"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing." - Theodore Roosevelt
My phone rang.
It was a FaceTime call, and there's only one person who calls me using FaceTime. I accepted the call on my Mac and the video opened to show her lounging in a five-star hotel room, wearing one of those luxurious bath gowns.
"Doing it tough, Tiff?" I asked.
I met Tiffany Chaisson on Twitter in early 2015. I was a golfing entrepreneur building social media contacts, and Tiff was a blogger, "golfing and eating" her way around the world. We arranged to play a round at my local course. Being Gen-Xers, not so used to meeting online, her friends worried I might be an axe-murderer, and mine worried she might be a marriage-wrecking, craven hussy.
Fortunately, neither of us turned out as feared.
The day came and Tiff arrived, started talking, and didn't stop for the next six hours. However, unlike most people who talk incessantly, she was interesting. People who know her will understand me perfectly.
Tiff is the most passionate golfer you will ever meet.
She bounces around the golf course, smiling broadly, taking selfies and making friends with everyone. I'm serious, she calls out greetings to everybody she meets and makes their day better. Listening to her, I found myself not focusing on trivial things like swing mechanics and broke 90 for the first time in my life. The entrepreneur in me wanted to package her up as the best golf improvement aid in history!
Tiff told me her story. An Australian who married a Canadian, moved to Canadia (sic) then divorced and started working as a waitress at a golf resort, where she started hitting balls on the range and fell in love with the game. "I am unreservedly happy with a fairway under my feet." as she puts it.
A travel, golf and food blog followed, the difference to most other blogs being Tiff doesn't just talk, she's a doer. Unencumbered by career or family commitments, she earns enough money here and there to fund her next golfing adventure.
Tiff isn't worried about what might happen. She goes and finds out.
When I got a word in edgewise, she found out I was a marketer, writer and business builder. I told her she was the perfect salesperson, given she could sell golf on passion alone. I called her a "Golf Passionista" and she took it as a job description.
Off Tiff went on her next adventure. I followed her story of course, as many do, vicariously living a golfing dream, so far spanning 10 countries and 90 golf courses. She called me occasionally for business advice, and that was about the extent of it.
Until she emailed me in April 2016 to say she had an idea for a nonprofit, called The Fairway Foundation. Her business plan talked about helping kids to play golf, who otherwise couldn't afford it. Anywhere in the world.
As an entrepreneur, I think most business ideas suck, and they do, but the more I researched and thought about this one, the more I felt it could work. So I emailed Tiff back to tell her I'd help out if she needed it.
I meant help her out with advice, but should've been clearer, because she emailed back to say she'd decided I was going to be her co-founder. Oh well... I wanted Tiff to succeed and knew she'd need some help to do so. So I jumped in, gave myself the lofty title of COO, and told Tiff she was now the CEO of "Fairways" (The Fairway Foundation wouldn't do because every second golfing charity seems to have that name).
Fast forward six months and we have sponsored 10 juniors in Canada and just recently, five in India. Tiff does all the talking - did I mention she was good at it? - and I run on the hamster wheel in the back office. I annoy her - Tiff will tell you I'm good at it - but I'm not going to be a true help if I sycophantically tell her everything she does is brilliant. It's not, but she listens and learns, so I can't ask for much more.
Back to the five-star hotel room and bathrobe in a minute.
During the 2016 Canadian summer, Tiff continued to work as a waitress in order to pay for the costs of the new company, including the golfing costs of the cadets we had immediately started to take on. Fundraising for a nonprofit is slow in the beginning and Tiff didn't want to wait to start helping.
Who does that?
Nobody. Except Tiff.
Tiff has done it hard. Working two jobs means not a lot of sleep and waitressing doesn't pay the golfing bills of 15 kids. Instead she paid for most of it using her personal credit card, which currently has about $10,000 on it.
Tiff has done it happily. Gladly. Enthusiastically. She trusts that by giving everything she has, the momentum will build and Fairways will become self-sustaining one day. That's a type of bravery that only a select few possess.
So the hotel room. Tiff is a networking machine. She is friendly, will introduce herself to anyone, has a great story and is only too happy to recount it. She got a media pass to the Canadian Open and made friends with almost every journalist - no surprises there - and her new connections got her an invitation to a fam trip at Fox Harb'r resort. Nobody deserved a weekend of golf and luxury more than Tiff.
The last time I messaged with Tiff, it was 4 AM in Mumbai airport, India. She was in-transit waiting eight hours for a flight to Australia.
Why was she there?
I'd shown Tiff a video of Indian tea plantation workers' children playing golf with clubs they'd made themselves from trees, and she decided to go to India to help them. 12 weeks later she was in Kolkata helping fund golf programs for slum children. She put those on her credit card too.
One of my favourite sayings is, "Action is better than inaction." because even if one of our actions is an error, we learn from it, adjust and improve. Doing nothing reaps nothing. However, more often than not, trusting our gut and taking a risk reaps great rewards.
Tiff personifies action. Few in the golfing world know who she is right now, but that will change, and so will the industry for the better.