[Primary focus: audiences of investors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals]
Looking for ways to "give back?" Graham leads off by telling the inspiring stories of "Giraffe Heroes"-people honored by his organization, the Giraffe Heroes Project for sticking their necks out to help solve pressing public problems. Why do these heroes do what they do? Why do they take these risks?
In 33 years of asking these questions, the answers are clear: Giraffe Heroes are motivated by the personal meaning their actions add to their lives, meaning flowing from helping solve important public problems, from making life better for other people.
After decades of climbing mountains and dodging bullets in wars and revolutions around the globe. Graham shares the stories of how he painfully learned the same lessons--that the secret to a life of meaning is giving back.
Then he challenges his audiences: what can each of them do to leverage the skills, contacts and resources that already sustain their business lives to help solve a public problem significant to them? Graham's challenges are tough but in the language his audiences understand. Everyone has unique opportunities to make a difference, he says. What public problem has your name on it? Find that problem, and then tackle it with everything you've got. It'll help solve the problem; and it'll add meaning, passion and deep satisfaction to your own life.
[Focus: leaders and leaders-to-be]
How can you improve your effectiveness as a leader, building on what you already know? John Graham, author of Outdoor Leadership, offers insights and practical tips from forty years of experience on mountain-climbing teams, in Vietnam, at the UN, as an environmental activist and in the nonprofit world. “The core of good leadership,” he says, “is a lot more than making tough decisions and handling conflicts. It’s also about developing trust, communicating with sensitivity, balancing head with heart—and inspiring others with a clear and compelling vision of success.”
[Focus: high school kids]
Teens pay attention when John Graham asks them what they care about. The author of It’s Up to Us, a handbook for teens, Graham uses an easy tone and style, and plenty of dramatic stories, to show students that nothing is more important than living a meaningful life, and that the surest path to that meaning is service. “You can find thousands of ways to make a difference,” he says, as he offers practical tools for the search. “Find the ones that excite you and go for them with everything you’ve got.”
[Focus: organization conferences]
How do you keep the vision in your organization bright, the goals sharp, and the people in it working with passion and commitment? Let author, storyteller activist and former diplomat John Graham help you build on the fire and purpose you started with. “There’s tremendous motivation in doing work you know is meaningful,” he says; “meaning is the source of vision, passion and strength, for individuals and for organizations. Connect with that meaning and you’re unstoppable.” John’s message is serious, but his style is informal and humorous, laced with stories from his adventurous life, and from the lives of the heroes honored by the Giraffe Heroes Project.
Thirty-four years ago, John Graham was nearly killed when the cruise ship he was lecturing on burned and sank in the freezing waters of the Gulf of Alaska. Rescued at the last moment as a typhoon engulfed his lifeboat, he emerged with a sense of direction and purpose that hasn't wavered. "All of us want meaningful lives," he says now, "but we don't have to face death to find them. The guiding signs are all around us, most of them small and subtle—I just ignored them." No matter what your situation in life, don't settle for just taking up space—find the meaning you're looking for in service, in committing to ideals beyond your personal needs. Let Graham help you find or renew the passion for what you care about—then go after it with everything you've got.