Charley Johnson – Paying It Forward

5 11 2010

When you ask most people “What is your goal?” they might say they would like to increase their business, lose some weight, or buy a new car – not Charley Johnson – Charley is going to “change the world.”  When you talk to Charley you realize he is serious, and you realize that he has the passion, drive, and confidence to actually achieve that goal.

In 2006, driving on the freeway, Charley Johnson had a vision, and that vision has turned into a movement.  The idea was inspired by the movie Pay It Forward written by Catherine Ryan Hyde, and the foundation that it spawned.  Millions of people saw that movie and thought, “great idea” but Charley Johnson took action to spread the word – with a simple bracelet.

The “Pay It Forward” mission is this:  You, your company, your community, your family & friends can make the world a better place.  It could be a small act like opening a door, buying a stranger a cup of coffee, or giving your time to a cause.  Donate blood, open a door for someone, work at a soup kitchen, assist your neighbor with their yardwork, give someone your spot in line – there is no wrong way to participate, as long as you are doing something to make another person’s life better.

Charley’s contribution to the cause is a white rubber PAY IT FORWARD bracelet.  You CANNOT buy them – just contact Charley and he will send you a bunch of bracelets for free.  Wear your bracelet to remind yourself to do something nice.  Pass the bracelet on to remind someone else to keep it moving forward.  Thus far, Charley has put over 800,000 bracelets into 58 countries around the world, and he’s only getting started.  The goal is 1 billion (with a “B”) bracelets in circulation – 1 billion reminders to do something nice.  Schools are involving the concept in their programs about citizenship and responsibility.  Communities are using the concept to improve their surroundings and help their neighbors.  Companies are using the concept to increase teamwork and boost employee morale.

Charley & Stacey-Marie Hansen

Speaking to Charley this week was as surprising as it was inspiring.  I tried to get him to talk about himself, take some credit, and soak up a little well-deserved spotlight for making a difference.  You might expect a guy with over 4,000 Facebook friends to self-promote when given the chance.  Not even close.  “This movement is not about me,” he said with a matter-of-fact frankness that is his trademark whether he knows it or not, “this is about creating your own movement.  This gives everyone a chance to participate – the bracelet tells you what to do, but not how to do it.”

The Promotional Products Industry, where Charley earns his living, is throwing it’s weight behind the cause.  Saturday, November 6th, is Promotional Professionals Pay It Forward Day, and we encourage everyone to participate.  Do something nice for someone else.  Follow Charley’s example and make the world a better place.

Great job Charley. I know you don’t want the credit, but you deserve it.


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