I have always considered myself a dreamer. I'm a humanitarian who sees the best in people and I find this is probably my biggest strength and weakness. I let the potential of people in my life cast over the reality, and yet what I love most is to bring out that potential, tap into it and help people see it themselves and rise to the occasion to act on it in a way that can help themselves and the world. My love for humanity led me to be a teacher and through a random series of events landed me in the hospitality industry directly after graduate school. People don't really understand this connection, but for me, it makes perfect sense. I love to connect people to each other, lessons, events and experiences hoping to be, or connect them to a catalyst in their life to turn a dream into an actionable item.
I was in the hospitality space for two years before going on a conference called Summit Series filled with dreamers, doers, and changemakers. I felt a little lost before going, being mocked in NYC constantly for telling people around me, "I wanted to change the world." I had friends laugh at me and tell me I was crazy, and I felt disconnected from my surroundings and myself. When I went on Summit and met some of the most inspiring people creating real change in the world, I knew that all of my relationships, network, and skills could be used to help support these people already making strides to make a big difference and connecting them to my network to inspire more individuals to tap into their dreams.
I left Summit inspired and on fire, and wanted to do something that used my network and the "hospitality hand that fed me to feed others." I woke up one night and dreamed about a nonprofit music festival, (never having been to a festival before). I created a tangible deck at 3 a.m., called Central Park the next day, and put everything into an actionable plan, (with no real idea or intention of where this could possibly go). I called a friend and asked him what he thought and he told me his friends were planning something very similar and to connect with them.
I sat down with these recommended friends Hugh Evans, Michael Trainer and Ryan Gall -- three of the most remarkable men I have ever met last summer. They showed me a deck about a concert they were working on with the intention to end poverty, and I almost fell off my chair. I sent them mine and it was almost slide for slide the same. I had known Hugh briefly from an amazing speech he had given a few weeks back on behalf of the 1.4 billion reasons campaign for his organization, Global Poverty Project, and had helped plan an event for them once, but that was really it. He asked me that day how involved I wanted to be, and I trusted these three men implicitly and instantly dove in fully to support this dream of creating a nonprofit music festival in Central Park.
Hugh taught me to be clear and concise with how I ask individuals for support, he taught me how to be honest and transparent about the message and the goal, he taught me to be specific and direct with my intentions, and most importantly him and the entire GPP team taught me how to turn a dream into reality with a specific, diligently timed and thought out campaign as the foundation.
This past year, I was able to gather those people I believed in and rally them in to support this vision. Every friend I saw potential in, I connected them in, getting them inspired and excited about turning this dream into reality. While I had a one-night dream about this, I started to get to know Ryan Gall, who had dreamed of this his whole life. I got to watch Ryan, who is so even-tempered, kind and ambitious, stay so focused on achieving his goal, barely sleeping, working every minute of the day to complete his vision of fulfilling his dream to change the world. It still brings tears to my eyes to know that in just a few days, on Saturday, Sept. 29, 60,000 global citizens who earned their tickets through interacting and engaging with our 10 nonprofit partners will come together to watch Neil Young and Crazy Horse, The Black Keys, Foo Fighters, Band of Horses, and K'naan perform in Central Park at the Global Festival.
This year has been a transformational experience because I was part of something bigger than myself, but more so because I was able to surround myself with huge dreamers who are also huge doers. A lot of people don't believe me when I tell them all I'm doing. Some people say I'm doing too much, that I'm a robot, that I'm "all over the place," but I know deep down I have big dreams, big visions and I have surrounded myself with those who can help turn my dreams into reality. There are a lot of people with big dreams, but that's not enough. It's about using your gift to match a dream, connecting to those who know how to turn that dream into reality and inspiring others to support. If I've learned anything this year, I have learned that dreams matched with actions and asks can be turned into a reality, and I now only surround myself with people that believe that the dream of changing the world is never something to laugh at.