Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is...and Other Good Places
If you were to ask most people who know me (and only those that like me) you might hear a broad range of descriptives. Of course they differ from each perspective because to some I am a son, and to others a brother, to others still a husband and Dad, and others still, a friend. They might tell you that I work with kids...sometimes messed up kids. You might hear them say energetic, and creative...inspired maybe...hopefully. You'd surely hear things orbiting around sports, and reading, and writing. You'd probably hear something about traveling and you'd absolutely hear about this blog, and all of the different ideas, and probably even something about luck and California and New York and Michigan, but what you wouldn't hear are the things that I reserve only for me. Things like how badly I want to make a difference, and how desperately I want to have an impact. You probably won't hear about how I don't want to do it like everyone else, and how I want people to look at whatever path I've followed and think, "wow, that's pretty impressive." I want to be impressive, and you probably wouldn't hear that.
So when I printed off the business license this week, and for the first time on actual paper I read the words Jimmy Twohander, you know, on something so official, I smiled. It's real. This idea is an actual living, breathing thing now. Jimmy Twohander...a means to a very impressive end if I can somehow muster the chutzpah to make something out of it. What is it? It's a manifestation (big words make everything sound better) of everything that I believe in. It's a way to reach out to people and ask them to change the way that they see the world. It's a way to change the way the world works, and that's no small task, but it's one that I've dreamt of for a long, long time. Jimmy Twohander is company with a conscience, and a soul, and a pretty strong determination to change things.
What things, you ask?
Jimmy Twohander is a social enterprise disguised as a lacrosse company. If we do it right, it will be a Pied Piper of sorts, pulling kids out of the machine of organized sport and unorganized values, and inspiring the people who "have" to take care of the people who "don't". Jimmy Twohander will sell t-shirts and experiences and hope. It will assume a business model that most people might cringe at...that surely most people who know what they're doing might shake their confused head at. It will take from those who have and make something out of nothing for those who don't have, and it will do so with energy and conviction and the kind of purpose that inspires people...I hope.
Jimmy Twohander will be hoodies and t-shirts and helmet stickers and summer camps and up-start community programs, and it will break as many rules as you can apply to it, and it will do it with a heart, and a hope that regular people can do exceptional things, if someone shows us the way. So, with a little help and a lot of luck and hard work, Jimmy Twohander is hoping to show us all a new way of doing things. I don't want to contribute to someone else's good ideas anymore. I want to make real my own.
Sports shouldn't be out of reach of good people. It shouldn't be a by-product of your socio-economic status, or your class, or place in society...not now, not with the infrastructure that exists today. Sports has become a business, that's undeniable and unavoidable, but what if we made that business give back...no, what if that business wanted to give back? What if that business' mandate was to take what it can make and turn it around to make something else...something that has previously been left to the grants and volunteers and do-good non-profits of the planet? What if we changed the way people thought about sports, and what they can offer a child, and how accessible they can be, and as we do this we are engaging good people, and motivating disillusioned people, and putting sports back in the realm of possibility for many people who can no longer play on the field of someone else's dreams. What if a company could take the game back and give it to the people that it belongs to? What if someone could create something that truly was "the people's company?" Jimmy Twohander wants to make that craziness happen.
Why a business and not a charity, or a non-profit? Because in it's simplest form commerce is the one common denominator between us all. We buy things. We spend money. We want the things that we see, and so rather than choose to make someone rich, what if by being a consumer we were making the world, even just a small part of it, a better place? What if by playing on a lacrosse team we made it possible for someone else, who might never have been able to, do the same? What if by buying a t-shirt we put a stick in a kid's hand? What if by spending money on ourselves we could lavish others with similar satisfaction? Jimmy Twohander wants to help people understand that we can help one another without even trying. Buy a shirt, and a kid's Mom gets to see their son play a sport for the first time. Send your child to a camp, and a Dad gets to watch his daughter burst with the joy and pride of being a part of something. Put a sticker on your helmet and some child somewhere slips their very own helmet on the first time. And all you have to do is spend the money that you would have normally spent. All you have to do is play a game, and other people will be able to play that same game. It's not noble, or bold, or unique as much as it is hopeful. What if by investing in your own needs you inadvertently meet someone else's needs? That would be a pretty brilliant endeavor. At least, we think so.
So how does it work? Well, first we get things rolling with a presence...a place on the web to call home, and we get a few teams and programs already in progress, and in need...and then we make things to sell...t-shirts, sweats, hats, shorts, bags...and we get busy selling them online and in person, at tournaments, and in stores, on your laptop and at your kitchen table...and then we organize some camps, and clinics, and then start tilting the ship to invest the profits in programs...we put sticks in kids hands...we make sure that if you come to the park to play, there's a stick there to play with...we start teams, and hold clinics...we give kids a place to go after school, and a reason to go to school...We do our best to make that Robin Hood ideal of robbing the rich to give to the poor a somewhat more palatable reality. We don't really want to rob anyone, but as long as you're kid's going to lacrosse camp anyway, or begging for that hoody...why not make sure that the kind of commerce that normally lines pockets does a whole lot more than that. You're getting fleeced anyway, your money might as well make someone happy instead of rich.
This isn't a lacrosse company, it's a social and sporting movement. It's what the inside of my head and heart looks like. It's something worth believing in. It's the thing that will help make coaches aware of the need for mental health and substance abuse training, and the thing that inspires a kids club team to grow out of the ashes of their struggling community and compete with kids who have never known struggle. It's the thing that evens the playing field...hell, that makes sure there are two playing fields to begin with.
If you were to ask most people who know me, I doubt they'd say all that...or perhaps they would? Perhaps it wouldn't be a surprise at all? Maybe husband and Dad and son and brother and Uncle and friend are just the beginnings of the descriptives? All I know is that now I own a business and it better be one that matters. It better leave a mark. It better be impressive.