I was recently asked by IZEA to go to Sears and ‘Don’t Just Give a Gift, Grant a Wish’ this holiday season. In exchange, I was given a Sears gift card for $100. I could use the card to grant myself a wish, do some of my holiday shopping, or grant a wish to someone else. I was also given a second gift card from IZEA and told that I could give this second gift card away in a contest on my website(read below for more details).
Now, I was definitely torn on what I should do with the first card. Should I spend it on myself? Should I spend it on my kids? Should I offer up a second contest on my website? Should I donate whatever it is that I purchased to charity?
Ultimately, I decided I would go to Sears and look around first and decide while I was there. First, I wanted to check out the “Don’t Just give a gift, Grant a Wish” program. This is basically a program that Sears seems to have built a great deal of their business around. They have a number of celebrities sharing their perspectives on life and how they help make dreams come true for other people, or sometimes they talk about the people that have been important in their own lives that health make their own wishes come true. You might even be familiar with some of the things that Sears has done through television shows like Extreme Makeover where peoples dreams manifest into reality in the form of a new home.
|The Contest is now Officially Closed – We will tabulate all the entries and hold the drawing on the 29th! Subscribe now so that you won’t miss the results!
I want to thank Everyone that entered, commented, tweeted and blogged about the contest. I do hope that you win and that you have a safe and happy holiday!
Thanks, – Brett
Summary of Contest Rules Steps to Enter
Grand Prize: $100 Gift Card
How to Enter:
1. Leave a Comment here on this blog stating which products including model #’s that you would buy from sears. Tip! You can find model numbers at Sears.com!
Each of these items count as one registration for the contest.
That Means you can have 3 chances to win!
This is an Izea Contest. Sears is the sponsor of this article but not this contest.
• December 23, 2008 – Contest ends at midnight EST.
Don’t Forget to Subscribe Now so that you can be kept up to date if you win!
Now, before I tell you about my trip to Sears, let me explain that I’ve been thinking a lot about the “Don’t just give a gift, Grant a Wish” program ever since my trip several days ago. I have tried to put it into some perspective. When I first heard about this, I thought about my grandfather. My grandfather is no longer with us these days, but he did play a significant role in my life. So much so, that even several years after his passing, when people ask me about ‘granting a wish,’ I think of my grandfather.
He spent a good part of his entire life helping to Grant a Wish(he rarely just gave gifts) to the people around him.
He did this in several ways. He gave people jobs. He gave them job-training and taught them a number of skills. He helped to finance people into their first homes, helped to move them into those homes, and sometimes he helped them move their homes literally.
He did this long before the government had established mortgage programs and long before the sub prime mortgage industry slowly decimated those government programs. He helped people buy simple and affordable homes, that they could call their own. He offered these in a safe community that he literally built the community with his hands.
Now my grandfather was not technically what you would call an educated person. He never completed high school because he had to go to work when he was a young teenager. He was hired out to a local farmer and that began his career.
Several years later he eventually became old enough to serve in the military and signed up in approximately 1947. He served in the Army Air Guard, very similar to the Air Force at that time and he was trained in photo reconnaissance. The Army taught him how to take pictures and develop film and work on cameras. He would go up in very large airplanes with very large mounted cameras that would look down on the earth and he would take pictures of the terrain and equipment below.
When he left the military, he eventually moved back home and he opened up a camera shop. He worked as a photographer and a camera repair person, and he sold cameras. He also did a lot more than that. In his spare time he worked for Caterpillar, he purchased the family farm that he had lived on as a child, and he transformed that into a campground, all while engineering and building by hand the family home. Never satisfied and always looking for a way to help, he transformed that campground into a mobile home park which he utilized to help people move into affordable homes for the first time when they could not afford to buy a home anywhere else.
These days in America where we have homes that are commonly valued at $200,000 or more and McMansions that kick off at $500,000 or more, we oftentimes take a negative view of mobile home parks. However, when my grandfather built his mobile home park back in the late 60s and early 70s, this was more like a recreation facility or park. This had been a place where people went on vacation. And he transformed it into a community for first time home buyers. You could go hiking through the woods, or swimming in the lake that he built by hand. He built all the infrastructure including water lines and sewer lines and natural gas. It was a good place to grow up, and that’s where I come from.
I grew up in the family business. My grandfather always challenged me to think smarter and do things better. That was not always easy, but he was a very demanding person. He could be the greatest guy in the world to help someone out whenever they needed help, and he often helped people even when it hurt him to help them. He was also extremely demanding of the people that worked with him and for him that went double for his family.
All these years later, I realize a couple things about that experience. He taught me how to essentially keep on trying and persevere. That was not an easy lesson to learn, but that’s what I came away with after all these years.
I picked up a few things from my parents as well. My father, my grandfather’s son, gave me something special as well. He gave me a gift that my grandfather was never quite able to give to my father. My father gave me the gift of being able to decide and choose what I wanted to do in life.
He never placed demands on me to do something that he wanted me to do (with the possible exception of working on cars as a hobby). All I ever really knew when I was growing up, was the fact that my dad wanted me to be able to do something that I enjoyed. He wanted me to be able to do, possibly, the things that he was unable to do. He wanted to make sure that I had great opportunities, and if possible better opportunities than he had had himself. It was that freedom to choose that was really exceptional coming from my dad.
Now that was bolstered by something special that my mother gave me as well. My mother gave me a love of reading books. I don’t know exactly how she gave this to me, and I wish I had the formula because I would love to be able to give this gift to my own kids some day. But somewhere along the way she gave me a love for books. My mother was a bookworm, and was always reading a book. Maybe it was just her good example, but somewhere along the way it rubbed off on me and I’ve been a bookworm ever since. Among other things, books gave me the chance to explore new ideas and new concepts and new worlds and new perspectives. They gave me a chance to reason out and reason through problems and situations that I could never in my wildest dreams experience in a single lifetime.
That additional perspective gave me a strong foundation to then pursue and chase after my dreams. My father gave me the freedom to wish for what I would. My grandfather gave me the persistence to keep pursuing that dream no matter what, along with the drive to constantly improve what I was doing and how I was doing it.
My grandfather never settled for anything, and was always looking for a better way to do things.
That brings me to my grandmother. She also gave me an interesting little gift. She gave me a level of empathy, I believe that has enabled me to do a couple unique things in life. I have a bit of a natural ability at gauging the potential in people.
Ergo What they are good at.
This has served me very well when I’ve worked in managerial positions throughout my career. I could always see peoples’ potential. I could not always gauge how well they would actually realize that potential. And I was not always best suited to help them realize that potential. But, I can almost always see it, and I could usually help them see it as well. How they chose to pursue it and develop it was really up to them. But it’s not always easy for a person to see their own potential. So I have a gift in being able to help others see that potential in themselves.
So that brings me to Sears. It brings me to Sears almost literally actually. You see one of the things about my grandfather, he was always looking for a better way to do things. He had the capability to make his own tools, in fact when he was growing up that’s how many tools were created. He didn’t necessarily have the luxury of being able to go to the store to buy new tools.
My grandfather was so handy, that at the age of 16, he built his own motorcycle from scratch. Now keep in mind, this was back during the Depression. It wasn’t like parts were lying around anywhere. It wasn’t like money was easy to find either to go buy parts.
He built his own motorcycle so that he could get back and forth to work on the farms and travel into Peoria, the closest city, and get a better job. Building a motorcycle from nothing is close to inventing, with the exception that my grandfather had the advantage of knowing it was possible. Still he engineered his motorcycle and that is pretty amazing, and probably extraordinary as well.
Later on in life as he was developing his business, he always looked for better ways to do things. He may have been able to build his own motorcycle, but if he saw a more efficient way to get from A to B, if he found a more affordable way to do that, he would seize that opportunity.
Now you have to understand something about my grandfather. He loved tools. It’s easy to understand why he loved tools, because tools enabled him to create his business and keep up his lifestyle. Tools put food on the plate for himself and his family. Tools built his home, the roof over his head, and put a roof over the heads of hundreds of people in the community that he built with his tools.
He coveted tools, possibly almost to and excessive level. However, that was understandable because they were so important to him. He definitely had an eye for tools that lasted, and he took care of his tools to ensure they did last. And you can probably guess where I’m going with this because almost everyone knows that Sears sells the best tools around made by Craftsman. My grandfather always used Craftsman tools whenever he could and that’s not a plug or endorsement for Sears that’s just the way it was. He always wanted the tools that were the best and lasted the longest. When he could, when they were the right tool for the job, that is what he bought.
So when I go to Sears it is very easy for me to get a reminder of my grandfather. I walk the aisles, and I see his workshops and Barns and work trucks filled with the tools that he had purchased and I had used myself when I worked for him.
So this journey made me next think about the tools that I needed to realize my own dreams. It made me think about the tools that the people I see potential in and what they need to use and learn how to master in order to achieve their dreams.
See my grandfather was big on helping people out. There were times that he would even make a wish or two come true. But there were also times when he would help someone out, and it would not actually help them. He might loan someone a large sum of money so they could buy a house. He might help them out of a sticky position or help them find an attorney if they got into trouble.
But sometimes those people never walked away from that situation with the ability to help themselves. They might end up in a similar problem or situation sometime down the road. It’s like that parable, if you give a man a fish; he eats for a day. If you give a man the ability to catch fish, he can eat for a lifetime.
My grandfather knew this as well, and he also knew that sometimes you have to feed a man today, so they can survive long enough to see tomorrow and learn how to fish. But for whatever reason, helping them to learn how to fish, proved challenging for my grandfather as it does for everyone.
I think it is important in life to try and improve upon those talents and gifts that we receive from our parents and grandparents. So as I try and chart my own course through life, I’m looking at the gifts I have received from both my grandparents and from my parents. Freedom from my father, and a wide perspective from my mother, and an empathy and understanding of potential in others from my grandmother, and my grandfather’s drive to help people improve the world around them.
So I went to Sears and I looked for things that might fit into that mold. I wanted to identify something that could actually live up to that concept. In classic stories, people open up the genie’s bottle and wish for something. And 10 times out of 10, the wish that they receive, usually is something completely unexpected. Sometimes it is even detrimental. It’s only after they figure out a way to master the situation themselves without a genie, only then in the stories are their wishes truly realized.
So as I go shopping this holiday season for the people that are important to me, I’m going to focus on finding those things that will help them realize their potential, realize how to master their own situations in life, and realize their own dreams and wishes.
We are heading into some very troubled economic times. The times of giving away frivolous gifts, stuffing stockings with junk and even providing multiple gifts to the people we love just to show them that we care really needs to end.
We need to provide a little bit more thought, and a little less quantity of stuff. If we can focus on the people we love and care about, and identify even just one little thing that might help them achieve their dreams, or save time to have more spare time to pursue their dreams. If we can help them to find a new path, a faster path or an improved path or a safer path towards their goals, then we will have done quite a bit to further their dreams and make their wishes come true.
I was reminded of all these things when I went to Sears, and it’s taken me a couple days to actually put it all in perspective. I was actually motivated quite a bit by one of the celebrity videos I saw on their website. It was created by this very artistic guy, maybe you have heard of him, he is named LL Cool J. As a musician, I like LL Cool J quite a bit. I would not say that he is my favorites rapper, but I definitely like some of his songs. “Going back to Cali” is probably my favorite LL Cool J song. Personally, I like him better as actor than a musician. I’m not trying to knock his musical capabilities, I just think that somewhere along the way he became such an interesting guy that it helped him also to become an exceptional actor. If you’ve seen him in the movie Last Holiday with Queen Latifah, you might know what I’m talking about.
I watched his video, and he talks about how he was given two turntables sans a microphone. When he started working with the turntables and learned how to mix music together, it opened up a whole new world for him. It literally did. He established a musical career that has advanced him far beyond just a kid playing with a toy a couple of times.
Now he’s definitely an exceptional guy and a very creative force. But his story about helping to realize his dreams with essentially the right tools, really struck home for me. I’m always looking for the right tools myself whether it’s a software program, or the right computer, or even finding the right camera. I have learned how to create videos and learned to do some interesting things editing them as well. Things that you would not normally expect from an accountant.
That’s right I am trained as an accountant. See I went to school and kind of went through the motions, and ended up not really choosing what I wanted to do in life. I double majored in finance and accounting, and I was an exceptional student. I was a good accountant and better financial analyst. Sears was even one of my accounts when I worked for Motorola.
But it wasn’t until fate threw me a curveball, that I realized that I didn’t really want to be an accountant. As an accountant I discovered that my employer was cooking the books and doing some very bad things. I became a whistleblower for the government, despite death threats from the company and more. Accounting didn’t seem like such a safe job any more, but I already knew that it wasn’t the career for me.
I finally did some soul searching and found what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a writer. There was a time before I went to school when I knew this, but I got sidetracked along the way.
So I had a wake-up call in life, and I realized that I wanted to be a writer. Since then a whole new world has opened up to me working in this new little industry called social media.
I have worked as a writer, and as a ghostwriter and as a copywriter. I‘ve even written an un-published novel. I’ve also worked in web design, and in marketing. I’ve worked in the field of search engine optimization, and in blog marketing. I’ve attended trade shows all over the country, and I even started to speak at trade shows myself sharing some of my experiences, helping others starting on this path to figure out how to realize their potential.
Now this whole process of going to Sears came to me because I started about a month ago looking at where I was going with this new career in social media. A company that I’ve known for several years, IZEA, decided to develop a program where they would work with bloggers on the inside. People familiar with their company and with blog marketing. They recruited about 10 of us ‘insiders’ into the IZEA Insider program. Now as part of this program, we’ve all been challenged to go to Sears and discover what the Grant a Wish program is really all about.
So as I look beyond my immediate family, and look out into the blogosphere and my extended blogging family, I see in Sears and in the Grant a Wish program the opportunity for people looking to explore their creative side and work in blogging or podcasting or even learning how to do video, I see an opportunity.
In fact, I saw the opportunity at Sears.
Nope it wasn’t a flat panel, although these did look amazing.
There are some very interesting tools at Sears. In this case I’m not exactly talking about Craftsman tools either. While I was at Sears the other night, I picked up an Aiptek HD video camera. It’s a small little camcorder that can record in high definition. I can attach it to my Xshot camera tripod extension, and I can use that to talk with you. I can use it to do a lot of different things.
I do enjoy writing, but sometimes video and pictures can convey more than words can. If you’ve actually read this article this far, you probably realize that I can be a little verbose. That’s okay, I’m not a journalist. I realize that I’m not a journalist and I don’t ever intend to become a journalist.
Video will help me to convey my ideas, and explore thoughts more succinctly and help me to find new ways to express myself. You yourself might even try a similar tool and learn to do the same thing. Maybe it will be something else that helps you tap your dreams and make your own wishes come true.
I’m a writer, and writers write. This is about the journey through the thought into the idea. I would suggest that probably the closest comparison to a blogger is a philosopher. The philosopher basically is working to think through an idea or concept toward some conclusion, or in rhetoric possibly think himself through many conclusions in circles even. That’s kind of what I see a blogger excelling at. Taking a look at something and doing a deep dive into it to find some perspective.
They can then take their readers with them on a journey through those ideas, and then experience something exceptional. So if you go to the store this holiday season whether it’s Sears or not, look at the products on the shelves and don’t envision gifts wrapped up under Christmas tree in nice neat stacks where each person gets the appropriate number of gifts in fairness and in price.
Look at the products on the shelf, and think how those products might be used by the people that receive them to un-tap their potential. If you can do that, if you can even get a little close, you will probably Grant a Wish to the person you love and I believe that the gift that they receive will not go to waste. Who knows you might even end up inspiring the next like LL cool J., who was inspired with two turntables. Maybe you will inspire your children like I was by my grandparents and my parents. Maybe you can provide some inspiration to someone that might just change the world, and if that’s true, then you will have changed the world a little bit for the better yourself!
Here are Some More Great Articles from Other Bloggers Covering the ‘Don’t Just Give a Gift, Grant a Wish’ Blog Event
|Ted Murphy||Liz Strauss||Joseph Jaffe|
|Chris Pirillo||Jim Kukral||Steve Spalding|
|Tamar Weinberg||Aaron Brazell||Andrew Bennett|
|Corrin Foster||Laurie Brosius||Just Julie|