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Grounded Girl, Taking Off.

A family’s job is to ground you. Growing up, this was all too frequent for me after getting in trouble for speaking out of turn. But that more specific definition of “being grounded” is all part of establishing roots, knowing what is right and wrong, encouraged or punished. Our values are formed in this experience of growing up. This is why often when people can’t get along, it’s an innate difference of strong opinions, held firmly, due to upbringing and how one is grounded.


In my family, they also keep me grounded in the sense that I kept pushing back my BSW travel date for one more day with this crew. When I first came back, every time my little niece heard an airplane she’d point to the sky and yell “YaYa!!” (My name was supposed to be Auntie CC, which turned into YeeYee, which turned into YaYa, which we thought was perfect and stuck with.)  After a couple months waking up to play dates with my niece, I already miss her knocking on my door at earlier hours than I’d like to say “YAYA!!!!!” followed by the subsequent biggest, most amazing hugs I’ve ever had.  You try leaving that to fly to the other side of the world, it’s tough!


After a summer full of Minnesota family love, it was time to say goodbye and get back out into the world to keep asking my questions, learning about what other people’s beliefs are grounded by.  My family, not being ones for a quick goodbye, gathered around the steps of our cabin waving to me. I couldn’t help but take a video of the adorable moment.


“We love Big Shared World!!” -The Waterston Family 🙂


While I’d been feeling lazy postponing my start date, I kept trying to tell myself it all must be for a reason, everything is as it should be. Certain moments and conversations even this weekend at home had me believe just that – I was supposed to stay grounded, I needed to tie up a few more loose ends before I flew off again.  And then when I did finally board my international flight from New York to Prague, this sentiment was confirmed when I sat next to Daniela, a flight attendant who has used her standby benefits for countless adventures with her husband and two kids.  A woman who lights up with each story of a new place. Daniela takes so much deserved pride in moments that those trips find their way into her kids’ lives back home, proving that travel and cultural exploration make for more well-rounded, thoughtful individuals.  As firm believers in karma, Daniela and I both felt the seat assignments were perfect to share in the flight conversation together.



Daniela and Me, on our overnight flight from NYC to Prague, Czech Republic.  

Thanks to good conversation, my sleep pillow hardly got used!


And when we woke up, we were in Prague.  No immigration form required, just walked off the plane, handed my passport to customs officer, and welcome to this beautiful city!  I met my Airbnb host to get into the apartment, took a long afternoon nap, and found myself a sweet neighborhood cafe where I settled in for the evening.  While sitting over a travel book, a refreshing lemonade-type drink, and salad, I took in the beautiful moment when you realize – now this is exactly where I should be.



The view from my perfect Prague moment


And from this spot, I called my mother and let her know, I’m safe, I’m happy, and BSW continues!  My whole heart smiled when I could hear in the background, “YAYA!!!”



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#MCON: Exploring “The Power of Influence”

This time last week I was on the plane home after attending the MCON conference in Chicago, Illinois.  Start to finish, I was really excited to be participating in a conference with a presenter line up, and audience, full of DO-ers. You see, in the community of people heard saying “I want to make the world a better place,” it can seem like there is no shortage of conferences to get people together and talk about just that – their desire to be a part of the response to today’s issues.  The sentiment is lovely, but the execution can feel underwhelming as many times it can feel like an imbalance between the desire to do, and the actually doing.  At MCON, I walked away feeling like I had just interacted with people who were waking up every day to DO GOOD.


Perhaps the reason that MCON is more about actually doing than just talking about potentially doing is because it didn’t even start as an in-person conference.  In 2011, MCON’s brilliant founder Derrick Feldmann and his excellent team of researchers at Achieve decided they would host an interactive online event to share their research on millennial engagement around causes.  The event was a success prompting 2012 to double in participation, and grow in content to really strategize on how to connect with millennials effectively.  Demand driven, 2013 brought the first in-person conference.  2014 and last week’s 2015 conference brought several hundred fortunate people together in Chicago, alongside many more thousands tuning in from home and work.


The backbone of the annual convening is the release of Achieve’s Millennial Impact report which delves into the topic area of how the Millennial generation connects, involves, and supports causes.  This topic is interesting and important to millennials ourselves as well as the baby boomers who are often supervising us, marketing to us, or even trying to cross generational borders and genuinely connect with us.  “The Power of Influence”, MCON’s 2015 theme, is described well by Feldmann’s comments in the report, stating, “The Millennial generation is influential. From their buying power to their handle on the limitless potential of social media, Millennials can address issues and be a voice for causes like no other generation before them.”


The MCON conference lineup was back to back full of incredible leaders, from founders of small start ups to leaders of multi-nationals, and to the lead singer of the band O.A.R. (which I have a massive new respect for knowing how heartfelt and mission-driven of a person Marc Roberge).


Some standout MCON speakers and attendees:


KIND’s CEO Daniel Lubetzky –

In a candid talk about his snack food company KIND and several other ventures for social change, he shared his appreciation for failure and humility as he’s grown his company through passion and a lot of hard work, and a strong vision “to make the world a little kinder one snack and act at a time.”  I’m sure every person in attendance wanted to either hug him or work for him by the end of his time on stage, or perhaps both!


Inspiring to meet such an incredible man full of good thoughts, strong work ethic, positive energy, and a bunch of other things that make KIND my new favorite snack brand!!


Cordes Foundation’s Stephanie Cordes 

The reason I found out about MCON and one of my favorite friends on earth, Stephanie shared insights of the growing field of millennial philanthropy and the trends she has seen through her time as Vice Chair with her family’s foundation.  With a special focus on fashion, Stephanie talked about this generation’s attention to conscious consumerism and desire to live their lives ethically and with attention to the greater community.


Stephanie Cordes sharing insights on trends seen in millennial generation philanthropy and overall spirit of conscious living and consumerism. 


Conscious Company Magazine’s co-founders Maren Keeley and Meghan French Dunbar

These two millennials had the idea to create a magazine that talked all about the trends, companies, organizations, movements happening in a world where consumers are focusing on the impact of the products they consume.  Fiercely entrepreneurial and incredible examples of turning a dream into reality by just hitting the ground running, CC hosted a booth with their first three issues of the magazine.  Beautiful, sleek, and full of awesome info – get your copy today at Whole Foods across the US!


Having a blast with the CC co-founders at their #MCON photo booth!


Miir’s Bryan Papé

Founder of the Seattle-based water and bike company who spoke about the values behind his social business, where purpose is just as important to the company’s business plan as profit.  As well as giving a great talk about founding and growing his company, he was kind enough to answer the Big Shared World questions.  An entrepreneur to the core, amidst his answer to what a good life means to him, Bryan said, “Pursuing your dreams and kicking down doors – if I didn’t kick doors, I wouldn’t be here. Traveling and being open to new ideas. Never being concrete or too certain of something – open to uncertainty. And empathy is really important.”


Enjoyed chatting with Bryan Papé about his awesome company and excellent BSW insights.


Even the volunteer ushers were amazing people, such as El Chen from University of Michigan who has spent her time curating prison art exhibits where some of the images had me totally breathless.  Hopefully more to come on this in BSW Voices!


For more information on the conference and the many more incredible speakers, be sure to check out #MCON on social media and their website: www.MCON.events