Meet Toan Lam. Founder of Go Inspire Go and writer for the Huffington Post and Intent.com, Toan and I first met in an online interview for Tea with Toan several months ago. We felt an instant connection as we chatted, discovering we have very similar philosophies. We both believe individuals have the power to make the world a better place; you only have to recognize your power and tap into it. Find your passion and act on it.
When we discovered I was heading to San Francisco, his town, we made plans to meet up in person. Toan and I, along with his friend Erin, spent a morning together during my visit. We wandered the streets and they showed me their city. They took me on my first visit to Chinatown, where Toan introduced me to Boba Tea.
We hunted for interesting street art, and Erin led us to a famous piece by Banksy.
We checked out the view from Toan’s apartment, seeing his incredible view.
We climbed the hill to the Coit Tower, sharing a peaceful moment looking out over the Bay Bridge. They experienced my obsession with scooter sightings, as I stopped to photograph every scooter along the way.
Running through our fun trek around the city was a serious conversation on inspiration, life, and doing what we love to do. For Toan, that love is sharing people’s stories and helping others to use their powers – resources, talents, network – to help others. Toan’s background is TV journalism and through Go Inspire Go he provides a multimedia platform to tell the stories of “regular people” who are making a difference in small or big ways. For me, that love is helping others find a connection to heart and soul through photography. We both feel immense gratitude for having discovered something that we feel called to do. Our lives are better for it.
But we also talked about the difficulty that comes along with following a path that is not mainstream. When you are building something completely new, there is no map. You can only follow your heart. Sometimes there can be a struggle with the idea of making a business out of a passion, because when you love and believe in something so much, you want everyone to have a piece of it. It is so valuable, you want to give it all away. This is the opposite of the business world, which is all about selling, monetizing and commercializing.
We talked of how to find a balance between the two, and the examples we see around us of people doing it every day. The key is simple: Know your heart, follow your heart and trust that it will carry you in the right direction.
Putting that key to use is not always simple, but it’s easier when you have the inspiration of people like Toan to help you along the way.
My morning with Toan reminded me of my own passion, my own power. His energy, enthusiasm and belief in the connection with the heart to inspire change is contagious. I came away reconnected and inspired to do what I am here to do.
Our morning together was wonderful. We walked. We talked. We photographed.
And found a true photo-heart connection in the streets of San Francisco.
Learn more of Toan’s story and see his post inspired by our morning together on the Go Inspire Go blog today.