Contrary to popular belief, reaching a crossroads isn’t reserved solely for your mid-life crisis. It can happen at any stage in life and just requires one thing, an almost insatiable desire to make a change. Leaving behind home comforts to settle halfway across the globe in Nepal, it’s all too clear that 19-year-old Simon Carrière is happy to have taken his own leap of faith. The perennial do-gooder and serial entrepreneur talks about sharing life-changing stories with the recently founded Amplified Whispers , and reveals what keeps him inspired. MC, editor
For someone new to Amplified Whispers, how would you sum up what you do and why you do it?
I started Amplified Whispers, a storytelling platform to be able to “amplify” the voices of those who aren’t able to share their story. I’ve spent the last year and a half travelling to some of the most remote places in the world: from meditating with Tibetan monks to being stranded in the western Himalayan range, or even being a first responder mission leader during the Nepal earthquakes. Everyone I talked to or shared experiences with reminded me that we all connect through the stories we share. So like the name suggests, the goal is to amplify the whispers or the voices of those who wouldn’t otherwise have the power to share what they have to say to a global audience.
Tell us a bit about your background. Specifically what made you decide against the 9-to-5 life and choose to trek the globe?
It was an overnight decision! I stuffed all my belongings into a 80-litre backpack with a one way ticket to India in hand. I’ve always had a different mindset, I was never into mainstream media and when I found myself with a lot of alone time, I used it to learn different skills, which would incidentally come in extremely handy later on.
I had been watching a few travel-related YouTube channels, mostly daily vloggers like MrBenBrown & FunForLouis. But I really connected on a personal level with a channel called Jacksgap; two twin brothers just a few years older than me, travelling the world doing what they loved and documenting it along the way for a good cause. So, I followed my dream and have honestly never looked back. I deffered going to university and decided my education would be from observing and taking advantage of every opportunity to talk and learn from other people’s stories. The experiences, the stories, learning from other people’s struggles, have honestly been priceless!
The prologue podcast takes on a traditional storytelling format in which you introduce characters from your own life, is that likely to continue? If not, what else can we expect to hear?
No not exactly, the prologue episode was concentrated on telling my personal story or the story behind how all of this got started. It was crafted to get that message across by having simple conversations with the people that had most influenced me along the way.
For season one, I already have a detailed episode outline with a few episodes in pre production and some storyboards, but these aren’t my stories. I may be involved as one of the characters but the story is purely focused on their message and what they have to say. I work with them through the entire process in order to ensure their story gets across the way they want it to.
The first episode will be me going back to where I spent a week as a first responder mission leader 48 hours after the series of quakes in Nepal. We had privately funded the mission through a website I started called Help Nepal and from our team members’ personal donations. The episode will be following certain individuals that we were able to help. We were incredibly moved by their stories and felt that it was important to go back and document their stories, as well as their experience of the earthquake, our relief work and the long term NGO rebuilding relief.
I should state that my plan isn’t to simply document these stories, I plan to live them alongside the people telling them. It’s important for me to create relationships in order to understand the content, and finally tell the story the way it should be told.
I’ve learnt to surround myself with people I know understand and care.
What’s the one piece of stellar advice you were given when starting out?
My mom has this saying that she would always tell me whenever I needed encouragement, ‘be good & do good’. I guess it stuck with me and I try to live by this. As for stellar advice, I got my confidence from books I was reading and the people I was meeting and my ideas from my experiences that had moved me beyond words. Whenever I’m feeling like I can’t tackle a certain problem, I go back to those moments and it makes me realize I have all the tools I could possibly need; I’m a lucky one!
Also, because I’ve travelled through different cultures, I learnt from the ones where sustainability wasn’t a choice but a way of life, this helped me craft my own definition of sustainable living. But, at some point along the way I did have to take a leap of faith. No one could have possibly made that decision for me.
I had studied business for a few years, not in the typical sense of going to university, but simply as a consumer that cares about transparency. Simple things such as people over profit, environmental/social sustainability & community engagement weren’t long term business goals, but methods I was integrating and establishing with everything I was doing. Having studied business in this different sense I believe gave me an upper hand creatively.
On the flip side, has there been criticism or challenges you’ve faced along your journey?
I mean, there will always be people who don’t support or believe in what you’re doing, and shockingly that came from my high school peers. That’s why I’ve learnt to surround myself with people who I know understand and care. I don’t believe my age plays a big factor, actually I see it as an advantage. I have less responsibilities and if all of this just doesn’t work out (not that I’m saying this is plan B because I don’t believe in those) I wouldn’t have lost anything. These experience I’m going through are priceless, things that no university would have ever been able to teach.
I left home completely alone on a one way flight to India. Once I arrived, I saw people travelling in groups twice my age who where struggling to get by while I was just enjoying it. It gave me a boost of confidence to know that my age was pretty much irrelevant. I just had to be smart and do good with my actions and my beliefs.
Entrepreneurship is pretty hard even when you’re operating from one base. With your goal of broadcasting stories from remote locations, just how do you plan to deal with the logistics?
Well, we operate from a central base in the city of Pokhara where I’ve lived for the past year. There we have a “strong” internet connection, a small studio and equipment.
But when we’re on the road, we have some equipment that allows us to keep broadcasting no matter the situation, whether it be portable solar panels or battery packs and a lot of memory cards. The gear is used to gather the footage, we then work with whoever told the story to craft and storyboard it. We can then go back to the studio to make final touches and share it with the rest of the world.
I’ve been in Nepal for over a year now and I’ve become semi-conversational in Nepali when I need to be. But when the situation doesn’t allow it, I have a team of Nepali volunteers that are fluent in both languages, if there’s ever anything that needs to be translated or confirmed. I see the language barrier as a advantage. Whenever I ’m talking to someone in English who isn’t too comfortable with the language, they use very simple words that for us might not seem as the right word to use, but it creates something extremely raw and meaningful and I think getting that across is tremendously important.
Tell us a little about your upcoming Kickstarter campaign.
We believe we did something a little revolutionary with our campaign. The goal is to raise 10k CND with 2 stretch goals of 15k & 25k. By raising the minimum I’ll be able to travel through Nepal to produce 10 podcast episodes, each with its own mission and goal, while documenting behind the scenes through POV vlogs and blog posts. The two stretch goals would make it possible to have a community space, and would make it possible for me to share my passion for storytelling with people who are on a mission to better represent their country.
We have crafted amazing rewards, all of which will have a direct, positive impact on the Nepalese community. We are very excited to share those with the world, because business shouldn’t simply be putting your logo on a product. Every item should have a meaning and a purpose, and that has been my goal from the very start.
“Don’t underestimate the ripple effect of what you do. These kinds of actions have toppled empires.”- Leila Janah. What words of wisdom do you have for young entrepreneurs about making real change?
First of all, there are no guidelines. Don’t be scared to be different. You learn from your mistakes and if you never make any, you will never learn. Accept that you’ll never be perfect, especially when starting out, but you have to be okay with that. Get rid of your idea of perfectionism sooner, rather than later, because it will just dampen your creativity.
When you’re starting out, a big challenge will be overcoming the idea that you need all this expensive gear to be a prodigy in all fields. By taking the time and reaching out to the right people you can create something great, so believe in yourself. You need to put in long hours, work long nights and make sacrifices. When you’ve finally brought your idea to life after putting all that sweat and tears into it, believe me there’s no better feeling than to see it become a reality. Also I would say, venture beyond your comfort zone. It’s never too early or too late to start, but the time is now. Make our world a better place, be good & do good!
all images c/o
All about Simon
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