My guest today is Lindsay Stein, the CEO of “Today, I'm Brave”; a global nonprofit focused on unlocking bravery in every child, teen and young adult around the world. Founded 5 years ago by David Angelo - the CEO of David&Goliath, their mission is to empower our youth to overcome their biggest obstacles in the areas of diversity, equity & inclusion; education; and health and wellness.
Before joining “Today, I’m Brave, Lindsay worked at Campaign Magazine, the world’s largest advertising trade publication. During her time there, she launched the Female Frontier Awards and Power of Purpose Awards, while expanding and evolving the Inclusivity and Creativity Awards.
I invited Lindsay to be a guest on my show to learn how a nonprofit organization like Today, I’m Brave establishes a strong brand. I wanted to learn what they do differently when to comes to their branding, and I was curious to learn what challenges covid has brought to the nonprofit world.
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Hi, I'm Joelly, your Branding Badass, and welcome to my new podcast. Branding matters. My guest today is Lindsey Stein, the CEO of Today I'm Brave, an incredible global nonprofit organization focused on unlocking bravery in every child, teen and young adult around the world. Founded five years ago by David Angelo, the CEO of David and Goliath. Their mission is to empower our youth to overcome their biggest obstacles in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, education and health and wellness. I invited Lindsay to be a guest on my show to learn how a nonprofit like today I'm brave, establishes such a strong brand. I wanted to learn what they do differently when it comes to their branding. And I was really curious to learn what challenges COVID has brought to the nonprofit world as a whole. Lindsay, welcome to branding matters. ThankLindsay Stein:
Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here.Joelly Goodson Lang:
I'm excited to have you here. So let's just get right into it. David Angelo, who founded today, I'm brave. He is the CEO of David and Goliath, which is a pretty well known ad agency. Can you tell us a little bit about David and what his motivation was for starting today on brave Oh, man.Lindsay Stein:
Yeah. First of all, David is just an incredible human. He is a warrior of light, and he's a force of all things good. He is really incredible. He's one of my mentors, with David has, like he has this thing about him where he always talks about living your truth, right. And he had a pretty hard life personally growing up, and I feel like his experiences really shaped who he is today. And when he found the David and Goliath and went through all of his trials and tribulations personally. And he found David Goliath, he found it with something he calls a brave culture. And that brave culture really just resonates within the whole agency. It's, it's in California, it's in LA, if you walk through it brave is all over the walls. They have a brave stage where they have interns go up at the end of their internship and do a speech or a talk. So that brave leadership and brave culture, something he founded even within David and Goliath, and then about five and a half, maybe six years ago, he was meditating actually, and out of meditation came this thought of, he really felt like he needed to help a village in Africa. He wanted to help children in Africa, he had this burning kind of desire, right that this was something he had to do. And then you ended up meeting Tiffany persons, shortly after who's the CEO of shine on Sierra Leone. And she sat with David and she was telling him how this village in Sierra Leone called Kono was devastated by civil war and the Ebola crisis. And they were really struggling 300 adults had just died, like pretty much wiping out a whole generation of adults in Kono and leaving 63 children orphaned. And in addition to that, there are only elementary schools on the verge of closing. So David was like, well, this is it. Like, I feel like I could help and inspire and we want to work with you. So our roots were in Kono in Sierra Leone, and they went there 7500 miles away. They brought this brave message and this brave curriculum, they kept the school open. But yeah, that's kind of the roots of today. I'm great. Wow.Joelly Goodson Lang:
And how did you become you? You seem fairly young, I'm guessing you're in your early 30s. Maybe? How did you become the CEO of this incredible organization.Unknown:
I met David, probably about seven years ago, I was a journalist for a long time covering marketing and advertising. When I met him, I think I was at odd age. And I was a reporter there. And I think I was covering some leadership changes or some campaigns. So that's how we met and then stayed industry friends, I did some panels with him where I moderated panels about purpose. And we always talked about purpose move on to just becoming quick friends, and he became a mentor of mine. So fast forward. About three years ago, I guess, like four years ago, now, I became the editor of campaign magazine, which is the world's largest screen of advertising magazine. It's based in London, but they have offices in Hong Kong, and they're in India and Turkey and all over. So when I joined as the editor for campaign us, my goal with my remit was to build the US presence, which was challenging, but super exciting. You know, we were the challenger brand. It's kind of our own David and Goliath story, really. But we went up against all these other publications. And I always said, even though it was a competition, it's not really there's so much to cover. And if anything, we kind of differentiated ourselves by covering purpose and our pillars around brand purpose, female empowerment, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and ageism. So while we did break a lot of stories, and I'm super proud of that, and that's why our, you know, our subscriptions went up and our revenue is great. We did really well, focusing on those pillars that were really something personally that I'm passionate about. But yeah, that's uh, that's how I met David and then transitioned over here in August 20 during the pandemic, which was an experience, but I think the pandemic really made everyone kind of rethink things and realize that, you know, maybe there's something else out there or something more they could be doing, and I think that's Kind of where I was I was at a point where I was like, I want to be doing more good in the world, but what more can I be doing. And when David came up to me with this opportunity, he was like, I founded this, and he's the head of the board. He's like, but I really want to invest in a leader to help bring it to life and tell the story around it. And that's what I was doing a campaign. So he was like, let's do it together.Joelly Goodson Lang:
So it's been a bit of a challenge, right? So where does the name come from today, I'm brave today. AndUnknown:
brave is just about the fact that you know, you are brave today. But also, you were brave yesterday was more about taking a stand today, regardless of what you're going through. And that could be a small, brave Act, or a large, brave act. But whatever that is, whatever's going on in your life today, you could say the statement that I am brave, and you can lift your own spirits, you can inspire others. And then you can bring that feeling and that voice into the world and bring it to the to tomorrow, right? Because what we say is that bravery is a force that's within all of us. And that's more than a mindset, right? And that force can help unlock so much within you. And you can overcome challenges that may seem insurmountable. So we say unlock because we do believe that bravery is ready innately within you within all of us. So we don't want to say we're giving you bravery, bravery is going to help, especially children, teens and young adults, which is our focus, unlock their own bravery. You know, IJoelly Goodson Lang:
love when you say unlock because I do believe that I think that we all have it inside of us. And we're conditioned to not tap into it or not even realize it and I think the people that we meet in our lives that come across the most adversity, and that the biggest struggles are probably really the bravest people. Absolutely. I mean, when you haven't really experience too much adversity or trauma or anything hard. How do you know until you come up against it? And so I love you know, one things I love is hearing people's stories. And you know, you mentioned david, and things that he's overcome and how he's giving back now, let's just say because he's tapped into his own bravery and become obviously very successful, and now is paying it forward and generous and helping other people actually, because those brave it forward. So like, I love that. I love that. No, it's so true. And and so you're sort of just guiding people. So you guys have three core pillars of change and inspiration. Can you share what those are and what they mean? Definitely,Unknown:
when I joined, they had done so many amazing things already. But it was a little bit all over the place. There wasn't like a main focus, right. So when they went from Sierra Leone, they went to children's hospitals and cancer wards and spread that brave message to children experienced, you know, really extreme illnesses and trying to overcome disease. And then they went to Puerto Rico and built 100 roofs in Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Irma and Maria, so on and so forth. They helped homeless youth in LA. So it was kind of always about children and youth. But that wasn't stated anywhere. So when I joined, I was like, we have to refine our focus and come down to like what our mission is, right? So after talking to the team who's super passionate, and they love what they do today and brave, we decided we want to focus, at least for the next three years will probably be longer on diversity, equity and inclusion, education and health and wellness. And we left it kind of broad, because those to us are areas that all they could all be braver, but it also you know, we can help inspire children in all those areas. We feel like, you know, the world in all industries and in all aspects thrives when it is more diverse and more inclusive. So that's, you know, obviously we want to help children really feel empowered around DNI education. Because, you know, for so many reasons, education is so important. And that's why David and Ileana, his wife are helping pay or they're going to pay for their 63 boyfriends to go to college, everything you know, goes down to if you are educated, you can then you know, pass on your learning. It doesn't mean you have to go to college. It's just you know, whatever education that is in your wheelhouse in your community, but you can help bring that learning and help another generation and then help them wellness in so many aspects, whether it's like physical fitness, but also mental health, especially right now, which is why we have a brief camp coming in July because that's around mental health piece for kids to kind of be disconnected from technology and being in touch with the outdoors. That's great.Joelly Goodson Lang:
Or you have a famous Ambassador or you have someone on your board that is pretty well known. Can you share who that is? Yeah,Unknown:
yes. So Rosie Perez is on our board. She has been amazing. She was a really, really good big part of the push in Puerto Rico or out of 100 groups. He's also friends with David and Ileana, so that that also helps there. Okay, all right. Yeah, she was great with that. We're hoping we'll do some more with her soon. But you know, in addition, like we have worked with other celebrities, like if you look on our website we had Rami Malek do a brief story before he won an Oscar and now I don't know we'll talk does it work? But let's go You got it. Yeah, yeah. And um so celebrities have been a big part of it. But honestly my favorite have been even some of the influencers are just like the big on Instagram quote unquote, like Nikita Phoenix, I think is incredible. She is one of our brand ambassadors and she also does a lot with the diversity and for young black girls. She's just incredible, but she's been there for us like every step of the way. And then like you know, tell you Locky is a 15 year old girl who was born with a rare disease. They For a zero chance to live literally zero chance to live she defied all odds she did live they did have amputate both of her arms from the elbow up but they call her the real life bionic girl She is an inspiration to so many adults and children all around the world and she actually has her own show on Skye in the UK. She's in Newcastle in England and she is incredible and she's I'm so proud to call her one of our brave ambassadors as well.Joelly Goodson Lang:
Wow, that is amazing. And her name again is Tilly Locky chili lucky Okay, yeah, she's incredible. Check her out for sure. Yeah, let's talk about branding. It's hard enough to try to raise funds when you're competing with so many other nonprofits that are all worthy and important. What's your strategy? Because I would assume that would be challenging in regular times. But now with what's going on in the world. I can't even imagine how much more challenging that would be, especially people are so many people are, you know, struggling financially and whatnot. So yeah. What's your strategy with your branding? Oh, man,Unknown:
Britta start on that. I guess the first thing I'll touch on is when they found the same grave, the goal was to partner with other nonprofits, because we do believe you know, all ships rise when you work together. So every single initiative they have done, and even what we are doing now is in partnership with another nonprofit. And we do feel like that partnership model works really well. We partner with about six nonprofits for an empathy math program that we launched in September, the mass say I care about you hashtag I care about you. And those funds 50% went to brave and then the other 50% went to you can choose from a drop down list. So there was several shelters for LGBT youth and for women and for children, and also Children's Defense Fund. And actually, Tilly was a big part of that, and really helped us push that out too. Even though she was in the UK, she really believes in that focus of empathy. And we all banded together for this pandemic, who knows, maybe it would have even been shorter. So that's like one of the goals was the whole thing was the mask came in packs, the tubes, those were one and share one and show the world your character does touch on branding a little bit too. So many people have told me they love the word brave because it means so many things to so many people. You know, it could mean standing up for what you believe in overcoming your fears coming out to your family, it could mean a jumping out of an aeroplane for skydiving, it could mean so many things getting a new tattoo, it could be something big or small, whatever it is, people wait when they wear it and wear our shirts, even wearing that brief message on your body is empowering. So I've had people tell me that they're wearing their brave shirt when they're going in for cancer treatment, for example. And that makes them feel braver just wearing it. Or we have these brave monster cars where we've had children read these brave mantras, and it just really helps them almost like affirmations. Right? If you're saying information in the morning, you're getting in the right mindset. So that's one way that we hope we break through a little bit. I know it's a bit broad.Joelly Goodson Lang:
So you want to own Yeah, brave, like yeah, people to associate. When they think of brave they you want them to think of your brand.Unknown:
Oh, yeah, definitely. And we have some new swag coming out soon. And some they were calling it brave wear and it looks so good. It does. It looks like awesome. I'm super pumped. Because it's something you also want to wear because it looks cool. But it also comes from a good place as well. ButJoelly Goodson Lang:
you touched on something that's my wheelhouse, obviously, you know, Volkswagen merchant everything, and I have these badass t shirts that I give out to people. And I get people riled up all the time wanting one and they you know, they want to wear it with pride, right? Because I mean, the way you sort of want to own brave, I want to own badass for my own. And they're not that far off. Really. I mean, a lot of the things you said are very similar. And what I define is, what about us means we you mentioned about people going in for cancer treatment and wearing that brave t shirt or whatever, there because there's so much meaning behind it. But there's that emotional connection, right? So when you talk about owning the word brave and using that in your branding, I think that's really powerful. And nobody else can really do that. Or they can do it. But for you to have that association, because ultimately you want people to think of you first.Unknown:
Exactly, exactly. And that's actually something we say too, we say that this is a kind of a suit of armor for your grandiose ideas and for your dreams and for the way you express yourself for your heart. In your mind, we kind of jokingly say this, but it kind of is true too, if we start to do like baseball caps, or beanies or something that's kind of like a thought protector of like keeping your positive thoughts within yourself, right? Because it's all we're calling a brave where because it gives you the permission to use your voice and deliver your truth. And when you wear it. You can be your whole self authentically and unapologetically. So that's why we're so excited about Oh,Joelly Goodson Lang:
I love that. Yeah, I got some great ideas for some braver, we're gonna kind of talk after this. Yeah, that's amazing. And the other thing I was thinking about too, when you're talking about brave, I would also say that to be brave, you have to be vulnerable. Maybe I should pose this as a question. So two statement, do you think that you can be brave without being vulnerable? Like do you think they're mutually exclusive? Or do you think they go together?Unknown:
That's a really good question. I personally think the bravest people are vulnerable. And there's even research that backs us up. And I've even done stories on this back in the day, but the best leaders in the world are vulnerable quote, unquote, the ones that open up and share with their teams and with their stuff, but they're going through and humanizing who they are. They're not just like a boss figure, Heather A real human right. And when you when you do that you open up to people. And you see that we're not all that dissimilar. We all have our own, like our own stuff going on. We're all humans, and we all have our own brave story. And I feel like if you're too guarded, it's not good for anybody, you're not going to be helping to be able to inspire anybody. If you're just like a talking head. That's not being real, right. So that's why we say living your truth. And I feel like in order to live your truth, you have to be vulnerable. And you have to be able to open up.Joelly Goodson Lang:
Yeah, because to be vulnerable. I mean, you're, you're exposing yourself, I think of words like vulnerability, risk taking, those are all things I think that you had brave as like the umbrella would come under that from my Absolutely.Unknown:
So like that quote, right, that famous quote that everything great in your life is on the other side of fear. Right? It's one of my favorite quotes. That's so true.Joelly Goodson Lang:
Yeah. Yeah. No, I love that. It's a great name. And you it's a great organization, what you guys are doing. So let me ask you, what was your first brave act that you want to share with us? Oh, first ever orUnknown:
taking this job, in a way sounds silly. But it's like I just love being a journalist. I was a bit scared taking this because it's completely different, a new and is the middle of a pandemic. So definitely that and then I guess on a more personal level, I like this is a really personal, but we're talking about vulnerability. So I am, I have no pressure here. Yeah, no, oh, no, you're fine. I, you know, I think it's when you do kind of realize who you are. And I was with somebody for almost 10 years. And I decided at that point, you know, that's kind of the point of your life for like, Oh, you get married or you you don't. And it was for me when I realized that I was kind of living someone else's truth. And that wasn't fair. And I needed to do something for me. And I needed to end that relationship in order to kind of live the life I wanted to live. So I feel like that was a brave act, for sure. Sometimes hard, but sometimes you need to do that in order to make sure you know who you are. Personally,Joelly Goodson Lang:
I can second that. Absolutely. Well, that was a great, brave act. I was gonna say bungee jumping for me.Lindsay Stein:
No, I list. Yeah, I think might be the next one. No, that'sJoelly Goodson Lang:
a good one, too. You know, I was just using it. I agree with you, too. I mean, I was in a relationship. I was married. And, you know, left that and started over starting overs is a huge leap of faith.Lindsay Stein:
Exactly. But so important. Mm hmm.Joelly Goodson Lang:
But you only live once. Right? So Exactly. Okay. So I want to go back to you mentioned earlier about partners, how do you choose the partners that you decide that you want to do with? And what regions? I mean, you mentioned Africa and different places, but are you looking at conquering the world? I mean, are you taking, you know, brave all over the globe?Unknown:
Yes, absolutely. That is Dave and I talked about that all the time. Obviously, you know, there won't be in three years, if I even be in six years. But eventually we want this to be we want people to be wearing our brave wear all around the world. And we believe that we can do that. And we want to be in children's hospitals and in kids are working on our branding up there. And we want like brave murals on the walls and maybe in the walls of high schools. So yes, that is definitely a goal for us to be global. And then what was our there's one more Canada, we don't have a partner Kansa yet. But if you know anyone, let me know. And in terms of brand partnerships, we do work with brands, and that is kind of you know, depends on the initiative and also their values and their purpose. We've worked with Keo a lot. And we have some brands, I'm not going to say yet because they're not 100% in yet, but once you say they're interested in the camp, and brave week, and I think right now, even though economically might be hard with the pandemic, I think a lot of brands and marketers are looking for ways to align themselves more with purpose. So in a way, like be a positive for us, even though we you know, it is also kind of a tough time.Joelly Goodson Lang:
You're obviously very, very, very passionate about, you know, not just brave, but it seems you're about helping the underdog and paying it forward. And you can see the passion oozing out of you. And you just it's just, it's infectious. And so I'm really actually glad that we connected and I look forward to working with you and you know, moving forward and beyond this. So if anyone wants to learn more about today, I'm brave or about you, what's the best way for them to connect withUnknown:
you? Oh, well, first of all, thank you. That made me blush. And I'm glad No. Instagram, I am definitely on that a lot. So that'd be a it's at Lindsay underscore Stein, but it's also the same at Lindsay underscore Stein on Twitter. And it's also that on clubhouse so pretty easy to find is the same on all three of those Facebook, same thing. And my email is Lindsey dot Stein at today and brave.org I actually put my email on my Twitter because I don't mind people directly emailing me. I might not answer you all right away, but I will definitely answer and for today I'm brave. Same thing on Instagram, you could dm and there's also a general on the website, which is today in brave.org. Today, I'm brave. Okay, great.Joelly Goodson Lang:
Okay, well, thank you again. I appreciate it. And I look forward to speaking with you and working with you in the near future.Unknown:
Yes. Thank you so much. I'm really, really happy that I got to be honest with you. I'm honored and I feel like our work together is definitely not done. So. Some good stuff coming. Sounds great.Joelly Goodson Lang:
All right. We'll talk to you soon. Thank you. Okay, bye. This episode of branding matters is brought to you by activate brand purpose. A new book written by business strategist Scott Goodson and chip Walker of strawberry frog featured on Bloomberg and an ink magazine. Activate brand purpose shows readers What is wrong with purpose and lays out a pragmatic roadmap for how CEOs ch arose, and CMOS can galvanize the people who matter inside the company and out in the process, leaders can transform the culture and habits of employees grow the company while making much needed positive impacts in our communities and in our world. Companies that activate purpose thrive. So go to activate brand purpose calm to get your hands on this summer's hottest read. And if you enjoyed what you heard today, please remember to rate and review on whatever platform you listen to. And if you want to learn more about me, the Branding Badass, you can find me on all social media under you guessed it, branding badass. Thanks again. And until next time, here's to all you badasses out there.