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Recap of 2012 Missions…

by Joshua on January 3, 2013

Hope everyone brought in the new year in style!

I am sure we all have our resolutions in place, so for this week I put together a quick little list of missions from 2012.

If there was a mission you were thinking of doing but couldn’t get to it, why don’t you start off the new year and complete it :)

This week take 15 minutes to…

  • sit down and write a letter to someone that is special to you.
  • recommend someone.
  • get to know someone.
  • share something inspirational.
  • do something unique to show your love.
  • help someone going through a tough time.
  • make others laugh.
  • change something.
  • do something epic.
  • help someone who hasn’t asked for it.
  • show your appreciation to someone who took care of you.
  • practice kindness in the face of adversity.
  • start something you have been putting off.
  • share the best piece of advice someone has given you.
  • recognize a hero in your life that has inspired you to become a better person.
  • do something that makes you feel happy and balanced.
  • teach someone.
  • help someone going through a rough time.
  • ask someone spontaneously if they need help.
  • recognize or thank a leader in your personal life or community.
  • showing some heart in the face of adversity.
  • make a new friend or inviting someone to join you.
  • do an activity that makes you feel free.
  • commit to helping a charity or cause in the future.
  • help change the way someone looks at things for the better.
  • push and encourage someone to complete a project or goal.
  • try something new that helps someone.
  • make other people smile.
  • help a co-worker.
  • tell someone they’re the greatest.
  • do something unexpectedly sweet for a co-worker, friend, or stranger.
  • help someone in need.
  • connect with someone through food.
  • use your talents to help others.
  • thank your friend.
  • just do it.
  • surprise someone.
  • write a letter to make someone feel better.
  • acknowledge someone who was there with you in the beginning.
  • do something kind in remembrance of someone you know.
  • talk to someone who needs it.
  • inspire someone to do a random act of kindness.
  • ask someone how they are doing and listen to what is going on in there life.
  • tell a child or parent how much you love them.
  • write out how you will help others in 2013 and share it with someone.



I’m a horrible story teller

Post image for I’m a horrible story teller

by Joshua on April 10, 2012

Do you know how I judge a good story?

It’s when I become a part of it- when a personal part of me connects with something in the story.

That’s what makes ISWU special- when you are able to connect with the mission or when you connect to something someone shares on the community forum.

With that being said, I need to tell you something…

I am a horrible story teller and it’s a major problem in how it impacts ItStartsWith.Us.

The main reason I joined ISWU was because I could relate to many of your stories shared in the community:

  • the pain and frustrations happening in life
  • the moments of joy from doing the missions
  • the satisfaction after the missions from helping someone out and wanting to do more

I could relate to all of those and it made me want to be a better person and take more action to help others.

I Need to Get Real with You

When I had a chance to help lead ISWU last summer, I wanted people to continue sharing those stories while I shared the story of ISWU with more people.

But like I said, I am a horrible story teller. Because I wasn’t telling the story of the community, the community started becoming quieter and less active week by week.

I personally consider that my fault and take responsibility.

Over the past 2 months or so, I really thought deeply about ISWU and what a special community it is and can be.

Instead of resolving to become a better story teller, I want to try something new:

Your participation and stories is what makes the community so awesome.

Your stories are what helps motivate and change the lives of others.

The Shift

I want to take our community and make it a platform for sharing how kindness has changed your life, and then make your stories into missions that changes lives.

We’re still going to be doing the same thing every week, but I don’t want  this to be me anymore behind the scenes solely creating the missions. Instead, I want to extend a hand in helping to share the best and most meaningful stories with others.

It’s time we start getting back as a community and sharing with each other.

So if you’d like to take this new leap with me and share some meaningful moments from your life, e-mail me at jos (at) itstartswith (dot) us and let’s work together to on making it a mission to help change lives.


(PS you can also drop a line on Twitter @itstartswithus and I’ll follow up with you)


Need a little inspiration for Wednesday?

by Joshua on February 8, 2012

Hope everyone was able to share some inspiration during last week’s mission.

If you are looking for some inspiration this week, be sure to watch the video above.


Mission: Amplify Your Voice

by Joshua on August 27, 2011

The Inspiration

What happens when you leave a megaphone in the middle of New York City with the message “Say Something Nice” attached to it? Check out this video -

The Mission

This week, take 15 minutes to say something nice in a unique way that amplifies your voice.

Each week we tend to do something under the radar to lift or inspire someone.

Not this week.

Find a creative way to say something nice while being heard!

Share your creativity and let us know what you came up with-


Stop Waiting

by Joshua on August 16, 2011

I’ve been wondering what my first post should be here at ItStartsWith.Us, but tonight I found something in me that I wanted to share.

For awhile now, I waited to get everything just right for the first post- I went back and forth on a theme, topic, short vs. long post, funny vs. serious tone, etc., etc.

But right now, none of that matters- because I want to share a deeper side of me with all of you.

After seeing a lot of people in the community sharing some of their most personal stories with complete strangers, I felt it was time I wrote from the heart without any personality or ego attached- just as is.

Tonight, I found out one of the dearest people I hold close has to get a last minute heart procedure on Friday. This is the person I was going to do my “Thank Your Supporter” mission for tonight, card in hand, ready to write how much I truly appreciated their support.

But right now I feel foolish, being tough on myself on why I waited so long to tell them how much I appreciated them being a part of my life, for all their care and support, and for them giving me the space to be me (and for not being afraid to set me straight when I get out of line ;)

We have an opportunity to do this everyday- to thank someone, to tell someone you love them, to brighten someone’s day with just a smile or hug.

Don’t wait for the moment to come where you start questioning yourself with whys.

You can create your own point of inflection at any time… and the beautiful thing is you can do something about it right here and now.

So that is what I want to share in my first post with ISWU- stop waiting.

There’s no perfect time or situation to be you. You’re at your best right now.


I have no clue what I am going to do about work, about other life stuff, etc.… all I know is to stop waiting and do my best to support and love this person- and make sure I go out of my way to do it with other people in my life.

And at the end of the day, all the “tough” stuff at work and in our personal lives has a strange way of figuring itself out.

Sometimes the really tough part is to stop waiting and start doing.

Much love to every single one of you who make ISWU a possibility,




I’m Retiring from ItStartsWith.Us

by Nate on June 28, 2011

For just over two years now (105 weeks, to be exact) I have been the leader of the ItStartsWith.Us team. My goal was to assign one mission per week that would give all of us the chance to make a positive impact in the lives of those around us – to enable us all to change the world.

And change the world we have, friends. Two years later, the team has grown from 18 people to around 5,000 people, in close to 100 countries. We’ve impacted hundreds of thousands of lives, if not millions. We’ve changed thousands of lives. We’ve even saved a few.

And we will continue to do so, but not with me at the helm. I have personally attempted (and almost always completed) each and every weekly mission I have assigned for the past 105 weeks . . . except the last one. I realized today that I had completely forgotten about it. And while that’s not a terrible offense, it does show that my attention to this project has slipped greatly, as I’m sure you’ve noticed in the sporadic mission assignments and blog postings so far this year.

I am no longer giving this project the attention it deserves, and so it is time for me to move on. ItStartsWith.Us needs an engaged, enthusiastic leader at the helm – someone who is eager to jump in every day, interact with members, construct activities that change lives, and build this project into something greater than it is today.

I’d like to give one of you that opportunity.

I still plan to own ItStartsWith.Us, but I am now officially looking for someone to take over leadership of the project. I want someone who loves the idea of guiding thousands of people to make a difference all over the world. Someone who is savvy enough both on the social/web end and the business end to build the technology and make the connections necessary to take ISWU to the next level. I’ll still be around, and I’ll function as a mentor to whomever decides to accept this challenge. If you like sports analogies, you could say that I’m the team owner, and you’re the coach/GM. :)

So if you’re interested in this opportunity, just send me an email (nate [at] and tell me why you want the job, and why you’d be good at it. I’ll start talking to candidates within the next week.

If you have any reaction or comments to this announcement, feel free to respond in the comment section below.

In an odd twist of fate, I decided to clean out my backpack before I sent this message out, and I happened to find the original planning docs for ISWU, and a copy of the very first email I sent out to the 18 founding members. I didn’t even know I still had that stuff. You’ll see a picture of it at the top of this post.

I’d like to thank each and every one of you so much for being a part of this truly amazing team. I know that our goal is to change others’ lives, but I want you to know that you all have changed mine. I would not be the person I am today if not for the love and grace I’ve been shown by so many members of this team, and for that I am eternally grateful.

It’s been an honor to serve as your leader for the first two years of the project, and I hope we’ll continue to serve alongside each other under the new leadership.

Much love,


That One Ray of Light

by Nate on May 30, 2011

Every once in a while, while going about the business of ItStartsWith.Us, I am fortunate enough to witness a singular ray of light that breaks through the clouds and illuminates who we are and why we are here. Yesterday was one of those days. I was going through the ISWU community forum, where people can share the results of the missions I’ve assigned. The last mission was “Use the Technology” (in a partnership with the awesome, where we were directed to use technology in a way to make a difference for someone in our lives. Check out what one of our members had to say:

At first, when I saw this mission, I thought to myself something along the lines of “Agh. How am I going to do that?!” Then I got a text message- It was one of my friends thanking me again for a cupcake I gave him right before his last Advanced Placement test, and telling me to have a good weekend. It was above what he had to do, and it was sweet- definitely made me feel good.

Anyway, I was still struggling to apply this mission, and yesterday I was speaking with an underclassman who I “adopted” as my younger sister. We’re both in the marching band, and we both play instruments in male-dominated sections. Because she was unable to have a section “Older sister”, and I had no section “Little sister”, I just kind of adopted her and we’d ride the band bus together. Anyway, yesterday she gave me her tumblr link (I didn’t give her mine, because it’s about a lot of personal stuff with depression, self injury and suicide, that some of my best friends don’t know about) and I saw a post she had written a long time ago about struggling with herself because she had/has a friend who struggles with depression, self injury, suicidal thoughts/attempts.

I messaged her and told her that we didn’t have to talk about it at all, and that I respected her privacy, but if she ever needed to talk to me about any of that kind of stuff, I was always there for her. We ended up talking for a while, with plans to hang out in the future so I could kind of give her a better idea of where I was coming from with that whole situation.

I really hoped it helped/helps her and at least makes her feel a little supported.

And, well, can you tell? I’m seeing a theme here: These missions are helping me, too. [Thank you, Nate!!!]
After speaking with her, I went to my room and threw out my razors. I put a small index card with her name written on it in the altoids case I used to keep them in, and put the altoids case back in it’s usual spot. I will do this for her, maybe even myself.

I was happily stopped in my tracks after reading this yesterday. Seeing the amazing things that can happen as the result of a small suggestion and just a few minutes of effort is one of the true joys of being a part of the ItStartsWith.Us team. If you’d like to join us, you can sign up at the top of the page on the left.

Budget Weddings - How to Save Thousands

Photo Credit: respres


Love Drop: $30,000 Given In Four Months

by Nate on May 10, 2011

“That’s a crap load of love.”

So stated a friend of mine via Google Chat after she had taken a look at our latest page, detailing everything that Love Drop has given away since its launch in January. And you know what? She’s right. I wasn’t the one who built this page – it was my business partner J. Money. So even I wasn’t prepared for the sheer volume of the gifts the Love Drop community has given to these deserving families.

Over $30,000 worth of cash, goods and services freely given away in just four months . . . all using the principle of micro-giving. It’s easy for me to get lost in the business operations of this project, because it’s a full-time job. But every once in a while I take a giant step back and look out over what we’re all accomplishing together, and I’m blown away. I hear my mind shouting at me, “We’re really doing it!

Most of the people on our team give $5 per month. That’s it. For just five dollars a month they get to be a part of a caring community that literally changes lives every single month. They get to see exactly where their money is going, too. In fact, not only where, but when as well. Every time someone contributes to Love Drop, they get a detailed account, both written and through our web video coverage, within four weeks of giving. We literally show up on the family’s doorstep and shower them with anything our community can think of to help them along on their journey.

This project is incredibly powerful. We all have the cabability of making such a huge impact with such a small effort.
And we’re doing it. Thank you all so much for being a part of it.

And hey, if you like what we’re doing, share it with your friends. As you’ve now seen, every dollar counts. :)

“Like” Love Drop on Facebook
Follow Love Drop on Twitter

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A Moment of Joy

by Nate on April 13, 2011

I was just going through some photos for Love Drop, and came across one I’d never noticed before. This is the exact moment that we told the Rewolinski family that the Love Drop team had raised the necessary $13,000 for them to obtain a service dog for their two autistic boys.

And we get to travel the country, doing something like this for one family every month. Awesome. Have a joyful Wednesday, y’all.

(If you want to see more on this story, you can watch the final Drop video, or check out the whole story.)


It’s All In Your Head

by Nate on April 5, 2011

See the little boy walking down the street? He’s creating a world in his mind as he goes. Nobody else can see that world, but it’s okay . . . because he can.

This is what life is like for some people. Authors, artists, musicians, architects, designers, and the like. A five-minute walk can generate so many ideas it feels like your head may explode.

Look at what exists. Add to it. Subtract from it. Combine elements, then rearrange them. Twist them. Add in some abstract thought. Synthesize new patterns from seemingly unconnected systems.

Create something out of the nothing that existed before.

I was that little boy. Still am, in fact. I see things like that when I walk down the street. I build systems in my mind. But here’s the secret – and this is why the video struck me so deeply – it’s as simple as using your imagination.

I understand how trite that sounds. It’s something you say to children. But when children grow up, no one is encouraging them to use their imaginations anymore, and they forget all about it. And inside their minds where once incredible ideas were bubbling up, now there are only thoughts of money and work and bills and taxes and electronics and a vague idea of “getting stuff” and “being successful,” and they fall into line of what’s expected of them, and they never again dream of a fantastic alternate reality where the world is truly different and truly better.

The amazing part of all of this is that it’s right there in front of them – it’s ripe for the taking. People have so much more power than they think they do, but they don’t understand that they’re actually allowed to use it.

Sometimes when I get in the shower, I pretend it’s a personal spaceship. I close the curtain (shut the hatch), turn on the faucets (light up the engine), tilt the soap and shampoo bottles (adjust the controls), tap on the wall in a geometric pattern (set the course), and finally pull out the shower handle (engage, a la Star Trek TNG). I honestly do something like this 25% of the time I get in the shower. You’ll almost certainly dismiss this as silly, and silly it may be. BUT, allowing this kind of make-believe to flow throughout my brain during the day trains it to see things not as they are, but as they could be. With all this practice, it becomes much easier to look at an existing system in the real world and see not only what it is, but what it could become.

And that’s where the magic of using your imagination translates into real-world impact. Don’t worry if it’s silly. Don’t worry if it’s fanciful. Don’t worry if it’s not realistic. Cars, airplanes, spaceships, computers and cell phones were all of these things until someone thought enough of them to turn them into reality.

Building something new has to start somewhere. It has to start with someone. And there is absolutely no reason that somewhere shouldn’t be in your head, and that someone shouldn’t be you. Conjure up all the crazy ideas you want. Be silly. Be ridiculous. Have fun. You’ll forget about most of it at the end of each day. But you will constantly be planting small seeds in your head, and one day soon some of them will sprout into ideas that will take root in your mind and won’t let go. And when that happens, you will have the drive to work hard enough to turn those ideas into reality.

And when those ideas turn into reality, you will have the power to change the world.

Don’t be afraid.