What’s your calling? What motivates you to get out into the urban world to stand and speak for positive vision of the future?
In 2007, as he lay in the hospital, his body succumbing to the ravages of chemo and cancer, my younger brother called me out. I was there with about 30 of his family and friends. Tim had been sitting quietly in his bed, propped up, yet with his head lowered, listening to the muffled banter from everyone. I was over at the door, opening and closing it softly so that the sudden sounds would not jar him, as he loved quiet stillness.
Suddenly, he raised his head, looked me in the eyes from across the room, and asked, “What are you doing over there, Robbie?”
Surprised, I simply replied, “What I always do my brother, holding the door for others, facilitating. You know, in the background, doing the best I can, to help others.”
He spoke sharply now, “You need to get out of the background and into the foreground, Robbie. We need you in the foreground. The world needs you to be the best you can be.”
So, I went over to his bedside and he held my hand. I began stroking his thin arms, blasted by chemo and made worse by Blue Cross/Blue Shield tossing him off insurance when they found he had cancer, as they could do in that time. I wept, then and now.
The message Tim delivered to me that night, “Rise up, be the best you can be. You are much more than you think you are.” A few minutes later, he stretched those arms and his spirit leapt into the great unknown—onto that good red road back to Great Spirit. He passed through the gate that leads—we know not where.
In the coming months, I took his words to heart. I applied and was accepted, out of 16,000 applicants, to be personally trained in public speaking by Hon. Al Gore. His organization, The Climate Reality Project, challenged his speakers to give 10 talks per year to more than 10 people per talk. My first talks were a 3-pack of talks to over 400 students at Mid-Pacific School. Now that was scary, yet the audience was kind and receptive.
In the past 8 years, I’ve committed to climate storytelling and advocacy. In Hawaii, I’ve proposed, scheduled and funded, >60 45-min or longer private climate talks to scores of business, government and academic groups, such as investors, students, government departments, professional organizations and faith groups. Each talk is tailor made to the audience. I was softening the stage for the current wave of interest in climate change and sustainability when skepticism was bitter, deep and well entrenched in our islands.
An ability to move between and deliver targeted messages, via video, blogs, targeted presentations, to diverse demographics and public networks, whether it’s students, scientists, community, faith, business, and government leaders, is key to a seasoned, skilled, science communicator. I’ve spoken across our country and around the globe, about the problems and solutions, the vision and the challenges of humanity’s shared collective crises. I’ve chosen to communicate, not just to the choir, but to those who are skeptical about climate change, consciousness, or social sustainability. I give about 10 talks per year. To date I’ve spoken to over 10,000 humans, in the Pacific, the USA and Africa.
I’ve learned how to communicate, persuade and inspire using a combination of my own native talents, communication science and professionally coached solutions. My audiences have been diverse audiences, from youth to high net worth investors, religious, business organizations & government departments. Specific examples include: business leaders, entrepreneurs, private investors, women in construction, Rotarians, executives from sustainable businesses, engineers and architects, Earth Day rallies, University of Hawaii faculty, staff, chancellors, Hawaii State Department of Energy employees, maintenance and base-yard government workers, students & faculty of Hawaii Pacific University, Hagadone Printing employees, strategic planning committees, the UH system Sustainability Office, realtors, activists, African government ministers, elementary school students, and many others. Just about every sector of society, I’ve reached out to speak and influence on climate change. I’ve even been invited to give sermons about loving the Earth and creation stewardship.
I love speaking about sustainability, development and a vision of our highest potential. I love facilitating positive conversations, or outcomes in organizations with a focus on our common challenge—climate change. I believe in people, purpose and passion as a foundation for social improvement.
How have I been able to accomplish all of this? By self-funding. About 95% has been self-funded. What do I mean by that? If you like to speak, cut your expenses and use those funds and the time you now have to propose, develop, schedule and give house talks. I’ve created programs and campaigns for NGOs simply by seeing a need and then creating the program for the NGO. Proposing it, delivering it and self-funding it through to completion.
For 20-years, I’ve invested more than 50% of my income and savings into social improvement campaigns. My mentors taught me, “The best you can be is a positive example.” Because of this sage advice and my personal creed, “Live simply so that others may simply live,” I hold a robust portfolio of social impact campaigns. I’ve dedicated my life to helping others and speaking out about our shared humanity. As a result, tens of thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of socially invested dollars later, I’m financially less, yet I’ve gained social and spiritual capital, in return.
For example, many social change agents spend 20-50% of our income investing in our communities. The wealthy spend about 1-5% of their income back into society. If more wealthy humans invested their millions into their communities, in NGOs, or self-funding campaigns, this world would be a MUCH better place. I
challenge those who have resources to give back and pay-it-forward. Sponsor a young person, a caring friend or someone you see who is helping others. Mentor another or just say, yes, when someone asks for your help. See the need and do what you can to help.
What can you do to improve our society? Write or comment below your thoughts. Share this article with your networks and certainly reach out to schedule a talk or coaching session with me. I’d love to hear from you.
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