Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Give Away!

This is the first Laura Travel Adventure give away... and I'm excited because it is a great one!

I entered my blog on the Start Something That Matters site ( a few months ago -- anxious to read the book after it sold out at the Catalyst conference where Blake Mycoskie spoke (see this post for more on that). In true TOMS form, I received two copies of the book and agreed to read and write about it, and then give one of my copies to one of you wonderful readers. After reading the book I'm even more glad to share about it... I loved it and expect you will too.

This book is all about how to start and run a business or non-profit with passion to do good at its core. TOMS gives a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair it sells. In the book, you read about a variety of leaders who have "done good" through all different types of entrepreneurial endeavors and advice on how to start something yourself. I found it extremely easy to read, practical, and inspiring.

So, here's the deal. I'm going to do a raffle, and literally pull a name out of a hat. To get your name in the hat, all you need to do is visit my Facebook fan page for this blog or Anda, and hit "like." If you'd like double your chances, please like both! Then just post a comment letting me know, and I'll put your name(s) in the hat!

I will post the winner in a week and will be in touch with them for their address.

Thanks for participating!

Again, here are the links to the facebook links:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Start Something That Matters

One of the most memorable moments of the Catalyst conference I attended in October was (briefly) meeting Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS Shoes and author of the new book, Start Something That Matters. During his on-stage interview, Blake mentioned a pain point of TOMS which set my head spinning. He has experienced difficulty maintaining a solid corporate culture as staff are becoming more culturally diverse and spread out across the world.

Click to learn more about TOMS.
I decided to write Blake a note telling him that I have experience in multi-cultural community development and would be glad to help. I gave it to him in the autograph line. Although he hasn't followed up (yet) the idea took root in my mind. If TOMS is experiencing inevitable culture clash as they work with international leaders in developing markets are other companies struggling with similar issues?

Turns out, according to business journals, news reports, and conversations with business leaders, this is a very common issue in business today as companies look to emerging markets for talent (no longer just labor).

My dad and I had already been working on how we might create a feasible model to provide requested leadership training to indigenous leaders in developing countries. Might a One for One model like TOMS' work for us too? Could we work with multi-nationals in emerging markets and then provide a pro bono or low-cost training to ministry or leaders of community development initiatives in the same area?

This was the initial catalyst for Anda, the business idea my dad and I have been working on for the last several months. It's a business with a heart of service helping local leaders in emerging markets positively impact their societies to the largest extent possible by providing character-based leadership training. Anda also seeks to help these leaders effectively work with those from the "developed" world who have a clearly defined set of standards and ethics which may be understood differently in the emerging market cultures.

I'm taking one step at a time with this and am not sure where it will lead, and in the process The TOMS story encourages me. My dream is that we will help leaders impact their own cultures by creating great businesses and great ministries which will create wealth where there has been poverty and healing where there has been brokenness.

If you're interested in this idea, check out our web site. Let me know what you think. I'd love suggestions of any kind.

And finally, check back Wednesday (the 14th) for an opportunity to win the book Start Something That Matters.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Clean Water

This week I was reminded how normal, expected, demanded conveniences of my American life are really luxuries. There was a problem with our water softener, and suddenly the water in our house was salty and undrinkable. Clean water is a necessity for almost everything!

Even as someone who does not have a high-paying job at the moment, I have every imaginable comfort. I live in a big warm house with a room to myself and a nice soft bed with quality linens. I have a bathroom with a toilet which takes away my waste so I don't even notice it. I can take long hot showers without worrying about using too much water and then use luxurious body creams and lotions on my skin. There is always food in the kitchen -- enough food for three quality meals snacks every day. If anything my concern is that I will have too much. Never too little.

In America we have the biggest selection of the highest quality goods and services at the lowest prices. How can I remain thankful and keep from succumbing to the notion that I deserve these things?

Friday, I went to a dance party which was to raise money for a clean water project in Africa through Partners International. I also thought about Deep Springs International, an organization which was begun by some college friends which is providing clean water in Haiti. How amazing that people in those communities can not assume that they will have the water they need.

Upon reflection, I am very thankful for water, a bed, a toilet, and food. I'm also thankful that I have been places where I didn't have some of these things (I have never gone a day without clean water). I'm thankful for those I've met who will probably never have them, and live in a more thankful posture than I do. I want to be like them.

One thought I have is that through giving we can demonstrate thankfulness for the bounty we enjoy.

In case you're interested in donating, here are links to the ministries I mentioned:

I'd love comments!