I wonder: They say that millennials are always seeking purpose… but how many people go from surface-level “seeking”, to concretely helping solve problems that matter?

I want to share with you a quote, perhaps one of my favorite quotes EVER – and it’s from this inspiringly honest interview I did with Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, co-founder of Rags2Riches, one of the pioneer social enterprises in Asia, on The Purposeful Creative podcast, episode 15.

“Before, [my relationship with purpose] was very image-driven. ‘Okay, I will look like a good person [if I help people], I’m amazing, I’m such a great entrepreneur.’ But it has evolved… it becomes less about yourself. It became less about how it will look like on me, and to how it will look like in the world.”

Could you relate? Because I totally can. In the beginning, my pursuit of purpose was very… surface-level. I wanted to do good, because it made me feel good to help.

And the reason I shared this quote is because lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about that — the evolution of my purpose — about hope, about peace, about action, and what my role is as a creative in this crazy, beautiful, broken world.

There’s a sharp pang of guilt I feel when I see headlines & my knee-jerk reaction is to subtly scroll past them. I hate to admit it, but I’m becoming desensitized to the news. I already shared about this guilt in one of my newsletters last week, and I asked my community — if you were not afraid, what would you stand for (or against)?

I was not prepared for the avalanche of responses: I received over a hundred stories, people from all over sharing stories about how they feel the same helplessness and smallness in the face of all the seemingly insurmountable problems the world now faces.

But what was even more incredible was that they also shared A LOT of dreams with me. It was so inspiring to be at the receiving end of so many stories of hope: people in our community who are still hoping for a better world.

“Some people wanted to stand up for peace, for education, for the environment, for access to basic healthcare, for animal rights, for mental health, for the protection of indigenous tribes. There were also people wanted to stand against human trafficking and sexual abuse, against fake news, against wasteful fast fashion.”

The more emails I read, the bigger these two thoughts grew inside me:

  1. Contrary to what we see on so many comment sections, there are still a lot of good people in this world. These people care. These people want to help.
  2. There are so, so, so many opportunities to help. “Making a difference” is not a one-size-fits-all activity. You can choose to help with whatever cause or advocacy feels closest to you or your experiences. There is no shortage of problems to solve, especially now.
Funnily enough, point #2 is something I touched on in my TEDx talk way back in 2012. I was so young, I didn’t have a lot of experience yet back then, but you know what’s kinda amazing, looking back at it?

My core beliefs and values and my Why remain the same. My message to my community remains the same.

If you’re interested, you can watch that TEDx talk below. I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Maria Ressa of Rappler, Dylan Wilk of Human Heart Nature, Anna Oposa of Save the Philippine Seas, among others!

But as I was contemplating these 2 big thoughts, I also started simmering in a Big Question:

  • There are many skilled, talented, amazing people who are aware of problems (as well as advocacies and organizations), and people wanting to help.
  • BUT! There is a gap between awareness & the desire to help — and actually doing it.

Why is the gap there? And I wonder how we can close it…

Obviously, I don’t have the answer. I’m not in a rush to find an answer right now*. But I’m curious, and I really, really, genuinely want to understand. Why is there a gap?

*Normally, people – even with the best intentions! – try and rush to solutions: Oh, you should have this, or you should do that. But I find immense value in diving deep into the problem first — listening to people and really understanding them, especially their unspoken and underlying needs. I mean, if anything, what the world needs more of right now — are for people to listen to each other more.

So right now, I’m talking to my learning community and asking them to share stories about the times they’ve joined, participated, or donated to any of these charities, foundations, or advocacy programs.

My hope is that in collecting these stories from a diverse set of people, I can understand the gap beyond the surface level, and eventually, be able help in creating solutions to close it.


But here’s one concrete thing that The Purposeful Creative is doing…

So my 2017 batch of Purpose-Driven Branding students are graduating from the VIP/guided community next week — and each of the graduates, aside from receiving a certificate of completion, will have a Dream Kit* donated in their name, to a child in Marawi, Mindanao.

Our chosen partner-in-growth for this class is the Teach Peach Build Peace Movement. Their mission is to build a Peace Culture in the Philippines, by creating schools and communities of peace heroes. They do peace education missions, where they conduct different activities which include peace mural painting, sketchpad project workshop, peace gifts distribution, peace play cafe with children, kwentuhan session (assessment) with the teachers, parents, religious leaders, youth and community leaders.

If you also want to support them, here’s how you can donate a Dream Kit.


Want more inspiration about pursuing your purpose, or starting your journey towards it?

Here’s the podcast episode where I interview Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, and we talk about her journey in purpose, and starting and growing her social enterprise (she’s been at it for almost 8 years!). She’s one of the most amazing people I know, and I promise, you will pick up so many life + purpose lessons from this episode.

If that’s something interesting to you, and you want to listen to that, you can either:

  • Press play above above listen from your browser with the embedded player
  • Or, if you’re on your desktop and you have iTunes, you can click this link and it’ll take you there. (Episode 15)
  • Or, if you’re on an iPhone – you can go to your Podcasts app, and search for The Purposeful Creative Episode 5
  • Or, if you’re on Android – you can download any podcast app, my favorite is Stitcher, and search for The Purposeful Creative and go to Episode 15.

NOTE: What I like about podcasts is that I can listen to it anywhere, any time, whether I’m stuck in traffic, working out, or doing errands. It’s a great way to learn on-the-go without having to look at your screen.


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