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A Burrito, An At-Sea Phone Call, and a Gift

June 16, 2011

Re:ACT Story

A few months ago, SOLD President Rachel Carey and Founder Rachel Sparks-Graeser attended Summit at Sea. A part of the famous Summit Series, the invitation-only cruise was designed to connect and inspire a new generation of leaders to succeed in business and life.

On the flight to the cruise’s launching point, Rachel and Rachel ran into a man named Bryan Neuberg, another Summit attendee.  Bryan “knew immediately they were Summiteers,” so the three of them sat together on the plane.  Soon, Bryan heard all about the work The SOLD Project is doing for at-risk children.

When Bryan found out SOLD works in Thailand, he shared a very random fact about himself: he was once a part of a hit Thai pop group called Joey Boy that had introduced human beat-boxing to Thailand. Random, right? Bryan’s concert tour involved TV and radio interviews and countless shows–all participated in by Thailand’s next generation of leaders.

Says Bryan:

“The fact that [SOLD is] helping to create programs that would prevent young girls from going into prostitution touched my heart personally. Mostly because of my connection with Thai culture, especially the teenage Thai culture.”

Those memories kept the airplane conversation about SOLD on his mind as he attended Summit.

A day or two later, Bryan made a call to his wife from the ship. “It was the third anniversary from the moment I saw her and when I knew I was going to marry her,” he explains. The phone call was long, but he figured it would be “a few bucks per minute or something.”

Not quite. The total bill for the 90-minute call to California? $750.

“I got really pissed off and marched down to the office of the cruise line manager,” Bryan explains. “As I was complaining to her and basically trying to work a deal, the COO of Summit Series happened to be walking by.” And he wanted to know what the heck was going on. Bryan explained the phone call and the exorbitant bill.

“I was whimpering about how it as my wife and I’s anniversary, and I got this bill–”

“This is not what the Summit Series it about,” the COO sternly replied.  He told the ship’s manager that Summit would be picking up the tab on the phone bill.

Suddenly, Bryan was a little embarrassed.

“There was no way I could let Summit pay for my mistake,” he says. “It was my responsibility.”

When Bryan began to argue this, the COO stuck a finger in Bryan’s chest and said, “Pay it forward.” Then he turned around and walked off.

Then Bryan remembered SOLD and his conversation on the plane.

When Summit ended, as luck would have it, Bryan ran into Rachel Carey at the airport again. He had already decided he was going to “pay forward” the phone bill as a donation to SOLD, but there was another minor glitch–this time on a slightly smaller scale. The taco stand at the airport wouldn’t accept credit cards, and Bryan didn’t have any cash. And he was hungry for a burrito.

“I told Rachel, ‘Look, I’m going to donate, but first I need a loan so I can pay for my lunch’,” he says.

Rachel laughed and handed him the $9.32 he needed for lunch.

Bryan simply added the second “loan” to the total donation amount. And, sure enough, last month, SOLD received a donation from Bryan for the amount of one at-sea phone call and one airport burrito: $759.32.

“I paid it forward and I had to pay it back,” he says.

Bryan is an executive coach for entrepreneurs, helping them run companies by learning to be more influential and gain psychological tools for excellence. His background is in sales/psychology. He has an MA in Organizational Leadership from Antioch University and holds advanced certifications from the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco and the Coaches Training Institute. He is proud to be one of 35 coaches at the Google Coaching Center. And he is a total networking geek. For executive coaching services or beat-boxing lessons, visit

Thank you, Bryan!

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