The Ramey Team. Image: The Ramey Agency

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

The Neale Donald Walsch quote begins the post from Fondren ad agency, The Ramey Agency, who has launched the “Reach Higher” grant program to motivate employees to chase their dreams.

“Last year, I helped sail a boat in an overnight race from Key West to Cuba — which for me was literally and figuratively sailing into the unknown,” said Ramey CEO and partner, Chris Ray. “I’d experienced similar adventures outside of my comfort zone in the past. In each case, I returned with the belief that when you get far outside of your comfort zone, it’s possible to experience growth and transformation in new and unexpected ways.”

Ray said we he returned from the trip, he pitched to his partners the idea of setting aside a portion of their year-end profits to fund a grant program that would help fund similar experiences for members of their team. “I felt that if we could help others get outside of their comfort zones, we could not only nudge people closer to their fullest potential, but that the agency would benefit from a more engaged and fearless team,” he added.

The application process sought from employees “big, audacious ideas.” It went on to ask them to think outside their own comfort zones, “to consider the thing that they’ve always wanted to do, but were too afraid to act upon.”

“When the submissions came in,” Ray explained, “we were blown away by the stories. We heard from someone who had faced a personal failure and was looking for redemption via a do-over. We heard from someone going through a major life change event and seeking a form of renewal in order to grow from it.”

The first Reach Higher Grant was awarded to a team member who had always sent her kids on outreach and missions around the world but had always found reasons not to go herself. She will travel to Haiti to serve women and children for a week at a malnutrition center.

The second recipient will travel half a world away to explore her roots after being given up for adoption as a small child. Her grant will cover nearly all of the costs for her to visit South Korea.

“It was a very moving experience to see our entire team cheer on the winners,” Ray said after the recipients were announced recently. “There were tears, high-fives, big smiles, and the exchange of stories that come when we allow ourselves to be a little more vulnerable to each other and get to know each other on a deeper level.”

The Ramey Agency plans to post photos and stories of their team members’ adventures in the weeks and months ahead.