Posts tagged purpose
Using art to help child survivors of war find joy again — with Bethany Williams
 

“Sometimes these children just don’t have the words to express the trauma they’ve been through. That’s a reason why I believe the arts — art, dance, drama, music and drawing — are so powerful in bringing us to the next level of healing.” 

BETHANY WILLIAMS, Ph.D., Founder, Exile International  

Orphans. War. Child soldiers. Displacement. Abuse of nearly every form. Topics like these often feel so astronomically huge that we don’t know what to do or where to begin — let alone feel as if our tiny effort could actually make a difference.

Thankfully there are people like Bethany Williams in the world who not only refuse to buy into that narrative, but decide to do something about changing it.

Bethany is world leader at helping restore children — emotionally, psychologically and spiritually — who have been affected by war and who can’t yet imagine a life worth celebrating again. Bethany pulls from her own hurt and brokenness (documented in her book The Color of Grace) as well as her training as a psychologist and counselor to help these children. And it all starts with art therapy that includes a white handkerchief and some markers. It is on a simple yet symbolic handkerchief that children can express in pictures what they don’t even have words for. It is where the pain within can safely be expressed to initiate the process of healing.

Led by Bethany and her husband Matthew, Exile International is going into the darkest places to do this difficult and often emotionally devastating work. But thanks to that willingness, there is a generation of former child soldiers, abused daughters and sons, and war-torn kids who now get to dream again. They get to experience renewed joy. And they can imagine a life of great expectations — just like any other child.

Exile International

Bethany’s story

Joy vs. Happiness

"You will find happiness within your joy. It’s hard to convert your lack of happiness into something meaningful."

— two guys on Joy Venture  

This is a recurring theme in the pursuit of any joy venture. It’s also a stumbling block for those who find that the journey becomes difficult.

But the joy/happiness dilemma isn’t a zero sum game. In fact, it’s not an either/or proposition. It can be a both/and reality.

We have some pretty strong opinions, convictions and examples that begin to outline the difference between joy and happiness as it relates to the joy venture. We won’t spoil it here, instead have a listen and let us know what you think.

You might also want to check out the blog post we wrote on this same topic.

Learning as you go — with John Zappin

"I remember I got on the mic and I was terrified, just terrified. I did it, and I didn’t get booed. People seemed to think that I was okay. I survived. So I went back and started getting more involved in the scene."

JOHN ZAPPIN, writer, rapper, recording artist and content creator 

What does a teenage farm kid growing up in Pataskala, Ohio know about launching a career in hip-hop music and becoming a rapper — in the no-internet era of the mid-1990s? Arguably very little, but that didn’t stop a young “John Reuben” Zappin from pursuing his joy anyway.

Always using humor as his safety shield, John embraced the uncomfortable moments of dropping his rhymes in front of audiences at summer camp, the church hall, and open mic nights to build his confidence and find his voice. That voice would eventually ink a deal with Gotee Records where he would go on to record six albums.

In a pre-file sharing, pre-American Idol world, John put in the work to carve out his niche in an unlikely genre of rap. John shares his story and drops some wisdom for anyone pursuing their dream. But now on the cusp of 40 and having already achieved a level of success that any recording artists would envy, John is like that teenage kid all over again: back in Ohio and asking “what if” and wondering “what’s next.”  

John Reuben

Moving from maker to mentor — with Jessica Barry

“A VP at SAA said they had a recruiting position available and wanted me to interview. I remember my first inclination was —absolutely not. I'm a designer, not a recruiter. This is what I went to school for.  

I went back after the interview (that I thought did not go well) and talked with my friends and said if I take this, this is the end of my design career... my design skills are going to die... but my friends kept saying 'just try it.'"

 

JESSICA BARRY, President & Owner, The Modern College of Design  

Jessica wanted to be a designer — a really good designer. And, like anyone with the talent and tenacity to fulfill that kind of dream, she went to art school, learned from great mentors, honed her craft, and eventually became that really good designer.

But what if there's more than that... more than just being a good designer? What if the dream was merely a stepping stone to something else despite the design skills she worked so hard to cultivate?  

Jessica recounts her journey from attending the small upstart School of Advertising Art in Kettering, Ohio, to the unheard of act of buying — fully purchasing — the same school she once attended. The move from maker to mentor wasn't easy and it certainly wasn't her expected career path. Jessica talks about weighing her new opportunities and rethinking what a career can look like if you take it one step at a time.

At the time of this recording, Jessica and her staff were preparing to officially open their doors to the new Modern College of Design — expanded and rebranded in time for the 2018-19 class. She talks about the risk and reward of these ambitious changes and the big, hairy, audacious goals she has for the school in the not-so-distant future.   

 

The Modern College of Design

 

Being patient & the gift of the unexpected — with Beth Stafford & Jeremy Slagle
 

“We (Ben and I) had this dream that we could be this couple team and do this, but we just kept hitting a wall. I would try to draw something and it wasn't quite right and Ben would draw something and it just wasn't clicking. We kept trying and stopping, and it was really discouraging because I knew there was potential.”

BETH STAFFORD, Author of Chin Up, Chinchilla    

“I've always wanted to write a children's book...”

Beth had a tiny, heartwarming story written on a single sheet of paper — and she had a vision of what it could become. It also would seem natural that her husband Ben, with all of his artistic capabilities, could bring her story to life visually. But here's the thing: sometimes you’re just too close to something. And sometimes you feel that there’s a different path that needs to be taken instead of the obvious one.

“I’ve always wanted to illustrate a children’s book...”

Jeremy has designed a lot of things in his career, but one opportunity in particular, a children’s book, just hadn't presented itself. After two years and no meaningful traction on the book design for Beth and Ben, a chance encounter on this podcast led to surprising collaboration. After all, the last thing Jeremy expected to do was illustrate a story written by the spouse of an already great illustrator.  

Chin Up, Chinchilla is proof that the amazing and unexpected really do happen when you least expect it, and when you're willing to be patient and open to inviting others into your joy. 

How to discover your joy

“If we could mute that inner voice telling us we're not good enough or smart enough, and instead listen to that person to the left or right of us that says, 'oh my gosh, you can totally do this' we'd find a lot more people discovering their joy.” 

—Thad DeVassie

“If you're feeling called to do something, don't put the pressure on yourself to make it your career. Just do it, make that thing.” 

—Jeremy Slagle

So you think you're ready to embark on a joy venture, but there’s still something nagging at you. You’re not sure if you’ve truly discovered your joy. And before you dive in, you want to be certain that THIS. IS. IT.  

Spoiler alert: it doesn't work that way. 

In this episode, we get practical about discovering joy — and how you might figure out what your joy venture looks like through the process of discovery.  

If you're looking for five foolproof steps to discovering your joy or three hacks to launching the perfect Joy Venture — this isn't it. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way. But there is one definitive way — and it requires that you take action.

 

PODCASTS & BLOG POSTS REFERENCED IN THIS EPISODE:

Converting inspiration to action

Brittany Baum: Believing in and living out your authentic self

John McCollum: Designed to advocate for the world's most vulnerable children

Daniel McKewen: Life at the seams of product innovation and personal purpose

Brad & Krystal Woodard on what it means to "Brave the Woods" 

Bill Lilly: It's never too late to pen a new script

John Robinson on shifting gears

What is a Joy Venture?

“What you can't get back is lost time. If you're sitting on an idea or if you're sitting on capability that's not being used, and if you have the wherewithal to say I WANT TO DO THIS and I want to surround myself with people who are going to push me forward — that's what this is all about.” 

— Thad DeVassie

“But what this isn't is a call for people to recklessly abandon the jobs they have right now and start out on their own... before you realize you have something.” 

— Jeremy Slagle

A year before starting Joy Venture — and two years into it — we are still asking questions. The questioning isn't solely reserved for our guests who appear on the JOY VENTURE podcast, but of ourselves, our motivations, what we believed or intended going into this endeavor, and what we've learned along the way. 

Listen in on the discussions that we are constantly having even when the guest interviews aren’t rolling.

  • What is a joy venture?

  • How do you discover your joy?

  • How do you develop it?

This series of shorter podcasts are meant to supplement the interview series as we wrestle with the bigger questions about discovering and developing joy — and leading a life with intention and purpose.

Riding out your dreams — with Jeff Frane

“I like the idea of falling in love and having that object for a very long time, and that's what steel (bike) is for me. If I’m going to have something forever, it needs to be special. I don't like disposal culture. I like being intentional about what I buy and I want people to get value and years of happiness and experience out of each of our products.”

 

JEFF FRANE, Brand Manager, All-City  

Like most kids growing up in middle America, Jeff loved to ride his bike. But unlike some, it’s a love affair that's never waned. When he was old enough to drive a car, he chose to keep riding bicycles instead. Jeff is a bike guy and gearhead through and through, and you could say that his lifelong passion borders on the obsessive — although that would be selling his story short. 

Jeff isn’t an entrepreneur the way they’re often idolized. Rather, he’s the once-plucky kid from the warehouse with an idea and an email, who was given a green light to go build something. That something was his dream job, and it would evolve into All-City — a bicycle brand under the QBP banner and named after the All-City Championship bike race Jeff founded in his bike-friendly city of Minneapolis. 

Jeff takes us on an unvarnished ride that holds nothing back about the steep valleys (getting laid off from his bike shop job, living in van and being flat broke) that sometimes need to be traveled before reaching the peak.  

His story is a street-smart testament to grit and determination, building community and fostering culture, and believing that dreams are meant to be fulfilled if you have the tenacity to power through the trials head-on.  

All-City Bicycles

Bike Jerks

What it means to “Brave the Woods” — with Brad & Krystal Woodard
 

“The one thing weve learned about our business is that no one is going to come to you and say “Oh, you want to do a children's book, here you go” or “Oh, you want to teach or speak more, here you go.” If we want to do it, we've got to make it happen.”

KRYSTAL WOODARD, Brave the Woods

 

 

In order to brave the woods successfully, you’d better walk into them with a plan, some goals and the right tools. It’s not an analogy on how to work with Brad and Krystal Woodard, owners of Brave the Woods, but rather a mindset of how they look to build a family-run business that’s going to fulfill and stretch them in all the right ways. 

Brad is the face and accomplished designer behind their action-oriented moniker while Krystal keeps all things non-design running and mapping out the journey, quick to push Brad out of his comfort zone for the sake of growing. 

This Boise, Idaho duo stopped in Columbus as part of a cross-country workshop tour and talked with us about what motivates them and how they are motivating others. From Kickstarting a children’s book to support victims of Typhoon Haiyan in The Philippines, to crowdsourcing Artists for Education with educational design for teachers to use in the classroom — doing good and building community are part and parcel of their craft. It’s those brave and unselfish acts that are key to their success and opening up opportunities that fuel their business, which also reveal new ways to do meaningful work and have a positive impact on others.  

Brave the Woods

Artists for Education

Taytay's Gift (children’s book)

A master craftsman on the making of his craft brewery — with Kevin Ely

"I brew beer that I like to drink, and I like to share that. Not that we won't have 12 percent alcohol beers that knock you over, but that's not our forte. We're trying to brew delicate beers. I think simple and subtle can be very powerful."

 

KEVIN ELY, Founder & Brewmaster, The Wooly Pig Farm Brewery 

Kevin Ely knows beer. And now he knows how to build a brewery — quite literally by hand.

Kevin's story is a pivot of a different nature. Previously the brewmaster at Uinta Brewing, a nationally recognized craft brewery in Salt Lake City, Kevin and his wife Jael Malenke decided to move back to her hometown in Fresno and purchase a farm.

Fresno, Ohio that is.   

Armed with a degree in brewing science from UC Davis (yes, there is such a degree), Kevin is no hobbyist. Beer is indeed his career and he's a recurring judge at the annual Great American Beer Festival. Kevin shares with us his decision to start his own brewery in Ohio, the importance that family and community played in that decision, and why starting a farm brewery in a rural patch of rolling hills just made sense. Curly haired mangalitsa pigs ("wooly" pigs) that inspired the name actually roam his farmland and are visible from his taproom patio with cold beer in hand. It's both idyllic and intentional; it's also indicative of everything about this brewery. From the quirky name to the German-Bavarian style of beers he chooses to brew, down to his hand-made and hand-planed taproom — all of it is crafted with purpose and a story behind it.  

Wooly Pig Farm Brewery

Building the Wooly Pig brand

Shifting gears & embracing change — with John Robinson

"There were seeds being planted suggesting 'maybe I'm not living the life I'm supposed to be living.' But I didn't know at that time what it was or how I was going to do it... and so I found myself in that rut again."  

 JOHN ROBINSON, Founder                   Johnny Velo Bikes 

When you're a top performer in your industry, you don't think much about making significant career changes. That is until you find you're spending too much time from home, or realize that your performance alone can't save your job.

John takes us through a bumpy ride from the mountaintop peaks and through deep valleys of his life in corporate banking, revealing just how hard things can get before admitting some sort of change needs to happen. It's a story we believe will resonate with many.  

By the time John fights back the tears at the end of the podcast, hearing his decision to start Johnny Velo Bikes seems obvious and evident. His connection to bikes, cancer (as a survivor himself), community, and the surprise opportunity to finally become an entrepreneur are tailor-made for this story. But to seize it, to fully own it, he had live it out. And that's the hard part.

In retrospect, John just might tell you this was the most challenging ride he's ever been on — but also the one he was meant to travel.  

Johnny Velo Bikes  |  The Purple TuTu Society

Pouring into people & purpose — with Kenny Sipes

"A lot of people think I'm crazy and they're like 'I don't get it, I don't understand why it's working' and I tell them it's because I got out of the way. My favorite saying that an old guy taught me years and years ago is -- if you want to be happy, forget yourself." 

KENNY SIPES, Founder, The Roosevelt Coffeehouse 

Talk to anyone who frequents The Roosevelt Coffeeshop in Columbus, Ohio and they'll tell you what a great guy Kenny Sipes is and how they love the mission of his shop. His nonprofit coffeehouse has become a magnetic hub for people looking for community, good coffee and to do a little good in the process. The Roosevelt is fueled to give back by supporting three human-centered, justice-driven issues: providing clean water, fighting hunger and abolishing human trafficking. 

Kenny's story continues to gain coffee clout and the Roosevelt has become a community darling in the social enterprise space. That reality is a far cry from the 40-day stint he spent in rehab as a teenager, the years growing an urban record store, and his beloved service as a youth pastor to middle school kids. Even as he employed the hard work and discipline he first saw his father model, he also recognized his gift of being a connector of people. For Kenny, an ideal way to be faithful to what he was being called to do was open a communal space centered around coffee so he could pour into people and purpose in life-changing ways.  

Kenny is an open book on this episode, sharing his unconventional road to entrepreneurship as well as his next moves with The Roosevelt -- including one rather lofty aspiration (we hope you're listing Jeremy Cowart).

The Roosevelt Coffeehouse

Advantages of going small & going home — with Katie & Josh Emrich
camper_2.png

“I feel I've found this calling working with small businesses and I don't feel like I have to make excuses for not having these big clients. I've worked with big companies and I've just found it to be a soul-swallowing process because they are so risk adverse, so many people have to sign off on the work, and you're so far removed from the decision-makers.”

JOSH EMRICH, Emrich Office

 

“Design becomes other things. It's not just on a computer or on a piece of paper. It's how you see the world.”

KATIE EMRICH, Emrich Office

 

 

 

Emrich Office is perhaps best summarized as the artistic vision of Josh and Katie Emrich that is made full with their four kids and one rather spectacular basement studio in Indianapolis. It's also a long way from Colorado and the design mountains Josh was trying to scale just a handful of years ago. But as Josh explains, summits can look awfully good from the ground, but from the summit, base camp has a genuine appeal, too.

Josh and Katie share their journey of slogging through a recession-era climate in attempt to go big,  and keep the gears cranking. What they ultimately found was a greater reward in embracing the appeal of small — both with regard to their business size and those of family-owned businesses that comprise their client list.   

We learn that behind a great designer is... another great designer. And that's what makes this duo work so well in running a successful design business and designing a deliberate way of life for their not-so-small family.

Insight, wisdom and lessons learned abound in this third installment of our "Indy or Bust" series featuring Indiana-based creatives. 

Adopting new ways to live & work — with Ben & Beth Stafford
 

“There's much to be said about investing more in people than your business; and one may directly influence the other.”

BEN STAFFORD, Foxmeadow Creative

“It's something really important to us that we prioritize, family time and work time, and that's helped us keep our sanity. We don't work all hours of the night and day, we want to make sure we have time to spend as a family outside of work.”

BETH STAFFORD, Foxmeadow Creative

 

A move. A pivot. A layoff.  And a whole lot of pursuit into the unknown.

For many of us, this kind of change, disruption and lack of clarity can be unnerving. For Ben and Beth, they are choosing to see an alternative plan for how best to approach work and the art of living a purposeful life.  

Becoming familiar with their story, one could easily be reminded of the lyrics to Divine Intervention, the opening track to Matthew Sweet's classic 1991 album, Girlfriend.

I don't know where
I'm gonna live
Don't know if I'll find a place
I'd have to think about it some
And that I do not wish to face
I guess that I'm counting on his
Divine intervention.

Hopeful, heartbreaking, funny, honest and real— these are perhaps the best ways in which to illustrate a conversation with two big-hearted creatives that are pursuing a path less traveled with no regrets. 

Foxmeadow Creative

Ben Illustrated (illustration website)

Ben Stafford: How to Become an Expert (Making Midwest Fest)

Bringing light into the darkness — with Amber Runyon

“I believe that if we can teach little girls to dream that they'll be the force that changes the world.

But more than that; I believe that if we can teach broken women to dream like little girls again, it will be a force the world is yet to see.” 

AMBER RUNYON, Founder, Legacy, and Eleventh Candle Co. 

Changing the world can be daunting and overwhelming. So how do you do it? How do you seek justice without being crushed by the injustices around you?

According to Amber — one small act at a time. Oh, and start a candle business while you’re at it.

This former hospice nurse will tell you that running a nonprofit organization that owns a for-profit business isn’t easy. She’ll say she never set out to be an entrepreneur. She’ll admit to not even being a fan of scented candles — the kind her company, the Eleventh Candle. Co., makes. But in the next breath she'll tell you she couldn’t sit on the sideline and do nothing as she saw women in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio — and young girls in Ethiopia — being trafficked; bought and sold like a commodity.  It’s exactly how to bring light into darkness — and the powerful metaphor isn’t lost on her either. 

Amber’s story is deeply personal while also being selfless. She’s employing women who desperately want to dream again and believe in life’s possibilities. She’s also giving hope and refuge to little girls a continent away. And she’s doing it with some wax, a wick, and a little redemptive storytelling.

Amber epitomizes what it means to change the world with small steps. In time, they add up to an impact that far exceeds expectations.    

Eleventh Candle Company

Legacy (mission video)

Finding joy after tragedy — with Ian Burkhart

“(Regarding my injury) there’s a point where insurance believes you’ve plateaued and you’re not going to make any more progress. I wasn’t ready to accept that. I wanted to do more.

I asked my doctors about other types of therapy, what else might be out there for me. And that’s when I was at the right place at the right time. I was the perfect candidate.”

IAN BURKHART, Founder, Ian Burkhart Foundation and first-ever neurobridge implant patient

Ian remembers being a typical, jovial college student having fun on vacation at the beach with his friends. He also recalls the moment when he dove into the ocean waves off of the Carolina coast and hit a sandbar — that very moment when everything changed.

Ian learned shortly thereafter that he had suffered a devastating spinal cord injury. His diagnosis: paralyzed for life. At age 19, Ian’s life was forever altered.    

Ian shares his story that is equal parts heartbreaking, heartwarming and, truth be told, literally mind altering. Ian is the first person ever to undergo an elective brain surgery to implant a device that can read his brain waves in effort to help him regain movement. It is here — where life and science intersect, and joy and pain coexist — that Ian speaks with a steady cadence of hope and reason borne of a tragic accident. 

We return to the site of his first internship, Brainstorm Media, which was the type of place he could envision a career after college. Ian gives us the encouragement to be optimistic and inspired, especially when a new set of aspirations are ready to replace those best laid plans.   

New York Times article  |  Columbus Monthly article

TEDxColumbus talk  (photo credit: Time Tank Labs)

Ian Burkhart Foundation

The adventure & advantages of never growing up — with Greg Walter
 

“We’re trying to do something that appeals more to the child in everyone. We want to invite people to bond with a brand and have fun together rather than just being impressed by it.”

GREG WALTER, Bossman, 2Tall Animation Studio

Greg is a like a lovable kid in a tall man's body — a 2Tall one to be exact. To view his work today, it’s seems rather obvious this self-proclaimed expert daydreamer was destined to make animation videos for Sesame Street Studios and turn otherwise mundane content on its head. But finding his stride hasn’t been easy. After a 2,400-mile move from Seattle to Columbus, getting laid off and essentially starting from scratch, Greg plumbed his inner, optimistic child and found his voice...while being chased by wolves, no less. For a man who claims he’s “barely qualified to run a lemonade stand let alone an animation studio,” it’s clear he's taken his lemons and made lemonade.

Whether it’s laugh-out-loud ridiculous or surprisingly heartwarming, his trademark style of animation is always joyful and infectious. We talk with Greg about the “rock cycle” from our middle school days in science class; monsters and yetis; where his inspiration comes from; and the fine line between comfort and doubt in creating his line of work.        

www.2tall.tv