Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Book Review: Tidying Up

I’m having a weird moment as I write this latest book recommendation.

After having done a number of these recommendations over the years, I wonder if you all know a little too much about my issues. Sure, I over share on a daily basis (ask the staff) and tend to be pretty open about my life. However, at what point do you all say, “OK, Paul. Got it.” I don’t think this is the one, but I may be getting close. 

I have a bunch of stuff that I don’t need. From books, clothes, college t-shirts, old concert tickets, and junk drawers (yes, that’s plural), to my office (don’t get me started about organizers), I am realizing yet again how much crap I accumulate. One of the best things about getting engaged and planning to share your life with someone is the inevitable question of “Are you going to keep that?” which is said in such a loving and caring way by your soon to be partner when you know that they are questioning their decision should you respond affirmatively. Oh the fun. Anyway…

So I made the mistake or the good decision of picking up the book by Marie Kondo, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and sharing it with my fiancé. I knew it was a good book when she stole it from me and finished it in two days. I knew I would also be impacted by it when she told me to read it immediately. Yep, she told me, didn’t ask. Love her to death. 

Anyway, wow. I was blown away by the mental approach to tidying up being more important than the actual tidying up. If something doesn’t bring you joy when you look at it or touch it, why do you keep it? Damn you, Kondo. Throw my stuff right back in my face why don’t you?!! I’ve looked at clothes I don’t wear any more (bachelor days) and items that irritate me (broken holiday lights), and didn’t bat an eye. Just took it for being a part of my life that was accepted. 

Now, I’m out of control. First of all, “tidying up” is such a better way to say “get rid of your crap” so I don’t avoid it as much. The book’s approach is all about the feel of going through your belongings than it is the actual act of decluttering. Love that. Love the way that I look at my home in a different way. Love the way it makes me think about what is important in life. Love the way that it brings my future partner and I together to be intentional about what we want in our lives. Actually make decisions about what we want in our lives. 

So I did what everyone does when they discover something cool…I posted it to Facebook. By the response from my friends, I’m not the only that has enjoyed the book. I hope you pick it up and feel the same. 

Now back to that pile of clothes in the middle of my bedroom…


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Staying in Action: Backpack Brigade

A few months back we learned of Amy Krigsman's Backpack Brigade idea and have been following along with her project. We invited Amy to share her experience on the blog. Thanks for reading.

My name is Amy Krigsman. I attended LeaderShape's Institute program Boston in May 2014. As a part of our journey at the Institute, we are tasked with coming up with our vision for the world and how we would go about achieving that vision. I will tell you that eradicating homelessness was not my vision then. It has become one of them since.

This all started with a YouTube video of a kid in California that put together some backpacks and took to the streets to hand them out to the homeless. The smiles on those people's faces were contagious. I knew I wanted to do something similar in my community. I reached out to several different organizations that I was a part of and had very little success.

The first attempt at this project was done with a small group and yielded about 10 backpacks. We took to the streets of downtown Dallas and the reactions we got were indescribable. The gratitude written on the faces of those we’d helped was priceless. The experience was intense, to say the least, and it made me reevaluate the things I took for granted: fresh fruits and vegetables, the television with 500 channels and still nothing to watch, a hot shower, my mind. But we didn't anticipate how extensive and hard-hit homelessness was in Dallas.

Just below the overpass of I-30 where it intersects 45, you'll find a city within a city. This city is built with tents and camp chairs. It extends out for several blocks, a neighborhood of abandoned homes and businesses being used as shelter for those that have nowhere else to call home.

I knew I had to do more. I regrouped and decided my next goal was to assemble and distribute 100 backpacks and hot meals, to increase my efforts tenfold.

On Saturday, August 22, a group of 12 met downtown with 60 backpacks and jambalaya in tow. The distribution itself was frenzied, but the gratitude radiated. Following the distribution, we had the opportunity to walk around and talk to the residents, to find out more about them and what they needed. In addition, important contacts were made with other groups also on a mission to find a solution.

The project raised over $1,200 in monetary donations and another $1,000 worth of product donations. I am completely blown away by the support this project has received in such a short amount of time.

The goal of this project was not to facilitate or enable a cycle. It was to be kind and generous and to let our fellow men and women know that they are not forgotten and that they matter.

The problem with homelessness in America is not that there are no resources. The problem is that resources are few and people that care are fewer. Further, there is no solution, only Band-Aids to cover up the problem so we don’t see it. What needs to happen is the establishment of dedicated facilities that take in the homeless and rehabilitate them, instead of turning them back out on the street. These facilities need to include shelter, drug addiction counseling, and career counseling, so those in need can truly be integrated back into society and have a solid foundation to build on.

If homelessness is to be eradicated, the conversation surrounding it needs to change. I want you to stop for a minute and think about the last time you saw someone on the street asking for help. What thoughts were going through your head? Did you wonder why they couldn’t just go out and get a job instead of begging for your hard-earned money? Did you help them or did you keep driving? Did you even make eye contact? Up until about six months ago, I was one of those people that didn’t make eye contact and kept driving. Part of that was my upbringing. I grew up in an environment that did not look favorably on the poor and decrepit and did not see homelessness as a cause worthy of donating to. Part of initiating this project was overcoming my own stereotypes and changing the conversation I had with myself.

My hope is that the Backpack Brigade will become a force that has the ability to start to change the conversation surrounding homelessness. Because the Backpack Brigade is not a registered 501(c)3 at the present time, finding support is difficult, however, the next round of backpacks are tentatively scheduled to go out in March and then again in October. Beyond that, my goal for this cause is to establish a 501(c)3 non-profit and build a facility dedicated to rehabilitating the homeless. That is a 2- to 3-year plan.

The possibilities for contributing to the cause are literally endless. We realized on Saturday that even the 60 backpacks we were able to put together were not enough. In March, I hope to double the number of backpacks we are able to hand out. It is never too soon to begin donating funds or supplies. I will be rebooting the GoFundMe page within the next few weeks, as well as reaching out to potential corporate sponsors. Recognition will be a huge part of this. The more people that know about our efforts and the problem at hand, the more we can do to solve it. Media support is something that I desperately hope to acquire before the next round in March. If you or anyone you know are interested in supporting the Backpack Brigade, I can be contacted by email at

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Pebble Club: 2015 Campaign, Part 4

The final post in our Pebble Club series introduces you to three more donors. Meet Ted, Hope, and Viancca:

Ted Grossnickle
Connection to LeaderShape: 
Cluster Facilitator at Campus Session, Summer 2011
On-Site Coordinator at National Session, Summer 2011

Why I support LeaderShape through the Pebble Club:
I believe in supporting organizations that align with my core values and make a positive change in society.  At one point in my life, I was able to dedicate time to LeaderShape, and hope to again in the future.  Currently not having the schedule flexibility to be directly involved with LeaderShape sessions, I embrace the opportunity to stay connected via monetary support as a member of the Pebble Club.  I am proud to know that I am part of the support group that contributes to the advancement of this wonderful organization.

One piece of advice I would share with someone participating in a LeaderShape program is:
Embrace the opportunity.  Fully embrace it.  Diving in head first to this experience will be a decision you never regret when reflecting on how positively such a short amount of time could be so impactful on your life.

I live the lessons and mission of LeaderShape in my own life by/through:
Currently, I am the Director of the Michigan Creativity Association - an organization charged with creating the next generation of innovative thinkers and leaders.  I have the opportunity to live the lessons of LeaderShape by creating opportunities for K-12 students to live, lead, and learn with integrity in a creative exploration context.  Embracing a healthy disregard for the impossible, I have taken on the monumental task of providing international learning experiences for students, which have included trips to Beijing, China and Wrocław, Poland for global celebrations of student creativity.

Hope Miller Miles
Connection to LeaderShape: 
Our institution hosted the Catalyst program and has also sent students to the annual Leadershape Institute hosted by Baltimore Collegetown organization. I am also a close personal friend of Leadershape staff member Kristen Bendon Hyman.

Why I support LeaderShape through the Pebble Club:
I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to take part in this life-changing program and I fully believe in the mission of Leadershape.

One piece of advice I would share with someone participating in a LeaderShape program is: Go in with an open mind, open heart, and be open to learning something you might not have recognized in yourself and in others.

I live the lessons and mission of LeaderShape in my own life by/through:
Living with passion and remembering to make each day an opportunity to impact the world around me.

Viancca Williams
Connection to LeaderShape:
Co-Lead Facilitator

Why I support LeaderShape through the Pebble Club: 
I believe LeaderShape is the preeminent leadership and personal development program in the nation for college students. The focus on leading with integrity and having a healthy disregard for the impossible lines up with my values set and gives me hope for a better world.

One piece of advice I would share with someone participating in a LeaderShape program is: Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable! This allows you to reflect in a deeper manner on who you are and allows others to see that you’re human. 

I live the lessons and mission of LeaderShape in my own life by/through: 
Reflecting on my values daily and making sure that my decisions and actions match those values

If you are ready to join the Pebble Club, you can do so by visiting the Donate page on our website. Don't forget to click the "Pebble Club" box. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

#Day7 and Questions

We are loving this video from Soul Pancake. In it they ask, “If you could change anything in the world, what would you change?”

It really is a fitting video for #Day7 - a day and concept about staying in action and committing to making a difference in our world.

That’s a pretty big task though, isn’t it? Making a difference in our world. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by it.

An anchor can help though.

An anchor can keep us connected to the larger and ultimate goal. And maybe that anchor can be found through a question like the one Soul Pancake posed in their video. And like the one we ask at the Institute: “If you could have the world anyway you wanted, what would it look like?” 

On this #Day7, take time to reflect on these questions. To connect with how you want to see the world. And use your ideas as fuel to keep moving. To set some goals that will help you get closer to that ideal world. To find your anchor and stay in action.

If you don’t know much about Soul Pancake, you can learn about their work here and watch their videos on their YouTube channel.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pebble Club: 2015 Campaign, Part 3

Here it is! The third post (here are the first and second) in our Pebble Club series. We are excited for you to meet donors Maddie, Randy, and Maureen:

Maddie Brink
Connection to LeaderShape:
I graduated from the Institute in May of 2013. 

Why I support LeaderShape through the Pebble Club:
I support Leadershape through the Pebble Club because I genuinely believe in the ideals of Leadershape. I wish everyone could experience Leadershape because it has made my life so much fuller. I hope Leadershape becomes a huge community.

One piece of advice I would share with someone participating in a LeaderShape program is:
Be aware of how large the Leadershape community already is before you became a part of it. Be humble because you are not the first person to experience something so life-changing. Reach out to the broader community and pay attention to stories. This way, you will be okay existentially as you ponder on whether or not Leadershape is something different from the "real" world.

I live the lessons and mission of LeaderShape in my own life by/through: 
The way I embody Leadershape is by repeating it like a mantra in my mind. There are some situations where I feel anxious or unsure of how my own behavior is going to affect other people. Whenever I say Leadershape in my mind for myself, I feel more comfortable just being me. Whenever I do so, my heart feels calmer and I can better serve myself and the people near me.

Randy Lewis
Connection to LeaderShape:
Co-Lead Faciliator

Why I support LeaderShape through the Pebble Club:
It is another way that I can try to make a difference in someone's life. I love the teachings
and learnings of LeaderShape's Institute program and all it stands for!  

One piece of advice I would share with someone participating in a LeaderShape program is:  Hold On! It's a bit of a wild ride, and at times it starts to seem like another class or workshop you have taken, but believe me it's not. 

I live the lessons and mission of LeaderShape in my own life by/through:
Being the highest level of integrity I can at work and within my personal life! The value of my word is huge for me so I will always follow through what I promise in doing!  

Maureen Metcalf
Connection to LeaderShape: 
Former leader in residence for LeaderShape and also author who collaborates with
LeaderShape and donates portion of books

Why I support LeaderShape through the Pebble Club: 
I believe that developing solid young leaders is directly tied to the quality of future for our country. The work LeaderShape does is highly significant in accomplishing the goal of building strong young leaders

One piece of advice I would share with someone participating in a LeaderShape program is: Take it seriously – get as much out of it as you can. What you learn now will shape the rest of your life!

I live the lessons and mission of LeaderShape in my own life by/through: 
My clarity about my own mission /vision and living those every day. My life is dedicated to living my dream to make the world a better place.

If you are ready to join the Pebble Club, you can do so by visiting the Donate page on our website. Don't forget to click the "Pebble Club" box.