Are you tired of being overworked and underpaid? Do you want more meaning in your work, more purpose in your life?
Watch Academy member Heather Box explain why she’s True+Paid+Good. Heather is the founder and CEO of the Million Person Project, a global project about love, storytelling and connecting change makers. The True+Paid+Good Academy gave Heather permission to dream big. In fact, it was a course requirement. (Read more of Heather’s story below.)
The True.Paid.Good. Academy is a 12-month entrepreneurial training that challenges you to forget cookie-cutter success and start dreaming out of the box. That challenges you to be brave, to admit what YOU really want — and then to go for it. Sure, it takes courage and a little guidance — but together, we can make it happen.
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Heather Box, founder of the Million Person Project
The first exercises I did to dream up the Million Person Project felt like a joke. I didn’t have a clear business plan. I wasn’t an entrepreneur. I had passionately worked at a non-profit non-stop since college; but the way in which I was coming to the work was weighing too heavy on me. I was working around the clock, forever behind a computer, and always in a frantic scurry for grants and donations. I felt disconnected from my work and my co-workers. I felt sad and exhausted and wasn’t sure where I fit in the world. I knew I wasn’t the only “change-maker” feeling this and I needed to shift it.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it but I knew I wanted to feel differently about my work, about the world. I wanted to be more intimately connected to people. I wanted to be a part of something bigger.
My big vision (well, sort of)
My Move The Crowd homework was to write—just capture all of my ideas. I sat down with my laptop and started a seven page document which included things I would love to do, like go to every corner of the earth and talk to people about what they care about: farming, fashion, sports, church, traditions, superstitions, I was wide open. I just wanted to find a way to give myself permission to meet as many people as I could in my life and I wanted people to share WHO they were, as opposed to just what they DO.
Somewhere in the mix of those seven pages of ideas I wrote four words: The Million Person Project. On my next call, my coach had read over the entire document and out of everything in the seven exceedingly full pages she noted, “I’d like to spend this call fleshing out the Million Person Project. What is it?” Wait, seriously?
I explained (purely off the cuff since I’d only just thought this up) that the Million Person Project was a way for one million leaders around the world to commit to leading with their full hearts and their true stories—to be in touch with a deep love for the human family. Saying that out loud felt so true. I had touched something. Rha, my coach, knew it too.
But I knew people weren’t going to just be able to start loving each other out of thin air, so Julian, my boyfriend, and I started dreaming up this crazy idea about love, connectedness and storytelling. We created a training program based on the work of Harvard professor and Obama advisor, Marshall Ganz, for people to find their authentic voice and receive the support and training to share it.
*It* just got real
As we breathed life into the Million Person Project, we raised $20,000, Julian’s job granted him a three month leave, and we took our storytelling-for-change experiment on the road to Vietnam, South Africa and Uganda. On the plane to Vietnam, waiting for Julian’s movie to end—as soon the credits rolled I tapped him and blurted out, “Oh my god! What if the training doesn’t work? What if people say we are crazy talking about love? What if people just say they like it because they feel bad for us for coming all that way and putting on a stupid training?” I was on the verge. He just looked at me. His eyes got really wide. And then we both just about drowned in our own laughter. We couldn’t stop. “Well…then we’ll just be in Vietnam doing a stupid training,” he said.
Over the course of those first four months traveling and training, my life changed. The Million Person Project was born. And it was definitely not stupid. Sure, we got some sideways glances when we’d open our trainings talking about love. We still do. But what I’ve found is that people really want to talk about love. They want to connect with their purpose and share it with others.
Since our first training and with so much generous support, feedback, working and reworking of the curriculum, we have worked with 890 change makers from over 50 countries to develop their personal story and be able to deliver it in confident and compelling ways. The storytellers we have worked with have gone on to: speak at United Nations conferences for the first time bringing untold stories and underrepresented voices to halls of power; give interviews with CNN, BBC, and other media outlets; and participate in various global gatherings. People who have never raised a dollar in their lives, have now used their stories to raise over $4,000 online.
My work now is all about supporting activists in recognizing and realizing the value of their voices. It’s my calling. Funny thing is, this is exactly what Move The Crowd has done for me. My coach, the curriculum, the community all gave me permission to be in my passion. They modeled it for me. I’m working now on connecting the economic viability and my highest contribution. I do this work and it’s profitable. I do this work and I love it.
I used to think I knew the power of storytelling, I’d talk about it all the time; but really the power of stories has exceeded my wildest dreams. What transpires when people are willing to do the work to share their deeply authentic story is just incredible. Move The Crowd helped me share mine. Join the movement.