12 Tips To Leading Your Best Life (2/12)

This is the second installment of the series I call, “12 Tips To Leading Your Best Life”. It’s a talk I give each semester to Ed Baker’s GSU class, and after delivering it to the class last semester, I decided to create a series out of it. But before I dive into tip #2, I have a few other things I want to share.


Y’all, composting has never been easier. We signed up for CompostNow a few years ago. We have a bucket that we put food waste (and a lot of other things, the list is bigger than you think) into, and then every week we put the bucket outside and someone comes and replaces it with a fresh one.

You know I love me some data, which is another great thing about CompostNow. Below is an example of what they sent to me recently to show the impact the Hilimire family has had so far.

If you’re interested, here’s my referral link to give you $10 off when you sign up. It’s such an easy thing to do to make an impact on your environment, I hope you’ll consider it!

Humble (dad) brag

My oldest son is heading off to college in the Fall (NYU for acting), and we’re currently in Montreat, NC, for the Presbyterian Youth Conference that is held there every summer. My son is one of the youth leaders that planned the event (where this week over 900 kids are attending), and as you can see from the photo above, he also performed in some of the experiences (that’s him in the middle). I’m kinda proud of the guy ❤️

(But I’m so not ready for him to go away for college 😢)

A quick update on Purpose Group

Purpose Group, the purpose-driven holding company that I founded with Jonathan Morgan and David Cummings, is off to a great start. (My goal with Purpose Group is to create more companies in the world that are a force for good.)

We acquired our first business in May: Gerald Printing & Liberty Imaging. Based in Kentucky and northern Tennessee, they’re a print, apparel, and signs business with over 90 employees (and if your company buys swag for your employees or partners, let me know and I’ll connect you to Gerald!).

If you want to keep up with our journey at Purpose Group, the two best places are to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on LinkedIn.

Tip #2: Dream Big, But Start Small.

My first tip to leading your best life is to have a long-term focus. Every one of us should think about where we want to be 10, 20, even 30 years down the road. I find this is something very few people do, but it makes such an impact on how we live our lives. Plus, it’s a fun exercise! For more, check out my last post as it plays nicely into my second tip: to dream big, but start small.

Story time

Way back in early 2015, I had this idea. It was a crazy idea (or so everyone told me…everyone, that is, except Adam Walker…more on that later).

I had been looking for a way to make a bigger impact on my personal purpose (to have an outsized, positive impact on the world). Up until that point in my career, I spent 17 years building digital marketing agencies, and it occurred to me that I had done very little to help the hundreds of employees at my companies to use their skills to do good.

After mulling over several different concepts (and even trying a few), I finally landed on the idea of having some of my team members build a website for a nonprofit. I couldn’t (and still can’t) think of something a nonprofit needs more than a compelling website, and the smaller nonprofits simply don’t have the budget, resources, or knowledge to stand up a proper website. I was struggling with the best way to pull this off, because typically a website project takes 4-6 months, and I felt like too many things could change over that period of time (the nonprofit leadership could change out, their goal for the website could shift, our team members could become busy on other projects, etc.)

Around this time I attended a technology hackathon, where a hundred developers came together over a 2-day period and built some really impressive technology (mostly mobile apps). I was blown away by the amount of progress a small, passionate group of people could make in a short period of time.

And that’s when the idea hit me: why not put on a website-building hackathon? Could a team of six web designers and developer build a website over a weekend? That’s the question I started asking people, and everyone said, “uh, no, no that won’t work,” …that is, until I had the good sense to ask Adam Walker.

Adam thought about the question for a minute, and said, “Sure, I don’t see why not.”

Only, he didn’t know this was a trap.

I followed with, “So, what you’re saying is that a group of six or so people could build a website in a weekend, right?”


“So then, conceivably, two teams of six people could build two websites, right?”

“Conceivably, sure. I guess if…”

“So then,” I said, cutting him off, “if we keep doing that math, several hundred people could build 48 nonprofit websites in 48 hours…right?”

After pausing for a second, he said, “Well, I suppose so, if…”

“Great, we’ll call it 48in48 and we’ll be partners, and let’s see, it’s February now…let’s do it in October.”

Somehow, Adam didn’t hang up the phone on me, and we began building what became 48in48. You can read more of the origin story of 48in48, but the gist is that we pulled that first event off in 2015, in the newly opened Ponce City Market, and it was a massive success.

Adam, me, and Warrick Dunn at the first 48in48 event. (Yes, Warrick freaking Dunn!!)

The shocking thing was that, after the event, the volunteers essentially asked us if we would do the event again in 2016. Adam and I had no thoughts of doing the event again—we thought this was a one and done kind of thing. But, if the volunteers were asking for it (we assumed nonprofits would want us to keep doing it), then we knew we had to give it a shot.

Fast-forward to today, and 48in48 has put on 29 events, built over 1,200 nonprofit websites (delivering over $30 million in value), with over 10,000 volunteers around the world. Our 30th event is coming up next weekend (it’s our Social Justice Event, where we build websites for nonprofits run by BIPOC leaders and nonprofits that focus on social justice initiatives). At this point, Adam and I are simply on the board, under the leadership of Sima Parekh (Executive Director) and Raj Choudhury (Board Chair).

Adam and me having a pint at our first 48in48 London event. We never could have predicted where 48in48 would take us…

Oh, and 48in48 is hiring, if you know anyone :)

The Point

48in48 in many ways started as a small idea—how can I help a group of volunteers build a nonprofit website. That initial idea was a small one, but the “dream” became to bring together hundreds of people and build 48 websites in a weekend. What we didn’t realize was that, in fact, that first event was the small dream, with the larger vision for 48in48 being much, much larger.

I’m always telling my entrepreneurial friends to dream bigger. There’s a saying, and I don’t know who said it but I certainly don’t deserve the credit, that people always overestimate what they can do in the short term, and underestimate what they can do in the long term. Dream bigger, people!

Now that you have your long term plan, start to dream big. Think about what you can accomplish, and then try to 10x it! Once you land on something lofty to do with your life (and maybe so lofty that most people say, “uh, no, no that won’t work,”) go back to today and start small. Brick by brick, you can start to lay the path that will get you to your dreams.

I hope you’re happy.

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