John Paul Usman.

The kind of person that, I could tell from the very beginning, was more interested in giving than receiving. If even in this small way he was going to put others before himself, he did. And we have a lot of memories to thank him for as a result. Instead of being the center if photos, he wanted to be the man behind the camera taking photos for others. For every fellow that wanted to take a picture together, I remember John Paul’s smiling face, more than happy to spend his time serving others than moving about, preparing for a trip to the Cascades.

This past weekend, I had the great fortune of meeting and working with more than 40 students from Virginia Tech’s Language and Culture Institute. This was the continuation of a great relationship that I’ve formed with them over the years, being able to expose HESONWHEELS and its values, including the importance of inclusivity in social change from a micro-mindset, to their students that come from all over the world.

On Saturday, my presentation was geared towards the Mandela Washington Fellows and their theme this week of “Personal Ethics & Social Change.” I was given free reign and 2 hours with them and those 2 hours were absolutely wonderful. It’s one of my favorite presentations that I’ve ever given, and I’ll blog more about that later.

What I really want to share here is the impact that one man, who is no longer with us, left on me. John Paul’s home is Nigeria, and he was one of the first fellows to introduce himself to me. If anything stood out about the students in that room, it was his huge, contagious, and infectious smile. What especially stood out after the presentation, was how he maintained his position near the center of the group, offering to take pictures for those who wanted, with his iPad. When we went around and did introductions, I remember vividly him sharing his goals to bring a voice to youth in his home country.

John Paul’s passing only hours after we met on Saturday are but one example of the old saying “gone to soon.” I can only imagine the impact he would have had on those in his home country and what he could have contributed to this program this summer, and to his cohort-mates.

After the jump, you can read the letter that the LCI’s director sent out to those who may have been touched by John Paul in our community. May you rest easy, my new friend.

Read more after the jump …

Getting to SOCAP ’16.

Before the jump: please consider voting for my session proposal, “Meeting 1 New Person Everyday: Using Everyday Inclusion to Build a Stellar Village Around You” at SOCAP’s 2016 conference in San Francisco this September! Read more about why you should below :) …

Social capital. A noun. Definition: the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively.

The 1 thing I am most passionate about is meeting 1 new person every single day of my life. It’s a mission that I’ve accomplished for years, save for just a handful of days. The stories and knowledge you can gain from someone, through their stories and perspectives, through their identity, and through what they believe “makes them awesome” are legitimately limitless. That is why I meet 1 new person everyday. It’s not about networking in the traditional business sense. It’s about connecting.

When you connect with people, they immediately feel included. Asking “what makes you awesome?” is a 1 way street to connection, really. And when you meet 1 new person each day, you may develop a lot of social capital. Which is why I shared that definition with you to start. Meeting and connecting with folks not only “enable that society to function effectively” but it can also create a stellar village of folks around you and enable society to function extremely well, not just effectively. These are going to be people who care about the same things you do, share your values, see the meaning in your mission, and maybe even do the same great work that you do (in a social context). The goal of meeting 1 new person everyday is not social capital, but it’s a very, very nice side effect in my opinion.

Now that we’ve set the ground rules, here’s the story. Years ago I was doing some research on this idea of social capital and it adding meaning to the world around you. I discovered a conference named “SOCAP.” Their call was for social entrepreneurs around the world to mobilize, connect, and accelerate the economy. While my vision of social capital has more to do with people and less to do with money, I was still intrigued. That’s why I’m working toward getting to that conference this year.

SOCAP is an organization that is dedicated to increasing the flow of all kinds of capital toward social good. This includes my passion of social capital. I’m intrigued by their unique approach that focuses on cross-sector convening and gathers voices across many fields to form impactful connections. That’s exactly what I practiced in my graduate school days, for example. You were more likely to find me at a conference for entrepreneurs working in unique ways to disrupt higher education than you would at a traditional student affairs conference. And I found great value in that – connecting with others outside of my field to work toward our seemingly uncommon goals. But our goals were common. Cross-convening can find goals that are common.

SOCAP ’16 hopes to provide three full days of information, inspiration and connection with like-minded entrepreneurs, investors, collaborators and thought-leaders. I hope to add my session proposal to those days. The title of my session is Meeting 1 New Person Everyday: Using Everyday Inclusion to Build a Stellar Village Around You and you can find more information about it here. I’ve already written half the presentation and all of the learning outcomes – I hope I’m not jinxing it! But it’s a prezo that I’ve been meaning to develop for a long time, because it’s one of the most impactful I’ve ever conceived. I think. :)

I hope you’ll take some time to check out the description and maybe even “vote up” for my presentation proposal. We’ll all find out later this month which ones are accepted – fingers crossed!

Cheers to Moby.

I’ve had a ridiculous amount of free time on my hands lately. I am also a person who really likes getting things done. So … it’s been interesting …

I am also a person who keeps a lot of their to do lists electronic. Sometimes those to do lists get sort of “lost in the shuffle.” You know, it’s those e-mails at the bottom of your inbox that you KNOW you are going to reply to someday…but the day you finally get to it, it’s irrelevant?

Yes, I’m guilty of procrastinating. But on the flip side, I’m also guilty of developing some really intense marathon list-clear-out sessions, as I like to call them. These sessions are times when I log out of Facebook, put my phone in airplane mode, and turn off most notifications that could distract me. My only focus is my to do lists and what’s on them. Crossing items off, one by one. It’s quite liberating.

When I take a break from these sessions, I time them. And I don’t get on Facebook, I get on my Feedly (my love for which has been discussed at length on HESONWHEELS). I’ll read the news, headlines, and other interests for 10-20 minutes, then it’s back to it. Yesterday, though, I discovered something great on my Feedly that has really helped me spruce up these list-clear-out/productivity sessions.

It can be found here.

Thanks to music artist Moby, I now have a really interesting, new, calming, and focusing playlist of ambient music, unlike stuff that I’ve really heard before. I’ll admit, I know for a fact that I’m late to the Moby show, but nonetheless – I’m happy at it now. This is music I would even listen to driving down the road (as long as I wasn’t sleepy at the time)  – and let me tell ya, that playlist is exclusive. :)

Check it out if you’d like. I’ve read that it’s also great for sleeping and meditating, too. Or panicking. Whichever you prefer.

YES! Open letter from VA to DC.

Just discovered this today. And my life is better for it. And yours should be, too. It’s going to be my go-to thing to send to friends from/based out of D.C. who complain about NOVA life or going to NOVA for some adventures.

From Taco Bamba to Marumen to the Mosaic District to Captain Gregory’s (look up and try something from every single one of those if you haven’t)…the author clearly did their work in eating through our region. There are so many references to amazing restaurants and affirmations of some of the greatest qualities of Northern Virginia.

No matter how often folks may knock the traffic and the congestion and the time it takes to get from point A to point B…this article’s facts can NOT be denied. If you’re a NOVA lover, check it out. If you’re a DC-ite and you’ve been trying to come around, then check it out too.

As the kids say nowadays … the letter may “give you life“.


Coolest TEDx letters, ever. 

Obviously I’m a bit of a TED enthusiast, just by the reading of the title of the blog. 

TEDxTwinFalls took place a little more than a month ago, back in mid-April. But it wasn’t until today that I found this really cool display of TEDx letters from their event! The big red letters are a huge staple of and ubiquitous for any TED event, TED or TEDx, so seeing such an interesting play on them on Instagram earlier this evening definitely caught my eye! 

Very cool #TEDx display. #tedxtwinfalls #twinfalls #red

A photo posted by TEDx (@tedx_official) on

Seems like the theme for the event was “Unconventional Connection.” The wheels in my mind definitely started turning when I thought of the great ideas folks shared guided by that theme! Someone put me in touch with their art director! :)