Leader Spotlight: Bill Crawford, Team Mojo Foundation

If asked to describe the city of East Liverpool, Ohio, many people would likely use adjectives such as gross, empty, broken and sad. Well, compared to the booming pottery town that the city once was, those words aren’t far from the truth. Although the town and the people in it might be hurting, there is an organization working diligently to spread love and hope, specifically to the area youth.

Bill Crawford, founder and Executive Director of Team Mojo Foundation (TMF), was kind enough to share details of how his organization was created and how it has benefited the community.

TMF Logo
 

Q: In a nutshell, what is TMF?

A: Team Mojo Foundation is a 501c3 (IRS-recognized tax-exempt) nonprofit public charity registered in good standing with the State of Ohio, operating in the local tri-state area of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Our mission is to provide financial assistance to underprivileged K-12 aged children, to help them participate in events and activities that they may otherwise miss out on without our help.

 

Q: Where did the idea for TMF come from?

A: Nearly ten years ago both my sons were attending a youth basketball camp at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. The camp was great in that the coaches promoted character, discipline, responsibility and other positive traits, as well as basketball, and it was a weeklong overnight camp, a first for a lot of the kids. As I sat in the stands one evening watching the games I thought of all the kids who could really benefit from the camp but could never have the chance to participate due to the expense, as well as the logistics of getting there. That was when I had the epiphany to start a foundation that could “Help Kids Shine.”

 

Q: How did you know when you were ready for the next step (e.g., filing for tax-exempt status, recruiting board members, etc.)?

A: First, I waited; days, weeks. Just like when you have that idea to “build a better mousetrap”, I thought maybe this idea would wear off. But it didn’t, because there was no downside, it just made sense. Then I confided in some friends and associates, for feedback, mostly folks who had been involved in my “Team Mojo Army” movement- other people with similar interests who networked through physical fitness activities like my Spinning class at the local YMCA, cycling, running, etc. Team Mojo Foundation evolved from that Team Mojo Army concept that was centered on “positive energy” and “good karma.”

Bill with all 74 pages of the IRS 501c3 application.
Bill with all 74 pages of the IRS 501c3 application.

Q: What was the most challenging part of bringing TMF to life and how did you overcome it?

A: Money. Funding. Expenses. The IRS fee alone for a 501c3 was $850. So, like most startups, I asked for help from friends, family and other mojos. We started small, but when we achieved 501c3 status we were able to go for bigger and better grants and funding. The grants are out there, it just takes time and energy to research them and write them/apply for them. Fast-forward to today, the biggest challenge is finding time. We are 100% volunteer and I do all the busywork, it’s a huge challenge, but worth it.

 

Q: What qualities were you looking for when establishing your Board of Directors?

A: Good character, positive attitudes, folks who were selfless and genuinely interested in our mission of helping kids experience more.

The extremely talented TMF Board of Directors.
The extremely talented TMF Board of Directors.

Q: What factors do you think have helped TMF succeed?

A: Awareness first and foremost. It has taken several years to build up a presence in the community that makes people think of Team Mojo Foundation when a situation arises where a child needs assistance. Our network of teachers, coaches, community leaders, clergy, volunteers and other civic organizations has also helped us reach out to those in need.

 

Q: What types of events has TMF held so far?

A: We have done 5K runs/walks, dodge ball tournaments, corn hole tournaments, a church basketball league, farm animal exhibits, music concerts, hot dog sales, trunk-or-treat and more. Recently we’ve shifted our focus to “capital campaign” type of fundraising, however, as events tend to involve a tremendous amount of planning and preparation, with little financial gain.

 

TMF Music

TMF Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: How much support, financial and/or other, has TMF given back to the community?

A: Since 2010 we have provided over $80,000 in individual assistance to 1,500+ local children. In addition, we have invested $30,500 in the Newell (West Virginia) community by way of grants awarded through the East Liverpool Fawcett Community Foundation in the name of late Bob & Carolyn Wells, aimed at benefiting the children of Newell.

 

Q: Any future plans for TMF?

A: We’re hoping our “winter project” is a capital campaign to add to our funds that provide our daily individual assistance, since this is difficult to achieve through grants. We’d like to expand our coverage area but as a 100% volunteer organization it just isn’t feasible at this time.

 

Q:  Why did you choose the word “mojo?”

A: In June 2004, some friends (one of which is now a TMF VP) and I competed in a 4-man team adventure race in central Ohio.  At the registration table, they needed a team name, and I just came up with Team Mojo. We ended up coming in 1st in the race, and the name stuck, we used it for the “Team Mojo Army” movement, and later Team Mojo Foundation. Contrary to popular belief, mojo is not an acronym. It simply means positive energy, charm, magic or good karma, so it applies to our mission statement.

mo·jo

noun \ˈmō-(ˌ)jō\

: a power that may seem magical and that allows someone to be very effective, successful, etc.

 

Team Mojo Foundation definitely stands out as a leader in a community that needs leaders. Many hours of work and planning were spent creating the organization, and many hours of work and planning are being spent to help it succeed.

If you would like to donate to Team Mojo Foundation, please click here!

I am a man. I am a feminist.

This post will be unlike any other that I’ve written. To be more specific, this will be the first time that I weigh in on a national global issue.

GENDER EQUALITY

I’m going to get straight to the point: I respect women. Women are bold, brave and beautiful. They are strong, swift and smart. They construct bridges, fight wars, run companies, and fly planes and own business. They invent, advise, create, manage, build, guide, consult, design, write and sell. The list goes on and on. If it exists, a woman does it. That’s why I find myself perplexed by the idea that we as a people are battling with the issue of gender equality (or inequality, if you will).

My next sentence will come off as a cliché, but I can’t speak anything more truthful. If it weren’t for a woman, I wouldn’t be here. DUH, I WAS BORN, RIGHT? No. What I mean is many of the most important people in my life are women. Let me start from the beginning.

I’m fortunate enough to have grown up surrounded by women. Although there were some years when I was the annoying little brother, I consider myself very close to both of my big sisters. But while growing up, a point came when they were hardly bigger, just older. Whether they realized it or not, I quickly became “big” brother. The brother that wanted to be there when they needed help, the brother that would listen to their problems, and the brother that would stand up to any man that dared to hurt them.

Standing up for and supporting women is a characteristic that taught to me at an early age. I believe my mom is to thank for that. My mom taught me how to treat people. She guided me along the right path and made me realize early on that women have strength unlike any other; the strength to make tough decisions when other people are counting on you, the strength to provide and work and support yourself. She showed me that women have the strength to conquer fear and pain, not knowing what the future might bring.

That’s her. My mom.

I guess I’m among the group of lucky men that learned the value of women early on in life. Now, I’m sharing my life with an amazing woman. My wife inspires and supports me, and I try to do the same for her. She works hard to improve herself, whether through yoga or her photography business. She impresses me every single day, and I would defend her and shame any man that considers her unequal.

It’s clear that major gender issues plague this country, but I would like to address the current issue in the media about Emma Watson being threatened with nude images for her UN Goodwill Ambassador speech. Disgusting. That sums it up. I mean, to threaten a young woman that’s standing up for a movement that if successful can only make the world a better place? Come on, now. We can be better humans than that. Even though this has turned out to be a hoax, this type of behavior in unacceptable and should not be tolerated. Limiting the opportunities available to women accomplishes nothing. If we continue to do it, we will continue to miss out on ideas, creativity and advancements that women are currently fighting to contribute. We need to move on as one.

As a man, I almost feel the need to defend myself. I do not want to be grouped with other men that are willing to go beyond the deepest depths of hell to damage a woman’s reputation or image. But I feel like defending myself isn’t the best course of action. Instead, I promise to defend women. I promise to never use any sort of leverage to threaten or harm a woman. I promise to never assume a woman can’t do a job because she’s not a man. I promise to treat women equally as I would like to be treated. And I promise to stand up for women any time a fellow man decides to consider a woman as anything less than equal. If my feelings and actions make me a feminist, then I accept the title.

I'm committed. Are you?
I’m committed. Are you?

If you haven’t seen Emma’s speech, watch it now. She offers insight and statistics about men and women that are eye-opening and (should be) life changing. I’m proud that a fellow millennial is brave enough to use her platform for the greater good. She is definitely a leader worth following.

I’ve read over and over again that to succeed you need to be willing to change. Now is a good time to change. In Emma’s speech, she formally invites both men and woman to actively participate in the issue at hand. Well, Miss Watson, I accept your invitation. Join me by visiting www.heforshe.org and committing to gender equality.

Leadership Skills for Cyclists

What do you get when you combine six men, bicycles and 50+ miles of bike trail? A weekend full of smooth riding, plenty of laughs and yes, LEADERSHIP!

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I recently went on an overnight bike trip with five other gentlemen from my hometown. The weekend started on Friday evening when we met in Xenia, Ohio for dinner. We found ourselves at Nick’s Restaurant, where it also happened to be karaoke night! Although nobody in my group participated, we enjoyed listening to the other brave souls try their best at popular (and some unpopular) songs.

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On Saturday morning we departed for our destination, Mariemont, Ohio, a town just four miles from Cincinnati. We spent the night at the Mariemont Inn (Best Western Premier), which turned out to be one of the neatest hotels I’ve ever stayed in (be sure to watch the bonus video at the bottom)! After a satisfying dinner at Dilly and some much-needed rest, we returned back to Xenia on Sunday.

Both days of riding were completed safely, and that’s not by chance. The first few miles of riding were pretty slow as we warmed up on Saturday, but as the day went on and we put more trail behind us, it was easy to see how leadership skills are used while riding in a group!

  1. Communication – Just as good leaders communicate to their team, you must constantly be ready to communicate what your next move is in order to safely ride in a group and/or on a trail with other people. We ended up sharing the trail with a relay event for runners that stretched from Cincinnati to Dayton. The rider in the front would call out “runner up” to inform the others in the group. Others calls were used to inform people that we were passing, or to signal if it was safe to proceed through a road crossing.
  2. Teamwork – Where you position yourself in the group is extremely important for the safety of the other riders. It’s nice to ride close to others for conversational purposes, but it can also be unsafe. Each member of my group was sure not to ride too closely behind another. This made it safer for the rider in front to slow down if needed and also, if riding two abreast, gave riders a chance to move over for oncoming traffic. This type of teamwork is crucial for the prevention crashes!
  3. Expertise – Different leaders can have different skill sets. If you’re going to participate in a sport such as cycling, it helps to know a thing or two about the bike you’re riding. Several members of my group were able to share different kinds of information. For instance, one rider expressed to another that the height of his bike seat was unsafe, which could cause unnecessary strain or injury while a different rider was able to make quick mechanical adjustments to a bike to correct shifting errors.

As the ride came to a close on Sunday, I had ridden nearly 150 miles. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or new to the sport, I strongly suggest venturing to Xenia, Ohio to ride the many trails the town has to offer.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s bike trip. I wonder where we’ll go?

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FTL is back!

I started this blog nearly one year ago with the intention of sharing leadership insights and other related information to readers. I stated in my first post that I’m not an expert on the subject, but somewhere along the way I began pressuring myself into coming up with topics and posts that were probably beyond my skill level.

After taking some time off from writing I now realize what I need to do. I’m going back to the basics. Future posts will be more personal and simple. I’ll share information and insights that I gain from time to time. I’ll share stories that highlight leadership, communication or just “how to be a good person” situations. And finally, I’ll continue to post “Leader Spotlights” because I still believe that great people deserve some recognition.

I want to thank everyone who has subscribed to Follow that Leader, anyone who has clicked on my social media posts and anyone who has shown any bit of support whatsoever.

Stop back on Tuesday when I’ll tell you how leadership and communication were tied into a 130+ mile bike trip I recently took!

Have a great day!

3 Reasons you should be watching TED Talks

Technology. Entertainment. Design.

Do those words mean anything to you? If not, they should. The first letter of each of those words creates the acronym that has swept the globe, TED.

TED is a non-profit organization with the tagline: “ideas worth spreading.” Ideas are spread by speakers that are given a platform to deliver a short speech about an idea (typically 18 minutes or less). The speeches are delivered to an audience at a conference or TEDx event, but are also recorded and shared online.

ImageI’ve been watching TED Talks for about a year now, but TED is not new by any means. TED was formed in 1984 and initially covered the three topics that create the name, but now almost all topics are covered. Within the library of 1700+ Ted Talks posted to http://www.ted.com, you will find talks about career advice, scientific research and new entrepreneurial ventures.

Here are 3 reasons you should start watching TED Talks:

  1. You will be inspired. Some talks are delivered so well about topics so deep, that you just might find a spark within yourself. Maybe you’ll be inspired to finally do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. You’ll definitely find inspiration in ‘The difference between winning and succeeding’ by John Wooden.
  2. You will be entertained. The speakers are carefully chosen by TED and are usually among the best at their respective topic. Because of that, they are able to deliver the idea better than anyone else. Some are humorous, some are dramatic and some are powerful. One way or another, you will be entertained. If you’re into social media, you’ll be entertained by ‘Gotta share!’ by Improv Everywhere.
  3. You will be informed. TED Talks are a great way to learn something new. I’ve never had the desire to learn about the magnificence of spider silk, but it was easy to watch the 15-minute speech about it. You’ll find many fascinating topics regardless of what you’re interested in, and odds are you’ll open your mind to other bits of information. Ever wonder why we use “x” in mathematics? Watch ‘Why is ‘x’ the unknown’ by Terry Moore.

There are many easy ways to view the talks. You can watch them on Netflix, YouTube or TED.com. Just remember that any time you see those bold, red letters and have the time to watch a few talks, it will be time worth spending on “ideas worth spreading.” When you do watch some TED Talks (or if you’ve been watching) be sure to let me know if you have any favorites!

Thanks for reading!

 

Here is a list of my top 5 favorites (in no particular order):

  1. Be passionate. Be creative. Be your best. by Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly
  2. A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter by Mark Bezos
  3. Never, ever give up by Diana Nyad
  4. The art of misdirection by Apollo Robins
  5. Optical illusions show how we see by Beau Lotto

Learning to Speak with Toastmasters International

This past January I joined my local Toastmasters International club. Before then, I had never heard of this organization. I was actually advised to join by a professional speaker that is a role model of mine.

The first meeting I went to was interesting. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I was very pleased with the experience. Of course I arrived early, and was greeted by multiple members of the club. I was there for five minutes and already felt like a member of the group. I took a seat with plans to observe. I viewed the detailed agenda and waited for the meeting to start.  I observed how the meeting was structured and how it followed the agenda exactly. I was impressed. I was happy to see people deliver speeches, as well as the evaluations that were given on their performances. I followed my plan to observe until it was time for the Table Topics section of the meeting.

As a guest of the meeting, I volunteered to participate in the Table Topics by delivering a brief 1 to 2 minute speech about a topic given without notice. I was a bit nervous, but at the end of the meeting I was voted to have the best Table Topic speech! By the time the meeting came to an end, I was hooked. I knew for sure that I would join, and couldn’t wait to officially join at the next meeting.

Just last night I delivered my first speech from the Competent Communication manual, the Ice Breaker. The Ice Breaker is designed to help the speaker become comfortable by allowing them to introduce themselves to the rest of the group. This is the first of ten speeches that qualify a member to earn the Competent Communicator designation. I’m happy to say that I did well! I delivered a solid speech, but of course I have room to improve. That’s why everyone is there!

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If you have a desire to improve you speaking skills, I highly suggest you find the nearest Toastmasters club. The organization offers a no-pressure, extremely supportive environment where each member shares similar goals. Other than giving speeches, the club offers numerous ways of being involved, such as evaluating, timing or offering the Thought of the Day.

Do you belong to a Toastmasters International club? Is there something else you do or have done to improve your speaking skills? If so, I would love to hear from you!

 

3 Ways to Accomplish Goals in 2014

How was your 2013?

It’s time for performance reviews at work, so I’ve been reflecting on my professional accomplishments (and short-comings) that happened in 2013. Performance reviews don’t necessarily have to be for the professional part of your life. It’s just as easy to review personal accomplishments, no matter what they may be.

I’m going to share some of the best parts of my 2013, both personal and professional. Then I’ll share some tips that will help you have a great 2014.

2013 in review:

  • Celebrated one year at my company.
  • Threw a surprise birthday party for my wife.
  • Moved into a new position at work.
  • Celebrated one year of marriage.
  • Started this blog.

I find it to be healthy to think back over the past year. What did you do well? What did you do not so well? Did something amazing happen? Be sure to ask yourself those questions, among others, to figure out how well you’re doing at accomplishing goals.

Here are three things you can do now to make 2014 your best year yet.

  1. Make a list-Think about what goals you want to accomplish and write them down. People also tend to accomplish goals if they make them public, so share your goals with friends and family. You might even find a source of motivation and support.
  2. Prioritize- Make sure you’re spending your time wisely by focusing on things that are most important to you. It’s easy to get distracted by smaller tasks, so stay focused on your priorities.
  3. Set a date- Give yourself a deadline for completing goals. This can be done while you’re prioritizing your goals. Be realistic with your timeline. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Image courtesy of pakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether you want to accomplish life-long goals or just your New Year’s resolution, it’s not too late cross them off your list. If you find the proper motivation and commit to yourself, you’re bound to have a great year.

Here is one of my favorite quotes about goals:

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what your become by  achieving your goals.” -Henry David Thoreau

How was your 2013? I’d love to hear about some of the great things that happened!