(Post by GARY DOI)
It was only a year ago (May 9, 2011 to be exact) when I launched the blog, A Hopeful Sign (AHS). It was without fanfare or celebration, a soft launch to ensure that things worked, technically speaking. Fortunately, they did.
The bigger and much more important issue was the blog’s purpose and practice: to spread hope by sharing real-life stories of living-learning-leading.
Back then the blog was a new upstart with an all-volunteer group trying to compete for space and attention against the backdrop of millions of other bloggers. The learning experience was both intimidating and exhilarating. I wasn’t even sure that they (whoever “they” are) would visit the site or read the stories, view the images or watch the videos. Would they really appreciate that hope is a powerful tool for developing resiliency?
I was convinced at the outset (and still am today) that hope is a life-sustaining resource in short supply, especially in today’s world where hopefulness remains fragile and under siege from so many sectors. How do we live life without it? Do our job well? Create a sense of efficacy? Support others in need? I don’t believe it’s possible, without a steady infusion of hope. Hope creates resilience, positive behavior and engagement. Hope is essential for facing any challenge that life puts before you.
During the planning stage before the blog was launched, my two main concerns were site design and content. I wanted an appealing design based on the concept of hopefulness – to live, to learn and to lead. My nephew Chad lent his considerable expertise and customized a dynamic WordPress template making the blog easy for me to manage. The other major challenge was securing fresh and compelling content. I first approached friends and colleagues and several agreed to lend a hand. Most of the site contributors, though, were individuals I didn’t know except through the internet. The plea was simple – please share a hopeful story about living, learning or leading. Thankfully, many took the leap of faith and selflessly gave of their time and talent.
I relished the chance to connect and build a network of VIP’s (Very Interesting People) from across the world. It was a good fit for me as a former School Superintendent. Learning, creating and connecting had been my trademark and AHS offered up many new opportunities.
Social media introduced me to a whole new culture with Twitter, Facebook and Digg. Indeed, it was like living in a foreign country and I didn’t speak the language. So I immersed myself in the social networking community and good things started to happen.
Then there was blogging itself. Initially, I thought I’d be writing and posting many of my own stories. As it turned out, what appealed to me most was browsing the internet seeking out fresh and thought-provoking voices and perspectives for AHS readers, kind of like talent hunting in a vast online (and largely unknown) global landscape. I am so grateful to the AHS contributors for their creative, unique, passionate, smart, funny and inspiring real-life stories. That’s what makes A Hopeful Sign worthwhile reading and viewing!
Thanks as well to all those who took the time to comment on the posts, subscribe to the site or promote the blog. The global network of friends and followers sustains the conversation, generates ideas and builds momentum.
As the first year comes to a close, I can report that the response to A Hopeful Sign has been generous and yes, hopeful. In that time, we’ve published 355 posts, attracted 35,000 visitors and Google-ranked a respectable 4. And, if you google the word “hopeful”, AHS will show up on the first page of the search. That’s a practical measure of the site’s popularity.
I’m sure I didn’t envision (before the launch) where we would be a year later, but somehow it worked out. It is as author Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) once said: “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
I can also honestly say that I am still enthusiastic – maybe even gushing a bit – about the blog. Where it will lead (or end) I don’t know. That doesn’t matter so much. AHS is little like the journey of life itself: enjoy it while it lasts.
Thanks for joining us.
Gary Doi, Founder-Editor (ahopefulsign.com)
Gary created the magazine blog “A Hopeful Sign” as he believes there is no greater force for creating change than hope. To encourage and engage. To inspire. To live-learn-lead. Email: editor (at) ahopefulsign (dot) com Twitter: ahopefulsign Facebook: A Hopeful Sign