April 24, 2013

50 Inspiring Stories in 50 States: Help GIG Uncover a Real Life Hero in Your Community

I believe that a story well told can make people care. It can awaken your power to take action. That's why we're taking Go Inspire Go (GIG) to another level.

Woohoo! After more than six months of planning -- my team and I are excited to launch 50/50, our first crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo. The goal: To uncover and highlight 50 inspiring, unsung street-corner style heroes from each state. Regular people who are doing what's in their power to help others. We know that you will be inspired to "Discover and Use Your Power to Help".

GIG Team

Everyone has a power. What is your power?

Some people discover it early in life, like Phoebe, Nico and Vivienne.

Others, a bit later in their life’s journey, Jorge, Amy and Aumatma.

You may be like many and have not yet realized your power, but when you do -– hold on -– it will change the trajectory of your life.

Toan with Stuffed Animal, 3-years-old

That’s what happened to me. I grew up a few bad neighborhoods and never believed I had the power to make a difference. I loved to read, write, talk and to connect with others. It’s also my gift that has enriched my life.

How do you find your “gift?”

Start by asking yourself three questions:
1. What am I naturally good at?
2. What do I gravitate toward?
3. What do I look forward to each day?

My answers to these questions led me to a career in TV news reporting. I started in Wisconsin, then headed south to Texas and back to California (Fresno and then San Francisco). While reporting the news – what I thought was my dream job – I became despondent and empty covering death and destruction.
People would tell me they didn’t want to turn on the tube because they were inundated with bad news.

I could do something about this by creating a YouTube channel and uploading stories about inspiring everyday people, real-life superheroes and giving them the support they need and deserve!

I thought if five people helped five others, fantastic!

Be careful what you wish for. A few hundred thousand people started watching and thousands of people helped, using their own power.

GIG became something bigger than I could have ever imagined while we made a BIG impact on humanity.

Aside from the engagement we created in several communities, I was approached with two opportunities to create TV shows. Since they were not the right fit, my volunteer team and I kept doing what we know best – telling authentic stories, leveraging social media to build community to spark civic engagement.

This was the genesis of 50/50. Once I shared this idea with my volunteer team and some friends, dozens of people pitched to make this idea a reality. (See links at bottom of blog to follow our behind-the-scenes journey).

Volunteers and new GIG friends on our Social Media Walk

We believe that highlighting one hero from every state will not only highlight their passion and good work to get them support, we know it will inspire you to take action.

Jorge Munoz checking out new stove

There are everyday heroes out there who are living examples of generosity, goodness and selfless service. Likewise, there are people like you who want to help but don't know how. Through our character-driven stories, GIG inspires you to make it your GIG to use your power to help those we feature.

We need your help!

We are crowdsourcing support to help highlight these superheroes and spread their stories out to the world like how small actions ripple out to meaningful changes.



We invite you to use your power and join our movement!

Take Action:
1. Donate to our 50/50 Campaign. All donations will be used to bring you more inspiring stories.
2. Share with your friends, family, colleagues.
3. Tell us about ordinary people doing extraordinary good in your community. Email us: info@goinspirego.com

Behind the scenes blogs leading up to our 50/50 launch:

  • Check out our 1st Post, Behind the Scenes 50/50 Post
  • Check out our 2nd Post, Meet Our Fearless Leader
  • Check out our 3rd Post, Seven Crowdfunding Campaigns That Inspired Us
  • Check out our 4th Post, Meet the Marketing & Communications Team
  • Check out our 5th Post, Meet the Team Part Deux: Gig's Journey Toward Our 1st Crowdfunding Campaign 
  • Check out our 6th Post, Meet the Fabulous Folks Behind 50/50’s Media and Org Outreach 
  • April 15, 2013

    Meet the Fabulous Folks Behind 50-50’s Media and Org Outreach

    Go Inspire Go is proud to present a weekly blog series written by GIG Board Member Connie Chan Wang every week leading up to our 50 Stories in 50 States Indiegogo Campaign launching on April 24. Our goal is to give you a behind-the-scenes look into our world as we prepare for our crowdfunding campaign and to inspire you to join us on this revolution -- this movement to inspire!

    By Connie Chan Wang and Toan Lam

    Last week we met Justine, Kevin and Devin, the creative brains behind the Engineering and Design efforts for the 50 Stories in 50 States crowdfunding campaign. Here are the fabulous folks behind Media and Organizational Outreach.

    Kala Shah Fiona Pattison

    What are you doing for the 50 Stories in 50 States campaign?

    Kala: I'm helping spread the word about GIG's 50-50 campaign to aligned organizations and media outlets. We're trying to reach a broad audience across the country, inviting people to tell their stories about how they're influencing their own little corner of the world.

    Fiona: I am the U.K. and Europe PR representative for Go Inspire Go, plus consultant to Toan Lam. My job is to spread the 50/50 campaign and to promote the Go Inspire Go message.

    Why are you excited about it?

    Kala: GIG has been telling stories about local everyday heroes, and the 50-50 campaign is taking this storytelling to a whole new level. This is exciting because we're able to amplify GIG's great message and inspire countless more. This inspiration stuff is infectious, and we want to get as many people involved as possible!

    Fiona: I am excited about being a part of the social change that GIG is making happen within this movement.

    How has GIG inspired YOU?

    Kala: GIG has offered me a wonderful platform, moral support and the energy to start a Community Heroes club at my son's school, Sun Valley Elementary in San Rafael, Calif. Toan and I presented GIG Spark, Lesson on Compassion to 500 students last September and ever since I've been facilitating a weekly club to plot ways to give back to our local community.

    Fiona: Everyday extraordinary things are happening. GIG and Toan Lam have reaffirmed my belief in human kindness.

    Tell us your favorite inspirational quote.

    Kala: "If we are to create peace in our world, we must begin with our children." -Mahatma Gandhi

    Fiona: "Be the change you want to see in this world." -Mahatma Gandhi

    This is the sixth post in our “Journey Towards Our First Crowdfunding Campaign” blog series.


  • Check out our 1st Post, Behind the Scenes 5050 Post
  • Check out our 2nd Post, Meet Our Fearless Leader
  • Check out our 3rd Post, Seven Crowdfunding Campaigns That Inspired Us
  • Check out our 4th Post, Meet the Marketing & Communications Team
  • Check out our 5th Post, Meet the Marketing & Communications Team

  • April 24 is the big launch date on Indiegogo. Until then, we’ll be blogging every Monday about what we’re doing to get there. Next week, we're going live! Scream it, shout it and share it! Join our movement to uncover everyday heroes in your state so viewers can discover their power to help.

    Take action:
    1. Make noise: Share this blog with your network
    2. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
    3. Watch our YouTube channel and take action

    April 10, 2013

    Why YOUth Matter

    If I could choose one quote that defines the ethos of our youth today, it would be, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” Simple but sweet words carefully crafted by my favorite poet, Dr. Maya Angelou.

    This is a bold statement, I know, but hear me out.

    Before I was invited to develop curriculum at the Academy of Art’s (AAU) Multimedia Department and the University of San Francisco, I too believed that many young folks were apathetic, entitled and not in touch with reality.

    Boy, was I wrong. Or as my students would say, "You got moded."

    Reality Check #1:
    A few years ago, I was given the rare opportunity to build and teach a high school summer bridge program at AAU. I thought that my students would be excited to execute the final I had prepared. “You are going to create a short video on ‘hot spots’ in San Francisco. It could be a cool place to hang out, shop or eat.” I instructed in a sure tone of voice. I thought hands down, students would be stoked.

    Instead, hands eagerly went up. The questions they asked changed the trajectory of my stereotypes toward the youth.

    One student raised her hand and said, "My mom was so excited that you were teaching us because she follows Go Inspire Go (my nonprofit) on social media." Another student said, "Yeah my friends follow you on Twitter in Sweden. A third student said her friends who live in the Midwest follow our stories. Their collective wish: "Can we do our video on a story for GIG and if it's good enough, would you post it? My heart skipped a beat. Chills ran from head to my feet.

    I was taken aback.

    Julian Cohen, a high school junior from Jersey City, N.J., saw an article in his local newspaper about a reverend who wanted to build a high school in Grande Saline, Haiti, following the devastating earthquake in 2010. Cohen was sad that there was no high school in Grande Saline and was inspired to make a video to engage action. This led to two youth movements that eventually sent 32 kids to school for one year in Haiti.

    This led me to create a GIG program called GIG Spark, Lesson on Compassion. Students think about a problem and how they could be part of the solution. They create a short 90 second video and send it to us to multiply their message.

    Reality Check #2:
    I’m exited to announce that Go Inspire Go partnered up with The Bayview Hunter's Point YMCA, YouTube, the San Francisco Mayor's office of Civic Innovation and National Youth Radio to create GIG Sparks with youth at the Bayview Hunter's Point YMCA. They wanted to make videos that inspire compassion, change and a shift in perspective.

    If you watch the local media here in the San Francisco Bay Area, you'd think that this area is only known for its crime, violence and destitution. I found that there was so much hope for the youth living in this area of the City.

    Photo Courtesy: Oscar Nilsson/ Interview with Betty Sells-Asberry, YMCA Teen Services Director


    When I spent an afternoon training six of these young YMCA change makers, I was filled with pride. Kier Wilson, Tajae Hill, and Jonkia Davis were amazingly inspiring. They were so proud to call the Bayview Hunter's Point their home, but were deeply saddened their neighborhood is viewed as “the ghetto." They wanted to do something to change the negative perception of their community.



    Thank you to YouTube and the Mayor's office for inviting us to share our “GIG Spark” as an innovative, organized and fun way to inspire the YMCA kids to accomplish this mission.

    * This video was created by four of my students at AAU -- youth -- who asked to come along on the shoot. Thanks Oscar Nilsson, Marcus Pettersson, Eva Broman and Hugo Albrektsson for your great work!

    Reality Check #3:
    At the University of San Francisco, my alma mater, I was asked to design and teach a Blogging for Social Change course. On the first day, I asked students, "What is your passion?"

    With optimism and determination, one student said, "I want people to get out of their bubble and do something to help the people in their community."

    ‘Nuff said! Amen to that.

    As a kid, I felt insignificant. I thought I didn't matter. I didn’t feel like I had a voice. What would a Chinese immigrant boy, growing up in a rough South Sacramento neighborhood, say of any importance? Why would anyone care?

    I wonder how many youth feel like that today. What if adults took a moment to listen to the youngsters in their lives and hear them out. With a little guidance, support and inspiration, we too could be a part of inspiring a new generation of people who teach what they learn and give what they get!

    Take Action:
    * Check out "I LOVE Bayview" on Improve SF!
    * Share their stories on social media and by word of mouth.
    * Volunteer at your local YMCA

    Follow us on: Instagram, Twitter & Facebook

    April 8, 2013

    Meet the Team Part Deux: GIG’s Journey Towards Our First Crowdfunding Campaign

    Go Inspire Go is proud to present a weekly blog series written by GIG Board Member Connie Chan Wang every week leading up to our 50 Stories in 50 States Indiegogo Campaign launching on April 24. Our goal is to give you a behind-the-scenes look into our world as we prepare for our crowdfunding campaign and to inspire you to join us on this revolution -- this movement to inspire!

    By Connie Chan Wang

    Last week, you met Jen, Fab and Denise, the brilliant minds behind our Marketing and PR efforts for the 50 Stories in 50 States crowdfunding campaign. Here are the awesome folks behind Engineering and Design.

    Justine Castro Kevin Lee Devin Williams

    What are you doing for the 50 Stories in 50 States campaign?

    Justine: I'm part of the design team and I assist in creating graphics.

    Kevin: I'm helping out with updating the website and editing our amazing, inspirational content.

    Devin: I am happy to be a part of the graphics/producing team and I helped create the title animation for the 50-50 video.

    Why are you excited about it?

    Justine: I'm excited because this campaign stands for something beyond all of us. This idea of reaching out and highlighting an "everyday hero" is a beautiful phenomenon to watch unfold. Saying you're going to make a difference is one thing but to put forth action is another. I believe this campaign will be a catalyst for viewers to know and believe in their power, take advantage of the many platforms that we easily have access to, and set forth their own action to help others. It's truly exciting and I'm grateful to be a part of it.

    Kevin: Through Go Inspire Go, I've learned about many people doing extraordinary acts from all ages and walks of life. What's been even more impactful to me is seeing the reactions and actions other people have taken as a result of these stories to help out and further their causes. The 50/50 campaign will bring greater exposure to more of these stories from all over the country and hopefully engage people to connect with and support the ones that resonate with them.

    Devin: The 50/50 campaign is exciting for me especially because I believe in the power of inspirational video. I am the director and editor of a series that focused on the message of hard work. The series ended up inspiring people from all over the globe to stop being lazy and work hard. The 50/50 campaign, I'm sure, will go over and beyond anything that I put together, simply because it's preaching a positive message no matter who you are. I am honored to have played a part with the motion graphics in this video. Whenever I have the time, I am more than willing to help see these videos make their way across the globe.

    Tell us your favorite inspirational quote.

    Justine: "To be is to do/To do is to be." - Socrates/Plato So simple but it speaks volumes in any context.

    Kevin: "Everything happens for a reason."

    Devin: "A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others."

    This is the fifth post in our “Journey Towards Our First Crowdfunding Campaign” blog series.

  • Check out our 1st Post, Behind the Scenes 5050 Post
  • Check out our 2nd Post, Meet Our Fearless Leader
  • Check out our 3rd Post, Seven Crowdfunding Campaigns That Inspired Us
  • Check out our 4th Post, Meet the Marketing & Communications Team

    April 24 is the big launch date on Indiegogo. Until then, we’ll be blogging every Monday about what we’re doing to get there. Next week, we'll introduce you to the lovely ladies behind events.
  • April 1, 2013

    Meet the Marketing & Communications Team: GIG’s Journey Towards Our First Crowdfunding Campaign

    Go Inspire Go is proud to present a weekly blog series written by GIG Board Member Connie Chan Wang every week leading up to our 50 Stories in 50 States Indiegogo Campaign launching on April 24. Our goal is to give you a behind-the-scenes look into our world as we prepare for our crowdfunding campaign and to inspire you to join us on this revolution -- this movement to inspire!

    By Connie Chan Wang

    Since the beginning, GIG has relied on the blood, sweat and smiles of our amazing volunteers. Our founder Toan Lam has inspired more than 60 volunteers globally to use their power to help the cause -- to uncover everyday heroes to inspire you to discover your powers (talents, resources and network) to help others. For our 50 Stories in 50 States crowdfunding campaign, it is no different. Meet the brilliant minds behind our Marketing & Communications efforts.

    Jennifer Schumacher Denise L. Poon Fab Chanavat

    What are you doing for the 50 Stories in 50 States campaign?

    Jen: I'm part of a great social media volunteer team that creates real-time engagement for our fans and followers.

    Denise: I’m part of the behind-the-scenes Go Inspire Go business development efforts to secure large donations and develop creative partnerships between GIG and corporate sponsors.

    Fab: I'm part of the team behind the communication plan for the 50/50 campaign. I help craft messages and talk to people we wish to engage in supporting the project.

    Why are you excited about it?

    Jen: I'm excited about my role because it allows everyone an opportunity to be part of the 50/50 campaign and to see their civic action in motion.

    Denise: Both the 50/50 campaign fundraising process and goal are exciting. It’s incredibly energizing to work beside talented volunteers, who are creative, engaging and filled with optimistic energy. Our storytelling goal of capturing acts of generosity is simple and inspiring enough to motivate viewers, who never before would consider how much they can make a difference. Imagination is our only limit in sharing goodness.

    Fab: The 50/50 campaign is a turning point for GIG; the start of a new scale of impact. After successes close to our home base, we are dreaming big! 50 states! We will discover and tell stories close to people's home and hearts; close to YOUR heart. And most importantly, we will make sure these stories are told to many. Remember Newton's third law of motion? We tweaked it a little. GIG's law of emotion: Inspiration = Action = Inspiration = Action, etc.

    Tell us your favorite inspirational quote.

    Jen: "Be the change you'd like to see in the world," Ghandi. I try to practice this as an mantra every day to remind myself that every little action can ripple out to big change.

    Denise: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” Seneca (Roman philosopher)

    Fab: I personally always keep in mind Mark Twain's words, "They did not know it was impossible, so they did it.” Let's get the inspiration ball rolling!

    This is the fourth post in our “Journey Towards Our First Crowdfunding Campaign” blog series.

  • Check out our 1st Post, Behind the Scenes 5050 Post
  • Check out our 2nd Post, Meet Our Fearless Leader
  • Check out our 3rd Post, Seven Crowdfunding Campaigns That Inspired Us

    April 24 is the big launch date on Indiegogo. Until then, we’ll be blogging every Monday about what we’re doing to get there. Next week, we’ll introduce you to the awesome folks behind Engineering and Design.