Brett Hagler is the CEO and co-founder of New Story, one of the most innovative companies in the world. New Story is working on finding sustainable solutions to end global homelessness. The company pioneers community solutions and is passionate about social impact. It builds homes and communities for families all over the world that need shelter, which has positively impacted many people and has changed each of their lives for the better.
Hagler is a Y Combinator graduate and a cancer survivor. He has been recognized on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, named one of the Top 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs by Goldman Sachs, and his company was named among Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies in the World” in 2017, 2019, and 2020.
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Y Combinator is a prestigious start-up accelerator that has provided financial support to companies such as Stripe, Airbnb, and Doordash. Hagler is a 2015 graduate of Y Combinator, where he learned how to raise funds for his company. New Story raised $27 million by December 2018. This gave the company the ability to get started with developing ways to complete its mission and activating its network.
“Life is a gift, not a gain,” said Hagler.
Hagler’s passion for helping others in need grew when he was in college. He realized that he had grown up with the wrong idea of what he wanted to accomplish in life. He began college living by the “three G’s,” which he described as “girls, gold, and glory.”
According to Hagler, it is important to have fun in college, but it is also about so much more than just worrying about popularity. Many students are pressured to strive for goals that they are not truly passionate about. It’s time to move away from those pressures and break out of the shell expectations can form. And this is exactly what Hagler did.
“Don’t do what everybody else does.”
Hagler began exploring his Christian faith, and he had a realization that redirected what he felt ambitious about. It changed from personal ambitions centered around his personal status to outreach and community impact.
Hagler traveled to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake destroyed many communities there. Hagler had created a for-profit start-up and was looking for a non-profit organization to give money to. He wanted to help families living without some of life’s most basic human needs, like shelter and safety.
After he came back to America from Haiti, he wanted to try to do something with his new mindset and perspective regarding his own life and the lives of others.
Life has not been easy for Hagler, but this has strengthened his sympathy for others who are also living with challenges. Surviving cancer when he was young taught him to appreciate and live life to its fullest.
He began to think in the long term because the short term didn’t give him the hope he needed. By doing so, he gained a vision and a desire to make a difference. These experiences were fundamental reasons why he wanted to start New Story.
“You need to really believe in what you are doing. It’s up to you to keep going.”
It’s hard to wrap your mind around how many people there are without homes. According to Hagler, anyone can help decrease the number by realizing their own privilege and educating themselves on different initiatives. This is the best time for you to have the courage to do something that you believe in.
“You are starting from the bottom, and that is the journey. It’s a step-by-step process, and each milestone is going to be hard. Start small.”
New Story has built about three thousand homes, and the team has learned a lot about how to improve the building process. Hagler wants to change how things have been done in the past.
Phase one was learning and making a direct impact. Phase two was trying to understand why it takes so long to build a house and why homes are so expensive. Phase three, the current phase, is establishing ways to lower the homeless population by building homes in an efficient way.
“We have earned the right to start testing new innovations. I love the challenges, and I love being on a team that will fight through the challenges together.”
New Story has been continuously working on building homes for some of the poorest people in the world and has even given them ownership of the land on which these homes are built, which is something essential that we often don’t see.
A 3D printer is now being used to print cement, which is then used to make the walls of homes. This machine has helped save money and allowed New Story to develop homes more efficiently.
“It is not just an idea, it is not just a proof of concept; they are actually building homes.”
Hagler is passionate about creating a team culture of innovation, speaking about leadership, helping other social entrepreneurs, and partnering with companies to give their team members the opportunity to make a direct life-changing impact through New Story. Hagler spoke in his own TED Talk in 2019, describing his involvement in New Story and the strides the company has made in changing the world.
“When you have a small goal that is achievable, all excuses are off of the table because it is up to you to make it happen.”
A program that has recently developed through New Story is Founders Lab. Founders Lab is a one-month accelerator program that is working to help undergrads learn how to think and act like a founder. Having the mindset to challenge the status quo will serve students well in their future goals. Founders Lab will be completely digital and interactive beginning this October.
“We are learning to be more effective and more efficient and bringing in more resources to help us be more innovative. We are really passionate about ending global homelessness, and it is a long journey to come.”
With the goal of eradicating global homelessness, New Story strives to create a platform to elevate people by not only building them homes, but also by creating social change.
How Johnny Ward Made Millions Travelling Around the World And Inspiring People Through His Travel Blog
Johnny Ward is a famous travel blogger that has traveled to every single country on the planet.
He has built an empire blogging with his site, “One Step 4Ward.” After growing up on welfare in Ireland, attending university and moving to the United States after graduation, Ward dreamed of traveling the world country by country.
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“I wanted to show people from around the world that you can still do what you want to do even without the proper financial support in the beginning, said Ward”
Ward found different ways to earn his own funds to financially support his dream. In the end, he became an English teacher in Thailand, traveled around Asia, and landed jobs teaching English in other countries such as South Korea. In Australia, he realized that he wanted to share with others his experience stepping into the world.
Ward created a blog in order to teach others what he had done and how he was still able to achieve his dream of traveling the world. While traveling from Cape Town to Syria using public transport, he blogged many of his traveling days. When Ward began to earn money for the posts he was creating, he realized how much his work was appreciated by viewers and decided to continue blogging full time. Traveling came with amazing experiences and baffling stories that Ward now shares with people all over the world.
Ward has made over 2 million blog posts, and throughout his journey, he overcame many challenges and learned how to work through trial and error. It took him a lot of self-motivation to realize that his upbringing did not have to define the rest of his life or his success.
“People think that victimhood is some sort of currency. They argue about who’s had it hard rather than getting on with it. There is nothing stopping you from being a success.”
After Ward grew to love each community he visited, he created a way to give back to those communities that had given him so much joy. He created Mudita Adventures, a nonprofit organization to help others take opportunities to participate in service projects all over the world. Ward’s favorite place in the world is Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he is now building a villa to celebrate his success.
Ward has learned a lot about the media market and has shared many of his findings with his supporters. Ward advises listeners and readers to steer clear from the idea that the marketplace is saturated. There is space for any quality product. Believe in the success that you will have in your venture.
“Don’t get hung up on your shortcomings.”
Ward has also written an e-book, which he is offering for free on his blog website. Blogging Brought Me Here is a first-hand account of how blogging and traveling changed Ward’s life and how they can change yours as well. It even includes tips on how to start your own blog!
Meet Grace Strobel-The Down Syndrome Model Elevating Empathy In the Modeling World
Grace Strobel is a Down syndrome model taking the modeling industry by storm. At 24, she has signed with three modeling agencies and recently became the first American model with Down syndrome to represent a skincare line. Grace, through her career, strives to promote acceptance and the illumination of gifts and talents of all people. She is also committed to being a light for people with disabilities.
The Grace Effect is a 45-minute presentation that Grace created in 2017 to educate others on what it is like for her to live with Down syndrome, and the importance of practicing kindness, respect, and overcoming struggles. When Strobel was working in the lunchroom, other kids made fun of her for not being able to do certain tasks at school.
Through the victimization, Strobel realized that the other kids didn’t understand what it was like for her to live with Down syndrome, especially through the lack of fine motor skills that make her syndrome more apparent. Her mother, Linda Strobel, has been incredibly supportive throughout her daughter’s journey of launching The Grace Effect.
“Sometimes people fear what they don’t understand,” said Linda
Through her projects and her modeling career, Strobel has been given a voice and a chance to change peoples’ understanding of disabilities. Strobel began by posting photos on her Instagram and Facebook accounts, and she was soon discovered by a modeling agency. She has now walked the runway in St. Luis and Atlantic City, N.J., and virtually in Runway of Dreams and New York Fashion Week. Strobel’s parents are proud of how much she has been able to accomplish this early in her career and how strong she has been in getting over her challenges.
“Our biggest triumphs are our biggest struggles,” said Linda.
Strobel’s father, Jeff, appreciates all of the kindness people have shown his daughter and family. He has also supported her in her career. Strobel is now just 24 years old, and has paved the way for many other people to step into the spotlight and break more barriers in the fashion industry, and many other industries with limited career opportunities for those with disabilities.
“I knew she was beautiful and I always knew that she had value and worth to the world,” said Linda
Strobel believes that she was called to advocate for herself and others. When speaking to others who feel ostracized, or feel that they don’t have the worth to be in the spotlight, Strobel encourages them to “speak for themselves, be confident, work hard, and never give up.”
“I’m a model, I’m a speaker, I’m an advocate,” said Grace
Confidence is an important factor in modeling and Strobel has practiced positive affirmations and body positivity to build up her confidence. Everyone has their own insecurities, and the message that Strobel is spreading shows people that no matter who you are or what you are living with, no one deserves negative judgment.
The Grace Effect also addresses the danger of cyberbullying and the importance of kids hiding behind computer screens putting themselves in the shoes of the kids they are attacking. She is not only helping those who are victims of bullying, but she is also helping bullies see the harm that they are inflicting.
“I know she is changing minds and hearts one speech at a time. She is helping people see others in a valued way,” said Linda
Strobel is overcoming the standards of the modeling world. She is part of the movement that is breaking down race, body image, accessibility, and many other stereotypes of the modeling/fashion industry. The world still has a long way to go with its acceptance of disabilities. Strobel has learned of the importance of surrounding herself with a support system.
Outliving Cancer and Changing Lives Through Exploration-Meet Angelina Mangiardi
Angelina Mangiardi (aka “Katniss”) grew up in Western Massachusetts on a farm where she grew to love nature and thrived in the open countryside. At just nineteen, her life completely turned upside down after she was diagnosed with bone cancer. At the time of her diagnosis, she was attending the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in NYC to pursue her dream of entering the fashion industry as a stylist but she had to put her dreams on hold to start chemo treatment.
Mangiardi’s battle with cancer was a tough one but she never lost hope. Mangiardi’s treatment plan involved six 21-day cycles of chemotherapy, with a 96-hour infusion and five-day hospital stay required with each treatment. After finishing chemo, Mangiardi completed nineteen grueling rounds of radiation. After six painful months of treatment, the cancer was gone.
“Everything happened so quickly that I just went into survival mode,” explains Mangiardi.
While in the hospital, Angelina started researching cancer resources, and she stumbled upon First Descents, an outdoors program for cancer patients that completely changed her life. She got to experience the healing power of spending time outdoors, and she formed a passion for bringing people closer to nature. With her shifting dreams, Mangiardi studied environmental science and worked as the Environmental Education Program Assistant at Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) in Fairbanks, Alaska.
After experiencing many adventures in Alaska, she went to work as the Farm-to-School Coordinator for Mālama Kaua’i, a non-profit organization working for sustainability across Kaua’i. Mangiardi kept up with her leadership responsibilities and later on, decided to continue where she had left off with her passion for introducing others to the natural world. She returned to First Descents after her first year in remission and joined the team as the Program Coordinator to help introduce others to the power of adventure that she had discovered while she was a participant in the program.
Mangiardi’s motto is, “outliving it” because she has connected with the importance of surviving cancer and going outside of her comfort zone to live whatever life she wants for herself no matter what may challenge her along the way.
“Everything in my life, the career path, and things that fulfill me all stem from the lessons I learned from surviving cancer.”
As Mangiardi reflects on what it was like in the moment of being told that she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, she remembers how she needed to understand how to cope. That she did not need to stay perfectly strong the entire time. She needed to live positively, but also accept that there would be times when it was okay to not be okay. When she did need to break down and let out the negative emotions that she may try to hold in. Mangiardi has gotten to meet and connect with many other young adults dealing with similar challenges as she has.
“There is this unspoken bond and instant connection between us. Everyone in the cancer community understands it.”
First Descents is one of the ways Mangiardi has felt this bond with others. She has gotten to go climbing, boating, surfing, and reclaim her life through the First Descents program. She has transitioned from a participant to a Program Coordinator.
Discovering the rock climbing program at First Descents changed Mangiardi’s perspective on the challenges she faced. She focuses on accessibility and adaptability at First Descents to make sure that no matter the medical situation people are in, they are welcome in the program. First Descents offers outdoor experiential programming, skill development, and aims to improve the long-term survivorship of young adults living with serious health conditions. Mangiardi sees the importance of keeping nature in our daily lives and the impact it can have on our mental health.
“Find ways to connect with your environment and what is around you.”
The power that this program has had on so many young peoples’ lives is being spread through social media for others to discover. Check out their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and share about this amazing opportunity with anyone you know who may appreciate this program as much as Mangiardi. Help more people discover the beauty of nature and outlive their own challenges.