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Kevin Bacon on Six Degrees, Success, and Creating Meaningful Change

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We live in a connected world where relationships are increasingly important. After hearing Kevin Bacon speak at SXSW and talking with him about SixDegrees.org, it became clear that how we are connected, and what we do with those connections can make an impact.

What started out as a college game 20 years ago has turned into a viral sensation that connects all of us to Kevin Bacon. The game was created by Craig Fass, Brian Turtle, and Mike Ginelli back in 1994 when they were college students at Albright College. It has resulted in an appearance on The Daily Show, a Google "Bacon Number," and the non-profit, SixDegress.org. The mandate of SixDegrees.org is to connect grass roots organizations with celebrities to lend their support and increase exposure. The power of relationships and community to change the world can then be heightened by being more connected.

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During SXSW, I sat down with Kevin Bacon to ask him some questions about SixDegrees.org and how all of us can make a difference -- even if our name isn't Kevin Bacon.

Success Does Not Equal Fame

Success is a term many of us associate with recognizable achievements, often attributed to those with fame. According to Kevin, "..success is an elusive thing. Fame is not the barometer. Making a commitment to do something well and putting your heart and soul into it, is a level of success." Are you putting your heart and soul into being successful?

Making a Difference: Taking One Step

SixDegrees.org helps local organizations by connecting them with celebrities such as Kevin Bacon, who recently made a surprise visit to the Atlanta, GA BaconFest fundraiser. However, it doesn't take a celebrity to make a difference. Kevin's appearance at BaconFest simply amplified the event. It was the local organizer, Dad's Garage, who facilitated the event and made it happen. "We all have something to give," Kevin said. "Do little things to encourage the people in the field who are doing good."

The Ripple Effect: Doing Good Inspires More Good

During Kevin's session at SXSW, "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon -- A Social Phenomenon Turns 20," he shared how one day, when he looked in his fridge, he saw a jar of Newman's Own pasta sauce that raised hundreds of millions of dollars for non-profits and thought, "I should create something meaningful in the world." He realized that starting a "Footloose Foundation" wouldn't quite work, but SixDegrees could, and the domain SixDegrees.org was available! Can you see the ripple that Paul Newman started with Newman's Own? And how Kevin created another ripple when he started SixDegrees.org? Every ripple we create amplifies the ripples around you.

What Kevin Bacon shared with me is something that we all know. We can each play a role in changing the world, and we don't have to do it alone. Most days we are going so fast that we need to stop and ask who in our six degrees can use our help? Who needs someone to listen to them? And what we all also know is that by connecting people, we create ripples that can change someone's life and our own. When you created that ripple, it travels further than you can imagine. It combines with the other ripples people just like you are creating. Every time a ripple meets another ripple, the swell gets bigger, until it turns into a wave. Waves have the power to change the world.