RE-CAP - #MCON 2015: The Power of Influence


Last week while visiting Chicago, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend MCON 2015. #MCON is an opportunity for corporate, nonprofit and public leaders to gather and discuss current movements that are shaping the way we think about our world from the perspective of art, media and business. Set in the Museum of Contemporary Art in the heart of Downtown Chicago, it was a cool experience to explore my hometown and learn from thought leaders about the power of influence in the areas of social media, philanthropy, civic activism and more. While there was so much amazing information shared within the two-day affair, below are a few important gems that left me feeling inspired and empowered to move forward:


1. Create a personal manifesto that gets you excited to live your purpose each and every day.  Artist Stephen Kenn kicked off #MCON by sharing this powerful statement that has really inspired me to take step back and re-evaluate how I want to leave my mark on the world. During his presentation, he spoke about how he started his business with his wife four years ago in which he designs and manufactures furniture in Los Angeles, California. He also shared obstacles he had to overcome, how his faith really sustained him through those tough times and what he hopes to achieve next. "Great art is the manifestation of conviction," Stephen said. He also encouraged the audience to "fight comparison and discover your greater narrative."


2. Trends fade. Truths remain. Sisters Amy and Jennifer Hood, foudners of Hoodzpah Design Co. and Steve Alfaro of Voto Latino were the experts featured on the Art Panel. Expanding on the design discussion that Stephen started, Amy, Jennifer and Steve shared how design is truly important to telling a great story. They also shared how important it is for brands and companies must keep it real when marketing to the millennial generation. "Millennials can smell from a mile away when marketing tactics are fake and overbearing," Amy Hood said. "When planning a marketing campaign, it's important to discover a way to engage your audience in a fun and authentic way."  

3. Stay vulnerable, humble and self-aware. My favorite one-on-one conversation was with Jonathan Newman, co-founder of Sweetgreen. (For those of you that don't have the luxury of living near a Sweetgreen, please remind me to take you when you visit The District - it's AMAZING.) Anyway, Jonny shared a number of great gems during his talk, but the one gem that stuck the most was when he began to speak on leadership. "Humility, self-awareness and vulnerability opens you up to human connection," he said. "It's okay that you don't know everything. Be willing to ask for help." As an emerging millennial leader, I think this point is EXTREMELY important for us to fully comprehend. The more we elevate, it will be critical for us to reach up, reach out and reach back to ensure success all around.

4. In change, there is so much opportunity. This is also another pearl of wisdom from Jonathan Newman, but after hearing all of the amazing speakers, this is overarching thought that brings everything together. No matter which sector you may work in, there is always a chance to bring forth something new, dynamic and fresh. There's always a better way to connect with people, a new way to use time effectively and ways to work smarter and not harder. As millennials, we're at a point in our lives where we can craft the next chapter of our journeys. We have the power to influence the way our global community connects, creates and solves problems. We must be willing to take that leap of faith in order to make it happen.

Overall, I enjoyed #MCON and hope to attend next year. Many thanks again to the good people at Achieve for the opportunity to attend such an inspiring event. Want to learn more about #MCON? Visit the MCON website and follow Achieve on Twitter.

Millennial On A Mission: Saranah Holmes

Happy Monday, friends! This week's Millennial on a Mission is a young lady who is passionate about entrepreneurship and doing good. Her platform, Daily Do Good, encourages millennials to "spread kindness one person at a time, one day at a time." Based in Washington, D.C., Daily Do Good (which recently raised $10,000 - congrats!) is fostering an online community of do-gooders who want to incite change in The Nation's Capital though volunteering and philanthropy.

I'd like for you to meet Saranah Holmes.


Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Saranah feels fortunate to have been brought up in a city so rich in culture. "I studied health science at San Jose State University and loved my time there," she recalls. "The school had roughly 24,000 students, but I never felt like a little fish in a big pond." Saranah then continued on to get her Masters in Public Health from the George Washington University. "My graduate experience was memorable, but I chose not to continue with a career in public health. Instead, I followed a path towards development, being an executive assistant and most recently an entrepreneur."

CCWhat inspired you to pursue your choice of career? Who are some individuals you admire in and out of your field of work? What challenges have you faced in building your business/brand, and what have you learned from them?

SH: An idea came to me one day while reading Daily Candy -- why not have a daily email dedicated to nonprofits, philanthropy and GOOD stuff that's written in a fun and clever way? That idea eventually turned into the Daily Do Good, a one stop shop for all things philanthropic in the D.C. Metro area. I'm also taking what I've learned in my 10+ years of fundraising and event planning to offer consulting services to nonprofit organizations.

The person I admire the most is no longer with us. My father passed away in 2013, but he reminds me daily to always strive to do my best and not let obstacles stand in my way. My father grew up very poor and he never let his circumstances define who he was. He taught me to find another door if one gets slammed in my face, and to always do what I can to help others. While I don't have a marketing background or a business degree, I am curious and not afraid to ask for help. The biggest challenge has been monetizing my business and building a subscriber base. I'm very grateful to have received advice from people who are pointing me in the right direction.

To Saranah, being a Millennial on a Mission means taking advantage of all there is to offer in this age of technology and using it to turn dreams into reality. "When I was growing up, no one was talking about being an entrepreneur -- we were encouraged to think about a career working for someone else," Saranah says. "Today, being an entrepreneur isn't something that is seen as a crazy departure from the norm." Her advice to her millennial peers? Learn as much as you can from different work places. "Make sure you have a back up source of income and don't let fear keep you from stepping out on a limb."

To learn more about the Daily Do Good, be sure to visit their website and follow them on Instagram and Twitter!

Millennial on a Mission: Timi Komonibo

Happy Friday! Today's Millennial on a Mission is not only a (future) fellow Syracuse University graduate, (congrats to the class of 2015!) but she's also a entrepreneur with heart for giving back to her community. Her nonprofit organization, Style Lottery, is a sustainable fashion  philanthropy nonprofit that hosts "pop-up swaps" where guests can swap their lightly used clothing items with each other and donate what is un-swapped to organizations that serve women in need throughout the community. Now that she's on the cusp of entering the job market, she hopes to launch a career within corporate social responsibility and/or philanthropy.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Timi Komonibo.


A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Timi went into college as an undeclared major, convinced (in her words) "that all Nigerian kids were supposed to excel at science and math", but she struggled to fit into that cultural archetype. Instead, she noticed that she was stronger at writing and creative projects. "I took classes in almost every liberal arts department," she recalls. "At the end of my four years, I graduated with two majors-- one in Communication Studies and another in African Diaspora Studies. After graduating, I joined Teach for America and taught middle school math and reading in my hometown of Houston, TX." On Sunday, Timi will graduate from Syracuse University with a Master's degree in Public Diplomacy.

CCWhat has inspired you to pursue your choice of career? Who are some individuals you admire in and out of your field of work? What challenges have you faced in building your business/brand, and what have you learned from them?

TK:  My internship at a global pro-bono firm helped me see that partnerships between the public and private sector can create innovative solutions for the world's challenges. I care deeply about issues surrounding sustainability because it is an area where collective effort could bring about a great change. Women like Helena Helmersson at H&M and Sheena Matheiken from The Uniform Project inspire me because they are rethinking fashion's impact on the world. Women are driving the eco-fashion movement and the solutions are limitless.

Style Lottery came to be because I wanted to give my friends and I a way to swap our clothes with one another. Teaching people to "restyle, reuse, and reward" with their clothing instantly became our mission. Our goal is to be a resource for people wanting to make a difference through fashion. We want to empower people and show them that every eco-friendly action is making a difference. I have been reading anything I can get my hands on about the circular economy, zero waste, and eco-fashion. From my research, my team and I have discovered that the average woman has about $500 of unworn clothing in her closet. We thought to ourselves, why should unworn or unwanted clothing be thrown away when we can provide an eco-friendly way to swap clothing and give back to women in the community?

One of my biggest challenges has been educating people about sustainable fashion. From the start, we knew we had to undo several misconceptions around second-hand clothing and swap. We did focus groups and surveys trying to get better understand our consumers. Whether it be the clothes that find a new home rather than ending up in a landfill or the girl who receives a shopping spree thanks to generous donors, we see what adding a conscience to fashion does.

To Timi, being a Millennial on a Mission means to know where your talents, interests, and passions line up and work relentlessly to bring the three together. "I have found that in Style Lottery, and since starting this endeavor, I have found myself taking bigger and bigger leaps of faith because I believe in my vision for a more sustainable and compassionate world," she says.  Timi is starting a Kickstarter in mid-May, and she admits it will be one of the scariest things that she's ever done. "I'm doing it so we can expand our work with a Style Lottery fashion philanthropy bus." Her advice to millennials looking to launch their own ventures? Do it anyway. "Is your dream so big that it scares you? Good. Do it anyway. Of course, take time to plan but make sure action follows soon after. But make take a risk and see how big of a splash you can make." 

You can keep up with Timi on Twitter and Instagram, and visit her blog Naturale Chronicles.