Mallory Brown is a documentary filmmaker and global humanitarian. She travels the world to tell real-life stories of human connection. Mallory’s goal is to encourage others to embrace empathy and open their hearts to the needs of others. At the age of 34, she has traveled to over 50 countries and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help people in need.
Mallory’s current campaign, “Walk A Mile,” is a global marathon for women’s empowerment. She’s walking a marathon, one mile at a time, with 26 impoverished women around the world. 26 miles. 26 women. 26 countries. 26 stories of strength. Each episode benefits a local charity.
Mallory’s story inspires others to live a passionate, generous, and global life. Her efforts have been featured by the Today Show, The New York Times, Crain’s Detroit Business, the Huffington Post, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.
John Shegerian: This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Engage. Engage is a digital booking engine revolutionizing the talent booking industry. With hundreds of athletes, entrepreneurs, speakers, and business leaders, Engage is the go-to spot for booking talent for your next event. For more information, please visit letsengage.com.
John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. I am John Shegerian and we are so honored to have with us today, Mallory Brown. Mallory is a humanitarian filmmaker and the founder of Walk A Mile. Welcome to the Impact Podcast, Mallory.
Mallory Brown: Thank you, John. Thank you.
John: Because we are still living through this COVID-19 tragic period, I am in Fresno, and you are in the beautiful Motor City of Detroit or Michigan. I know you are in Michigan today, but you live in Detroit typically. But it still seems like we are together and we are going to share your message, your great message with our viewers and our listeners today. So I really am thankful for your time.
Mallory: Yeah, I mean, I am looking forward to it. Thanks for having me.
John: Mallory, you are doing great things, very impactful things, and changing the world in so many ways. But before we get talking about the journey you have been on, please share a little bit of your background bio growing up and what got you even into what you are doing. I want our listeners to hear in your own words.
Mallory: Sure. Yeah. Well, I am an adventure travel girl that out and I call myself a female Indiana Jones. People often assume I had parents that were in the Peace Corps or some travel writer parents. I was raised in this environment, but I was raised in a middle class family in Detroit, Michigan. I lived in the suburbs. It was a fairly standard American upbringing. But when I graduated from college and went to a small liberal arts school in Michigan, when I graduated, I rewarded myself with a backpacking trip to Southeast Asia. I went with a friend of mine and the two of us wanted to do a month in Southeast Asia and just backpacking and having fun like young twenty-year-olds do. That was my first exposure to a culture totally different from my own, to seeing what I consider true poverty in the world. It really was a life-changing moment for me. It just opened my eyes up to how much is out there, how much I’ve never experienced, how much I don’t know about the rest of the world. And so I became a backpacker, and I spent the first part of my 20s just backpacking, exploring different countries of the world, understanding what I was interested in and not. That really led me on the path that I am on. It has always been a personal interest. And so when I was 24 years old, I’ve just been backpacking for a couple years and I decided I want to take this interest, this passion of mine and make that my career. And so then I started my own business, and I became a social entrepreneur. I just dedicated my life to trying to still have adventures but also do humanitarian work like create a life that I loved.
John: So you have Walk A Mile project. Explain the kickoff of Walk A Mile, which is a global marathon for women’s empowerment. Explain how that evolves. What was the genesis or aha moment coming up with Walk A Mile and when did you kick that off?
Mallory: Sure. First I will start with what it is. So Walk A Mile is a global marathon for women. It is a documentary series. Marathon is 26 miles, and so Walk A Mile is a 26-episode series. I walk a mile in the shoes of impoverished women around the world in every episode in a different country. I walk with a different woman. I sort of explore the issues that women face in that country. And then every episode ends with a fundraiser. So I raise money to help the women that I am walking with. It is kind of like Anthony Bourdain series.
John: I am just going to say that. That is the cool point that keeps you on. Where did you kick it off and why did you choose that country?
Mallory: Mile 1 was in Tanzania in Central Africa. I had been to Africa before I had been to Tanzania. I loved it, and I found an amazing charity that I wanted to feature that really embodied women’s empowerment. They believe in empowering local women, impoverished women to solve their own community issues. So it is like double impact because you are not only helping women to learn about their income, support their kids, send their kids to school, and all of the normal things you are donating to but then also those women are working on community issues to better the rest of their community. So I love the model of this nonprofit. I thought starting in Africa just like right away where the Serengeti is. It would just be a great kickoff for the series. So that was Mile 1. And the storyline is I walked with a woman named Elizabeth. She is a local Tanzanian woman. Traditionally in Tanzania women cook over open flame. They make a bonfire and they cook food in a bonfire inside their house. The problem is they inhale all this toxic smoke. So when women cook that way, just three meals a day for their family, it is the equivalent of inhaling two packs of cigarettes a day. Actually it is a little known fact, but respiratory disease is the number one killer of women globally because of women in developing countries that are cooking over open flame. So the charity, it is called The Adventure Project. They train local women to make cook stoves and they make them like a pottery piece and they mold these cook stoves that are almost like a camp stove and sell them at the local market. So now women have a contained way to cook, and the smoke goes away from their face and it is like healthy clean way of cooking, and it is also providing women jobs by making and selling these stoves.
John: What year did you start this? What year did you kick off this first walk with?
Mallory: I thought of the concept of Walk A Mile, the marathon, the women. I thought of that in 2017, and the next year I had raised funding and traveled and filmed. So I went to Tanzania in 2018, and then I launched that mile.
John: When you say it is a mile, just so from our listeners and viewers, you walk 1 mile with her or 26 miles with her?
Mallory: I walk 1 mile with her.
John: One mile with her. And then when you highlight her, what is going on?
Mallory: Yeah, it is a mile, but then I filmed a lot of her life and condensed it into a one mile section. And so I turned that as a five-minute video and they are on YouTube so you can watch every single mile on YouTube. You watch this five-minute story, step into this woman’s shoes, and then at the very end, there is a link and you can donate to help her.
John: Isn’t it wonderful? For our listeners and our viewers out there, to learn more about Mallory and all 26 of these journeys and to watch her videos and to donate to the great organizations that she’s chosen to support, go to www.travelmal.com. It is a beautiful website. I am on it. It is right here in front of me right now, and all the information that we are discussing today is there. Go into the mechanics of this. You are far away from Detroit. You are in a strange land really, and you are also filming. How many people does it take to one plan this stuff, Mallory, and then be executed and make sure it comes off with safety, with integrity, and everybody wins at the end of the day? Is it a one-man show, just you, one-person show, one-woman show, or is this take a whole group of people to make this a reality?
Mallory: So in general it is a one-woman show. I plan everything. I picked the charities, the locations. I have to fund it. It is a round-the-world adventure, so I find sponsorships and corporate donations to fund it. And then I travel with one other person. You will notice when you watch the stories that I am in them. I am the host. Someone is when filming me. I have a cameraman with me.
John: That is great.
Mallory: Yeah, it is a good friend of mine. The two of us travel and we produce everything, just the two of us and then come home and added it together and publish it.
John: I know each one is different and curated differently, but just a round number. How much does it cost to pull off one of these walks? What is your goal for each one? How much would you want to raise? Because I know a dollar goes further in Tanzania and many of these other countries than it would here in the United States, like you say. What is the goal in terms of how much pressure and burden is on you to execute your great and wonderful and impactful vision, but then also how much do you really want to raise? What can you get out of it?
Mallory: Actually, the numbers model is very simple and I will just be transparent with you. So I have a flat sponsorship rate. It is $10,000 to sponsor a mile, and that covers my travel costs. So yeah, I just kind of evened it out for all the places we are going and it is like a flat $10,000 to sponsor a mile. And then when I publish it, the number goes to zero and we start from zero trying to fundraise for the cause. The goal is to raise $26,000 to help you in the ground. It is more money than it costs to send me there and make a whole film.
John: Mallory, how many have you done so far? How many walks so far?
Mallory: We filmed eleven of them, and there are eight of them that are live and published.
John: I want to go through some more than just the first one, but talk a little bit about how close to your goal on the fundraising have you been on those first eight?
Mallory: So it’s funny because when I thought of Walk A Mile I could see the entire thing played out. I could see 26 different stories and everyone’s different colors and cultures and languages. And all these different women from around the world and that the fundraisers would be active all at the same time. They would be raising different amounts to see if you could support Mile 3 if it needed more help or you could support Mile 8. And actually now that it’s launched and you can see all eight of them on my website, it has turned into exactly what I saw. It makes me so excited to see your actual vision come to fruition, but the numbers have been incredible. Mile 3 has actually raised the most. It was in Guatemala. It was a great story about a restaurant and a bunch of indigenous women that started a restaurant. It has raised $29,000. It has been fun to see how different miles take on a different feel. Some of them tell you people’s heartstrings a different way. And actually the most recent one we launched, Mile 8, which the story was in Sri Lanka. We got a corporate matching donor. So there is a great company called Doterra Essential Oils Company. They support women around the world. And so they said, “For every dollar you raise, we will match it and double the amount you raised.” So as I’ve published more and more, it is gaining momentum and every mile builds off of the previous one and grows and grows.
John: So more of the following, for lack of a better term, social media term. The more of a tribe that you build, the easier it is to hit your fundraising goals at the end of it.
Mallory: Absolutely. And people that maybe they heard about Mile. So Mile 7 was in India. If people have a personal connection to a place, they tend to give. So it kind of attracted a lot of Indian Americans or people that like to support India. They discovered that story and donated to that story, and then they will start to watch all the previous ones. So then they watch Mile 6, which was in Panama. And so it kind of exposes people to cultures that they never really knew about, and I can see all the donations coming in. So it’s fun when you see someone actually work their way through watching episode by episode and donating a little bit of each time. And the beautiful part about it and this is really the core of why I do what I do, I know that everyday people really want to make a difference in the world and they really want to help. Most people don’t know what to do or where to give, and they feel like what if they can’t give a lot, we are not a millionaire. If I can’t donate a ton of money, I am not really going to make a difference. I’ve always been striving to create pinpoints where people can insert their little bit of help directly on the ground, and they know exactly who they are helping. So even if you give $10, a hundred percent of the money I raised goes directly on the ground and you can see the woman on the ground that is going to receive this money. Ten dollars, twenty dollars, I mean, the average donation I get is like forty-seven dollars. So you don’t need to be wealthy to do this. You can just give a little bit and it adds up to be $30,000. It is going to change someone’s life.
John: For our listeners and our viewers that have just joined us, we are honored and excited to have Mallory Brown with us today. She is a humanitarian filmmaker, the founder of Walk A Mile. We are learning about the different miles that she has been on already. Filmed eleven show, posted eight. To find Mallory, go to www.travelmal.com. It’s really simple. It is a beautiful website. All the information, all the videos, and how to fund, and how to support her future adventures are all there. Finding the sponsor, the 10,000 up front. You know Jim Collins in Good to Great talks about the flywheel effect. Now that you are 11 into it, I can imagine finding the first 10,000 was much more difficult than it is going to be to find the twelfth 10,000. Or am I missing something in between here?
Mallory: No, you are accurate. So Walk A Mile is not my first campaign. I’ve done ones in the past. And so I would argue that my actual first sponsors like way back when I was 24 years old, and I was doing my first ever travel fundraiser. It was hard to try to get someone to trust you. And actually now a lot of my sponsors, my corporate donors, are people that have watched me work for the past six years. They know the quality of work I do, how dedicated I am to this, but this is a lifelong commitment for me. The videos are beautiful. I think I have a talent in filmmaking, but there are also a lot of really talented filmmakers. I think my actual true skill is finding the cause and finding the women and finding these incredible stories and having people open up to me on the ground and let me into their homes. I am physically there and so my eyes and ears that are hearing it and seeing it. And so I have a way of connecting with people, especially people in different cultures and countries and getting people to trust me with their story. My sponsors, they know that about me. A lot of them have supported campaigns I’ve done in the past and they look to do new things in the future just because it is a unique style and it is a very personal one to me. So yes, I mean, I think that the longer you are at it, the more you’ve proven yourself. I’ve now been fully self-employed. This is my full-time job. I’ve been doing that for 10 years and I think after 10 years people take you very seriously. You’ve proven that this is not just a trial thing. I mean, I am dedicated.
John: You know Mallory, like I said at the top of the show, we are still living through this overused word but unprecedented and very strange COVID-19 tragic period for the whole entire world. Not just the United States, but the whole entire world. I assume you have not been traveling during this period and continuing to film. So how did this intermediate your vision and goals? And when do you think you are going to get back at it? And what are some of your thoughts now that you’ve had probably some space in between as to not going back to a pre-pandemic new normal? But someone like you, I would assume, has given a lot of thought and reflection on what you’ve been doing and you are going to find a way when you get to the other side, when we all get to the other side as science is winning to do a new better in your execution of your original vision and goals.
Mallory: Right. Yeah, I mean, COVID-19 turned my whole life upside down. I used to travel internationally every other month of the year and then all of a sudden I was home. It put a big pause on Walk A Mile. I took some time in the spring. I didn’t publish any new stories because I also knew that people who were my donors, my viewers, the people that normally watched my work, you know, they were struggling to figure out their own normal and what does life look like now and what is my financial situation going to be personally. So I didn’t launch a fundraiser for a while because I didn’t want to add another issue to the pot. Everyone was already facing so much hardship that I didn’t, you know, here is another story of someone that needs help. But actually in August of this year, so it had been a solid five months where I hadn’t launched anything new. I got word that the woman I had filmed in India, who I had her story. I already filmed it. I had already been there. I had already added it. I was just sitting on this film waiting to see when could I show it to people. She was really struggling because of COVID because she is exceptionally immunocompromised.
Mallory: Her storyline is actually she is an acid attack survivor. She had acid thrown on her face, which is a brutal type of violence in India. And so it was a medical story. She is in Mumbai, which Mumbai was being hit very hard from COVID-19. And so I launched her fundraiser because she desperately needed the help. And it was like I couldn’t wait to sit on the story any longer when I had the potential to help her. It was amazing to see that when I launched her story, people were eager to donate and they were like awaiting the next Mile. I had a lot of people write me saying like, “Oh, we are so glad to see that you are still doing this and you didn’t give up and you didn’t stop your vision for it.” You know, COVID has changed things. I haven’t filmed anymore. I haven’t been able to travel at all, but it makes people look at the world globally. I think that is a beautiful outcome that we are going to get from this is you realize that we are all interconnected. What happens in China matters in the US, and what happens in the US, it matters in the UK. We can’t pretend that we don’t live in this interconnected world because we do. And so I think it has opened people’s hearts to that a little bit more.
John: You did share with me before we went live on this podcast and this video that given that it is going to take a while to successfully combine the vaccination process around the world with herd immunity to create a safer and better world with regard to COVID and things to calm down a bit, you already have as part of your break in your great mission work and humanitarian work a very interesting adventure planned for next year. I would love you to share that with our viewers and listeners today.
Mallory: Yes. As I was sitting home not able to travel, my boyfriend and I actually we thought of a different adventure we could take in the meantime. We are both from Michigan and live in Detroit. We actually sold our home and bought a sailboat, and we are going to spend the next year sailing around the Caribbean. So we decided to go on an international adventure together. The crazy part is that neither of us are sailors. So we wanted to learn something new and learn a new skill and be out there in the open sea and just have that freedom. And so we bought a 46-foot Beneteau sailboat and we are setting sail on January 6. We are heading to the Bahamas.
John: Wow. And will you be connected still and be able to communicate with all of us here on dry land, or are you going to be taking an electronic sabbatical as some people call it?
Mallory: A little of both. So we won’t have internet when we are actually sailing, when we are out on the water. But I am a marketing brain and I like to brand things. And so we’ve created a name for the adventure and if you want to follow it is called Sailing Zenos, Z-E-N-O-S, which is the name of our boat. We have Instagram and Facebook, and we are going to post videos and stories and updates. We named the boat Zenos because it is short for the word zenos sign, which is the feeling that time moves faster as you get older. And so we named the boat as a way to savor the moment and not let time pass you by. As we are both getting older in life, it is our attempt to slow down time for a year and just live in the moment and then as make the most it.
Mallory: Yeah, that is an old English word. It is English actually, but is just very uncommon word. And so we named our boat after it.
John: I’ve gone 58 years and never heard that word, so now I just learned something new today. Mallory, that is awesome. I love it. I love it.
John: And then when you return and Netflix is offered you a huge special about your boat travel, I am sure by that time, would you then in 2022, January or February 2022, then kick off the next Miles, the Mile 12 and beyond?
Mallory: Yes, as soon as it is safe to travel. And from my perspective, first there is the vaccine and borders need to open. I mean, I physically can’t go if I even wanted to, but one that is open. I deal with people that are living in extreme poverty. So they are the poorest of the poor around the world, and access to medical care is very limited. It will be interesting to see when we can connect those worlds again because they will not be the first in line to get a vaccine. So we will have to see what happens. But whenever I can resume, I will be off again and filming. I have my whole lineup waiting for me.
John: So Mallory, you’ve planned already and executed 11 of these adventures and trips and miles so far. Do you have the next 15 already outlined for 2022 and beyond?
Mallory: I have a rough outline of where they are going to be. I know that I want to represent every culture around the world, so I took a world map and broke it into sections and said, “Okay, I want five of them in Africa and five of them in Asia, some in the Arctic and some in the jungle and different languages and religions.” And I wanted people to see the full spectrum of the world. I even did one domestically. So there is one in the United States. And just to show an equal representation of women everywhere. So I know where I want them to be and I have different themes and nonprofits that I have worked with, but we wait to lock down the details until I am actually going to go. Like the specific woman and storyline because that changes so much and it is something two years from now could look totally different.
John: Have you done one yet in the United States and are you planning to do one here in the United States?
Mallory: I’ve already done one.
Mallory: I did one in Detroit. I had to my hometown.
John: Yeah, you have to. That sounds great. How did that work out?
Mallory: It was great. It was a story of a woman, her name is Ebony. It is a nonprofit that hires homeless women out of Detroit Homeless Shelter and then gives them a job. They are all mothers, so it is all single parents. The job is that they sew winter coats and the coats transform into sleeping bags. And then those are given away for free to the homeless community. So it is a common way to structure nonprofits where you are employing people in need to try to uplift their own lives, but then also they are doing something giving back related. So these women are homeless themselves, but they are creating a product that is given to homeless people.
John: For our listeners and viewers who just joined us, we are so excited and honored to have with us today, Mallory Brown. This is one of the greatest, greatest stories we have ever been able to platform on Impact. To find Mallory and all her great work with Walk A Mile and her other ventures, please go to www.travelmal.com. Very simple, travelmal.com. There you can donate, sponsor, watch the videos. She has the first eight of eleven up. It is just a tremendous story. Mallory, a couple questions. Out of all the next 15 that you are going to, what is the most exotic or level of difficulty place you think you are going to end up going to on the back half of 2022 and beyond?
Mallory: Papua New Guinea. I’ve never been, and I’ve always wanted to go to Papua New Guinea. It is very traditional. They have tribes, and people are still painting their bodies and doing their traditional tribal rituals. The challenging part about it I imagine is going to be having access. I think that is always the biggest challenge is that a lot of communities, especially people that are in need or people that are if they’ve suffered in some way or they are victims of some crime. I’ve done a lot with refugees and I don’t blame them, but they are very cautious about having foreign strangers come into their life and film them. So having people trust me and the camera and being authentic in front of a total stranger, that is the hard part. I think that will be challenging in Papa New Guinea. In any really traditional culture, there is definitely some trust you have to build first.
John: You’ve done already eleven, and life is so interesting in that. You know that old adage, “Man plans and God laughs.” Which of those first eleven that you filmed, but I know eight or up, which of those eight have gotten the most views and is that shocking to you, and which one has raised the most money? And is that also similarly, what did you learn from which one has raised the most capital so far?
Mallory: I don’t even know which one has the most views, but I think it’s the Detroit one.
Mallory: It doesn’t surprise me actually because most of my audience is Americans and they really like to give back in their home.
John: Got it. It makes sense.
Mallory: You know, loyalty to helping Americans. So that makes sense to me. And the one that has raised the most money is the one in Guatemala, which was surprising to me. Very surprising because I think Guatemala, I don’t know that it pops up on our radar so much or that people think of it. I don’t know, but it was the most successful. The women themselves there, it was a group of indigenous women that started a restaurant and they used their only skill, which was making tortillas and then taught how to pack themselves, how to cook food that tourists visiting Guatemala might like, and opened up a restaurant. It is a beautiful story, and it is a pretty positive one because they’ve kept their traditional life. They still wear their traditional dresses and they are very beautiful in Guatemala. Colors weave together, but they had modernized a lot in order to progress their families. I don’t really know why that one did so well, but I think people really loved that it was so uplifting. In each mile and each story, I break down what a donation will buy. And so if you donate to the one in Detroit, a $120 sponsors one sleeping bed coat. So it kind of gives people a target of a donation to give. In Guatemala, the number was $53 and I am like maybe that resonated with people because my average donation is 50 so people gave $53, and that fed a local for a year. Yeah, it is kind of random which one’s take off and which one’s don’t, but it is interesting to see how people respond.
John: So in the next 15, how long will it take you to complete the 26? Obviously, you are going to start somewhere back in 2022. How long after that will you be done?
Mallory: I don’t really know exactly.
John: Okay, but what about approximately? Is that a year, or is that two years of filming approximately?
Mallory: Three years or something.
John: Three years? Okay.
John: So you are a young woman. You have a big vision. You’ve already done so much in the rearview mirror. Mallory, beyond the 26 miles, the 26 women, the 26 countries, the 26 stories of strength and impact, and truly that is a lifetime for many people. Obviously for you, at your young age and energy, when you go to bed at night, when you are just meditating, what’s next? What are you dreaming of next that you are going to do to change the world and make it and live it a better place?
Mallory: I have a lot of ideas and a lot of them are Walk A Mile extended. You know, I am already writing the book of Walk A Mile and I would love to create a full-length feature documentary of the entire journey. I have the whole business plan for that. But the big message, the takeaway when people hear my story or they watch the videos is that I am one person who decided that I can make an impact and I can go do this grand journey and meet women and change their lives. There is a lot of inspiration in that story. My confidence or my openness or the fact that I have big dreams and I go for them. I want to be able to empower other people to do that themselves. One of the best compliments that I’ve ever received, and it wasn’t really a compliment, but it was these two young college students reached out to me saying they wanted to raise money for an orphanage in Mexico and would I do a campaign for their orphanage. And I couldn’t do one of my campaigns for it, but I gave them some tips as to how they can make their own video and how they can start their own GoFundMe and how they can do it themselves. They created a video, and they followed my exact model. Like if you watch any of my episodes, it is 5 minutes long, you will tend to find a pattern. I open them the same way. There is an exact time, and then that is when I ask for donations. There is a way that the music goes. There is a hook.
John: Like you said, you did the Bourdain. You did a Bourdain. There is a flow that you get used to and we get comfortable with because that makes us all more excited to come back because there is some logicality to it that you’ve created.
Mallory: Right, and that familiarity. You can tell that it’s us. They followed it to a tee, and it was so amazing to me that they studied my work and recreated it in their own way, and they raised a $12,000 for this orphanage. And that is really the legacy that I would want to leave is to empower other people to go after their own dreams and help other people and be more philanthropic and be more giving and create their own campaigns.
John: I do this show for the exact reason that you just said. As a mission, I don’t take advertising dollars. We have now built a huge audience for over 13 years. And it is not only to honor great and important people like you, but it is truly to inspire those behind you. To be informed about how one person, just like you said Mallory, you are just one person, but the ripple effect of change and impact and betterment that you have created in your young life and you’ve got a long runway in front of you, is just simply incredible. Who informed you? Who have been two or three great inspirations? Well, you know them personally or you followed them in terms of their careers historically that have inspired you to do this deep and important and actually challenging work that you’ve undertaken.
Mallory: I have a lot of mentors. I know some. I just followed others. There is incredible humanitarian. There is a man named Levison Wood. He is a huge inspiration for me. He walks long lengths. He walked the length of the Nile and he walked the length of the Himalayas. He is an adventurer, and he writes books about his experience, and they are all about cross-cultural connection. I look up to him a lot. A lot of documentary filmmakers who I look up to. The people who encouraged me personally. My parents were incredible supporters. They only ever pushed me to go for it, and I was raised to just live big and not have regrets and dream and explore. They have been incredible to me. They gave me the inner ability to do this. I remember telling my parents, “I was 26 years old, and I wanted to go spend four months in Africa.” And my mom was like, “Okay, I will drive you to the airport.” I mean, they were really, really supportive. And also everyone I’ve done business with. My videographer has been with me for eight years and he is as committed as I am. So I just surrounded myself with people that believe in it as well.
John: Mallory, you know, so many young people get caught up. I am at the age now where I am lucky that I am blessed to be able to mentor so many young people. And sometimes, and I’ve explained this to them, the teacher becomes a student and then the student becomes a teacher. There is so much, if you stay curious, so much to learn in this great world if you leave yourself, your mind, and your heart open to experiences. What I find as a common theme so many times is the fear factor. Where did you learn to either lose or obviously at a very tender young age of 26, just literally bypass create some sort of a mental jump over your fear gene because you don’t seem to have any trace of it?
Mallory: Well, thank you. That is a huge compliment.
John: It is. It truly is because people get stuck just on that. Just on that. Not that they don’t have great visions. Not that they don’t have the dough or the backing or supporters. Just that factor itself trips up so many people on the way to their goals. You don’t have it. Tell me why.
Mallory: Couple of reasons. I remember very specific moments. I remember reading an article when I was first deciding whether or not I wanted to start my own business and it was written for young people, women actually, in the workplace that are afraid to ask for a promotion, which was not at all my situation, but I just took inspiration from this article. It was saying, “Walk into the room, sit down in front of your boss, and pretend that you have no fear. And if you had no fear, you would ask for the promotion and might get it, you might not, but at least you asked.” And the problem is that most people are too afraid to ask. But to pretend that you have no fear, I thought about that a lot. It was like what would you accomplish in life if you had no fear? If it was just one like a sense that you didn’t have? And I did that for a while. I was actually pretending. Like when I would go into meetings or I was asking for sponsorship. A lot of times I have to call the nonprofits in a foreign country and they speak a foreign language, and then I could call them. I am still nervous to do it. It is pretty terrifying, but I was just like, “What if I have no fear, how would this go?” And I got so used to doing it just like repetitive practicing just throwing it out there. I learned that I am either going to get what I want. Like I am going to win and it is going to go my way, or if it doesn’t like it didn’t really hurt me at all. The loss was not a big deal. And so I just learned not to live in fear.
Mallory: Yeah. And I actually give this analogy a lot that I live my life like I am at the edge of a table kind of leaning off the side and I got really comfortable just on this almost falling overboard that I just live there permanently. That is just my natural state.
John: Humanitarian work is different than what we all are raised in many ways to cherish. We’ve made icons in this world of the Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, the Google boys, Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, now of recent time Elon Musk. They get canonized. They get idolized, and that is okay. We are the Innovation Nation. But somehow we’ve left behind humanitarian work as a higher calling. Money seems to reign supreme as the social media and all the vanity metrics that come along with social media and getting likes, or whatever goes on TikTok or Instagram or Facebook. I am not even clear anymore. What is your take away when I read your book one day because I know you will write that book? What do you want our listeners and our viewers to take away that you have learned and also love so much about what you do, encouraging others to do similar type of humanitarian work, which truly is a higher calling?
Mallory: I’ve learned that connecting with other people gives you more fulfillment in life than you could have imagined. It is interesting you bring up money because humanitarian work is actually very driven by money. Like I am trying to raise funds to help people and I’ve asked people for donations. And a lot of the way that I choose my campaigns is that I am helping people in extreme poverty. So we talked about money a lot. It is interesting because you kind of get two takeaways from that. First is that you realize how much we have and it is truly unbelievable that we live in the top one percent hands down. You don’t really realize that until you go out and you see the world and you know that the average annual income for a human being like a working person is $6,000 a year, average.
Mallory: That means that there is so many people that are less than that.
Mallory: We look at $6,000 it’s like you can’t even survive on that. And that is the average. So you realize how well we actually are, and it gives you a sense of like how much you have to give. But also on the flip side it makes money so not important because you go meet people that made $12 today and they have a family and kids that love them and the house around them, and they don’t need as much. And so it is this weird dichotomy of realizing how much money we have and how much money we have to give, but then also that you don’t even really need money in the long run. It makes you ponder everything, but it certainly like for me in doing what I do and the work that I do and the people that I met and seen, I don’t value money the way that my generation does. To me, living a life, acquiring as much as I can for myself seems so boring.
John: For what?
Mallory: My own, like a third house and two cars, and why?
John: A couple of thoughts. You grew up in Detroit. I grew up in New York City. I’ve had to travel massively on business travel. Not to this exotic places as you, but some very fascinating places whether it is Manila, Hanoi, Seoul, all these wonderful places around the world including all around Europe, North America, South America. When I was a little boy growing up in New York and you were growing up in Detroit, tell me if this is not a similar experience. You get to feel that the whole world is like where you grow. Everywhere is like New York, right, because that is where I grew up. Everyone live like this and work like this and the energies like this. And you start showing up in places like Manila or Hanoi or anywhere else in the world, including Mumbai and Dubai, and you start where I’ve been and you start realizing the perspective that travel gives you become so personal. I also feel that you are so much more an interesting person because of your travels and unique experiences now, and people are drawn to interesting people who have stories but actually done things. Is that analogy somewhat akin to what you’ve lived in the last 40 years of your life?
Mallory: Absolutely. Travel has opened up my world and my mind and my perspective completely. I’ve seen a lot of the world. I mean, I’ve been to 52 countries. So I’ve seen a ton of the world. The more you see, the more you realize there are different ways of doing it and the world does not revolve around you and there is a lot of people and cultures and mindsets out there. It makes you a more humble person. The other humanitarians I meet, the people that run all of these charities are doing incredible work on the ground. And back to your original question as to why they are not idolized is I think also they don’t pursue accolades. They are not trying to become known or famous. That is not their goals therefore that is not the result. But they are beautiful, wonderful people.
John: Right. I agree with you. You are, besides Indiana Jones, you really are living the Bourdain life. You get to walk with these great people, eat with them, learn their culture, political, and economic surroundings. And that is a fascinating thing. A friend of mine once told me as we were talking about raising our children and giving them experiences. Some people are of the mind that our kids can get everything from a laptop or a tablet that they need to know. But a friend of mine 12 years ago whispered in my ear one day, he goes, “John, you will never know unless you go. Just go wherever and encourage your kids to do the same”, which I’ve done, and it has been much to their benefit. Including look at you 52 countries, you get to live like a global citizen. You have a perspective that is way beyond probably 98% of the people you grew up with in Detroit or in Michigan.
Mallory: Yeah, a lot of people who might have daughters that are in college or they looked at me kind of like a resembling of their own daughter. “My daughter wants to study abroad, and I am terrified. Encouraged me to like be okay with her going and living in another country. My dad wants to do a mission trip and church wants to send her to Honduras and I am nervous for her to go.” And I always say, “Imagine it’s your daughter wanting to fall in love. She could get hurt. She could get her heart broken. That is horrible. But are you going to withhold your daughter from finding love? That is a beautiful, enriching thing in her life. There is risk associated with it for sure, but you want your daughter to experience that in life.” And it is the exact same thing with travel and just seeing new things and people are so afraid of. They focus only on the risk, and there is so much to gain from doing it.
John: You know, Mallory, what I want to do is couple things. One, we are going to keep continue to follow your adventures. For those who want to follow Mallory and donate and fund her future humanitarian work with regards to Walk A Mile, please go to www.travelmal.com. To also learn more about what Mallory is doing next year on the Zenos, what is the website that they go to for the Zenos?
Mallory: So that is just social media. It is on Instagram or Facebook, and its Sailing Zenos.
John: Sailing Zenos. I learned from you today and it is such a great lesson as well. I do this Impact Podcast, I never realized but because of the zenosign, now that I am 58, it is a just a greater way that I get to reach more people and share great stories like yours and great people like you Mallory with the listener base and viewer base we’ve built up over 13 years. So I am truly grateful for you. I want to have you back at least twice more. I want to have you back when you get back from the Zenos adventures, obviously, and I want to learn more about that. And then when you finish Mile 26, I want to have you back to talk about the rearview mirror and more lessons learned while you do Walk A Mile and you continue to make your five-minute films and build a lifetime of memories. You are always welcome back here at the Impact Podcast. I am grateful for all the important work that you’ve done so far. I know you are going to continue to change the world for the better in the years ahead. And you just be safe and God bless you and your boyfriend, and you get home safely from your Zenos journeys in the next year ahead. Thank you again, Mallory Brown. And again, you can find Mallory at www.travelmal.com. Thank you again, Mallory Brown.
Mallory: Thank you.