Friday, June 12, 2009

This Saving the World Thing is Hard

Gen-Y is Trying to Save the Worldphoto by jaygoldman

Orlando is beaming with excitement right now. In the midst of an NBA title run for the first time in 15 years, we are a few shots and stupid, stupid mistakes from being up 3-1. The town has been painted blue and white. There are posters, signs, huge wall murals, Superman capes and cheezy t-shirts everywhere you look. And while Orlando and Central Florida are optimistic about a title run (even though Kobe might have us in check now) the city is still not ready to accept social change.

With the launch of Talk For Hunger publicly 2 weeks ago, it has been eye-opening and humbling to hear the stories of the vendors in their first weeks of changing not only their lives but the views of the homeless in our community. The vendors, along with Chris and the interns, have heard everything from "I don't support the homeless, they are all lazy panhandlers" to cold shoulders, fake cell phone conversations to down right "NO."

The Struggle For Local Social Change

It has been a bitch to get people to listen and open their minds to new ideas of improving our community. The local Orlando Chamber told us to get a membership and call the Coalition. When pursuing local advertisers we have heard words so downright awful it makes it hard to go into the next establishment. Here's a quote you can use
I hate the homeless, they come in and fuck up our bathrooms.

So how does anyone begin to implement new ideas and change society?

It starts "one by one." One person that opens up and walks in the door, goes out in the world and talks and then that talking, over time, becomes a tribe.

With blogging, we all work hard, write cool stuff and promote our posts to gain new readers one by one. Some achieve this feat faster than others and some just like finding one new reader a day, a week maybe even one new person a month who wants to hear their views, opinions and ideas.

With a business it starts with one patron at a time. You can't pack the house until that first customer walks through the door. That first customer brags about the service, food, products, etc, and that spreads to the best kind of business you can possibly have.

With your career, it starts with one job at a time. You get that entry level BS job at the firm that is supposed to suck out your life for 40 years, only to see that you are gaining skills, building relationships and preparing yourself for your next career move. Then you start building your career, your brand and your life based on one opportunity at a time.

With Talk For Hunger we only sold more than 10 issues in 1 day once. That's a shot in the gut for us, when we looked at models from South Florida and Chicago where individual vendors were selling 100-200 a day. But one-by-one we are building the brand, spreading a message and letting the readers, businessmen and women and everyone in between know that we are there making a difference.

Being the New Kid on the Block

New Kids on the Block Posterphoto by miskan

It doesn't matter if you are starting a business, helping the homeless or becoming a rock star, the beginning is both fun and shitty. It is exciting to see people like Jun Loayza stay on track despite living week to week. It is inspiring to see someone who panhandled his way to $20 a day, go out and create a life for himself while only making $10 a day. It is awesome to see someone challenge themselves to quit their day job or travel the world all while paving the way for others to do the same.

It's scary to see people leave conformity and comfort in the pursuit of an ideal lifestyle. It's hard to start a mission to save people the world has forgotten about. It's tough to give attention to anyone but yourself when faced with economic stress.

Being the new kid on the block with a mission to enhance lives, including your own, takes some balls, it takes character, planning, determination and will power to see the outcome to the end. That's a lot to ask of anyone, especially one with so many ambitions.

This year I made it a personal goal to employ 50 homeless in Orlando. I made it a goal to make a living doing the stuff that I love to do with the people and companies that I choose. I made it a goal to go overseas and teach technology and communication to the people that can benefit from it most. It is still going to be hard, but who the hell said saving the world was going to be easy?

I'd like to meet that guy.

-Greg Rollett


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