10 Surprising Case Studies of Ordinary People Doing the Impossible (LYL Reader Spotlight Launches Today!)

Written by Scott August 28, 2012

how ordinary people do the impossible

 “The only difference between ordinary and extraordinary are the actions you decide to take.”

-Anonymous

Everyone starts out as ordinary.

They do the things everyone else seems to do.

But then at some point they decide that’s not enough. For whatever reason they decide they are going to take a stand and do things a little (or a lot) differently.

It is this decision that turns the ordinary into a living legend. 

Then they go to do the things that most people tell them are impossible – the things most only dream of.

And it’s that transition that embodies the work we do at Live Your Legend and the community we have all created here.

The amazing thing is that so many of you are those people. And it’s an honor to have you among us.

You make this community what it is, so it’s important that we highlight the amazing things you’re doing, and that’s exactly why I created the Living Legends Reader Spotlights.

Last month well over a hundred of you submitted your stories of what you’re doing to live your legends. I was inspired. To be honest, I was actually a little blown away.

So today the focus is on you.

Each month I will profile 10-15 of you and send your story out to our community of over 16,000.

The goal with these spotlights is simple:

  1. To promote your project and give our community a chance to get involved in what you’re doing
  2. To show us what’s possible and inspire us to do the things most only talk about
  3. To give our talented community the chance to offer help and support with the projects you’re working on
  4. And to show the world how badass you all are :)

So without further ado, here is our first installment of our community doing the things most people dream of.

Given that over 100 of us are getting together LIVE in San Francisco tonight, I could not think of a better time to show everyone off!

Nothing makes me more proud than sharing these stories with you. There is no bigger measure of success.

**My only request of you: These spotlights will only be powerful if we all offer our support. So please read the stories and if you think you could help with what one of us is building, please leave that in the comments below or join up with their movement!

10 Case Studies of Our Readers Doing the Impossible…

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1. Building a high school for molding female achievers in Kenya with a focus on life skills

Benard Didacus Opiyo uradi school

Living Legend: Benard Didacus Opiyo

Location: Uradi Village, Kenya-Siaya, Africa

Why and How Ben is Making an Impact:

The idea first came to me while talking with a close friend towards the end of 2008. We were discussing education trends in this remote village in Kenya. It was not pleasing, the poverty index is high, there is a high percentage of school dropouts and those who finish, only a minute fraction make it to the university.

The situation of girls is even more dire due to early pregnancies and some lingering cultural perception that it is not worth spending a lot of funds educating girls. Something had to be done. It took the audacious step of beginning a school to change the trend. Out of this talk and some hard work we founded Uradi Girls High School with the motto of Moulding Achievers. We established it in 2010 and already have 98 girls! The whole design of the school when completed should be able to house 360 girls. The work continues!

Our goal is to successfully keep the students in school no matter the challenges, and help them through university so that in 10-15 years time they are able to mentor others in this school and later be fruitful people in the business world, family and politics.

How you can help: 

  1. Help me connect with individuals who are passionate and experienced in coaching young students.
  2. Connect with institutions or schools who go beyond classwork and are serious about teaching life skills to the students.

Learn more here: Uradi Girls High School (Ben just launched his site and is working hard to fill in all the content. Create school first, then launch website. I think he’s got the order right :)).

Fun fact: Ben just raised over $14,000 at his local fundraiser two weeks ago – he needs $1.2m to build the full boarding school. He was also the winner of our $100 investment. Every bit counts – congrats. Oh and those are his students in the center of the picture above!

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2. The first virtual doctor’s office and health adviser specifically for entrepreneurs and business nomads

Cory Annis unorthodocLiving Legend: Cory Annis, M.D., P.A.

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Why and How Cory is Making an Impact:

Entrepreneurs are often too busy to see a doctor regularly. Then their healthcare becomes crisis-driven and their health information, scattered. Using mobile communication technology already available, Unorthodoc alters the four major barriers between entrepreneurs and their healthcare: time, space, overhead and information.

We create a single medical record that is available to our clients anywhere in the world. More importantly, we provide a stable relationship with one doctor who has time to really listen and help the client optimize their health in all areas. I want to make Unorthodoc the first “viral” doctor’s office (I love oxymorons)!

Unorthodoc also founded and supports The Mother’s Army, a community-based initiative to promote maternal/infant health in the developing world.

How you can help: 

  1. Join the community & take the Healthy Wealth Challenge.
  2. Help spread the word. Even if you don’t need Unorthodoc, you know a colleague, investor, or family member who does.

Learn more here: Unorthodoc Virtual Doctor’s Office

Fun fact: Cory is a Swing and Tango dancer who both leads and follows and she can teach anyone to partner dance. She also won the LYL free coaching package. Congrats!

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3. Inspiring 100,000 people to become organ donors

Justin Miller limitless 365Living Legend: Justin Miller

Location: Huntington Beach, California

Why and How Justin is Making an Impact: 

Last year I lost my cousin and a family friend to suicide related to depression. Both were organ donors and ended up saving lives due to their commitment to helping others even after they have left this world.  Knowing that they helped to save the lives of others is the only thing that gets my aunt and our family friend’s mother through the tough times.

Just yesterday it was the one year anniversary of my cousin’s death, and for him I am doing all I can to inspire 100,000 people to become organ donors. I am doing this through my business, Limitless 365, where I aim to inspire people to remove limitations they place upon themselves by building confidence, health, and wellness through proper nutrition and exercise. Exercise and nutrition is often considered more effective than Zoloft or another form of medication for depression!

How you can help: Become one of the 100,000!

Learn more here: Limitless 365

Fun fact: On August 1st he accidentally made the biggest decision of his life when he left his job to drive cross county from Virginia to California and head off for a trip around the world.

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4. Ditching corporate finance to promote adventure & launch a mountain biking tour company

Mark Baeder Mountain Bike San FranciscoLiving Legend: Mark Baeder

Location: Fairfax, California

Why and How Mark is Making an Impact:

For several years I knew that the corporate finance job I had wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I eventually got up the nerve to take a 3-month break to go on a riding adventure up in the mountains. I had really been into biking, but hadn’t seriously considered it as a profession. Through this community and the tools at Live Your Legend, I kept coming back to the things I loved, and eventually it clicked.

When I started sharing the sport with my friends and family, I realized how much I enjoyed watching someone learn a new technique, master a skill, or just have fun out on the trail. Seeing them have that Aha! moment is so rewarding. Not to mention all the interesting people I get to meet.

As a result I recently launched a mountain bike guiding and skills training business, Mountain Bike San Francisco!

How you can help: 

  1. Feedback on the newly launched website.
  2. Anyone have experience running an adventure tour company? I’d love to hear it.
  3. Come join us for a ride!

Learn more here: Mountain Bike San Francisco - he’s got some killer pictures and video worth checking out.

Fun fact: Mark did his first official mountain bike tour through his new company last weekend!

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5. Building a platform to teach teen moms the tools to create genuine success

Tiphani Montgomery knocked up now whatLiving Legend: Tiphani Montgomery

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Why and How Tiphani is Making an Impact:

My project is entitled Knocked Up, Now What? (KUNW). It’s all about self-reliance, real money wisdom, and motivation for young moms who want to beat the odds, prove everyone wrong and become a beacon of light in the world by living life on purpose.

We’re making an impact by teaching young mothers the fundamental principles of self-love, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy. It’s only for the young moms who are serious about taking their lives — and their POWER — to the next level!

KUNW is meaningful to me because when I got knocked up at the age of 17, my dreams of the future were bigger than ever and I was so certain that I was going to rule the world. Until everyone around me told me that I couldn’t. I then became a bestselling author, seven times. Plus I want to show teen moms how to live on their own terms!

My goal is to raise $54k to help 1,000 young moms between the ages of 13-21 learn the fundamentals of self love and financial literacy through keynote speeches, panelists and creative workshops.

How you can help: I’m looking for donations of $10 or more to make this a reality.

Learn more here: Knocked Up, Now What?

Fun fact: When I was 12, they told me I was stupid — and prescribed ‘smart pills’ (aka, Ritalin) to wrestle my brain into a state of submission. I fed them to my Rottweiler. They worked like a charm. College dropout. Essence Magazine bestseller seven times, including #1!

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6. Bringing the Tom’s Shoes model to buying contraceptives and promoting safe sex around the world

Cory Capoccia ConConLiving Legend: Cory Capoccia

Location: Los Angeles, California

Why and How Cory is Making an Impact:

The primary catalyst was waking up one day after sitting behind a computer screen for five years and realizing that I didn’t feel that my day to day activities were helping to make a positive impact in the world.

So I created Conscious Contraceptives as a globally conscious organization delivering contraceptives directly to the consumer through the convenient and discreet online store at ConCon.org. Inspired by the “one for one” charity model established by Tom’s shoes (www.toms.com), a portion of every purchase from ConCon.org is contributed towards donating desperately needed contraceptives to underserved communities both domestically and in foreign countries.

In addition to the donations, ConCon.org partners with US-based and international organizations to promote ongoing sexual education to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the number of unplanned pregnancies throughout the world. Using the purchasing power of individuals to benefit the greater good, we transform our customers into benefactors.

ConCon.org’s short term goal for success is to donate $100,000 worth of contraceptive donations as well as educational funding. Longer term; a global reduction in the number of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.

How you can help: 

  1. Simple – buy your condoms from us! Rather than shopping at a traditional for-profit brick and mortar retailer for any personal sexual health related items, instead discreetly shop at www.ConCon.org. Each purchase helps to advance global sexual health and safety. Do good while feeling good :).
  2. Know any organizations who might want to partner with us or help champion the cause? We’re all ears!

Learn more here: Conscious Contraceptives

Fun fact: Cory is currently somewhere in the middle of the U.S. living in an R.V. with his girlfriend, while they travel and explore the country.

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7. Moved to Japan to become a ninja and encourage others to pursue dreams

Izzy-Arkin 30 year old ninjaLiving Legend: Izzy Arkin

Location: Kyoto, Japan

Why and How Izzy is Making an Impact:

Three years ago I was in a job I hated. I was overwhelmed, stressed out, and depressed. To make it worse, everyone thought I was “doing great”.

I looked great on paper, was moving up the ladder, and was doing everything I thought I was supposed to do. But I was dying inside. I know how hard it is to stop following someone else’s path. I know what it takes to pursue a dream, because I am doing it.

I quit my job in America. I moved to Japan. And I am now pursuing my childhood dream: to become a ninja!

I am using my pursuit of a dream as a vehicle to encourage, inspire and educate others to follow their dreams. I write about it at my site: The 30 Year Old Ninja.

Over the next 1.5 years I want to directly impact 1,000 lives. These are measured via clients coached (via email and skype), clients enrolled in an online course I am developing, and email exchanges where clients directly state “you have changed my life”.

How you can help: I want to share my story with as many people as possible for one simple reason: I want people to realize that “if this dude can quit his job and pursue a dream, why can’t I?”

Learn more here: The 30 Year Old Ninja

Fun fact: I love Microsoft Excel and Power Bars. I hate mayo with a passion and I really want to break a brick with my fist.

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8. Recovering lawyer helping other miserable lawyers find a more meaningful career

casey berman leave law behindLiving Legend: Casey Berman

Location: San Francisco, CA

Why and How Casey is Making an Impact:

I left law behind in 2004. I left my in-house counsel job and jumped into entrepreneurship, founding and running a small clothing company and my current consulting practice. In 2009, I was asked by the career services office at the law school of my alma mater, UC Hastings, to come speak at an event about “alternative legal careers”. I expected maybe 5 people to be there. 55 showed up! It was a great discussion, and I spoke with many afterwards. Many asked me what I could do to help them. I realized that there was a like-minded community out there and I had the experience, skills, passion and interest in helping them.

So I created Leave Law Behind as a blog and community that encourages, motivates and guides attorneys who are unsatisfied with their practice of the law. LLB works with them to break free from the insecurities, fears and roadblocks that many lawyers have, and to create the lifestyle, profession and career that they enjoy and is in alignment with their skills and strengths.

How you can help: If you’re an unhappy attorney or know one, please speak up! I’d love to help.

Learn more here: Leave Law Behind

Fun fact: Casey and his wife Lillian also have founded Kid Friendly San Francisco, a local site that provides San Francisco parents and caregivers with a practical, low-cost to no-cost guide of “kid friendly” activities and places to go with your children in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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9. Writing an inspirational cookbook to feature the stories of chefs & artists from around the world

Melissa Rachel Black The Eat TeamLiving Legend: Melissa Rachel Black

Location: Berlin, Germany & Los Angeles, California (but a lot of other places too)

Why and How Melissa is Making an Impact:

I’m traveling around the world writing an inspirational cookbook called The Eat Team. Together with my friend and fellow graphic designer, Hannah Rowbotham, we interview artists, chefs, and other creatives in each place we go to share their stories, inspire readers to live out their own dreams, expose talent, learn about food, and create a community around these amazing people.

We’re collecting their favorite recipes to share with friends, families and readers for the cookbook, and the real magic that lies behind them is the stories that go along with them. In the past 5 months, we’ve been to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and now we’re in New Zealand. Everywhere we go, people are just as excited about this as we are, and I think we fuel each other to keep chipping away at these dreams.

We didn’t want to just travel. We literally asked ourselves, “what would our dream project be”? This was it.

How you can help: 

  1. Get involved! Spread the word and please let us know who we might want to interview. Join our Kickstarter when it goes live.
  2. Know any like-minded sponsors who’d like to be a part of the story? Five months on the road has kept us on a really tight budget, but we really want to continue meeting and interviewing people in the U.S. for 3 months after we finish New Zealand in September. Bringing a print book to life isn’t cheap!

Learn more here: The Eat Team

Fun fact: I spent over a year recreating classic works of art out of gummi bears and continue to make handmade gangster-rap greeting cards for a living.

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10. Hitchhiking 22,000 miles to help introverts find confidence & come alive

Benjamin Jenks Adventure SauceLiving Legend: Benjamin Jenks

Location: Farmville, Virginia

Why and How Benjamin is Making an Impact:

I’ve hitchhiked over 22,000 miles around the USA. I made a mini-viral video about it. I love people,  and I want to help young, thoughtful adults take BOLD MASSIVE BADASSICAL action, so they can be as wise & alive as possible.

Our culture rewards extroversion and dominance… and a lot of brilliant shy people never overcome the wall to share their unique message with our world. The wisdom of these people is the key to saving our world right now. There is so much brilliance locked up in unconfident, introverted people.

I was a super shy guy and it has been a huge challenge to create the life that I want. But I did it and I see a huge window for how other thoughtful people can create a life that makes them feel alive and helps us save our world.

I already did survive hitchhiking around the USA for a year (and more now), and I will continue traveling around the world, making personal films about everyday people, and coaching shy people on how to spread their message. I want to start by helping 100 shy people succeed.

How you can help: Please point shy people my way! If you know any good communities for introverts where I could offer help, I’m all ears!

Learn more here: Adventure Sauce – Badass Actions for Thoughtful People

Fun fact: Ben gets most of his inspiration while inside of cars around the U.S. chatting with Tantric Buddhist Priests, Cajun crane operators, polyamorous families, recovering alcoholics, and more.

*****

Thank you all for doing what you do.

It’s an honor to have you a part of what we’re building. I mean that.

And for the rest of you, I hope they make you want to do something crazy.

What impact could you be making?

I can’t wait to feature more of you next month.

Also, if you need a little additional help, you might want to check out our Live Off Your Passion career course. It was built specifically to get us all thinking bigger and to begin putting ideas to genuine action. So far it’s helped a lot of people (including a number of the living legends above). Might be worth a look.

Here’s to stepping up our game and making life interesting!

-Scott

For the comments: Please let us know how you could help or support the people above. You can do more than you realize. Let’s do our part! Tell us in the comments.

Have you submitted your story yet? Fill out the Living Legends Reader Spotlight form to get a chance to be featured in one of our upcoming articles.

 

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“It was 18 months ago when I came across Live Your Legend and it just completely blew my mind. I was living this life thinking I have to kind of just do this. Then it was like a kid on Christmas Day with my wife thinking ‘we don’t have to do this anymore.’ It was literally a life change. It opened so many doors. Thanks for everything you’re doing.”

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