Interview #11 & 12: Kassidy & Ryan Brown - Journey of Action: Inspiring a Generation to Social Change

Watch a quick preview of Kassidy and Ryan’s interview “Call to Action”
Check out Kassidy and Ryan’s responses to our Word Association Challenge under “Boxers or Briefs”
Click “read more” for Kassidy and Ryan’s full interview
Co-Founders of Journey of Action (www.JourneyOfAction.com)
  • Traveling from Alaska to Argentina over  6 month period filming and creating webisodes of young (Gen Y) social activists affecting change both locally and nationally...This is a 14 country tour with 11 stops in the US.
  • Part of Fast Company's and Planet Green's Change Generation
  • TakePart featured their webisodes
  • Good and Huff Po also featured Journey of Action
  • sponsored by Timberland in the US
Connect with Kassidy & Ryan:

Ryan and Kassidy Brown are the brother & sister power team focused on “entertaining, educating, and inspiring social activism within the Millennial Generation.”  Just speaking with them for a few minutes, you can feel the passion for their mission rushing through their veins.  From an idea to quick action Ryan and Kassidy began building relationships and an itinerary for the journey.  They took time to be 100% prepared before they presented the Journey of Action to potential sponsors.  When the time came, they targeted companies, with Timberland being one of the top choices, and landed the sponsorship.  Ryan and Kassidy have just come off their 11 stop US tour and stopped by with Generation Young Leaders to share what they’ve learned thus far and give some tips to up and coming leaders.

What is the one piece of advice you have for young leaders? 
  • Living in the Present is huge
  • Figure out where you want to focus your energy and go for it.  
  • Be Bold and go after “it” when you’re young - when you can afford to make mistakes
  • “Fake it before you make it”
  • Be humble enough to ask for help
    • Be very specific when you ask for help
      • Give a direct call to action when approaching others
Give an example of when you applied this advice in your own life.
  • Needed to do a pilot for Journey of Action and they approached film producer/writer Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation, Food Inc., Chew on This) at a speaking engagement at their alma mater, Belmont U. 
Quick Note:  Many leaders have done this exact same thing...be bold enough to seek out the people who are doing what you want to do and approach them...invite them to coffee, lunch, etc and build a relationship with them!
  • One key to remember though is that Kassidy & Ryan were fully prepared to launch Journey of Action (their pitch was perfected, they had the itinerary...they were ready) when they approached Eric Schlosser - so make sure you have the vision crystalized in your mind before just jumping on all your mentors.
  • They threw out a “teaser” on the spot and invited Eric to a concert that night...so it may not be enough to just say hi and have a brief conversation with the person you are targeting as your partner or mentor...invite them somewhere or try to get a lunch/coffee so they will be more inclined to focus on your “pitch.”
  • Perfect your pitch - find out what words and sentences resonate with people and create a script to be able to deliver at any moment.
Let’s go into your success path...
Journey of Action:  Mission -- “To entertain, educate, and inspire social activism within the Millennial Generation.”   “To inspire Gen Y to become active citizens.”  - they really do have it down and it sounds great!

--Tell me what that means to each of you.--
  • The belief that gen y is aware, yet may not know or have the tools to act on this awareness.
  • Many millennials are leading this movement of social change, yet receive little to no media attention.  So they decided to change that!  They go on the road and highlight the social movement of activism and these stories of change.  
Where did the idea come from?  
  • No set career path (e.g. 9 to 5, family business, etc) 
  • Combined their passions - travel (studied abroad), volunteering, film, education, business
  • Researched and talked to people who inspired them...what were they doing - what was their path
  • “From this Journey of Action was ‘Birthed’” as Ryan would say  :)  awesome!
How did it go from an idea...to action?
  • Took 1 year from idea to launch
  • Came to Nashville - Kassidy was living in the Middle East filming a documentary...Ryan had just taken time away from the business world to go on a 1 year round-the-world trip.
  • JoA has evolved greatly - started out as a simple idea of traveling and a pan-american trip creating content, but no one was doing what they wanted to do, so there was no real model.
  • They decided to just spend a year building relationships
    • Attended conferences, went to exclusive parties, reached out to past connections in social media, film, etc to build a strong network.
  • Once they felt they had the necessary relationships and were getting positive feedback about the idea - they went for funding.
What do you think can help the people listening take an idea or passion, and create real action? 
  • Find like-minded people who are doing what you want to do - build it together - learn from them!
  • Mentors - find and utilize them - Kassidy & Ryan’s mentors include:
    • Eric Schlosser - shared the common purpose to something - blunt and constructive
    • Jesse Dylan - (Director - Kicking and Screaming, How High, American Wedding) Bob Dylan’s son - connected through a friend of a friend of a friend - skype call led to a lasting relationship.  - advised them on creating value-added, rememberable content
    • Peers - brainstorm - support - advice - share ideas
  • Build relationships, itinerary, plan - be ready to execute or act that very same day.  Preparation is key.  The investors or potential sponsors will grill you and want to know exactly what will happen step by step if they give you the money.
  • Come up with a list of possible companies and start making the connections - linkedin - cold calling, etc.  Ryan cold called into Timberland (Head of Global Marketing).  Followed up with her via email and then met her at a conference she was speaking at and closed for the pitch meeting...the rest is history.
Once you decided to take the Journey, how did you find the social activists you are featuring?
  • It’s all about relationships!
  • Research and organizations
  • Sometimes random connections - Phoenix and Flagstaff
  • Once you let people know what you are trying to accomplish - they go out of their way to provide resources and connections
Do you think anyone can be a social activist?  How?
  • Yes
    • We all have purchasing power, daily decisions we make impact the world around us
    • Anyone can start in their local community and take small steps to get involved
Gen Y - some say they are the most socially conscious and altruistic generation and others say they are the least likely to volunteer.  What have you observed?
---Took a minute on this one---
  • 50-50 - balance of the two
    • some are very aware and are doing incredible things
    • the other half are apathetic - bombarded with negative news and global problems with little solutions given
      • too many problems out there, nothing i can do to change it, so “whatever.”
QUICK NOTE: Journey of Action is trying to show that there are simple solutions that one can take on a local and national level - action steps- to affect change.
What is the most inspiring story you’ve seen so far?
  • Social Entrepreneur - Brad Butler: cushy corp job, perfect loft, but was totally unsatisfied...reached out to friends and cousins and they decided to start a business.  Created the Bicycle Coffee Company - Fair Trade Organically Locally Roasted Coffee delivered by bike - same price-point as competitors.  Within a year went from 1 to 100 distributors - Whole Foods, etc.  
  • Sustainable Connections - Bellingham, WA - Locally living community - sustainable system - recession proof.
QUICK NOTE: Check these and other stories as webisodes on their website www.JourneyofAction.com
Goals for the future...
  • Want to highlight more people
    • More targeted web series’
    • Create better and better online content
    • Create off-line action
    • Travel and expand the network and keep building to a new level
Closing - 
If you were designing the perfect Leadership/Mentorship program for up and coming Gen Y social activists, what are 2 key components?
  • Gap Year - after high school or college - take a year off to volunteer and get involved in something you are passionate about.
    • City Year (check out the details) has an excellent gap year program
    • Global Citizen Year (check out the details)
    • figuring out what you’re passionate about 
    • learn about the diversity within the US - what is happening in Brooklyn is different than Seattle, than Detroit, etc.  Creating an understanding and getting a stronger grasp of the needs of other communities.
  • National Service
    • Getting involved locally and nationally
    • Again City Year is a valuable program
Closing words as a mentor to a young leader
  • Volunteer and get to know what you are passionate about
    • Figure out what you’re good at and what you don’t want to do
    • Look at the problems in the world, look at your skillset, see where the two can meet and then go after it.
  • There is no set path - so get out there and experience it
  • We are all interconnected and we all have a role in society
    • Don’t wait on the sidelines anymore
    • There are problems, yes, but we have solutions, so get onboard!
      • Nothing cooler than making a difference
      • Bottom up - it takes you and I to take the first steps of action in order to cause a snowball of change.
GET INVOLVED - Reach out to Kassidy and Ryan and they will help guide you on how to get started
JourneyOfAction@Gmail.com - let them know Generation Young Leaders says Hi!

Start Now - Be Bold - Change the World!

QUESTION FOR YOU: How can you change the world around you today?

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