If you need me, I’m here.

Earlier this year I sent an email to my mailing list – a mix of friends, family, clients, new and longtime subscribers, people I know really well and people I don’t.

It said: “Hi. It’s Alex. If you’re going through a difficult time right now – for any reason – you can email me and I’ll record a Pep Talk especially for you. Totally free. Reach out anytime. If you need some encouragement and love, I’m here.”

I hadn’t been planning to send out this invitation. It was a spur of the moment decision. I had this hut (heart + gut) feeling to… just do it. I kept thinking to myself: “Our world feels really frightening right now. Lots of people feel seriously stressed out, myself included. Maybe there’s some way I could help.”

So, I followed my instincts. I blasted out my spontaneous email and I offered Pep Talks to anybody, anywhere, friends and strangers alike.

I had no idea if anybody would reply. I figured I’d get maybe a dozen emails in return.

I got hundreds.

People filled my inbox with stories about break-ups, business failures, frustrating situations at work, illness, infertility, death, grief, creative blocks, self-criticism, insecurity, financial stress… everything you can imagine.

I was stunned and honestly, a little overwhelmed. It took me several days to reply to everyone. Eventually I got through every request and recorded a 2-3 minute audio message for each person.

It was one of the most meaningful, humbling experiences of my life.

This Pep Talk Project reminded me that practically every single person is struggling with something.

We all get scared sometimes. We all get nervous. We all struggle with change. We’re all fighting some type of battle. And whether you’re 15 or 75 years old, sometimes you just need somebody to say, “Hey, you’re tough, you’re smart and you’re going to be OK. You’re going to get through this.”

Someone’s pain might be very public or very private. But nearly everyone you meet is fighting some type of battle. I know because I’ve seen the private confessions in my inbox. The words that never get posted on Facebook. The searing, brutal, messy stuff. The stuff that (for whatever reason) might feel easier to say to a complete stranger from the Internet instead of your friends or your spouse.

I’ve recorded hundreds and hundreds of Pep Talks since that first round. I’m definitely not a “perfect” Pep Talk giver. Sometimes I talk too fast or too slow. Sometimes I get emotional and start to cry. Sometimes I give too much advice when I probably shouldn’t. Sometimes I have no idea what to say but I try to spill out some words anyway.

People keep emailing so I keep recording. This project has given me so many lessons, but the greatest lesson is probably this one:

Creating a positive ripple in the world doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive and it doesn’t necessarily require any special credentials or qualifications. It can be simple, as simple as sending an email to say:

“Hi. If you need me, I’m here.”

Alexandra Franzen is a writer, consultant and entrepreneur based in Portland, Oregon. She writes about creativity, productivity, communication, goal-setting, how to deal with adversity in your life and career and how to keep marching forward, no matter what. Her writing has been featured in Time, Forbes, Newsweek, The Huffington Post and Lifehacker. She’s also been mentioned in "You’re The Boss!" (the New York Times small business blog), The Atlantic and Inc. Alexandra’s latest book "You're Going to Survive" is a collection of true stories from people who've endured soul-crushing moments in their careers and how they got through it - and how you will, too. Find all of Alexandra’s current projects here.

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