In order to grow and learn, we must ask questions.
Which is why I, along with David and Matthew Swanberg, are honored to ask a few questions to a man that has a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to impart, our friend and inspiration, Nick Laparra. Nick is a consultant, speaker, humanitarian, and podcaster. He has led non-profit organizations of all shapes and sizes. He has talked about "The Power of Less" from the TedX stage, and he has spoken on the importance of reclaiming your time at CreativeMornings Nashville. We learned about Nick though his podcast, Let's Give A Damn. Let's Give A Damn is a podcast about people who, well, give a damn. Nick hosts guests from all around the world and has them share their story about how they saw a need or problem and dedicated their lives to being part of the solution. Some of the "damn-givers" he has interviewed are Chelsea Clinton, Rainn Wilson, Eryn Eddy, Jonathon Merritt, Sho Baraka, and Propaganda.
We hope you benefit from this exchange.
How important is it for people to give a damn? How can normal people everyday spur others to create an impact?
NL: Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?” Giving damns is monumentally important. Living passive, self-serving lives may be temporarily satisfying but it doesn’t help us create a meaningful legacy. Don’t hear me communicating that humans shouldn't have fun, rest, or do pleasurable things. We must! But if we know what truly matters in life, we’ll know how to balance pleasure with doing what it takes to make a lasting difference.
On your podcast, listeners hear a variety of compelling and impactful stories. How catalytic can storytelling be for creating change?
NL: Storytelling is imperative for creating change. We’re story people. We have been since the beginning of time. Homer, Jesus, Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Whitman, Cash, Angelou, King, Rowling—we can’t get enough of these storytellers and their stories! Bullet points take less time to communicate but they simply don’t get the job done. Stories take much more time to create and to tell but they capture our attention and compel us to imagine what could be. Stories help us understand what happened, what is happening, and what will happen.
So, if we want to see things change in our world, let’s begin with telling meaningful stories. The hard part about telling stories—in the context of trying to make a difference in the world—is getting people to act on what they hear. I don’t simply want to tell stories for the hell of it. My goal is to share stories in a way that people want to act on what they hear and experience. This work is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard f---ing work. But it is so worth it.
What sort of challenges have you’ve faced while trying to grow the Let’s Give A Damn family? Have you ever felt pressured to compromise your mission or skew from creative authenticity in order to grow your audience?
NL: One of the greatest challenges I’ve faced is figuring out how to break through all the noise. There are so many people doing what I’m doing. Social media is full of distracted people scrolling through their feeds. There are hundreds of thousands of active podcasts out there. I believe I have a viewpoint and skillset that makes me unique, no doubt. But there is still so much noise. It’s hard work to continue to create, produce, and deliver day after day after day. But I must do it if I truly believe this is something that needs to be out in the world.
You talk a lot about minimalism, you’ve even given a TedX talk on the topic. What are some of the most beneficial things you’ve experienced since becoming a minimalist? What are some of the less sexy aspects?
NL: Freedom. Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” The less I have and the more I give away, the more free I am to engage in the most important things in life. The fewer decisions I have to make about what to wear each day or what to eat, the more time I have to be focus on my family, my work, and my future.
One of the decisions I made a while back was that I would make food for me, not against me. I engage in intermittent fasting—simply put, I only eat from 1pm - 9pm each day. Additionally, I eat the same thing for lunch 5-6 days per week. Because of these disciplines in my life, I save myself a ton of time which I can then put toward creating more content. I only have to think creatively about one meal per day and its the only meal I eat each day with my wife and kids.
Some of the less sexy aspects? It’s not all fun and games, for sure. Sometimes, it sucks to only have 2 pairs of pants, 6 tees, 2 pairs of shoes, and a few other odds-n-ends. I live out of two bags—a backpack and a duffel. At times, more options would be nice.
Overall, the pros far outweigh the cons and I’m excited to see how these disciplines benefit me for the rest of my life.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
NL: "Nick loved Becky, Solace, Belle, and Roman so much. He served as many people as possible in as many ways as possible. He lived every day as if it were his last."
We strongly encourage everyone who has enjoyed this exchange to subscribe and listen to Nick's podcast.
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