Find Your Pajamas Intensive
The Power of One? Not Exactly
Inspiration is one of the most humbling feelings we humans can experience. And it was everywhere when the inaugural class of the Find Your Pajamas Nonprofit Intensive & Pitch Contest was assembled on Saturday, September 14th at the beautiful NYC/SOHO offices of our host, Scholastic.
Over my 20 years as Founder of Pajama Program, I have met and mentored hundreds of people with unique and heartfelt ideas for nonprofits. Some have jumped off the corporate ladder as I did, and others found ways to help while continuing in their day jobs, All had three things in common – 1) they personally witnessed a need and felt compelled to fill it, 2) they shared their visions with everyone they met, and 3) they realized that they themselves needed to find their purpose, or as I like to say, Find THEIR Pajamas!
So, I decided to marry mentorship with an intimate conference. On Saturday, September 14, we brought founders of 18 nonprofits looking to take their work to the next level together with 16 veteran nonprofit founders and leaders. The idea was for the veterans to teach the newbies. Well, I got that wrong! Yes, we were there as teachers to share our stories, successful and disappointing, offer our insights and our shortcuts, and suggest how to condense an elevator speech to 2 minutes. We answered questions all day about fundraising, building your board, storytelling, marketing, legal issues and public relations, and we were enthusiastic and reassuring as we cheered them on.
But what we received from our new nonprofits was greater than anything we could give them – a huge dose of bold, passionate and unbridled INSPIRATION. How fresh and authentic that felt! And all because they shared what they’re going through – their dreams, their fears, their wins, their losses, their pasts and their hopes for our world moving forward.
I knew I'd be emotional meeting all of our new nonprofits but I never imagined how deep my feelings would go. After spending the day together, I could barely find the words to say when I was wrapping up the day and announcing the winner of our pitch contest. Saturday was planned to be educational, supportive, encouraging, and yes, fun too...but WOW, we took it to levels I never dreamed we'd go. The camaraderie, kinship, and spirit of togetherness that started the minute each of the participants walked off the elevator was immediately palpable. I waited for the excitement of having our NYC skyline and Freedom Tower as our backdrop and the newness of meeting like-hearted people to wear off after a few minutes but no, it didn't wear off - it never wore off - it got stronger every minute, all day long. We shared passion, joy, and exhilaration over each other’s ideas and for one day, the trepidation and insecurities each of us founders carries was washed away. I observed our newbies with tears in my eyes and thought, they are doing it - these 18 individuals are changing the world and the rest of us are watching them do it!
The words I wanted to say at the end of the day were Thank You. Every nonprofit inspired and motivated me to believe in humanity's enduring goodness and I am in awe of every single one of them.
You may hear people say it's The Power of One, but I have discovered over the past 20 years that it's The Power of One-Another.