Hello lovely friends of the Bhoomies!
Today we are very excited to introduce you to someone super-inspirational.
Toan Lam is the CIO (Chief Inspiration Officer) of Go Inspire Go, (GIG) a nonprofit video-based website that uses social networking to inspire social change and encourages viewers to “Discover and Use Your Power to Help Others.” They create inspirational videos featuring regular people who use their talents and resources to better their community. They distribute their stories using social media to encourage sharing and inspire people to become civically engaged. At the end of every GIG video, there’s a call to action with information on how you can make a difference.
A former, broadcast reporter, Toan has nearly 10 years of TV industry experience, both-in-front of, and behind-the-camera.
HOT OF THE PRESS
Meet Director of Go Inspire Go, Toan Lam
When did you first start the idea of creating Go inspire go?
I started Go Inspire Go in March of 2009 after being laid off from my TV Reporting job. It was great timing because the day before I made a vow to quit a month later because I didn’t want to focus on telling stories of death and destruction. Instead, I wanted to use my power for good and inspire people to do the same. Hence our tagline: “Discover and use your power to help others.” When you discover your power and give it away, joy bhooms — I mean blooms!
What is your background?
I was born in Saigon, Vietnam but at 8 months old, after the fall of Saigon, my family and I immigrated to Sacramento, CA for a better life and a chance at a proper education. My parents had bustling construction businesses, but left it all to bring my family and I to Sacramento for freedom and ‘the American Dream.’ We arrived with $4 US dollars and 10 of us ended up living in one trailer home in a bad neighborhood.
But I turned to books for solace — that became my passport out of that situation. I was voiceless growing up on welfare and in bad neighborhoods, but now I’m happy that I can use my opportunities as life’s learning lessons and now be a voice for the voiceless.
I am an optimist and was born when the sun was shining. I believes we are all connected by the human experience and that we are all more similar than different — and that we fundamentally are good people that want to help others.
Growing up Asian American, I felt like I had the best of both worlds and embraces both Easter and Western ideals. But there were also difficulties. My parents, as many Asian parents didn’t understand my love for reading and writing. They wanted me to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer — in that order. But I chose option #4, which was failure in their eyes – to be a journalist.
I attended the University of San Francisco, where I am a adjunct professor. I am also an instructor and I build the curriculum for the Academy of Art University.
How hard is it to start a social inspiration company?
I didn’t try to start a nonprofit, my project, which started off as a YouTube channel, evolved into a nonprofit because that is where it fit best. GIG isn’t like anything else out there, a multimedia platform that inspires people to discover and use their power to help others. The equation is simple: authentic storytelling + leveraging social media + to build community = sparking action. It is very hard to start a social inspiration company. We are trying to search for an angel investor and funding. We’ve had a couple of requests to create TV shows and possible funding, but it didn’t feel right. GIG is looking for a home and funding to pay a full time team to churn out inspiration on a daily basis.
Who is involved?
I started GIG with one volunteer — now more than 4 years later, I oversee 30+ volunteers. There are many difficulties: not having funding to scale and expand (But we’ve received two possible TV show deals, I walked away because it wasn’t a right fit). But I know it will become a syndicated show one day.
I currently pay my bills by teaching, but am working on getting angel investors and like-minded companies to syndicate GIG’s content. GIG has been such a collaborative team effort and I am most proud of the quick growth and media attention it’s received. It’s hard for me to pick a specific thing that I love the most, but if I had to, it’s the fact that many of the stories have created a shift in people and that they’ve thought about how they can use their power — their skills, network and even financially help out.
I make less than half the salary of what I used to make as a TV news reporter, but feel ten times more joy through GIG and serving the community at large.
GIG has received some grants and donations from viewers.
What is your main message out to the world?
Everybody has a power. Use yours for good. It’s infectious! “Discover and Use Your Power to Help Others” That’s when you feel JOY.
Who is your favourite Bhoomie and why?
This is the hardest question!!!
I love Miss Tea-Time because I love tea. I love it so much I created a Tea with Toan segment for GIG, in which I interview people over a cup of tea via Skype. Tea warms you up from the inside out like a nice cup of tea!
But I have to say if I had to choose, it would be Joy Bhoomie. That is the energy around GIG and it’s GIGSTERS! Thanks for helping us spread our wings of JOY and pick others up along the way under our wings!
If you had one wish what would it be?
That we all be kind to one another. And that I can do this full time with a full time team!
What is the one thing people don’t know about you?
I tear it up on the dance floor at weddings. I always find the person(s) who are shy or a bit quirky and get them out of the shell. By the end of the night, most everyone is dancing because I’ve embarrassed my self on so many levels.
What are your plans for 2013?
In 2012, we’ve pushed out 3x the content. I plan to push out more content, do more public speaking and find funding so I can hire a team to inspire the world on an amplified level.
THANK YOU THE BHOOMIE PALS FOR SHARING OUR MESSAGE!
Hope you feel as inspired as the rest of the Bhoomies!
Live in the light and remember to never-ever lose your belief in possibility!
Star and the rest of the Bhoomies