10 Crazy Case Studies of Normal People Doing the Extraordinary: Reader Spotlight #2

10 Crazy Case Studies of Normal People Doing the Extraordinary: Reader Spotlight #2

do something that matters

“The only difference between impossible and normal is choosing to hang around the people doing the things you thought couldn’t be done.”

– Anonymous

Yesterday a big dream of mine came true…

I stood up on the TEDx stage in San Francisco and gave an 18-minute talk (17:51 to be exact).

The topic was “The Work You Can’t NOT Do & Surrounding Yourself with the People Who Won’t Let You Fail”.

It was the most invigorating/exhausting/terrifying/emotional/awesome/humbling/surreal day I’ve possibly ever had.

It was perfect.

TEDx Golden Gate Park

And the best part about it?

You guys made it possible. Without this community I could have never stood on that stage. In fact without you, I would have never even known about the event – one of you told me about it in our Facebook Action Group last month!

As usual, I cannot express my gratitude enough. But hopefully this post is a start.

There were 11 talks from people telling the most inspiring stories of their passionate careers – everything from a bicycle coffee company to creating life-size human sculptures from typewriters (I plan to profile them all in another post). And I will post the video as soon as it’s ready – they said a couple weeks.

The TED theme was simple…

When we begin to show the world that ordinary people can do the extraordinary, we start to believe in a new normal.

That is exactly why I decided to start doing monthly Living Legends Reader Spotlights.

Each month I pick 10 of you to show off how awesome you all are, give you a chance to inspire our other readers, give us a chance to support each other and of course to promote your projects and ideas to our over 30,000 monthly readers!

And one of the 10 wins a free Skype coaching session with me to see how I can help your project succeed.

This month’s winner is… Claire Charamnac.

Congrats Claire – I’ll be in touch soon!

My only request in return is that you all offer your support – that’s the only way this will be powerful. 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!

**Important & Urgent Side-Note:

Speaking of being inspired by the people around you, next week is the official launch of How to Connect With Anyone to our entire LYL community. The course will be available for sale starting on Tuesday at 7am PST until Friday the 19th at midnight PST (or as soon as it fills up, whichever comes first). There will be a very limited number of spots (less than 100).

This is the most ambitious, inspiring and exciting project I have ever worked on. And I deeply believe it will help people in a big way.

To celebrate giving birth to this baby, I’ll be giving away an iPad 2, the new Kindle Fire HD and some other fun things including my favorite books and maybe even some recently made LYL T-shirts to those who decide to join us!

And this Monday (the day before the launch) I will send an email out to our whole audience giving you free access to our Module 1 Video on Creating the Mindset to Befriend Anyone. It’s one of over 20 HD videos we filmed for the course. I hope this will give you an idea of how much of my heart and soul I’ve poured into this project.

I cannot wait to show it to you!

Okay, now on to the important business of today.

Nothing makes me more proud than sharing these stories with you. There is no bigger measure of success for the Live Your Legend movement. Enjoy!

10 Case Studies of Live Your Legend Readers Doing the Extraordinary (could this be you?)…


1. Created a leadership development charity to mold young female leaders in Nepal

Living Legend: Claire Charamnac

Location: Hoboken, NJ

Why and How Claire is Making an Impact:

In 2010, I co-founded Women LEAD, a leadership development organization for young women in Katmandu, Nepal with my close friend and college buddy. We were 20 years old, but we had one unwavering belief: the lack of female leaders around the world is one of the biggest inequalities of the 21st century.

Young women have the passion and vision to solve the problems plaguing their communities, but they simply lack the necessary training, guidance and resources. We empower young women to take leadership positions alongside men in Nepal by providing them with the skills to pursue their vision for change.

Many of our participants have never written a resume or spoken up in public before Women LEAD. In one year, we’ve equipped 200 promising leaders (aged 14 to 19) with academic, career and leadership skills through our programs.

When we asked these 16 year old girls what they wanted to do in the future, their answers were awesome: “social entrepreneur”, “architect”, “lawyer”! They have big dreams for themselves and for their country, despite the gender discrimination they face every day, whether it’s in the streets of Nepal, in school or in their families. They keep me going!

How you can help: 

  • Join our cause and help us spread the word about LEAD
  • Partner with us. We want to team up to make our movement supporting women’s leadership stronger

Learn more here: Women LEAD

Fun fact: I grew up in a very multicultural background, spanning several continents: I’m half French, half Filipino, but I was born in Venezuela, grew up in Singapore, studied in the United States and work in Nepal!


2. Creating $500-$10,000 scholarships to help struggling entrepreneurs get their ideas out to the world

Natalie Sisson $100 changeLiving Legend: Natalie Sisson

Location: Everywhere

Why and How Natalie is Making an Impact:

$100 Change is an initiative designed to see how we can turn $100 into serious impact and change for hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs and those with ideas waiting to happen.

It was inspired by Chris Guillebeau’s generous act at the World Domination Summit in July this year, giving every attendee $100 to do something important. I wanted to turn that $100 into thousands of dollars to go towards helping people create their own project or biz idea, and realize their dreams.

I’ve gathered 100 change-makers to give 100 nuggets of wisdom over 100 days for $100. The twist is that almost all the money received will go directly back into 10 scholarships which you can then apply for to be able to receive anywhere from $500 to $10,000 to start your dream project. The more people who invest in $100 Change, the bigger the scholarship award will be.

Those 10 people will then receive a structured approach to making their idea or project a reality, and they’ll have 100 days in which to do it. Plus they’ll also receive mentoring and coaching from myself and some of the change makers to ensure they achieve their goals.

How you can help: 

  • Join the $100 Change movement – for those of you who have been dreaming of starting a project, initiative or business for way too long and need to take action to make sure it becomes a reality.
  • Please spread the word to those who need it – the more who support, the bigger the scholarships can be!

Learn more here: The $100 Change

Fun fact: Natalie does not have a home (hence why she calls herself the suitcase entrepreneur). She travels the world helping people build businesses and she just biked halfway across Africa to raise money to help struggling women!


3. Quit his day job to help runners avoid injuries and break records

Living Legend: Jason Fitzgerald

Location: Silver Spring, Maryland

Why and How Jason is Making an Impact:

My project is StrengthRunning.com, a running and coaching site dedicated to helping passionate runners improve. I help runners design better training so they can avoid the mistakes that I made.

So far I’ve helped thousands of runners and I’m about to quit my day job to pursue this full-time! I’m currently doing a giveaway and I asked how SR has helped – I’ve received 100+ responses and it’s truly astonishing to see how many lives I’ve impacted (see the post here).

The annual injury rate for runners is upwards of 70%! My goal is to decrease that number and help runners create more holistic, well-rounded training.

How you can help: Come join me – I’m always looking to connect with other runners. LYL readers are passionate and seem to always be up for an adventure – seems like my kind of group!

Learn more here: Strength Running

Fun fact: I’ve run a 2:39 marathon, but the training that helped get me there was fueled by a LOT of coffee!


4. Homeless athlete turned award-winning artist and author

Living Legend: Cal Gilbert

Location: Sausalito, CA

Why and How Cal is Making an Impact:

Despite losing everything and beginning 2012 homeless, with no job and no money, I managed to self-publish two books that feature my original photography and inspirational phrases that I wrote. The greatest gift I received was discovering my true authenticity and life purpose. I AM AN ARTIST with a gift to share.

I just published my third book and the fourth is due out in October. I’m hoping to build events around my books to raise funds & awareness for organizations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area that support youth in the areas of Sport, Music and the Arts. I want to encourage youth to dream big and live to their full potential.

How you can help: 

  • Support and spread the word on my books and art
  • Connect me with youth organizations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area

Learn more here: Homeless author

Fun fact: Cal is a former athlete who spent her past life traveling the world connecting with as many people as possible.


5. Biking 20,000 km across Canada to raise money & awareness to help orphaned children

Living Legend: Tana Silverland

Location: On the road somewhere in Canada

Why and How Tana is Making an Impact:

Since June 2010, I’ve been cycling from town to town all over Canada to raise awareness and funds for SOS Children’s Villages. In order to ensure that every cent goes directly to help the kids, I have been doing the journey without a support team or sponsorship, depending entirely on the ‘kindness of strangers’ for my personal survival during the journey.

SOS Children’s Villages is a charity that builds homes, not orphanages, and the children are cared for by one loving ‘Mom’, not an ever-changing team of ‘staff’.

I will finish this November, after 2.5 years on the road. I’m making an impact through countless presentations and media interviews, and collecting donations: $35,000 so far…

How you can help: 

  • Spread the word, offer support, food, shelter or join our cause – I’m trying to make more people aware of the fact that SOS Children’s Villages exists

Learn more here: 

Fun fact: I thought that cycling over 20,000 km across the second-largest country in the world would be a really sensible thing to do for someone who’s never done any long distance cycling in her life before…


6. Helping a recovered, drug-addicted, national champion water skier write his book and tell his story to inspire youth

Living Legend: Jon Giganti

Location: Columbus, OH

Why and How Jon is Making an Impact:

After attending World Domination Summit and being tasked with using $100 to fund a project that puts a dent in the world, I’ve partnered with Adam Helbling – a Creative Living resident who has gone from a National Champion water skier to drug abuser and a life-altering car accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

I’m helping Adam tell his story of redemption through his upcoming book. He’s persevered, graduated from college and now speaks to audiences about his story. A true inspiration.

How you can help: We plan on launching Adam’s book in 2013. I will be starting a Kickstarter project to help raise funds for the creating, marketing, editing and publishing effort. Helping Adam get his inspiring story out to the world would help immensely. We plan to raise about $25,000. Any support would be huge!

Learn more here: The Catalyst Project

Fun fact: Jon is a Crossfit fanatic, father of two world-changers to be and is also on the board of Creative Living, a non-profit that helps spinal cord injured folks live independently.


7. Launching a community nonprofit and resource center to inspire university students to give back and make an impact

Living Legend: Corie Weaver

Location: Las Vegas, NV

Why and How Corie is Making an Impact:

I’m in the process of developing a nonprofit resource center for our area, combining the skills and talents of our university students with the needs of the community members and citizens. This center will also house a civic engagement office on the university campus, and assist faculty with developing service learning curricula.

This is so important to me because we’re in a very resource poor area, but with some planning, communication and collaboration, everyone involved can make a difference. I’m making an impact by spearheading the center, getting support from community and campus leaders, and will staff the center when we have funding.

How you can help: If you have experience working in a nonprofit or community based organization, or with campus civic engagement or service learning, I could really use some guidance.

Learn more here: Corie’s blog Honey and Toast

Fun fact: I’ve written two young adult novels, and a long thesis on Spanish medieval manuscripts of the apocalypse.


8. Publishing classy, sexy, naughty & award-winning international travel guides for women & reigniting stale marriages

Living Legend: Kristen Loop

Location: Waterloo, Ontario

Why and How Kristen is Making an Impact:

We produce the most unique, stunning travel guides for all kinds of women who’d like to spice up vacations with visits to erotic art galleries, shops, sexy bars, naughty hotels, and spas. Nothing sleazy, nothing seedy, and nothing illegal. Beautifully custom photographed (by me) and printed on art paper.

Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City won the 2009 Independent Book Publisher’s Award for Best Travel Guide. Naughty New York was published in 2012. The photo shoot for the second edition of Naughty Paris has just wrapped!

We believe there are alternatives to reigniting passion into a stale marriage. We believe in art, design, and beauty. We believe in counteracting the degrading hypersexualization of women in the media. Although this book is primarily produced for women, in my mind, it’s for men too. It’s like looking through his lady’s purse or reading a diary (which, of course, he’d never do) just to find out what’s really on her mind, what she wants – from her perspective.

How you can help: Support our movement. This is an independently published book, so we don’t have the backing of a big publishing house budget. Exposure is crucial to our project. Besides, how many women out there would love to experience the sexier side of Paris and NYC? Many, we think.

Learn more here: Naughty Travel Guides

Fun fact: I have synaethesia, a really cool phenomenon where stimulation in one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. So, I can “hear” light and motion!


9. An ex-hedge fund manager turned full time saxophone player pursuing a dream & releasing one song a week for a year

Living Legend: Marcus Miller

Location: Harlem, New York

Why and How Marcus is Making an Impact:

I am a saxophone player struggling to make it in this industry. I left a job at a major hedge fund to pursue my dream of music. There have been major ups and downs along the way. There is no longer any clear formula for how to be successful, especially for an instrumentalist.

But I love to play, I love to write songs and compose music. I don’t know exactly how it will all work, but I do know that I will be satisfied and I will make a mark in history, if I do something that no one has ever done, something that seems impossible.

My project is to release 1 song a week for a year, or 52 completed tracks (4-7 albums worth) of material by October 2013.

How you can help: 

  • Please provide moral support and become a listener
  • Experienced advice from successful people in the music industry – if you are a studio person, musician, etc, please reach out

Learn more here: Marcus Miller

Fun fact: I read math and physics in my spare time and hope to study it more rigorously once I become secure in music. I also have the same name as one of the most influential bass players in american music.


10. World-schooling 5 children as they drive an F250 from Alaska to Argentina, inspiring people to leave their lives of quiet desperation in exchange for an existence that matters

Living Legend: Rachel & Greg Denning

Location: Temporarily in Panajachel, Guatemala

Why and How Rachel & Greg are Making an Impact:

We are slowly traveling with our five children from Alaska to Argentina, learning, exploring, serving and inspiring (as a family) along the way. Our mission is to live life deliberately and to inspire others to do the same.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy, is that “most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to their graves with their song still in them.” That kind of life is totally preventable and unacceptable. We count it a sacred privilege to be able to inspire others to leave that life and sing their song, whatever it is.

Our emphasis is on the other stuff: attitude, relationships, marriage, family, parenting, service, education, purpose, health and spirituality – The WHOLE life.

How you can help:

  • Spread our message, follow our story or join our movement
  • Teach your children there is indeed a better way!

Learn more here: The Denning Family Blog: Discover, Share, Inspire 

Fun fact: We “World School” our children. We are purposely ‘homeless’ and ‘unemployable’. We realize how unconventional and ‘strange’ this is, but it allows us to live deliberately. Greg loves insane physical challenges.


Thank you all for doing what you do.

It’s an honor to have you a part of what we’re building. This community, this movement, is nothing without you.

I mean that.

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

So…what impact could you be making?

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

It’s time to do something that matters.


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.

P.S. Keep an eye out for Monday’s email with a free HD Video module from How to Connect with Anyone and then our Tues morning 7am PST launch of the course. Spots will likely go fast and you’ll get a chance to win an Ipad 2 or a Kindle Fire HD (plus a few other very cool things).

P.P.S. Do you want your story to get featured? Fill out the Living Legends Reader Spotlight form to get a chance to be featured in one of our upcoming monthly articles.

Okay, now seriously go out and start something that matters!