Friday, March 30, 2012

Giving Tree Movement (GTM) Officially Kicks Off -- Offering Families Solutions to "The Race to Nowhere"

Many of you likely have heard of the recent seminal documentary, "The Race to Nowhere", which focuses on the pressures placed by contemporary society -- and we parents -- on today's children, and the impacts of those pressures.  And, they ain't pretty.  We are raising a generation of stressed out kids who don't have an opportunity to be ... well ... just kids.  And, how do we, as parents, define what it really means to be "successful"?  What is "success"?

My wife, Luisa, was moved by this movie -- and by the related book "The Price of Privilege" -- and vowed to do something about it.  These important works pointed out the problems -- and placed focus on critical issues that are all around, but are all too frequently invisible in the rush rush rush of contemporary life.  But, Luisa wanted to take the discourse to the next level -- to help families and communities work together to find solutions to address and counter these detrimental forces that all-too frequently tear families apart and create so-called "successful", yet ultimately emotionally empty lives.  Those were the seeds of an organization she formed many months ago called "The Giving Tree Movement" (  Check out the website (and when you do, understand that it will be significantly updated in the days ahead with advisors, additional resources and stories).

Last night marked the official "kick off" of The Giving Tree Movement (GTM) in Rancho Santa Fe, California at the historic Inn (the tree, in front of which, inspired Luisa with the name to GTM).  A testament to Luisa's passion to GTM, the power of its message, and the sheer powers of her attraction, Luisa was joined by an incredible group of nationally-recognized thought leaders and influencers.  In addition to Luisa, New York Times best-selling author Janet Bray Atwood, writer of "The Passion Test," spoke, as did Bobbi DePorter, who founded and runs international organization Quantum Learning (and SuperCamps, among other things).  Others included San Diegan parenting expert Susie Walton who runs Indigo Village.  It was an incredible evening -- informational, moving, important, transformative -- and I say that not simply because Luisa is my wife.  It was an impactful evening.

Luisa is a force.  And, this is just the beginning of a movement that will impact tens of thousands of lives, if not more.  It already is.

GTM is a grass-roots movement that already has raised collective consciousness of these core issues in the Rancho Santa Fe, California area -- but also well-beyond (as evident by the names above, and all the others who attended this initial kick-off event).

And, here's the thing.  In the course of the evening, Luisa was asked, "okay, what's next?"  Luisa answered by explaining GTM's upcoming program (more to follow on the GTM website in the days and weeks ahead).  But, in my view, the "what's next?" question is secondary to what GTM already "is" -- and that is, Luisa and GTM already have created a dialog about these issues within the four walls of homes, including ours, about what really matters.  After all, it is these little day-to-day conversations that make a difference ... a real impact.

Ultimately, GTM is about families fully embracing the fact that ultimate "success" is about fearlessly leading purposeful and authentic lives.

And Luisa is as fearless and authentic as they get ....

(those two words were used by several others throughout the night to describe who Luisa is -- I am not alone here ....)