DiscoverThrive. Connect. Contribute.
Thrive. Connect. Contribute.

Thrive. Connect. Contribute.

Author: Tony Loyd

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Thrive in life, connect with others, and contribute to the world.
35 Episodes
What can we learn about masculinity from an adventurer? John Beede a worldwide adventurer who has traveled to 67 countries, written 3 books, and given live presentations to nearly 1 million audience members. He has climbed to the top of the tallest mountain on every continent, including Mount Everest. He has kite surfed in every ocean on the planet. In the last nine years, he survived avalanches, pulmonary edema, tribal warfare, and a whole lot of Clif bars. But his biggest challenge was when he sat down quietly on a sofa and told someone about his pain. John’s newest book is The Warrior Challenge: 8 Quests for Boys to Grow Up with Kindness, Courage, and Grit. In this important book, John talks about how to raise young men in challenging times. Traits we've always considered masculine--like being tough and not showing emotion--are no longer what we want for our boys. Especially when society most needs unity, empathy, and the understanding that all humans are created equal. Learn more about John Beede: Book: The Warrior Challenge: 8 Quests for Boys to Grow Up with Kindness, Courage, and Grit, John Beede: John Beede on Instagram: John Beede on Twitter: John Beede on LinkedIn:
What if your biggest setback can unlock a magical journey? Jeff Harry uses a combination of positive psychology and play to unlock possibilities. I asked Jeff to tell me about a time when he was resilient. His answer is epic. “My best friend Dana and I are locking up the café,” Jeff Harry tells me. “We had put our heart and soul into it for the past year and a half. All my savings, and even money I didn't have - six figures to be exact - was invested in that cafe. Everyone tried to warn me, but I didn't listen. This is the last time we would be standing here, as we were closing the cafe down. We walked away with such shame. “I felt like such a failure, a loser, naive, and stupid. I believed I would be in debt for the rest of my life, paying for this bad decision. What was I even thinking? Would I ever be able to bounce back? My inner critic beat up every day for the next year as I paid off debts and tried to scrounge up whatever money I could to free myself of this poor choice. “A funny thing happened though. I was astonished that I was still alive. That even with this big failure, I hadn't had a nervous breakdown. I hadn't lost my job that actually paid me and for some reason because I hadn't died. “I felt bold enough to fail again. Even if I fell flat on my face once again, it couldn't be as bad as this last failure. So, I decided to create a separate Corporate Special Events Wing for the LEGO-Inspired STEM Organization that I helped build. “I started reaching out to the top Silicon Valley companies and pitching them to do special events that I didn't even know if I could pull off. I started doing crazy things because I was compelled to do it. For example, once I was watching a Marvel Movie, saw the VP of Creative Services, and went home and reached out to her on LinkedIn to see if we could collaborate on an event and she actually got back to me. Why not just ask every organization I ever dreamed of working with and just see who would say yes? “That bold attitude and willingness to take risks culminated in us doing massive events and conferences for Amazon, LEGO, Google, Salesforce, and countless other Fortune 500 companies. We even broke a few World Records. “I had no idea what I was doing, but I didn't care. Because I felt I could do anything after failing so miserably and surviving that failure. It really is true that you learn the most from failure and the more you are willing to fail, the more likely you will succeed. For example, James Dyson created 5126 failed prototypes before inventing the first bagless vacuum cleaner.” Jeff’s persistence in the face of adversity paid off. Today, Jeff shows individuals and companies how to tap into their true selves and to feel their happiest and most fulfilled. He does that by playing. Jeff has worked with Google, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, Adobe, the NFL, Amazon, and Facebook, helping their staff to infuse more play into the day-to-day. Jeff is an international speaker who has presented at conferences such as INBOUND, SXSW, and Australia’s Pausefest, showing audiences how major issues in the workplace can be solved using play. Learn more about Jeff Harry: Rediscover Your Play: Instagram: Twitter: LinkedIn: YouTube: TikTok: New York Times Article on Jeff Harry: How Do We Add More Play To Our Grown-Up Life - Even Now:
What do the happiest among us have in common? Laura DiBenedetto’s story begins with bullying, abuse, bankruptcy, and burn out. More than anything, she wanted to be in control of her own destiny. So, at the age of 19, she launched the award-winning marketing company, Vision Advertising. Laura created, built, and ran the growth-oriented enterprise. She personally sold several million dollars in ongoing contracts. She was featured on Fox News and other Boston programming several times. She was recognized for business accomplishments and was named a 40 Under 40 winner at only age 23. At the age of 37, Laura retired with a 6-figure passive income. She had all the outward appearance of having won at life. However, she was simply burnt out and unhappy. After years of self-improvement classes, workshops, books, and more, Laura was confused. She wondered why the personal development world had let her down. She sought to solve the problem. Laura went on a radical journey of self-discovery, research, and testing, determined to find energy and lasting, fulfilling happiness in all areas of life. She found the answers – six of them, in fact. Today, Laura is devoted to sharing the truths she discovered, so that others may find their own path out of misery and into lasting happiness. She shares what she has learned in her book, The Six Habits: Practical Tools for Bringing Your Dreams to Life. Laura is a TEDx Speaker and bestselling author. She teaches how to create the life of our dreams without sacrificing what we love. As Founder and CEO of Vision Advertising, a company that she built aged 19, she has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs build and grow profitable enterprises entirely on their terms. Learn more about Laura DiBenedetto: Book: The Six Habits: Laura DiBenedetto: Laura DiBenedetto’s TEDx Talk: Instagram: Facebook: LinkedIn:
What opportunities are now available to you because of the pandemic? There is a Jedi mind trick that can help you to be resilient. When you are up against an obstacle, ask yourself, “What does this make possible?” By learning to focus on the possibilities, you can build your hope muscle. That’s precisely what Claire Downey has learned to do. Claire had a dream job that allowed her to travel worldwide and meet all the sports superstars. “I fell into a career in broadcasting,” Claire explains. “At university, I studied Sport and Exercise Science. Knowing I wanted to work in sport and not a lot else, I applied for a sports media graduate scheme. Somehow, I got the job despite my blue hair. My career has blossomed since, and I have been lucky to work at major events worldwide.” Then she was stricken by a rare disease. “It’s not been easy, though. While working at a tennis tournament, I developed a rare autoimmune disease that knocked me for six months. It’s called Miller Fisher. I’m told it affects 1-2 people per million in their entire lifetime. “Your immune system attacks your nerves. It leaves you with no reactions and, in my case, affecting my sight. Some people stay like this permanently, but I was one of the lucky ones that got better. Then COVID-19 appeared, and Claire couldn’t work. “When lockdown happened in London, I had time to re-evaluate. I didn’t feel like I was contributing properly to society. My illness had also changed my outlook on life. When I heard about the Class of 2020 project, I couldn’t wait to get involved. Class of 2020 is a free e-learning community platform to boost confidence, teach new skills, and improve employability. Somehow, I ended up as part of the management team. The project is extraordinary. “We have a group of volunteers who have never met each other, working together to build something remarkable. We created a free online learning platform where 18 to 25-year-olds can access learning materials donated by major companies. “The Class of 2020 offering has a real community vibe. It helps build confidence, improve skills, and increase employability. The project is right at its infancy, and we have had many ups and quite a few downs. As we launch, it’s remarkable to see how much progress has been made, but I can also see we have a long road ahead of us. A Lesson Learned “Working on the Class of 2020 is sometimes very scary. I’ve been involved in things I would never have dreamed of, and it’s easy to feel out of your depth (imposter syndrome). It would be easy to give up, but that doesn’t help anyone. Sometimes you must take a deep breath and take the plunge.” A Call to Action “Take some time to assess what interests you. See the possibilities in COVID-19. “Many of us are working from home. It offers more time to do the things we believe in - be it a hobby, mentoring, volunteering, learning a language, or setting up a new skill. Also, please get in touch if you want to get involved in Class of 2020. We are always looking for content to put on the platform. We’re looking for written or recorded content. And, if you think you could do with learning a new skill, please check out the website.” Learn more about Claire Downey and Class Of 2020: Class Of 2020 Website: Facebook: Instagram: Twitter: Company LinkedIn: Claire Downey on LinkedIn:
Jennifer R. Farmer tells us how Black women thrive in work and life.   We’ve been talking about resilience. Who better to talk to than Jennifer? She has a book available for preorder, First and Only: A Black Woman's Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life.   Jennifer grew up in subsidized housing in Columbus, Ohio. “It was not uncommon for me to lay on the ground to escape the sound of bullets,” she explains. “When you grow up in poverty and you grow up in constant fear that you will survive, it's very difficult to see what your life could look like 10, 15, or 20 years down the line.   “And so if you were talking to that 11 or 12 year old girl who was very aware of the fact that she was poor, very aware of the fact that she was smart, but still didn't have all the opportunities that she may have seen others, she could not have imagined who she would become.  “College was not in my long-term plans. It was an attempt to escape the life I knew. Going to college was one of the best decisions I ever made. I gained more than knowledge. College gave me confidence. It gave me a new way to see the world and the belief that I was just as good as the next person.   Perseverance   “I have tried to do two things throughout my career: make good choices and persevere no matter what,” Jennifer says. “What distinguishes me from others is that I do not give up. I will always improve. I think critically about what it means to thrive, even in atmospheres not set up for my success.    “My father was very independent. He was very determined. I got that from him.   “My mother instilled in me that I don't ever give up. If you make a mistake., you can feel bad. Get up the next day and try again. I've learned that if I make a mistake, if I do something wrong, if I fail, it stings. But it stings a little bit less if there's a lesson that I can glean from it. If there's a strategy that I can put in place that will help me help me advance.   “I think what's unique about me is, my commitment is to keep trying. I may be down for season, but my commitment is to start again, even in the face of perceived failure; even in the face of personal disappointment; even when it seems like I have no clue what I'm going to do. That willingness to start again is really what enables all of us to succeed.”   Good Choices  “Life reflects the choice that we have made,” Jennifer says. “I always think about ‘OK, how did I get here?’ What choice did I make?   “And where do I want to be tomorrow. If I know where I want to be tomorrow, what choices do I have to make today to make that happen? When you think about your life, you can pinpoint different choices that set you up.   “For example, my decision to go to college. That set me up to think differently about the world. My decision to surround myself with people who are different from me gives me an opportunity to see the world from a broader perspective. My decision to leave my full-time job and to start my own company is setting me up to have a level of agency that I've always that I've always desired. It gives me a level of freedom that's important to me as a parent.”   Learn more about Jennifer R. Farmer:   Book: First and Only: A Black Woman's Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life:  Book: Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide: Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide Website:  
Our connections are a source of resilience.   Picture it. You are in a strange city, far away from home. You are suddenly struck ill. Now, imagine, if you also ran out of money and you weren’t sure how you were going to get home. Your voice is so hoarse, when you speak, no one can understand you. Oh, and to complicate things, you are blind.   That’s the situation that speaker, author, and blogger Maxwell Ivey found himself in a few years ago. “I was sick, hoarse, broke, and about to be homeless in New York City,” Max explains. “I had given a talk. I got through it with a combination of hot tea with honey, winter green life savers, and the showman's will to always go on. I even sang at the end of my talk although my voice cratered.”   Max went from coffee shop to coffee shop, drinking coffee and working the internet. “I couldn't call people because they couldn't understand me. Finally, one friend from California sent me money for a hotel. It was within walking distance of the diner. Another friend purchased a train ticket for me back home to Houston, Texas.   “Friends from church picked me up at the station. I was so sick” he remembers, “they made me put on gloves and mask. That was long before this pandemic.   “I was sick for several weeks. Dehydration caused me to be dizzy and have trouble talking. It was a month before I could speak normally and two months before I could sing again. Eventually I did overcome the catastrophe and put myself out there again. This time, I remained closer to home.  Building His Network   Maxwell Ivey is a totally blind man who grew up in a family of carnival owners. From an early age, he knew that he would eventually lose his vision.   Family, teachers, and other mentors taught him to be positive and see the possibilities. He graduated from a traditional high school and college. He achieved the rank of eagle scout.   After college, Max participated in the family carnival business until his dad's death.   He then started a business to help others sell their surplus carnival rides.   Max had to learn how to hand code html. He also had to recruit clients, set fees, write copy, manage media, use social media, build an email list, record videos, and more.   Max started blogging to share what he learned. People were inspired by his journey, and he began to gather a following. That lead to a second website as The Blind Blogger. He also published four self-help books. He started traveling the country to speak. That is how he found himself in New York City with no way to get home. His network came to his rescue.   Lesson Learned:   Max advises listeners, “Start building your community now. Start by adding one supportive, encouraging, uplifting person and grow from there. Use social media to make real connections online. In times of crisis, it's the people you have come to know and trust who will help you the most.”  A Call to Action:   “Reach out to one person you like admire or trust and ask them to become part of your journey. It could even be me. I love inspiring others.”  Learn more about Maxwell Ivey, The Blind Blogger:   Website:  Facebook:  LinkedIn:  Twitter:  YouTube:  Instagram:  
Catharine Clarenbach heard voices in her head. Now she helps others to follow their hearts. Rev. Catharine B. Clarenbach is both a Unitarian Universalist minister and a Wiccan priestess. She spent most of the first thirty years of her life in the grip of mental illness. Almost every day, she heard voices telling her that suicide was the only way out of her pain. At age 31, she was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and her life changed dramatically. Now, over fifteen years later, she is a thriving entrepreneur. She helps people find their best selves, listen to their intuition, and bring more love into the world. “I spent most of the first thirty years of my life in the grip of bipolar disorder,” Catharine explains. “That is type 1, the kind that comes with mania and hearing voices. Nearly every hour, the voices told me I should kill myself. I was also very bullied as a child, am a survivor of multiple sexual assaults, and am the adult child of an alcoholic.” Catharine loved and admired his father. “I think he was probably self-medicating his own bipolar by using alcohol.” At the age of 31, she discovered that she could have had bipolar disorder. “I was able to find help, thanks to the assistance of a dear friend. I realized that bipolar disorder had been treated in millions of people. Maybe I could help too. And I did. I got the help that changed my life. “I could make plans. I could follow through. I could finish my bachelor’s degree. And eventually, I went to divinity school and became an ordained minister. Now for years, she’s been helping other people around the world through classes and web conferencing. “I’m not the kind of minister who has a bricks-and-mortar congregation. Through my work at The Way of the River, I help people --especially people alienated from traditional religion. This often includes people with their mental health struggles or fellow Rainbow Family members, the LGBTQ communities. I help people find their way back to spirituality and their place as a perfectly imperfect image of the Creator. Every day, I get to bring the fruits of my struggle to bears as I listen and support people from all over the world. I couldn’t be happier.” Lessons Learned from Her Struggles “I am no different from a homeless person talking with themselves on the street. When I see those people talking out loud to no one we can see, I know who they’re talking to. I am just like them -- I happen to have the privilege of support of family, friends, and a team of helpers who keep me going on the path of mental health. “There are people who want to help you, who want to find you and help pull you out of your stuck places. We are all in this together, with every other living thing, and with every other suffering human being.” A Call to Action Catharine urges people to share their stories with others. “Dare to reach out and be vulnerable with someone. Dare to share your difficulties. I guarantee that someone somewhere desperately needs to hear your story.” Learn more about Catharine Clarenbach and The Way of the River: ●       The Way of the River ●       Facebook:
For extended show notes, see How Trav Bell became The Bucket List Guy.   In my wallet, is a neatly folded piece of paper. It comes from a daily calendar on November 30, 1995. The paper says, “Make a list of 25 things you want to experience before you die. Carry it in your wallet and refer to it often.”   On the back of the paper is my first bucket list. Today, I keep a bucket list on Google Docs. Every time I cross something off the list, I add something else.   When it comes to bucket lists, Trav Bell has me beat, hands down.   Trav Bell is The Bucket List Guy. He speaks to audiences around the world, including his incredible TEDx Melbourne talk.   But he wasn’t born with a bucket list. It developed over time.   “I've never worked for anyone in my life,” Trav explains. “I've always been an entrepreneur.   “That's probably because my dad was a fitter and turner, a mechanic. He worked for the same people from the age of 16 to the age of retirement. He liked it, but he wasn't really engaged the whole time. It brought him a fair bit of unhappiness.   “That's probably why I went to entrepreneurialism, and why I chose my own path.”   Trav was always good at sports. He grew up as a surfer, swimmer, lifesaver (or lifeguard). When he went to university, he studied physical education. In his third year of college, he started training others as a personal trainer.   “This is when personal training wasn’t a thing. There were only a handful of personal trainers running around Australia. I was in Melbourne, so I started this personal training thing.”   Trav eventually grew his personal training business from a single customer to a franchise business that served tens of thousands of clients. “I did that business for 20 years,” Trav remembers. “But there were some things that happened in my life that spiraled out of control, that got on top of me. I went through a bout of depression. I had a breakdown before my breakthrough moment.   After twenty years of work to build a thriving business, the business began to take its toll. Trav decided to sell his business and to pursue a different path.   “I found myself in personal development course, getting coaches, reading up on positive psychology, neurolinguistic programming, all this good stuff. If you put a course in front of me at that point, I would have done it and invested heavily.”  Eventually three coincidences came together to put Trav on the path to being The Bucket List Guy.   Learn More about Trav Bell:   Trav Bell, The Bucket List Guy:   Become a Bucket List Coach:   The Bucket List Guy on Facebook:   The Bucket List Guy on Twitter:   The Bucket List Guy on Instagram:   The Bucket List Guy on YouTube:   Trav Bell on LinkedIn:   Book: Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment:  
Mandar Apte felt called to create peace. But first, he had to give up his dream job. In early 1959, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King took a five-week tour of India to see the results of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent movement. While in India, Dr. King said, “I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity.” A Sexy Job In 2016, the story of King’s trip to India caught the attention of Mandar Apte. “I was a senior executive at Shell with a sexy job, ‘Manager of GameChanger Social Innovation,’” Mandar explains. “I managed a multi-million-dollar investment fund on innovations. The fund created shared value - both social impact and business returns.” His work was recognized globally. He has spoken at TEDx, Wharton Business School, Social Innovation Summit, London Business School, and more. His work was recognized in publications such as FastCompany. He was the winner of the prestigious Ashoka League of Intrapreneurs. But then, Mandar read the story of Dr. King’s trip to India. “I was on a month-long holiday in India when I read Dr. King’s biography,” Mandar says. He read about Dr. King’s trip to India and was immediately struck. “The calling was, America needs another reminder of nonviolence.” Mandar called several friends, including his friend Sarah. When he told Sarah about what he was learning, she challenged him, “Why don’t you lead a delegation to India?” Mandar found and spoke to thirty-five victims of violence in America. Of the thirty-five, six people joined him in India. He hosted parents from the Sandy Hook Elementary School, former gang members, and leaders in the Black Lives movement. “I used that month to produce a documentary film about victims of violence from America, walking in the footsteps of MLK’s journey.” The film is From India, With Love. After his month vacation, Mandar went back to his sexy job. But the problem of peace would not leave him alone. “I could not go back to work,” Mandar says. He quotes Dr. King’s words, “Today we don’t have a choice between and violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.” Mandar is both a peace activist and an innovator. “I am an engineer. I look at the problem and work toward a solution. The problem I had taken on was how to reduce violence of all kinds. How can we promote peace and compassion? “So, I quit my job.” From Filmmaker to Peace Activist After leaving his job, Mandar began to screen the film across the United States. “I went to the south side of Chicago. I went to inner-city schools, prisons, and juvenile halls. One screening was on the campus of George Mason University. The Dean for the School of Conflict Resolution had been to India. In a conversation, Mandar proposed creating an innovation lab that would look at the business case for peace. “For cities like Los Angeles, every homicide costs the taxpayers between one and ten million dollars,” Mandar explains.   In 2019, Mandar started Cities4Peace, a peace consultancy that works with civic leaders to promote peace in cities. The flagship project of this initiative launched in Los Angeles. Mandar worked with the Los Angeles Police Dept (LAPD) and the LA Mayor’s Office for Gang Reduction & Youth Development (GRYD). “Everybody can get involved,” he says. “You don’t have to go to South Sudan or Iraq. There is violence in our communities.” Learn More about Mandar Apte: From India, With Love: Cities4Peace Website: For Corporate Innovators: Mandar Apte on Facebook: Mandar Apte on Twitter:
For extended show notes, see After Iram Gilani nearly lost her life to gun violence, she found hope by building a community. Now she dedicates her life to helping others.  Iram Gilani is a Pakistani-American author. She faced abandonment, neglect, isolation, molestation, physical and emotional abuse, forced marriage, bullying, homelessness, and a violent gun assault that shattered her jaw. She has risen from the depths of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to be a voice for the abused and marginalized.  Learn More about Iram Gilani: Iram Gilani Website: Iram Gilani on Facebook: Iram Gilani on Instagram: Iram Gilani on Twitter:
Susan Hay hit rock bottom. Then she launched a global health and nutrition brand. Susan Hay is the Founder and CEO of Thrive Health Magazine, a health and nutrition magazine. She also runs Thrive Media, a digital branding agency for Health, Food, and Fitness Brands. After a 20-year career in branding and design, the lifestyle began to take its toll. “I began to find that my health was deteriorating,” Susan explains, “because of the stressful lifestyle and eating rubbish food. If I’m honest with myself, I knew I wasn’t thriving for several years. I wasn’t happy. I was stressed, and I was working no end of hours. “That’s when I hit rock bottom. And for me, the transformation was about how food can make you feel better.” She began to examine her life, starting with the food she was eating and the people with whom she was sharing time. She trained as a Holistic Nutritionist. In 2014, Susan released the first issue of Thrive Health Magazine. The goal is to clear up confusion about health and nutrition by publishing expert articles. “There’s a lot of confusing information out there. It’s hard for people to focus and get on the right path. That’s why the magazine started and still thrives today.” Despite her apparent expertise in managing brands, Susan knew nothing about magazine publishing. “It was such a passion project,” Susan confesses, “It was such a passion project, it was almost as if it was out of my hands. It just came together in the form of a magazine because of my background.” Today, Thrive Health Magazine enjoys subscribers in 25 countries. Because of Susan’s background in branding, a lot of other health, nutrition, and wellness brands began to reach out. “I love working with startup brands that have a good core mission. Some bigger corporate brands will start a food brand, and because they have a marketing budget, they can push it out to the masses. Where, smaller brands that have a far better product, struggle with that.” So, Susan launched Thrive Media to work with brands in food, health, and nutrition to help them build a brand and a business online. One offering from Thrive Media is Thrive Brand Academy. “In 2020, I am focusing on helping brands in health, food, and wellness to learn about launching an ethical brand online,” Susan says. “I’m helping brands to grow their audience.” To start, Susan suggests that those who are interested start with her Brand Clarity Quiz. Learn More about Susan Hay and Thrive Media and Publishing: Thrive Health Magazine: Brand Clarity Quiz:  Facebook: Instagram: LinkedIn:
Uncharted territory. This is the final installment from a storytelling class by Dane Stauffer, featuring storytellers who are 55 years old or older. Today’s storytellers are talking about their in uncharted territories. Whether they are trapped in an apartment, puttering in a garden, in an unfamiliar landscape with a parent, or on the open road, they are finding ways to be resilient. Ann Davey, I’m Sheboygan Bio: I'm expanding my horizons in my retirement with improv and storytelling. It keeps me busy and learning new things is always good for mental health. Sandra Eliason, Harmony Bio: I am a retired physician who has turned to writing full time. I enjoy getting together with people, which is on hold now in person. I enjoy reading. I am currently reading all the books I have collected meaning to read over the years and am making a dent. I’m currently trudging my way through "War and Peace." I enjoy walking and visiting with my kids and grandkids, currently socially distanced in backyard. I enjoy storytelling and writing. I am currently learning to allow myself to be lazy, to sit and read or write with no guilt. And I am trying hard to get my house in order to downsize. Susan Temple, Dad, After Mom Bio: I raised five daughters and taught kindergarten for many years. When my 30-year marriage ended suddenly five years ago, I began a journey of self-discovery that led to my becoming a Life Coach and Emotional Freedom Techniques Practitioner. Now I get to help others on their own journey to self-discovery. I love supporting folks as they find more peace and freedom in their lives. Mary Britt Delaney, Biking, Summer 1974 Bio: I am an Irish woman, native of St Paul. I enjoy listening, learning, and sharing experiences. A favorite quote comes from a Navajo Indian Prayer: "As I walk, the universe is walking with me." I wonder what is next? Learn More about Dane Stauffer and Aroha Philanthropies: Dane Stauffer: Aroha Philanthropies:
A shift in perspective. Welcome back to part three of a four-part series on Stories of Resilience. One of the ways to build resilience is to reframe something, to see it in a new way.   These stories come from a storytelling class taught by Dane Stauffer. The class is part of a Creative Aging initiative from Aroha Philanthropies. The class is targeted for those over 55 years old, with some participants in their 80s. The goal of the program is to upend the narrative on aging. These stories are told via Zoom during the pandemic. Today we hear stories about a shift in perspective. One story is about an eye infection that led to a new way of seeing things. Another is about a new way of seeing Passover. And one is about a cat who changed her mind. The first story comes from Ruth Lauritzen. She finds a way to have grace for her much younger self. Ruth Lauritzen, The Lesson Bio: I am retired from a career in teaching and design. I most enjoy theater, music, reading, and the outdoors. I look forward to returning to live performances in the not too distant future (fingers crossed). My hubby and I miss our family and friends. Nancy Winter, A Little Eye Problem Bio: I am a 68-year-old, never married, no children retired mortgage banker. I’m a single-family homeowner planning to stay in my home as long as possible. I have lost both of my siblings and parents to diseases and am wanting to share stories of care giving with humor and compassion and the importance of taking care of yourself. Travel was a passion of mine having been to over 45 countries with unique stories. I have friends living in multiple states of all ages, interests, life experiences, opinions, goals and am always open to new friends.  Laurie Kamman, The First-Ever Passover Zoom-Over Bio: Laurie Kamman is a native Minnesotan. As a journalist she worked in public radio and television. Prior to the Pandemic she enjoyed traveling and learning about other cultures through food and art. She hopes to resume this passion in the not too distant future. She is a daily walker. She also loves to challenge herself by trying new things. At 64, she is continuing to develop her skills as a storyteller. She believes we get to know ourselves and each other through the stories we share. She divides her time between the Twin Cities and Charleston, South Carolina. Nancy Gagliardi, Morgan’s Easter Story Bio: I am a retired elementary school teacher, wife, stepmom, grandmother, Auntie, friend, and animal lover. I enjoy people and getting to know them through their stories. Navigating life the best I can and enjoying the ride. Grateful to have discovered this storytelling community. Learn More about Dane Stauffer and Aroha Philanthropies: Dane Stauffer: Aroha Philanthropies:
Resilience doesn’t have to look a certain way. Resilience can look a lot of ways. Today, we’re going to hear four different people give their response to the prompt, “Tell me about a time when you were resilient.” These stories come from a storytelling class taught by Dane Stauffer. The class is part of a Creative Aging initiative from Aroha Philanthropies. The class is targeted for those over 55 years old, with some participants in their 80s. The goal of the program is to upend the narrative on aging. These stories are told via Zoom during the pandemic. You can here Dane tell the backstory here. For the next three episodes, we are going to present stories of resilience. What is surprising is the variety of these stories. It’s an important lesson. Resilience doesn’t have to look a certain way. Today, we present four stories of a gym class, clothes pins, September 11, and Pine-Sol.   Michelle Westlund, Hang On Bio: I'm originally from Ohio and am a huge Ohio sports fan. I work in marketing at Bethel University. I am also a grad student at Bethel Seminary. My biggest life accomplishment is my three adult kids, who are now my three best friends. Bettiana Luisa LaSorella, The Curse Bio: I live a life of wonderful adventure - - even though I hardly leave my kitchen. Children, books, stories, nature, and good friends have helped me through most of life's lonely, fearful, and hard journeys as well as the happy ones. I keep dancing in my living room, reading, riding my bike, camping, cooking, and being surprised. Gratitude eases my days and love eases my nights. Kim Vasquez, A Year of Resilience...I Think. Bio: Kim is the Founding Artistic Producer of Gray Lady Entertainment, Inc., a Producer on the Broadway musical sensation Be More Chill running in London (pre-COVID) and a newly appointed Artistic Associate at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul (2021). Having lived and worked in NYC and Massachusetts for nearly 30 years she is thrilled to be back in the Twin Cities performing Storytelling with Dane Stauffer. Lesley Novick, The Power of Pine-Sol Bio: Lesley was born, raised, and formally educated in and around Minneapolis. After graduation from the University of Minnesota, she left Minnesota for what turned out to be a 23-year career working for an international hospitality company that brought her back to Minneapolis. Looking for a change and a chance to be her own boss, she became a Realtor and has been helping people buy an-d sell homes for 23 far. Learn More about Dane Stauffer and his storytelling class: Dane Stauffer: Aroha Philanthropies:
Tell me about a time when you were resilient. === Special Note: This episode was recorded before the killing of George Floyd. Should this interview have happened later, Dane and I would have had a different conversation with a different tone. We present this interview in solidarity with all who are working to dismantle systemic racism. === Dane Staffer is a busy guy. He is an actor, writer, singer, director, improviser, educator, and sought-after party guest. In a word, he is a creative. For the last three years, Dane has taught a storytelling class at the Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, MN. The class is part of a Creative Aging initiative from Aroha Philanthropies. The class is targeted for those over 55 years old, with some participants in their 80s. The goal of the program is to upend the narrative on aging. Unfortunately, during the winter, Park Square Theatre was unable to host the class. However, they gave Dane permission to continue the class elsewhere. Dane went into improvisational mode. “I am so glad that I am steeped in improv,” Dane says. “Because two of the basic ideas of improv are ‘yes, and,’ and ‘adjust accordingly.’” Dane found a room in his apartment complex, contacted interested students, and scheduled the first class for March 17, 2020. With the class location settled and students enrolled, Dane traveled to the west coast. While there, news of the Coronavirus broke. Meetings began to cancel, and so Dane caught a class back home. Minnesota went on lockdown, and the class was canceled. This was particularly bad news for Dane. He makes his livelihood from entertainment and education. Again, Dane called on his improvisational skills. If the goal is to upend the narrative on aging, why not go all in and conduct the storytelling class via Zoom. “One of the stereotypes of this age group is that technology is not our thing,” Dane explains. “I pitched it as a beta test, because I believe in learning on the job.” After a rocky start, the students became proficient in Zoom. Typically, Dane’s storytelling class ends with a capstone presentation in a theater. Think of it as The Moth meets AARP. The stories can vary widely on topics. In this case, given the COVID-19 pandemic and the rich life experience of the participants, Dane and the students decided to focus on a single prompt. “Tell me about a time when you were resilient.” The stories are as varied as the participants. The participants talked about the polio outbreak, about September 11, 2001, about World War II. “I think it’s important that we show up authentically, even if it’s imperfect, rather than waiting until we get it all right,” Dane says. “So, my goal is to create an opening where we can generate stories. “What we know from telling stories live is, the power of sharing your story ripples out into the community. My friend T. Mychael Rambo says ‘Every person is a library.’ And the only way someone is going to hear your story is when you share it.”  Coming Up! Dane has recorded twelve stories from his class. Over the next three episodes, we will share four short stories on the topic of resilience. Learn More about Dane Stauffer: Dane Stauffer: Facebook Group, Improvise Now: Aroha Philanthropies:
When faced with a systemic problem, Brian Krohn thinks at the systems level. Systems resist change, whether we are talking about systemic racism, institutional policies, or a global pandemic. To meet systemic challenges, you must think at the systems level. Brian Krohn has spent his career changing stubborn systems. It’s 3 AM on March 10, 2020. Brian is frantically sketching on a giant whiteboard in his basement workshop. The COVID-19 pandemic has landed on the US coasts. Misinformation is everywhere, and no one seems to be doing anything. No one seems to understand the scale of what is coming. Brian has an idea that might help. But can an idea spread faster than a virus? The idea was simple. “The only effective tools we have to fight COVID-19 are testing, contact tracing, and social distancing, Brian says. “There were several problems. The US fumbled its testing program. Contact tracing requires an invasion of privacy that Americans won’t tolerate. Social distancing and quarantine can only be effectively implemented on a massive scale, such as a state shutdown.” Brian’s idea? Build a way for users to share their symptoms anonymously at the neighborhood level. “The neighborhood, or census block group, is big enough to maintain privacy. Yet, it’s small enough that individuals and communities can act.” The goal was for people to see what was going on in their neighborhood. They would get clear personalized social distancing recommendations. This would allow them to contain COVID-19 without giving up civil liberties. But for this idea to work, it would require: 1. Institutional backing from trusted institutions and people (hospitals and universities), and 2. Widespread adoption from users to participate. How though could one guy in his basement at 3 AM muster that kind of support? He started texting everyone he knew. Before dawn, he had connected with friends at the University of Minnesota. He found collaborators at the HealthPartners Institute, the research arm of HealthPartners. HealthPartners is the largest healthcare provider in Minnesota. But then, they ran into a series of bureaucratic hurdles. “Our collaborators at the University of Minnesota were great,” he explains, “but, because of the COVID-19 crisis, key decision-makers were swamped. HealthPartners stepped up and supported this innovative idea.” With institutional approval, Brian and a small team built an app to trace the pandemic at the neighborhood level. They submitted it to the big tech companies. Nothing. They were blocked. “First, they didn’t believe HealthPartners was a health organization. Then, they sat on it for ten days so that they could launch their COVID symptom recommender. We thought we were dead at that point. However, their system still didn’t help users and communities to take action, so we pushed forward.” As of today, has launched a Web App. They have an iOS app. However, the Android app is still not available. “We have growing grassroots support from doctors and neighbors. We are in this for the long haul. COVID-19 is not going away any time soon. The Spanish flu took two full years and three waves of deaths to conclude. We are going to need ways to come together and to look out for each other. Otherwise, the self-inflicted damage may be greater than the damage from the virus.”  Learn More Brian Krohn and Modern Logic: HealthPartners Institute: Brian Krohn on LinkedIn:
Stefan Phang is driven to make a difference. He creates shared value through connections. For more than thirty years, Stefan Phang has been working to protect children and end human trafficking. “When a family is in deep poverty, sometimes, the only thing they can sell is themselves, or their children,” Stefan explains. Stefan has first-hand knowledge of the world of the underserved. He grew up in a shanti in Penang, Malaysia. “There was no running water. The toilet was an outhouse with a blue pail in a hole in the ground. When the pail was full, it was my job to take the pail to the river and clean the pail. I grew up in that kind of squalor. I joined gangs to protect myself from being bullied.” Stefan went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and a master’s degree in Molecular Epidemiology. He is an accredited Child Protection Advocate Today, Stefan works to end poverty and child trafficking, but not by working for a charity or an NGO. He is the Global Director for Creating Shared Value (CSV), at Diversey. Diversey is a provider of cleaning, sanitation, and maintenance products, systems, and services. Turning Waste into Shared Value “In a megacity in Asia, you stand on the seventh floor of a hotel. You look across the road, and you see a slum. You don’t have to go far to find the poor. “There is this disparity between the luxury of this hotel, and across the road, you’ve got squalor. So, I was looking for a way to bridge this gap. How do we get resources from those who can provide it, to those who need it? “When I go to talk to someone, and I ask them for resources such as cash, they will give me a little bit of money. So, what you do is, you ask for something that they’ll never say no to. You ask them for things they are going to throw away. You ask them for your trash.” Stefan mapped the waste streams of hotels. Every year, a typical 400-room hotel generates 3.5 tons of solid soap waste. That same hotel generates about two to three metric tons of used linens such as bedsheets, pillowcases, and more. “If you map the waste that a luxury five-star hotel generates, a lot of it can be recycled or upcycled into something useful. People can make a small income out of it,” Stefan explains. “If someone has a way to make money, they don’t have to take the drastic step of selling their children.” Working with luxury hotel chains and local NGOs, Stefan created two community resilience programs. Soap for Hope converts used guest soaps into new soap bars. Linens for Life converts condemned hotel linens into useful items such as school uniforms. These programs provide work and income for underserved communities. Being a Connector During COVID-19 According to Stefan, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, all communities are under lockdown. But not all lockdowns are created equal. The poor, underprivileged, and underserved suffer the most. These communities need sanitation and protection from the virus. “These programs are designed to be community-based. But, how to do this now under lockdown? Also, how do we distribute these items to communities in need under lockdown conditions?” Stefan and the teams did not give up. They converted the Linens for Life program to make facemasks. “We have distributed 150,000 soaps and 50,000 face masks. We deliver to slums and rubbish dumps. We are working globally, from Argentina to India to Indonesia. “ Stefan explains the drive that keeps him going. “There is a cliché that says that there are 3 types of people in the world. Those who make things happen. Those who watch things happen. And those who wondered what the hell happened. “The needs out there are simply too great for me to say ‘well, there's nothing I can do from here’. I have Wifi. I have email. I have social media. “You have choices. You can choose to be a person who make things happen. You can watch things happen. Or, you can wonder what the hell happened. For me, I made the choice to make things happen. 
Michelle Maryns is building a stronger and more inclusive economy by equipping underestimated entrepreneurs with tech-enabled business tools.   Special Note: This episode was recorded before the killing of George Floyd. Should this interview have happened later, Michelle and I would have had a different conversation with a different tone. We present this interview in solidarity with all who are working to dismantle systemic racism. From an early age, Michelle Maryns was interested in the economic empowerment of women of color. “My mom was the first entrepreneur I ever knew,” she says. “She had a successful fabric business back in Vietnam, but when my parents immigrated to Kansas in 1975 as part of the first wave of refugees, she didn't feel confident in continuing her business because of all the language, cultural, and systemic barriers. I always wondered what she could have accomplished if she had the tools, resources, and confidence to continue her entrepreneurial journey. That's why I've dedicated my own career toward issues of economic empowerment--especially for women of color like my mom.” Michelle wanted to start a business like her mom. In middle school she participated in an after-school program on entrepreneurship. “I ended up competing against high school students in a business plan and stock market competition. I won both!” The prize for the stock market competition was an all-expenses paid trip to New York to see the NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange. During that trip, one of her mentors who was a traditional investment banker told her that he didn't think she was cutthroat enough for the business world. “I was only in middle school, so I took his words to heart and decided to pursue a path in public service. Over the years, I helped various startups on the side--including two of my brother's companies--but I was always afraid to take the leap and start my own venture.” Genesis of We Sparkle Michelle directed her energy toward public service. She completed a master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. She worked at the U.S. Department of State, the American Academy of Neurology, and the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda). But she was never able to ditch the feeling that she wanted to start a business. On her journey, she experienced setbacks. Michelle reminded herself to not let others dull her sparkle. She developed a mantra, we sparkle. “It was a reminder to let your light shine, to help others to shine, so that together we shine,” she says. It was another amazing woman in Michelle’s life, her mother-in-law, who finally made Michelle realize that if didn't take the leap and start her own venture, she would always regret it. “That's why I finally did it and I took the leap.” In 2018, Michelle applied for and was accepted to the FINNOVATION Lab as a FINNOVATION Fellow. The FINNOVATION Fellowship is a nine-month incubator and fellowship program for purpose-driven entrepreneurs. This led to her startup, We Sparkle. We Sparkle is a public benefit corporation that leverages technology to help small businesses save time and increase revenues. They are building a stronger and more inclusive economy by equipping underestimated entrepreneurs with tech-enabled business tools. Most of their customers are women of color. We Sparkle’s AI Assistant texts with customers to schedule appointments, answer their questions, educates them on your products/services, and encourages their reviews. Learn More About Michelle Maryns and We Sparkle: Michelle Maryns on LinkedIn: We Sparkle on Facebook: We Sparkle on Instagram: We Sparkle on Twitter:
Leticia Gonzalez-Reyes thought she would spend this year building her nonprofit. Instead, she is building her resilience.  Leticia Gonzalez-Reyes started 2020 with so much hope. “So many of us thought that 2020 was going to be THE year,” she says. She started the new year at a gathering in Vancouver. “I am not a New Year’s resolution person. But at the start of every year, I choose a word for that year. My word for 2020? BUILD.” Leticia started her nonprofit 109 World five years ago. Like any startup, they have had their struggles. “For 2019, my word was FOCUS. That really helped 109. It felt like, in 2020, I was going to harvest all the fruits that I planted the previous year. In short, I thought the soil, the foundation was finally strong so I could start building my organization the way I always envisioned. That’s why my word for 2020 is ‘build.’” 109 World hosts retreats for people to renew themselves and to join in service projects. “What is self-care without a chance to put that into service in the world? On every 109 experience, we partner with local grassroots organizations. We positively impact communities and environments. Volunteering with them allows us to put our hands in the soil, break bread together, and truly gain perspective of our place in the world. In five years, we have supported over 400 alumni in adopting more sustainable and mindful ways of living.” Past volunteer opportunities include clean drinking water projects, women and girls’ education, animal welfare, the refugee crisis, food security, and disaster relief. 109 World has partnered with over a dozen local grassroots organizations across 11 countries. February of this year found Leticia visiting her family in Brazil. It was Carnival time. “Everybody was happy and looking forward to what 2020 had in store for all of us,” she remembers. “Coronavirus was not that big, that scary. It was not yet a global crisis.” Entering Survival Mode Then came Friday, March 6. The Coronavirus halted international travel. “My phone had 22 WhatsApp messages, and seven missed calls. The 22 WhatsApp messages were follow-ups from 22 extremely rude emails in my inbox. People were freaking out that 109 World had not issued a statement about the pandemic. People wanted to know what our community should do.” Community members had put down deposits. They wanted to know about refunds. “I entered survival mode. I called my board to come up with an emergency plan.” With the board, Leticia decided to refund all deposits. She then called the hotels and other service providers, whom she had prepaid. Unfortunately, they were not willing to repay her. Leticia spent the rest of the day on the phone with upset customers, assuring them that they would receive a refund. Nearing Bankruptcy in Business and Life “Giving the refunds, and not being able to get refunds ourselves, we only had one month of survival left.” Leticia felt a sense of overwhelming fear. “I had palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness.” Her sister, who is a doctor, told Leticia, “I think you are having an anxiety attack.” “I am someone whose work is to help people live a more mindful life. So, stress, anxiety, and business don’t continue to control their lives. And, for them to avoid burnout. Yet, here I am having my first anxiety attack. Honestly, I felt like a complete failure. I felt like I let my community down. I let my business down. And, I let myself down." Learn More About Leticia Gonzalez-Reyes and 109 World: Leticia Gonzalez-Reyes on Instagram: Leticia Gonzalez-Reyes on LinkedIn: 109 World: 109 World on Instagram: Donate to 109 World:
Rob Chesnut is the author of Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution. As you continue your social isolation journey, what decisions will you make today? Some of us have serious decisions about how to provide for a family during an economic downturn. Others of us are trying to figure out how long we can go between showers. But for most of us, our decisions are not going to impact the lives of 150 million people. That’s the situation that Rob Chesnut found himself in earlier this year. Rob Chesnut is the Chief Ethics Officer at Airbnb. As a member of the Airbnb executive team, he and the team were faced with a decision that involved multiple stakeholders: 150 million Airbnb customers. 650,000 Airbnb hosts in 161 countries. More than 100,000 local communities. More than 7,500 employees in 34 cities worldwide. Investors. How can you possibly make a decision that impacts that many people? The Airbnb leadership team knew that they would have to make tough choices and tradeoffs. They didn’t have a playbook for how to handle a global pandemic. Nobody did. What they did have was a set of core values to guide them. And they had a way of thinking about ethical decisions. Rob Chesnut calls this Intentional Integrity.  Learn More About Rob Chesnut and Intentional Integrity: Book: Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution: Intentional Integrity website: Rob Chesnut on Twitter: Rob Chesnut on LinkedIn:
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