Platform for passion

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Platform for passion

The initial intent of #BeSomebody was to inspire its creator, Kash Shaikh, to live his life with passion.

Now, Shaikh hopes others will use the hashtag when displaying their passions through digital media, and he is getting the word out with a bus tour covering 25 universities in 50 days.

The next stop is UND. The #BeSomebody bus will be parked behind the Memorial Union and Swanson Hall Friday, Nov. 8, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Shaikh and crew will meet students and hand out free #BeSomebody gear. At 3 p.m., Shaikh will speak for a half hour outside the main Ralph Engelstad Arena entrance.

Traveling has become a familiar pastime for Houston, Texas native Shaikh. After graduating with a degree in public relations from The University of Texas at Austin, he went full time with Procter & Gamble, and his time at P&G allowed him to travel the world.

"The irony of traveling is that you leave home and see so much that is new, but you learn about yourself the most," Shaikh said.

Shortly after signing up for Twitter in 2009, Shaikh created the hashtag #BeSomebody. It was simply a mantra that he used to inspire himself and share his experiences around the world. He didn't anticipate the positive influence a hashtag would have on his followers. When Shaikh created the #BeSomebody blog in 2011, he realized a snowball was rolling.

"I would share my stories using the hashtag and others picked up on it," Shaikh said. "I think people are hungry for a human platform ? one with passion and values."

Since then, the hashtag has turned into a digital platform that connects more than 4 million people in more than 180 countries. People use the tag to express whatever they are passionate about through social media, and the brand has grown exponentially as a result.

Shaikh believes the power of #BeSomebody is its lack of definition. But how does someone identify with a brand that defies explanation? According to Landon Bahl, co-UND student brand manager for #BeSomebody, it's simply anything you want it to be.

"It's a lifestyle that inspires people to pursue their passions," Bahl said. "If you love to do something, get good at it and inspire others to do the same.

"Anyone from age 5 to 55 can be somebody. It reaches all ages."

It reaches around the globe too. Bahl says that 75 percent of its followers are outside of the United States, and Shaikh is looking to expand even further ? abroad and domestically. There are plans to create a mobile app by 2014 and meet with investors to push #BeSomebody into the mainstream.

That's quite a leap forward for a man who was just looking to motivate himself.

"The best way to inspire others is to do what you love." Shaikh said. "Eventually they will follow your lead."

Contacts: Landon Bahl, co-UND student brand manager for #BeSomebody, 701.340.7732, landon.bahl@my.UND.edu Tyler Keehr, co-UND student brand manager for #BeSomebody, 218.791.7403, tyler.m.keehr@my.UND.edu

Sponsored by UND Student Government

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