Be More Than A Milk Crate

Last month I attended the man of the year ceremony hosted by the Optimist Club of Passaic, New Jersey.

As the man of the year (also my husband’s cousin) stood up to speak, I was struck by the 400+ people in the room who’d shown up for the event. The cousin didn’t have a web site. He didn’t have a product to sell. He didn’t market himself via social media. Instead, he got out into the community and volunteered.

He’s a teacher who has coached football, headed the school’s ski club, worked with special education kids, raised money for scholarships, opened his home to friends and family in need, and who raised his 12 year old sister after their mother died and he became the sole caregiver (though he was barely 20 years old himself at the time).

People got to know him because he put himself out there.

He was seen.

People like him because he always has something kind to say (and his charm and quick wit are hard to deny).

He’s a good guy.

People show up when he needs help and to honor him because he shows up for them.

He gives back to others.

We spend so much time on this site—and other sites—talking about web sites and Google Analytics, and building engaging content and permission-based relationships, and blah, blah, blah.

If you really want someone to show up for you to support your work, you’ve also got to put in some face time.

Get out of your chair.

Leave your house.

Say hello to the rest of the world.

Build relationships that aren’t based online.

Do good for others.

Anyone can jump atop a milk crate in London’s Speaker’s Corner. But as they walk off, only a few have followers who trail after them—and fewer have followers who take action, who do more than follow like sheep.

Be more than a milk crate—and build more than a platform.

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  1. Mary Doyle on March 3, 2017 at 4:41 am

    Amen Callie! I salute your husband’s cousin – thanks for an inspiring post.

    • Fleurette M Van Gulden on March 3, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      One of the earliest networking, though caregiving and sharing are naturals and so overlooked beyond that.

      Refreshing article, gives me comfort knowing I’m not so much as pushy when I open to strangers any given day on any topic.

      It pays off most times, can’t go wrong, thanks Callie Oettinger,

  2. Maureen Anderson on March 3, 2017 at 6:11 am

    Love it, Callie. And it makes me wonder all over again what people did before everyone had a phone in his hand!

  3. Jim Gant on March 3, 2017 at 9:31 am


    Loved the post today…”do good, be good” sounds easy but not always easy to put into practice.

    An inspiration to us all.


    • BING on March 3, 2017 at 9:45 am

      Really great and simple advice that make total sense. The reality is we can all do a form of this and receive many blessings.

      Thank you Callie.

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  5. Dan Sheridan on March 4, 2017 at 6:44 am

    This is a wonderful tribute and a worthwhile message. Thank you for being there…… at the dinner and always. Love ya!

  6. Dorothy VanDalinda on March 4, 2017 at 7:36 am

    I agree. i have knownDanny since he was 3. Adorable back then too… He has turned out to be such an incredulble young man. Loving, giving ,caring always to family and friends. He is such a blessing to many people. Very proud of you always Danny

  7. Weesly 18 Weesly on June 26, 2021 at 2:49 pm


  8. James Jordan on August 1, 2023 at 12:36 am

    Your cousin’s story has inspired me to be more than a milk crate in my own life. I want to pursue my passions and dreams and use them to serve others and make a positive impact.
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