In the past several years, I’ve found myself in quite a few “at-the-right time-and-place” situations. I’ll tell you about two instances that are related:
I started my company, Keen Guides out of a random rainy day in a museum, when I discovered that audio tours were not as accessible as one would expect them to be given the technological advances of 2005. You can hear and watch the story by watching this video.
While I've been on Twitter since its infancy in 2006, I never caught on until Fall 2010, when I decided to dig in and give it a serious try for a solid week to see if I could better reach the museum and accessibility community. Well, I picked the right week because half-way into this week's experiment, I came across a link about the Hearne Award from the Twitter accounts I had recently found and started following. I was excited to learn about this, and slightly panicked seeing that I had three days left until the deadline. But I managed to get my two letters of recommendation completed (and pulled an all-nighter) to get what would be the winning application submitted in time. (Note: I'm certainly not advising you to wait until the very, very last minute to start the application. I got super lucky, especially since I had two awesome references who were able to help in such short time.)
Those two "at-the-right-time-at-the-right-moment" occurrences make me extremely grateful for the Hearne Award. This opportunity yielded me some great experiences, and I'll highlight a few of them in the bullets below:
- Credibility - I was perceived by the business and disability community as a person with a valid, true focus, and a real cause that positively impacted not only people with disabilities but also everyone else.
- Connections - The Hearne Award provided me with a vast network of leaders and advocates in both the disability field and business community. I've been able to meet with individuals in Fortune 500 companies, and with some of the most well-renown advocates in the field. How awesome is that?
- Platform - Through the Gala and the video production, I was able to more effectively communicate my vision and goal for better accessibility through technology. I was able to do it live, in front of 700 people, and now I have the footage at the ready to share with other people so they can continue to learn about my mission.
Those are just a few of the areas outlining how the Hearne Award has been such a positive experience. If you’re considering it, I would first ask yourself these questions:
- Do I need an extra boost in my credibility?
- Am I in need of a stronger network of accessibility and business leaders?
- Are my “marketing” materials as robust and targeted as I’d like them to be?
If you said “Yes” to any or all of the above, then you should apply for the Hearne Award of you meet the qualifications! Good luck!