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January 07 2011

December 07 2010

Can small things really make a difference?

I recently read a book that has been on the National Bestseller list for quite some time.  It’s called “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell… The subtitle reads “How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”. The book does a great job of explaining some of the psychology and mechanics behind the creation of trends in the marketplace. The book’s focus is on the moment in time when an idea or behavior becomes “viral” and spreads like wildfire.

Perhaps one of my favorite analogies from the book is when the author asks the reader, “if it were possible to fold a standard piece of paper 50 times how thick would it be?” … As thick as a yellow pages directory? As tall as a table? As high as a refrigerator? A House? A Skyscraper? … Without doing the math my mind was reasoning that it might  be as tall as 10 feet but I would never have never guessed what the correct answer was. It would reach from the earth to the sun. It’s amazing to think about such a small and benine thing like folding a piece of paper 50 times actually reaching such significant and epidemic proportions of exponential growth in such a short time. Truly amazing!

I’ve been a fan of viral marketing on the Internet for many years, particularly around messages of affecting a positive change in the world and making a difference. I especially love YouTube video trends like the “Free Hugs Campaign” and “Where’s Matt Harder?” (The Crazy Happy Dance Guy). I’ve often thought that it would be a neat experience to start, or at least be part of launching, a “viral marketing” trend or phenomenon like these examples. The only thing I wished is that someone could show me how much of an impact my contribution or participation could made to the effort. Can my small effort really make a difference? In a world of billions of people does one person really count for anything? It’s seems so easy to become apathetic and complacent today.

When we started the Race To A Million we wanted to prove that one person (or a few people working together) can make a difference. We believed that we could make a change in how people view the world of business and entrepreneurship. We want to help people achieve success, help them with ideas and give them permission to succeed. We’re excited about seeing great people become successful and we refuse to accept that you must be ruthless, insensitive, and dishonest to get ahead in this world. That is why we chose the motto, “Nice People Can Finish First” which adorns everything from our website to our t-shirts.

As a result of all of the inspirational ideas and excitement around here we have embarked on an additional experiment and we’d like to invite you on the journey. This is your chance to be part of making a difference in the world by doing something very small AND we’ve found a way for you to track and see the impact your contribution can actually make. It’s called the “Thanks A Million” card. we want you to find someone who has made a difference in your life and thank them by giving them one of these cards. Then they can “pay it forward” and you can both watch as more messages of thanks and inspirational stories spread around the globe from person to person.

You can read more about the Thanks A Million program at http://www.racetoamillion.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/RTAM-release-thanks-a-million.pdf

Here are a few great stories from the early stages of this great program that may serve to help you think of someone from your life to whom you would like to say “Thanks A Million”…

  • For Kathy – There’s no way I’d have been able to commit as much to my career as I have without the support of my wife Kathy. For 16 years and counting, she’s allowed me to pursue my goals and dreams…and I’ll be forever grateful for that.
  • For Laura – Even though we live a great distance apart, and have for many years, I still feel very close to you. I love that no matter what, I can pick up the phone and talk to you as if no time has passed and as if there was no distance between us. Thank you for always being there.
  • For Mark – I remember our very first conversation on the phone before we met, and remember liking you right away. Since then you have become someone very important to me, and appreciate that we’ve remained good friends through the years. No one can fill a room with their energy the way you do, and I always enjoy your company. Thanks for making my world a better place.
  • For Heather – you make us constantly proud to be your parents. We want nothing but the best for you which is why it may seem that we are sometimes hard on you. But, we are extremely proud. You work very hard, you’re smart and you have a huge heart. Quite often your mother and I find ourselves aspiring to be like you. You are an inspiration to us and many others. Don’t ever apologize for who you are because you young lady are GREAT! You are one in a million!
  • For Travis – Travis is always there when I need help. Thanks man. Not sure I would have made it through this semester with any sanity if it wasn’t for your help and support.
  • For Al – he has not only impacted my life, but the life of so many others. Being a continuous giver he is, this man never stops. He has always been there for my family and I and I would like to Thank him a million for this :)
  • For Teri – I love that the words fall out of me when we talk, unedited and raw, and that each thought is taken for what it is, and nothing more. My world is a better place because you are in it.
  • For Sue – We haven’t spoken in years, and that’s okay. I’m sending you this card because no matter the reason why, or what happens in theh future, you’ve been a light in my life and I will always appreciate you for it. Thanks.
  • For Janet – Janet is an inspiration to everyone she comes in contact with. Her loving and caring personality created an excellent home to grow up in. It’s through her work with CBC that my passion for broadcasting was ignited. Her wisdom and support in our family has kept us all on the right path and we can’t thank her enough for everything she has done. You are one in a million… so thanks a billion!
  • For Vic – I just want to say I am truly grateful for having known you and having been in business with you. If anyone deserves a “Thanks A Million” it is you my friend. Your belief and trust in me at a time in my life when I didn’t believe in myself meant the world to me and it still does. No matter where the years take us I will always consider you a true friend. Thank you.

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