Who is on Your Dream Team?
Take the time to name those people who helped you get to where you are today. To help, we’ll give you a few quick prompts – about the friends, influences, places, work colleagues and other sources of inspiration that made your life possible.,
At the end, you’ll get a wonderful visualization of all the people who contributed to who you are today AND the opportunity to share it with them as a way of saying thanks.
This will take around ten minutes but don’t worry if you forget someone or need more time, you can always save where you are and update it later. Also, this is your dream team, not ours, so this data won’t be shared by anyone for any reason, period. If you’d prefer to do this with pencil and paper, just download the prompts and blank form here.
On any given day, approximately 800,000 people in the United States will celebrate their birthday. When we are young, we sit with a birthday cake before us, surrounded by friends and families and we make a wish to blow out the lit candles marking our years.
In any given year, many of these wishes bear some semblance to one another despite the diversity of the wish makers. We wish for things or experiences that will bring us joy. In some years, like this one, we may wish more often for things or experiences that will take away our pain and suffering.
It is a misguided superstition that after we close our eyes and make our wishes, we are not to tell anyone what we have just wished for – out of fear that this will make it less likely they will come true.
Yet doesn’t telling others our wishes actually empower people – our family, friends, loved ones, even strangers – to grant them?
I have always been one to keep my own wishes tight to my vest. Fearing they may sound selfish while also safeguarding my disappointment when they aren’t realized.
Perhaps this is compounded by the fact that my birthday is on Christmas,
I’m envious of those who let their wishes be known widely. Recently a friend referred to those people as “fearless askers.” I’m guessing they get more of what they want than us “wishful thinkers.”
In the spirit of being a fearless asker, of letting my own birthday wishes be known, I humbly offer the following for anyone looking to grant me a birthday wish this year:
I wish you would buy one of these t-shirts to raise money for my non-profit.
I wish you would pre-order a copy of my children’s book, Three Little Engines, coming out next year.
I wish you would share this email with your friends and family, encouraging them to subscribe.
I wish more people would support these organizations helping people try to move up in life.
In the scheme of things this list may seem trivial. Of course, I have more meaningful wishes.
I wish my children could see their grandparents, I wish I could hug my mom. I wish I could have a date night with my wife. I wish my best friend didn’t have cancer. I wish my friends weren’t spending the holidays without a loved one who has passed this year. I wish the pandemic was behind us. I wish people weren’t suffering. I wish more people were doing their jobs to end that suffering. I wish we weren’t as divided as a country. I wish, I wish, I wish.
The reality, though, is that there is little that you or I can do to make those wishes come true right now.
Which brings me back to my original list above. I write this weekly note and create other similar content because it makes me feel good to put something positive out into the world. The feedback I get mostly tells me that others find it helpful. Particularly in challenging times. So I hope you would find it natural that I would want it shared more widely.
One nice thing about being born on Christmas is that, for millions more, it is a day of wishes made, granted and received.
So may you and yours speak your wishes loudly while also granting them to as many others as you can.
Wishing you a happy and wonderful holiday.
Moving Up is an initiative based on the writing of Bob McKinnon. Motivated to understand his own journey out of poverty and inspired by his career working with nonprofits and foundations, Bob began exploring the science behind why some people make it and others don’t – and how we make sense of our life outcome either way.
His journey was captured in his recent TEDx talk: How Did I End Up Here and in the interactive book, Moving Up: The Truth About Getting Ahead in America that takes you through the various factors the impact where we end up in life. It features compelling personal narratives, relevant social science, and documented mobility research and best practices
Bob is the author of the Moving Up Mondays blog that reaches thousands of readers each week and the book Actions Speak Loudest: Keeping Our Promise for A Better World. A contributor to Fast Company, Thrive Global, Medium and the Huffington Post, he is also an adjunct professor at the Parsons School of Design. Among his courses taught is Redesigning the American Dream.
In the spirit of Moving Up, this is Bob’s alternative bio: “Bob McKinnon is the son of Daytona Roth, a former bartender who raised three children largely by herself in various row houses in Chelsea, Massachusetts and trailers in rural Pennsylvania. He is a proud former recipient of food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, Pell grants, student loans and numerous other government benefits. His educational and professional success would not be possible without the kindness and efforts of countless teachers, mentors, social workers, friends, family, non-profit workers, and individuals – many of whom will never know their impact on his life.
Through his writing and work, he hopes to pay tribute and thanks to all those who have helped him and others move up in life.
The Moving Up Media Lab
To advance this work, Bob founded the Moving Up Media Lab, a non-profit whose mission is to inspire Americans to reflect on who and what has contributed to where they end up in life.
Each year the Lab focuses on developing 1-2 projects that are designed to help people reflect on their own journeys and gain a deeper appreciation for what has helped or hindered their efforts along the way. Research shows that by providing people with tools to reflect on their own life journey, they can become both more supportive and helpful towards others.
The Invisible Dream: A year-long research project done in conjunction with Public Agenda, asking Americans to share their attitudes about what the American Dream is and what it takes to achieve it. Results and an infographic series were launched at a National Press Club event which featured Fox News political analyst Juan Williams, Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution, Robert Samuelson of The Washington Post and Hedrick Smith, author of Who Stole the American Dream?
Your American Dream Score: An interactive calculator that allows people to see what factors have helped or hindered their own efforts to move up in life. Over 600,000 people have already found their score to date and it is now the basis for curriculum created by PBS Learning and diversity training programs. It was recognized by Fast Company as a finalist for its World Changing Ideas issue.
My Dream Team: A simple online tool for people to name and thank the people, places and organizations that provided the social capital to help them get to where they are today. In the end, each person receives a beautiful, shareable visualization of their Dream Team comprised of all the people, places and groups that made their journey possible
Thank You:Each piece of content we create is the result of a highly collaborative effort. Without their involvement none of this work would be possible.The foundation is the research relationships with scholars, universities and organizations that study the issues and attitudes surrounding mobility. They include:
- Brookings Institution, Century Foundation, Cornell University, Columbia University, Harvard University, The New School University, Public Agenda, Northwestern University, Penn State University, Stanford University, University of California-Irvine
Our inspiration is drawn from our relationships with those working to help lift themselves or others move up in life, including organizations such as:
- Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Chasing the Dream, Children’s Health Fund, Family Independence Initiative, Foundation for the Carolinas,The Ford Foundation, KIPP, LIFT Communities, Opportunity Insights, Opportunity Nation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Yonkers Partners in Education
Media organizations provide the platforms necessary for sharing our work.
- PBS, Facebook, Fast Company, New York Times, NPR, The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, and Yahoo among others outlets have featured our work.
Each project is funded through a combination of individual donations and grants from:
- The Ford Foundation, The Tides Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Carolina, The Foundation for the Carolinas and Photowings
Throughout the development of this work, we have benefited greatly from the guidance and wisdom of many individuals whose scholarship and commitment to helping others move up is unparalleled. They include:
- Raj Chetty, Brian Collier, Seth Godin, Paul Piff, Shai Davidai, Fiona Guthrie, Crysta Jentile, Kellie-Castruita-Specter, Geraldine Moriba, Eugenia Harvey, Will Platt-Higgins, Vicki Zubovic, and Anne Adriance among many others.
Finally, the digital design and development of our tools and this site is made possible by our fantastic partners at Sol Design – led by Adam Rosenkoetter.