The Myth of Tomorrow & 5 Short Case Studies of People Changing our World: Reader Spotlight #6

Written by Scott June 19, 2013

Do Something that Matters Reader Spotlight 6

“People used to tell me life was short. One day I finally realized they were right. But by then it was too late.”

– A man who wishes he would have listened

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Meetup Update: We have a few casual LYL meetups happening around the world this week. Please join us if you can!

1. Montréal this Sunday June 23rd at 5pm (I’ll be at this one)

2. London this Sunday June 23rd at 1pm (Yaron’s hosting this one)

3. San Francisco this Tuesday June 25th at 5pm (I’ll be at this one too)

Can’t attend any of these? Have no fear – just be sure to register your name and town on our new meetup app here, so you can be a part of future local events. If your town isn’t listed, just select “Start a new community.” This is a new tool we’ve been experimenting with and I’d love to hear what you think!

Now for today’s spotlight and some perspective…

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Are You Proud of How You Spend Your Time?

I think about this question a lot, and especially during this past week.

Yesterday I spent the day at a funeral service for a friend’s brother. He was 31 years old. He and his sister were best friends. And his family is one of the closest I’ve ever seen. My heart goes out to them more than words could say.

It’s impossible to describe the feelings that come from a tragedy like this, let alone trying to understand why or how it could happen in the first place. Yet in the midst of the emotions, some things become crystal clear.

Specifically, that the all-too-familiar statement, “Life is short,” is not a cliché. Not even close.

It’s very real.

And while we hear it all the time, it often doesn’t become visceral until we experience it firsthand. It’s hard for us to appreciate light without ever being in the dark. Like Steve Jobs says in his famous address to a group of Stanford graduates, “Death is very likely the single best invention of life.”

Sad but true. We convince ourselves that we have forever to do the things we want to do. And today it might feel like you really do have an eternity. Right up until you don’t.

More than anything, yesterday was an education in perspective. And how little we have to lose in pursing what we really care about.

So it’s with a heavy heart and with great pride that I share today’s Reader Spotlight. These are members of our community at Live Your Legend who recognize that their time is limited. That there really is no sense in waiting.

These are always some of my favorite posts to publish as I continue to be blown away by the things so many of you are doing.

In the spirit of drawing your own line in the sand, enjoy…

And please choose one of the below to help in some small (or big) way.

Five Examples of Ordinary People Making Their Impact on the World

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1. From working in 12 Industries in 12 Months to Launching Experience Institute to Redefine the Classroom

Victor SaadLiving Legend: Victor Saad

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Why and How Victor is Making an Impact:

In 2011, curiosity for business school led me to research MBA programs. After realizing the price tag and choices didn’t fit, I took a risk, quit my job, and created my own experiential education–12 experiences in 12 months.

For many of us, we learn best through experience – when we’re pushed and challenged. With that in mind, we’re starting Experience Institute (Ei), a school to offer a custom 12-month experiential higher education program. Our hope is to re-instill imagination into our education system and reshape how we think about learning.

Ei is creating partnerships with great companies/people who’ll open their ‘classroom’ doors for apprenticeships, workshops, conferences, and volunteerism, which students will establish, document, and present.

Our aim is to disassociate cost from education quality with 10k tuition, help students avoid debt with creative fundraising, change the practice of hiring on a degree-basis with experiential educated student exposure, and provide the space for those who learn differently to discover, learn, and achieve.

How you can help: 

Join us! We’re looking for our founding class of 10 students and great partner companies. Applications are due July 15, 2013 and class starts in September of 2013.

Learn more here: Experience Institute or watch their video below.

Don’t see a video, click here

Fun fact: I was once licked by a full-grown lion named Elliot.

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2. Father & Daughter Partner to Help Make Vintage Jewelry Cool Again (& Help the Environment)

Jillian BremerLiving Legend: Jillian Bremer

Location: San Francisco, California

Why and How Jillian is Making an Impact:

With over five years of buying experience for large all American Brands, I quit corporate America almost a year ago to re-launch Sweet & Spark from a lifestyle blog to a curated vintage jewelry shop. Partnering with my dad on his lifelong love for antiquing, he’s doing the dirty work scouring yard sales, flea markets & antique shops along the East coast and I’m out West, managing the website and marketing aspects.

My dream is to build a fashion brand that bridges the gap between the mass market and the overwhelming & un-glamorous world of vintage. There isn’t anyone in the vintage market focusing on just jewelry, for most brands it’s an afterthought.

Not only is it rewarding to partner with my dad, but also that we’re enabling people to make an impact on the environment by choosing to up-cycle, instead of creating new goods.

I’ll consider my journey as an entrepreneur a success when I build something bigger than myself. I don’t give a lick about the money, I want to inspire people to realize their dreams. Because we can.

Don’t wait to be picked, go pick yourself!

How you can help: 

My newest motto is give & get. It would be more than appreciated if you could forward this along to a friend. In today’s connection economy, I promise you’ll be paid back someday if you just put yourself out there. And of course, check our jewelry to see if there’s something you like!

Learn more here: Sweet & Spark Vintage Jewelry

Fun fact: This girl is from small town USA. My high school mascot was a Hillbilly!

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3. Launched Modern Giver – an App to Help Charities Raise Money by Putting a Credit Card Terminal in Every Supporter’s Hands

Jon TaggartLiving Legend: Jon Taggart

Location: Los Angeles, California

Why and How Jon is Making an Impact:

We believe that giving financially to organizations must be simple and convenient. When organizations utilize Modern Giver, they are essentially putting a credit card terminal in every one of their supporter’s hands. Organizations can create specific giving events with financial goals that people can give to with their credit or debit card and smartphone.

To give, givers simply visit the mobile web (ModernGiver.com) on their smartphone and choose the organization or giving event that is near their current location, and give with just a few taps. There are no costs for organizations to join, no monthly fees, no downloading and it is 100% free to give.

We are on a mission to transform the way that people give, and by making it simple and convenient we believe that giving amounts and frequency will increase. Our goal is to hit $1m in donations.

How you can help: Try our app out and start giving to your favorite cause!

Learn more here: Modern Giver

Fun fact: I used to be in a touring band and I may or may not have done a music video that my wife still makes fun of me for.

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4. World Record Cyclist Biking 3,000 Miles to Raise $1,000,000 for Brain Cancer

Maria ParkerLiving Legend: Maria Parker

Location: Lumberton, North Carolina

Why and How Maria is Making an Impact:

My sister was diagnosed with brain cancer last October. So my team and I are raising a million dollars for brain cancer research.

The keystone of our efforts is my participation in the grueling Race Across America (Solo RAAM). This race, in it’s 32nd year, began June 11, 2013. It is a 3,000 mile cross-country race, a thousand miles longer than the Tour De France done in 1/2 the time.

All money we raise will go directly to brain cancer research through Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure. Lot’s of research is being done but is not getting to clinical trials leaving those diagnosed with brain cancer facing near certain death in under two years.

I’d like to use my abilities as a record setting ultra-cyclist to make a difference, and the highest visibility event available to me is Race Across America.

How you can help: 

Our plan is to use a grass roots effort to reach as many people as possible. We would like 100,000 $10 donations. You can help us reach thousands of people we might not otherwise reach through our own social media campaign – just by sharing our story with those close to you. You can also make a $10 donation here.

Learn more here: 3,000 Miles to a Cure

Fun fact: I have ridden more miles in 24 hours on my recumbent bike than any other woman in the world (that I know of). I hold the Ultramarathon cycling association 24 hour record of 469 miles.

Note: Maria is currently in the middle of her race and hopes to finish by June 23rd!

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5. Saved Dad’s Life by Finding an Organ Donor on Craigslist – then Launched a Charity to Provide Donor Matching to the Masses

The Flood SistersLiving Legend: The Flood Sisters – Jennifer, Cynthia and Heather

Location: New York, New York

Why and How These Sisters are Making an Impact:

My sisters and I saved our father’s life from kidney disease by “thinking outside the box” and placing an ad on Craigslist for a living donor. After a year and 4 months, over 100 responses and much media exposure, a woman from California came forward, saving his life!

Today, my sisters and I have launched a non-profit to provide matching services to those in need of kidney donors for transplant nationwide. We also educate the public on organ donation and kidney disease. We are saving lives, and everyday we feel alive!

Our first goal is to transplant 10 people and raise $1,000,000.

How you can help: 

We are seeking grants and funding for our life-saving work. We’d also love more of the world to hear our story – and ideally speak at TED!

Learn more here: The Flood Sisters Donor Matching

Fun fact: All of us sisters have the exact same laugh.

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Seeing Is Believing.

These people had no special privileges or leg up to make the impact they’re making. They just found a reason that made it impossible not to pursue what mattered to them.

Seeing what our community does, humbles me. You all humble me. And more than that, you give us a glimpse of what’s possible. And that’s the point of sharing your stories in the first place – to inspire the rest of the community to follow suit, and of course to give everyone a chance to support each others’ dreams.

I hope it helps you all even half as much as it does me.

So let’s get back to our initial question…

Are you proud of how you spend your time?

If the answer is no, why haven’t you done something about it? You don’t have to leave everything and make some dramatic change (unless you want to). All that matters is you start pursuing something that’s actually meaningful to you, no matter how small it may seem. Because when you do, it will become meaningful to those around you as well. And that’s when the ripples start to intersect.

Then, the next time a life event hits you in the gut with the sobering “Life is short!” reminder, you’ll get to respond with pride and say “Yeah I know. And check out what I’m doing about it…”

Like Jillian said, “Don’t wait to be picked, go pick yourself.”

Most things are out of our control. Thankfully, making your impact isn’t one of them. It doesn’t have to take an unfortunate event to get us to act on the power we already have. I sincerely hope it won’t.

-Scott

P.S. Please pick one of the projects above and spend at least 2 to 5 minutes learning more about their mission, and find some way, big or small, to support the impact they intend to have on the world. Remember, no one does anything on their own.

For the comments: Share your own passion project or tells us how you could help one of the above (email readers click here). Thanks for the support!

Oh and if you want to tell the world your story, please 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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“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” - Jim Rohn