Carmin Black is Co-Founder and CEO of HALF UNITED. Founded in 2009 in Wilmington, NC, HALF UNITED is a globally-minded human-first lifestyle brand committed to partnering with customers to fight hunger (and empower lives) with each purchase made.  Each collection reflects Carmin’s love of fashion, philanthropy, and travel, seen every season in the product design, as well as the videos of the people and places where each purchase helps. HALF UNITED is sold in more than 300 stores globally — and embraces a philosophy of humans-first and by fighting hunger and poverty, specifically for children and families, with every purchase made.

In a small Italian town, hundreds of years ago, a small business owner owed a large sum of money to a loan-shark. The loan-shark was a very old, unattractive looking guy that just so happened to fancy the business owner’s daughter.

He decided to offer the businessman a deal that would completely wipe out the debt he owed him. However, the catch was that we would only wipe out the debt if he could marry the businessman’s daughter. Needless to say, this proposal was met with a look of disgust.

The loan-shark said that he would place two pebbles into a bag, one white and one black.

The daughter would then have to reach into the bag and pick out a pebble. If it was black, the debt would be wiped, but the loan-shark would then marry her. If it was white, the debt would also be wiped, but the daughter wouldn’t have to marry the loan-shark.

Standing on a pebble strewn path in the businessman’s garden, the loan-shark bent over and picked up two pebbles. While he was picking the pebbles up, the daughter noticed that he’d picked up two black pebbles and placed them both into the bag. He then asked the daughter to reach into the bag and pick one.

The daughter naturally had three choices as to what she could have done:

  • Refuse to pick a pebble from the bag…
  • Take both pebbles out of the bag and expose the loan-shark for cheating…
  • Pick a pebble from the bag fully knowing it was black and sacrifice herself for her father’s freedom…

She drew out a pebble from the bag, and before looking at it “accidentally” dropped it into the middle of the path filled with other pebbles.

She said to the loan-shark; “Oh, how clumsy of me. Never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”

The pebble left in the bag is obviously black, and seeing as the loan-shark didn’t want to be exposed, he had to play along as if the pebble the daughter dropped was white, and clear her father’s debt.

It’s always possible to through out of the box thinking, and not give in to the only options you think you have to pick from.

If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. Matthew 5:40-42 NLT

INFLUNSR defines excellence as choosing to create a better future by going the extra mile. Let’s wrestle with several ideas:

  • When have you found yourself doing just the minimum expected?
  • How do you react when someone else gives only the minimum?
  • Which is harder for you? In what area of your life is it easier to go an extra mile? Relationships? School? Which is the hardest? Why do you think that is?
  • What might keep you from saying yes to someone’s request… or a need you see?
  • In what area might God be nudging you to go an extra mile?
  • What have you done out of obedience that might’ve seemed small, yet later discovered was a big deal?
  • How hard is it for you to step outside your comfort zone?
  • What is your personal comfort zone?

In this Episode’s Version, we asked you to read the story of Blake Mycoskie and TOMS Shoes. As the Original One for One Company, TOMS has always been in business to improve lives. Since 2006, the TOMS community has given nearly 100 million pairs of shoes to people in need. TOMS has always stood for a better tomorrow. Thirteen years later and nearly 100 million pairs of shoes given, TOMS has come to understand that communities across the globe face new and complex challenges, and TOMS believes it’s our responsibility to do more. 

Blake Mycoskie is not perfect and TOMS has gone through its share of difficulty. However, it is amazing how they have chosen to create a better future by going the extra mile. Here are some questions we want to ask you to wrestle with:

  • What do you think Christians are known for these days by the world at large?
  • What do you think is the difference between trying to gain notice, and trying to fulfill God’s purpose for your life?
  • Is there someone that is an example of going the extra mile? Who is the perfect example?
  • When have you gone the extra mile and realized later just how significant it was to your life?

What is God nudging you to do? Let’s discuss this as a Circle.

We encouraged you to ask for your parents or guardian’s permission, connect to Disney Plus to watch the musical Hamilton, the story of America then, told by America now. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway, Hamilton has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre—a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education. Filmed at The Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in June of 2016, the film transports its audience into the world of the Broadway show in a uniquely intimate way.

INFLUNSR defines excellence as choosing to create a better future by going the extra mile. Throughout the musical, George Washington appears as a father figure (although Alexander Hamilton resists this relationship) not only for Alexander Hamilton, but for the revolutionaries and for a new nation. Choosing to resign after two terms as president must have been a difficult decision. What benefits might there have been for the nation if Washington had continued? What benefits did his resignation bring? How does this struggle relate to the ongoing process of creating democracy? And how does this connect to the idea of choosing to create a better future by going the extra mile?

Let’s discuss this as a Circle.

We asked you to watch an interview where Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda talks about finding your voice as a writer and the role of the playwright in addressing history during a conversation with Nieman Foundation Curator Ann Marie Lipinski as part of the Pulitzer Centennial Celebration at Harvard.

Lin Manuel challenges us to “find the story that moves you and changes you and allows you to see different perspectives.” What story or stories in our culture, your city, state or school move you right now? How has that story changed you? How has that story provided a different perspective?

Let’s wrestle with this as a Circle.

We asked you to read a RELEVANT magazine article titled David Oyelowo: ‘I’m Seeing More Christ on the Streets Than I’m Seeing in the Church.

In 2014, David Oyelowo shocked the nation with his revelatory Selma performance, bringing the life, words and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the screen with unbridled power and poignancy. Since then, the UK-born actor has become an American citizen and has continued to turn in a series of startling roles.

Oyelowo sat down with RELEVANT to talk about his own perceptions of why the Church has stayed on the sidelines, where Christians tend to go wrong in supporting Black Lives Matter and what true repentance would look like.

Oyelowo mentioned that the key is repentance. It’s not something we’re very good at, even with issues a lot less systemic than racism. Jesus shared a parable about repentance in which a Pharisee, a self-righteous religious leader, and a despised tax collector both prayed at the temple. The Pharisee thought he had no need for repentance. He said: “God, I thank you, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess” The tax collector, on the other hand, humbly prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus taught that the repentant tax collector, rather than the Pharisee, would be justified. Jesus taught that those “who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”What are your ideas about what repentance would look like?

We asked you to read the Fast Company article Four Ways to Create a Better Future.

Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. (John F. Kennedy)

It’s easy to believe in the status quo. The existing state of affairs can seem so intractable. Forces can feel beyond your control or ability to influence in any way. Yet, that is exactly what leaders seek to do: change the future. And to do that, they invent it.

INFLUNSR believes that excellence is choosing to create a better future by going the extra mile. In what areas do you think we have failed that we now know enough to succeed?

Let’s discuss this as a Circle…

We asked you to read the ESPN article entitled Jrue, Lauren Holiday Using Pelicans Guard’s Game Checks to Launch Social Justice Fund.

Jrue Holiday and his wife Lauren Holiday are using the New Orleans Pelicans guard’s remaining game checks for this season to launch a social justice fund.

How is social justice an excellence: choosing to create a better future by going the extra mile idea? How does the Holiday’s decision challenge you to begin to think about systemic and processed change as a leader?

Let’s discuss this as a Circle…


INFLUNSR’s mission is to fuel the next generation of leaders worth following and to help students learn how to think, not what to think. Any articles posted and questions asked are intended for that sole purpose.

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