Rank #1: David C. Smith - How to Open Eyes To The Needs Of A Community
At the age of twelve, David C. Smith says he already knew that his life would be dedicated to the cause of creating a world where “equality is the norm.” He remembers being impacted by the number of homeless he saw on the streets, during his first visit to New York City. With young eyes opened, it was clear David’s path forward would become ruled by a strong sense of social justice. “Once your eyes are opened to that,” Smith told us, “you start to see it everywhere and that’s where it just becomes part of the fabric of your life.” Speaking of fabric, Smith’s resume is a colorful tapestry, woven over twenty years of nonprofit and business leadership. He founded both the Hill Country Ride for Aids and the Mamma Jamma Ride for Breast cancer — two of the most successful fundraisers of their kind. He started his own consulting agency, with stints as interim CEO of a handful of local businesses like Conspirare and The Thinkery. Then two years ago, he came on board as CEO of United Way for Greater Austin, which ironically enough is a job he did his best to talk himself out of. You’ll have to listen to find out why. In this episode of Voices of Impact, David and I discuss some startling statistics about income disparity in Austin. We talk about the programs, challenges, successes and opportunities behind re-energizing an almost century old organization. And David shares why time and again he finds the joy of giving one’s time and resources far exceeds the rewards of supporting the cause itself. To access the full audio, links and resources for David’s interview, visit: http://www.voicesofimpact.com/david-smith
Rank #2: Rachel Holtin - Crafting A Voice That Carries Positive Influence
You could make an argument that Rachel Holtin is one of Austin’s original social media influencers. Her Instagram account, AustinFoodstagram, and her blog by the same name have attracted a cult-like following. Then again, Rachel is quick to point out that the good old-fashioned game of influence has been played since the beginning of time. It’s just the platforms that have changed, in today’s digital age. “The term ‘influencer’ has existed for a long time.” she said. “People have always taken advice from friends, family, even celebrities. Now, with social media, you have online friends, people you relate to, whose opinions you trust for purchasing decisions or events to attend.” As a pioneering voice in the local social media scene, Holtin has turned what was once a hobby, into a full-fledged business. From networking and business planning to storytelling and content strategy planned months in advance, it’s safe to say that Rachel has earned every one of her 76K+ followers. And now, with the advent of Verb.me, she and her co-founders are helping others do the same. Verb is a marketplace that pairs brands with local influencers inside of a platform that Holtin says, “eliminates a lot of the unnecessary friction in the outreach process.” In this episode of Voices of Impact, we get into all of that and we explore Rachel’s brand new project, Showcase. We talk about courage, creativity and paying attention to life’s subtle cues. And Rachel shares how she’s using her voice and her platform to effect positive influence in the local community.
Rank #3: Liz Feezor - How To Create The Opportunity You've Been Searching For
After nine years of blogging in her free time, Liz Feezor decided to toss her traditional resume aside and double down on making a name for herself through her content and creative strategy. “I had become increasingly disenchanted with what was going on in the corporate realms,” Liz said, “and I wanted to see what I could create for myself if I took the leap and had faith in my abilities.” Liz spent 15 years in a corporate HR setting where she gradually grew tired of resume scrapers and programmed bots dictating who was worthy of a job. Since leaving, she’s worked one on one with clients to help them understand the “why” behind their work and project that core message through the written and visual content she creates. Along the way, Liz had a watershed moment with her physical health, by sustaining an incredible 100lb weight loss. That very same determination, structure, and discipline learned through the process of losing weight is reflective of the way Liz runs her business today. In this episode of Voices of Impact, Liz talks about how to be a better content creator. We discuss the crossover between corporate and creative identity, sniffing out disingenuous messaging, and her mental and physical journey to solopreneurship. Liz also shares how to crack the marketing code via an unexpected vulnerable route. Tune in to find out more…
Rank #4: Mason Ayer - A Purpose Greater Than A Paycheck
Mason Ayer says his first memory at Kerbey Lane Cafe was that of scraping gum off the bottom of tables in his parent’s restaurant. When he was five years old, his reward was a nickel for every crusty piece collected. More than three decades later, the stakes have radically changed. But the one thing that has remained constant is Mason’s commitment to the family business. It’s no secret that the large majority of family businesses decline — if not disappear — as the torch is passed from one generation to the next. Fortunately for Austinites, Kerbey Lane has bucked that trend. With Ayer at the helm, the iconic Cafe will expand to its eighth and ninth locations in the coming year. But that’s not all . . . As you will hear in this interview, the brain trust at Kerbey Lane has been working behind the scenes on a new “fast casual” concept that Mason says he’s extremely excited about — the name of which was announced for the first time, on Voices of Impact. In this episode, we dive into core values, open book management and the importance of surrounding yourself with good people. We talk expansion, fresh food and ‘parachute moments.” And Mason explains why realizing he was illiterate in the fourth grade ended up being the turning point in his life. Grab the audio, links and show notes for Mason’s interview at: http://www.VoicesOfImpact.com/Mason-Ayer
Rank #5: Mark Garza - How To Turn Tragedy Into A Million Dollar Opportunity
Mark Garza didn’t ask to be the son of a terminal cancer patient. He didn’t ask to have his family rocked by the repercussions. He didn’t ask for the responsibility of bootstrapping a non-profit and raising awareness around the stigma of mental health. But following his father’s diagnosis in 2009, Garza couldn’t ignore the calling to step up, honor his father and continue the family legacy. “My dad didn’t only teach me how to run an organization, he taught me the value of helping others.” Mark said. “He taught me about following your passion, serving a higher purpose and getting rich in the soul, mind and heart. He used to tell me, there are no do-overs in life.” Leaving a successful career as an advertising executive, Garza established Flatwater Foundation. Since its inception, the “Flatwater Family” has raised $3.2 million dollars to pay for over 19,000 hours of therapy, helping caregivers and affected families cope with cancer. In this episode of Voices of Impact, Mark and I discuss how to train the mind to overcome life’s biggest challenges. We talk about building community around a cause, changing lives, scaling a non-profit and staying on mission. And Mark talks about his experience living the proverb: if you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together.
Rank #6: Chelsea Phillips and Joe Moore - How To Grow From Passion Project to Thriving Business
Chelsea Phillips left college with a degree in political science and the thought that she could make the biggest impact through government work. But it didn’t take long for her to realize that she wasn’t particularly passionate about working as a government lobbyist. “I didn’t really enjoy the work that I was doing“, Phillips said. “I decided I needed to focus on and pursue something that I loved instead.” What she loved was kids, animals and teaching. So, true to her word, Phillips left her stable job to venture out into the choppy waters of entrepreneurism. In the teeth of the recession, she boldly followed in her mother‘s footsteps and started Tiny Tails To You – a local hands-on, traveling petting zoo, designed to engage both like young in age and the young at heart. Before long, business was booming, and recognizing she needed help, Chelsea recruited her partner, Joe Moore, away from his teaching job to help scale the business to another level. Together, Phillips are Moore are in their natural habitat working to bring unique animal experiences, natural connection and environmental wisdom to the Austin area. In this episode of voices of impact, Chelsea, Joe, and I discuss the art of building a business on the back of personal passions. We talk about rediscovering a sense of wonder, pet therapy, removing yourself as the bottleneck, and learning how to scale. And Chelsea shares the best resource she’s found to empower the local Austin business community. Hint: it’s free. Listen in to find out.
Rank #7: Carly Pollack - A Hunger To Change The Conversation About Health
Growing up, Carly Pollack struggled with a buffet of issues: anxiety, autoimmune disorder, a never-ending battle with her weight. As Pollack puts it, “I was the queen of impeccable weekday eating and the impressive weekend binge.” So, it’s only natural then, that she’d go on to earn a Master’s Degree in Holistic Nutrition and be voted ‘Best Nutritionist’ in Austin for four years running. Right? Well, that’s not exactly the most obvious line of logic but Carly believes, “we often teach what we need to learn most.” That mantra bleeds through to every corner of her work. Pollack caries an impressive resume, having lectured all over the country for incredible companies like: Facebook, Whole Foods, Lulu Lemon and the Livestrong Foundation. And yet, she’s equally at home giving a small talk at the Sustainable Food Center or mentoring an aspiring entrepreneur at the Young Women’s Alliance. Her No-BS approach to creating lasting change is both uncommon and refreshing. You are in for a real treat with this interview. In this episode of Voices of Impact, Carly and I discuss the importance of asking high-quality questions. We talk about celebrating ‘small wins,’ as a means to combat ‘next-level syndrome.’ We tackle the subjects of behavior modification, emotional eating and spirituality. And Carly shares why traditional diets have such a high failure rate and what she and her team are doing to coach their clients back to health and happiness.
Rank #8: Emilee and Ben Blackburn - How To Turn Pain Into Purpose
Through their marriage and the birth of their first child, Emilee and Ben Blackburn had nothing but blessings. But then, an unexpected hardship rocked the core of the Blackburn family — a stillbirth of their second child, Tatum. During the grieving process, Emilee suggested the family find a way to turn that pain into purpose. With a naming suggestion from the Blackburn’s first child, Walker, Tatum’s Love Foundation was founded. “We’re always thinking of things that we can do to give back. That helps with our grief,” the couple says. “We show other families this is what helps us, so they can possibly get through their grief by doing the same thing that we are.” Tapping into Ben’s experience running a family business, the Blackburns have moved Tatum’s Love Foundation from a message of hope to a proven program, raising $80,000 to support the stillbirth loss community. And along that path, Ben and Emilee also created Fathers For Hope and Mothers For Hope. Both groups have fundraising initiatives of their own and provide safe spaces for parents to share their difficult stories. In this episode of Voices of Impact, The Blackburns talk about how they’ve created a proven model for funding support programs. We discuss viewing a nonprofit from a business owner standpoint, the benefits of building a board of directors, and finding a healthy outlet for channeling grief. And Ben shares his belief that "every new life, no matter how fragile or brief, forever changes the world."
Rank #9: Robin Emmerich - How To Live A Life Beyond The To-Do List
A little more than a decade ago, Robin Emmerich’s foundation was shaken. Seemingly all at once, a car accident, an apartment break-in and some powerful, yet unexpected, advice led Emmerich down a path of personal re-discovery. “I started asking myself questions like what am I doing, why am I here and what is my purpose in life,” Robin shared. “I started digging deeper because I knew there was something missing but I just didn’t know what.” She eventually found the answers she was looking for in the form of “two mentors,” one for the heart and one for the mind. With a renewed sense of peace and internal direction, Emmerich started her own life coaching business. For the past eight years, she’s been teaching her clients how to tap into intuition, rewrite the script and live with a strong sense of mission. Along the way, Robin discovered her own inner-artist, which led to the creation of her athleisure line, Beauty And The Mess. It’s a phrase that Emmerich says has multiple meanings, not the least of which is a reminder to live with courage and explore the positivity in life. In this episode of Voices of Impact, Robin and I discuss the freedom of living a beyond the to-do list. We talk about momentum, mindfulness, legacy, and the struggle of balancing a commitment to both work and personal relationships. And Robin shares the story behind her partnership in an initiative to empower a billion women by the year 2020.
Rank #10: Liza Wilson - The Four Pillars Of A Sharing Economy
Liza Wilson claims that she was the last person on earth to envision running her own business. “I was stubbornly against it,” she told us. “I thought it would be boring and my brain just didn’t work that way.” Luckily for the Austin community, local teachers and stay-at-home moms, Wilson changed her mind. Radically and instantly. In fact, she went from “not wanting to run a business” to running out to purchase $3000 worth of toys, to stock what eventually became Toybrary Austin. To understand Wilson’s about-face, you first have to appreciate two things. First, Liza boasts an impressive resume in early childhood education — spending 20 years in public schools, Montessori and the French education system. Second, she grew up in a home environment where her parents and grandparents modeled a certain fearlessness. They coached her to believe in possibility and not to be intimidated by big ideas. She could figure out anything, if she stuck with it long enough. Fortunately, Liza heeded that advice. With Toybrary, Wilson has identified a solution to the issue that has plagued parents for generations — what the heck do I do with all of this stuff my kids no longer play with? In this episode of Voices of Impact, we discuss the four pillars of “The Sharing Economy.” We dive into Wilson’s desire to use the Toybrary model to give back to her fellow “educators.” And Liza shares why she is so impassioned about running a ‘zero waste’ business. Grab the audio, links and show notes for Liza’s interview at: http://www.VoicesOfImpact.com/Liza-Wilson
Rank #11: Sam Gozo - How to Rewrite Your Own Definition of Success
Sam Gozo can recall the early morning hours of February 28th 2016 like they were yesterday. It was under the cover of darkness that the concept of his business, AniMode Empire, saw first light. “I still have that piece of paper,” Sam says, “I wrote down what I wanted the company to be. It’s about changing lives and perspectives. Unbeknownst to us, we’ve allowed complacency, hopelessness and things that bastardize the human spirit to creep in. We are chasing the wrong things.” Even at the ripe old age of 24 years old, Sam had the awareness to recognize he’d been firing at the wrong targets. He knew that there was more to his story than just the pursuit of material wealth. With AniMode Empire and his Lionheart Life Coaching program, Sam is on a mission to help others re-write their own definition of “success.” Sam believes that life is a game of chess, not checkers. “We can’t just focus on one piece, one move, and expect to win the whole game. It’s about actionable steps and strategies that align with lifestyle.” In this episode of Voices of Impact, Sam and I talk about the key distinction between Passion and Purpose. They’re often confused. We discuss fitness as a metaphor for life and how the language we use informs the belief behind it. And Sam shares how the process of winning the 2014 World Champions in Drill shocked him into a routine that set him on the path to personal empowerment.
Rank #12: Mia Johns - How To Build A Network Of Impassioned Volunteers
Despite a longstanding, successful background in marketing & community relations, eight years ago, Mia Johns was at a crossroads. She was searching for a sense of fulfillment and a community that spread the “message of hope.” She found her match in Dress For Success Austin. Starting out as part-time volunteer coordinator, Johns later ascended to Program Director — tasked with building community and helping further the mission of a local affiliate that has served over 11,000 women since opening its doors in 2003. “Women come to Dress For Success Austin with a variety of challenges — homelessness, underemployment, divorce, domestic violence or illness — and we do provide clothing and support. But we are much more than that,” Mia says. “We have so many pre and post-workforce development programs. We pride ourselves on meeting each client exactly where she is and helping her along her journey to self-sufficiency.” With just five full-time staff, serving thousands of women each year, Dress For Success relies heavily upon its army of 250+ volunteers — like past podcast guest Nikki Moore — to serve as loyal community ambassadors On this episode of Voices of Impact, Mia and I discuss how to build a network of impassioned volunteers. We talk about confidence, adaptability, overcoming gaps in employment and building a “functional resume.” And Mia sheds some light on the ladder of outreach programs she’s helped set up to empower women in our community to reach their full potential.
Rank #13: Ryan Anglen - Serving Pints With A Purpose
Ryan Anglen says he originally started home brewing as a way to keep his mind off of work — a welcomed distraction from the daily “corporate grind.” Years later though, when it got to the point where his wife, Danielle, could no longer park her car in the garage, it was clear that his passion for craft beer had become more than just a “hobby.” With encouragement from friends and family, the Anglen family began scouting locations. Four years ago, they landed in Cedar Park, Texas where they opened up Whitestone Brewery — the area’s first self-distributing brewpub. While Whitestone is well known for its tasty brew, to end the story there would do a grave disservice to Anglen’s primary purpose behind becoming a business owner in the first place. As a two-time cancer survivor, there is a lot more behind Ryan’s business plan than just achieving a healthy bottom line. He and his team regularly open their doors to help fundraise for Austin area organizations like Texas Humane Heroes, Tatum’s Love Foundation and Heroes Night Out. “I started the brewery because of my passion for craft beer. I love the feel of craft beer and the people around it,” Anglen said. “But more than that, I started the business because I wanted to get into a relationship with my community and to really have an impact with the causes that are most important to me.” In this episode of Voices of Impact, we discuss the importance of surrounding yourself with good people — knowing which voices to listen to and which to tune out. We talk about the challenges of building a profitable business in a heavily-regulated industry. And Ryan shares how, as a business owner, he’s able to use his business as a teaching ground to provide valuable life lessons and principles for his two young daughters.
Rank #14: Nikki Moore - Helping Recommission The Lost Art Of Appreciation
Nikki Moore’s business was born out of necessity. Literally, days after giving birth to her first child, she scoured the internet in search of a “done-for-you” personalized client gift. What she found, frustrated her. “It was all perishable items or things I had to order like 30 days in advance, just to be personalized,” Moore explained. Not having that kind of time, Nikki did what she’s done her entire life. She got resourceful. An appreciation gift, skillfully assembled at the last minute was the “hey wait a minute” moment that sparked Happily Ever Baskets. It’s a business that has afforded her the opportunity to stay home with her son, Nixon, all the while making the outward contribution she desperately desired. It’s a business Moore has bootstrapped as a card-carrying member of the “mompreneur” movement and one that has become the local solution to providing appreciation gifts that recipients actually rave about. In this episode, we discuss traditional gift-giving blunders. We talk about the lost art of appreciation and the importance of running toward what lights you up. And Nikki shares why she’s so passionate about her volunteer efforts with Dress For Success — a local organization that gives women of all backgrounds the tools they need to “get back in the game.” Grab the audio, links and show notes for Nikki’s interview at: http://www.VoicesOfImpact.com/Nikki-Moore
Rank #15: Aysa Province - Fashioning Fun for Austin’s Pediatric Patients
Aysa Province has a longstanding love for fashion, event planning and giving back to those in need. And yet she confessed to wondering how her three passions would one day fit together. Then, the vision for “Beautifully Loved” firmly took hold of her heart. It started with the idea of a fashion show, to support and spotlight young patients of the Blood and Cancer Center at Dell Children’s Hospital. And with one night’s worth of runway sashay, Province caught a glimpse of her life’s calling. “I played with the idea for months,” she said. “I had questions of — is this enough and will this actually make a difference? Finally I just took the leap of faith and everything kind of fell into place. In my head I just thought I’d rather try and know than always wonder what if.” The impact that Beautifully Loved has made in a short time, is beyond measure. From Mother’s and Father’s Day pamper events to holiday initiatives and fundraisers like the Fashion Show, Province and Beautifully Loved are showing the community that there is a lot of power in a little lipstick. In this episode of Voices of Impact, Aysa and I discuss how to be a voice of love and rest for children and families in need. We talk about unwavering conviction, rallying support for a grass-roots charity and learning to be ‘enough.’ And Aysa shares the important lesson of how to walk into fear and come out a stronger leader, on the other side. To access the full audio, links and resources for Aysa’s interview, visit: http://www.voicesofimpact.com/aysa-province