In this episode we have a captivating chat with Mallory Brown, Impact Storyteller and Founder of Walk a Mile, a marathon journey to walk 26 miles in the shoes of females making an impact around the globe.
In this episode, we sit down with Mallory Brown, impact storyteller, humanitarian filmmaker and founder of Walk A Mile. A marathon journey to walk 26 miles in the shoes of 26 different females working hard to get their families out of poverty. We discuss everything from her first trip to a developing country during college that sparked her drive in this field, all the way to her current endeavors with Walk A Mile, which takes us from displacement camps in Haiti to Syrian refugee camps.
This begins with Mallory taking a school trip to Southeast Asia where she had a bike accident which led to her having to receive medical help and realizing how basic their medical care was compared to what we are used to in the United States. This experience changed her perspective and she then knew that she wanted to make it her goal to help as many people as possible across the globe.
That trip sparked her to visit more developing countries soaking up as much culture and experiences she could which then narrowed down to what is now her specialty of making short documentaries about charities around the world and the people that they help.
Her first fundraising trip was to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010, where she visited the displaced persons camps housing all of the refugees that had nowhere to stay after the disaster. She met a family there and her story of how she helped them is breathtaking.
From there we go into one of her next projects which was going to Greece to visit the Syrian refugee camps and see where and how she would be able to help. This story dives into the relationships she built as well as how she took the risk to be smuggled INTO the refugee camp to get the first-hand experience and meet the people living there, even though no outsiders were allowed in the camp. From there she went to raise almost $48,000 to help outfit the schools that these refugees were going to.
To wrap up the episode we talk more in-depth about her project Walk A Mile where Mallory visits 26 countries to make 26 short film documentaries about 26 different women from 26 different cultures and their different approaches to pulling their families out of poverty.
We are so lucky to have people like Mallory Brown doing such great things for us on this planet and hope that you all enjoy hearing her story as much as we did, and hope it inspires you to go make an impact too!
N Kristock: In this episode, we have a captivating chat with Mallory Brown impact storyteller and founder of walk a mile a marathon journey to walk 26 miles in the shoes of females making an impact around the globe.
N Kristock: Welcome, welcome. You’re listening to The Science of Social Impact, a podcast from Crate of Good. We are on a mission to educate and inspire you to make social impact part of your daily life. Thanks for joining. Let’s make an impact right now.
N Kristock: So life is a crazy journey that we could never script. And today we are going to learn how a woman from Farmington Hills, Michigan, finds herself smuggled into a Syrian refugee camp as she attempts to change the world. Today we’re talking with impact storyteller and humanitarian filmmaker and activist, Mallory Brown. Mallory, what’s up?
M Brown: Hello? Hello. Yes, Syrian refugee camp. Man, you just dive right in.
N Kristock: Yeah. Well we’re going to get to that. Before we do, we got to start with what makes you, you tell me, tell us, what do you believe, what’s a core principle that you know to be true after your life’s incredible work so far?
M Brown: Well there’s definitely one that keeps me centered and focused all the time. And I believe, I know to be true that people are all the same everywhere and it is reinforced every day of my life. This morning I had another profound moment. I, I was on a conference call with people in Uganda and the office debate going on in the background, I was just cracking up because it’s exactly the same as just the little details that people are complaining about and wifi is networking and I’ll, you know, and people are the same everywhere.
N Kristock: Awesome. Well, we’re gonna continue to unpack that belief statement that people are all people are all the same everywhere throughout this chat. So first we’re going to ask the question like how did we get here? And first let’s frame where here is. So where are we talking to you from today? Like, where exactly are you in the world? Give us all those details so we can know where, where you are today. Here.
M Brown: Okay. Well, today I am in my home. I live in Birmingham, Michigan. It’s also my office. I work from home, running my crazy campaigns around the world and when I’m not here, I’m traveling to remote locations around the world to film in developing countries.
N Kristock: Awesome. And so this didn’t happen overnight. So like, go ahead and answer this question however you’d like. Give us the cliff notes version of how the heck did we get here today? In Birmingham, Michigan.
M Brown: Well, so I decided when I was 24 years old that I wanted to be one of those, throw it all into my passion and see if I could make a career out of what I loved. And so I started as a social entrepreneur and, my passion is really helping people that live in developing countries. And so I started a a long career of trying to work as an activist and communicate the real needs of people on the ground and engage people back at home to interact with them. And so I started a, I started with my first company and then I started,my second company, which is what I run now called travel now. And I ran charity campaigns around the world. And I work as a filmmaker to showcase,you know, these are the real lives of people in need and this is how we can help.
N Kristock: Awesome. Was there a moment for you or an experience that kickstarted, you know, like you said, that decision to start to dedicate, you know, what you did to social entrepreneurship and social impact?
M Brown: There was a moment. Yeah. So when I went to a liberal arts college and Michigan, a small school called Albion College.
N Kristock: Shout out to all the Albion grads.
M Brown: Yeah. Go Brits. But when I graduated, I took a backpacking trip to Southeast Asia and it was just for fun. I went with a girlfriend, we wanted to go ride an elephant. That was before I knew that that’s a very bad thing to do. But I, I got hurt on the second day of the trip right away. I was in a bicycle accident and I had my chin was cut open and I had all these stitches put in. My whole body was bruised and I had open cuts all over my body. And so it was pretty bad. It’s probably the most hurt I’ve ever been. And it snapped me out of vacation mode and into real life. And I went into health clinics and I started seeing other people, local people that were in need. And you know, I really just started to look at my, my trip to Bali and to Thailand as, as more of an eyeopening experience than this vacation that I thought it would be. And that was my first trip to the developing world. And it changed my whole view on life and on the world and how I fit into it and how I connect with people. And that was the, the moment that changed everything. The course of my career has, has shifted and turns with everything I learned and how I grow as a person and you know, trying to be more effective than my job and that’s just a huge long journey. But that first trip was the, that was the spark.
N Kristock: Wow. That is a wild story. It started with a bike accident, so you fall off this bike, I dunno, hit hit a hole in the road or something like that. And you have to get some somewhat serious like treatment at the local hospital there. And that’s where you kind of saw some things.
M Brown: Yeah. And it was really, so I was moving around around the islands and I had a local man who would walk with me every day to, to walk to clinics, clinics, they I got five stitches in my chin and I had to go to a clinic every other day to make sure they’re not infected. Like when you hear that from a doctor, it’s like, Oh my gosh, what is happening right now? This is my face. You know, it’s not like on my knee or something like my chin. And so yeah, I started taking these walks with this, this local man who would take me to all the different clinics I needed to go to and I, I started to learn about his life and you know, you’d show up at these clinics and just see how basic their medical care was. And you know, I went to one clinic where they were treating animals and humans in the same room and I’m like, no, I’m not doing this.
M Brown: Take me, you know, I want to go to a different one. But it was, it was, you know, that’s the reality for people that live there. That’s their healthcare. And so so yeah, it really just, you know, it changed my perspective and also in a way that, you know, I survived. I was fine. I think my, my family, my friends were freaking out, at home, but I, I guess I started to live like a local, you know, and I didn’t feel in danger or like I needed to rush home or that I, I couldn’t survive this, you know, I was just kinda living like them for a little bit.
N Kristock: Awesome. There’s going to be a couple, a couple of points along this conversation where we’re in story mode, a couple points where we’re going to have a perspective spike. And then a couple of where we’re going to have like an advice moment for someone listening to this who says, okay, I want, I want to go serve somewhere on a trip, like the one that Mallory is talking about. Can you first tell us maybe what country they should look into second and tell us if there’s an organization you to go search out and serve four. And then thirdly if they were to get in a bike accident or hurt on a trip like this, which could be a barrier for some people who are wanting to go on it what they should feel better about or do if that would happen.
M Brown: Yeah, sure. There’s tons of advice I can give then all over the world. Yeah, as we, as we talk today, I’m 33 years old and I’ve been to 51 countries, so I’ve had quite the quite the, the bucket of stories to pull from
N Kristock: Unreal. So where is like if someone said, Hey, I want to serve, what, what’s a country they should look into to as a starting spot to serve in as someone who’s been to 51?
M Brown: Yeah. Well you know, I’d kind of flip that question back on them and say, where do they have an interest in going? Because when you go on a trip or some sort of volunteer trip, you gain a lot more than just the work you’re doing on the ground. And so you’ll see a culture and people and language and food and scenery and you know, that, that that’s the whole experience. So you know, many people start off in central America, it’s very close Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, those are all very, any easy places to get to. The, there’s not huge jet lag same time zone. The flights fairly simple. Spanish is the local language, which most people can get by on. So those are really great starting points. But you know, my starting point was Southeast Asia and I went to the opposite side of the world because I wanted something totally different and I wanted a language I couldn’t understand and to not be able to.
M Brown: Yeah, I was on the opposite time zone. So when my family and friends at home are sleeping, I’m awake and I want it to be totally removed. And so that’s, you know, that’s your other end of the spectrum. So I guess it’s your comfort zone and how, how comfortable you are being so removed. But Southeast Asia is my favorite part of the world. Cambodia had a phenomenal trip in Cambodia. Thailand. Those are just very welcoming for tourists and very, very eyeopening. They’re Buddhist countries. They are languages and characters. Just a total different world over there. So yeah, but you know, there’s tons of organizations that do that do service trips. My first trip wasn’t actually service trip. I just went on a tour and with a company called Intrepid, which I always recommend to people. It was a group of 12 people in their twenties from all around the world. And that’s a great experience too because you meet your fellow travelers,
N Kristock: Intrepid, I. N T, E N, T. I. N. T. R. E. P. I. D. Intrepid.
M Brown: Yes. So so yeah, but there’s times and, and a lot of kids in school, they’re, they’ll have spring break service trips. A lot of those go to Honduras or Haiti or you know, places that are close to get to the flights, not too long. And that’s a great way to, to serve because you’re with your friends, your peers, and you can come home and go back to school and share those memories with the person you’re with. So yeah, I would just look at you know, what kind of culture you’re interested in seeing and what kind of opportunities I easy to sign up for. Awesome. Yeah. And then your, your company, they provide all sorts of links for insurance and travel insurance, which I had and safety precautions and any vaccines you need and all of that. It’s, it’s not, it’s nothing crazy. It’s much less than people imagine. It will be. So, that should not deter you at all
N Kristock: For sure. Cool. So that was a kickstart of many experiences for you that you continue to just have a on your journey to, to help make the world better. Tell me about your next kind of experience or story that really started to shape who you are today.
M Brown: Right. Well. So now my, my work has very much narrowed into my specialty, which is I make short documentary films about charities around the world. And then I run crowd funding campaigns to try to raise money to help them. And after nine years of working as a humanitarian activist, I know that’s my sweet spot. That’s where I shine. And so that sort of discovery actually happened by chance. The first fundraiser I ever ran was in January of 2015 so a little over four years ago and I was in Haiti for a separate project. And throughout my time in, Hey, I came across this family and it was a single mom. She had five kids and their oldest son had been separated from the family in this very traumatic, horrible way. So if you can remember back to 2010 there was a horrible earthquake in Haiti.
M Brown: It’s hit the capital city and just destroyed the country. And when that happened, this family, they were living in Port-au-Prince, the capital city and the oldest son wasn’t home. And so he was, he was, I don’t know, off school or with friends or somewhere. And so his mom gathered her other children and everyone was evacuated out of the city and moved outside to these sort of refugee camps. They called them displaced persons camps and he wasn’t there and he didn’t move with them. And so you know, they’re very poor family. They don’t have telephones. They didn’t have really much money, no way to keep in touch. And so the oldest son, his name was Jackie, he started living on the streets and actually fell into a situation of childhood slavery, which exists in Haiti. And it’s this horrifying story that the nonprofit I was working with, they had been working with this family to try to help them.
M Brown: So flash forward five years, and Jackie, the oldest son had escaped from this childhood slavery situation that he was living in. He was taken into a local home and kept as a servant. So basically like a real life Cinderella. And he escaped from that family and found out which camp his mom and siblings had been moved to. And made his way to that displaced persons camp. They were still living there five years later and there’s hundreds of thousands of people. And he walked to tent to tent until he found them and reunited with them. So insane story. I met the family a couple of months after that reunification. And so Jackie was home with his mom and his other siblings, but they had nothing. I mean, they’re in this, in this refugee camp and there’s no work, there’s no way to earn an income, there was just horrible sanitation issues there exposed to all the elements.
M Brown: There’s just this heat shining like every day cooking them and they’re in this tiny little makeshift tent. And so I decided I couldn’t, I just couldn’t walk away from them. There was something so strong. And so I decided to run a one day long fundraiser when I was on the ground in Haiti and I would try to raise enough money to move this family back into their old neighborhood, which was now rebuilt and get them into a home so they could restart their life. And I thought, if I could pay a year of rent for this family, it would make such a huge difference. And so I published a fundraiser online one day long fundraiser. Emailed that to all my friends and family, showing them Jackie and his mom, Shawntel and, and the other siblings. And we made a video about it.
M Brown: And I raised $10,000 in one day online. And I literally like drove back to the, to the, the displaced persons camp the next day and like, pack up your stuff. We’re moving. So we moved, we moved the family, we loaded them all into a truck and all of their, everything they had. And I found an apartment and we rented it for a year, paid for utilities. We enrolled the kids into their school so they could finally go back to school after five years. And had no school and actually raised so much money. I was able to give the mom seed money to start her own business and, and it changed their life. I mean, $10,000 was life changing to this family. And so that moment I was like, wow, this actually works. You know, people really give when I can communicate, so specifically the need and we can really do some good. So since then I’ve been running fundraisers for all sorts of causes all around the world, trying to directly help people
N Kristock: Unreal story. What country was that in?
M Brown: That was in Haiti.
N Kristock: In Haiti. Wow. So that’s incredible. And that was in Haiti and like we said, you’ve been to 51 countries. So now take me from this awesome experience in Haiti, your first online, one day fundraiser. Super big success. Take me from there to how we ended up over in Syria.
M Brown: So yeah, Syria was was sort of the next iteration of fundraisers because I started realizing how successful these would be in that I could, I could sort of pinpoint an interesting topic of conversation and then go there and try to help. So when the, the crisis in Syria was sort of at the peak of our news I decided to actually go, I went to Greece to a Syrian refugee camp and show what life was really like, you know, we see all these news articles and you read headlines and and that’s great. It’s awareness, but you know, what is it really like on a day to day basis and when, what is these camps look like and what do the people sound like and what does it smell like and what are they eating and where do they go to the bathroom and where are they going to go from there?
M Brown: You know, like the details of life. So I went to Greece to Northern Greece Thessaloniki and stationed myself right outside of a refugee camp called the silica. And this campaign just shook my core because I normally work in poverty where it’s a, a sort of life that someone’s born into and they, you know, they’re struggling and they have a lot of needs, but this is the status of their community. Whereas the Syrian refugee crisis were normal people who were forced to leave their country. And when your country abandons you, no one has to claim you. And I didn’t realize this, I’d never really thought about it. But if all of a sudden the United States said to us, you’re not valid anymore, we’re not claiming you, you’re not an American citizen,
M Brown: We wouldn’t have, I mean, we would have nowhere to go and we would have, nobody would need to take us in. Canada wouldn’t have to take us into Mexico, wouldn’t have to take us in. You can just exist without a country and a nationality. And so these refugees, which were forced to leave Syria because there’s actual, you know, bombs exploding over their heads, no one claims them. And so they live in this no man’s land and it’s it was insane. Totally functioning. Doctors and lawyers and teachers and educated people are, are just in limbo. And so so anyway, I stationed myself outside of this refugee camp and the refugee camp was in an old chemical factory, which is probably just pumping toxins into all of these, everything. You know, all the air they’re breathing and the floor underneath them. And it was this vacant piece of property that nobody wanted anymore. And so that’s where they decided to set up their refugee camp. And foreigners weren’t allowed inside the refugee camp. So I was legally in Greece. I was a, you know, a visitor in Greece, but I couldn’t go into the refugee camps. So we started meeting with all of these kids outside just right outside of the barbed wire that separated the camp from us. And one family actually smuggled us in because they wanted us to see, I wanted to see what was it really like in there?
N Kristock: Why do they not let foreigners in to the camp?
M Brown: I think a multitude of reasons. I mean, one, the, they probably don’t want a liability because there’s no you know, there’s no, no organization that’s funding any of this. There’s no, and it’s, it’s so very challenging living environment. And so if I were to go in and get hurt, they don’t want the liability of an American you know, an American visitor being injured on this, on this land.
N Kristock: And is that the government of Greece that’s funding that?
M Brown: Yes. The government of Greece. Yeah. And I think also just, you know, this is supposed to be a, a, this is nothing that anyone’s proud of and I don’t think they want to, this is not a tourist attraction, you know, they don’t want people to see it, to take photographs to spread the wrong image of it. And they don’t have any, you know, it’s just a control factor. So yeah, but I went in and met with these families and
N Kristock: Before we talk about what happened in tell like who, whose idea saying you’re casually saying I was smuggled into a Syrian refugee camp. Someone who’s like, that’s not so casual. Like, who hatches this idea and how do we, how do we get you in to this camp?
M Brown: Right. So I was stationed outside of the camp and we were trying to raise funds for a school to be built, right. Well, it was actually built to give them all of the supplies they needed right outside of the camp. And so I could freely go in and out of this, this school per se, cause it was not technically the, the refugee camp. And so every day I would go and meet with kids that were walking over because they wanted to go to classes. And I became friends with a bunch of these little kids, these little little six year old kids. And so I really bonded with two sisters and they would come running every day to see us. And I told them I wanted to be able to show what their, what their home looked like and what their tent looked like and who was their mom and what did they eat every day.
M Brown: And so because we weren’t allowed in, I gave the oldest sister my GoPro, so she could walk through the camp and kind of found her own little tent. And come back out and give me the footage. And so this is my first solution to the problem of us not being able to enter. And she took the GoPro in and came out crying because an older kid had stolen it from her. And so you know, partially that’s just kids being kids. Partially it’s that you’re working with a group of very traumatized people that have had everything taken from them and they have no resources. They have no money, they have no ability to shop. So I go-pro’s a high commodity item. So so yeah, so after that failure with the GoPro, we decided to, the girls were just like, no, no, we’ll bring you in. And so they knew that there was a break in the barbed wire around back.
N Kristock: So you hear that idea, are you, are you right away? Like, yeah, let’s go. Or are you right away? Like, Oh, well you’re gonna, we’re going to do what?
M Brown: I was all in. I love that stuff. Yeah. My group was, we had to come with people in the group that were a little nervous with the legality of that and getting in trouble. And you know, the last thing you want to do is be imprisoned in a foreign country. So I understand those sort of hesitations. But for me I see, I just, I, I trust in people so much that I knew I would be okay. I knew that the, the Syrians in the camp would back me on this and they wouldn’t allow something bad to happen. So, we went and went to these two sisters, little tent and I got to meet their mom and their dad. And it was so fun because there’s guards that walk. So inside the, the camp, it’s rows of tents, you know, think of army, an old army scene, you know, and each tent is for a different family.
M Brown: And so it could be a mom, a dad, and seven cousins and four kids and everyone’s in a tent. You know, these are whole communities that had to flee. So you don’t have space or personal space. You want to save as many people as you can. And so we went into this tent and caused a little scene because we were these white people in the refugee camp and some of the, you know, the teenage boys that were in there sort of stood guard and cause the government guards, the Greek government, they would walk up and down the aisles monitoring the refugee camp. And so they would keep track of where the guards were. And then when they were walking by the tent, we were inside tell everyone to be really quiet. So that they wouldn’t hear English. It was actually kind of crazy. When I say this back, I’m like, well, what am I doing with my life? But but yeah, so they, you know, they hit our shoes. They were very thorough to make sure that we were not detected. And then we spent maybe an hour in, inside that tent and then when it was coast was clear, we got smuggled out. Through the barbed wire,? Through the barbed wire back to somewhere else that’s not inside the camp or right back to anywhere else that I’m supposed to be. So was then a conversation in English with the Syrian refugees during that hour you spent in the tent?
M Brown: Yeah. so,
M Brown: Most of the time when I’m working on the ground, people don’t speak English, but often kids will speak English. You know, the young generation is learning English, so they translate. And so I would say Helen who was the young six year old girl, I would say, you know, how long have you been in the tent? And then she would translate that to I mean she could probably answer that, but, you know, translate it so her mom could answer questions and they wanted, you know, they always wanted to, to prepare food for you. And so they had an Apple and some tea. And so we made tea together and the tent and cut up the Apple into slices and shared that and just ask the questions and eat, gain a lot of knowledge just from, from being there, from sitting in the room and understanding and the interactions between people.
M Brown: It’s like when you’re watching a movie on mute, you know, you can still tell what’s happening. And so I can see the relationship between the mom. I can tell whose siblings. I can see, you know, where’s the tension, what’s the need, who’s who’s doing what? And,the father of that family was a wonderful man. He was,he was very happy to have us, to have us visit. And you know, a lot of women in the camp, they deal with a lot of depression because their families have just lost everything and they feel so, just lost and bad for their kids. And so,the men tend to step up a lot and get going into survival mode. And that’s what that dad did. He, so he was always fixing the tent and building things and finding water and fetching water and doing whatever he could to make sure that people were making it through.
N Kristock: Wow. So successful fundraiser in Syria.
M Brown: Oh, so successful. We raised almost $48,000 to help outfit this school with everything these Syrian kids needed.
N Kristock: So. Cool. Congrats on that. So you leave Syriaand now bring me up to where we are starting to hatch the idea for your current endeavor Walk A Mile.
M Brown: Yes. So I decided a year and a half ago that, you know, if I could pick one word that really describes my work, it’s empathy and I am so empathetic towards other people.
M Brown: I can’t not feel for what they’re feeling. And so when I think of empathy, I think of the quote, don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. And that’s really what I’ve been doing my whole career, you know, is trying to walk in someone else’s shoes for a moment in time and elicit some empathy for them and, and then turn it into action. And create real financial support. So I took that quote, don’t judge someone until you walk a mile in their shoes. And I thought I can turn this into something. And so I created walk a mile, which is a documentary series. And in every series I step into the shoes of an impoverished woman somewhere in the world who’s trying to pull her family out of poverty. And every mile is a different episode. And so I decided to do a full marathon of this 26 different episodes, 26 different women, 26 different cultures, 26 different approaches to pulling your family out of poverty. And every single woman is supported by a local charity. So as a local charity that’s getting small business loans or teaching training or helping this woman be successful in business or manage your finances. And so there’d be 26 charities that benefit from this documentary series.
M Brown: So I started walking a mile a year and a half ago and decided I would try to create these 26 storylines and publish them online with fundraisers and try to raise some awareness. And so far I have four of them that are live for people to watch and engage with and donate online and I have 11 of them that are filmed, so 11 different episodes that are, have been, have been filmed and there are in the process of going through and the journey is incredible. It’s the best work I’ve ever done and it’s really showing me such a wide spectrum. I’m learning so much about this, the struggles of women and the work of these great nonprofits and we’re raising a ton of support for them.
N Kristock: Where does someone find the ones that are already released and out there?
M Brown: So the easiest way is to go to my website, which is travelmal.com. So it’s just Mallory shortened so travel now you can watch them all, you can also go to YouTube and search. My YouTube channel is travelmal and all of the walk a mile episodes are there. They’re each five minutes long and you can go step in the shoes of a woman in need and figured out how you can help her.
N Kristock: Sweet. Can we donate from the site or from YouTube or is there another site we’re going to, to make that donation?
M Brown: So when you watch the video, there’s a donation link. So you can the links on my site, it’s on YouTube also, but it takes you to CrowdRise, which is the crowdfunding platform where the donations are collected.
N Kristock: Sweet. And you’ve got four released, 11 filmed. Those 11 films, including the four they’re released or is that 11 additional?
M Brown: Ah, including them.
N Kristock: So we’ve got 15 left, 15 miles, 15 women, 15 countries, 15 stories left.
M Brown: Yup. 15 more to go.
N Kristock: And are those planned out? Some planned out, none planned out.
M Brown: It’s, it’s a work in progress. So yeah, I, I find funding to produce all of these. And so when I basically when find funding, then I produce the next few miles and kind of moves down this conveyor belt of fund the project, travel film, come home and edit, publish online, and then raise the money for the charity. And then we do it for the next and the next and the next. So it’s you know, the whole project and itself I think will take me five years to film, edit and publish all 26 miles.
N Kristock: What kind of person or organization is typically funding these?
M Brown: So far I’m thrilled that all the first 11 miles that have been filmed are funded by individuals. No way, I thought for sure you were going to tell me organization. No, I welcome it companies to come in and fund. But no, they’re, they’re organizations often with family foundations or you know, just very successful CEOs or people that want to give back in a large way. And they believe that my method of fundraising and humanitarian work is very effective. So they see, you know, funding. One of my miles will actually, in the end, after I’ve published the crowd funding campaign, it yields more money for the charities because collectively, you know, my viewership will donate more, more money. So yeah, it’s been a, it’s allowed me to meet some incredibly generous people, but I’m still looking for more so anyone listening? But yes, it’s it’s, it’s quite a spectrum of experiences that I get to have.
N Kristock: Yeah, you could say that would be one way to put it. Quite a spectrum of experiences. It’s a,
N Kristock: That’s probably putting it lightly. You’ve had so many amazing ones. So maybe one question that I have for you right now would be you’ve had all these amazing experiences. You’ve made some awesome things happen, but I would bet that you haven’t always known exactly what you were doing when you started something. You just maybe knew the destination and had no idea of the route to get there. Can you unpack real quick a time when you had absolutely no idea what you were doing? You can just be real level with us. Hey, when I set out to do this thing, I had no idea what was going on. And then maybe just tell us your first three steps you took after you realized. Yep, no clue.
M Brown: Yeah. Well, I’d say that’s, you know, a large part of my life. And not that I’m, not that I’m an incompetent person. Of course, of course. Most of what I’m doing is uncharted territory. You know, I’ve, I’ve yet to meet another person with the same job that I have, so I don’t know anyone else that produces their own short documentary films and runs on the ground fundraisers. So I am blazing trails every day and walk a mile as a project itself is the first project that I’ve ever solely taken on as my own. I have no boss, I have no main sponsor. There’s no, corporate funding. I don’t have any guidelines. I have no, here’s, there’s no one to report to because it’s my own creation and it is very challenging for me to activate and decide to start with such little framework.
M Brown: So my previous, all of my previous work, I’d always had some sort of guiding light, some sort of mentor or sponsor or funder or someone who had a say. And when I started walking a mile, I really thought, you know, this is me going out on my own. It would be the equivalent of a, like a film director directing other people’s movies. And then all of a sudden they say, I’m gonna make my own movie from scratch. Or if you work for a company and you’re an engineer and you build things for a company, then going home and saying, okay, I’m going to build something in my basement from scratch and try to patent it. You know, so this is me going out as a total independent and that’s very nervous, like nerve wracking. And I realized that if I looked at it as a marathon as 26 miles as a round the world trip as a five year long project, I would get so overwhelmed with all that there was to do.
M Brown: And every time I still get overwhelmed. But when I break it down into the smallest chunks, I make progress. So my first thing was, okay, get mile one funded, pick where mile one’s gonna be, make mile one happen. And then that’s even a huge goal, you know? So it’s reached out to three people today with the idea of mile one and get their feedback and you know, select the charity. Just one thing that I can accomplish to move the project forward. And if you can do, if you can move the needle a little bit every day, eventually it starts to come together. And then now that I’m 11 miles in, there’s a rhythm, you know, I know how to fund the mile. I know how long I need to plan it. I know which type of organizations I like to work with. I know the right questions to ask, you know what I mean?
M Brown: And it starts to become. I’m much better at it because I’m much more competent. But yeah, I, you know, I read a magazine article when I was young. I mean, I was probably in college and it was, it was written, not necessarily too applying to me, but it was about people that were trying to, people that are always nervous to ask for a raise at work and they, I just get nervous to go into their bosses office and sit down and say, I do great work and I want to raise. And people will work for three years at the same pay grade until they gather the courage to go ask for the raise. And then when their bosses, yes, they’re like, Oh my God, yeah, they should have done this three years ago. Think of how much more money I could have made, you know.
M Brown: And so that stuck with me. So it resonated with me so much that just the fear of asking holds you back. And the worst thing that’s going to happen is you walk into your boss’s office and say, I work really hard. I’m your best employee I want to raise. And they say no, and you go back to life as is. And so I have just always tried to approach my work as what if I had no fear in this situation, what would I do? Because it’s my own fear that is probably holding me back. And when I look back on my life and the 51 countries I’ve been to and the hundreds and thousands of dollars I have raised for charity, even in the past year and a half, I’ve been to 11 different countries for walk a mile. Can you say that again? In the past year and a half, I’ve been to 11 different countries for 18 months, 18 months.
M Brown: I just wanted to make sure I got that right. Yeah. And I, I’m shocked at how much I accomplish. I, because what my day to day, I don’t, I don’t feel like I’m working myself to death or I’m jumping off a cliff every day or, but when I look back, I see I did so much and I saved so much time by not operating from a fear based place. I saved hours and hours of hesitation and overthinking and not asking when I need to ask and I, I just go for it. And so you know, when I talked to entrepreneurs all the time, people can, you can think your idea to death, but you, you just got to act. And so it’s led me to create amazing things and beautiful change and helps so many people. I mean, the, the tech, you know, the logistics of what I do is impressive. The, the way it’s structured is impressive, but the people that I am helping, that is the most impressive. And it’s, it’s truly changing people’s lives because I can work effectively, I can help so many people in need. And you know, and that’s just amazing. That’s just miraculous.
N Kristock: So after some of the amazing stories you’ve shared today we know a little bit more about you, what’s. We’re going to kind of start to wrap this up here on a personal note. What’s, what would you be surprised to know about you right now?
M Brown: Hm, well, I feel like my life is really an open book.
M Brown: You know, when you watch my videos, you’ll, you’ll feel like, hopefully you feel like you know me and you can get a sense of who I am. I have a lot of people that come up to me and they like give me a big hug and start talking to me because they feel like they know me because they’ve watched me online. But I have no idea who this person is. So so I try to really be authentic and true to myself. But the surprising thing probably is that, and just actually writing a whole blog post about this, but I have always had a very I’ve been very self conscious about my voice and the sound of my voice. And it stemmed from when I was a little girl and it’s, it’s a unique pitch. I know that it sounds, it’s very identifiable.
M Brown: It’s, that’s me talking. There’s not a lot of people that have the, the tone of voice that I have. I’m told I have a very strong Midwest accent. But it’s you know it’s amazing to me that my voice, which something that I have then subconscious about my whole life. It has turned into now that I’m a voice for people that are living in poverty. And I, you know, I speak for them and I share their stories for them. And it’s, it’s just amazing how that flipped on me in my life. And I didn’t intend that to be, but it, it did. Yeah. And so I think people would be very surprised to know that I have that sort of you know, I, I’m a little self conscious about my voice. Wow. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah. Well you’re welcome. Don’t analyze it too much. Please don’t turn this into a funny little rap video with my voice.
N Kristock: No, it was poetic. It was poetic. How about something you’re scared of? What is all after all of this? What scares you today?
M Brown: I think really, I’m scared of, I’m scared of what would happen if I stopped doing what I’m doing. I’ve set myself up for this beautiful life of adventure and philanthropy and human connection and human spirit. And I travel a ton and I love to travel and it’s a really great right now, but I fear what will happen when I get married and have kids and I you know, I can’t move at the pace I’m moving right now. And it scares me too to think that I would lose my you know, my, my spirit and my approach to people. I don’t, as I say that I know I will find a way to make it work because it’s so a part of who I am. Even if my job changes or my, the time commitment that I had changes I know I won’t lose it, but I am fearful of how that looks because it’s so, it’s so much of who I am.
N Kristock: That’s like a really interesting part of life that I guess we all navigate at a different time as we when we do something and really put our whole heart into it, we somehow identify with this and people identify us with it. And at a certain point there comes a time where we kind of have to figure out, instead of identifying with that, how are we going to now identify with like our legacy for that and what, what is our legacy and how do we make sure that that legacy stays around long after us and we’re in this work, we can’t clone ourselves. Otherwise we would we can only inspire. So second to last question for you here. What are some real takeaways that someone can do here? And I really want you to use this question and answer as a platform to bridge the gap for someone who hasn’t been to 51 countries for someone who maybe hasn’t even left their country, who listens to your story and is inspired and becomes a part of, of your legacy to change the world for the better. Help them really figure out how they can navigate this.
M Brown: And I know you said empathy was, was one of your core beliefs. So really put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s listening to this and saying, Hey, get me there Mal. Like, how do I get to this feeling that you have where you know, you found a purpose and are, are just crushing it. Yes. Yeah. That’s so great. And it’s, I’m so glad you brought that up because I realize, you know, I took my, I took my life and made it very extreme and not everyone can do that and, or wants to do that. You know, you don’t have to go fly to Africa to have an impact and you don’t have to go raise $1 million to have an impact. And the takeaway that I hope people would gain from watching me and, and engaging with the stories that I’m telling and watching the stories that I’m telling is that the biggest impact that I had is not the dollars that I create.
M Brown: The biggest impact that I have is that I care. I really care what happens to those two girls in the Syrian refugee camp and I really care about the women that I walk with in these films and they know that. They feel that so deeply. The best compliment I ever received was from an impoverished woman in Uganda and she said, you, meaning me? She said, you have everything that someone would want. You are American, you are educated. You come from, and I come from the upper middle class in the U S, I’m white, I’m eloquent. I have every single opportunity that I, you know, that, that I could do whatever I wanted to do with my life. And I choose to identify with people that are poor. And that meant so much to her that I came to see her and I came to tell her story and then I didn’t take another opportunity.
M Brown: And for anyone who’s ever worked with the homeless, if you’ve ever volunteered, if you’ve ever gone to a soup kitchen, when you’re at a soup kitchen and you’re serving someone, it’s not the soup that is the difference you’re making. It’s not the meal that is going into their stomach. It’s the fact that you showed up and that you care enough to do that and to take your time to give to someone else. And the other point I’d really like to drive home is that you have no idea the ripple effect of you being there. You know, I talked to so many people about like that go to their annual volunteer day and although they kind of like it and they have fun and they’re really pumped, they get off of work for the day, they feel like what did that really do and how did that really help? And it actually really helps. The people that I have gone back to visit years later.
M Brown: They have, they proved to me how this smallest interaction with someone makes a humongous difference. Like that family I told you about in Haiti that I moved into the neighborhood. So I went back two years later to check in on them to see how they were doing. And the oldest son, the one that was in childhood slavery. So the first time I met him, he didn’t speak because he was so traumatized by what he’d been through. Understandably. I was like, it’s okay. You don’t need to talk to me. I don’t speak your language. I am this foreign person that walked into your house and told everyone to move. Like we don’t, you know, it’s okay. And I didn’t even pry him to speak. And I went back two years later and he wrote me a letter, in English. So he had learned English in two years and he had been saving it for the next time that he saw me.
M Brown: And I am, I’m like tearing up as I tell you this because I didn’t know that I would ever go back to visit this family, but I, I was sent to Haiti for a different reason and I just decided to extend my trip and go pay them a visit. And he gave it to me, thanking me for believing in them and not giving up on them. And it meant so much to me, this letter because it just shows that people really need, you know, they just really need someone to believe in them. And that sort of care, that sort of compassion is what makes a difference in life. You know, even if I had raised no money for that family, the fact that I cared meant something to them. And so I would just tell everyone to not underestimate your heart and your compassion for others and what that stands for and how that motivates them. Because that’s really, that’s really what I’m trying to, to show every day.
N Kristock: Wow. Unreal.
M Brown: Sorry, I’m making you cry.
New Speaker: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You’re awesome. This is awesome. Usually I close this out with someones 30 second message to the world and, and you just crushed it, so I’m not even going to go to that question cause you just nailed it. People need someone to believe in them and there’s so much power, especially with things going on in today’s world to just care a lot about a lot of things and about a lot of people. And if we all cared a lot that is really gonna make some serious change. And you are one of the people that are inspiring us to do that. So I thank you very much for that. I mean, we started this story with a bike accident on a trip. We went to Syrian refugee camps in Greece witnessing victims of childhood slavery in Haiti.
N Kristock: I honestly, you are a human do good machine. I don’t know if you’ve used that nickname before. You can take that with you. Okay, do good machine and you’re doing so much now. But also for the people that see your work benefit from your work there, you’re leaving a legacy already. And so be rest assured in that, that when the day comes that you have to face that fear at the moment of what will happen when you can’t run at the pace you’re running, you’ve inspired probably thousands at that point to run at that pace. And the world itself is probably running faster towards good. And we all thank you for that. So guys, this is then an unreal conversation with Mallory Brown, Travel Mal. You can check her out at travelmal.com specifically check out her latest endeavor. Walk a mile, a global marathon for women’s empowerment. She is doing some awesome things every day and we have a lot to learn from her. So Mallory, thank you so much for sharing everything you did today and keep up the great work. Thanks.
N Kristock: Thanks so much for being with us on this episode of The Science of Social Impact, a podcast from Crate of Good. Let’s go out there and make the world a better and brighter place. I’ll see ya when I’m looking at you.