Weekday Wisdom Episode 84
Interview with Kathy Palokoff, Coauthor of Firestarters
In today’s episode of the Weekday Wisdom we learn how Kathy and her coauthors chose the firestarters they interviewed for their book, Firestarters: How Innovators, Instigators, and Initiators Can Inspire You to Ignite Your Own Life, and how you can you ignite your own inner firestarter.
Here are highlights from today’s video. They’ve been edited for clarity and brevity.
Carma Spence: How did you identify someone as a firestarter to interview?
Kathy Palokoff: Well, I have to tell you that part of finding a firestarter is when you meet them, you know. I suspect that when you look at the people who have affected your life and people you know you could go, “This one is a firestarter, this one nope.”
We wanted to have a wide range of people. So we have people like John Sculley, who was the head of Apple. And then we have Maya Penn, who was eight when she started her company. She’s 17 now. She has two million TED talk views.
But on the other far end of the spectrum is a woman, who I really adore, by the name of Jerrie Ueberle. Jerrie was a speech pathologist, went to China about a hundred times. Jerrie’s 80. OK? She, at 80, just started. She already had one established about 10 years ago, so she started at one 70. At 80, she’s taken her World Academy for the Future of Women — how’s that for a big idea? — and taken it to Nepal, to work with rural kids in Nepal. She’s 80 years old.
There is a whole big range of people. We were looking for artists, but we were also looking for business people. We were looking to social activists.
So Pernessa Seele. Dr. Pernessa Seele was the person who started, the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, and then took it worldwide. How did she do that? She happened to be an immunologist. She was in New York City. She went into a hospital, and she was also a deep woman of faith, and she realized that the AIDS patients were getting no support from the churches. So she went out and just activated all churches around the world because she had a passion for doing that.
The last two years I think have been stressful for a lot of people, depending on where your leanings are in the world. For me, talking to these people, I just ended up with hope. And feeling really, really good about what people can do when they want to make change happen. It made me feel really good to be part of this planet.
CS: If someone wanted to be a fire starter, can anybody be one? And if so, how do you ignite yourself?
KP: We believe that there is an inner firestarter in everybody. So everybody has their potential.
By the way, you can, live a really happy life not being a firestarter and be really content. So, it’s not like we think that everybody should be one. We do believe, though, that if there were more firestarters in the world, the world would be a better place. Because firestars do make things different.
I think the first step in really igniting that firestarter in yourself is to figure out what your passion is and what you love. And then figure out where your talent is. Surrounding yourself with supporters is really, really key.
One of the other things we looked at were extinguishers. What happens is firestarters get extinguished by other people, etc. So, you have to really have a group of supporters behind you.
And these aren’t necessarily the people who always say, “That’s a great idea!” They are people who will support you, but you also need supporters who will challenge you and say, “Hey, have you thought about that? What if you took it that way?” You need to have a group of strong supporters around you.
Money helps, at times but we had many of our firestarters who did not have money and made it happen. Finding those financial resources is important, it makes life easier as a firestarter. But it doesn’t mean that if you don’t have money you can’t be a firestarter.
In tomorrow’s video, Kathy will talk about the unique challenges that firestarters face, that other people don’t.
In the meantime, if you enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up on YouTube and let me know in a comment below. Also, I want the Weekday Wisdom to be something that you value and look forward to watching. So if you’ve got questions for a future episode, know someone you think I should interview for it, or have any other suggestions, put them at a comment below.
Don’t box yourself in.
Spread your wings and fly.
Because of you — ofyes you right there — are capable of more than you know.