As Invisible People approaches its 10th anniversary, it seems fitting to flashback to the beginning. To a time when I began empowering homeless people to share their stories. It was also a time of uncertainty – I was unemployed with no income, facing homelessness for a second time. Should my limited resources be invested in Invisible People? Would anyone watch these videos? Would my crazy gamble make an impact?
One tweet from @LAFDtalk changed everything and inspired me to continue my work. One man gave me the encouragement and support I needed to forge forward with Invisible People. That man is Brian Humphrey.
It wasn’t until recently that I was finally able to meet the man behind the tweet. As the public information officer at Los Angeles Fire Department, Brian is the epitome of a public servant. During our historic meeting, Brian joined me for this fantastic interview. Your experience in marketing and social media doesn’t matter – everyone can learn something from Brian, and the LAFD as a whole. Take, for example, the department’s SLIM philosophy:
“The best relationships are the ones with the people who are living in your neighborhood around the clock every day of the year,” Brian says. “I think that’s where social media is going – we like to call it our SLIM philosophy. We want social media to be Social, Local, Instant and Mobile friendly. So if we can have that SLIM relationship, and emphasis on the local, I think that’s where we want to be headed.”
Another lead the LAFD takes is an open communications policy. In the homeless services sector, communication departments often worry about privacy. The LAFD manages to maintain privacy while sharing their stories of heroic efforts through social media — often times in real time and during a crisis.
While monitoring the freeways, streets, skies, and ports, they provide Angelenos important, useful information that can be life-saving. All of this they do with a touch of class and a great sense of humor. Here’s Brian sharing another nugget of wisdom (what I like to call a Brian-ism):
“The greatest challenge to Los Angeles and its fire department are not train wrecks or terrorism – our greatest challenge is mediocrity and complacency. And that’s being mediocre and complacent about the fear, the uncertainty, and the doubts, or the FUD, that people can experience in daily life,” Brian says. “It’s our job to get out there, and social media’s been a great opportunity for us to reach out and connect with people closer and more frequently than ever.”
Grab a pen and paper – this is an interview you want to watch and take notes. It is truly one of my favorites! Not just because Brian is a hero of mine and an expert at social media. In it, he shares from the heart about the Los Angeles Fire Department. It’s also full of leadership nuggets and Brian-isms!
There are no words to express how wonderful it was to finally meet Brian. He is a true example of a public servant and I cannot express how much I respect this man and the Los Angeles Fire Department. They are true heroes.
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Invisible People goes beyond the rhetoric, statistics, political debates, and limitations of social services to examine poverty in America via a medium that audiences of all ages can understand, and can’t ignore. The vlog puts into context one of our nation’s most troubling and prevalent issues through personal stories captured by the lens of Mark Horvath – its founder – and brings into focus the pain, hardship and hopelessness that millions face each day. One story at a time, videos posted on InvisiblePeople.tv shatter the stereotypes of America’s homeless, force shifts in perception and deliver a call to action that is being answered by national brands, nonprofit organizations and everyday citizens now committed to opening their eyes and their hearts to those too often forgotten.
Invisible People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the way we think about people experiencing homelessness.