Posts Tagged ‘Projects’

News, Visionaries | 2 Comments | August 14th, 2006

VisionForce serves the ever expanding constellation of visionaries in the world. We know how tough it can be too keep extending yourself, to keep risking your time, your life, your money, your reputation for what you see is possible for humanity. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a social entrepreneur, an activist, an artist, a teacher, a parent, an author, a visionary politician, a church group leader, etc–or you aspire to be in some kind of creative leadership role to make a difference–matters not. What matters is that you need the power to stand and keep standing. Not a small task in today’s world that still mostly honors those who fit in, follow, obey and conform.

You are the hope of our children. You are the hope of tomorrow. In addition to providing powerful tools for visionaries like you, VisionForce aims to fill your spirit so that you can keep going forward, doing what you do, being who you are.

And our new Visionary Interview series is meant for you. We’ll be posting an audio interview with an everyday visionary, for your benefit. You can listen right here on the website, download to your computer and burn to your CD, or subscribe to this as a podcast and listen from you iPod.

We’re not necessarily going to interview those who’ve made it to the top. Au contraire! We’re going to interview the people in the trenches, people just like you! You are NOT alone. There are countless millions living the visionary lifestyle–living by their vision and risking everything that the “normal” world offers to do so.

The world of the past offers us the rewards of comfort, convenience, approval, respect, safety and financial security. All we need to do is stay mostly within the boundaries of the existing systems (that are sooo NOT working!). You are one of the few who chooses not to go down with the ship! And you’re willing to risk your life and your reputation to swim to shore to save all the others on board, and raise humanity to the next level.

I honor you.

This week we’ll be taling to a young entrepreneur in the renewable energy industry. Learn the challenges she comes up against and see who she is in the face of those challenges. Note: You’ll see yourself in her. She is you. Later on in the week, we’ll be interviewing a young visionary musician, risking it all to change the world through his music.

I will make no promise as to the frequency of these interviews, but expect them!

If you have comments, thoughts or suggestions, please post them below. (Oh, and if you know of someone we should interview.. hint, hint… YOU? Then direct them to visionforce and have them comment below. Thanks!)

News, Visionaries, Visionary Mind | 1 Comment | August 7th, 2006

You gotta check this young man out.Clovis - Young Ugandan Visionary

I gave him the Vision Force 101 200 Mb download about 2 weeks ago (the precursor to Visionary Mind), and he’s already changing the world. Check out his blog today, and all the comments he’s getting.

News | No Comments | July 2nd, 2006

My trip in Africa was unexpectedly extended for a week, but I am FINALLY home!

Austin, TX, USA–in time for the 4th of July!

Austin is home to Whole Foods world headquarters, a bazillion yoga studios, killer Texas barbeque, great people, etc., etc.

Yesterday morning I started my day with a killer yoga class–Baron Baptiste’s Power Vinyasa yoga, followed by lunch at Chipotle’s and a Dos Equis Mexican beer… Aaaah!

I’ve never been so happy to be in Austin! My 4 weeks in Africa were great, and an incredible, life-changing experience, but I sure appreciate being home again!

I just wanted to wish all of you a happy 4th of July, and those of you who are Americans, happy Independence Day!

Wherever you are in the world right now, take a moment and reflect on your freedom. Kenya won it’s independence only 40 years ago.

We had private meetings there talking about politics and the future of Kenya… meetings that would have been forbidden even 10 years ago.

One thing I know is that even with our outer freedoms, we’re not really free until we are free within–within our minds and hearts.

That kind of freedom cannot be fought for and won for us by others. No, we have to fight for that and earn it ourselves.

That’s the kind of work I was doing in Kenya with the youth there, and it’s the kind of work we do here at the Vision Force Academy.

Our boot camps in particular are an amazing experience in fighting for and earning your inner freedom. If you’ve been, you know what I mean.

I am so honored and so grateful to have the opportunity to have you in my life, {!firstname_fix}. Just by being a subscriber to my list, you are allowing me the opportunity
to make a difference–to join with you in your fight for freedom.

There’s nothing I’d rather be doing with my life.

Today, I celebrate you. I honor you.

And I encourage you to fight hard for the inner freedom you deserve–freedom from the demands and expectations of the world around you. Freedom to boldly live your
life in pursuit of your own vision, driven by your own inner calling to make a difference in this world.

I honor you for the battles you’ve already fought to live a life that makes a difference, to live a life of meanting.

Never give up the fight. Celebrate your freedom today!

With love and respect,


P.S. We need not fight against others, but simply be vigilant and conscious of our vision and the threats to our highest values. Then all we need do is stand powerfully
for our vision and values as discussed in the free Power To Stand course:

News | 15 Comments | June 29th, 2006

It is part of the culture here in Kenya to have high walls with barbed wire surrounding your home, metal bars on all windows and doorways and your own security guard(s) on duty 24-7… at least for the middle and upper class residences. Many of the homes with such protection would be lower middle class homes in the U.S. or even homes of those considered to be poor. There are military men and police officers carrying rifles on the streets and at shopping centers, and frequent police checks along all major roadways. It seems there is much more wealth to protect in the states, yet even many wealthy estates are not surrounded by the kind of walls you see here in Kenya.

Maybe it’s that our security in the U.S. is more hidden. We have electronic alarm systems, sophisticated law enforcement databases, etc., etc.

Maybe it’s that we have a much more trusting culture in the U.S., but here you see young children walking alone down city streets, country roadways and highways. Here people sell and eat food without the high health standards and regulatory agencies you see in the U.S.

Another paradox has to do with wealth. In the U.S. we have so much technology, convenience and material wealth compared to Kenya and developing countries; yet what I see now is how much wealthier Kenyans are in other respects. There is a great sense in the U.S. that we don’t have enough time. With all our gadgets, inventions and strategies designed to make our lives more efficient; in general we still don’t have the kind of time for things that matter than many Kenyans do. Relationships and family are integral to life here, much more so than in the U.S. On every roadway, there are many people walking…. and walking, and walking. There’s no great rush. And often they are walking through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. On our way to and from the airport here, there are giraffes grazing like cattle or deer.

Things are much slower here. You go to a friend’s house for tea or dinner and leave maybe 4, 5 or 6 hours later. You get the sense that there is time for everything important. And so many of the things that occupy our minds with concern and worry in the U.S. are not even missed here in Kenya. My travels these last 3 weeks have not had me meeting people in misery. Even children and the elderly in the gravest circumstances seem to have a certain inextinguishable gleam in their eyes, and they are so easy to smile.

Wealth? We chase it in the U.S. Most of us know it is not material riches that make us wealthy, but the quality and abundance of other values in our lives, such as our relationships, our happiness, our enjoyment of life. These are the values Kenyans share in abundance.

I should mention another, related paradox. In the U.S. eating healthy seems to be a luxury of the rich. Yet, in Kenya, normal meals consist of what was grown in your garden, the livestock in your field and/or that of your neighbor’s. There is a striking absence of the over processed and “convenient” foods you find everywhere in the U.S. You have to look very hard to find candybars, “health” bars, pizza, burgers, etc. And things like microwavable frozen dinners are virtually non-existant. Look in the pantries or “stores” of most Kenyan homes and you won’t find what you find the chips, cookies, canned foods, snack foods, etc., that nearly every American keeps in abundance. And seeing an obese person here is quite rare. So much so, that these people really stand out and are stared at.

Kenyan’s lifestyle is an active, healthy one in large part because they are not so comfortable and life is not so convenient. They can’t order a pizza delivered to their home while watching the World Cup. They can’t walk to the kitchen and grab a bag of potato chips. If they do want to get some fries, they’ll either cook them themselves from fresh potatoes, or they will walk several blocks to find a vendor who has cooked them fresh. Gyms and health clubs are very hard to find. You could say they can’t afford such luxuries, but on the other hand, they don’t NEED such luxuries, and such activities do not take up their time.

Opportunity? Yes, we have so much of it in the U.S. But, I am inclined to think that there is a greater value that Kenyans and third world citizens share. Hunger. Literal and figurative. They work hard to survive. They work incredibly hard just to get by. That kind of hunger is worth more than opportunity, isn’t it?

In the U.S., so many children grow up with so much convenience, so much time, so much opportunity that they never experience the same kind of hunger. They never have to face the kind of challenges that most Kenyan children face daily.

What I am very excited about is how Kenya’s doors to opportunity are about to be flung wide open! And I am excited about what Vision Force’s role could be in this. Opportunity, really, is everywhere. What is missing from Kenya’s culture is the ideas and cultural structures for entrepreneurship, vision and wealth creation. These doors can be opened through education, and Vision Force can play a major role here.

The kids aging from 5 to 20 at the orphanage/school in Ngong ate butterless bread and tea for breakfast, beans for lunch (sometimes with cabbage or rice, and for the few who could afford such, an avacado), and more beans for dinner. Most walked to school, others boarded there. The bathrooms they used were outhouses, the water they drank turned their teeth yellow, the school rooms they sat in had no A/C and no electricity, the library remained closed because the books were way too outdated, the computers they used were relics from the ’80s, the close they wore were often the same ones they wore the day before unless they washed them by hand themselves. These kids were real. They were humble, they were genuine. Most of their parents were barely subsisting just so they could pay for their kids to have a highschool education.

Ngong classroom, Form 2

And most of these kids knew that going to university was there only chance of having any kind of a life beyond what their parents had had; and that going to university was a slim, slim chance. Most of the kids knew what it was like to stay home from school for days, weeks months or even years when their parents could not pay the school bills.

When I spoke to them about basic concepts of wealth creation and entrepreneurship, you should have seen them light up! You should have seen the look in their eyes, and even the tears, as many of them saw for the first time how they could make it!

Teaching vision and entrepreneurship!

Teaching vision and entrepreneurship!

Teaching vision and entrepreneurship!

Teaching vision and entrepreneurship!

Teaching vision and entrepreneurship!

(Above, you’re looking at the future of Kenya!)

AND, you’d be amazed how easy and cheap it can be to start a school in Kenya. I saw how my vision from 1996 of having a physical academy where kids can learn entrepreneurship, life skills and advanced thinking methods could be realized here quite easily.

We met a man named Morris, who left a very privileged American education and a very comfortable life in the states as a reggae singer in a popular band to return to make a difference. He saw something worth standing for. He has renovated an old home in the country and stuffed it with old computers. He invites the local kids who live on the streets and/or whose parents cannot afford their highschool education into his house to get computer training for free. These kids become proficient in the latest applications and computer repair, and are poised to become independently wealthy when Kenyans start buying personal computers for their homes.

Another paradox is the ubiquitous use of cell phones for text messaging. You can come across a traditional Massai man out in the wilderness of Africa text messaging someone from his cell phone, or in a cyber cafe emailing someone. This technology has become so cheap and is so useful that it’s everywhere! And, most people don’t even have personal computers, dishwashers, cable TV, washing machines, etc.

So, there is all kinds of opportunity right here in Kenya. Their revolution in which they freed themselves from British rule occured only 40 years ago. Corruption is still everywhere. What Vision Force concepts such as honor, vision and taking a stand can do for the youth here! And there are so many who are ready to take the lead.

I could go on and on about the conversations we’ve had with people here. Unlike the U.S. where there is so much cynicism and resignation about politics that so many people discount politics altogether; here in Kenya there is anger. People are very keen on the issues of the day that are facing their country. What holds so many youth here (ages 20 – 40) from stepping forward is the longheld tradition about deferring to authority. There is a consensus here that no one will listen to you if you are not well over 40 years old, and that you could lose your job and respect if you speak up. Even 10 years ago, we’ve been told, assembling privately in someone’s house to talk politics was something you were terrified to do. People did not do it.

We held one such meeting at a house here about a week ago with 2 people who are highly active with solving Kenya’s problems of hunger. They each held respected positions, one in government, and the other with a highly visible NGO. The conversation we had was one of revolution! Non-violent of course, but it seemed to me that everything was right there in front of us… there is about to be a revolution here, in many respects. This, it seemed, is what it must have been like for America’s founding fathers at the formation of the U.S. of A.

OK, that’s all for today. Sometime soon, I’ll share the vision that is emerging from my voyage to Kenya, and how I see it affecting our operations in the U.S. and globally.

Please post your comments. Thank you.

News | 5 Comments | June 20th, 2006

We’re still in Kenya, currently on the coast in Mombasa, where it is raining.. and raining… and raining. I’ve uploaded a few of the photos from the school where we taught the youth last week, and will edit this post a bit later, adding more photos, explanations and links.

This is the building where the orphans, ages 3 – 10 live and eat their meals.

This is the building where the orphans, ages 3 – 10 live and eat their meals.

This is the building where the orphans, ages 3 – 10 live and eat their meals.

News | 5 Comments | June 16th, 2006

Ok, here are the photos from the first few days of our adventure:

I haven’t blogged in a few days, and in that time SO much has happened!

Several of the youth here are hip hop artists with a vision for rising the consciousness of Kenyans and rallying the youth via music. They’ve performed for us and we captured it on video. We’ll share those soon!

Also, at the cyber cafe the other evening, I met a man who is filming a documentary of Kenyan street kids and the programs that are being implemented to help these kids. Then, the following day I met a man who takes youth whose parents cannot afford secondary school (high school) and has set up a small school to teach them everything about computers for free if they can’t afford tuition. Then, last night in the workshop we created a vision and a project with our youth for building an internet-connected computer center on the campus of this school where they still cut the grass by hand with a sickle and don’t have electricity or painted walls in the classrooms.

The new catch phrase on campus among the cool guys is, “What if!” Wow, so much to share, so little time. I am used to having internet and cell phone access 24 hours a day, but here it’s only a few minutes at a time.

More later! -Michael

P.S. Post your comments below! The comments feature no longer requires a login!

News | 6 Comments | June 13th, 2006

We just finished our second day with the children and I still haven’t written about how the worksho went yesterday… and we still haven’t posted photos! Soon, soon! Uploading the photos has been a challenge, but we’ll get them up SOON!

OK, so how is the workshop going?

Well, yesterday was the first day. After giving 100 1 125 students an overview of the workshop, about 45 of them opted to stay and play. We dove into a conversation about the challenges we all face around the world right now. Many of the Kenyan students assumed issues such as poverty were not a challenge for Americans.

We asked every student who shared to first say their name and something they liked to do. Each one of them volunteered what they wanted to be in life. There was one student, Ann, who I later learned is the leader of all the girls at the academy stood up and spoke about the issues that Kenyan women face and how she is going to be the one for them by becoming a journalist and drawing attention to the issues that matter. Another student, Cindy, shared about the challenges that single mothers in Kenya face, and was deeply moved by who she could be for them.

For many of the students it was the first time sharing their dreams publicly with their peers. Kenyan culture seems to be a more private one, where people don’t necessarily share as easily about their personal issues. When one young man by the name of Isaac declared himself to be the first African pope, his peers laughed at him. And they laughed whenever any of their peers voiced their dreams, until we called this to their attention. Who Robyn and I got to be for these youth were the ones who really saw them–really gave validity to their dreams.
By the end of the day, the students were deeply engaged. They were exploring what is really possible for them. We left them with an assignment to journal about their future by asking What if… What if… What if…?

Then today we launched into the second part of the workshop–exploring not just dreams but vision. We presented the idea of being guided not by a dream or an expectation of a parent or someone else, but by a VISION that deeply calls them to face anything in life. We looked to everyday heroes in our lives to see them more deeply than perhaps we ever had before. We looked to see what it was it must be like to be them… what they must stand in the face of day in and day out, and what it is they stand for. Then once deeply moved by them, we look to ourselves to see what we can see for ourselves by standing like them in our lives.

I shared first about Robyn as my hero–all that I’ve seen her stand in the face of, and what I see her standing for. Then what I can see for myself by walking that path.

As shy as the students had been thus far, I was unsure we’d get anyone to volunteer to share this emotional exercise in front of their peers. But a 20-year old woman by the name of Christie stood up and shared about her mother, who had become single and then struggled through family criticism and poverty to stand for each of her children to complete their education. She shared how even though she and her siblings had to delay their highschool education for years at a time, they were one by one completing their education. Christie then shared her vision from seeing herself stand for being what her mother had, and in the face of all that her mother had. She was deeply moved, and most of the students were as well. In fact, Cyndy came forward to comfort her at the first sign of the emotion. Christie wanted to complete the exercise though, and set the example for everyone else.
After today’s session, I spoke with Beth, one of the teachers who had sat in on the workshop. She was lit up! She saw things in these students she had never seen before, and saw how she could come to know them at a deeper level now. She shared her vision for having each child in Secondary and even Primary classes finding their own vision at an early age. She just couldn’t stop talking about how important the work was that we were doing and how glad she was that we were there. I can see Beth being the one to carry this work on with the kids after we are gone, and I introduced the idea of this work becoming a part of the curriculum.

Later we spent more time with the young orphans. They are so damn cute, so alive, so eager to smile and laugh.

Before we boarded the van to head back to our guest house two of the highschool boys who are boarding at the school asked me to stay with them and the others in the dormitory. I may take them up on that tomorrow night. It’s really such a new experience for me to work with young people and people in general who are so open and eager to learn and grow.

OK, that’s it for now. I am going to see about getting those photos uploaded!

Please post your comments!