New Year, New Time to Discover Your Power

I believe everyone single person born on Earth has a power. Yes, I truly believe that we all are like superheroes with super powers. It’s our responsibility to discover our power and use it to the fullest capacity while we’re alive.

Many people don’t realize this in their lifetime and die not knowing their power, or worse, not using it to better their lives and the lives of others. Unfortunately, I discovered this life lesson after losing four family members in about a year’s time. Fortunately, I paid attention and took action to make small changes that rippled out to big changes that shifted my life personally, professional and spiritually.

My wish for you this new year is that you take baby steps. Start by helping someone in need or volunteering. It doesn’t have to seem laborious or like something you check off in a long list of to-do’s. It should be inspiring and fun. Think about what you enjoy doing naturally.

For example, people who know me, know I like love to talk. For me, there’s no better way to use my power of connecting with everyday heroes, telling their stories to inspire you, the viewer to find your inner superhero power to help them.

I know this may sound kidlike, woo woo or a bit cray cray, but it’s true. Each and every one of us has the power to make or break someone’s day. It doesn’t matter how great your wealth, health or connections — you have the power. I believe this so much that during the throes of the economic meltdown in 2008, I decided to quit my “dream job” as a TV reporter in San Francisco to prove this theory.

My power: connecting with people. To take it a step further, I know that I can have a soul-stirring conversation with someone and uplift, inspire and change their perspective — and in many cases spark action within them, which billows out into the community.

A journalism brother, Archith Sehshadri, recently asked me what one word describes our power. He said, “My network.” I said, “Inspiring” people. On any given week about 5+ people message me saying they need some “Toan Time.” What a great compliment! When I left the news biz, I was dead set on testing this algorithm: Authentic Storytelling + Leveraging Social Media = Action.

More than 60 videos and 200 posts later, I realized this works. The impact is real.

One of our most popular stories is about Jorge Munoz, a.k.a. the “Angel in Queens, New York,” a school bus driver by day and real-life angel by night. For more than a decade, Jorge has devoted half his salary of $700 a week to purchase groceries that fill his tiny shoe box-sized apartment in Queens, New York. He and his family pour love into making home-cooked meals that he delivers each night in his white pickup truck to a subway stop to more than 150 people. No questions asked!

Other inspiring impactful stories include:

Reverend Alerte, who built a high school in his hometown of Grand Saline, Haiti, after the country was devastated by a 7.0 earthquake. This story created a movement that allowed 32 kids to attend school in Haiti.

Dr. Ron Holt’s story about spreading his message of awareness and compassion around the LGBT community inspired people to love their authentic selves and thwart suicides.

▪ We also helped Phoebe Russell, who as a kindergartener enabled a local food bank to give out more than 200,000 meals in San Francisco.

The common thread in each of these stories is that the hero’s journey began with a small act that rippled out to meaningful (and sometimes big) changes.

Don’t think you have the time or money to help others? Meet Claire Lemmel, who used her smile to inspire connectedness and kindness.

So many people have said to me, “I wish I had the time,” or “One day when I make a lot of money I want to give back.” The truth is, you don’t need money or a lot of time to give back. You just have to take action.

Do one small thing to help someone. If you like books, use your power of the spoken word and volunteer to read to kids. If you like to garden, help upkeep or revitalize a neighbor’s yard. The key is to do something, anything that you enjoy and plant the seed.

So, what is your power? What are you doing to make someone else’s life better? We want to know! You just might inspire a movement…pow!

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