In this series we invite you to meet and learn from thinkers, doers, and believers who find success by actively living in the grey.
Paul Caccamo is a 25-year veteran of the non-profit sector. He has helped to establish numerous nonprofits that focus on youth development, sports and physical activity, and education. He lectures and writes on the impact of sports on youth and community development. He founded the America SCORES national office in 1999 and Up2Us in 2009, where he currently serves as Executive Director.
What does living in the grey mean to you?
It means looking for possibility in the unexpected, and living a life where the unexpected can happen.
Do you have a boundary between work and life? If so, how do you define it?
Because my work is a mission and not a job, I can’t say I have much of a boundary. But there is that definitive boundary for all of us: when you are on that plane that doesn’t have internet, you can’t get service on your cell phone, and your computer battery has completely died. That’s when I reach into my backpack, pick up a novel and cross the boundary where I leave all work behind. But it doesn’t last long. Soon, the plane lands.
Who is a mentor of yours and why?
All of my mentors were people along the way in my career who shared tidbits of advice not just in nonprofit development but in life. Be humble to everyone you meet and everyone is a potential mentor.
What’s the first thing you read in the morning?
The on/off button of my coffee machine.
What are three things you make sure you do everyday?
Smile. Laugh. Think. All three of which in today’s world can be more complicated than they, at first, seem.
Do you have a motto?
I don’t really believe in motto’s because I think they are subject to change. If we truly allow ourselves to grow, change, and evolve, then we have to be open to new motto’s along the way.
Do you work differently than you did a year ago?
Yes. I don’t get as caught up in “the noise” as I did a year ago. When you have a mission in life-and mine is to use sports to solve the critical issues facing the youth of America—it’s easy to get caught up in the political agendas of those around you. Many of these agendas can be helpful. The ones that challenge you, make you rethink your strategy and reflect on your values. But others are based in power trips, egos, and all those other awful peculiarities that make us plain human. This second batch of agendas only exist to incite your ego, and make you lose sight of your vision. This is what I call “the noise.” Last year, I might have been more likely to respond to “the noise.” Now, I’m more likely to ignore it.
How do you ensure your intentions become actions?
You tell others your intentions. If becomes quite a motivation if you value being known as a “man of your word.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
An idea can only grow as big as the mind of the person that created it. And the mind is not a very big thing. So share your ideas with as many other minds as possible.
What advice do you have for others beginning their grey journey?
1) Don’t panic in your twenties. It’s a crazy decade. Up until then, you were used to knowing what’s next because it was all laid out for you in your teens. Now, suddenly, you feel on your own and you think every decision you make will dictate the rest of your life. Well, they don’t. So be creative, explore, travel, try different hobbies. Don’t worry if you second guess your decisions—that’s normal. And don’t fear if you need to stop and change paths all over again.
2) Begin to focus in your thirties. By now, there might be some sense that “this is the path that makes sense.” Learn as much as you can. Meet others in the field. Find mentors. Be open to those around you.
3) Add some confidence, but don’t lose your humility, in your forties. You are at an age, now, where your career path is usually defined. It’s never too late to jump ship but if you get to this point, recognize your own maturity in arriving there… Be more outspoken. Believe that you were meant to do what you are now doing.
4) Get back to me in 10 years for advice on your fifties…
Meet more members of the Live in the Grey Community: