Category Archives: Working Hard

Our Opportunity is Great, & Rare –

Today I woke up and did something new, well I should rephrase that and say I did something today I have not done in a long time. (I have to admit.) I  read the mission of our practice, my mission, that I wrote, before my practice was what it is today, before what it will be tomorrow, before what it will be next year, and always moving forward.
When I look back years from now, here is what we will still be living by:
Never forget we are in a powerful position. Not many people have our opportunity. Never forget our opportunity is great and rare and make every moment count. Live with gratitude and use our position to inspire others to reach their dreams, whatever they are, always.”
About 6pm tonight I had a decision, my toughest decision yet today to make. Either dent my sea of emails (that kept flowing in), or make an impact now. We all could have tons of excuses as to why we can’t commit to make our mark now- its 6pm and this person needs a reply, I have a 7am meeting tomorrow-these are all reasons I could have used. But never forget we are in a powerful position… I didn’t need to read the rest of my mission and value proposition, to myself, again. I looked up the World Affairs  agenda for tonight.
I’ve passed by the World Affairs Council more times than I can count. Yet I have not stopped in, especially not on a workday Tuesday night. But why? An impact on myself, my education, about specifically, tonight,  “Global Poverty, What Everyone Needs to Know” sounded intriguing.
A big cause of mine already is economic empowerment, many of you know, and particularly financial literacy for children, women, young adults, and professionals (well really everyone – I’m truly happy to help impact anyone who is of high integrity and high quality). So just how great is this cause, and where are the main areas it comes from, I wondered.
A quick Google search on child poverty in specific pulled up one alarming statistic: of 35 developed countries the US has the highest rate of poverty second only to Romania (with all due respect that doesn’t say alot considering the history). One out of every five American children live in poverty.
Tom Nazario, founder and president of The Forgotten International was the speaker tonight, and here are just a few of his points:
160,000,000 women are missing in Southeast Asia. (Yes that is 160,000,000- I had to correct myself when I was taking notes I dropped down the zeros after copying them verbatim then realized I did copy them correctly- there are 7 0’s, plus two more digits to communicate factually the number of women missing in Southeast Asia.)
Yes- women typically live longer than men, most people know, yet women are currently outnumbered by men worldwide.
Women are missing for no reason any more significant other than because they are women, and thereby viewed as less tough and strong than men, young boys in particular in this case. In SouthEast Asia, it is extremely common for example after the ultrasound of a baby to determine the child’s sex these days, and use that information to abort the pregnancy if it’s a girl, and take further measures to eliminate the lives of girls. This is today, not last year, and not thirty years ago. This is right now.
Right now 19,000 children die every day for no reason other than the fact they are too poor to live.
As it stands 55% of the poor, those who are under the baseline of poverty, currently live off of the land or sea, and these 40,000,000 people  feed over 50% of the population with the food they produce.
I can’t help but beg the question – what are we all going to do as climates continue to effect our environment and cut into our crops, lakes and other bodies of water continue drying up, sea plants such as water hyacinth continue to invade and take over, and essentially make sealife unavailable all together for fishermen access, cutting off food supplies, and essentially mass migration will happen and go where?
Right now, 1/3 of the world population is  considered “moderately poor-“ that is billions of people who are making less than around $2 per day. 1/6 of the world population (still over a 1 billion people, that is 1,000,000,000 people) live off less than $1 a day.
Do you ever wonder what these 1,000,000,000 people are doing every day, what their lives consist of?
Here’s a personal story Tom spoke about: A single mother with kids was living in a home somewhere, let’s say anywhere, it was some country, a nice home, with lots of land, and a cattle, one cattle, that was all she needed. One night her cow was attacked, and by the time she woke up it was dead and its carcas was being devoured by the animals and birds out front of her home. There was nothing she could do to stop it from being devoured. She watched it devastated, and there was nothing that she could do.That was it, everything. In those moments while the wildlife was eating her cattle out front of her home, a nice home especially relative to the area, and she was watching everything she had go down the drain.
There’s multiple key roles that one cattle played: That cattle produced the milk for her youngest infant. The leftover milk she used to generate some income. If her landlord ever tried to take her home from her, she felt secure because she would just sell her cattle (she had to stay in the home, her family lived off the crop). If the crops had a bad year, she could sell the cattle, make some money, good money, or even use it to feed her family. Her youngest infant depended on that cattle for more than just milk, it was all her nutrition, and so did her other small children. By losing that one cattle, she ended up losing her youngest infant. The infant, her infant, died, from malnutrition. Nothing else. Malnutrition from the lack of that one cattle caused her infant child to die. This woman lost much more too you see, she lost everything, she lost everything from that one cattle. If her landlord came for her home, she had nothing to barter with, if crops were bad one year she had no cattle left for the children to eat, at this point you get to see how substantial of an issue this one cattle is, and there’s tons more women like her, you could continue as to why a cattle is so important to so many.
Her story begs the question: how much does a cattle cost? As little as $150. We can start an organization or find an organization already established – and each one of us donate a cattle to the cause, even just one cattle can save a life, and sustain life for many. Cattle for a Cause. (Did anyone think of that?) We could think about it as we are in a powerful position. Not many people have our opportunityNever forget our opportunity is great and rare. (We have only have 3% of the world’s population of children, and one of every second child born in this world, that is one out of every two children, is currently in poverty and will continue to live in poverty.) Our opportunity is rare. Make every moment count. Live with gratitude, and use our position to inspire others to reach their dreams  whatever they are, always.
I know a great person who I’m sure could help make our cattle dollars, cattle.
Is this important to you? If so, please visit http://www.theforgottenintl.org/donate.html
What’s your impact? Please tell us what you did. Together, let’s move mountains.
Want more information?
Check out this Washington Post article, these stats from various sources, more information about the issue of the water hyacinth and drought particularly in Lake Victoria, and this video.
Thanks, #impact
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Filed under Giver, Helping Youth, Insider Insight, Leader, Overcoming, Positioning, Rerouting, reward, Social Justice, Staying In, Vertical, Working Hard

Insight from G Rock Certified CEO Ryan Carney

Recently, I sat down with Ryan Carney, the CEO of G Rock Certified, a sustainability group based in Sausalito, California that is currently implementing a waste diversion program for Costco warehouses in Northern California. His interview is packed with insider information. See it below:

So where are you from Ryan?

San Diego, California

Okay cool, and what is your educational background?

I studied environmental studies: sustainability and social justice at San Francisco State University.

Awesome. And can you tell the audience a little bit about G Rock Certified?

Absolutely. We’re a sustainability consulting group so we work to help research, design, and facilitate broad sustainability programs for businesses, cities, and organizations.

Awesome. And how did you become a part of it?

A Friend from high school was involved with G Rock when it was first starting as the events coordinator and he knew that I had experience at the time at a non profit–I was working in art to teach sustainability and environmentalism through art and music–so I had a lot of experience working in festivals so it matched up perfectly with what G Rock was doing at the time. And so I got involved and two years later we’ve been engaged in a lot of different work.

Wow that’s great. And what projects are you working on?

Right now we’re partnering with Costco Wholesale for a waste diversion program, so we’re implementing composting and recycling throughout every Costco warehouse in Northern California, which is effectively diverting about eighty percent of what used to be sent to the landfill.

Wow that’s very impressive.

It’s large scale. We also do research and remediation of fields so we work in sustainable agriculture as well so we’re hoping to do some research projects to prove the efficacy of compost and firming compost as alternatives to synthetic fertilizers.

What is the difference between compost and virmi compost?

…Firmy is Latin for worm, so it’s essentially the castings that the worms produce after digesting compost so it infuses it with another population of beneficial microbes that work symbiotically with plants’ root systems to help bring nutrients as far as the soil quality.

So working together with both of those composts helps the soil become as best as it can be?

That’s right.

Okay. Cool. And so I assume you’ve been there for two years?

That’s right.

And how have you seen the field changing?

Dramatically. Since I’ve begun my work in environmentalism ten years ago it’s night and day. [I’ve] seen a lot of support from large corporations, from cities, from people, ordinary people, where as when it was first coming out there was a lot of skeptism as to why should we change our ways as in our relationship to the earth. And I think a lot of people have realized the importance of that.

And where do you think that came from?

That’s a good question. A lot of sources. You can point towards talking heads like Al Gore who could be called leaders of the environmental community, but I think it comes from local media–I’ve seen a  lot of news branches have reporters who are focusing just on green stories, so it helps bring a lot of attention on the local state and the state policy makers are also used in a lot of change in this scale, so it’s really hard to say how it all happened. It’s not necessarily a book that we have here in this time it’s just sort of evolved here so it’s really exciting. When I started studying environmentalism I thought I would spend the rest of my career banging my head against the wall trying to get any sort of change instigated and I’m pleasantly surprised to see how not necessarily easy it is to get these changes in effect now but how much support people are giving.

That’s fantastic. That’s fabulous. So I guess that brings me to sort of the opposite end—what is most challenging about being in the field?

It’s a good question. The way I look at it is that were instigating change. That’s what this is. And change can be frightening for a lot of people. We’re hard wired to  find a routine, find something that’s comfortable with us so helping people to develop their own intrinsic motivation, to accept, to be inspired, to find change within themselves has been the most challenging but also the most rewarding. All the answers are here as to how we can solve our environmental crises, our personal health, the answers are there—it’s just about our motivation to find it. Just like success for Success strivers–all the information is there you just need to have the will to make those changes. So the biggest challenge is to work with people, find out what connects with them, and how they can be inspired.

And so what is your typical work day like?

I don’t know what a typical work day looks like. I spend about half of my time in the field, in meetings, right now we’re focusing on Costco, the majority of our time, so we spend a lot of time working with managers, and employees, and trainings, also coordinating, collaborating with city agencies, nonprofits, for profits… so I’d say about half of my time is in the office making calls and collaborating with people via email and the other half is in the field.

And when you’re out in the field are you monitoring projects?

That’s a good question. Out in the field in the Costco warehouses right now [I’m] working to implement this diversion programs. With our research projects for sustainable agriculture its sights, it’s site management, monitoring the virmi composting, application of compost, so I’m happy to say I don’t have a typical work day. I like the change.

I don’t know if you are able to answer this but what are your future plans?

To do more of what we’re doing now. To expand the impact. Double our work, To go international–that’s always something I’ve wanted to strive for. We’ll be implementing a program in Portugal at the University of Lufthansa. To help students facilitate projects like G Rock. So G rock started with the intention of giving opportunities to students in the field of sustainability to create jobs so we like to spread that opportunity to anybody who has the will to enter this kind of field.

So what advice do you have for strivers who want to go into sustainable fields or make a field more sustainable?

Connect with what you’re most passionate about, and then bridge the gap between how that can improve the field of sustainability. And any field that you’re interested in can be applied to improve the quality of life of anybody. So anything that you want to do–whether it’s in the advertising field, which also spreads the awareness, accounting–sustainability firms need accountants, find what your passionate about, do it really well, and also look at the bigger picture of how it connects with this larger field.

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Filed under Advice, Getting In, Insider Insight, Interview, Leader, Positioning, Success, Working Hard

Video Interview with Law School Grad turned Leather Repairman Misak Pirinjian

The other day I was fortunate enough to catch up with Misak Pirinjian of Tony’s Shoe and Luggage Repair in Mill Valley, California. Over two decades ago, after attending law school and then working in the field, he left for the leather repair business and has become the go-to man. Bonus includes advice for maintaining goods.

Enjoy!


Want more on this leader? Check this, this, and this out.

Be sure to also check out this post on shoes.

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Filed under accomplish, Advice, Being Unique, Entrepreneurship, Insider Insight, Interview, Law, Leader, Rerouting, Shoes, Success, work, Working Hard

Four Lessons for an Effective Business Card

Even when you are a student and/or are looking for a job, it is critical to carry a business card because you must be prepared for all encounters. Here are four tips for creating an effective one even when your path may be a bit murky:

  1. Limit your strives to three in one to two words each. If you are not yet sure which pathway is your primary, consider alphabetically ordering them. For example: “Interior Designer, Journalist, Marketer.” The key here is for you to present yourself in a clear, organized, and concise fashion.
  2. Include as much contact information as possible. Email is so common these days—and should absolutely be on your card, but nothing replaces verbal conversation, so your number(s) should be on there also. If you do not have an office or postal box, then do not worry about an address.
  3. Consider including your picture. Particularly if you are really into networking then you probably meet many people; chances are that the person you are handing your card to does also. Make them remember you even more by being able to see you long after your meeting.
  4. Stay practical. Some people use shiny paper and have a mosaic or other details on the back of their card, but that is costlier and can prevent you from having a clean writing space. So be sure your card is in line with your pocketbook and style.

Ready to make your cards? You can do so for free if you have a program like Microsoft Word or software like Business Card Factory Deluxe (although you still must pay for printing and paper like from Avery). Websites such as Vistaprint and FedEx are also great resources.

Want more? Check out this post or this article.

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Filed under Advice, Business Cards, Getting In, Goals, Insider Insight, Life Coaching, Opportunity, Positioning, Rerouting, Rising, Success, Vertical, Working Hard

Insight from Tech Entrepreneur Mathieu Thouvenin

The other day I met with Mathieu Thouvenin, a tech entreprenuer who’s accomplishments range from starting GSM Online, one of the first French portals about mobile phones to launching iPhone applications like Voila. He is also the three time recipient of a scholarship to attend Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. Today he is a project manager at Seesmic, a social software company. The Bay Area transplant from France has much insight, so I have cut the interview down to the version below that includes his successes and advice for strivers.  Although I urge you to read the full version–which features valuables like his talk about social media, by clicking here.

Either way, enjoy!

You received a scholarship to attend one of Apple’s conferences, the Worldwide Developer Conference, three times—how did you do that?

I don’t know. When I was doing programming I subscribed to the program that Apple is doing, it’s basically a membership to get access to special resources to code for Apple and it’s cheaper because it’s for students and then that year I received an email they were like “oh you can apply, tell us why you are motivated and why we should invite you to go to the conference.” And I just filled out the form and explained why I was motivated and I guess it worked–I got invited the first year and then it was pretty easy to go the next years.

How many applications have you launched for the iPhone?

Two.

And can you tell us a little bit about them?

Yeah. The first one is called Voila and it allows you to share your location with your friends online so it seems pretty basic right now because all those apps like Four Square or Twitter allow you to share your location, but a year and a half ago there wasn’t much applications to share your location and that’s why I decided to create that. And it was a great opportunity for me to learn how to code for the iPhone, so that was the first application. And the second one, it’s called Serenade, it [launched] almost a year ago and it allows you to share on Twitter and Facebook the song you are listening to right now on your iPhone, from your iPod. And so it gives you a link to your friends so you can say “hey I’m listening to that song and I really like it” and your friends can click on that link and immediately listen to a preview of the song and buy it if they like it. And we give you the lyrics for the songs too, so you can sing on the bus, if you want.

And did you launch those by yourself or did you have some friends you launched them with?

Yeah I worked with some friends that did the design, the logo, and the website. I was focused more on the code of the application and I worked more with other people who were great designers.

How did you launch GSM? And would you say it was the foundation for all you’ve done?

Kind of. When I first got a computer with internet I started to play and see what was happening and quickly I really wanted to be part of that and create a website myself. And so at the time you could create a website with Microsoft Word and export it as a website and so I started with that and I thought it was limited and I learned how to code webpages and it’s kind of how I started. And so I created that website for mobile phones, like ringtones and stuff because I liked that at the time. I’m still really involved and passionate about everything that is mobile and that’s my job right now, so I guess it helps.

How did you get the job at Seesmic?

I knew the CEO because I did an internship at his previous company when I was in Paris so it was like three years ago and so I knew him and in the meantime he left that company that he founded and created a new company here so when I arrived here for my internship I just talked to him and I pinged him and we stayed in contact. And when I said I wanted a change of job he proposed to me the job.

So what is most challenging about being in your field?

It’s really interesting because lots of things are happening all the time and also in our field at Seesmic we have lots of applications and it’s really interesting because we all go really fast, we adopt ourselves into the market, and to what customers want, and so you don’t know what you’re really going to work on in a few months. You can’t really plan ahead because you have to adapt to that real time so it’s really interesting and really challenging.

What is most rewarding about what you do?

Working in a startup is really cool because since you usually don’t have a lot of people working with you, you have a lot of responsibilities–you can work on pretty much anything you want–and that’s what I like the most because if I tell my boss I want to work on that project and there is benefits from that and it makes sense then I can get that project and work on it and take care of it. So, it’s not like you’re always focused on the same thing compared to I guess if you work in a big company–I have never worked in a big company but I hear that you do pretty much the same job all the time and that’s definitely not the case in the startup.

So what is your typical work day like?

So when I arrive in the office I catch up with the teams that are pretty much all over the world: we have engineers in Europe, in Singapore, all over the U.S., so in the morning everyone usually is up so it’s the end of the day for Europe, beginning of the day here, so we catch up on the work that has been done during the day, answer any questions they have, ask them questions, then I answer my email, have meetings, etcetera. And then in the afternoon everyone, all the engineers, are pretty much offline so I can work on planning, planning the resources, and specs and mockups for new features on products. So the morning is more social with the teams and the afternoon is more thinking.

I’m going to segway and ask: what is the role of money in your definition of success?

The role of money, I don’t know… it’s just, I don’t think it’s that important. I mean, it’s a nice reward but I think it’s not as rewarding as liking your job and working on patience and being with your friends, your family, I think that’s the most rewarding. Money is nice to have, of course, but I think you can be really happy without having that money as a main reward for your job.

So what advice do you have for strivers?

I would say follow your passion, whatever you like, whatever is your passion, just work on it, do stuff  around it, create a blog, do videos about it, create a podcast, that kind of stuff–and show the world what is your passion. And ultimately, you will find people who have the same passion or that are interested in your passion and based on that you can maybe do a live-in or get a job or get hired by a company that is working that field–I think it’s really important. And feel free to just do it, whatever you like–just follow your passion, I think that’s really important.

Want more? Check out Thouvenin’s blog here, his Mac OS X dashboard widget Time Machine Launcher here, and his About Me here (which includes links to more of his work).

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Filed under accomplish, Advice, Entrepreneurship, Insider Insight, Inspiration, Interview, Leader, Learning, Mathieu Thouvenin, Positioning, Rising, Success, Tech Field, Technology, Vertical, Voila, Working Hard

Career Services in San Francisco

With unemployment rates at the highest they have been since the records started being kept, choosing and finding a career that best suits you tends to demand much more effort and resources. Here is a map that lists some places in San Francisco that can help strivers stay ahead of the curve:

Want more? Check out Marie Claire’s Career & Money Blog, Penelope Trunk’s “Four Tips For Being Your Own Career Coach,” and this nationwide service list.

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Q & A with NYOF Founder Olga Murray

A few days ago I had the good fortune of doing a Q & A with Olga Murray. Soon before her retirement from practicing law in San Francisco she was trekking the Himalayan Mountains when she broke her leg. A local porter carried her for days, which significantly touched Murray, and then she was moved again by the countless children at the hospital with such terrible disabilities and bleak resources. So soon after her fall—in 1984, she started to work with children in Nepal. In 1990 she founded the Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation. NYOF’s mission is to empower the youth of Nepal—and already their successes include freeing over five-thousand girls from bondage. But even after around two decades of service, Murray says she believes that there is still much work to be done. The eighty-four-year-old Californian volunteers full time to lead her causes forward, even living much of her time in Kathmandu, where she was when I interviewed her. Below is her insight:

When and why did you get into service work? Because I was approaching retirement, always had an interest in children, and wanted to do something to help them.

Before NYOF how did you picture retirement? I thought I would work as an advocate for a child in court or tutor at a community center, but I fell in love with the children of Nepal when I came trekking here in 1984, and decided that I would work with impoverished children here.

How did you start the nonprofit? NYOF developed organically, driven by the needs of children in Nepal. We started out by giving scholarships to orphans, but expanded to other programs when we encountered children in dire circumstances who really needed help.

How did you obtain support? At first, through friends. Later, we became more organized, wrote grant applications to foundations, and increased our donor base through publicity.

Is the work what you expected? Why or why not? The work has far exceeded my expectations both in scope and [in] the amount of satisfaction I get every day from knowing that we are providing a better life to thousands of Nepali children.

What were the needs you were originally filling? At first, we started by giving college scholarships, but eventually [we] increased our scholarship base to disabled children, those whose parents could not afford primary school, those who had no homes, and poor children in villages so that today we support thousands of youngsters in school, from kindergarten to medical school.

How have those needs evolved? They evolved from our observations about the needs of children in Nepal. When many children were dying or became stunted because of malnutrition, we began a nutritional rehabilitation home to restore them to health and educate their mothers about child care. [Today NYOF has restored the health of more than five thousand children and has educated thousands.] We now have ten such facilities all over the country. When we learned that little girls were being bonded away for fifty dollars a year for labor, we began a program to eradicate the practice, which is now on the verge of success. [Estimates are that around 1200 girls, which is twenty percent of the former total number, still need to be rescued from bondage.] When we discovered children who had no homes and no hope for an education, we established two homes for children—one for boys and one for girls.

What are your largest setbacks? Lack of funds. We could do so much more if we had more money.

What, if you can distinguish one, is your most touching experience in Nepal? My relationship with the children at our children’s homes is the most touching experience here. I see them come in as neglected, malnourished little waifs and leave to go to college as confident, happy young people ready to give back to society.

What is your typical work day like? I spend a good part of the day on the computer keeping in touch with donors and our office. In Nepal I also do this, but I also spend time with the children at our children’s homes and visit our projects.

Who are your idols and why them? The usual caste of characters—Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, The Dalai Lama, because they have found a way to encourage people to live in harmony together.

What are your future goals? To expand NYOF’s activities. So much needs to be done in Nepal, and we have a local staff and organization that is able, passionate about children, and could provide for their needs.

What advice do you have for people who want to get involved? Go to our website and find a program they are interested in. If they wish to do so, they can donate money to help the children of Nepal.

Want to help Murray but don’t know where to begin? Go here. For additional nonprofits click here.

Need more information about NYOF? Read on here.

Concerned about legitimacy? Be assured NYOF is authentic by contacting them here or visiting their newsroom here.

Photos are reproduced with permission from Gregg Tully of NYOF.

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Filed under accomplish, Advice, Altruism, Giver, Helping Youth, Insider Insight, Inspiration, Interview, Leader, Learning, mentor, Nepal, nonprofit, NYOF, Olga Murray, Opportunity, Overcoming, Service Work, Social Justice, Success, Working Hard