The Lift | Brian@GrowthWorks

The Lift | Brian@GrowthWorks

Pro-Noia:The Universe Is Conspiring in Your Favor...

by Brian McDermott on 01/21/13

What can a guy with pink hair and earrings teach about leadership, change, and living a good life? His grandfather, an activist who walked with Martin Luther King Jr., taught him the shortest route to happiness is doing things for others. John Styn (Hug Nation) passes along that advice and a number of other insightful gems in this inspiring and funny 18-minute TedTalk.

It's worth sticking around to the end to meet grandpa -- Rev. Caleb Shikles -- and to see where he ended up...

(Email Subscribers Watch Here)
Make a Difference,


In the Garden of Your Mind...

by Brian McDermott on 01/06/13

"There are so many things to learn about in this world, and so many people who can help"... if we're open to the possibilities.

The quote is from Fred Rogers -- yup, he of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood fame. The words were originally intended for the kids who grew up watching his PBS television series, but they are tweaked for adult consumption in this very cool auto-tuned remix produced by PBS Digital Studios.

It's just one of the inspirations that makes this an inspiring 3 minutes and 11 seconds.
(Email Subscribers Watch Here)

Make a Difference,


Making Big Change... One Flat Tire at a Time

by Brian McDermott on 12/12/12

It can be daunting to think about all that needs to change -- in individual jobs or businesses, the economy, global politics, or even in our families -- to make life a little better. A couple of lessons worth considering:

  • Focus on things within your realm of influence.
  • Pick a single thing you can do to "Be the change you want to see," as Gandhi taught. Start there and see what unfolds.
Does it work?

This 3-minute video from CBS' Steve Hartman, is one story that says it does. It's about a good Samaritan who thinks the world is too full of anger, distrust and fear, and he believes he can change it one flat tire at a time.

(Email Subscribers Watch Here)

Follow-up to the story: A crowd-sourcing campaign launched on Weller's behalf after his accident raised $10,000 to help him repair his rescue vehicle. His contact info, according to CBS: San Diego Highwayman, Goose Creek Ranch, 504 Macon St., El Cajon, Ca. 92019.

Make a Difference,


Rock Bottom: The Perfect Place for Change

by Brian McDermott on 11/29/12

Eighteen months after a near-fatal accident left her a "walking paraplegic," Janine Shepherd was soaring, literally and figuratively. And she is inspiring others as she shares her story -- taking on the rebuilding of her broken life as the most creative challenge and change imaginable.

She quotes Lao Tzu...

"When you let go of who you are you become what you might be"

... and reminds me of how important it is to challenge the assumptions that shape our hopes and expectations, how powerful it is to be mindful of what guides our actions, and how gratifying it is to choose our own paths.

(Email Subscribers: Watch this 18-Minute TED Video Here)

Make a Difference,


Need a Little Joy? Hold on to Your Socks...

by Brian McDermott on 11/16/12

I have long believed kids can teach invaluable lessons to grown-ups about life, learning, leadership, change, inspiration -- if we grown-ups are willing to listen.

Listen to this. You will be dazzled and, I think, inspired by this 16 year old who says about his purpose, "I'm gonna bring happiness to people. I'm just gonna show 'em what I've got and hopefully I will blow their socks off."

Mission accomplished Luke Lucas. And the bonus outcome: I can't sing like you, but I can focus on bringing a little happiness by showing what I've got. We all can...

(Email subscribers watch this 6-minute video here.)

Make a Difference,


Why All the Doors Are Closed...

by Brian McDermott on 10/21/12

I think I may have listened to this song a thousand times without ever really hearing it. My grasp of the lyrics never got beyond, "Boom, boom, boom, baby you're a firework," which, truly, struck me as catchy and a bit inane.

But then I slowed down to listen because a friend flagged this video on Linked In and said it was worth the eight minutes to watch... because it was being played and sung by a young girl whose parents were told when she was 2 that she might never speak a complete sentence. And here she is with superstar Katy Perry singing, "Maybe the reason why all the doors are closed; So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road."

The voice is a bit off key, perhaps, but the performance is inspiring and the message is right on.

The performance was part of a celebration to raise funds to fight autism. There is a donations link at the end, and a request to share this video. Enjoy and pass it on...

(Email Subscribers Watch Here)

Make a Difference,


Live from New York, It's Saturday Night Perspective...

by Brian McDermott on 10/15/12

Sometimes looking at things from a different point of view can be the most creative and most attitude-altering thing we can do.

This skit from the cast of Saturday Night Live skewers the technology geeks who are nitpicking problems with Apple's new iPhone5, and, as swiftly as a TV director can shift camera shots, it also shows the power of shifting perspective.

It's very funny!

(Email subscribers Watch Here)

Make a Difference,


One Leg to Stand On... and He Stands Tall

by Brian McDermott on 10/02/12

Nico Calabria is a teenager who was born with one leg. He's not looking for pity. He just wants to be seen and treated as an equal. The problem is, this kid is extraordinary, and as he stands tall he's going to stand out, and his example about how to live fully is going to inspire people wherever he goes. He viral coming out party is a result of an amazing soccer goal caught on video.

He says, "I've got one leg. You get one life. Do what you will."

(Email subscribers Watch Here)

Make a Difference,

(Dedicated in Memory of Mark Santangelo)

I Was Here... Leaving a Mark on the World

by Brian McDermott on 09/01/12

Is there a secret to success? A way to make the world a better place? This message for World Humanitarian Day -- delivered through the beautiful voice of Beyonce and a powerful collection of video images -- makes me think maybe there is. The message on the I Was Here website:

Do something good
For someone else

That's how to make a mark on the world. To live each day fully. To touch hearts. To make a difference. To say, "I was here."

Do something good for yourself. Watch this video... (email subscribers watch here)

For more inspiration and ideas about how to make a mark: World Humanitarian Day

Make a Difference,


Wasted... What Can We Do?

by Brian McDermott on 08/23/12

Forty percent of food in the United States ends up in the garbage. Meanwhile 9 million older adults worry about where to get their next meal every day, as do another 36 million Americans of all ages. That's more than one out of every 10 people...

Gerry Sexton (my GrowthWorks partner) and I are facilitating a Hunger Summit in Virginia in September. It's sponsored by AARP, and targeted to specifically address food insecurity for older people in Virginia. We haven't even stepped in the room yet with the leaders convening to talk about what they can do together to solve this problem, but our eyes have been opened to a staggering problem. And it is clear it will take many hands and hearts to deal with this challenge.

Robert Egger, is founder of DC Central Kitchen, a paradigm-busting nonprofit that feeds thousands of hungry people and trains hundreds of homeless and unemployed workers in Washington, DC., using surplus food donated by restaurants and hotels that would otherwise go unused. Egger will be attending and speaking at AARP's Hunger Summit. In a conversation to prepare for working together, Egger said the aging of the U.S. population and the increasing challenges of poverty and hunger are part of an oncoming "silver tsunami," and not enough people and agencies are paying attention.

Change is happening, but more is needed.

Egger mentioned several "brilliant" examples of what's being done in some communities. In Richmond, he says, Meals on Wheels and the local food bank merged operations and brands to become Feed More. The Girls Scouts launched a global initiative in 2010 to help end extreme poverty and hunger worldwide. And DC Central Kitchen and volunteers in communities throughout the U.S. are striking deals to use school kitchens during idle hours to make meals for hungry families.

The big challenge, Egger says, is to rethink existing services. The sheer numbers of older adults and cultural changes about the perceptions of aging mean it won't work to simply jam more people into the same systems. Senior centers are reaching out with great services, he says, but people are not taking advantage. We need to understand why. The "pantry model" is based on the assumption everyone can get to a food distribution site and stand in line. That's less true today than just a few years ago.

Want to help? One way, Egger says, is to evaluate support services and resources already available in your community and to elevate the conversation. Spread the word. Research indicates, and Egger says his experience shows, there is an army of volunteers out there ready to be mobilized.

Additional Reading and Resources:

Make a difference... and spread the word,


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