March 25, 2009

Is Anybody Listening?! Check out this Amazing Video on my YouTube Channel!

I just posted a video titled: "Is Anybody Listening?"

It was sent in by Yasmine F., in San Francisco, who saw it on YouTube and was inspired. Being a glass-half-full-type person, I see this story/project as an inspiration and motivation for everybody to get up, and look within ourselves and ask, "What can I do, within my skillset to better my community?"

One of my viewers, Colin S., told me, he's donating some business suits to a local shelter in Santa Barbara and encouraging his co-workers to do the same. Debbie M, from Vallejo, asked me where she can donate her extra tent in her garage! Maggie D., of San Francisco FaceBooked me, and is going to buy a first aid kit for the homeless too. WOW, what can you do? Now do it! Please share this
YouTube link:
... and share the inspiration!

Attitude of Gratitude

One of my favorite quotes is, "In life, 10% is what happens to you, 90% is how you react to it." Attitude accounts for a lot, especially during difficult times.

I remember going to the mall with one of my good friends, one day. Both of us didn't have to work that day, and as a matter of fact, we both had no plans- except hanging out and enjoying the sunny day. This beautiful day was almost ruined though because of what ensued...

We circled around for parking two times, and we were just about to pull into a parking spot close to a department store. Then, another car, turned the corner and took the spot. My friend's reaction, "Stupid, $%&*!," she proceeded to try honking my horn and yelling out the window. I turned the corner and found a spot just a few car lengths away and told her to take a deep breath, and be present. "We don't know whether the other driver knew we were waiting, and we didn't know what mental state the other driver was in," I told her.

This incident reminded me of the many times when my Aunt, who was undergoing chemo for her advanced breast cancer, drove slower than normal and people would honk and yell expletives at her, which only exacerbated the stressful situation. I thought, wow, only if they knew what she was going through. It made me realize I too needed to control my road rage and reactions to difficult situations when they're presented in my life. I thought, if only we were more compassionate and present in life, not only would we lower our blood pressure, our community would be a better place. I was very grateful for these eye-opening experiences.

Especially during this world economic crisis, where many people are being laid off by the minute, more people are becoming homeless, or living in the tent cities (such as the one I featured in Sacramento on my YouTube Channel), we really need to stop and think about what we have in life, the people and experiences that come with every day and every single breath. That's why this quote is truly one to live by, we all will either lose our jobs, quit, lose a family member of friend, etc., but the experience, is truly what we make of it. Making lemonade out of lemons is difficult, trust me, I know, especially after losing 4 family members in 8 months in 2001, and losing my job last December... However, I wouldn't trade those experiences and the one I'm going through now, for anything! This site inspires me with every kind word, email, comment, story idea and pay-it-forward deed that people are passing along because they were inspired by this movement.

It's been about 3 weeks since I've launched my site and I want to say that I am sincerely grateful for all of the support and action this site has caused...
Here are just a some of e-mails, comments and Facebook messages, etc, from around the world: What are you grateful for???

* * * *
Awesome!!!!!! Love it. Sorry for the delay but had limited email in Africa. Am home now and am inspired by your courage and love for this world!
I forwarded it and also subscribed.
Keely S.

I have truly been inspired by this idea! My students and I are about to embark on a research project in which we increase awareness in the school about those who have lost their homes. We are going to help the residents of tent city by raising funds and collecting resources to aid them in this hard time. This is a perfect moment to teach students empathy and good citizenship by having them participate in making their society better!
-Sacramento, CA
Erika D.

I have an extra tent in the garage, how do I get it out to the people of Tent City?
-Vallejo, CA
Debbie M.

March 14 at 5:57am
I'm sure you're sick of hearing this....but your stories on InspireTV are awesome. It's not just the stories, but it's your resolve to do what you do best, even though the economy snatched your job right out from underneath you. It is inspiring and humbling to see you continue on with the pure love of journalism.
It gives me hope that true journalists are out there...and that we can all continue our industry's tradition and true meaning.
Thanks for the great stuff! Keep it up, we're watching!
-New York
Bonyen L.

I saw your tent city piece. I gotta tell you - ToanLamTV is great.
Not only was your story good, but the format, the message, everything... it's all great.
Most of all, I really appreciate your spirit in adapting to the changes going on.... that even though the industry seems so hopeless right now, that you take initiative and do your own thing... and what you're doing not only adapts to the changes, but motivates and inspires the people who are watching. This is what I told people I want to do eventually... after "establishing" myself in some TV market. Telling people's stories in a weekly series was my dream. Watching your pieces reminds me I don't have to wait to do that.
Please let me know if you need anything at all and keep me (us all) updated on your stories. Can't wait to see your next one.
-Santa Barbara, Ca
Steph C.

What do you mean "how I heard about you?" Aren't you the Oprah of the Bay Area? Or is it Dr. Phil?
But in all seriousness, one of my friends sent me your Inspirational Clip. Interactive media as gone through some transformations. The audience/participant is active now and not just passive anymore. As with old TV. But the hard part is creating content that also generates revenue. So make some inspiring videos, create a network support system and get going!
Best of Luck,
-San Francisco, Los Angeles, CA

My name is María E/, and I see this thing you are making about try to tell to other people than is much more than bad news, is an extraordinary idea!, please you must excuseme, but my english is pretty bad...
Well how can i suscribe to your channel? me and my housband are really interesting in be part of your project, but the way, we live in south america, Lima Perú, do you know my country? we will really happy if we can send to you some material for your program, my country is a very nice place, and i really really in love with it.
tks a lot!
-Lima, Peru
María E. y Nelson D.

March 18 at 7:33pm
"I agree that sometimes events like this in your life can change your life for the better. I'm impressed that you have such a healthy and positive outlook."
-Modesto, CA
Sharokina S.

Katayoon Zandvakili
March 24 at 10:52pm
Dear Toan,
I have not had a chance to write you in the past few weeks, but I have been keeping tabs on all your wonderful FB posts. And I just wanted to say how amazed, inspired, and proud I am to see all that you are creating, in such an organic way. Thank you for all you do. All my best wishes go out to you, with lots of light & joy
-Oakland, CA
~Katayoon K.

March 20, 2009 9:59 AM
I am absolutely blown away by what you have done for people Toan. Thank you for being an inspiration and reminding me that there are good...No GREAT people in this world.
Anocha L.

I hope this e-mail finds you well. Thank you for sharing these inspiring stories with the world. I have seen your work on YouTube (I believe for the first time) and very proud of your accomplishments and efforts. Congratulations on your vision and direction to help spread some cheer and inspiration “during these very uninspiring times.”
-Sacramento, CA
Jennifer S.

I love what you’re doing. It’s great. You’re right. So may people are tired of hearing about all the bad news out there. It’s such a difficult time for many right now, and I think what you’re doing will give some hope to all of us.
-Tucson, AZ
David Marino

This is great :) I love your idea! Creative and positive and different!
One thing made me laugh tough - i too, was laid off in december 2009 - you mean you are way ahead of all of us :) Hopefully in Dec 2009 things will be better.
I am sending you hugs and wishing you tons of success with this endeavor and with the others. How is the book coming along?
Looking forward to more material :)
Antonia K.

7:32pm March 16
You should really be proud of your actions-lending your tools and resources so that others can tell their stories.
-Woodland, CA
Melissa V.

March 20, 2009

Dr. Toan Lam, the Dentist?!

The Vernal Equinox is in full-swing and spring is here. Happy Iranian New Year to everyone!

As I sit here at a coffee shop in San Francisco, I am amazed. Motivated. Moved and beside myself. Yesterday, I woke up at the crack of dawn (see the picture taken on I-80 at 7am) and had an AMAZING experience. The feeling was so intense, my eyes welled up with tears and got puffy. I looked at my eyes in the rear view mirror, they were glazed over, with happiness and elation. I was driving to Sacramento, to meet with the ABC and Fox stations at Kennedy High school, where Erika Duran, an assistant teacher, who was inspired by the Tent City Sacramento story was being profiled in a story for the local news. That's when I got a text message from Dr. Dana Berry, an unemployed dentist from Sacramento at 6:29am. It read "Let's do a story together." Dr. Berry was so moved by this website, that he called the President of the Dental Examiner's Board of Sacramento to take action. He told me, "Toan,
we are working on a plan to assemble a team of Dentists to give free dental care to the Tent City community."


Everyday, I receive new bursts of inspiration.

I am inundated with e-mails, comments, story ideas, etc., viewers who are moved and inspired by this GO Inspire Go movement. People who were touched by the stories on this WebChannel, contacted me and asked, "How can I help?" Many others have said, I will work for free to help your cause. WOW! And that is more than I can ask for, people who pause for a moment and think: What can I do, in the scope of what I know best, with my skill set and talents, to help out my community?

Lonnie Wong, reporter with Fox 40 News asked me, "How do you feel, knowing that your movement has taken off so quickly?" I said, "I am pleasantly surprised and humbled, but I am only the messenger. It's the people who are creating change and a movement to better their communities... Which in turn inspires me and others who are witnessing their actions of goodwill. I know one thing for sure, I can't fix teeth, but I sure can try my best to tell a story, and connect people to others who are like minded." What can you do?!

March 18, 2009

My Webchannel was featured on TV!

I'm happy to report that my YouTube Webchannel and Tent City story made it on the local news in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My former co-worker from Midland, TX and good friend, Jessica Garate is a Anchor Reporter for KQRE. She saw my site and featured it on her show! Thanks Garate :)

Please click on this link and toggle to the middle of the video.

I am also going to Sacramento this week (My hometown) because the FOX and ABC
News stations are doing a story on my movement and the teacher who was so inspired
by my Tent City story, she used it as a teaching tool. The subject? How to be a good citizen!

Also, please subscribe to my Channel and my blog, if you haven't done so already!

I also want to thank everyone for the kind and thoughtful comments, story ideas and e-mails, and to those of you who have asked yourselves and me, "What can I do to make a difference in my community?" Oh, I'm also so excited that a viewer asked me where she could donate her extra tent that's sitting in the garage, to the homeless folks featured in my Tent City Story... So moving! The goodness keeps on coming. The cup runneth over. I'll include some of the responses in the next posting.

Onward! GO Inspire GO!

March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Why I'm feeling lucky... My movement will be headed to the tube...

Happy St. Patrick's Day Everyone... I feel like the luckiest leprechaun today. Why? Because I am living my dream and I am aware and grateful for what is happening; my movement, not only to inspire people, but to inspire everyone to create a change in your community. That's why I've decided to call this movement "GO Inspire GO" -- I even bought the web domain as I continue to develop this platform for people to get up and make a change in your community. I hope that people get up and GO, look at this site, and be inspired. Then, INSPIRE and be INSPIRED by the rich, moving, and hopeful stories on the site, then take it a step further, and GO do something about it. That's why after most videos (if applicable) there will be a "CALL TO ACTION" message. It's a simple one, asking you "What you can do" and it includes some resources of where you can go to do something. All I ask is this: What skills/gifts do you have and how can you apply them to help others in your circle or how can you help. It could be as easy as, I have extra clothes in the closet that I can donate to charity, or I have extra canned food items in the cupboard that I can give to the needy. You can also make it fun, my friends and I get together and pack food at the local food bank every so often. What can you do?

I also feel so amazing this St. Patty's Day because I got an e-mail/Facebook message from a former co-worker, who was also laid off. She now is working for KXTV Channel 10 in Sacramento. She pitched my story and talked about my friend in Sacramento, a high school teacher who was inspired by this site and my Tent City story and is taking action. We will be interviewed this Thursday and I'll keep everyone updated on when you can see it. I will also post it as a link to my channel after it airs!

Meanwhile, as I sign off this St. Patrick's Day 2009, I want you to think about why you feel lucky in your life. (The homeless people in the Tent City Sacramento story had so much to be thankful for, eventhough they lost their worldy goods, their homes, and jobs and cars, but they told me they're thankful for every breath, every day of life, because they're hopeful for the chance-- the opportunity to rise above their adversities). SO, please check out the story and send in your comments (You can add me as a friend on Facebook, by clicking here ) and ask yourself, what do you feel grateful for today and ... what can you do? "GO Inspire GO..."

March 13, 2009

I've created a movement!!!

Hi Everyone!

I've created a movement! I am very humbled, and inspired to have had such a tremendous response to my new YouTube webchannel:
(I set up this little corner of cyberspace where people could go to and share/upload/e-mail in/ inspiring stories, a quick pick-me-up -- the goal: To UPLIFT and INSPIRE others through their amazing stories.)

So I've decided to create a blog so my subscribers and viewers could be updated on the latest and greatest, inspiring stories in my queue. So much has transpired since I've gotten laid off from my TV Reporting job, which inspired me to create this platform to share stories of ordinary people, with extraordinary stories. What I didn't expect was a huge domino effect.

1.) First, off, I've been receiving so many awesome e-mails, maybe I'll select some and share it on this blog soon. After hearing about the heart wrenching story of what's known as "Tent Cities" or the new face of homelessness during this economic crisis spring up across America and in my hometown of Sacramento, I was inspired by a viewer to go inside one of these homeless encampments and meet some of these middle class Americans, who have lost their jobs and home and are pitching up tent encampments and creating their own communities. You may be asking, how is this inspiring? Let me tell you, the stories of the unbreakable human spirit gave me chills, made me teary eyed and gave me so much hope for humanity.
I'll upload the story today, so stay tuned...

2.)While shooting the story of Tent City Sacramento, I ran into an old high school friend Erika Duran, while on my way to dinner -- call it serendipity, coincedence or fate-- but something amazing happened. I told her what I was doing with this Webchannel and she was so inspired that she asked me if she could use my site as a tool to teach her social studies class a lesson about civic duty and how to be a good citizen. She will document it and upload the video to my webchannel. What will the class be doing? Well, they're going to break up into groups and go from class to class to make presentations on how they can help the homeless people living in Sacramento's Tent City. They'll talk about their cause, what they need to make it happen and how the other students can help.

3.) Several media outlets are going to feature my webchannel, and one of the shows I used to report and field produce for, (Pacific Fusion, an internationally syndicated magazine show that focuses on Asian-American lifestyles is going to give me a free commercial spot. We're working on it as I speak...or write.

4.) Stories have been coming in from around the world. I just uploaded a story sent in from Africa, titled A-to-Z. Keely Stevenson, a social entrepreneur e-mailed the story to me. It shows how one little idea can save so many lives, lost by a preventable disease, malaria. It also shows what they did to help!

5.) And my friend, Nielma Bassig Hock, who has an incredible passion for fashion, owns a charming boutique, "The Firm," in San Francisco. Nielma says she's so inspired by this site, she is going to hold an event at her store to help the unemployed network and get out of the post-layoff-funk. I promise I'll keep you posted on this one.
Oh, and she wants to host an "Inspiring stories" launch party there too.

6.) To my delight and joy, I've been slammed with so many amazing stories, and e-mails of how so many people say this site made their day, and how this timely project helped them get through the day-- which is hard to do during these very uninspiring times... So I promise, I am going to definitely post some of the inspiring emails because they've generated some great stories ideas that I will go out and shoot, others who've sent me links, I promise I'll get around to posting them too!

I'm experiencing the true meaning of paying it forward and having it return 10 fold!
Thanks everyone, for your support and love... and for being a part of my dream, to inspire and uplift people one story, one conversation, and one connection at a time!