STAY: Hannah Brencher overwhelms HIVE

Nearly 24 hours later, I’m still in awe.  I had read about Hannah Brencher and prior to this HIVE gathering, but reading about someone and hearing them tell their own story are two very different things.  I’ve written here about the power of encouragement in the life of the entrepreneur, and I have tried to model my own life as a Husband, Dad, and Leader as the guy in the room who will always encourage you.  I love this —>

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built an ark. Professionals built the Titanic.

But nothing I’ve heard before prepared me for what Hannah Brencher brought to the HIVE gathering.  She did not use the above quotation. Rather, she lives it. She preaches it. She does it.  Did I mention that she’s 25?  Her life at 25 has lived more than double her years, and her verbal expression of her calling leaves no doubt that this young lady is, and will continue to be, someone very influential in the lives of thousands, maybe even millions of people.

Above are my notes from her talk. I couldn’t stop writing.  Here’s just what I wrote down, which is to say that much more was going through my head and heart.  See what Hannah’s words make you think, or better yet, what they make you change in your own life or the life of someone you don’t even know!

  • The entire impetus for came from her time working as an intern on $25/week in New York, riding the subway and seeing someone she couldn’t engage verbally. She decided to write this lady a note. Hannah got so engrossed in the writing that she never noticed that the lady got off the train.
  • 397 notes later, the press got wind of these letters.
  • Her first blog post generated 100+ request for “love letters”
  • Two years later, MLL is a network of love letter writers and deliverers in 50 states, 58 countries, 100 college campuses
  • Hannah’s first book will be available in 2015.
  • Mother Teresa had mangled feet, because she always took the last of the leftovers after she had handed out shoes to the children in Calcutta. How come this story never went viral?
  • “Passion” is an overused word in our culture today.  The word passion comes from the Latin word for “to suffer”. Passion literally means ‘that which you are willing to suffer for.”  What’s your “passion”? What are you willing to suffer for?
  • Hannah lived on $25/week on the 3rd floor of a building in which an immigration office occupied the ground floor, so every day she’d go to work passing by people who’s main concern for the day was whether or not they’d be deported. Every day. Her work often took her to the UN building, filled with wealth and greed and corruption.  Jacked up.
  • Her letters have impacted thousands of people. Letters contain words. Words are tempered by punctuation. A period means an ending. A question mark causes doubt. An exclamation point can bring excitement or disaster. Which punctuation marks are you adding to your words when you speak?
  • The best, most influential leaders today are focusing on things as small as punctuation by focusing on the tiniest seemingly most insignificant person who needs to be told that they are loved and they can do it and not to quit now.
  • Hannah wrote and continues to write thousands of letters imprinting love on people she will never meet, but she hesitated to write a love letter to a dear friend dying of cancer. When she finally wrote the letter, he died before the letter was delivered.  The act of writing love letters is not about “ME”. It’s about showing up for someone when they need it the most, expect it the least, and are at their last.
  • What do you want out of “all this” that you currently have in life?  Is it this? If not, change.

I could go on and on and on. Suffice it to say I am glad that Jake Dudley invited me, and that I attended the HIVE gathering last night.  Even better, Hannah Brencher just pulled up her Connecticut roots and moved to the ATL, so now we can claim her as our own! She even said “y’all” in her first sentence after picking up the mic.

If you see the name “Hannah Brencher” on the list of speakers, no matter what the event, go to that event. And pay attention.

What do you think about that?