Jump Start Your Vision: A Review of Start Something That Matters (and contest!)

January 3, 2012 at 10:23 pm Leave a comment

What if you decided that 2012 would be the year that you made your deferred “someday” dream come true?  In Start Something That Matters, Blake Mycoskie, Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS Shoes, gives you that inspirational push you may need to take action.

It’s hard to pinpoint any one of the six principles outlined as standing out, as they all seem equally critical to the giving-based business model. Blake makes the lofty seem accessible, mainly by his emphasis on starting small and keeping things simple.  My mind starts going in all sorts of directions when I think of the possibilities my little ideas can become, but that always quickly leads to panic that I will never be able to manage them and so I toss my complex web of ideas aside for a later date.  It had never crossed my mind that it would be OK, and completely logical, to start small and let things organically progress.

I was actually crying–in public–by page 45 of this book.  Not because of any sentimental content, but by how obtainable the possibilities began to feel the more I read. Something inside of me was churning and the poignancy of the Mark Twain quote set it off: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor…Explore. Dream. Discover.”

You may not have a semi-dramatic emotional reaction to the book, but for those with an entrepreneurial spirit but little business background, this book will be an invaluable pep talk/therapy session where with each chapter Blake taps into your hesitant head and topples those doubts one by one until you are left with no excuses to look back on your life with regret.  Pointing out that there is never a good time (you know, the scary moments when you step out of your comfort zone to start a new, unknown phase of your life), he attempts to rationalize the fear and highlights why facing it completely outweighs the reasons to succumb to it.

The story is an integral part of my first venture, Austin2Angkor, and I am always thrilled to tell it at events or when an opportune moment arises in a conversation among acquaintances.  Start Something That Matters, however, reinforced the need to commit to telling the story at any opportunity. You really never know when you will meet someone who will change the course of your path and take your vision to another level–whether they become an evangelist for your cause/brand or a partner that can help bring your mission to a larger audience. In fact, within the past couple of weeks since reading this book, I have stepped up my storytelling and in doing so have already 1) met a fellow dreamer on a flight who has agreed to be my pusher, and 2) been introduced to someone who could make for a phenomenal mentor in my journey.  There are endless serendipitous connections waiting to be made out there, but they are passing you by the longer you keep quiet.

The marketing of this book in itself is a testament to the company’s genius and genuine commitment to the story and giving. In addition to staying true to its core by giving a book to a child in need with every copy sold, One for One is taken to other levels: the Books for Bloggers program not only got me a copy of the book, but it has given me the opportunity to keep the momentum going by giving away another copy. One-One becomes a Win-Win for both TOMS (several bloggers like myself helping the book reach new audiences in our networks) and for the blogger (I’m pumped to be able to be a part of this movement!).

Reading this book, I was continually reminded of what Sopporn, a soft-spoken woman who volunteers at the Build Your Future Today Center in Cambodia, said to me.  “Everyone wants a way to give back, and when you find it, you know, and you just do it.”  Her words were the final push I needed to come home and start Austin2Angkor.  For those out there who also found it and just know, I urge you to learn from Blake’s experiences, and the many other “normal people” success stories he includes in the book to back it up.  Let Start Something That Matters plant that seed of motivation, then dare to ride that wave of positivity you will undoubtedly feel after putting it down, and take even just ONE step toward making that vision of change, well, visible.

So in this spirit of One for One and the forthcoming MLK Day of Service, I bring you the contest.  Here’s how you can win yourself a copy of this book that has given my heart a swift kick in the gut.  

Go out there and find 2 of something, keep one for yourself and give the other to someone who needs it.  Maybe buy a pair of socks to a homeless person, pick a flower for a co-worker who’s having a stressful day–thoughtfulness is key. Then perhaps ask them to do the same.  See how far it goes.  If it feels so good that you want to do it again, do it! There is no one-limit-per-person in this here contest.  We want to see as many mini One for One moments as possible created. Send your story–photos or videos are a plus–to austin2angkor [at] gmail [dot] com and we will post it on our blog and get you entered to win a copy of Start Something That Matters.  The contest will end at the end on January 31 and the winner will be chosen shortly after.


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Seasons Greetings! Starting things off…

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