Giving Back, but Getting Much More in Return

I’m one of those true believers. I believe that if you send good into the universe, it will come back to you. I make it a part of my business, and recently, a non-profit who works with women just released from prison, asked me to lead a class on social media video and presentation for participants in their program.

Many of you – most of you – may wonder why these ladies would need an education on creating videos. I did too. How would these skills help recent convicts get a job in the outside world? Most of them had horrible histories of physical or sexual abuse. Nearly all had abused drugs or alcohol and were still dealing with pressures I would never understand. I didn’t think they would be applying for social media managers jobs.

Four women showed up for the first class; all had very different yet similar stories, all varying ages, all in different stages of recovery – and acceptance. None had any marketing or video experience. I could tell from the skeptical looks they gave each other they didn’t know what they could learn from me either.

I start all my workshops by showing people how to plan their videos, and writing a script to make sure they hit the right points. Like all my workshops attendees, these ladies had trouble keeping their script focused, they didn’t say enough, there was no ending. But as I worked with them I realized they struggled with how to present a different image for the future. They needed help crafting their stories. This, I could help with.

Our class lasted a month and each week different women attended, all except one woman. She showed up every time, did all the homework I assigned and while I worked with new students on scripting, she would practice her delivery in front of a mirror.  Once, I walked into a dark classroom. No one had shown up. I was about to leave when she came running, out of breath, apologizing for being late but had to wait until a roommate got home.

We practiced her delivery but mostly we worked on getting comfortable with her message. Because that’s the key. No matter what situation she found herself in, she had to know how to present herself and her story with confidence.

We worked for a month preparing for her final video. I had to get special permission to go to her apartment she shared with three other women in the program. Every visitor had to sign in and out, groceries were requested and rationed. Her video was a cooking demo, so she needed special ingredients, but she only received enough for one serving. So we only had one shot to get it right. She was super nervous, second guessing herself, but you know what, she nailed it. One try. She did a great job, the video looked good and she was so proud of herself! And so was I. She had worked so hard to overcome her own insecurities and self-doubts. She wrote me that before the class she had no interest in learning about video or social media, or marketing. But I made creating videos sound interesting, and I inspired her (I wish I could remember exactly what I said!)

I have to admit, watching her overcome obstacles I know nothing about, trying to rebuild a life she lost to an addiction, and face a future full of judgment, she inspired me. She is writing her script everyday, and rewriting it with every new challenge. And I like to think I had a small role in helping her find her voice.