Affectionately known as "America's #1 Success Coach," Jack Canfield is the originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and a leading authority in the areas of self-esteem, achievement motivation, and peak performance. [www.jackcanfield.com]
Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post and the author of twelve books. [www.huffingtonpost.com]
Seth Godin is a prominent author, blogger and speaker. [www.squidoo.com/linchpin]
Krishna Kaur is the founder of YOGA for Youth, a program that takes yoga, meditation, and stimulating discussions on the philosophy of yoga to urban youth. [www.yogaforyouth.org]
Norman Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film. He is also a political and social activist and philanthropist. [www.normanlear.com]
Leilani Münter is a professional race car driver and an environmental activist who uses her voice in the number one spectator sport in America as a catalyst for change. [www.leilanimunter.com]
By going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders, Kevin Bales exposed modern slavery's penetration into the global economy. He co-founded Free the Slaves, which has helped to liberate thousands of slaves. [www.freetheslaves.net]
Sophie Chiche, lifebyme.com founder and curator, enjoys asking deep questions and living a life of meaning. Today she's launching Shape House, an urban sweat lodge, a place to melt away fears and fat. [www.shapehousela.com]
Entrepreneur and writer Mastin Kipp founded TheDailyLove.com, which merges pop culture with inspiration, and co-founded The Love Yourself Company, an apparel company that has started a global self-esteem movement. [www.TheDailyLove.com]
Liz Phair is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. [www.lizphair.com]
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is Chairman of The Elders, a group of world leaders who address some of the world's most pressing problems. He works energetically for human-rights and in his ministry. [www.tutu.org]
Zainab Salbi is the founder and CEO of Women for Women International, a group dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. [www.womenforwomen.org]
Despite his physical challenges, Sean Stephenson has taken a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world. He's a professional speaker, psychotherapist, and author. [www.timetostand.com]
Kia Miller teaches Yoga at Yoga Works in Los Angeles, leads teacher trainings, and runs retreats and workshops on meditation, chakras, pranayam, and mantras, and other practices. [www.kiamiller.com]
Simon Mainwaring is an ex-Nike/Wieden creative, former Worldwide Creative Director at Motorola/Ogilvy, branding/advertising writer, author/speaker/blogger, Australian, idea geek. [www.simonmainwaring.com]
Shannon Bindler is a style editor, life coach, and the co-founder of Get Up Girl, an empowerment company that inspires women to shine. [www.getupgirl.com]
Grammy-nominated art director/designer/photographer Mathieu Bitton has designed over 450 CDs and movie posters. He's a renowned collector of and authority on black films and their soundtracks. [www.candytangerine.com]
Opus Reps founder and agent-producer Jorge Perez travels the world producing photo shoots with great photographers and celebrities. He's also very involved with Meals on Wheels in Los Angeles. www.opusreps.com
I feel a complete certainty about what’s very meaningful to me right now. One is my son, who’s 13, and the other is my work on contemporary slavery. Both give me enormous amounts of pleasure and meaning.
A lot of people think it must be discouraging and depressing to work against slavery, but I have to tell you that it’s not. There are currently 27 million people in slavery all over the world, but that’s the smallest percentage of global population that’s ever been in slavery in history. The money currently put into slavery by the global economy is the smallest percentage in history. Slavery is against the law in every country. There is a long line of abolitionists who have gone before us. We’re now standing at the end of the line, at a point in time when slavery can really be brought to an end.
My interest in abolishing slavery began as curiosity. When I first became aware of contemporary slavery I was a university professor of research methods, statistics, and sociology. I found it very hard to believe contemporary slavery existed. When I looked into it, all I found were anecdotes – no facts. And that led me to the next step, which changed my life.
I went out in the field to do research to understand what modern slavery was about. I began to see the brutality firsthand. I saw the desperation of the people in slavery and the damage it does to them and it broke my heart. It changed me to the point where I couldn’t stay in the classroom any longer. I felt a strong calling to use my skills as a researcher, a writer, and a teacher to help.
The transition to working directly for the abolition of slavery, though scary and often difficult, has been fulfilling and exciting ever since that first step. There are parts of what I do that aren’t my favorite parts, but I almost never feel that I want to do something else. I’m doing what I most enjoy doing.
Certainly, there are times when I need to take a break. Hanging out with my son, doing things together, provides an enormous relief for me. I also take my kayak out to a secluded river and look at trees and wild animals and birds for a while, empty my mind of the rest of the world, and find refreshment that way, too.
Calling and liberating go hand in hand for me. I was drawn to a calling I couldn’t say no to. And, in fact, that calling taking over control of my life has been the greatest liberation I’ve ever experienced.
- Kevin Bales
Explore More Meaning
glamour giver. secret sharer. slumber party hotshot.
Accomplished beauty expert and author, Elizabeth TenHouten has devoted her career to bringing out the best in women, naturally. Her book, Natural Beauty: Homemade Recipes for Radiant Skin & Hair features recipes for homemade topical treatments and skincare remedies. [www.elizabethtenhouten.com]
appreciative son. moment cogitator. lesson learner.
Jeff Semigran is a senior at UC Berkeley studying environmental and civil engineering. He is an alumnus of the Teen Insight Seminars and Leadership series. This piece is part of the Insight University and Life By Me week of giving back. www.givingtuesday.org/insight-university