I first conceived of the slogan and branding for Go Be More in 2007. But it didn’t come from nowhere. Like all powerful ideas, it emerged from my lifetime of experience.
In 2007 I was a professional miler competing for Nike. I was consistently ranked in the top 5 in the US, and I was training my butt off to make the 2008 Olympic team. Being an Olympian was my dream from the time I first laced up my racing spikes. I was going after it.
In my spare time, I did some public speaking and worked on a few writing projects. I loved speaking from the moment I started. The connection with the audience is an energy that simply can’t be recreated anywhere else.
On top of refining my speeches, I loved to play around with classic fables and children’s stories. Aesop, Grimm, and Hans Christian Anderson wrote simple, insightful, powerful stories that still stand the test of time.
I revisited the story of the gingerbread man one day, and something about it connected with me. The story struck me as inspirational. Not so much the story on the page, but the story it should have been. Because the gingerbread man is an allegory for every person born into this world.
From the moment he finished baking the little old lady looked forward to eating him. But he recognized what she planned for him and he didn’t settle for that fate. He jumped straight off the pan and out the window before she could grab him. He then ran as hard as he could to overcome and out-run everyone else, all of whom saw him as just another cookie meant to be eaten.
We, too, are born into a world that is ready to consume us the moment we arrive. The world encourages us to conform, to fit in, to settle. To sit back, turn on the TV and slowly have our souls drained from our bodies. Before we ever realize who we really are or what dreams we were born to accomplish, our time is up and we don’t even remember what we did for most of it.
But not the gingerbread man, and not me. I plan to Go Be More. And I hope you do, too.
GO BE MORE IS BORN
I, like so many people, struggled from an early age to understand why I battled negative self-talk and a negative self-image. For me, the gingerbread man’s story reflected reality. The world told me I was just a cookie. But I wanted to be more than that.
Everywhere I looked, the most successful people weren’t just another cookie. They were individuals who accepted their individuality, who pursued their unique dreams, and who pushed themselves beyond what was expected. That was the unique thread behind every success story.
I believe we all need to be a lot more like the gingerbread man; we need to become what the world is chasing.
These thoughts eventually began to form into a bigger idea. In my public speeches and events I shared my version of the story of the gingerbread man. I eventually hit upon the phrase “Go Be More” as a way to encompass the idea, and enjoyed the fact that GBM is a play on the words ‘ginger’, ‘bread’, and ‘man’.
I then had an experience that caused everything to come together. My friend was trying to be more physically fit but she struggled to exercise consistently. I gave her a pair of shoes and said, “These are your ‘Go Be More’ shoes. Every time you see them, remember that you were meant to ‘Go Be More’.”
She put those shoes by her front door, and they reminded her every day to get out and exercise. And she did! She got more consistent about pushing herself, and would report back to me with messages like, “I’m going for a walk in my ‘Go Be More’ shoes,” or “My shoes were telling me to ‘Go Be More’ so I’m out doing my workout.”
At that moment, I knew what my dream was. Beyond making the Olympics and setting records on the track. I wanted to inspire everyone to Go Be More. And I wanted to do it with clothes.
GO BE MORE APPAREL
I continued running for Nike, polishing my speaking, and developing the apparel brand. It was important to me that the purpose of the brand’s message be to help others understand who they really are. And the clothing would serve as their commitment to the challenge.
There is extensive psychological research on what influences our behavior. Most people don’t know about it, and so they don’t build their lives to accommodate it. But the companies and brands and organizations we interact with ALL know what will influence us. And they use that knowledge to consume us, rather than help us be more of who we want to be.
I want Go Be More to be more than just a theme for a public speaking engagement, or a collection of blog posts. It has to inspire positive change. That’s why we chose to create an apparel brand. Our clothes incorporate these three critical concepts:
Concreteness: It is a physical object. You can touch it, wear it, feel it. Too often, our dreams remain just ideas. When you can make an idea something physical, it takes on incredible power to affect how you think and act.
Commitment: Nobody wants to wear something they don’t agree with. When you wear a Go Be More shirt, you are committing to the Go Be More lifestyle. That commitment will make good decisions easier and bad decisions harder.
Community: Everyone who wears Go Be More apparel is part of a community of dreamers, individuals, and achievers. Your dream may be unique, but you’re not pursuing it alone. We all need each other, and this community will always support you.
People need daily reminders to maintain their focus. If I want people to Go Be More, I need to give them a concrete way to commit to it, and to join a community of like-minded people.
THE ALL-CONSUMING WORLD
In mid-2008, my life was everything I’d hoped for. I was on track to make the Olympic team in the 1500 meters, I had found my passion for speaking, and I had a great idea for a new business.
Then shortly before the US Olympic Trials, I got the message: my kidneys were failing. I was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, or FSGS, and there was no known cure at the time.
I continued to compete in the Olympic Trials. I tried not to allow it to distract me, but how could it not? I finished 6th in the race, ultimately earning an alternate spot on the team, but did not compete in Beijing. Then, as happens so often to professional runners at the end of an Olympic cycle, Nike did not renew my sponsorship and I was suddenly left with a fatal disease and no income. It felt bleak.
Things took a positive turn fairly quickly, however. Later that year, I underwent an experimental procedure that miraculously cured my FSGS. I’m happy to say I’m alive and thriving today as a result. But the next few years of medical concerns, competing, raising a family and trying to make a living completely consumed me and my dreams for Go Be More. Unlike the gingerbread man, I’d stopped running, and the world had caught up to me.
Nobody is immune to this challenge. Nobody. I’ve met some of the most successful people in the world—athletes, politicians, businessmen and artists—and when I get to know them, they all share stories of how they struggle to stay on the path they’ve chosen.
No matter what it looks like to us on the outside, every single person I’ve met faces the same challenges. The world is out to consume them, and they are trying to stay in front of it. Again, it’s not just me. It’s not just you. We’re all in this together.
GO BE MORE TODAY
Go Be More remained my dream over the past ten years, but I became consumed with other responsibilities, other projects, other relationships. I don’t regret those experiences, because I’ve learned so much from them. Go Be More will be a better company because of those experiences.
But for ten years, I wasn’t pursuing this dream. Now I’m back on track, and it just feels right. As right as when I first envisioned the company. This is what I am meant to be doing. And I want to help you become who you were meant to be.
I hope you’ll join us in the Go Be More community. You are an essential part of our team. Whether you’re buying one of our products, interacting with us on social media, or simply sharing the Go Be More message with a friend, you make our brand what it was meant to be.
Thank you. Let’s Go Be More together.