Get to know our newest Champion for Good Annie Love! As a Business Development Manager at Geocaching HQ Annie oversees the manufacture of trackable Geocaching game pieces and recently teamed up with the Ad Council’s Discover the Forest campaign.
Q: How have you worked with the Ad Council? What campaign(s) have you supported and what was the project you worked on with us?
Annie Love: Through geocaching partnerships and promotions, Geocaching HQ connects brands with outdoorsy explorers all over the world. Geocaching has teamed up with Ad Council to promote The Discover the Forest campaign to inspire geocachers and their families to discover more trails in their backyards. As a Business Development Manager at Geocaching, I facilitate the manufacturing process of trackable game pieces that will be moved from geocache to geocache by members of the community. This campaign was intriguing to me on a personal level because it unites two of my most beloved passions; geocaching and walking on trails.
Q: Social good ads pull at our heartstrings. What social good ad has made you cry or stand up and cheer?
AL: A Swiss company specializing in helping people with disabilities called Pro Infirmis ran a campaign a few years back called “Get Closer.” In a commercial, a person dressed in a bear costume stands in a crowded city center offering up hugs. People from all walks of life smile as they see this individual. At the end, the bear takes off the head of the costume to reveal that he’s a mentally disabled man. Not only does the ad tug at your heartstrings, but it’s a nice reminder that people shouldn’t have to disguise themselves to receive kindness from others. Ads that help change your perspective like this one are ones that stick with you over time.
Q: How do you or your team integrate social good into your work, or how do you think your brand is making the world a better place?
AL: Geocaching inspires people to get outside and explore new places. As players we need to take care of the places where we love to play the game. Geocaching HQ and the geocaching community support an environmental initiative called Cache In Trash Out (CITO). Anyone who plays the game can host or attend a CITO event with the aim of cleaning up trash in parks, planting trees or building trails. Since its initial launch, more than 333,000 people have volunteered at 16,000 CITO events and over 8,000,000 liters of garbage have been collected. I love being able to make a positive difference through CITO and have participated in almost 30 of these events since I started playing the game. From helping to build trails and plant trees in Seattle parks, to hiking up the side of Mt. Fuji with Japanese geocachers for a trail cleanup, these events inspire me to practice CITO anytime I geocache.
Q: What was the greatest piece of advice someone gave you, and how did it end up helping you?
AL: Two years ago I walked the Camino de Santiago from the south of France to Santiago, Spain. In the 500 mile pilgrimage, I saw many acts of kindness from one pilgrim to another. If someone had blisters, someone else offered bandages or advice on how to deal with the blister. If someone was feeling like they wanted to give up, other pilgrims provided the encouragement they needed to keep walking. When returning from the Camino I read a book called “I’ll Push You” about two friends who completed the Camino under challenging circumstances. A quote from that book has continued to stick with me and has since become advice I now offer others. “To deny someone the opportunity to help you, you deny them the joy in life.” Most of my life, I’ve been independent and haven’t wanted to accept help from others. But I’ve learned that life is more fulfilling for both me and the person helping if I’m open to accepting that kindness.
Q: What age would you want to meet up with your former self, and what advice would you give to that younger you?
AL: If I could go back to Annie at about age 7, I’d tell myself not to protest my parents so much when they dragged me out hiking. I complained every time they took me into the woods and they’d often turn us around and head home. Both my parents and I missed out on the final destination, which in North Idaho can be pretty spectacular places. Today I’m always looking toward the next adventure in nature, which makes my parents laugh because of my attitude as a kid. The grown up me spent six months training for a technical climb up Mt. Rainier, walked across Spain, and climbed the highest peaks in Ireland and the United Kingdom. My life would feel so empty without these adventures, and I wish I had been open to them earlier in life.
Q: What value(s) of your organization are you most proud of?
AL: Geocaching HQ and its passionate 80+ employees support the global game of geocaching and focus on bringing more discovery, exploration, and adventure into the lives of millions of people worldwide. We see the positive impact this has on our community on a daily basis in our Visitor Center in Seattle, Washington or when we travel to geocaching events around the world. We hear stories of weight loss, new friendships, and adventures that geocachers have been inspired to take because of the game. I’ve literally seen a geocacher kiss the floor when they arrived at Geocaching Headquarters. That’s when you know you’re doing something right.
Q: What can we look forward to from your organization this year?
AL: We’re continually making improvements to our website and Android/iOS apps to help geocachers create or enjoy more adventures in more locations. We run promotions that encourage players to find more geocaches or search for different types of geocaches. As technology advances, we want to give geocachers the tools they need to experiment and enhance the game. One example of that is experimenting with geocaches that include AR (Augmented Reality).
Q: You’re planning a “Change the World” dinner party and you can invite anyone (living, dead or fictional). Who are three people on your list?
AL: Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Captain Jean-Luc Picard. While changing the world takes the efforts of many, it’s the leaders among us that drive those efforts. For Obama and Oprah, they both epitomize leadership that comes from compassion, understanding, hard work and integrity. Captain Picard taught us to be fearless in exploration of new life and new civilizations yet remain respectful of our cultural differences. Leaders like these look at the bigger picture and help us advance as a society while respecting the needs of those within it.
Q: Tell us what you hope to see more of or experience more of in the next year, using only emojis.