From Volunteer to Kardashian

Not a picture of @Ryan_A_Bell. Kim Kardashian Keynotes at BlogHer16

Two years ago I left my brown cubicle, tossed my cornflower blue tie in the black wire mesh trash can and revved up my Prius to drive off into the unknown. If I concentrate I can still hear the electric-flourescent office hell flowing through the tube over my desk. There are distinct times that one needs to reinvent oneself and this was mine.

My first major move was to volunteer at a BlogHer14 and, as I stacked chairs and checked people in, I looked at the stage and the people on it in these two ways:

1. Holy shit I want to be up there.

2. What can I learn/do to get up there?

I was inspired AND on a mission. I talked to everyone. I cultivated relationships. I found people that needed help and I figured out how to help them. Basically I worked my ass off.

Fast forward to now and I’m speaking at BlogHer right before Sheryl Crow and Kim Kardashian…

and I’m kinda just sitting here rereading that sentence.

Kinda like this…

My own realization is that in two years I’ve become the world’s best volunteer. I believe in communities and technologies and I get behind them with a mixture of love, belief and a little fervor. I’ve helped companies like Twitter and Periscope (#fanboy) build communities, I’ve won an award from The White House for my work with Special Olympics and started a documentary in VR to end child trafficking with Dipak M. Patel of Zeality and ERASE Child Trafficking.

But… if you boil it all down this whole thing started with handing out lanyards and name tags. It completely did. Lanyards.

“This isn’t a lanyard… shit… I’m in the wrong article again”

“I’m onstage at BlogHer in two days” I told my wife over dinner last night.

“Full circle, huh?” she said as she put another forkful of fish in her mouth during a moment of quiet from our 1 and 3 year old daughters.

I went to bed last night and looked at the ceiling… really, it’s never been about me. It’s always been about my family, my community and the world. It’s about being an engine powering a bigger ship. It’s about finding your place in this world and finding your talents through doing. It’s about saying yes and making that yes happen.

In the end, the funny thing is that I’m exactly the same… only with more practice. When you see me onstage or on television I hope you realize that I’m not the speaker that I wanted to be when I first volunteered.

I’m just a better volunteer.


(@Ryan_A_Bell will be speaking at @BlogHer at 11:30AM on August 5 in Los Angeles. If you want to attend CLICK HERE. Ryan specializes in virtual reality & livestreaming and helps brands and celebrities create content and strategy. Check out his website at Ryan.Live or follow him on Twitter or Facebook)