We Think, We Feel, We Act

lamp-1456125_1920_idea_lightbulbI love a challenge. One of my favorite challenges was during the early days of my time with ESPN when the invention of the 24-hour sports cycle came to be. I was asked, “Do you really think people are going to watch a 24 hour sports network?” from the leadership team.  I remember responding with, “Why not? We will not know until we put it out there so let’s put it out there.”  That was my first step into the entrepreneurial corporate world of telecommunications with ESPN.  The challenge required a leap of faith based on little knowledge. And as they say, look where ESPN is now.

Spending over a dozen years in a corporate career with new and emerging cable networks, I immersed myself in the passion for bringing athletics (ESPN and The Golf Channel), breaking news (Satellite News Channel), country music (The Nashville Network and Country Music Television), and more many genres into the living rooms of hundreds of thousands of people.  There was much research to be done, focus groups to be had, spreadsheets to be created, budgets to be monitored and strategic plans to follow step by step to bring these viewers to the screen.  While passionate about the mission, in corporate settings, the mind has to rule the heart with professional wisdom, accountability and proof before, during and after the launch of an idea.  In order to take the next step oftentimes in a corporate entity, data and analysis has to be presented to obtain financial and leadership backing.  When rolling out the new 24-hour sports cycle for ESPN, we were always counting and reporting the subscriber numbers to encourage advertisers to support our network and prove that people were indeed watching to continue with our efforts.

Now, when working in the non-profit sector, I suggested an idea to bring foster kids to camp each year to be with their siblings. I was told, “I have never heard of that, but it’s a great idea!” I then remember thinking to myself, “Well okay then, let’s do this.” There was not much research to be done, no time for focus groups, the spreadsheets would invent themselves, who knew what the budget was, and the only strategic plan was to take the first step to bring campers to CampToBelong.  While passionate about the mission, in non-profits, the heart often has to rule in what is perceived as common sense, responsibility and outcomes before, during and after the launch of an idea. In order to take the next step oftentimes in a non-profit entity, you have to present the outcomes and impacts on society.  For our new camp, we presented the love letters from past participants and the concept that if we help just one, we have made a difference.  And as they say, look where CampToBelong is now.

In both cases, it is the entrepreneurial spirit that is needed to take an idea into a movement….we think, we feel, we act.  The foundation for corporate settings and non- profit programs are both truly steeped in the optimism and positive attitude that something can be different.  Strategy before or strategy after – subscriber numbers or love letters – mind or heart leadership – the risk is often the same. The main difference is the key performance indicators that are presented to move forward with a vision.

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Lessons Learned At Camp

During my years of involvement in CampToBelong, there were so many lessons about life, resiliency, courage and acceptance. There are four wisdoms that continue to shape my life as a speaker, author and consultant that seem so simple, yet as a society, we often contradict them at every pass. Not only are these four wisdoms accepted at CampToBelong, they are encouraged.

Scream like you mean it.

human-450380_1920_kokopelieHow many times have you said to your kids, “Use your inside voices please.” Even at the office, especially in the land of cubicals, we say to one another, “Keep your voices down.”

But at Camp, we turn up the volume.  Even when we want to quiet down the campers to give direction, we scream, “And a hush fell over the crowd,” as the din of our loud voice trails off.  In the dining hall where we are really supposed to be quiet in ‘real life’, we start pounding the tables in unison and scream for one group to serenade another.  When one camper is trying to make it up the climbing wall, every other camper and counselor in sight screams, “You can do this!” at the top of their lungs.  We raise our voices loudly, proudly, and with purpose.

What I learned at Camp is that screaming can be excitement, often resonating with laughter, inviting others in and showing belief in the possibility.

Waiting is patience.

Our daily lives seem to be all about hurry up, hurry up.  We hurry up to get our kids out the door.  Drivers take up every inch on the road as though a couple feet are going to get them somewhere quicker.  We start tapping the steering wheel when the drive through does not deliver quick enough.  We are up against constant deadlines, often making our hysteria someone else’s.

But at Camp, we wait patiently.  The first step off the zip line platform takes time with an ebb and flow of people on the ground encouraging with yells of, “You can do it!” and moments of silence to allow the camper the time to build courage.  At the closing campfire, a camper may come forward more than once before finding the words to share thoughts about their experience at Camp.  We wait as they at first stammer, then begin to collect and share their thoughts.

What I learned at Camp is waiting is patience. It exemplifies respectful and brings fulfillment in whatever transpires on a schedule that may not be our own.

Tears are real and everyone should cry.

There is a song, “Big Boys Don’t Cry.”  Some say it is a sign of weakness.  Men should hold in their emotions and thus their tears.

But at Camp, the male counselors and campers allow their eyes to brim with tears.  Then those tears stream down their faces.   It is a sign of real emotion and unguarded feelings that often times unexpectedly come out of nowhere and bring depth to experience.

What I learned at Camp is that tears are raw and real.  When men and boys cry, it gives permission to other men and boys to express their feelings too.  It shows heart and soul. There is nothing weak in this expression.

Volunteering gives.

People applaud and compliment volunteerism with handshakes and high fives, acknowledging how wonderful it is that one serves, gives back, helps, and participates.

But at Camp, volunteers do not need or want applause – most volunteers are selfless voyagers who jump in the trenches just because and to be a cause.

What I learned at Camp is that we get so much more when we give.  We learn and grow.   We embrace receiving the greatest joys of meaningful connection and interaction.

While these wisdoms may appear to not be acceptable and discouraged in ‘real life’, they come to life at Camp.

Scream …wait….cry…receive!!

Lynn Price

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Replicate Without Ego

Often times, individuals come to me to gain feedback on their new ideas.  Always excited and intrigued to hear an innovative spirit, I listen intently.  Once I have an understanding of their concept, I often ask first, “Is anyone doing this already?” The question is not intended to burst their bubble. Instead, the question creates awareness for what has already been done.

face-1370955_1920Sometimes, I take it one step further if there is already a similar offering in the market place and ask, “Have you contacted them?”  The facial expressions I receive are usually ones of surprise. The answers I hear most often are ones fraught with ego. Most popular response is an expression of fear of competition. “What if they take MY idea?” they confess.

The truth is, your idea is always your idea. It just also might happen to be someone else’s idea too.

So I pose the question, why reinvent the wheel?  Perhaps there is a way to collaborate, not compete.  Perhaps there is a way to be farther along in your own journey because someone has been there before you.  Perhaps take the best of the intention, vision and expertise to complement all aspects of the idea to reach your target in a bigger, unified voice. Imagine the ripple effect when two people with a similar vision are making waves together rather than spending energy opposing one another.

My best observation has been to replicate without ego. The reality of building and growing an organization takes one person to have a vision and a village of ambassadors who share that vision to bring it to fruition. Sometimes coming along side one another allows the idea to grow bigger, farther and even faster.

 

Your fellow RippleMaker,

Lynn Price

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Assume the Permission

I once worked in an agency helping kids in foster care. One day, I mentioned to my main constituent that we should have the youth in foster care from Nevada travel to Colorado to camp. He replied ‘that’s a great idea!’ I thanked him and left his office. I knew what would follow would be a conversation about the challenges of taking these youth across state lines. The next exchange I had with him was from the airport in Denver just after the campers arrived. ‘The kids are here,’ I said. He replied, ‘Where?’ I excitedly shared, ‘in Colorado!  You said it was a great idea!’

the-biggest-risk-is-not-taking-any-risk-in-a-world-that-is-changing-really-quickly-the-onlHave courage and confidence to take a risk.  In your mind, your vision is common sense. You begin to share your vision with others who agree, pause, then provide a string of reasons to come to your senses.  You can sit in silence while they ponder, then listen to the doubts  – or you can excuse yourself after your audience says, “That’s a great idea!” and before the ‘but’ comes in. Then say “Yes!” to the idea that lives within you.

There is good reason in any business to have rules, safeguards and limits in place. However, what must happen within our organizations to move the proverbial needle to bend, stretch, and test what is possible? We often offer up justifications like, ‘If it could have been done, it would have been done already.’  Or, ‘Didn’t think to think about that.’ Or, ‘I know nothing, but go try it, and tell me about it later.’  Instead, what could happen if we jump in with, ‘Let’s do it!’?

While, of course more safeguards, processes and limits had to be put in place after the risky but successful ‘trial run’ of campers in Colorado, the leap of faith provided enlightenment into what should and could be done to bring a sense of normalcy into the lives of these children.  At one time, with Colorado as the training ground for Camp To Belong Member Camps, the organization had 80 brothers and sisters fly into Colorado from 8 states and Canada – to join 29 other youth from Colorado.    Now, CampToBelong has camps across the US and Australia, serving siblings placed in separate foster homes and allowing travel far and wide and across borders to be with one another.

Silence is indeed golden – especially when you hang up the phone or walk out of the room!  Then, confidently say yes.

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Think Small

dreamstimemedium_55190762Making a difference and embracing social entrepreneurship does not have to be a grand gesture. Instead, think small and one program at a time. For example, an artist friend shared that he wanted to bring photography to the homeless population on a big scale.  We discussed some of the steps needed to do this big scale project including sourcing cameras, raising funding, gifting cameras, giving lessons, seeking opportunities to display in galleries for them to potentially make money and more.  Then he followed with the reality check, and the disclaimer expressed by many, saying, “I don’t have time…I’ll do it later.”

I pondered the very thoughtful vision of my friend and all of the responsibilities to create and execute the steps toward his big scale goal.  And then I suggested, “Why don’t you start small?  Take one step towards the goal and gift one camera to one person. Pay for it yourself.  Choose one person who is homeless and give them a camera.  Hang out with him or her occasionally and teach them how to use the camera.  Build a trusting connection with them and learn what he or she would want to photograph.  Then put one of his/her photographs on the gallery wall next to your own collection.”

My friend lit up and said, “I could make time for that.” So what shifted? Perhaps it was a relief to him.  Perhaps he recognized he could redefine big impacts by starting small. I challenge you to do the same. Implement a big scale vision with one recipient.  Then, see what happens next.

Keep dreaming big, however consider starting small.  The impact and difference you make in just one life IS a really big thing.   And it may lead to that big scale goal in ways you cannot even imagine!

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Delay the Business Plan

just-do-it-1432951_1280It is pretty much expected that if we are going to say yes to rolling out a new program idea, we must have a plan in place.  Of course, we need to know the people it will take to make it happen and their roles – taking into account tasks and related expertise.  We need to figure out program materials and related presenters.  We navigate through identifying the audience and how to target them.  We establish the steps, not only until implementation, but through it as well.  A lot of line item budgeting takes place. And most oftentimes, everyone is asking their circles of friends and advisors for the justification why the program should take place and what the expected outcomes might be when complete.

What if you just do the program because you think it is the right thing to do?  Take those in the small circle of passionate contributors and give them any role they want to  be able to participate.  If they don’t know how to contribute, they will learn.  Ask them who they know that they can reach out to on short notice to deliver programs and materials to the public.  Just put the new program idea out there to your collective audiences. Let them know that something big is going to take place for a limited number of select individuals.  Just have a budget for a big number of individuals for when the program takes off.  And see….what happens.

Our first Camp To Belong summer camp took place 90 days after the idea was conceived.  We converged on the campus of UNLV with that small circle of colleagues, friends and family as volunteer counselors.  We engaged a small number of case managers to identify 32 kids; all part of sibling groups.  We didn’t have a swimming pool, so the fire department came and turned on their hoses.  We couldn’t go horse back riding because it was too hot for the horses at the stable, so the groomers of the Italian Stallions of the Excalibur Hotel brought the horses over for everyone to pet.  The baseball coach ran a softball game.  An art teacher led art programs.    We set up a campfire with logs, crepe paper and flashlights because campfires were banned.  A gospel group helped us sing camp songs.  We put in our own money and the rest came and covered the budget.

We made memories!

Now we have almost a dozen Summer Camps across the U.S. and Australia.  Up to 100 campers each, all with siblings, and counselors with a 1-2 ratio to learn, play and grow together.  Our site partners are accredited ACA Camps with pools, or lakes, or one even near an ocean.  We go horseback riding and play all kinds of sports.  And our art programs are intentional for siblings to express themselves to each other.  We have real live, under the stars, campfires and we sing from morning til night.  And more than just Camps, we affect legislation, family recruitment and best practice.  And, the money is coming.

You see, all that growth happened because we didn’t have a plan up front.  We just did it!!  And, to be honest, I think it was better than what we could have planned?!

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Keep Your Circles Small

So often, we seek advice, counsel and affirmation from others when we make choices in our lives.  I  want to expand on the concept of keeping your circles small small when saying yes to pursuing the passions that live within you.together-235128_1920_peoople_circle

First, let’s remember that keeping your circles small when presenting your ideas will yield better results. So oftentimes, we feel we need approval to soar into and execute our wildest imaginations.  We ask far and wide, ‘what do you think,’ feeling confident others will understand exactly what we are talking about and will jump in the trenches with us through their expressions of approval.  We think that, in evaluation, they will contemplate the reasoning, the nuances, the challenges and the triumphs.  We just know they will see it, feel it, smell it, taste and hear it just as we do.  We are sure they can read our minds and will be right there with us in an enthusiastic fashion to support our realization of our dreams.

But not everyone comes alongside so willingly.  We need to remember that not everyone sees our visions a clearly as we do.  They don’t know what we know and at the time of decision or indecision, they may be contemplating their own experiences and not necessarily ours.  They may even have a similar story to share of what didn’t work rather then an unbiased opinion of the strengths and weaknesses of our ideas.

The truth is, you don’t know what will work until you work it!  So instead I encourage you to use every sense of your imagination with a short list of comrades that know you and are willing to trust with your intentions and intuitions without all the commentary.  Let them hold you accountable to the implementation and evaluation of the outcomes rather then the choice of pursuit – placing themselves in your mind and heart for the reality checks needed when planning actions towards achieving your dreams. Utilize them to continue to go forward with discussion and remember, the only approval you need is your own.   Say yes!

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It’s all about the YES!

What are the personal dreams you put on hold, defend the tardiness, excuse the incompletion, perpetually move down on your list, figure ‘no’ would be the best course of action because the time is just not right?

yes-593833_1280How about saying YES, now?

You are a person on a mission – an entrepreneur with a method to the madness – a force to be reckoned with. You just have a heart and a gut intuition that ‘something’s got to change’ or maybe just shift. You realize it is not about everything, it is about preserving the best and enhancing the rest. It’s not about big, it is about one small step…..

What is the change, the shift, you want to see and experience in your world, our world?

Say YES now. Consider the following:

  • Keep your circles small. Avoid the tendency to ask an army for their opinions. Most have grand advice for what won’t work. Whether ‘it’s been done before,’ or ‘you can’t do that,’ negative opinions tend to stall your momentum. Initially, I asked five friends and colleagues not only about the vision, but to join it. My sister said, ‘never heard of it, but if you say it is going to happen, it will.’ All jumped in the trenches including a friend as treasurer who didn’t even know how to balance her own check book?!
  • Delay the business plan. Strategic business calls for a business plan. And, that plan takes analysis and long range insight. What if you just do it, and then plan based on the outcomes? From the time I had the vision, to our first program, was three months!
  • Think small and one program at a time! Dreamers tend to think big. What if you just make a difference in one person’s life? Or in my case minimally two? The vision was to reunite a minimum of two siblings from a family. Our first Camp hosted 32 siblings from many families. When the last camper departed, the volunteers looked to me for what was next? ‘I don’t know, I replied, but I just fell in love with 32 kids, let’s do it again!’ Annual Camps and year-round programs flourished.
  • Assume the permission. Know when to hang up the phone or walk out the door. Sales people know that sometimes closing a deal is based on silence. However, with that pause comes body language, and, a skirmish opportunity for the person listening to say no. What if you hang up or walk out the door with confidence and go forward assuming a yes? When my main constituent said, ‘that’s a great idea,’ to have youth in foster care from Nevada travel to Colorado to Camp, I said thank you and left his office. I knew what would follow would be a conversation about the challenges of taking these youth across state lines. The next exchange I had with him was from the airport in Denver when the campers arrived. “The kids are here, I said.” He replied, ‘Where?’ I excitedly shared, ‘in Colorado, you said it was a great idea!’
  • Replicate without ego. It takes one person to have a vision, skipping the stone across the water. Once you prove the model, it takes a village to bring it to fruition, the ripple. Invite people to collaborate, not only by telling them about your vision taking place, but inviting them to experience it and then replicate it. Your volunteers will be chomping at the bit to share the vision where it hits home for them. That ‘do it again’, and ‘power of the ripple’ has resulted in reuniting over 10,000 siblings in 10 states and Australia – with partners and volunteers who live the journey in many meaningful ways.

So, as we head into the end of…today…say YES to your dream. I welcome presenting a keynote or passioning with you one-on-one to take your vision from do it now, to do it again!

It’s all about … your … YES to change or shift … NOW! One small step!
Lynn Price
Social Entrepreneur – ChangeMaker – Ripple Creator
Ashoka Fellow; Founder and President Emeritus, Camp To Belong

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If you tell Oprah…you better follow through

Lynn Price, Oprah, Angel Network, Camp To Belong, Social Entrepreneur2005 – Camp Kentahten, Campbellsville Kentucky – Flashback; several years prior to being a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, I told Oprah and her worldwide audience that Camp To Belong would be expanding to Canada.  It just came out of my mouth.  There really wasn’t a plan.  I didn’t even know anyone in Canada.  But, the intention was set.

Through the beauty of being in the right place at the right time – in front of their respective television sets – Wendi and Susan, two Canadian women with vibrant energy and commitment to vision, helped put the ripples in motion.  With strategic outreach to Tim Horton Children’s Foundation, devotees of Camp experiences for children – and – Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, keen to engage in our vision to reunite siblings, we set our sights on Camp To Belong Canada…in Kentucky.

Yes, Canada in Kentucky, a wonderful story.  You just make it happen!   On a starlit August eve in 2005 anticipating the arrival of 60 campers and chaperones from Toronto, I marveled at the outcomes of intention alongside Caz, Chew, Papa, Magic and Linus as they announced to a volunteer counselor team giddy with anticipation of this special Camp experience that we all needed Camp names.

That’s when I became Ripple and the Power of the Ripple was born.  You see, they gifted me with an identity that emulated my vision, casting that one stone of intention across a still body of water.  That stone caused a ripple touching all the people involved in bringing Camp To Belong Canada to fruition.  The waves surged and catapulted to contagious collaboration that celebrated – in this case Camp To Belong Canada – where everyone rode the whitecaps as sibling memories were about to be made.

More Camp names were thoughtfully knighted around that opening counselor campfire like Kodak, Fiesta, Dixie, Harley and Curly.  And, the next morning as our sibling campers separated by foster care, alongside 40 volunteer counselors and staff stood in respectful attention as the American Flag was raised alongside the Canadian flag, the joy of singing The Star Spangled Banner and O Canada beautifully resonated for the Power of the Ripple and the intention set with Oprah.

Welcome to the Power of the Ripple Blog where we will share stories of the ripple…the wave…the tsunami that educates and engages people far and wide in ways we cannot even imagine with casting that one initial stone!

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