They Closed Their Orphanage and We Love Them for it

The average American will see an average of 19,000,000 advertisements by their 18th birthday. Every single one of these ads represents a company asking you to your give hard-earned money to support and buy into what they are doing. It would be an understatement to say our culture is crowded with financial requests.

Most requests are not even relevant to us, but random. Most of these are interruptions, and the companies are hoping that their advertisement can simply be the least rude interruption of the day.

We hate this. Story On exists because we want to see people connect with brands they love because of the stories they tell.

Particularly in the charity space, this is more feasible. It is difficult for a business to find a compelling story, but charities, not as much. A charity exists because they see something that needs to be fixed and they are trying to tell that story in order to engage people with their work (or at least they should be).

I started working actively and professionally in the charity space at 16 and I had the privilege to work with several amazing organizations of different shapes and sizes. Over time, I saw many organizations who truly were working towards the best means to meet the needs they were passionate about. I also saw many organizations who were doing the same thing as other organizations, just marketing to a different market. Often there was little effort made to determine if their approach was the best way or if was just the common or easy way to do things.

We want to see organizations passionate about doing the uncommon things; passionate about doing things the best way. This is why one of our favorite organizations at Story On is Asian Hope. Their story is marked by change and transformation which was initiated by the  stories of those they served.

Cambodia has a broken, tragic, yet hopeful story.

Although Asian Hope is 16 years old, their story started in the late 1970’s. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, there was a genocide in the nation of Cambodia where the leader Pol Pot desired to eliminate the family structure, education professionals, and religious establishments from the Cambodian culture.

After several years and approximately 1.4 million deaths, the nation of Cambodia was broken. Over the next few decades, the Vietnamese ran the country, as did the United Nations, and in the early 1990’s there was a renewed authority in the hands of the Cambodian people.

Between the mid 90’s and 2005, thousands of orphanages were established in Cambodia to take care of the millions of orphaned children in the country. One of these orphanages was built by Asian Hope.

At the time, this seemed like the best way to help. But since then, UNICEF has performed in-depth research and realized that upwards of 77% of children in Cambodian orphanages are not actually orphans; most have surviving family members they could be living with.

In 2005, after going through a leadership transition, Asian Hope began to analyze their programs carefully, asking questions to see if the work they were doing was the work that was needed. After three years of research, prayer, and analyzing how other organizations were doing things, they realized they needed to make some changes.

Asian Hope closed the doors of their orphanage. No more new children and no more new orphanages. The students in the current orphanage were taken care of through high school and many of them graduated from College, a rare feat for a Cambodian student. But beyond that, Asian Hope made a commitment to no longer run any orphanages but rather to invest their efforts in education.

Asian Hope has realized over the last decade that education is prevention. They have come to the compelling conclusion that the best way to fight poverty in Cambodia is to take their programs to the families rather than pulling children from the families. They are now supporting and educating families in a way that empowers them to break free from poverty.

The current focus of Asian Hope programs are their private schools reaching the middle class of Cambodia and their Village Development Program. The VDP is giving children in extreme poverty the resources they need to advance in life and in school, along with providing training and education for parents on how to raise healthy families.

We love charities who are committed to doing more than running programs that may be easy to market, but rather those who are committed to truly helping people in the way they need help the most. Asian Hope is committed to this work, even when it is messy.

As we have had the privilege to get to know Asian Hope better, we have grown to trust them because we know they are moved by a conviction to do what is best, no matter what.

The nation of Cambodia will never be the same because of the work of Asian Hope. What if your child could not pass 5th grade because you didn’t have money to pay for bribes? What if you could not provide for your family but a pimp would pay you lots of (food) money if your daughter came to work for him? Asian Hope’s work is putting and end to these problems. For just $1.38 a day you can bring hope to 1 Child for 1 Year. To get involved, go here.

We are passionate about telling stories of businesses and charities doing things right. We love Asian Hope’s commitment to integrity. What are other organizations unapologetically committed to doing things right?

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3 Ways to Crush It as an Entrepreneur

If you have ever been a part of a startup, if you have ever opened your own business, if you have ever even dreamed of opening your own business, the reality of these 3 challenging scenarios is apparent to you. Only one third of businesses started today are expected to be around in 10 years.

Story On is committed to helping small businesses change this ugly statistic. Here are some things we have found that make us more successful.

1. Work ON the business not IN the business

I am fortunate enough to have a partner here at Story On, which allows us to manage the amount of work easier than someone running a startup on their own; but every startup has to find the balance between working ON and working IN the business.

If Seth and I were both working with our current clients, with little or no focus on things like planning for our next hires, monitoring and managing finances, implementing our marketing strategy, or curating new clients, we would likely fail with two thirds of other businesses started at the same time. As a starter, balance is critical.

We have found some balance by spending at least an hour each day analyzing our business, looking for anything that needs improvement, reviewing our financials, and perhaps most importantly, paying attention to our employees.

Do they have needs they haven’t voiced? Do they feel confident in their role and understanding of the value they add to our company? The only way you can truly know these answers is to ask your employees. Give them a platform to share.

We believe that when you serve your employees well, they will be excited to serve each of your customers equally as well. Quality will amplify growth.

2. Balance quality and growth

Many small businesses close their doors because of the tension between maintaining quality and growth.

Story On is growing. We are currently trying to find this quality and growth equilibrium ourselves. There is a ton of work to do, and even more sales that need to be done and more contacts to reach out to. We want to be cultivating new relationships and sales opportunities every day.

But we aren’t.

Right now we are spending time and resources developing the best workflow systems and strategies so we can confidently move forward, knowing we can accept more clients with ease and continue to delight our current customers.

We are committed to following good advice and leadership. Tom Watson, founder of IBM, suggests that you should know what you want the business to look like in 20 years and ask yourself what a business like that needs to act like, and start acting that way TODAY.

If you want your business to be great, it needs to act great from the start. Tom Watson said that he wanted to develop a business, not just do business. And he has seen his dream and vision for IBM become a reality.

3. Commit to good time management habits

Entrepreneurs, starters, and small business owners, tend to have a million things to do; after all, they are often the manager, the bookkeeper, the distributor, the innovator, the husband, the wife, the designer, the laborer. How does someone balance so many roles?

A great way to address the abundant to-do list is by knowing your next 48 hours. Knowing the agenda for the next 48 hours can help to narrow your focus allowing you to be more productive. Make a to-do list and review it every morning before you start working.

Cut out things that aren’t necessary and add things that can be done later to the bottom of the list. The sense of accomplishment each time you check something off will also keep you motivated.

When I started keeping a to-do list, I was immediately more productive. I stayed focused on the task at hand and stopped shooting myself in the foot. I used to get distracted by random thoughts and stop the task at hand to “just do this one thing real quick.” Get rid of distractions.

Committing to reasonable work hours will also amplify your productivity. If your business is going to succeed you have to work. You have to work hard. You have to work efficiently. You don’t have to work 19 hours a day.

Taking time away from work to allow your brain to rest, process, and reset, will make your work hours more productive.

For some cool tools to make you and your business more efficient, check out this article found on

Story On is committed to providing value to our readers. If you have challenges you would like us to address, or if you want us to tell your business’ story, send me an email at or follow me on Twitter @theryantcheck. I would LOVE to connect with you. Thanks for reading.

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