Upswell Reflections: Cassie Nguyen
// By Jacqueline Brennan
We first met Cassie Nguyen, a pediatric cancer survivor and founder of Spotlight On Hope Film Camp (SOH), right before the start of Upswell LA. SOH is a program that provides cost-free film-making training for pediatric and young adult cancer patients and their families to help them tell their stories.
Cassie attended the inaugural Upswell event in Los Angeles, and shared her reflections on the experience.
Q: What was your favorite part of Upswell?
CN: My favorite part of Upswell was meeting all the great positive people and their willingness to share their connections with other organizations that aligned with and could help support and grow Spotlight On Hope Film Camp.
Q: What most excited you about Upswell?
CN: I was most excited about presenting my first pitch presentation at the Thursday workshop, Incubating Grassroots Social Entrepreneurship, presented by Caravanserai, where I was able to let others know about my work and my program.
Q: If you attended Upswell workshops, which did you like best, and why?
CN: I liked all of the workshops I attended, but the best I guess was Five Steps to Greater Social Impact presented by Moves the Needle. I learned that Expose, Empathy, Exploration, Experimentation, and Evidence are the five “E’s” of Lean Innovation. We participated in an exercise that documented the challenge your organization wants to work on, the target audience experiencing the problem you want to solve, and how your customers would talk about the program in their own words. During a second exercise, we focused on identifying assumptions that must be true for our solutions to be successful, as well as phrasing each assumption from the customer’s point of view.
Q: Of Upswell’s art and music offerings, which most inspired you, and why?
CN: The most inspiring arts presentation was made by artist, author, and philanthropist Erik Wahl. I shared with him about Spotlight On Hope Film Camp and he really took an interest and listened. He even signed his book with the note: “CASSIE, WE LOVE YOUR ART + IDEAS – WAHL”
Q: Who was the most interesting person you met? Did you learn anything new?
CN: The most inspiring person I met was Erik Wahl. He liked and followed Spotlight On Hope Film Camp’s Facebook page Saturday after Upswell! His assistant messaged me the next day to say it was nice to meet me! After reading some of his book, I learned that simply having a spark (brilliant and illuminated ideas) without the grind (our work and hustle) doesn’t amount to much. And the opposite is also true. By having both, creators with ideas not only make things happen, but make great things!