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Posted by on Apr 4, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Caine’s arcade, imagination and the power of someone believing in you

Caine’s arcade, imagination and the power of someone believing in you


In the summer of 2011, a 9 year old boy named Caine spent his summer holiday hanging out in his Dad’s used auto parts store building an arcade.  What was different, was that this was completely built out of cardboard boxes.  All summer long, Caine sat outside the door, inviting people to play the games in his arcade.    Nobody did.  That is until a young filmmaker named Nirvan Mullick came into the store to buy a door handle for his 96 Corrolla.  Nirvan bought a Fun Pass.  It was great value, 500 turns for $2.  And that small decision, to stop and support a child has changed lives.

 Nirvan ended up speaking to Caine’s Dad who told him that he was the only person to play in Caine’s arcade.  Nirvan decided to set up a “surprise party” and try and get as many people as possible in LA to turn up and play.  This went viral via Facebook, made the major news stations and in October 2011, a flash mob gathered and thousands of people came to play in Caine’s Arcade and made a boy’s day.  

short film was made (see above – spend the 10 minutes watching this – it is worth it) and launched in April 2012 and started a movement.  Within 2 days nearly 1.5 million people had watched this video and shortly after, the Imagination Foundation was formed with the mission of “to find, foster and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in children around the world to raise a new generation of innovators and problem solvers who have the tools they need to build the world they imagine”.

Since then over $230,000 has been raised for Caine’s college fund, people like Jack Black have brought their children to play in the arcade (and play themselves) and last October there was a global event called the Cardboard Challenge which had children participating from over 41 countries a year to the day that the “surprise party” had occurred to make Caine’s day.  Caine himself has grown in confidence, his stuttering has disappeared and he is doing heaps better at school.

But this story isn’t just about a child’s imagination.  No, this is about one person taking a moment to believe in someone’s dream.  In the follow up film, Caine’s Dad says about Nirvan, “He saw something in my son that nobody else saw”.  How easily would it have been for that summer to finish with not one person really seeing Caine and his dream.  How likely would it be that the arcade would have been packed up, the cardboard recycled and Caine to go back to normal life at school.

But that didn’t happen.  Nirven saw Caine, he saw Caine’s dream and he believed in this child and changed Caine’s life, his own life and has positively impacted thousands of others.  All from one short moment where he decided to believe in a child and his dream.

My background is in Human Resources and a conversation I have had with so many people managers and leaders is that they have a huge responsibility in how they impact their people’s lives.  When a parent, teacher or manager believes in us (or not), this can change the trajectory of our lives.  We are human beings, we are built for connection and having another person really see who we are and to back our dream or our vision is potentially one of the most powerful connections with the biggest impact.  Our words and actions have weight.  And we don’t often realise that something we say or do have the power to change lives.

How often do we fling away a comment without thinking about what we are saying or the impact.  Sometimes we find out, like the time my husband met a guy who had worked for him a decade prior.  Sometimes we may never know.

But think back now about who believed in you; either as a child or an adult.  Remember what that meant, how that felt, how that inspired you and gave your courage.  And today, I challenge us all, who can we really “see” today.  Who is sitting somewhere with their dream that only needs one person to take one moment to believe in it for them.

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Posted by on Mar 19, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Dave Grohl and finding Our Voice


Dave Grohl is the lead singer from the Foo Fighters.  He is also widely considered to be “The Nicest Man in Rock” .  Recently he was the keynote speaker at the 2013 SXSW conference and festival. Watch it here or read a transcript here.  This is an annual festival held in Austin, Texas, a convergence of emerging technologies along with original and independent music and films.  But what Dave Grohl really talked about, was not what he was doing at the moment or about the music industry, but instead was a call for us all to find Our Voice through sharing his story about how he found his.

It was one moment as a child that changed Dave Grohl’s life.  He and his sister had convinced his mother to buy them the 1975 Blockbuster compilation record that they played on a public-school turntable that his mother would bring home on weekends from school (she was a teacher ).   Dave Grohl would have been 6 years old in 1975.  On this record, along with the hits that year like “That’s the way I like it” and “Fly Robin Fly”, there was one piece of music that was entirely instrumental, no vocals at all.  It was Edgar Winter’s Frankenstein .  For a young Dave it was like he could hear the Voice of each musician expressing themselves.  This piece of music was the first clear call of purpose in Dave’s life.  This was the first call “that made me want to jump in a van with my friends and leave the world behind for music”.  

If our purpose is about being who we are meant to be and bringing our gifts and talents to make the world a better place, a good place to start is at the beginning, when we were children.  If we were given the space to explore who we are and what we loved to do as a child, it is likely that we came across something that triggered a deeper yearning, that had the potential to change the course of our lives.  If we followed that call.  If we had the support to follow that call.  These are our threshold moments.

For a young Dave Grohl, he picked up his absent father’s old guitar and in his words “it instantly became my obsession”.  His mother supported this, buying him a Beatles songbook and paying for lessons until he gave those up after a year because he wasn’t so keen on lessons or direction.  Instead, he was left to his own devices and he devoted everything to making music.  He set up pillows in the formation of a drum set and played them to his records.  He figured out that with two cassette players, he could multi-track his own songs at 12 years old.  It not long after, that his second threshold moment came. 

When Dave was 13, his mother took them on a family trip to Chicago.  What Dave didn’t know was that his older cousin Tracey, had turned into a punk rocker.  They arrived and “I heard her coming down the stairs.  The clanking of chains, the stomping of heavy boots, the sound of a fresh leather jacket creaking like an old ship.  And then …. I saw her.  Shaved head, bondage pants, torn Anti-Pasti T-shirt ….. she was a f**king superhero come to life”.

Tracey introduced Dave to her record collection. He listened to them all.  He said “This was the first day of the rest of my life”.  She took him to his first concert; a punk rock band in a dingy hole.  13 year old Dave Grohl was in heaven.

But it wasn’t the music itself that inspired Dave, “it was the blissful removal of these bands from any source of conventional, popular corporate structure, and the underground network that supported the music’s independence that was totally inspiring to me…. At 13 years old, I realized that I could start my own band, I could write my own songs, I could record my own record, I could start my own label, I could release my own record, I could book my own shows, I could write and publish my own fanzine, …….I could do all of this myself.  There was no right or wrong, because it was all mine”.  Dave Grohl had found his Why.  

Dave Grohl never lost his voice.  Two key moments at different stages of childhood opened up paths of possibility for him.  He felt something, was drawn to something become obsessed with it.  And he had the support of a parental figure.  At age 17 when he was given the option to tour as a drummer with a band, his mother gave him her blessing to drop out of high school.  When he was making music and learning to make music in his bedroom, she let him be.  Apparently she got so used to the noise that it just didn’t bother her.  Dave Grohl was able to develop his voice and how he shared this in the world from childhood.  He was left to his own devices and look what happened.

What was your obsession in childhood?  Where are your threshold moments?  Did you follow them or do what so many of us do, stumble instead down the wide path of accepted planned living instead of following that call and sharing our voice.  And if you did, you do know its not too late.

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