October 9, 2017

My Favorite Time of Year: Fall Forward, Reflecting Back

Hi GIG-sters,

Happy autumn, my favorite time of year! As the leaves change color and wither, I’m reminded that they’re nourishing the soil for new growth in the spring. As a college student, I remember pausing amid the hustle and bustle of each fall semester — my part time job, internships, extracurriculars, running cross country and, oh yeah, school — to take in the mixture of warm and crisp air in San Francisco and revel in the changes.

I remember thinking:
1. What is going well that I need to keep doing? Like working out, getting good grades and speaking at school events.
2. What do I have to say goodbye to? What things aren’t serving my best self, so I can let it fall with the leaves?
3. To remind myself to pause and breathe in the crisp morning air, take in the sights of the beautiful fall colors and slowly sip on my cinnamon and pumpkin spice latte.

As I reflect upon the changes from last autumn, I decided that instead of pushing myself to create more videos, I’d nurture the existing content we had — the stories and messages — and work on repackaging them for a greater impact. I went with the flow. Team members got married, some had kids (talk about changes!), while others moved on to other cities and jobs and others are still here. I can’t believe we’ve had more than 150 volunteers who have found their “inner superhero power” helping me help unsung heroes.

One of my favorite things to do now is pause and enjoy the process, whether things seem well or stuck in motion. I also love to catch up and follow up with some of our heroes as their stories and impact continue to ripple out.

For example:

1. Nico Castro, our Halloween hero is at it again, collecting costumes for his friends in the hospital who are too sick to go trick-or-treating. We’re happy to report this 11-year-old warrior has fought off the villain (brain cancer). His mom tells me he is undergoing regular check-ups and follow-up procedures to continue winning the battle. If you’re able to donate new costumes to help him bring cheer to his friends in the hospital, here’s how (see flyer below):


2. Matthew Kaplan of The Be ONE Project, a peer-to-peer mentoring program, was chosen to be a CNN Hero last fall! Woo hoo. CNN producers reached out and licensed our footage and interviews for their feature on Matthew’s anti-bullying program that blossomed when he couldn’t find a youth-centric anti-bullying program to help his younger brother who was harassed by cyberbullies.

CNN Heroes' video on Matthew Kaplan included Go Inspire Go footage. 

3. One of my favorite quotes is from the late poet, Maya Angelou: “When you get, give. When you learn, teach.” Little did I know, the past decade I dedicated to Go Inspire Go’s mission of featuring everyday heroes to inspire the hero in each of us would help me find my own superhero power. I grew and evolved personally, professionally and spiritually through each story, interaction with my volunteers/team and meeting you all and hearing how GIG impacted your lives. This led me to shed my insecurities around growing up poor and ashamed to tell my story about the struggles of being an immigrant whose dream didn’t align with my parents’ “American Dream.”


I’ve spent the past year on GIG 2.0 — the “TruthDare” podcast. I interview badasses who have found their “true calling” and I dare you to also find your truth. I realize all the work I’ve been doing has a single thread running though them: finding out your truth — that special thing that excites you when you wake up and makes you, YOU. I realized that when you own and live your truth, you give people the permission to live theirs. When you share it with others, that, my friends is JOY.

I’m inviting you to listen and share, and to “Trust your truth, I dare you!”

Onward,
Toan

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