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“Simple Acts to Change the World” Book

17 Jul

Amy Neumann is a social good fanatic who has been working professionally to help create positive change since 1994. After spending sixteen years in Los Angeles with companies like AT&T and Yahoo and working on national and international nonprofit projects, Amy returned to Cleveland.

She is involved with industrious organizations and individuals daily at Case Western Reserve University’s collaborative First Year Cleveland project to reduce infant mortality, where she leads marketing and communications.  An entrepreneur by nature, Amy also founded a startup nonprofit called Free Tech for Nonprofits in 2017 to help small nonprofits do more of their important work faster through smart technology and communication strategy.

Amy speaks often, at events like Dell’s Social Innovation Conference and ASU’s Sustainability Conference.  She is widely published, including as a contributor to Forbes, an author of PR News’ Crisis Management Guidebook, and a columnist for Huffington Post.  Because she can’t get enough of innovative world-changers, Amy also publishes under her social enterprise consultancy, Good Plus Tech, as well as her passion project,

Amy’s book “Simple Acts to Change the World” – part of the Simple Acts series from Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster – will be published on October 16, 2018, and is available for pre-order now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Simple Acts to Change the World Book Cover Amy Neumann

Feeling…Furious? 11 Ways to Channel Anger Into Productive Things

20 Aug

It’s safe to say we’re all feeling a little furious on occasion these days, for whatever reason.

Politics is only one reason we get “up in arms.” So whatever your particular reason is for feeling anxious and wanting to make a change, here are some useful and productive outlets to channel the fury.

Volunteer – Any charity would love to have your passion! Find a local place to spend some time helping at Volunteer Match.

Write – Express your ideas (kindly, please) by sharing them. Beyond Facebook and Twitter, try writing an article on LinkedIn or blogging.

Learn – The world is your oyster! Most universities now have Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) so you can learn almost anything from university professors, for free. Say yes to History!

HelpRandom Acts of Kindness are proven to make you feel better. Try helping a stranger today!

Plan – Whatever amazing things you’ve been wanting to do, start doing it! Plan the first step. Action makes everything better.

Protest/ Counter-Protest – Google your interest and where and when people are joining the cause. Everyone makes a difference!

Advocate – Even sharing a post on Facebook or Twitter can go a long way, when many people act together. Share your passion with others! It only takes one person to inspire another person.

Harness Energy – If you know people who might feel like you do, ask them to join in your efforts, whatever they may be. Passionate people draw other passionate people. Before you know it, you’ll have a passionate crowd!

Move – Walk, hike, run, kick-box, bike, etc. Get outside (or inside.) But get into The Zone. Whether you like total silence or LOUD music when you want to think, go there. Get space. Space lets your brain create new things, unobstructed.

There’s much more positive in the world than negative.   Channel your energy where it feels good.  Spend your time and energy making a difference.


Listen – Ask other people, ones who agree, and ones who disagree, for their views, and listen.

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new. – Dalai Lama

Network – Find a community of people who care as much about your passion as you do on Meetup or another site. Be careful not to “shout into the wind” and only listen to the same views, but being among other passionate people discussing things and venting can be cathartic.

These may not be easy times, but they can certainly be growth times!

Please share your ideas and thoughts in the comments.  Thanks for being passionate!

If Jeff Bezos Gave You a Billion Dollars, What Would You Do?

18 Jul

It could be Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, or another favorite Billionaire. The point of the question is, to ask yourself what you’d do if money and time (and therefore freedom) were unlimited.

If you removed any obstacles from your current thinking – if there were literally no barriers for you do anything you want, forever – what exactly would you do?

I’ve asked hundreds of people this question in some form or another in 20+ years. Often, I am surprised to learn that many people have never thought about what they really want. They haven’t really considered the, “What’s YOUR dream?” question.

If you don’t know the answer, which is OK, then how do you know what you really want? More importantly, how do you know if you already have it? (Which is a fantastic answer, BTW.)

Although I’m not a life coach, I do occasionally play one on TV, as they say. I am genuinely curious about what makes friends, family, and colleagues tick, so I ask them. Often.

Big dreams don’t have to be unrealistic!  First, though, it’s critical to know what your dreams truly are.  Maybe you’re already living them?

After you think about the cool things you would buy for yourself and others, what you would give to charity, and the fabulous trips you would take, what about the rest of your life?

How do your family and friends enter your mind? Often, people say they’d spend most or all of their time with their family. Great! This might mean you’d love more work/life balance. So, things like paying someone to do yard work or housekeeping on occasion to free up an extra weekend day to spend with family might make sense.

Sometimes, people share overarching dreams like “Join the Peace Corps,” “Write a book,” “Get a PhD,” or other similarly BIG things.

We all have a book in us!  Writing a few snippets first is easy.  Add them together for a book!

Happily, pieces of these dreams are often readily, even freely, available to do right now (in a less-dramatic fashion.)

For example:

The Peace Corps is amazing but can be impractical for people with families and jobs.  How about volunteering for a couple hours a month to start?

  • “Write a book” can translate into writing a book that can be self-published and sold on Amazon. Even easier, how about a blog? Easier yet, how about a LinkedIn post?
  • “Get a PhD” can translate into learning something of interest. MIT and other universities offer most of their classes for free online for curious types (not for credit.) You can download apps to learn languages, listen to TED Talks, or download free audio books to listen during your commute. Anything you have an interest in, you can probably learn a PhD-worth, for free.

Do you really want a PhD, or are you simply excited to learn a lot about something interesting?

The goal is, to really ask yourself the question: “What would I do if there were no time or money limitations on my life?”

Because after a little thought, it usually points you to your passion. And once you unearth that gem, everything might get just a little bit more fun.

The biggest hidden treasure might be the answer to what you’d do if you had a billion dollars.

Big dreams start with small steps. So while we are all waiting for those billion-dollar checks, if we know what we really care most passionately about, we can start with a few little steps right now that will help us feel happier and more complete.

I’d love to hear from you about any ideas or insights! Please leave a comment or connect with me @CharityIdeas on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Know The Risks of Prescription #Opioids: #KnowTheRx

15 Jun

A few years ago, I knew next to nothing about opioids. In fact, the word “opioids” really didn’t connect any dots in my head.  I didn’t connect “opioids” to the rampant “pain medication” overdoses.  If you said “heroin,” I had a vague idea of the topic. Also, the word “heroin” conjured up many outdated and misinformed ideas from movies, and things I read long ago.


In the past couple years, all that changed. A young relative by marriage overdosed on heroin. High school kids whose parents and friends I knew overdosed on prescription pills. I saw the news stories on the tragedies of opioid overdoses, and related horror stories, growing more and more frequent.

[Already thinking of a tragic example of a friend, relative, coworker, or someone else who has shared a similar sad fate?  Then you are normal.  It’s either directly, or one level removed, impacted nearly everyone.  It’s everywhere.]

Turns out, whatever we thought we knew about opioid and heroin addiction was all wrong.

So I started getting involved in a few organizations aiming to help educate people about the dangers of opioids (heroin is only one form of opiate, and typically the last resort for addicts.)

Currently, I am passionately involved in a collaborative effort across nonprofits, media, government, healthcare, and private citizens in Cleveland: The educational #KnowTheRx campaign – Daily, I am all at once saddened and horrified, and also grateful and hopeful that so many people are trying to help curtail this crisis.

4 of 5 heroin addicts started with opioid prescriptions. #KnowTheRx

A few stats to consider (many more can be found @KnowTheRx and

  • 4 out of 5 heroin users started with prescription opioids

  • 80% of all prescribed opioids on the planet are consumed in the United States (the US has 322 million people out of 7.5 Billion people.)

The opioid crisis, and everything you see about overdoses and Narcan reviving addicts, is not as simple as it appears. Legal prescriptions — over short timeframes — have incredibly high rates of abuse and then addiction for many.

Some people take opioids for short timeframes or even for chronic pain without issues; however that is sadly not the outcome for a huge slice of the population.

The good news is, people are working together to help solve this crisis.  It starts by knowing the risks of a simple opioid prescription and asking questions. #KnowTheRx

Please learn and share more about this, and PLEASE ask questions before you, your kids, your parents, or anyone else you know simply takes an opioid prescription without first learning and knowing the risks.  There are alternatives.

Know the risks. #KnowTheRx

(Photos courtesy of and the KnowTheRx campaign.)

Please share your comments insights and ideas below.


Status Quo: Comfortable, Yet Dangerous. Here’s How to Change It

10 Jun

Time and time again, I see organizations of all kinds, and in particular nonprofits, hoping to recapture results from another time by trying and retrying things that worked then. It’s an honest yet misguided trust in the idea that something known is more real – and better – than something unknown.

Yes, it is true that “back in the day” things were different. (Better, some say, and in some regards, that may be fair.)

Yet, we don’t live “back in the day,” we live now. And whether we love it or hate it, we humans have shifted our behaviors, attitudes, likes, and dislikes as the Now guides us.

To me, this is the definition of Status Quo:

Status Quo, n., Latin, for “We should probably change that.”

Status Quo is a secret traitor.

Status Quo wants you to ignore all signs and just “do what you’ve always done.”

While Status Quo whispers to us to “Keep doing what you’re doing, it’s always been this way,” what it really wants to tell us is different. It wants us to know,

“If you keep listening to me you will get the same results as every person, country, and organization who rested on their laurels — and didn’t listen to the people — did.” Which history tells us, is not what we want.

Status Quo, if it is being truthful, would secretly tell us to “Get out while you’re ahead! Try something new. Please!”

Why does this matter?

The future is made up of everything we do today. The faster we shift to flow and mesh with the people that matter to us and what they want, the more we participate in the future today.

If you look at the left side only, it’s an intriguing photo.  If you look at both sides together, one is much more striking and inspiring. Photo: Status Quo v. Now

Try this.

Ask yourself (and your team, or your board, or your group, or your friends or family) three questions, to follow.

Take the answers, and ask yourself how Status Quo feels about them. Also ask yourself what Status Quo would secretly tell you about them.

Also ask yourself what Sheryl Sandberg, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Lucy Peng, Jeff Bezos, Angela Merkel, Warren Buffett, Margaret Thatcher, Sergey Brin, Melinda Gates, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela, Marissa Mayer, Peter Thiel, Ghandi, Ariana Huffington, Xi Jinping, Mary Meeker, DaVinci, Meg Whitman, Jack Ma, Oprah Winfrey, Mary Barra, Stephen Hawking, and your personal favorite hero (from now or the past) from business, nonprofit, or family and friends would say.

The three questions:

  1. If we had a magic wand, what would we make happen immediately?

  2. If we had to determine our future by stopping one thing and starting one thing, what would those be?

  3. If we had unlimited time and money, what would be the main thing we would be doing?

All of these questions get to the heart of what matters; what’s important. None of them allow for Status Quo, because they are all in the future.  Because all are based on nothing we’re doing right now.

What we’re doing right now is getting us what we are getting right now. It cannot get us to the places in these questions, because they are in the future, where Status Quo is not likely to survive.

Questions are the root of all answers.

Ask these questions as a starting point to reflect on what’s possible – and what is very likely not possible with Status Quo, aka what’s happening today.

I’d love to hear from you about any ideas or insights! Please leave a comment or connect with me @CharityIdeas on Twitter or on LinkedIn.








Mom! No Phone! Take Pictures with Your Eyes and Your Brain!

2 Jun

As a huge aficionado of all things social media and tech, a few years ago this admonition about my phone photo-taking from my daughter, while on a hike, of  “Mom, stop!  Take pictures with your eyes and your brain!” in the woods gave me pause.

If a tree falls in the woods and we didn’t post a pic on Instagram, did it make a sound?

She was right, of course. I had gotten so used to the habit? idea? process? – nay, the compulsion – of photographing or videoing everything, that I was forgetting why humans enjoy experiences to start with.

Sure, wanting to capture memories and share them (sharing them in visual forms is new) is quite human. Storytelling is how all history has been passed on since the dawn of time. Social media is simply an exponentially faster and easier route to storytelling and sharing experiences.

Or is it?

I think of times I have been so bent on taking pictures – not to mention perhaps tagging places and people, adding hashtags and filters, cropping, sharing to multiple platforms – that I realized in horror that I had only witnessed the moment as a bystander, when what I really wanted as a human was to experience the moment.

Who is this captured memory for?  Could you relive the sights, smells, sounds, and emotions from this yourself in 2o years or did you miss it trying to find the right filter?

And that is exactly what Isabella pointed out. We all have the greatest camera ever right here, right now. “Take a picture with your eyes and your brain!”

Really, if everything in the digital world was suddenly deleted, we always still have that – same as it ever was. All of humanity – before Facebook, of course – remembered everything as the beautiful moment in which it happened.

Although I still love social media and technology, I almost never use headphones (in general), or look at my phone when walking, driving (duh, never do that), hiking, or otherwise “being Zen.”  When I walk the dog, the sites and sounds around me are my environment. Almost as if – it was my environment. 😉

When I drive my long commute (45 minutes) I sometimes listen to books and occasionally MUSIC WAY TOO LOUD! but most often, I enjoy the silence and use it as time to think.

Now when I walk in nature, I always have my phone, and am compelled to take pictures of beautiful things of course, but mostly when a beautiful thing summons a feeling I want to remember with a quick snap (also no headphones).

I do take and share tons of photos and videos at nonprofit events where my main goal is to share a feeling of inspiration, brought about by something happening – with others.

But as myself, even when traveling to China recently, I limited my “viewing through a lens” in favor of “viewing through my soul.”

When we all look back 40 years from now, we won’t recall what filter we used or how great we looked at a certain angle in a selfie. We won’t recall what hashtag it was, or who or where we tagged.

If we’re lucky, we’ll actually remember the feelings and emotions we had by being present, in that moment, seeing and feeling the sights and sounds and smells and the emotions and memories that were triggered.

Maybe we can all try to feel and BE  — instead of capture and share. A decade from now around a campfire, the sights and smells and emotions and thoughts and feelings of a moment will be the only things we recall.   We’ll tell real stories about real people and events because we’re real humans.  And if we’re not present when they’re happening, no funny Snap filter or Facebook live video will fully bring it back.

Think about whether you want all your memories to be accessible only by digital photos and social media, or if you want to “take a picture with your eyes and your brain!” and carry it around with you forever.

The good news is you don’t have to choose live memories or virtual, but think about which one *really* lives on forever if everything else gets deleted.

A World Full of Synonyms: Are We All Trying to Say the Same Things?

28 May

There’s a lot of turmoil in the world these days (as always.) Everyone is striving to have their voice and perspective heard, sometimes in productive ways, and sometimes not.

It made me think about my travels and the many people I’ve met who were “different” than me around the world, and even here in the United States.

Regardless of what our passport stamp says, we have a lot more in common that we might realize.

At the end of the day, it seems like most conversations about important things can be boiled down to a few ideas. Depending on who is talking, the ideas will be dressed in specific clothing and look slightly different. But, really it’s always a few similar ideas, presented in what appear to be slightly different ways.

Here are what I have found people to be saying consistently, regardless of their background, demographics, culture, income, religion, politics, or education.

Feeling like you want to be happy, and you want others to be happy, seems to be universal.

“I want to be happy.”

“I want to feel safe.”

“I want my family and friends to be secure and not worry.”

“I want to be connected to people.”

“I want to make a difference.”

“I want to feel like this life isn’t the end of everything; I want to stay connected to the world and people I love after I die.”

“I want the freedom to learn and grow and have adventures – and I want people I love to have that as well.”

If you think about all the people you know and care about, and all the people you’ve met anywhere, it’s likely they have/had some or all of these things in common. Maybe you know that because they said so directly, or maybe you gleaned it from conversations, or the things they did and the places they went.

There are undoubtedly many other fine nuances to these and other important ideas.

Think about it, though. Think of someone you feel like you have “nothing in common” with, because your religion or political viewpoint is different, or you grew up in completely different ways in different places. Do you think they have those same desires, if you stripped away the formalities?

Travel is a brilliant way to explore the world and make it feel both bigger and smaller at the same time.  We have some much in common!

Travel is one of my personal favorite things because the more you get into an unusual and different environment, the more you can viscerally feel and sense how similar people really are at the heart of it. Even if you are a different religion, in a different land, with a different political philosophy, speaking a different language, the similarities in hope, happiness, and love are remarkable and easy to feel.

Although there are many religions and viewpoints, the common values are often similar.

While we might all appear to be different, we’re really all using synonyms and saying very similar things in only slightly different ways.

What insights have you gotten from conversations or your travels?  Please share in the comments!

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