November 28, 2011

Socrates Spoke: Riding Out Fear (VIDEO)

For one full minute I want you to sit down (preferably in silence) and think about what you have accomplished in your career thus far.

Now ask yourself, “Is my life any more meaningful?” If the answer is yes, you’re luckier than many people I know.

Recently, I’ve been talking with a lot of people who are experiencing the same situation: good job + good pay + good title = still not happy.

Many have admitted that they’re lucky to have good paying jobs with fancy titles but at the end of the day, they’re feeling uninspired, unhappy. The mental pendulum of guilt swings back and forth. I should be grateful… but I’m not… to and fro… the emotions go.

This is what happened to Casey Miller who, by all accounts, seemed to have it all: a good education, a good career and a good life. After graduating from Harvard with two degrees, Casey built a successful company that turns garbage into energy. He made money, was able to travel the world, acquired stuff, but still he felt empty.

“By most accounts, I was what I thought success should look like. Yet I was not any happier. And my life was certainly not any more meaningful. Like many people of my generation, I was stuck between the allure of capitalism and the painful realization that more does not mean better. I felt empty, even though my life was surrounded by wonderful places, experiences, and things.” Casey admits.

So he quit and moved to San Francisco (partly for love), but then he was dumped. He then couldn’t find a job and fell into depression.

Several conversations ensued. Casey told everyone that he was going to do something he was very afraid of: ride a bike (he hadn’t ridden a bike since elementary school) across the country – from Oregon to Massachusetts and along the way ask people some simple questions that delved deeper into the journey of finding meaning: What inspires you? Are you doing it now? Why not? His journey was aptly named “Socrates Spoke”:

Taking this risk helped him get the wheels of inspiration turning and, for once, Casey says he “found his meaning of life” and is now empowered to use his experience to help others discover what matters most to them. He's even created a website ( to inspire people to live the truest, biggest, most meaningful lives possible.

Socrates once said: “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Casey read this, listened and is riding high on these words of wisdom.

Take Action:
If you’re feeling unfulfilled, make a list of what you can do to find meaning.
1. Many people say, “I can’t quit my job.” However, you can spend a little bit of time outside of your work to engage in a hobby or passion project that enlivens you.

2. What would excite you out of bed in the morning? Take baby steps doing what brings you joy. Check out Casey's website for inspiration:

3. Stop talking about it. Do it now. This was the best advice several mentors gave me when I wanted to leave my TV career and pursue my nonprofit

November 14, 2011

Using Technology and Storytelling to Inspire the Youth

As a college professor, I have to admit I was very surprised to see the burgeoning support and growing good deeds that have rippled out from my students at the Academy of Art (AAU) and University of San Francisco – essentially, I’ve come to the conclusion that young people around the world want to help -- they just don’t know how.

But given some tutelage, support and a sprinkle of inspiration, amazing good things have grown…I’ve witnessed it with my own eyes. Just click around my passion project, Go Inspire Go, where we make videos of regular people doing small things that ripple out to meaningful changes (beware: there’s a call to action at the end of every video that has inspired thousands of viewers around the world to care, share and help.)

I realized a desperate need for a program that combines technology, social good and storytelling. That’s how “GIG Spark” a lesson on compassion was born.

A “GIG Spark” is a short 1-1:30 minute video that inspires viewers to take action and help others after they’ve watched the video. The video will feature you showing and telling viewers what you want them to do and show it on video. It’s simple, quick and can generate inspiration for others! The goal: a fun, easy way to inspire action.

Go Inspire Go has joined forces with YSA, Lil’ MDGs and Miley Cyrus' “Get Ur Good On” to bring you “GIG Spark.”

We’re inviting YOU and your community (school, organization, friends etc.) to use your passion and creativity to produce a “GIG Spark” and inspire viewers with your video. Here’s an example of one of the first “GIG Sparks”

For more information "GIG Spark", go to

What can YOU do? (To Inspire Action)

November 1, 2011

Books for the Barrios - Teaching Children to Think Globally

Go Inspire Go (GIG) is proud to share this month's Social Good Spotlight to raise awareness of individuals and organizations doing good in their communities to inspire others to take action and ultimately make real social change. GIG believes everyone can find inspiration in helping others, whether it's through doing small acts of kindness or working at an organization dedicated to making a difference. If you know of an individual or organization that you think should be featured, please email Marcia and help us forward their stories to inspire the world.

GIG Social Good Spotlight:
BOOKS FOR THE BARRIOS – Teaching Children to Think Globally to Fight Poverty and Promote Peace
by Marcia Estarija Silva

"When American children come to our facility, they learn how children in the Philippines are just like us -– they are no different." – Nancy Harrington,co-founder of Books for the Barrios

What is Books for the Barrios?
Books for the Barrios is truly "a project of the heart." The 100 percent volunteer-run organization collects school textbooks, educational learning aids and devices from schools, publishers and schoolchildren in the U.S. and delivers them to remote barrio public schools throughout the Republic of the Philippines.

What is Books for the Barrios' mission? What big changes is it trying to make?
To provide all children, especially disadvantaged children in conflict areas, access to quality education. In addition to having enough books and school supplies, it's important that qualified teachers are educating the children. There is a shortage of primary school teachers worldwide, weakening global efforts to provide access to education to all children. Many developing countries lose their educated population, who leave their home countries for opportunities abroad. Strengthening the education system is essential to securing economic development and a better quality of life.

The U.S. Special Forces stationed in Jolo built two classrooms for pre-school Badjao children.

Four months later, Books for the Barrios donated books, toys, and art supplies for these 60 children.

How is Books for the Barrios using its power to help others?
By sharing resources and putting educational materials directly into the hands of the students and teachers who need it most. More than 40 percent of households in the Philippines live on less than $2 a day. More than 13 million Filipino kids live below the poverty line, representing over 44 percent of the population aged 15 and below. The neediest schools, most of which are located in remote areas of the country, are prioritized for shipments from Books for the Barrios, regardless of politics, religion or ethnicity. Back in the U.S., Books for the Barrios organizes opportunities for children to participate in the collection and packing of donations. The organization also enlists volunteer American education development specialists to provide professional teacher training programs to thousands of rural educators.

What inspires Books for the Barrios to do this?
Dan and Nancy Harrington, founders of Books for the Barrios, met in the Philippines in the late 1960s and fell in love with each other and the country. They cared deeply about Filipino children and their families, inspiring them to take action and start an organization in 1981 to provide educational materials to severely under-resourced schools. Nancy lamented, "I'm a teacher and when we lived in the Philippines, I saw the devastation in the schools. I felt the apathy with the government and people in general. I felt the hopelessness and I said, 'My god, what I throw away in my first grade classroom -– broken crayons and pencils -- would be gold to these children.' " This realization over three decades ago continues to fuel the organization today.

What is Books for the Barrios focusing on now?
Current projects include:
•    International Model-of-Excellence Schools Program – Books for the Barrios ships books and supplies to transform severely underdeveloped barrio schools into learning institutions that set a national standard.
•    Green Action Program – Books for the Barrios diverts at least 700,000 pounds from landfills in the U.S. by shipping valuable books and other learning tools that might otherwise become waste. The program educates children worldwide about the environment.
•    Global Pupils’ Email Program – In order for American children to understand that their classmates overseas are "just like them," the program teaches them computer literacy and encourages them to use the Internet to communicate with a global network of nearly 40,000 children worldwide.

How can GIGSTERS get involved and support Books for the Barrios?
•    Donate money to Books for the Barrios. Securing resources to sustain its work is the organization's biggest and constant challenge.
•    Provide items on their wish list. Organize a collection drive or party in your community or at your job and encourage your neighbors and friends to donate.
•    Volunteer your services. If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, volunteer at their facility. If you're not in the area, the organization is always looking for help in getting donations, social networking and marketing, and other tasks. To find out various ways to volunteer, click here.

Nancy shared a story about a Filipino-American woman from Redwood City, Calif. who reached out to Books for the Barrios, wanting to give back. Books for the Barrios found a school in great need of resources in the woman's barrio in the Philippines. Now Nanunga Elementary in Hinigaran, Negros has a world-class library and a dedication ceremony was held last month.

Video Credit: Net25 Philippines