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.
These are hard.
What would you take for yourself, that you know would help someone else more?
What would you give your child, that if you gave to another child instead would dramatically change their life?
These philosophical questions are ones that we don’t explicitly ask ourselves. They are by design difficult to answer. They pit our egalitarian principles and a belief in a fair world against our most basic desire to provide and protect ourselves and those we love.
Yet they play out each day implicitly in the choices we make about how we spend our time, our money, and our social capital.
For example, would you invest in an SAT tutor for your child knowing that only a small fraction of parents can afford the cost? Would you find a way to get vaccinated if you knew it might delay someone, more at risk than you, from receiving theirs? Would you give a friend’s child an internship, if it might deny it to someone more deserving but less connected?
In raising these questions, I run the risk of sounding judgmental. But I know portions of my house are made of glass, so I toss these stones gently. I moved to a town, specifically to give my children certain advantages. I spend money on expensive takeout while people miles away go hungry. Even as you read this, I’m renting a house during my children’s spring break, while others get no break at all.
We should all, to some extent, be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor, without guilt or remorse.
At the same time, when does it feel like we’re hoarding our spoils versus sharing them?
On the latest episode of my podcast, I talked to Richard Reeves from the Brookings Institution about this very subject. It was, at times, a difficult conversation and will likely challenge your own sensibilities. I know it did mine.
I hope you have a listen.
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.