Tag - Mark Horvath

The Power of Stories in Social Change
The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness
Videos of the Year
The Dragonfly Effect

The Power of Stories in Social Change

This month’s Social Good podcast is on the power of storytelling and it introduces a brand new format. I blogged about the transition here. Basically, most organizations are struggling keeping up with the world – everything is changing so quickly, information is zooming all around the web, opinions are shifting quickly (hello, Komen!) and organizations need to keep up. The premise of the new podcast is to match great organizations with great coaches who can help them navigate the world. And, of course, given who I am and where the world is headed, the discussions will include social media.

We gave it a whirl this month with two amazing, guinea pigs people. Michael Margolis is the founded of Get Storied. I have had the privilege of watching Michael in action explain the power of stories and how organizations can find and commnicate their most pwoerful stories to their communities. He also helps organizations refresh themselves. For instance, he is working with AARP, helping them move from their old story about retirement and benefits to their new story about a next, vibrant phase of life and opportunities.   – and more importantly help organizations how to move from their old story to their new story to keep up with changes to their organization, to their issue, to the world.

At the heart of every great nonprofit is a great story. Finding that story and telling it well is as much art as science. I’ve had the great fortune of watching Michael Margolis, the founder of Get Storied, at work helping nonprofits understand and express their next chapters. We invited Mark Horvath, the inspirational leader of Invisible People, to discuss with Michael through his transition. Mark has always had, in spades, a feeling for the stories of homeless people, beginning, of course, with his own personal story as a former homeless person. Make sure to listen to Mark’s heard here first announcement of his next chapter in the middle of the podcast!For the podcast, we paired Michael with Mark Horvath, otherwise known as Hardly Normal. Mark is an amazing multi-tasker. In addition to his day job as a case worker at a homeless shelter in LA, he also founded Invisible People TV and is a tireless story teller through social media of the every day heroism and struggles of homeless people.

On the podcast, Michael and Mark discuss the evolution of Invisible People to Visible People and through a pre-podcast conversation to the podcast, Michael helped Mark think through (and announce on the podcast, very exciting!) a new phase for his efforts. He is going to move to a regional strategy, working in different cities to provide opportunities for homeless people to be trained in social media to tell their own stories. Getting hyper local is going to help Mark’s effort in re-humanizing homeless people, making them visible, getting them heard enormously.

I meet nonprofit folks all the time who have these incredible, personal stories about the people they serve and feel they need something bigger, broader, more institutional to tell. On the podcast, Michael tells us that good story telling is an invitation to others to participate with you – really moving from asking for help, a position of weakness, to inviting people to participate with you, a position of strength.

I hope the podcast helps you think about your story and how to move it forward. Please let me know if you find this podcast helpful and have any suggestions on the new format.



The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness

I saw this amazing story about Briana Karp and her descent and return from homelessness. It’s a heart wrenching story, of course, but what really caught my eye was this:

PD: The idea of a homeless girl with a laptop and cell phone is a new one. How is job hunting different when you’re homeless?
Everyday life has become so technology-driven that things like a cell phone and Internet access are essential. Yet, people are still amazed to see homeless people utilizing resources, or conclude that they must not “really” be homeless. Why should a person entering a crisis like homelessness be expected to give up items they may already own, like a cell phone or laptop, which may be their most valuable tools for finding work and digging their way out? Without a laptop or cell phone, I would be without means of accessing job boards in the most efficient manner possible, of sending out résumés and being contacted by potential employers.

The notion that social media aren’t luxuries but a way of life really hits home with this story. It’s similar to the remarkable efforts Mark Horvath makes training homeless folks to use social media to connect with each other, tell their stories and access resources.


Videos of the Year

Welcome to my third annual Videos of the Year post!  This year I want to concentrate on the videos that are clearly self-made, not videos that are the equivalent of the old, professional public service announcements. Not that there is anything wrong with professional videos, it’s just a different animal from self-made content that individuals (which free agents or part of organizations) create to share a story or advocate for a cause.

Please share any videos you thought were terrific this year.

Here are my top videos of the year, in no particular order:

I had the chance to talk to Dan Savage about this video for a Social Good podcast. Two things really stuck with me during our conversation. The first was the spontaneous nature of the making of this video. Dan and Terry just decided one night to make this video, without a script, with a friend holding the video camera. The second was the fact that not only did this video go viral, but the entire It Gets Better YouTube channel went viral, with thousands of people uploading their own videos and stories. I can’t think of another channel going viral like this, it’s a really remarkable event; a combination of lucky timing and real, heartfelt stories.

One of those personal, homemade stories posted on the It Gets Better YouTube channel was this one by Buddie. If you’re not moved by this, well, I’m not sure what would move you.

This video was a contestant in the Acumen Fund’s Sanitation is Sexy contest. As the daughter of a civil sanitary engineer, I find this topic and video particularly effective.

Mark Horvath, also known as Hardly Normal on Twitter, is a remarkable free agent (now an award-winning free agent according to Mashable) and advocate for homeless people. His efforts teaching homeless people how to use social media, particularly through the vehicle of Invisible People TV, to tell their own stories and advocate for their needs are both inspiring and effective.

But, if I were to select the best public service announcement videos of the year, there are plenty of great ones to choose from. OK, twist my arm, here are my top three:

and, finally, my favorite video of the year (who doesn’t love school kids advocating for a new roof?) which is one of the winner of the Bing Competition:


The Dragonfly Effect

A new Social Good podcast has been posted. I interviewed Jennifer Aaker, the co-author with her husband, Andy Smith, of The Dragonfly Effect.

It’s a wonderful book for corporations and nonprofits. Rather than me tell you about it, I’ll let Jennifer and Andy do it:

I was really struck during my conversation with Jennifer on the focus she put on organizations tell one, great, simple, sticky story about what they do. An example she gave was Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Here is all you have to know about Alex’s Lemonade Stand:

Full Name– Alexandra Flynn Scott

Birthday– January 18, 1996

I’m Alex, I’m 8 years old. I have Neuroblastoma and I raise money for pediatric cancer research with the help of other kids and grown ups through my lemonade stand. I give the money I raise to research to find cures for pediatric cancers.

Who do I live with?
My parents, my brother Patrick, my brother Eddie, my brother Joey, my dog Shammy, and my cute kitten Herbert.

Where do I live?
I live in Pennsylvania, right down the street from Philadelphia.

Favorite Colors – Blue and Purple

Favorite Animal – Penguin

School – 2nd Grade

Favorite part of school – Everything

Favorite Food – French Fries

Favorite Book – Junie B. Jones Series and The Little House on The Prairie Books

Favorite Movie – Scooby Doo

Favorite TV Show – Pokemon and American Idol

What I want to be when I grow up – Fashion Designer

Favorite Activity – Making stuff and designing clothes

Place I most want to visit – France

Favorite Sport – Soccer

Social media channels are amazing and powerful vehicles for personal story telling. One of the best examples that you probably have heard about recently is the Youtube channel, It Gets Better, started by Dan Savage. The channel encourages anyone, particularly gay adults, to share their personal stories and struggles from teens to gay adulthood to support gay teens that are being bullied. Here is Dan and his partner, Terry Miller’s story:

Another new project that enables people to tell their own, unfiltered stories is Mark Horvath’s, HardlyNormal on Twitter, has a new site called We Are Visible. It is a toolset to enable homeless people to connect, share resources, and make their voices heard.

Jennifer Aaker made a great point in saying that social media is important not just for the storytelling, but to enable others to retell and share the stories. For people and organizations that are afraid to let others tell their stories, who fear the loss of control over their message, she said that a truly strong story will keep its essence through the retelling, and actually be strengthened by it.  Good stuff!


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