Yesterday I stood for 10 hours straight and I can now say that I really can’t imagine standing for the full 24. During hour 5 I got a foot cramp and hopped around on one leg for a while and then by the end of my time there I was walking around barefoot because my sneakers were hurting too much. All that being said, it was a pretty amazing experience.
They had an amazing sound system and a stage set up in the front with multiple performances going on throughout the entire time. Most of the performers were dance or singing troupes through the University, but while I was there I also was able to hear a man speak who had given three Ted Talks. His name is Alex Sheen and he began an organization called because I said I would after his father passed away from a terminal cancer. Alex created small cards- about half the size of an index card- that said in the bottom right corner “because I said I would” and pledged to give away 10 of these cards to anyone who requested them, no matter where they lived. The point of these “promise” cards is to write on them a promise that you wish to keep either for yourself or for another person. You then keep that promise, with the card as your reminder. You can read a more in-depth explanation of what exactly to do with the cards here at his website. Alex wasn’t expecting the organization to get as large as it did, but as of today, he has given away over 3.15 million promise cards to over 153 countries.
Not only was this an impactful talk because of the message that Alex talked about- the idea to make a promise and then to stick to it- but it was also a reminder of how powerful the internet can be. Alex’s cards went viral. The first day, he sent out 5 packets of cards (he gives 10 to each person). The idea went viral on Facebook and Twitter, and in no time Alex was sending out 150,000 cards every single day. He made a promise to himself and to his father and, despite the organization blowing up to a size that he would have never imagined, he has worked every day to keep that promise.