The FLYGHT Smile Project: a small idea with a big smile

[Updated: 7/8/17]

I believe the world would be a better place if…

People were a little more positive.

A best friend once asked me to fill in the blank and that’s what instantly came to mind.

I often dream about building a meaningful business one day, and filling in the blank to that statement can uncover a problem you’re actually passionate about tackling.

In my case, people aren’t positive enough.

But why not?

Maybe it’s because many societies and the internet aren’t purposely built to help people be more positive. Just like many grocery stores aren’t created to help us be more healthy.

Or maybe it’s because tons of people lack access to positively charged environments.

Or to be frank, maybe it’s just because life can be f*cking hard.

Let’s face it…

We know millions of people work jobs they don’t enjoy (a recent Gallup poll found that only 30% of people are highly engaged with their work!), negativity dominates our headlines, and our individualistic society is built in a way that makes it tough for anyone to be happy. Further, we find ourselves in a digital era that’s bloated with bigoted, meaningless, and self-serving content (articles, songs, pictures, status updates, podcasts) that’s making it even harder to escape all the negativity. Let alone, be able to find the things that actually benefit our lives.

So for a moment, let’s imagine a different kind of internet.

Let’s imagine an internet full of compassion, positivity, and inspiration that helps people build a more beautiful, positive world—together.

Let’s imagine an online ecosystem where everyone is welcome, where negativity is abolished, and where positive intention trumps all.

Instead of likes, think smiles.

Think about a place where you can come to create, share, and find inspirational and helpful content (articles, pictures, messages, videos, podcasts).

Think about a platform where you’d be able to see how many people you helped smile today, and collectively how many people the community has helped smile.

Imagine an army of people with different ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, experiences, and religions—who carry one common goal—to help other people.

Seems…

Impactful.

But unrealistic, right?

Well maybe not.

Don’t get me wrong, bringing positive attention to negative issues is great news, but when it comes to the fighting, the hate, the complaining, and the hurtful words…

It’s tough to digest.

So I’m left with three options:

1. I can pack my bags and break away from society to find a hidden utopia. (Sounds exciting, but doubtful).

2. I can try to exclude myself from all the negativity I come across online. (Already trying to do this).

Or…

3. I can create something that helps people be a little more positive. (Personally, my favorite).

So what if there is a way to make my wish, #3, come true?

Because with every problem a simple little solution can be born, and with a simple little solution could come a big smile—that could potentially help other people smile.

This is where the FLYGHT Smile Project comes into play.

My mission is simple: to build an army of people who want to help make our world a more positive place.

No matter what happens, I’m going to try to make the world a little more positive, but with your help and with the help of the internet, I know we can make the world A LOT more positive.

This post is one small step in that direction.

And why do I care about this in the first place?

It’s because I care about people’s happiness.

And you should too.

Why my employer, StackCommerce, exists

Why?

It’s a dangerously potent question and I’ve pondered its answers intently these past few years.

Sure, at first glance, lofting the question into the air seems elementary, but at the root of its response, you can find intention and truth if you get an authentic reply.

But I’m finding that’s rare these days.

Regardless, with intention comes a heightened sense of understanding, and with understanding, alignment around any business’s mission can be born.

And it’s this alignment that’s required to move any organization in the same direction—to build something meaningful.

Every spring, we hold a hack day to give Stackers a day to work on a passion project of their choice. This year I was out of town, but I had to try to defend my title so I gave it a shot. I decided to create an audio recording (my first one ever) and I had it played for the entire company while I was out.

Ever since I’ve worked at Stack (now 4+ years) I always told myself one of the biggest ways I can help the company achieve its dreams is to help it focus on improving what gives it life.

So here went another attempt.

Click here to listen to my first (and maybe my last… haha) audio recording ever or read the narrative below.

The Mind Hack: why Stack exists and how we can take our existence to the next level.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Stackers and Stackettes, I know you thought you could get rid of me one day but I got things to say on my 4th Stack Hack day.

Maybe it’s just a little different this time because you don’t get to watch me prowl around the room, but that’s okay because I’m sure you’ll get another chance soon.

Honestly, when I heard Hack Day was on 3/17, I was instantly overcome with happiness—knowing that I wasn’t going to be here.

It’s true.

Today can be a stressful one knowing that work continues to pile up while you’re chipping away on something that may not end up being impactful.

But not to worry Anna, then my heart chimed in and my inner competitor took over. Suddenly I thought to myself, doesn’t today give us Stackers the opportunity to change the game? You’re damn right! And wait, wasn’t I on the winning team last year? Okay team maythesalesforcebegifyou!!

With these in mind, I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by. So without further ado… buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Again… my hack is called, The Mind Hack: Why Stack exists and how we can take our existence to the next level.

I know what you’re thinking…

Tall order for a short man, right?

Wrong.

Given some thought, these statements are only as complex as you make them out to be.

Here’s why Stack exists.

For those of you who haven’t experienced our annual company offsite yet, it’s an important day where the entire team goes on a local retreat to realign on our mission, vision, and values. And during our last one this past fall, I launched our Stack Pillars. Never heard of them? Think of them as our guiding principles that should help us focus on improving the things that give us life.

Again, the Pillars are:

1. Better the lives of our people.
2. Better the lives of our consumers.
3. Better the lives of our product makers.
4. Better the lives of our content creators.

And if we continue to help these people more and are smart about our finances, then I’m confident we’ll be able to achieve our fifth one as well, which is to sustain our business.

So why did I launch them?

Simply put—because just like in life, there are reasons we’re able to breathe, and if we don’t continue to understand and improve these things, well then, life as we know it, may be in jeopardy. And in our case, I never want that to happen to my Stack Fam.

I believe the only way this company will ever be able to achieve its dreams depends on how much our thoughts, talks, and actions collectively contribute to bettering the lives of these people.

So for these reasons I figured this was the perfect time to remind you all why we’re able to exist today.

We’re able to exist because all of you, our warriors, who fight the daily battles to keep our train on the tracks; our vendors, who fuel our ecosystem with the products that make revolutionizing Native eCommerce possible; our publishers, who propel our growth to new heights every single day, and our consumers, who sustain our ability to live.

Don’t believe me?

Put it this way—we make money because we help these people, not because they help us.

Why on earth would they want to help us if we’re not helping them?

They wouldn’t because that’s not the way business works.

In business, money transfers hands when value is given, otherwise what on earth is the person paying for? And if it’s not value that’s being given, then what is? No value? Well I sure hope that’s not the case.

But if you still don’t believe me.

Let me paint an even more vivid picture.

In 2015 alone:

We employed more than 40 people who helped give them stability and experience in the startup world.

We made product makers over $16M by helping them sell their products to new customers all around the world.

We made our content creators over $2.5M by helping them sell relevant products to their audience.

And last but not least, we helped our consumers save over $470M by giving them a place where they could discover some of the best tech and lifestyle deals on the web. Let me say that again… we helped them save over $470M! Are you kidding me!?!?!!

We provide some serious value to a lot of people on this planet and because we help them, they help us back—monetarily—and hopefully intrinsically as well.

But again, my point here is to remind you why Stack is able to exist today.

And we exist…

Because we help these people.

Period.

And the bigger and the better we can help them, the more we’ll be rewarded for it.

So now that you know why we exist…

Here’s how we can take our existence to the next level.

Notice how I said we.

To be honest, I can only fly as high as the Stack leash lets me, but with your help I know we’ll be able to soar as high as we want to go.

However, the length of our flight depends on these 4 things:

How much we can better the lives of… each other, our consumers, our product makers, and our content creators.

Collectively, how much energy, compassion, empathy, intelligence, and grit can we dedicate towards carrying these pillars out for the rest of our life?

And why do we even care about helping them in the first place?

These two questions, I can’t answer for us because we’ll need to continue to figure them out together.

But here’s what I need from everyone if we want to take our existence to the next level.

To all my teammates that hold leadership positions in this company, I ask you with all my heart to continue to center Stack’s thoughts, talks, and actions around bettering the lives of the people we serve rather than the money generated from it.

And to everyone else, I need you to keep fighting for bettering the lives of each other and the rest of the people we help.

Because if we can do that together—as one—I’m confident we’ll be able to figure out how we can take our existence to the next level.

A next level that’ll be great wherever we end up.

Thanks for listening, and as always, keep Stackin’ ya filthy animals.

So did I win?

Nope, but that doesn’t matter. Whether realized before or not, now my fellow Stackers know that we exist because we help these people, and that our potential greatness will depend on how much we continue to help them.

I guess our future actions will tell us how much we actually care.

Help others fly higher.

If this post brought a little more entrepreneurial perspective to your life, please pass it on to someone who could benefit from it too:

  • Share this post using the social buttons below
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  • Get my blog posts delivered to your inbox by following FLYGHT (see here)
    Please note that I’m a believer in quality—not quantity. Plan on only hearing from me every once in a while. But when you do, expect something that’ll help you lead a happier, wiser, or more entrepreneurial life. 

Add to the conversation.

Please share your thoughts or feedback as I’m always looking to heighten the conversation. Maybe it’s because I’m short.

The Soul Factor: the secret that’ll help you fly in life and in business

Have purpose or sell your soul.

Ever wonder why some people are able to flourish while others flounder? Why some businesses are able to positively engrave their name into society while others vanish?

I can’t tell you every reason some are able to thrive given the many hidden variables, but I can tell you a few common characteristics I’ve observed that’ll significantly sway the odds in your favor.

I do warn you though that the four following ingredients mixed together can ignite a magical potion—a competitive advantage if you will—that can accelerate success in this world on any level. So, if implemented, please prepare yourself for the flight of your life.

Any entity that embodies these ingredients, as I like to say, has—the Soul Factor—which gives them the ability to fly wherever their heart desires.

The Soul Factor Ingredients.

1. They’re idealistic.

They experience the world as they want to see it.

Do you think Richard Branson, Yvon Chouinard, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Justin Timberlake, the Dalai Lama, Aaron Rogers (I’m from Wisconsin), Laird Hamilton, Tim Ferriss, Jim Carrey, and Jessica Goldman (she’s my sister) think about life the same way as most people? Nope and it’s why they’re able to thrive. They stand for something significant and they’re not going to let other peoples selfish judgements stop them from letting the world know what it is. They see life through their own lens and they’re going to do everything in their control to live the life they envision.

Having your own ideals about life on this planet gives you the X-ray vision needed to see through walls others can’t. As long as you keep an open mind about improving them, and are brave enough to act on them, you’re way more likely to go through life living the one you want vs. someone else’s.

They’re this way because they’re leaving it up to choice and not chance—and you can do the same.

2. They’re virtuous.

Their values depict their true focus, exploration, and actions.

Your values come from many places—your childhood, your support group, your family, your experiences, your peers, your DNA, and even your environment—just to name a few. Those who possess significantly impactful and authentic values, such as compassion, altruism, humor, candor, intelligence, fortitude, ambition, and positivity, are able to attract the right people to join their mission because all of these values have one thing in common—they’re contagious. They’re values people want to be around and they’ll eventually help lead anyone to the creation of meaningful things—whether it be their own business or their contributions within one.

3. They’re positively energized.

Their positive energy gives them the ability to soar.

Entities that are realistically optimistic energize everything they touch. This is likely the most contagious ingredient of them all and is a vital piece in creating anything worthwhile on this planet.

This energy gives them the ability to fly through the tough times. It gives them the perseverance needed to keep going when times are telling them to give up. And it ultimately reinforces the notion that they’ll come out of any life experience—stronger—faster—and smarter.

People and organizations that authentically embody the utmost positivite energy will help lift the happiness of the world, and are likely to find fulfillment wherever they decide to explore.

4. They’re craftsmen.

They constantly work on improving their craft and it eventually ignites an opportunity to share it with the world. 

Whatever it is that they do, they put in endless amounts of deliberate practice that contributes to the mastery of their craft. As that craft continues to get bended, twisted, and shaped—skills are improved, knowledge is consumed—and it can lead to the inception of something so unique that it can’t be replicated.

Craftsmen are artists constantly pursuing perfection knowing that they’ll never get there. But, yet, they push on. It’s this kind of competitor that figures out how to create something of value out of nothing.

Entities that embody the Soul Factor live on forever.

When a person possesses the ingredients listed above, you’ll know it when you meet them. You’ll know it when the room is leaning a little differently that day.

They’re the ones you can’t get enough of. They’re the ones that energize a room simply by being in it. They’re the ones who inspire others because they’re enthusiastically passionate about their life and the life of others. They’re the ones who often put others before themselves. They’re the ones out to make the most of the life they were given. They’re the ones who are making the world around them a better place. They’re the ones built with purpose and passion; and because of these reasons, they’ll be remembered long after they’re gone.

 

***

Want more soul in your life?

Here are few questions and exercises that can help! Upon completing them you’ll get closer to having a personal mission, vision, and key pillars that’ll help you navigate the open oceans—in life and business.

Why are you on this planet?

What really matters to you in life?

What do you believe in? Why do you believe in these things?

What personal values do you possess? How are you working to improve the ones that matter? Why do they matter?

How do you tend to view the outcomes of things? If you’re leaning towards the negative end of the spectrum, it doesn’t have to be that way. Positivity is learned and practiced.

How are you helping others?

After your time is up on this earth, what do you want to be remembered for?

How are you acting on the things that matter to you most?

Fill in the blanks to these statements (thanks for inspiring these Ty!):

[Your name] believes the world would be better if [fill in the blank] (keep it to one central thought).

[Your name] is on a mission to [fill in the blank(use answer from above) because I believe [fill in the blank]. I’m going to make this happen by [fill in the blank], [fill in the blank], and [fill in the blank].

If my time on earth was up tomorrow, I’d want to be remembered for [fill in the blank].

In 20 years (if I’m still here) I want to be [fill in the blank] (think destination—where do you or your business want to go).

Give these some thought and you’re already on your way to a more thoughtful, soulful life. Want this exercise in document format? Download it by clicking here.

Help others fly higher.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with someone you know who would benefit from it as well:

  • Share this post using the social buttons below
  • Click here to ‘like’ FLYGHT on Facebook
  • Click here to ‘follow’ FLYGHT on Twitter
  • Get my blog posts delivered to your inbox by following FLYGHT (see here)
    Please note that I’m a believer in quality—not quantity. Plan on only hearing from me every once in a while. But when you do, expect something that’ll help you lead a happier, wiser, or more entrepreneurial life. 

Add to the conversation.

Please share your thoughts or feedback so we can heighten the conversation.