By Laura Gossman

Authors Note: Every Monday Matters is a non-profit organization that shows people how they can change the world by doing something every Monday to make a difference. I recently interviewed the founder, Matthew Emerzian, who candidly reflected on EMM’s story. Photographs provided by EMM.

Every Monday Matters was born out of Matt’s personal brokenness.  He had created a life about everything that didn’t matter and admits he was driven by fame and fortune.  He worked in a very narcissistic and ego-driven industry and became a great poster child for it. His music career started in artist management with independent artists in Los Angeles. Eventually, he transitioned into marketing, promotion and PR, working on projects for some of the largest acts in the world, including U2, Coldplay, Tim McGraw, Snow Patrol and Avril Lavigne. Although he thought he was “living the dream” already, to him he wasn’t and he broke down.

Matthew recalls, “After years of reinventing myself and realigning my life with a greater purpose, the real dream began.  It came in the form of a book idea I had, which later became the book I wrote with Kelly Bozza, Every Monday Matters – 52 Ways to Make a Difference.”  The enterprise, Every Monday Matters, was born from the book.

At that point, the dream changed and the enterprise took on its own life. “It was no longer about my personal story.  It was no longer about me at all.  It became about making the world a better place by helping people find significance and purpose,” Matthew said, adding that, “I wanted everyone to understand why and how much they mattered, and I knew that the more people we reached and transformed, the more the world would change.”  This is still the dream of the enterprise today, five years later.

Matthew Emerzian, Founder and CEO of Every Monday Matters with Nikki, who four years ago made her Every Monday Matters video when she was homeless and struggling to complete high school. Today she's graduated, living in Northern California, working, not homeless, and inspiring people with her story. Here she is with Matt after speaking to Genentech's Impact All Stars. She's proof of what can happen when you lend a hand to the homeless.

Matthew Emerzian, Founder and CEO of Every Monday Matters with Nikki, who four years ago made her Every Monday Matters video when she was homeless and struggling to complete high school. Today she’s graduated, living in Northern California, working, not homeless, and inspiring people with her story. Here she is with Matt after speaking to Genentech’s Impact All Stars. She’s proof of what can happen when you lend a hand to the homeless.

The past five years have been one continuous, really steep learning curve for Matthew and his team.  The passion was always there, but that is about all they had in the beginning.  It was a classic startup situation.  No people on board, no money, no office space, no laser focus, no understanding of how to get there, or even where they were really going.  It was “tail wagging the dog” at its finest confessed Matthew.

At the same time, Matthew reflected, he really didn’t have any idea of the magnitude of the need for what they offered.  He obviously knew that the world had needs whether it was the environment, homelessness, or poverty because they covered just about every major cause in the book.  He was very aware of the statistics.  What shocked him was that he did not have a handle on the massive number of people in the world that suffered from a lack of meaning in their life.  He quickly learned that he was not alone, stating that  “We met so many people that didn’t understand that they mattered and they had no idea how to find it.  This was astonishing to me.”

The things they were certain about were that people wanted to contribute, have a positive impact on the world, feel more connected and loved, and to be a part of something bigger than themselves. EMM would simply facilitate others connecting to these desires.  The EMM team became convinced that their role was to reach more people with a “you matter” message.

Genentech's Impact All Stars Help Napa's Homeless - an event led and organized by the Every Monday Matters team

Genentech’s Impact All Stars Help Napa’s Homeless – an event led and organized by the Every Monday Matters team

“So we looked for watering holes and starting focusing on schools and companies.  We created a K-12 School Curriculum and an Employee Engagement program to bring Every Monday Matters to these already connected groups of people.  It worked perfectly, and is still working today.  We are now in thousands of schools and work with phenomenal companies all across the country,” said Matthew.

Students share their letters of gratitude from Indian springs (Shasta county), CA Project Share after school program.Thanks MONDAY MATTERS!!!

Students share their letters of gratitude from Indian springs (Shasta county), CA Project Share after school program.Thanks MONDAY MATTERS!!!

When he became a fellow at Praxis, an incubator accelerator program for startups, he realized that they were really missing the mark in terms of potential reach.  Matthew said, “We had created a sales company, focused on selling and servicing our corporate and education clients.  And, we were really good at it, but, again, it was a small slice of the pie of humanity.  Praxis allowed me to step out of all of it for a second, to slow down and take a look at EMM from a 30,000-foot view.  It also put me in an environment where amazing mentors, coaches, and other fellows gave me new perspectives and challenged me.”

Even though it wasn’t the easiest thing to learn, Matthew ultimately realized that they had to make some major changes if they really wanted to realize their dream.  So, today, they are now an organization focused on creating a really large, connected, engaged community of people, brands, schools, companies, and non-profits committed to changing the world one Monday at a time. EMM has since become a national movement of ordinary people doing extraordinary good. Through a yearlong feature on Oprah.com, a syndicated newspaper column, speaking engagements across the country, their YOU MATTER K-12 School Curriculum and their YOU MATTER Corporate Social Responsibility program, EMM is meeting that challenge of expanding their reach.

One of Every Monday Matter’s weekly challenges: “This week, step up your game. Treat a co-worker you don’t spend much time with to lunch. Bring an extra coffee back from Starbucks for your cubicle mate. Let your assistant go home early just because. Offer to pitch in on a project to take some pressure off your overworked teammate. There are tons of ways to reach out to a colleague and make them feel appreciated. This week, try a few out. Your co-workers matter.”

One of Every Monday Matter’s weekly challenges: “This week, step up your game. Treat a co-worker you don’t spend much time with to lunch. Bring an extra coffee back from Starbucks for your cubicle mate. Let your assistant go home early just because. Offer to pitch in on a project to take some pressure off your overworked teammate. There are tons of ways to reach out to a colleague and make them feel appreciated. This week, try a few out. Your co-workers matter.”

Matthew shared, “It is awkward to say this, but we want to create a movement of millions of people.  Lots of millions of people.  We want to be the catalyst that gets people actively involved in making a difference and truly understanding how much they matter.  And, every Monday, we will take on something new together.  It is going to be fun and we know that we (everyone in the world) will make the world a better place.  It starts with each one of us and goes from there… of course, one Monday, one person, one action at a time.”

Laura Gossman lives in Pasadena, California. She is the Director of Operations at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership and a recent new mother to son Benjamin and wife of Adam Gossman. She received her M.A. in Cross Cultural Studies from Fuller in 2006.

Fieldnotes Magazine is a publication of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. We would love to hear from you about people, businesses, or other organizations we can interview or feature. Please email the editor at Fieldnotes Magazine.

 

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