during a workday to be completely captivated by a piece of content. This week, it has been "HUMAN."

A description won't do it justice, so I have embedded the entire piece (in parts) below for your pleasure. 

The production takes on a life of its own as it attempts to answer the world's most difficult questions. Questions like:

  • What does it mean to be human?
  • What does love truly mean?
  • Are humans evil or kind by nature?
  • What is our purpose on Earth?

If it sounds dense, it's because these are questions some people choose not to take on head-on. The individuals interviewed in the film do, and they tell remarkable personal stories. It's emotional and honest. It's eye-opening and rewarding to watch. 

These are the stories we weave as humans. It's important to try to understand what they mean.  

Wiser But Not Older

I'm 31 years old today. 

But it's just another day for me. No need to celebrate - for everyday is a celebration of love, life, and a great deal of fortune.

I try not to take anything for granted. I realize how lucky I have been to arrive where I am today. It was all 31 years in the making. There have been ups and plenty of downs along the way, but through it all, I wouldn't change a thing. 

While some people look at growing a year older as steadily moving toward some sort of an expiration date, I see it as progression.

I'm not getting older. I'm getting better. I'm getting smarter.

I couldn't ask for more in my life. That's why I don't expect gifts from anyone on my birthday anymore. I'd rather be the one giving the gifts. Or use the attention garnered from a birthday to promote a worthwhile cause

So...

Smile harder for me today. Smile like that everyday. For you are getting better. 

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For My Birthday

I'll be 31 this year. And instead of selfishly asking for gifts, I'm taking the leap toward something much more satisfying. This September 4th, I want to be the one giving the gifts (with your help of course).

If you had previously thought about giving me a gift this year, please don't. Instead, make a generous donation to this campaign to help reach our modest goal and save some lives.

More details on the initiative can be found below.

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Many of us have no idea what it's like to be thirsty. We have plenty of water to drink -- even the water in our toilets is clean!

But many people around the world don’t have that luxury. Every day, 1,400 kids die from water-related illnesses before they reach their fifth birthday. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are simple solutions like drilled wells, spring protections and BioSand filters that help provide clean water to communities around the world.

I started this fundraising campaign to help charity: water build these types of projects around the world, and I'm looking for anyone who can help me.

Please donate to my campaign -- anything you can give is a huge help.

100% of the money will be used to build clean water projects, and when they’re complete, charity: water will send us photos and GPS coordinates so we can see the exact community we helped.

Go here to donate. 

What You Do For Me...

"What you do for me, without me, you do to me."

Gather the representatives in your community that are trying to make a difference - a positive impact. Ask them what they've been doing to solve a community issue. If they tell you they're doing it alone, tell them to stop.

Without the support of those you are helping, assistance will never show its much needed face. In other words, you can't help those that don't want to be helped.

But it's never that cut and dry.

Everyone wants help - even if they don't show it. They may push you away as the all powerful individual, but they won't push away a movement.

Start a movement. Gather the community. Build the message for those that need the help.

As soon as they can latch onto that message and feel a part of something bigger than themselves - or you as a kind man hoping to make a difference - the easier it will be to make a change.

So continue to DO. Just include those that you're doing it for.

 

#IceBucketChallenge: Why I Didn't Participate

Over the past few weeks, I haven't been able to escape the ALS campaign. Whether in my social feeds or in real world conversations, the Ice Bucket Challenge was everywhere. It even took over mainstream news after many celebrities got on board. After all, watching your favorite actors and TV personalities dump water on their heads is a rare treat. If you scour my digital feeds, however, you'll see nothing about the challenge. Perhaps you'll find the numerous times I was called out to participate, but you'll fail to locate any sort of response from me.

Why is that?

Please allow me to list the many reasons.

Charity is a Personal Thing

I consider myself an extremely philanthropic individual. Not only did I spend a ton of my developing entrepreneurial career assisting in the building of the Orlando non-profit organization, Rock for Hunger, but I also consider every Friday #FundraiseFriday as an excuse to donate my personal funds to a charity of my choice on a weekly basis. While I won't go so far to say the ALSA isn't worthy of my money, it's evident that I have more of a connection with other positive initiatives around the world.

It's Not About You

My biggest problem with the Ice Bucket Challenge is that too many participants are making it about them. I get it - it's a great opportunity for the average funnyman to do something outrageous, but to me, that's not participating in a good cause. That's just riding a trendy wave to get more attention.

Where's the Passion?

No one should blindly donate either their time or money to an organization they haven't researched prior. Additionally, if research has been carried out, one should be excited about the cause and not the excitement of the bucket of ice cold water. Throughout all of the videos I've seen, I have yet to learn one thing about the charity. Rarely do any participants even link out to a website.

Peer Pressure

No one should EVER feel obligated to take part in a charitable movement. This notion crosses so many personal boundaries, and not just for the reasons above. How about we just let goodwill happen naturally through the kindness of the hearts of humankind? That sounds much more scalable to me.

Clean Water

As someone that invests a lot of time and money into the betterment of developing countries, I cringe at the concept of the campaign. We're actually taking clean water, dumping it on our heads, sharing it with the world, and treating it as a win? How supercilious is that to those that don't have any clean water to drink? Of course, they aren't seeing these videos, but if you try to argue that point, you simply don't get it anyway.

Where the Funds are Going

After some research, I learned that the ALSA perform tests on animals that are often the topic of many debates. I'd rather stick with charities that are ONLY leading with their hearts and goodwill. I'd rather not participate in any sort of controversy.

First, Never Last

If you know me, I pride myself on leading. You'll very rarely find me doing something AFTER it becomes "cool" to do it. At that point, I just say no.

The Good

The aforementioned is merely a list of reasons why I didn't personally participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge. It doesn't mean I don't appreciate what is actually happening here. Positive movements are wonderful things, especially when they work out this well. Let's use this momentum as a starting point to get more people involved in good causes around the world.

Here's a short list of some of my favorite resources right now. The following links make it easy to be philanthropic every single day.

 

Please participate in #FundraiseFriday every week and use the hashtag to help spread the concept of weekly charitable donations.

Fundraising Friday: $1 Saves Two Lives

As I mentioned last week, giving back has become a more prominent part of my weekly tasks. This new feature called "Fundraising Fridays" has become one of my favorite moments for I get to scour the web and donate my resources to make things better for less fortunate people around me. Today's feature is one that I hope can spread to many. It's easy to take part since the campaign is only requesting $1 per donor. That $1 goes a long way. It buys an HIV test for a pregnant woman in Congo. Keeping her healthy before she gives birth saves both her and her baby's life.

Provide One HIV Test and Save Two Lives

Think about what you're doing today. If it's more important than saving two lives, you might want to reconsider your priorities like I have.

It's $1 and it literally takes one minute to make the donation.