I could’ve written and posted this piece at 12:01am on New Year’s Day. But, I wanted to wait. I wanted to analyze my 2016. I wanted to remember the highs and the lows, the moments when I had all the Instagram likes and when my phone was Sahara Desert dry. 2016 was the best year of my life, but for many others it was their worst. I wanted a piece to reflect that symmetry and showcase the beauty in the struggle.
Dude, Prince died. PRINCE. How do you get rid of Purple Rain? We lost a lot of great celebrities in 2016: Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, and let’s not forget the legend that is Muhammad Ali.
2016 taught me that life is short. It was humbling seeing the legends we grew up admiring struggling and eventually passing. As a child, you believed certain people were bigger than life. Prince was definitely that for me, and when I head he passed, it was an eye-opening experience.
Even if they are legendary, they’re still human. We like to put celebrities in this glass house, but then get upset when we can see the smears and cracks. I learned in 2016 that life is tough and always celebrate the legends.
I learned this over my four years at the University of Georgia, but it didn’t hit home until I was ready to leave this year. It’s always bigger than you. Your result is never the end game; it’s about the next person’s result. You should be setting the next person behind for success.
The most important thing anyone can do is positively affect their community. For me in 2016, that was my biggest struggle. I served my community at UGA, but I never really appreciated it until after I left. I took it for granted. I used to think it interfered with time I could’ve been making films and reporting stories.
Now, while I’m doing the latter, I miss serving my community. My biggest challenge to myself in 2017 is to find the balance. I learned in 2016 that personal gain is not more important than community.
It’s the terribly racist, sexist, spray-tanned, toupee’ wearing elephant in the room. He, who shall not be named, gave us all a reminder in 2016. As progressive and open we try to pretend America is, there is still a large section (48% of the popular vote to be exact) that wouldn’t agree with that rhetoric.
He preached hate, mocked a disabled reporter, lied at every turned and still became president. What do you tell kids now? It used to be if you worked hard, treated people with respect, and was a good person you will be rewarded.
Now, they see a bigot in office who got there by bullying and being dishonest. What message does that send? In 2016, hate won. Racists, Sexists, bigots, and all those who oppose equality in every sense of the word took their country back. I just hope in 2017, love can win again. I learned in 2016 that America is more divided than any of us ever knew.
I had the blessing in 2016 to chase my dream, and I’m living proof that you can have everything you ever wished for. No goal is too big or out of reach. If you’re passionate about it, chase it. Live, don’t just be alive.
Don’t settle in a job because it pays well. Of course, the money is nice, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. But, you shouldn’t deny yourself your dreams just because the paycheck looks good.
Additionally, you can’t let other deter or talk you out of your dreams. Is it risky? Absolutely. Is it time consuming and arduous? You bet it is. If you never chase your dream, you’ll always be left with that what if question, and nothing eats at your core more than the “what-if.”
If you can’t bet on yourself, who can you? In 2016, I learned that you can’t hide your gift from the world. It’s too selfish.
Social media has been a great way to shine a light on the best Nashville, Tennessee has to offer…but it’s only #halfthestory.
Yes, we do get invited to some pretty fabulous events and get hooked up with some great local products that we are so incredibly grateful for.
Our account does not show the countless hours of hard work (and tears) we’ve put into working on a very special project (announcement coming soon!) that will benefit local businesses and local non-profits.
Our future goals and dreams for @thenashvilleguide are so much more than the Instagram account we have today.
We hope our hard work will benefit the Nashville community in ways we never imagined.
All the work maintaining the account is so worth it. We are so grateful for you. Our account wouldn’t be what it is today and where it’s going in the future without each and every one of you. Thank you so much for being part of the community.
And we would like to give a big thank you to @halfthestory for letting us be a part of your campaign. We don’t often get to share the behind-the-scenes story people don’t see on social media. We support everything you are doing and the push for people to be more raw and authentic through social media. Please give @halfthestory (founded in Nashville!) a follow and be part of the journey.
*True author of the post chooses to remain anonymous*
As a child, I was always fascinated by the world around me. The way people interacted with one another. The way leaves crunched on the street under my rain boots. The way people’s eyes got red and puffy when they laughed so hard they cried. My knowledge was the culmination of my observations.
Growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta was amazing. I was exposed to a diverse array of cultural, religious, and socioeconomic lifestyles from a young age, and those things also molded my perspective of the world. I grew up with Indian, African-American, Chinese, Korean, Mexican, and plain old American friends by my side. I didn’t even put any brain power into thinking about this because I thought it was how everyone grew up.
I attended a big SEC school full of totally new cultures. I was exposed to something I had never seen or experienced before: racism. Coming of age right beside the historic center of the civil rights movement, I’d of course heard stories of racial discrimination, but I never really saw or understood what that really meant.
I joined AIESEC at my university in order to feel like I could be surrounded by globally-minded individuals, rather than the right wing conservatives I had been meeting, but in fact I wasn’t so sure that I was even globally-minded myself. The organization I was in seemed culturally inclusive and great, but who was I to even talk about the world if I only knew my own backyard? I decided then that the solution to these issues I was encountering at my university was to leave and learn in a new environment instead.
Last semester, I made the decision to travel abroad, and I picked just about the most comfort-zone destination I could have chosen: London, England. Now before you judge me, let me explain. I grew up on Harry Potter. This decision was just ingrained in my blood. I had to go.
I spent a wonderful five months in England, and I had the opportunity to travel to a few other countries in Western Europe. I made some of the best friends of my life and had so many incredible adventures.
But beautiful, clean, safe, London wasn’t so heavenly after all. While there, I had the chance to experience an election season. During this time, I learned a decent amount about the UK’s political history of systemic racism. There wasn’t a black MP until very recent history.
The melting pot of cultures present in London can be at times subject to racist scrutiny from those with native English blood. The Syrian refugee crisis tested the cultural acceptance of Great Britain.
For this reason, coming home to the USA was a turning point for me. I realized that there was no way that I could solve the world’s problems before solving those in my own community. I decided to run for the national staff of AIESEC in the United States to do a marketing role, and here I am. The reason why I’m here is because I believe that leadership is the solution. The skills and understanding that I developed in AIESEC before and during the time I spent abroad are directly correlated to my desire and ability to make a difference as a young person.
Recently, an alumni of AIESEC in the United States, Jonathan Butler, started a youth movement at The University of Missouri. He peacefully protested the systemic racism of his schools’ administration and he succeeded in removing two of the main instigators of the issues. The university’s environment is by no means fixed, but what he has done is channeled his anger and passion into change. He stood with his peers to change things on his campus, and he caused real, tangible decisions to be made.
I saw a racist community back home so I fled. When I arrived, I found the same issues in my so-called safe haven. Young people need to realize that the issues they face here are the same issues that young people face all across the world. Facilitating those spaces and channels of communication may seem easy via social media, but the power of young people standing together is unquestionable. If I can play a part in facilitating that global connection and turning it into action, I’ll feel like I did something worthwhile.
And that’s why I do what I do.
Life is crazy. Life is weird. Life is unexpected. “Life” is all about how you choose to live it. As you get older, you start to ponder about your life and your future more often. You get scared, you get sad, you get worried, and you get anxious. In the midst of all these emotions, you are living your life, never stopping to think about the ending to it. But what if one day your life suddenly ended? What if an unexpected tragedy occurred and you lost someone? Even worse, someone close to you. Your world is all of a sudden shattered and you question why it happened and what you could’ve done to stop it.
UGA lost four beautiful souls on the night of April 27th. What happened was completely unexpected and completely devastating. How is it that they are they alive and laughing and physically there one second, and in the next, just gone forever? It doesn’t make sense to me, and doesn’t make sense to most people.
However, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Maybe God needed them up in heaven and they had fulfilled their duties here on Earth. Maybe it was their time to go and be with Him. We don’t know; we will never know. No one saw it coming; no one could stop what happened.
But what about the families and the best friends of the victims? How do they possibly lessen the pain of their loss? How do they wake up everyday and not remember over and over again that their loved one isn’t there? My heart is aching for the families of Christina, Halle, Kayla, and Brittany. Knowing that all four of those best friends are in Heaven hand in hand is putting me at peace, and I hope everyone else mourning can think of that too.
I’ve lost very few people throughout my life and for that I’m thankful, because I don’t know how I would handle it. I am so incredibly blown away by the strength of humans, especially in the time of mourning a loved one. I’ve watched one of my good friends go through the loss of his little sister in this horrible car accident, and I am constantly amazed. How does he have the strength to even see people? Talk to people? Answer his texts and post on Facebook? But then I soon realized, life does go on.
They want us to be happy. All your loved one wanted when they were here was for you to be happy, and nothing’s changed even though they’re in a different place.
They aren’t suffering or in pain, they’re in a place full of happiness, love, and good people, and what makes them happier than anything is looking down knowing that you are happy.
So, for all of those out there suffering from the loss of a loved one, live your life not only for you, but for them. Finish out what they started, and live with them inside you every single day. Think about how they would have wanted you to live and carry out their lives. Let their beautiful souls shine through you. We only have one life, so choose to live it wisely. However that is you choose, just know that your loved ones are never actually gone. They’re woven throughout you and everything that you do. They radiate off of you and your strength. Take this life and make it the best it can be, for you, for your loved ones, and for the man upstairs that’s always there for you.
They say it’s not the name, but what is associated with the name that stands out. When I hear the name Brett Hagler, Founder and CEO of New Story Charity, the words grit, determination, hustle, willpower, generous, and purpose-driven ring loud and clear. For the past year and a half, I have followed Brett’s journey from being admitted into Y Combinator Accelerator Program to where he is today. Brett is the quintessential entrepreneur who has carved his own unique path, a path I aspire to emulate in my own career.
New Story was founded in 2014 after Brett returned from Haiti on a mission trip from his revived Christian faith. Brett saw the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that uprooted homes and communities, which sank the country into a deeper hole of poverty.
As the quote goes, “in every crisis there’s an opportunity” and immediately Brett formed an idea to fix the problems he saw. First, Brett wanted to solve the problem of homelessness for these environments shaken by mother nature. Second, he wanted to do so with full transparency so people donating could see exactly how their money was being used.
Before long, New Story Charity was formed. And today, they have built 640 homes in 2 years, 6 communities, all in 3 different countries.
Their traction begs the question, how did they do It?
From the outside, one would think Y Combinator was the spark that lifted them into the entrepreneurial heavens, but it is what they did in the dark that brought them into the light. When asking Brett about what they did before their acceptance, you could tell his determination to make New Story Charity work while disregarding the potential costs.
In Paul Graham’s famous article, New Story Charity took the approach to do things that don’t scale.
For the first people who made donations, they sent them videos from the New Story team thanking them for their contribution. Brett talked about treating the first 100 users with extreme care to make them love you and love your product. Brett was the guy messaging every single one of his Facebook friends and asking them to donate so they could reach their weekly donation goals. Brett and his team were also extremely adamant about setting quantifiable and tangible goals that were attainable. In the early days, they set weekly goals of raising between $1,000 to $2,000.
New Charity worked with a local construction team that had already built hundreds of homes that we wanted our homes to mimic. The charity received the line item costs that went into building the homes, reached an agreement with the company that all homes would be a flat $6k (despite small local price variations), and then helped to hold each other accountable for funding and building.
Other tech companies should take note of that New Story Charity built their first site on the least tech possible. Brett spoke about how they had a “fake” crowdfunding page, so when people donated money, their admins on the backend of the site would manually have to go in and update the total.
This “Fake it until you make it approach/style” has continued on today. In 2015 New Story Charity did a PR Stunt opening up Nasdaq.
When asking Brett on the phone about this, he mentioned how New Story has nothing to do with Nasdaq, but it was about associating their brand with another brand. The stunt worked effectively as people still ask him about this story today.
Last but not least, Brett spoke of the time his team set a goal to fund 100 homes in 100 days. When they started, they had no idea or plan of how they would achieve this goal. Not only did they reach their goal, but they did it 9 days ahead of schedule. Ultimately, what has allowed for New Story’s success is Brett’s vision and his relentless nature to be great and impact lives around him.
But apparently this is just the beginning …
Visions Evolve, but Frameworks don’t
When asking Brett about how his vision has changed, he said “I began to realize we weren’t just building houses. We were building communities.” When New Story Charity first started, the goal was to just build one house at a time, but as that vision became easier to achieve, his focus and realm of possibility expanded. So much so that his vision is to build 10,000 communities in 10 years. Yes, the vision has evolved, but Brett has maintained that the framework stays the same … Meaning the principles which helped them stay successful in the beginning are rooted in their foundation.
Friendly Human Video: (New Story)
New Story Charity’s Opportunistic Philosophy on Social Media
One of the best takeaways when speaking with Brett was his candid response about how his team uses social media. The New Story Team shares the philosophy of sharing 90% opportunity and 10% reality. When I asked Brett to explain what this meant, he replied “The reality can depressing, but why show that reality when there is so much opportunity to make a worldwide difference.” And this all goes back to the New Story Brand — from Day 1 they have embodied a brand that gives a sense of hope for others in need and they are proudly serving that mission every day.
Donor Transparency & How New Story Funds themselves
Brett started out because of the problem he saw in Haiti: the lack of transparency with non-profits receiving millions of dollars but not disclosing where the money was going. New Story Charity’s promise is that for every dollar donated to their charity, it goes directly to funding a house. They send the donor a video of exactly what they are funding and supporting.
As it goes for the team, Brett has established incredible relationships with whom he calls the “Builders” who fund the internal team who believe in the mission. They have so much faith in New Story’s success that the team has roughly 3 years of burn rate (meaning they technically have enough money to fund their operation until 2020)!
Building a Great Team and Establishing Credibility
Brett mentioned the most rewarding aspect of his job is waking up with amazing team members who he gets to stand shoulder to shoulder with everyday. Team members who are smarter than he is who share a common vision to create positive change in the world.
The pursuit of their team has also allowed them to attract the right people to help their brand gain traction.
Brett shared how leveraging credible names and organizations behind his vision has heavily attributed to New Story’s success. For example, when you go on the New Story’s site, you can see advisors whom they associate with that are extremely well known, such as David Butler and Brad Feld. Brett said that as a startup, no one knows about you, or your product, and the more you can align with other organizations to get your name out there, the better.
It only seems with New Story’s growth, the people they have behind them, and their vision, that they are only going to continue attract great people and make the world a better place one community at a time.
Brett’s Speaking Preview
Brett’s Parting Words | Advice to Entrepreneurs
“In Order to Gain You Life, You have to give up your life”
You can email Brett at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow New Story Charity on FB: https://www.facebook.com/newstorycharity/
Follow New Story Charity on IG: https://www.instagram.com/newstorycharity/
When I saw that becoming a Health Community Ambassador was something that Wish Dish was doing, I jumped at the chance. By serving in this role I can impact so many people and the health community by helping people share their stories.
I’ve come up with some goals to accomplish along the way.
My ultimate goal while serving as a Wish Dish Health Community Ambassador is to create a community and safe haven. I want the Wish Dish Health Community to be an open forum for everyone to share their stories.
By providing a community for everyone to share their stories I hope it leads to resources for others to use. I want Wish Dish Health to serve as an outlet for people to share their resources and stories to hopefully help just one person who reads their story.
I want someone to read a story and realize that someone else has been affected by cancer, suicide, multiple sclerosis, addiction, etc. and now they have a contact person to serve as a resource for helplines, spiritual/religious resource, foundations, etc.
By allowing people to share their stories about how they been affected by suicide, depression, anxiety, etc. it brings attention to these health topics that need to be pushed to the forefront of research so that we can work towards a cure or more help for those wanting to live a normal life in the community.
Mental health and disabilities have become such taboo topics to discuss. I’m hoping through Wish Dish Health that people are willing to talk more and more about these topics in order to bring them into the light of health topics and let people know that its OK to discuss these topics with one another. We want to encourage these conversations in order to help save just one more life.
The more people are willing to share their stories and experiences then it forces people to start a conversation. This allows people to become more aware of health issues that are affecting so many people around the world today.
I want people to learn as much as they can about different health topics. Research topics like autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, schizophrenia, ADD/ADHD, Zika, diabetes, etc. There are plenty of resources online to learn more.
TED Talks has a great piece on autism by Temple Grandin you should check it out!
In May I’ll graduate with my BSN and I hope to use that degree to help change the lives of NICU babies and their families. But for now I want to use Wish Dish Health to help change and save lives.
By serving as a Wish Dish Health Community Ambassador it will help expand my knowledge on many health issues as well as see how people cope with certain things. This will help me tremendously with my professional development as well as help me connect better with my patients.
This story is a snapshot of my Godson, Devon Gales, and the relationship he shares with his Godfather, Coach Gantt. This story is the inspiration for the book project they are working on about Devon’s life and injury; their relationship and the commitment to clinging to faith in the midst of adversity.
I have a snapshot of Devon Gales and Coach Bryant Gantt in my head that replays repeatedly like the reel in a silent movie. Coach Gantt is feeding Devon pecans. The vision of this in and of itself is enough to make me laugh uncontrollably, especially since I’m privy to the massiveness of Coach Gantt’s hands and the overwhelming UGA Championship ring he wears with great pride.
However, my laughter quickly subsides once I embrace the tenderness of the moment and how it came to pass. It occurred early in Devon’s rehabilitative process but it speaks volumes of the wonderful relationship between the two men.
While we were away, Devon decided to get a snack and he struggled with accomplishing the task but Coach Gantt, stepped in and feed him.
That’s my snapshot, Devon so vulnerable and determined; and Coach Gantt so big and strong; but sitting together sharing a tender moment filled with camaraderie, empathy and compassion. Devon comfortable with allowing him to help, not prideful or embarrassed; and Coach Gantt figuring out how to offer assistance without being emasculating.
Prior to this snapshot, for months I bore witness as men watched Devon struggle with mastering basic tasks during their visits with him at the Shepherd Center and their response was to ignore his effort and wait until the medical staff or a female caregiver intervened.
Never to help. Their hesitation grounded in sexism, culturalism, but mostly because football isn’t for wimps and their own inability to acknowledge their fear.
Nevertheless, Coach Gantt an imposing man looked past all that, stood in his fearlessness, and found the balance. And Devon met him without hesitation or reservation; and so their balancing act began.
They are forever intertwined and so connected that the relationship of Godfather/Godson seems a bit inadequate when I think of them together.
However, God is definitely in the relationship they share. Coach Gantt is old enough to be Devon’s father but is still a boy in so many ways because of his love for this game that is part battleground, part playground is able to offer life lessons to this man-child as he navigates the world.
Devon the eager student that absorbs Coach Gantt’s lessons like a sponge not realizing he is teaching as well. He is offering Coach Gantt lessons in courage, strength, and living a life that completes his worth. Their relationship will transcend time and it will bear fruit because it is strong and exists for a purpose bigger than itself, it exists for GOD.
Ultimately, the book we’re writing is the result. It is not only the story of Devon Gales and Coach Bryant Gantt but also the story of how GOD has hardwired us all for glory.
We all have the capacity to be a part of something far bigger than our own small existence. This book will inspire young men to be brave, believe, trust, and commit to something bigger than themselves.
Jane first showed symptoms with sloppy handwriting, but soon she could barely stand on her own feet as her calves felt like solid lead weights. Ms. Jane Smith* would soon be diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
In the office, her vibrant personality served her colleagues with laughter and smiles. Yet, her work in the scholarship office was only the tip of the iceberg to the monumental impact she had on the Atlanta landscape—through her selfless endeavors over five decades, Ms. Smith had become one of the hardest working humanitarians for our city serving every indigent population possible. Inspired to aspire to such selfless standards, I helped put together an awareness day called Moving Day 5K Walk through the National Parkinson’s Foundation (NPF) in Atlanta alongside the Neuroscience Club (GTNeuro).
The Moving Day project was a valuable learning experience that affirmed my passion for people. This passion and fascination that I developed from working in the community with National Parkinson’s Disease and Ms. Smith turned into a desire to create change and commit to working for people. Taking ideas to the next level, thinking outside the box, and making simple ideas into tangible experiences, I found it motivating to ignite an idea to build something that can help others, putting others in front of myself.
The journey and adventure of this event was especially important to me because I realized that my passion, just like Ms. Smith, was serving people. The idea began as nothing more than a pow-wow between the GTNeuro executive team and public relations managers from NPF. We set lofty goals to raise $100,000 and to have at least 500 people come attend the event. No one in the room believed these goals would be possible–what we wanted to do was lay a small framework for a much larger event in the upcoming years.
Parkinson’s Disease wasn’t something that happened to just one person; it affected an entire community. The purpose of Moving Day would be to showcase that there is hope for the patients and the family members, and that people like Ms. Smith have our support and people rooting for them.
Teams from both GTNeuro as well as National Parkinson’s Foundation were set to execute small tasks. However, getting Moving Day off the ground from ideas on a whiteboard was a monumental hurdle–we still had to reach out to those afflicted with Parkinson’s, local businesses, and put together promotional material to gather a good crowd.
We had to recruit volunteers from Georgia Tech, contact event suppliers, and coordinate everything we did with the Georgia Tech Police Department. Even with less than four weeks before the event, we were nowhere near our goal of 500 people attending the event, 100 volunteers, or raising $100,000. Incentivizing students and adults to come out on a cold and early Saturday morning was a simple fix. Jane Smith became the rallying cause of our entire event. Her impact on Georgia Tech and Atlanta over the decades drew hundreds to our event!
My experience partnering with National Parkinson’s Foundation and helping organize this event strengthened not just my ability to communicate, think critically, and solve problems as a leader, but more importantly appreciate leadership as an art. A piece of art has been planned with great detail and complexity; each picture telling a different story, each one unique and beautiful.
So what is the different between creating a breathtaking art piece and practicing leadership? I’ve learned that no two pictures can be the same; no two leadership experiences will be similar, no two conversations with people you work with will be alike. My leadership skills gained from this fundraising event was not defined by the numerous hours of planning or meticulous meetings we had, but it was defined through the different human experiences – each unique and beautiful just like a piece of art. I have learned that in order to be an impactful leader, I cannot just strive for success, I must strive for significance – just like each picture or photo has significance.
When November 9th had come, and though some of us were worried, everyone and everything was in place: volunteers showed up an hour before the event started to set up the booths. The walkers had started lining up at the start line and the 5K walk had started. On the side, we had booths where people were doing Zumba, tango and Pilates showcasing that there are different ways to help people with Parkinson’s Disease. All tents had motor skills tables demonstrating how Parkinson’s Disease affected people.
Our event went well with over 700 people attend, 200 volunteers, and raising over $140,000 before the end. We had made a significant impact in unifying a community as well as giving people hope. We did not just lay the framework for events that could be successful in the future, we paved the way for a revolution in the Parkinson’s community.
And in Ms. Jane Smith’s words, “we strove for significance and not success because success was finite, and significance had a ripple effect that never ended.”
*The real name has been removed to protect the identity of the person due to HIPAA.
Everyone has a story to share – Wish Dish is where the world comes together to tell its story. We encourage our writers to be their authentic selves. Our rapidly growing communities are full of relatable, genuine people. We give you a place to make an impact and be part of something bigger than yourself. On Wish Dish, everyone has a voice.
Wish Dish is more than just stories – our readers and our writers make meaningful connections. Keep this in mind: for every story our writers share, someone out there can relate to it. These connections we harness benefit our community members on both personal and professional levels.
Joining Wish Dish and taking part in our movement to connect the world in a meaningful way gives you the opportunity to create lasting relationships that never would have been created. Not only do we want you to be vocal by telling your story, but we encourage you to be vocal with us. We, the creators of Wish Dish, value your thoughts, so speak up! Tell your story. Give us feedback. You matter.
Wish Dish aims to be the perfect home for the important stories of every chapter of your life story. We will connect you to similar community members automatically based on what you write, and based on your interests. Be it to musicians, creators, athletes, or professionals, you write your story and we will connect you. We aim to connect you both locally to the relatable individual down the road, or globally to your soul mate across the world.
We have big plans, so hang out and take a look around. We can’t do it without you.
To find out more about the personal story behind the platform, please visit Catalyst for Creation.