One thing I love love love about this “Mynewfavoriteweek’ly Inspiration” series is that it allows me to ask questions of people I find, fascinating, inspiring, funny, or any other descriptive term of appreciation for a person. I love being able dig a little deeper, be opened up to new worlds and to learn about how other people see the world, what they believe have been the mile markers on their road of life and how they try to go about making each day a ‘newfavoriteday.’
The humanitarian, author, interesting and talented human being I am going to introduce you to through this post is special; not only in his awesome achievements, but also in his ability to communicate. For me, this really jumped out in an answer he gave to one of my interview questions. You will read it below, but before you do, I want to focus on the word and the word in the context of his success. The “persistence” to continue. That to me spoke volumes. As you can read in many quotes about persistence, there are many talented people who are simply that, talented. Then, there are people that take their talent, even talents they never knew they had, and apply persistence, perseverance and spirit and make magic. Conor Grennan is clearly talented and smart which you will quickly ascertain, but he is also persistent and acknowledges that he is such, which to me, is not false humility but rather quietly astute and real.
I was fortunate enough to have come to know Conor through my dear friend Michelle, who I interviewed about her wine label 2 weeks ago in the post “Please raise your glass of wine to “‘Mynewfavoriteweek’ly Inspiration” preferably hers.” It probably then comes as no surprise that I am thoroughly excited to introduce you to Conor as an author of a book called Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal. He is also the founder of a nonprofit organization called Next Generation Nepal dedicated to to reconnecting trafficked children with their families. I am pretty sure I don’t need to tell you much more about him, other than to know, that his book Little Princes is coming out in paperback December 27th and so if you need any holiday gift ideas for the reader in your family, be sure to visit the link at the end of this post to learn more about getting the book in hard or paperback. Without further adieu, please meet Conor Grennan.
SHANNON: As a little boy, what did you dream of being when you grew up?
CONOR: I wanted to do something with politics. Maybe not running for office, but being the guy behind the guy – working in Washington DC, helping to formulate laws and change the world in some way. I went on to study government and politics, and even work in public policy for about eight years in Eastern Europe for a think tank. And I really did love it.
SHANNON: You are not only an author but Humanitarian or perhaps it’s the other way around…What inspired you to found Next Generation Nepal?
CONOR: It was really only out of necessity. I never had any intention of starting a nonprofit – I’d worked in nonprofit for long enough to know how difficult it was. But nobody was searching for these trafficked children in Nepal, and nobody was trying to reunite them with their families. If it was going to get done, I was going to have to try to do it.
SHANNON: How did you come to write about your experience and author a book?
CONOR: When I first went out to volunteer in Nepal (and travel around the world for a year), I started a blog. I figured it was better than emailing people with travel updates – blogs were still fairly new in 2004. A few years later, an agent approached me about writing a book based on my experience. I turned it down. I was so busy at the time with business school at NYU Stern and running Next Generation Nepal that I didn’t have a free moment. She then had her assistant print out my blog – it turned out it was about 1500 pages. I’d basically written the book already. That made it a lot easier. The book is, in large part, taken from the blog I was keeping.
SHANNON: As the book is now coming out in paperback, what 3 things would you want people to know about the book?
CONOR: The most important thing to me is for people to know that this book is not a typical story of somebody going out and changing the world. I’ve very open about the fact that I went to volunteer because I figured it would be a good pick up line.
The second thing is that I’ve always written travel humor, and this book has a lot of that. I try to keep it light and funny, because that’s the kind of book I like to read, not something heavy and depressing. I think the story stays true without getting heavy-handed.
The last thing is that I donate a portion of the proceeds directly to NGN. I want this book to be a tool to educate folks and help a lot of kids – it’s why I wrote it in the first place.
SHANNON: How has this experience changed you?
CONOR: In every way possible. I have a cause that I devote a lot of my time to. I have a new family in Nepal. And I met my wife there, volunteering – I have two beautiful children of my own. It’s completely altered the trajectory of my life. But most importantly, I’m now in a position to share this story with the world, and that’s a huge gift to me and to the kids in Nepal.
SHANNON: What or who do find you inspiring?
CONOR: I love speaking at universities and prep schools, and seeing how passionate this upcoming generation is about getting involved. It’s no longer a fringe activity – service is at the core of a lot of schools now. That’s amazing to me, and inspires me.
SHANNON: What is one thing about you people might be surprised to know/learn?
CONOR: When people see me speak, I think they think of me as super outgoing. And I am an extrovert, for sure. But writing requires long periods of time alone in a room, and I’ve very comfortable with that. I can go days without really interacting with people, just working. Though now that I’m married with children, I never want to.
SHANNON: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
CONOR: Probably graduating from the Stern School of Business in New York. It challenged me in ways I never thought I’d be challenged, and I worked hard to do well there. That might surprise people, considering I started this organization and all that – but that was just persistence. I truly believe anyone can do that.
SHANNON: What advice might you give to other aspiring authors who have had an experience they think may resonate with others or that might create a ripple effect?
CONOR: Find out what the REAL story is behind their experience. It isn’t enough to just go out and do something really cool. There has to be a reason why people will pick up your book and not the thousand others. In my case, I had a hard time seeing what the story was, until my agent told me – the way I wrote was always focused on what a screw-up I was. I think people ended up relating to that, that you don’t have to be somebody special to do something special. That was the real story behind the book, not the volunteering and starting the organization, because that’s done every day around the world.
Find the fresh take, think about who your audience is, and everything else will take care of itself.
SHANNON: What pearl(s) of wisdom can you leave us with that you suggest to make each say ‘anewfavoriteday?’
CONOR: It’s cliché, maybe, but I try to always be proud of what I did that day. Whether it’s how hard I worked or the time I spent with my kids or something I did for Next Generation Nepal. I want to look back and be proud of how I spent each hour. That really works for me, and when I do it well (and often I don’t), I finish the day inspired.
SHANNON: If someone wants to learn more about Next Generation Nepal where can they go?
CONOR: www.nextgenerationnepal.org, or visit us on Facebook!
If someone wants to buy the paperback version of your book coming out on DECEMBER 27, where can they go to purchase it or learn more?
You can buy it on Amazon.com, or anywhere online books are sold.