Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Facing Fear and the Unknown

"A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are built for." ~ John A. Shedd

We all have our reasons for not going after what we really want. "The timing isn't right," we might say to ourselves, or "I'm just waiting for XYZ to happen," or "Everything needs to be perfect." The list goes on and on...

Should you jump head-first into every big idea that comes to mind? Of course not. Regardless of what you're looking to create (whether a business, a non-profit, or a challenging new hobby, etc), it pays to be analytical, do your research, and have a solid sense of what you're getting yourself into. The problem is, no amount of research or planning can prepare you for the unknown of starting something new. Our bodies are programmed to fear the unknown, and no matter how many times we've succeeded in the past, this fear never goes away.

Says my friend Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week: For all the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn't conspire against you, but it doesn't go out of its way to line up all the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. "Someday" is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it's important to you and you want to do it "eventually," just do it and correct course along the way.

So this New Years... what do you really want to accomplish in 2011? Another year will pass, but the fear of making changes will not...

Are you ready to start something that matters?

(PS - Thank you Esther Havens for allowing me to use your wonderful photograph above. Check out her website at

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Power of Storytelling

What makes a company, or a non-profit, or a person worth evangelizing about?

In my last blog, I talked about Movember and how for 30 days I wore a mustache that made me look like a cross between a police officer and a professional wrestler. Why? What is it about Movember, or Apple, or non-profits like charity: water and Falling Whistles that inspire such an incredible army of supporters?

I believe that the answer lies in storytelling.

A mustache isn't just an awkward clump of hair on a man's upper lip, it's a means of drawing attention and creating a conversation.

There are tons of cheap MP3 players out there, but the iPod just feels different. It's simpler, sleeker, and designed to create an emotional reaction.

The war in Congo may feel distant and beyond our control, but when you meet someone with a whistle around their neck, you can't help but think that all of us can be "whistleblowers for peace."

When TOMS was first getting started, we shared my story of going to Argentina and how our goal was to give 250 pairs of shoes to the children that I met. As TOMS has grown, however, this story has evolved to include all of our incredible fans and evangelists. You are now as much apart of the TOMS story as I am. When you buy a pair of TOMS, it's you that that's helping to put a pair of new shoes on a child's feet. You aren't just a customer, but a storyteller. Every time that someone says, "hey, I love your shoes, what are they?" it's you that's helping to spread the word and inspire others to join the One for One movement.

Whether we know it or not, all of us is telling a story... is yours worth spreading?

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Art of Mustache Maintenance

After a month of making me look like a police officer, my mustache has been trimmed and gently faded into my normal facial scruff. In my 30 days with a ‘stache, I got used to the funny looks and starting conversations with "I don't normally look like this..." but through it all, I hope that I raised awareness for an amazing organization (Movember) and a cause that doesn't get talked about nearly enough (men's health).

For those of you that missed out, Movember is a non-profit that encourages men to grow a mustache every November to raise awareness for prostate cancer and depression in men. In 2005, a group of buddies were sitting in a bar in Adelaide, Australia, when one had the idea to grow a mustache to raise money for charity. Since then, the idea has snowballed from 30 guys that first year, to a worldwide movement of hundreds of thousands of participants and more than $100 million dollars raised.

Thank you Movember for allowing me to tell your story and be apart of such an incredible tribe... and no, I didn't give out any speeding tickets last month :)

PS - I took the picture above using the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone. Lens: Lucifer VI, Flash: Off, Film: Ina's 1969.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Voice of Change

"Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world." -- Buddha

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the Creativity World Forum - a really cool conference held in Oklahoma City. That morning, nearly 200 students from local colleges held a barefoot walk to raise awareness for the global need for shoes and clean drinking water. Before I addressed the crowd, a slam poet named David Bowden performed a piece that was so raw, and so powerful, that it gave me chills. I was so moved by the poem that I asked David if I could share his words with the entire TOMS community.

Thank you David for putting together this incredible video and for using your voice to raise awareness and inspire others. This is truly fantastic stuff...

To see more of David's work, check him out on Facebook and YouTube