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Q&A with Talia Leman about the Power of ANYone
Over the years, Vapur has been a proud partner of RandomKid and now, this incredible organization has just released a book! Written by RandomKid’s CEO, 17-year-old Talia Leman, "A Random Book About the Power of Anyone” shares the insightful wisdom of a young, active “Random Kid” on a mission to prove that anyone can make a difference. Vapur is now selling a Book and Anti-Bottle Bundle exclusively online at!See the Q&A Vapur had with Talia to learn about RandomKid and the Power of AnyONE.How did RandomKid start?I never meant to start an organization, least of all at the age of ten. But I did, and it’s formation seemed to somehow relate to Newton’s Law of Motion, which basically says that a body in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an external force. Youth energy, synergy and enthusiasm have their own form of inertia-- not so unlike what Newton described-- and we have clearly not met a force equal in opposition.It all began in 2005 when I wanted to raise money for hurricane Katrina/Rita relief. It began innocently enough—I just wanted to trick-or-treat for coins in lieu of candy, and get a few friends to join me. Hearing this, my 6 year-old brother ran into his playroom, and returned donning a cape—he would oppose me; candy was his pastime. So there we were, a 10 year-old CEO (Chief Executive Optimist) and a 6 year-old C.O.N (Chief Operating Nemesis)—at odds. We posted our photos on a makeshift website with the help of a neighbor who later became a co-founder of the organization. The Today Show happened by our page, saw our photos, and the rest is history. They brought us on the show, C.E.O vs. C.O.N., and we ended up reporting 10.4 million dollars as youth across the U.S.A. began unifying their fundraising efforts with ours. My brother didn’t do too half bad either—weak with pity for him, our neighbors loaded him up with candy equal to 10.4 Halloweens.Here’s the stunner: American school children—just a bunch of kids-- ended up ranking in our giving power with the top 5 U.S. corporate donors to Katrina—up there with Wal-Mart, Exxon and Amoco.That’s the force of our power.It would have been more than enough had that been the end of it. But having the inertia that we do, it didn’t end. They kept at it—writing, emailing, calling—wanting to unify our efforts for other causes. If we can be as powerful a giving force as GE, AT&T and Coca-Cola, then why stop?What did this success mean for you, RandomKid, the world?What became clear is that the more of us who believe in our power, the greater the power we have. What also became clear is that we are powerful enough to change world policy by where we choose to focus our collective attention.That is also when I realized that I needed to deconstruct my accidental success, and offer every resource I had to as many youth as I could to forward intended success toward meaningful change in the world. Seven years later, what are you doing now?Now, I can introduce you to my book, A Random Book about the Power of ANYone (published by Simon & Schuster), where you can find every strategy and how-to you need to change the world for the things you care about, and also welcome you to my website—it has every resource you need for any service project you can conjure up, all under one roof. What’s more, I call it “RandomKid”— because it’s about the power of ANYone.How does RandomKid help those that want to get involved?We provide youth with all the tools and resources needed to power up their ideas for a better world. These include:Project Ideas. On our site, we list tried-and-true turnkey projects that yield impressive results. We call them our “wildly popular projects.” You can replicate them or modify them. They are yours.Consultations. This is one of the best things we do. We can advise you using everything we know to power up your ideas.501(c)3 non-profit umbrella. To offer tax write-offs for donations to your project or apply for non-profit grants, you need to be registered as a nonprofit. When you run a project through RandomKid, you come under our non-profit umbrella.Moolah. Because of our pay-it-forward seed fund pool, we offer micro-investments to launch your ideas, and we can also direct you to youth grants and awards.Products. Proceeds from the sale of products can fund your initiatives. You can do this in one of three ways. First, brand your own promotional products. There are literally hundreds of thousands of products from which to choose; we can help you access them and select earth friendly ones. You can also create or design your own products, including original music CDs and other works of art. Finally, you can find a super fantastically fabulous product already in the marketplace and tell us about it. We’ll ask the manufacturer to sell it to us wholesale so you can resell it to benefit your efforts, which is EXACTLY what happened with Vapur, our proudest partner ever.Internet Presence. On our site, you can create your own webpage with a donation portal and fundraising thermometer, but we offer more value than that. You can also join a project and be a part of another team; unify your project with others to leverage and increase your impact; create a video library where you teach something to the world; organize and count collections; and/or use our online storefront to sell your branded or homemade products globally.Web conferencing. The University of Iowa gives us free access to a phenomenal online meeting site where you can share videos, desktops, PowerPoints, whiteboards and more. And it even works in low bandwidth areas.Apps. There is no end to what apps can do these days. We have forged relationships to bring you apps that will help you better the world, including apps that count and accredit service hours, supply you with discount coupons from local businesses that you can gift to your volunteers, and allow you to create mobile content you can share.What can people do with all of these resources?Ahhhh, so many things! You can develop a plan for a business and fund it, plan an event and spread the idea, brand a product and sell it (we can fund you), educate the world about something that matters, or rally collections. You can do just about anything!What projects are happening with RandomKid now?One of most popular projects is the Vapur Anti-Bottle Project!Youth cross the nation youth are working to replace disposable, single-use bottles with a safe reusable one that can be rolled up and put in your pocket: Vapur! Through this one act youth are reducing oil dependency, eliminating waste from our landfills, and using the proceeds to fund projects that better the world. RandomKid is covering the upfront costs, and will work with youth to design their own tags for the bottles that tell your story of hope for the world. Learn more here.For more project ideas, visit— the power is yours,Talia Leman
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