The Power of Us: What Happens at SOBCon Doesn’t Stay at SOBCon

It’s no secret that I consider SOBCon to be one of the most powerful conferences I’ve ever been to. I’ve written about what I learned there here, here and here.  It’s also no secret that I’ve been on sabbatical, although I’m not really on sabbatical anymore. I’ve been working away on a new project…which brings me to the point of this post.

I can’t say much about the new project that I’m working on other than it’s for the non-profit community and it’s with Chris Brogan. What I can say is the reason I’m working on this project can be traced back to a single conversation I had with Chris at this year’s SOBCon.

I know I’m not even close to being the only person who left the life-changing event that is SOBCon only to start a business relationship with someone they met there because of  a conversation that took place there. About a week ago I asked Liz Strauss if she and Terry kept track of all the projects that were born at SOBCon. She asked where we’d even start. I said let’s just ask everyone…so that’s what I’m doing.

If you’ve ever been to SOBCon and can trace a project or relationship’s beginnings back to a conversation you had there, tell me about it the comments section below. I’m going to curate all your stories and turn them into a nice, pretty presentation for Liz and Terry at SOBCon 2011. I think know we will all be blown away by what the “Do-Tank” has actually done.


What Steve Farber Taught Me At SOBCon (part two)


I just spent an entire post talking about Steve Farber‘s concept of making someone Greater Than Yourself, so why do I need to blog about it again?

In my last post I was talking about consciously making someone, or a whole group of someone’s, Greater Than Yourself. In this post I’m suggesting that you already are and that you should start being aware of it! If you tweet a lot, have a blog, have a facebook following, have any kind of following…you are already making someone greater than yourself.

You are influencing the people who read your blog posts religiously. You are informing the decisions of the people who have you on twitter lists. You are shaping the people who interact with you on facebook. Just because that’s not your intention doesn’t mean it’s not true.

A few things happened to me right before, during and after SOBCon that made me realize I needed to be a little more thoughtful in my role as a leader. Right before the conference started I got an email from a student on the east coast who was getting her MBA in Non-Profit. She was writing to ask for my advice and help starting her non-profit but she began her letter thanking me for my blog and informing me what a role model I was to her and her classmates. She told me what an asset my articles were to her and to her class and how necessary it was to have a positive example of a woman doing so much in the non-profit world. These same words were repeated to me by students I met here in Chicago shortly after SOBCon during a mentoring program I participated in.

I’m not sharing this to pump my own ego but because I was floored to realize that anyone outside my close circle of friends and colleagues read my blog or my tweets! I was leading groups of future change-makers and didn’t even know it. Being at SOBCon, and Liz Strauss in particular, made me not just accept that I was a leader in my peer group but embrace being a leader and commit to doing so thoughtfully with trust and purpose.

When thinking about Steve’s call to make someone Greater Than Yourself I realize I need to take that attitude into everything – and every way – I communicate. Every status update, every tweet, every blog post, every video is an opportunity to inspire and share knowledge.

I challenge you to do the same. The moment you make yourself part of the social media fabric by creating a blog, a twitter handle, a facebook profile, a youtube channel, etc…you’re making yourself someone else’s role model. The next time you say something to your audience do it with the awareness that you have the potential to make them greater than you. You have the potential to help them achieve their own version of greatness. You have the opportunity to inspire them to do the same for someone else.

To that end I want to remind all my readers:

YOU can change the world. YOU can start now. Build Community. Build Change.

What Steve Farber Taught Me At SOBCon (part one)


Almost a month later I’m still reeling from the subtle and not-so-subtle ways SOBCon changed my thought process and the direction of just about every project I’m involved in. In my last post I talked about how Chris Brogan‘s call to action changed not one but all three of my heart defect related non-profits. It’s been in the restructuring and implementation of their various programs that Steve Farber‘s incredible message of GTY has not just inspired me but informed my decisions.

What is GTY? It stands for Greater Than Yourself. Steve presented on this concept at SOBCon…I was truly riveted. This is not just a presentation for Steve – he has a book, website and project devoted to GTY. Because I believe Steve does a much better job than I explaining his concept and because I believe you should buy his book and read it yourself, I’ll give you the gist of GTY: Make a commitment to make someone greater than yourself. Be a mentor to someone. Guide them, teach them, help them grow until they achieve more, succeed more…until they become more than you.

I was drawn to this immediately because it’s something I already do just not in as conscious a way. I started 4F Club because so many people contacted me asking them to be their mentor as they started their own non-profit…I’ve always been happy to help in this way – I love supporting people in their own quest to improve the world! While the idea of GTY is basically the idea behind 4F Club, I’d never really thought of how to utilize it in my heart defect-related non-profits.

Since SOBCon that’s definitely changed. Big Love Little Hearts is on a mission to change our entire cause community…not just the children we seek to help but all of the organizations that work to help them too. Accomplishing this requires the creation of a collaborative community whose sole purpose is to make every non-profit doing congenital heart defect work in developing countries greater than they already are and much greater than we are. We are not relying on them to carve time out of their missions to help create their own space in this community – we’re doing the work for them. Why? Because we know that making them greater than they are – greater than we are – will only help those who really need it…children with heart defects in developing countries.

We’re creating each organization’s space in this community with interns (part of our Building a Team of Disciples strategy gleaned from Chris Brogan at SOBCon). Each intern is yet another GTY opportunity. I don’t like creating internships for people that are just looking for the easiest way to fill a community service requirement. I like showing people how their work, however minor, can have true impact on not just an organization but the lives they’re trying to change.

Not only will each of our interns (almost 100 total for the summer) have ownership of a project that they will be able to see the impact of, they will be trained to approach problems in developing countries with collaboration and a networked community to decrease waste in resources and increase reach of service. They will be given opportunities to communicate directly with other non-profits doing work in developing countries and to build relationships they can take with them after their time with us is through. They will have opportunities to stay on with us and train the next generation of interns to be GTY.

Steve, I took your call to make someone greater than myself and applied it to everyone I work with at Big Love Little Hearts and then I applied it to my entire cause community. Thank you for making me conscious of carrying out something professionally that I already believed personally.

There should be no competition in the non-profit community. We should be supporting one another both individually and organizationally. Authentic, lasting change is not something that is created by “i” – it is created by “we”.

Are you implementing Steve’s call to make someone GTY in your life? Tell me about it!


What Chris Brogan taught me at SOBCon (and why I’ve been so quiet)


Has it really been three weeks since my last blog post? Yes. Yes it has. Odd for a wordy girl like me, right?

So what has kept me so busy I couldn’t slow down long enough to write? Implementing what I learned from Chris Brogan during his great presentation at SOBCon 2010. Chris talked a lot about how he’s been restructuring his business lately and why he needed to do so. It felt like Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker had asked him to come to speak just for me. I know I wasn’t the only person to feel that way but what he said impacted me so much that I’ve spent the last 10 days restructuring my organizations.

If this isn’t your first visit to my blog you already know that I’m the Founder and Director of four non-profit organizations. What you might not know is that I also work on a Development Mapping Initiative out of Secretary Clinton’s Global Partnerships Office, I’m the creator of The CHD Solution Workspace and am working on two Mobile Health initiatives – one in the U.S. and one in developing countries. I am very passionate about all of these things but I’m only human. At some point one of these is not going to get the attention it deserves.

Chris spoke about his many businesses and projects (he actually has more than I do!) and how he had come to the same conclusion – no one person can do this many things. So Chris decided to do two things – consolidate and build a team of disciples to carry out his vision. Chris is a pretty smart guy and I like to take advice from smart people so that’s exactly what I did.

In the last 10 days I have restructured everything.

  • Little Leo Foundation, my first non-profit that delivers care baskets and these soft and cuddly lions to children that have just had open-heart surgery, is no longer an organization. It is now a joint project of Big Love Little Hearts and One Hundred Squared. Why? I’m a firm believer that if there’s another non-profit doing what you’re doing you should either partner with them, find a way to do it better or step out of the way. When I first started Little Leo Foundation almost four years ago Saving Little Hearts was also delivering care baskets to heart families but they were regional to Tennessee. Since then they’ve partnered with Mended Little Hearts to deliver them all over the country. Because the only thing our baskets have that theirs don’t is Leo Lion (the aforementioned stuffed animal) that’s all we’re going to deliver – both here and abroad, through Big Love Little Hearts and One Hundred Squared. Making that change just bought me an extra 20 hours a week. Easily.
  • One In One Hundred is now One Hundred Squared – I’ll talk more about this in an in-the-near-future post, but we changed our mission and our name. We did this partially because the mission of One In One Hundred will very likely be completed by 2011 and because I needed a more structured umbrella for my two congenital heart defect related Mobile Health initiatives. Again, expect to hear a lot more about this very soon.
  • Big Love Little Hearts is where Chris’ call to build a team of disciples really hit home and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re expanding the role of volunteers and interns to cover nearly every aspect of our work. This involves building specific teams within the greater team and will increase our manpower from two to 87 by the end of the June. I can’t even begin to calculate how much more time that will give me to be entrenched in the aspects of my work that can truly only be done by me.

That last sentence is an idea that’s fairly profound for me – that there are things that don’t have to be done by me and me alone. Thank you, Chris, for instilling a lesson I needed to internalize. Thank you Liz and Terry for creating an environment where I could do so.

Is that the only thing I learned at SOBCon? Not even close. Check back in the next few days for more posts about what I experienced at SOBCon and how I’m implementing it in my own organizations.