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Social Impact, Sustainability, Trending

Each Step Counts: What o9 Walks Means to Our Community

O9 walks blog page
Published: Reading time: 4 min
Igor Rikalo President & COO at o9 Solutions
Igor RikaloPresident & COO at o9 Solutions
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— 17,024 steps. About eight and a half miles.

That’s what I managed to walk today, according to my fitness tracker. There are two ways I get most of my steps in. Dodging the moving walkways at airports, for one. But I walk the most when I’m on calls that don’t require me to turn on the camera. Otherwise, I’m pacing, either in the hallways or inside conference rooms. On the weekends, I walk nature trails with my wife, Ximena. We start early before the Texas heat sets in.

I try to cover at least 15,000 steps daily. But since May 1st, when our o9 Walks initiative started, I’ve tried to get that number above 20,000. I sometimes get frustrated when I don’t hit it.

But then I remember that each step counts. I also remember that I’m not walking alone.

Since 2021, I’ve watched o9 Walks evolve into something truly special. What started as an idea during the tail-end of the pandemic with only 400 o9ers has grown into a community of nearly 4,000 members—including o9ers’ close friends and family members. Even inspired prospects, clients, partners, and investors have joined us on the journey.

The idea is simple: download the MoveSpring app, sync your step tracker (I use my iPhone), join any team, and walk—a lot. The more steps we walk in May, the more trees o9 plants. This year, every 50,000 steps walked equals one tree planted to protect bodies of water in Brazil.

We also have distance-related milestones that unlock donations to social and environmental causes that o9ers choose, like enlarging the habitat of the Melanistic Tiger in Northern India.

This year, we’ve set our sights on addressing one of the most pressing issues of our time: the global water crisis. Millions worldwide lack access to clean, safe water, affecting their health and livelihoods. Almost two-thirds of the world's population experience severe water scarcity for at least one full month each year. The United Nations estimates that 700 million people could be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030.

Three weeks ago, we reached our first distance-related milestone—60,000 miles. This means that, along with planting trees with Sowing Waters in Brazil, o9 is partnering with WaterAid to sponsor a handwashing station in a government school to improve its sanitation facilities. Last week, we reached 120,000 miles, meaning that o9 is going to sponsor women's training on water quality testing and provide them with a water testing kit.

Two weeks ago, we also hosted a Walkathon in Bengaluru. More than eight hundred members of our community participated in a 3k and 6k walking race to help us reach our collective goal.

Last week, we unlocked the third milestone: building a “Soak Pit” to help with water conservation. As of today, we’ve also collectively walked 485 million steps, which has led to the planting of 9,708 trees in Brazil.

This is the power of o9 Walks, and it’s difficult to put into words how proud I am of the collective effort that the o9 community has invested in it.

But I’d also be remiss if I didn’t highlight the impact of o9 Walks on our community.

This year, we started reaching out to participants to share their experiences, and it’s been nothing short of inspiring, from improved team bonding (many departments form their own teams and compete) to even weight loss.

We asked participants to share if they experienced any health benefits from the initiative. 75% cited “increased energy levels,” 66% cited “reduced stress levels,” and 63% cited “improved mood” as the top benefits they’ve noticed physically or mentally.

There were also several quotes that stood out to me from inspired o9ers across the world:

"Since starting, I've lost weight and feel great about myself. It's now a daily habit, and I walk more than ever before. This routine has significantly improved my overall quality of life, making me healthier and happier."

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Cheryl, Finance, Dallas

"It's in line with o9's values to live a fulfilling and active life while also working hard. It speaks to our Sustainability principles and giving back to the planet while we carry out our daily work."

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Filippo, Digital Marketing, Amsterdam,

"It's an honor to be associated with such worthy causes that contribute to society and the planet.  I've also noticed many more o9ers incorporating running and walking into their daily routines, promoting a healthier lifestyle."

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Ashok, Client Success, Bangalore

It’s clearer than to me ever that o9 Walks is more than just a step challenge. It's a movement—quite literally—for personal and global change.

It’s also a reminder. It comes in handy when I’ve had a challenging day. 

Making a difference isn’t just about my steps. It’s about our steps. 

And each one we take counts.

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About the author

Igor Rikalo President & COO at o9 Solutions

Igor Rikalo

President & COO at o9 Solutions

Igor Rikalo is the President and Chief Operations Officer of o9 Solutions. He oversees the global operations of the organization and plays an integral role in ensuring the business continues to scale at a global level. At o9, he has developed a successful track record of building high-performing teams, managing global strategic initiatives, and delivering strong business results.

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