Making a Difference One Step at a Time

Making a Difference One Step at a Time

In this episode, we have an engaging conversation with Amy McLaren, author of the inspiring book, “Passion to Purpose”. We discuss how legacy can be created through simple daily actions and the significance of living a purposeful life. Amy shares insightful advice on rekindling your passion and making time for activities that bring joy and fulfillment. Additionally, we delve into the importance of self-check-ins and the power of journaling to identify steps towards your passion. For more information about Amy, her book, and her charity, Village Impact, check out our show notes. A complimentary copy of Amy’s book is up for grabs for the first listener to reach out. Tune in and you could be the lucky one! Remember, making a difference begins with a decision to do so.

Host – Jason S Bradshaw

Guest – Amy McLaren



JASON: Hey, everyone, and welcome to the 1 percent Difference Show with me, your host, Jason S. Bradshaw. The 1 percent Difference Show is here for you to help you stand out and succeed. A 1 percent extra focus on customer experience, employee experience, brand experience, product experience, your business or your life is all the difference it takes.

Today's guest is definitely going to get you inspired and help you find or reconnect with your purpose. Our guest today is a busy mum of two who splits her time between leading lady strength, a growing online community of driven entrepreneurial women, growing an Airbnb business and being a hands on CEO at Village Impact, the charity that she and her husband founded more than a decade ago.

Village Impact partners with communities in rural Kenya to provide community led access to quality education and entrepreneurship opportunities. To date, Village Impact has built 14 schools that deliver nearly, sorry, that deliver education to nearly 5, 000 students daily. Today's guest is the one and only Amy McLaren.

Amy, welcome to the show.

AMY: Thank you so much for having me. It's great to see you.

JASON: It's great to connect with you after following you online for what feels like a long time. But in reality, it's only been a year or so. And I'm so grateful for that. Amy, my, you know, I think there's some listeners that are probably already feeling exhausted after that intro.

But, you know, a mom of two. Two or three different ventures, you know, the thought of running an Airbnb alone is making me feel exhausted, but, you know, would you mind sharing with the audience, you know, a bit more about your background and the journey that got you to write the book, Passion to Purpose, which we'll talk about soon, but where's your journey up to today?

AMY: Yeah, so first of all, I totally agree. It sounds completely exhausting, but I will tell you that that is not overnight. Like what I'm doing now has been the result of me following things that I'm passionate about and one thing leading to another that has built onto another. So I am multi passionate. I, as you know, like I have my Airbnb business, my nonprofit and my lady strength community, but my village impact charity really started first and then came my lady strength community a few years later and my Airbnb business just started about a year and a half ago.

So that is like a fairly new adventure. So that did not happen overnight. It's definitely over a 10 year period. But, in regards to my book and like where it came from, it really came from my husband and I speaking a lot on stages and talking about giving back and creating an impact in your daily life and for your business.

And we would often get off the stage and I'd have people come up to me and say, you know, I really want to give back. I really want to, but I can't right now. Or, you know, I don't know how to start a nonprofit or I'm not ready to. And it kind of after a while, it drove me crazy because I'm like, you don't have to start a big business.

You don't have to do what I did and start three businesses, start a nonprofit. Like that's just what I love to do. But you can have an impact today. Starting today by using your passion to do more good, you don't have to do all those things. Like you can have an impact by, you know, talking, connecting with people in your community, smiling at somebody, giving away a free painting, whatever it may be, or what you're passionate about.

You can use that as your vehicle to do more good. Which then becomes the purpose in your life.

JASON: So the new book, of course, is Passion to Purpose. Thankfully, the iPad changed there. It was the wrong way. A seven step journey to shed self doubt, find inspiration and change your life and the world for the better.

Now, you shared with us that, you know, nothing happened overnight. It was…


JASON: … So how did we get to starting a charity other than, you know, being on stage for sure, but education, Kenya, you know, that's a long way from Canada.

AMY: Yeah, totally. So let me take you back a few years back to, my roots, I guess as a child.

So I grew up in the UK. And I know I don't sound like I'm from England. I wish I did because all my family is there. It's only my mom, my dad, and my brothers that are here in Canada. But you know, when you move when you're 10 and I definitely didn't have the confidence my daughter does today, but like I didn't, I kind of would go home and I would start talking the Canadian way and then over time I lost my accent, but I did grow up in the UK and my parents were just really good at taking us to volunteer different places.

We were always helping people here and there and that kind of giving back. Threaded from when I was little into like my teenage years where I go to the shelters with my mom, homeless shelters, and we would help there. I then volunteered at the hospital. And so this kind of giving back continued into my early 20s.

And then at university I was volunteering at like the kids help phone line. But volunteering again at another hospital, doing all these things, and then also in that combined of giving was my passion for travel and, and new experiences and learning from other people again, starting when I was a little, a little kid or a teenager, where we had the opportunity to travel a lot in Europe.

But then once I hit my early 20s, late teens, I really dived into international travel in a big way. And I loved, you know, spending time in refugee camps and getting to know communities and learning alongside them and being part of that community. I mean, I lived with a Thai family for six weeks on, and learn about their culture and like really was immersed in their family.

And I just absolutely loved it. And that travel and giving back then led me to actually, funny enough, teachers college in Australia where I completed my master's and I taught up and this is the most amazing part of my whole trip. I mean, Australia is beautiful, absolutely. But I taught up in an Island called Corn Island up at the top near Papua New Guinea, like around that area with all those little islands.

And I taught up there for a while and I really enjoyed that. And kind of that snowballed into me coming home, traveling some more and then not settling down, but becoming a teacher, and I talk about this in my book where I had this journey of being a teacher and I liked it, but I never loved it. So I always knew that I wanted to get back to this whole travel, giving back piece somehow.

I didn't know what I was going to do, but I kept following that. And then one night, and it, and by no means was this big, glamorous, like, this was the turning point of my life, but it was one night, Stu and I sitting down on the couch on a Friday night, my husband and I, drinking wine, he was having some water, and we were watching Oprah's Big Gif.

And at that time, 10 years ago, the show was quite big. I enjoyed watching it and seeing this transformation she would have with the community and, you know, go in and help all these people. And I said to my husband, I'm like, that's it. Like, I want to do that again. I want to help. I want to help people.

And this was, I think, the second week of December. So bear in mind, at that point in my life, I'm still a teacher. But I'm still very restricted to what I could do, and what I couldn't do, and when I could take time off. And this was the second week of December, and he's like, Oh, that's great, babes. Like, when do you want to do it?

And I'm like, well, Christmas. Because, like, when else am I going to do it? And there's no way I'm waiting until summer, right? Like, that was an eternity away. So I said to him, you know what, you're really good at business. You figure out the business side. I'll organize the details to get this trip organized and we'll go help somewhere.

But I want to do it internationally because for me and my passion personally is overseas and completely different cultures. And, and that, that's part of what lights me up. So we, I found a contact in El Salvador. We raised some money. We raised about $14,000. We took it down to El Salvador, not literally, but it was my, you know, Visa card and debit card.

We helped a school down there. We lived with a small community and a family on the top of a mountain in the country there. And we helped an orphanage and we helped a school and it was amazing and I felt so lit up. And we came home and my husband was like, okay, I can kind of see what you're thinking.

We did another fundraiser the following year, same format, raised double what we raised the first time. Then we went to Ghana. Ghana was great, but I felt like I was putting a band aid on things, so I had to go back and rejig. And then we ended up in Kenya, where we built our first school. And then in a nutshell, that first school now has turned into 14 schools, and we have great partnerships with the government on the ground and other communities.

But it really did start with, you know, one thing after the next. Like, we never had a vision of starting a big nonprofit or starting a charity, we're just people that wanted to help and following things that we love to do. And I kept following that and one thing led to another and that's in a nutshell how it began 10 years ago.

JASON: Such an inspiring story. I recall in the book, and I'm not sure where, but there was a trip that you and Stu went on and there was a young child, a teenager perhaps that was making something, I can't remember, bracelets perhaps, I can't remember exactly what, but perhaps you could share that story because I loved how that, you know, just showed the, that it, it's not about a band aid, it's about actually doing something that change as a community and it can start with the smallest spark.

AMY: Yeah, it's the smallest thing. So that story that I share in my book was actually of the time when we went to Ghana. So we went to El Salvador first and then our second kind of charity trip in a sense was Ghana. And we had just went to the school. We were helping. We helped with a whole bunch of things.

And I share about this in my book where, you know, it was good, but I felt like we were just helping everywhere and we didn't have like a focus. But on that trip on the way back, we just come back from the school community. Sue and I were walking in the city just before our flight left like that evening.

But we were walking, down the street and there's, you know, several vendors. And if many of us have traveled before, maybe before COVID. And you know, you have people come up to try to sell you things, right? And can give you, I can give you a good deal. I can give you that. And Stu and I were like, no, thank you.

No, thank you. And we were actually quite not down in the dumps, but before that, we were actually in a horrific car accident. So, we were like, really kind of disheveled from everything we'd experienced in the car accident. We're walking down the street. We just wanted to get something to eat, get to the hotel, get on the plane, and like, come home.

And so we're walking down the street and this little boy is like, I'm gonna give you a good deal. I'll give you a good deal. And Stu's a bit more of a negotiator than I am and he's like, Well, he's like, what kind of good deal are you gonna give me? And he's like, I'll make you three bracelets for one. And so this little boy named King William had his, these bracelets that he was making.

And Stu and I were like, okay, but we're leaving in like two hours. Is that enough time? He's like, Oh, no problem. No problem. And we're like, okay. So at that time we put on our charity was world tea trade. So we put WTA and we asked him to put those on those three bracelets. And we kind of go in this restaurant and he sits down on the side of the room.

And he starts making these bracelets, and he's spinning, like, the cotton around and around. Then he gets out his candle and, like, burns the edge so they don't fray. And Stu and I are just, like, amazed, sitting there watching him do these bracelets. We come, he, Stu I stayed inside, and Stu went out to talk to him, and later on, we, you know, we asked him, are you going to school or, you know, what does it look, tell us a little bit about your family.

And he said, he's like, well, I did go to school, but now it's time for my siblings to go to school. Like I've had my opportunity, but now it's time for my brother and my sister. And we're like, well, how much are your school fees? And he said $80 or $100. And we were like, wow. And then, we came back and then we, Stu and I chatted a little bit, maybe how we can support him.

And then we went back out to talk to him again and he's showing us his bracelets, but then he also brings out a copy of his report card and he's showing us like his report card from two years ago about how he went to school and how he loves school and like his face was lighting up and we're like, wow.

Like you know, what kid, like my daughter, maybe it's a bit of an exception because she just loves reading and writing, but most kids don't carry around the report cards and are all excited. So we look at this report card and it was like, he'd only missed so many days and, you know, and he starts telling us about subjects he's enjoyed and we're like, okay.

So we're like, King William, which was his name, we said, if we give you 100 for your schooling, we will pay but we need you to send us your report card. And you have to maintain a certain average and we'll continue to pay your education. He's like, Oh, yes. And he was so excited. And we're like, that's awesome.

And then not really knowing, like you know, what will happen with that if it will pan out, if we'll ever hear from him again. But we did say use that 100 for school, nothing else. Like it has to go to school fees. And then like, you know, for the clock, six months later, seven months, Stu, I was teaching and then Stu was at home.

And at this time we didn't have iPhones or FaceTime. And he calls me when I was teaching and was like, Amy, like, on your next break, you've got to call me or call back because I have something to share with you. So I call back at recess, and he has this big package that arrived from Ghana. And the crazy thing is, we open the package, it's King William's report card.

So he shared his new report card with us. And then, it was like a whole product line of things he made. So we had bracelets, we had shoes, we had ties. And they were all color, create like all in our right colors for our branding. And then he even had some of them wrapped separately, and he put his email inside the seal so we could give them out to people who contact him.

And then it's just crazy. And so, of course, we continue to sponsor him through high school. But the most amazing thing is, and this is where you just never know how you can impact someone's life by the tiniest things you can do. Crazy thing is now today. So he made me three bracelets, you know, so many years ago.

He's made over, I think we're closing in on 18, 000 bracelets. He has made for us now for our different charitable events. So before COVID, when we were speaking on stages and having events, a lot of people that attended the event, and if they donated, got a chance to have their own personal bracelet, with the company logo on or whatever was happening at that event.

But you know, that one chance meetup has led to him starting his own business, employing a couple of his family members to help him. And then also him going through school.

JASON: Yeah, I love that story. And, and for me, it reinforces just the power of education as well. You know, we take education for granted in countries like Canada and Australia.

It's you, of course, your children's going to go to school. But in many parts of the world, you know, only going to school for part of their life is considered a blessing, let alone completing everything. I love in the story where Stu asked you to authenticate the report card.

AMY: I forget about ways that he did, like being a teacher for 10 years.

He's like, Amy, you've got to make sure if it's like, if it's good. And I'm thinking to myself, like how, I don't know, this is a completely different country. You don't know.

JASON: I actually, I was thinking about that as we were getting ready for the podcast for the show today, because I was writing something.

I'm like, Oh, my report card would say Jason can't write. So, some fun, absolutely phenomenal impact that you've had through the work that you do with village impact. And of course. With lady strength and the other activities that you undertake. I guess a question that come comes up when I talk to people about purpose is, and passion is, it just for a charity like is purpose just about charity and you know, a lot of your story is about village impact, but is the book for someone that's just looking at setting up a charity or?

AMY: Absolutely. Yeah. So the book really is, I wrote it with three kind of people in mind and I know that's like people say in business to niche out, but like, this is like basically three people, like it's the first person in life that is like. You know, where you're drifting around, you have no passions, you feel a bit frustrated.

And this was me at the beginning, because I would see, and not to compare, but sometimes we do, and you see other people doing all these things that, like, lights them up, and they have direction, and then I was sitting back thinking, I don't know what I'm going to do, like, I'm just going to keep following this one thing, but it's like that person that is drifting.

That was the first person I wrote it for. The second was someone that, you know, it's kind of lost themselves and that, you know, they wake up 15 years later and not let it really wake up in these later I'm like, how did I get here? Like this wasn't where I wanted to be like years ago I had all these intentions and wanted to do this. But all of a sudden life got busy things happened and and they're at a different spot but they're not where they wanted to be so for someone that's kind of Lost that connection to what they were passionate about over the years.

And then the third, the third person I wrote it for is those entrepreneurs and business owners that, you know, want to do more good. We all want to do more good, but I think they get to a point in their business. where they don't know how or are looking for ideas on how to integrate giving back and having an impact within your business.

So the book definitely isn't for starting a non profit. I use my non profit, I mean, and my husband and I as a form of giving back because it's connected to my passion. It's what I love to do, but we can all have an impact and it doesn't mean really like connecting to a nonprofit even like I think of myself like for Stu and I were really big on experiences and gifting experiences to people we're very big on that concept because in our family we, I would take experiences hands down over money any day right like experiences with my family.


AMY: with my family and my loved ones, close ones, even gifting that to a stranger is part of what we like to do as a family.

So that's also giving back. Do you know what I mean? Like taking two of our friends on an epic surprise trip to Fiji was one thing we did, but then it's also paying for a flight for someone to see family. Like there's so many different ways we can give back. It doesn't have to be through. A nonprofit, it can be being creative in your own personal life and in your business too.

And at the end of the day, it's just, you know, spreading the impact and doing good, and just doing more good in the world with the resources that we have.

JASON: I absolutely, absolutely believe in that message. Now there's seven steps that you share in your book.

AMY: Yeah.

JASON: Is there one of those steps that's your favorite?

AMY: Yeah, you know, someone else asked me that the other day and that's, it's so hard to pick because I have seven steps that I think are all equally important.


AMY: I think, you know, when I, there's stories in each one, but the biggest thing for me is, you know, just that I have a part called make an impact. And so, I'm just looking at here so I can share. So I have a part that’s make an impact So it’s like champion, others give back everyday and keep the why close to your heart.

And I mean it goes with the whole thing behind my book is just getting over that idea that we need to make so much money to make a difference, or we need to start a company to make a difference. Like if we can all focus on things that we love to do and use them as vehicles to do more good or help more people, the world would be, the world is amazing, but the world would be even more amazing, right?

If we just didn't get so hung up on thinking we have to donate millions of dollars or a thousand, like. We can show up today with what we have and still make a difference. So that's one of my favorite parts because it goes talks a lot about legacy to and legacy is such a big word, right? But it doesn't have to be a big word because it really is the little things that we do every day that creates that legacy at the end of the day.

JASON: Yeah, I have to say that was probably not a very fair question because when I was preparing for today I wrote down two favorite chapters. But I would have to say if I had to choose one, it would be the section on legacy. And that's because, you know, your legacy can be, you know, something that you created in a business that you worked in.

It can be, you know, it can be your entire life, obviously can leave a legacy and there's heaps of examples of that, but, you know, ultimately you start today, you need to choose to live a purpose filled life. And that's one of the great messages that come through in Passion to Purpose. Amy, anyone that's listening or watching this show today, how can they get a copy of the book or perhaps support the charity Village Impact?

AMY: Yeah. So to get a copy of the book, you can, first of all, buy it at any Canadians Indigo. So any bookstore that's out there, but you can get it at passiontopurposebook.com. We have it there with some cool bonuses. And then also on my site, Amy McLaren, go to amymclaren.com. It has links to all the good stuff about the charity and the business as well.

JASON: Fantastic. And we will have links to the book to village impact and Amy in the show notes, of course. And one listener, one audience member will also get a complimentary copy of Amy's book. All you have to do is shoot me an email. That's the challenge part, to get a copy of Amy's book, wherever you are in the world, be more than happy to ship a copy.

Now Amy's graciously agreed to stick around for the bonus section, which is free to anyone that subscribes and signs up to the podcast, to the show, at 1percentdifference.com. But before we jump into that, Amy, one last question for you before the bonus section, what's one thing you would encourage audience members to start doing as soon as they finish listening today?

AMY: I would absolutely take a moment by yourself, like completely in a spot that's quiet, no interruptions of kids, business, whatever it may be, and just, just take a second to check in on yourself and check in on your life and stop and like, you know just take a pen take a pencil and just do a tiny bit of journaling and that like you know, it's, it's really just identifying something that you can do to get closer to your passion.

So when I say do a check in on where you're at, like that could take a bit longer, but just be honest with yourself. I mean, I think when I moved from teacher to entrepreneur, I sat in that spot of doubt and worrying what people would think too long. And I didn't move. And so I just encourage you to really take a moment to think about where you're at.

And if there's something you're not doing that you're passionate about and that you've put off, just think about next week. Don't think about five years from now, one year from now, even three weeks from now. What can you do next week that is something that you love to do? Something that makes you smile, something that brings you joy, that you can put on your calendar.

Because when we're truly living you know, something we're passionate about or what we enjoy. It brings out the best version of who we are. And I want to show up for my kids and for my community and for my husband being the best version of myself. And I accomplish that by choosing joy or choosing something I love to do.

So just take a moment, identify maybe something you've left behind or something you haven't made time with and put it on your calendar for next week. For an hour, whether that's even Googling it or watching a show or calling a friend, like it can be the tiniest thing, but recognize it and put it on your calendar next week.

No, not next month, not next year, next week.

JASON: I absolutely love that. It's about getting something done and reconnecting with that passion and bringing some joy back. Of course, inside the book, Passion to Purpose, there are some excellent examples on how you can go deep and to reconnect with your passion and find your purpose again.

Amy, thanks for being on this part of the show. I look forward to diving into the bonus section with you in just a moment. And of course, for our audience members. There is all the links to Amy, to her book, Passion to Purpose and Village Impact in the show notes and on the website. I'm absolutely delighted to be able to share a copy of Amy's book with one audience member.

Remember, you just have to reach out to me directly and be the first to do so to get your copy. Thanks very much. And until next time, remember, you can make a difference. You just need to make the decision to do so.

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