July 28, 2012

VOENA Inspires Worldwide Audience in London 2012 Summer Olympics

Welcome to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England!

How appropriate that this year's Olympic theme is "Inspire a Generation" and that Go Inspire Go is on the go at the Olympics with the youth choir VOENA, which will leave you on a high note.

Hello from Olympic Park! I’m literally blogging from inside the holding area right now as we wait for the group to put on their colorful costumes, primp and prep. The energy here is awe-inspiringly-invigorating!

WOW. I’m going to try my best to convey what I’m experiencing here in videos, blogs and pictures.

The thought that athletes from around the globe – the best of the best – have converged here to do what they love most while sharing their talents on this worldwide stage blows my mind!

But not everyone is competing for the gold – some are performing in another light.

I’m on the road with Benicia, Calif.-based children’s performing group/choir Voices of Eve ‘N Angels, a.k.a. VOENA. The group was one of at least two youth choirs invited by the Local London Olympic Committee to perform on opening day.

They’re a multicultural group that I like to consider a tribe of angels who sing, dance and lift your spirits. They literally sound like angels as they harmonize songs in more than 20 different languages.

The first time I listened to them sing, I got the chills and couldn’t help but smile. So when they invited me along for their Olympic adventure, I jumped on the plane, train and tube to capture these authentically awesome moments for you to see. Just take a listen to a clip of their performance at Olympic Park:

There’s lots to love about VOENA: their genuine joy while singing, colorful costumes, songs and the multicultural mix of kids (plus a few adults) whose ages range from 5-18. But what I love most is that founder Annabelle Marie inspires the group of more than 150 kids to discover their voice and use it for good. They’ve infused inspiration and happiness in the lives of the community, also singing at schools and charity events.

“We’re unique because of our no audition policy. Each of them has to earn their role in the choir. We call it the VOENA BIG 3: First, accept the challenge. Then be self-motivated. And embrace a hard work ethic." said Marie.

It’s been a jam packed trip so far: lots of traveling, rehearsals, performances and a bit of sightseeing. As a part of the Olympic celebrations, VOENA was invited to sing at the passing of the torch at the London Canal Museum, Central Hall Westminster and with Mediaeval Baebes.

Adding to the mix of exciting entertainment, Mediaeval Baebes, UK's top selling vocal ensemble, invited VOENA to sing at their concert at St. John at Hackney in London.

“We are so honored that VOENA has accepted our invitation to sing here in London,” said Mediaeval Baebes chanteuse, Clare Edmonsdson, excitedly. “They are so authentic and seem to be in the moment and fully enjoy singing.”

Edmonsdson said her manager saw VOENA on YouTube and extended the invitation to celebrate and collaborate in London.

“The kids are incredible!” Mediaeval Baebes member Sarah Kayte Foster told me backstage as her eyes welled up in tears. “They make me to want to go home and write more music.”

I’m constantly impressed by the maturity of the VOENA kids, their endurance and positive attitudes. Behind the scenes, the kids have to endure lots of traveling, long rehearsals and navigating a new environment – all executed with professionalism, finesse and angel-like voices.

No matter what language they’re singing in, I’ve witnessed VOENA voices resonating with every audience they touch, as concert goers clap, smile and wipe back tears. I guess love, joy and inspiration can be felt in all languages.

The musical journey doesn’t stop here in London. They’re also slated to sing in Dublin, Ireland, after their London trip at Artane Schoolof Music and Beaumont Hospital.

Want more inspiration?

Follow us on: Twitter & Facebook to witness more musical moments on the go with VOENA!

Toan Lam
"Chief Inspirator," Go Inspire Go

July 19, 2012

GIG SPARK: You Can Change the Ocean Litter Problem (VIDEO)

When you stand next to the ocean, you gain a lot of perspective.

If you stare long enough, the vast, calm and magical mystique envelops you. After spending a short time in Carvoeiro along the southwest coast of Portugal during a vacation this summer, I realized just how cathartic the beach and ocean can be if we sit, surrender and lose our gaze in the waves that come crashing ashore.

I did yoga on the beach, meditated and of course, created a GIG Spark for you to see. Stay tuned for that one.

Here’s a picture of my breathtaking view:

The latest GIG Spark inspired me to do a little digging into the trash littering our oceans. It was disheartening for me to learn about how much of our trash ends up in the water. This causes a vicious cycle of damage to our fragile ecosystem.

According to Jim Oswald from the Marine Mammal Center and this CBS 5 San Francisco segment, there is more than 300 billion – yes with a CAPITAL B – pounds of plastic floating in the world’s oceans. Oswald said, “The garbage consists of everything from plastic jugs and bottles to hair brushes and Styrofoam cups. Much of it comes from China, Japan and the U.S.”

The problem is deep. But you can be part of the solution.

Nicolette Hagan, 22, created this GIG Spark to show us how we can do our part to keep the oceans looking a little more tide(y). She spent two hours along Albany Beach (near the Golden Gate Fields race track) picking up trash on the beach.

Gigster: Nicolette Hagan, 22
Where: Albany, Calif.
Spark: Pick up trash on the beach

Way to go Nicolette!

Here's what Nicolette learned about being compassionate towards our oceans and nature:

"This opened my eyes to the crisis our oceans are in. Being such a vast amount of water, it's hard to imagine that we could be depleting and killing it. What people don't realize is that we cannot survive without the ocean."


Further south along the California coastline, Sara Bayles of Santa Monica, Calif., committed to spending 20 minutes a day collecting, weighing and blogging about the trash she's picking up at a nearby beach for 365 non-consecutive days. It’s been more than 307 days. She’s logged more than 1,150 pounds of trash so far. Woo hoo!

Check out her Daily Ocean blog to see how she inspired others around the world to clean up the junk along coastlines around the world.

1. Don’t have an hour or two to pick up trash? That’s OK, do what you can. I saw some garbage on the beach in Carvoeiro and picked it up. That’s a few less pieces of trash swirling around the ocean.

2. Nicolette says she now avoids purchasing products with extensive packaging

3. She is also even more aware of using the three R's in her daily life: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. (She always uses her own reusable water bottle and has stopped eating seafood. "This is more challenging than it sounds, but I felt it's hypocritical to say I love aquatic life, and then turn around and eat fish," she said. "Our oceans are overfished, and the fishing companies are not only taking the life from our oceans, but polluting them at the same time."

GIG is about inspiring small actions that ripple out to meaningful changes. As we've experienced, the ripples continue to billow out, one story, one person, one act at a time.

One of my favorite quotes is from Desmond Tutu: "Each one of us can make a contribution. Too frequently we think we have to do spectacular things. Yet if we remember that the sea is actually made up of drops of water and each drop counts, each one of us can do our little bit where we are. These little bits can come together and almost overwhelm the world. Each of us can be an oasis of peace."

So please take a stand with us, stand (or jump) next to the ocean and change your perspective and take action so the future generations can enjoy and play here with less debris.

What can YOU do to create a ripple of change? We want to know what you’re doing to help clean up the environment in your area.

We hope this video inspires you to do something to clean up the environment around you in the next 24 hours.


As part of GIG's mission to inspire our viewers to discover their power, we developed GIG Spark: A Lesson on Compassion. The goal is to spark action in everyone that witnesses your good deed. We want you to identify a problem in your community and be the change by capturing your action in a short 1-1:30 minute video. Use your passion and creativity to produce a GIG Spark and inspire viewers with your story! What can YOU do?

* Follow us on: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram

July 3, 2012

The Best Way to Express Gratitude

Nothing says “thank you” better than a kind gesture from the heart. It also doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive or time intensive. My favorite thing to receive is a handwritten thank you card – however, this time, because I love you so much – I’m going to kick it up a notch, thanks to my good friend and Go Inspire Go advisor, Sirima Sataman, who offered to use her amazing artistic swag to help me and the GIG team show a heartfelt thank you to those who have helped us along the way. This was perfect because GIG’s mission to inspire people to discover and use their power – talents, resources and network – to help others.

So when Sirima, founder of InkPaperPlate.com and an amazing artist who knows the letterpress better than I know my alphabet, offered to help me create handmade thank you cards, I had no better words to express my gratitude than “Wow.”

I hope you enjoy watching this GIG video we produced as much as we enjoyed producing it:

I honestly didn’t expect this to be such a cathartic experience. Here’s what I learned:

1. The letterpress ain’t no joke! It’s harder to do than it seems. However, Sirima did an amazing job coaching me through it. If you’d like to take a class from her, contact her through her website: InkPaperPlate.com

2. Schedule time to play. My life is crazy busy, and I’m sure yours is too. As I get older and busier, I realize that finding time to do something outside my comfort zone and enjoy is as important as cranking out the work. Amen to that!

3. Let go. Let loose. Just have fun. Ironically, I learned to unlearn protocol, strategy and color outside of the lines. In this picture you can see that the left logo was my first attempt to be perfect, in hopes of not making a mess. Sirima encouraged me to have more fun and let loose … and voila, the logo on the right is what I felt resonated with me most. I am trying to apply this to the rest of the things I do in life.

Thank YOU for watching and reading. What are your favorite ways to say "thank you"?

We want to hear from you - please answer in the comments section below.