Hi. I'm Amanda Hirsch, founder and one-woman-show here at Good Things Consulting.
I'm passionate about using my skills as a writer, editor, and strategist (not to mention connector and evangelist) to increase the visibility and impact of nonprofits, indie media companies and other forces for good in the world. My clients include PBS, NPR, TED, the George Lucas Educational Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Sundance board chair Pat Mitchell, SYPartners, and the Paley Center for Media. Prior to running my own business, I was the director of PBS.org. I've give talks on digital storytelling at Harvard's Kennedy School, the National Film Board of Canada, and a range of other venues.
In my free time I write for pleasure (I blog at Having it Alt and I'm the author of Feeling My Way: Finding Motherhood Without Losing Myself) and perform improv comedy. My husband, Jordan, and I have a side business called THINK IMPROV that offers custom improv trainings for business, which grew out of a series of improv workshops we led at SXSW (we were voted audience favorites). You can also see us on stage in NYC in Til Death: A Comedy Show About Marriage.
How I Got Here
I'm always fascinated by how people end up doing what they do for a living. It reveals so much about the perspective they bring to their work. With that in mind, I offer up a longer version of my backstory.
The best job I had in my 20s was helping documentary filmmakers translate their stories to the web as the editor of news and documentaries for PBS.org. I loved thinking about how to best make use of this interactive, nonlinear medium to tell stories that were originally conceived of for film; I loved supporting PBS's mission to educate, engage and inspire; and most of all, I loved working with these filmmakers, many of whom had spent 10 years of their lives capturing these stories — I admired their passion and commitment and was proud to help their work reach a broader audience.
After several years I became the director of PBS.org, which was the number-one dot-org website during my tenure, according to Nielsen NetRatings (which measures such things). As director, my storytelling challenge shifted. Now, rather than think about translating individual films to the web, I got to think about the best ways to stitch together the thousands of stories across PBS.org into a meaningful and useful whole. I also needed to communicate to our member stations and the public the value that PBS.org provided for them. I loved it.
I was leading a workshop on digital storytelling for filmmakers up at WGBH, the PBS station in Boston, and over lunch, one of them asked me, "So, are you a producer, too?" I laughed, and told her no. She looked me right in the eye and said, "That's too bad. You seem like someone with stories to tell."
It was a life-changing moment.
Over the next few years, I dusted off what I'd once considered the extracurricular activities of my youth, writing and performing. I now realized that these artistic outlets were a core part of who I was, and of the value I offered the world. I started blogging and performing improvised comedy, and a funny thing happened: The more I told my own stories, the better I got at helping other people tell theirs.
I started Good Things Consulting in 2006. I had loved my time at PBS, but after over 6 years there, I knew it was time for a new challenge. I decided to freelance for a while just to give myself some time and space outside a big organization to figure out my next step... and I loved it. Not just because I got to work from my couch, in my sweats (though I'd be lying if I said that wasn't REALLY NICE)...but because I loved getting to work with all KINDS of organizations that needed help telling their stories. Clients in my first year included the Paley Center for Media, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and NPR. I was having a blast.
I still am — and the allure of working from my couch, in my sweats, has yet to wear off. Over the years, I've diversified, so that I not only work with organizations, but also with individuals — a filmmaker in Wales, an entrepreneur seeking to make health care more compassionate, a cause marketing guru who's passionate about helping corporations create positive social impact. I won't lie: Often, these individual clients are women. As a feminist, it energizes me to help these powerful women take their work to the next level, and to get more attention for the incredible work they're doing.
I find it deeply meaningful to help the "good guys" in this world — organizations and individuals, indie media makers, socially conscious businesses, artists, and anyone else driven more by purpose than by a paycheck. That's not to say we don't want to make money — we do, and we should. We need that money to keep us and our good work going, to avoid burnout, to make a difference. But money isn't what gets us out of bed in the morning. We want to make a difference, to improve people's lives, to make something beautiful/important/helpful.
I will never stop telling my story, and I'll never stop helping you tell yours.
The Bottom Line
Whether you're an organization or an individual, I'll help you figure out how to express yourself in ways that get people's attention, clarify your value (and values), and increase your impact.