When You Win

Why does it seem that those with money seem to attract more money? Is it something supernatural, are they using “the Secret” or are they just very smart with handling their money already, so that when they get more it adds to what they already have?

There is a long list of people who have won the lottery and changed their financial lives dramatically, only to spend it all and end up back where they started from a few years later.

It makes sense when you think about it, because money doesn’t change you, it just makes you more of who you already are. How you are today will be how you are tomorrow regardless of what material changes happen for you.

If you are greedy already, if you are stingy already, if you are generous already, then getting a lump sum of money will only make you more of that thing. Once you get a lump sum of money it is too late to become something else. You may be able to fool yourself and others for a bit, and act generously temporarily but that will fade and your true nature will come out. The work needs to happen before you get it.

So, if you are waiting until you win the lottery to learn how to be generous you are fooling yourself and setting yourself up for a long and lonely life of being stingy.

Don’t wait. Do the work now and start your journey of generosity.

Why I Hate Economics

It’s more than a class that I barely passed in high school with a teacher who was as boring as a brown sweater vest. My problem with it is economists seem to think people behave rationally, without emotion. Models, legislature, and entire countries are based on that theory.

Take inflation for example. One of its main drivers is the fear that people have about inflation, who then behave in a manner that drives up inflation. Stick with me here –

The fear of rising prices causes people to buy more items now, because the price will rise in the next few weeks or months. This pushes up demand for the products, which then become more expensive because there are less products around, and scarcity creates a willingness for people to pay higher prices – causing inflation. Emotional.

Also, I have an issue with the simple construct of supply and demand. It suggests that if you can make a cheaper version of an existing product, then people will rationally buy the cheaper product, because why would you pay more money for something when you can get it cheaper elsewhere? This completely misses the connection that some have with certain brands, for which they are willing to pay more money, even though the product is the same. Emotional. We all have those traits. We all pay more money for something than we have to, because of an affiliation with a brand, or some other emotional connection.

You see, economics is filled with simple models and diagrams explaining one of the most complicated elements of our world, the market. Many are happy to rely on the market to fix all of society’s problems. As if the market is an all knowing, all powerful and altogether good being which, if left to its own devices, will take care of us all. But it is just a thing. It’s a system that we created and use for our own benefit, and hopefully the benefit of others. As with anything, it’s the users which dictate how much good or ill comes from a system. And it’s the emotions which drive the users’ decisions. So, it’s emotion which rules our market, not logic.

Or as Seth Godin puts it,

“We like to think we make complicated decisions based on rational analysis, but most of the time, we actually make an emotional decision and then invent a rational analysis to justify it.”

Mostly though, it’s the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any space for generosity within economics. It doesn’t appear to be logical, or good business, or benefit the market at all – but it is and does all those things. There just isn’t a simple diagram for it.

The Most Underpaid Team Member

The most valuable person in my team is underpaid. In fact, she earns nothing.

The most valuable person in my team is Lorraine.

She volunteers her time each week to make phone calls. Not a cold-call, scam type of phone calls. But in a ‘thank you for donating and making a difference’ type of way.

Each week, she gives up her time to go through the list of people who gave over the last 7 days and calls them simply to say ‘thanks’. That’s it.

And the response?

People love it. They truly value being thanked for doing something great. I have had many people let me know that they got a call from her and they really enjoyed it. I have had people give more often after getting a call from her. Maybe they felt so good about being thanked that they gave again. Maybe they just wanted to speak to Lorraine again. Whatever the reason, I know that Lorraine is the most valuable part of my team because she is at the forefront of caring for those who are using their generosity to end poverty, one family and one community at a time through the work of Opportunity.

No doubt, she needs a pay rise.

I’m Not Asking for Your Money

I work for a charity and meet with people who donate significant amounts, but I don’t ask them to give money.

I used to do that, and it felt wrong. I felt like I was apologising every time I wanted to meet with them and that they thought I only wanted something from them…which was kind of true – their money.

I got tired of that feeling and of asking people to give money, so I decided to try something else.

Instead of asking people to give, I now invite people to fulfil their purpose through generosity. By giving money to Opportunity, an organisation that they are passionate about, our supporters are finding a way to fulfil their purpose.

They are bringing dignity to those living in poverty.

They are giving back some of what they have received.

They are living out their values.

They are showing care and concern for their fellow human beings.

They are releasing the hold that money can have on those who have it.

They are being generous and reaping the rewards that generosity bring.

So I don’t ask for money. I offer a pathway to purpose.

Why People Give

“When you give to charities, what outcome are you looking to achieve?”

This is the most common question I get to ask people who support Opportunity. It’s important to find out what motivates them to give, mostly so that we can achieve the kind if impact they are looking for.

Often, the answer I get is “I want to make a positive difference”, and after further discussion they tell me about how someone helped them early in their life. So, they give to pass it on and help someone work their way out of poverty.

For many Opportunity supporters they see creating businesses as a great way to help people help themselves. A small loan gets given to kick start their journey out of poverty, by creating a small business which provides them an income. They can then put food on the table, send their kids to school, pay the loan back and leave poverty behind.

The types of business the small loans create in places like India and Indonesia are not what you normally think of. There are no ABN’s, no offices, no IT set up, no convoluted distribution channels. It’s more simple than that. You buy items at one price, take it to a market or the side of the road and sell it for a little bit more. You get a loan in the morning and can create an income to buy food that evening.

Whilst it takes time for loan recipients to fully leave poverty behind, a small loan is the injection they need to start that journey.

That’s what making a positive difference looks like.

$160 is enough to help create a small loan – donate here.

2021 Reading List

Some new books and some re-reads. Some were worth the time, some were not.

NEW READS

Greenlights – Matthew McConaughey

This is a really interesting insight into the life and psyche of Matthew McConaughey. His upbringing was quite unusual.

My take aways from this book:

  • He approached his auditions with a sense of confidence. His mindset was that they needed him in their film rather than him needed a role (and coming across desperate).
  • He was also willing to say goodbye to his whole career to try and change the type of roles he was getting.
  • The story behind his most well-known line was brilliant.
  • The first chapter was a word salad.

The Power of Now – Echart Tolle

He has some solid truths sprinkled in amongst some shady fluff.

Doughnut Economics – Kate Raworth

Rethinking economics and the measurement of economic growth and the yardstick for a healthy economy. This is where we should be heading but it will take a major change in the way the world approaches economic theory.

Becoming a Person of Influence – John Maxwell and Jim Dornan

From back in the 90’s. Some quality content based on the character of the person seeking to influence.

Range – David Epstein

A brilliant read about how those that generalise in their endeavours will out-do those that specialise in one sphere…unless it is a kind environment, like golf.

Tiger Woods vs. Roger Federer. A kind environment vs. a wicked environment.

Hint: Most of life in not lived in a kind environment.

Disappearing Church – Mark Sayers

Trouble in the Land of Giving – William De Maria

A scathing review of charities in Australia. William seems to be angry.

Think Again – Adam Grant

The power of knowing what you don’t know

Adam frames the different thinking styles that we use when we approach problems.

Preacher – “When we are in the preacher mode we are convinced we are right” and try to persuade others to agree with us.

Prosecutor – When we are trying to prove someone else wrong

Politician – When we are trying to win the approval of an audience

Scientist – Create a hypothesis and test it for reasons that you are wrong.

Obviously he thinks the scientist is the best method to use.

Beautiful Things – Hunter Biden

Hunter’s journey through loss, grief and addiction, and a presidential election or two. This is an amazing story with a bit of politics thrown in.

Values – Mark Carney

A book of over 500 pages of which I understood very little. Mark is the former Governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, and has guided the global financial system through the GFC and COVID. He is now on the UN special envoy for climate action and finance. This book is about the values which will serve us as we approach the challenges that lay ahead. I feel like it is everything that he has ever thought about these topics (but probably not because he seems like a super intelligent guy). Bono liked it. The parts that I understood were interesting and the rest is a blur.

The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyun

A theological trip to the 1600’s. Once I had a handle on the language and the fact that there are no chapters, or breaks, or places where you can logically stop, it was a nice journey.

Jack Reacher – Better off DeadLee and Andrew Child

My annual wait for the Jack Reacher book was worth it and it was over very quickly. After a disappointing book last year, 2021 was a great improvement in the tale of Reacher. (Soon the become a TV series on Amazon Prime for those interested). Now to wait for October/November 2022.

RE-READS

The Obstacle is the Way – Ryan Holiday

If/when I meet Ryan Holiday, I will apologise to him for underestimating this book. The first time I read it I thought it was a lightweight bit of inspiration, but I missed the point. It is a profound book which I will re-read every year from now on.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson

This book was exactly how I remember it. Shock and fluff to start with but some really interesting points along the way about not being swayed by what other people think and to live your life with confidence. The last chapter is a memorable one.

Incognito – David Eagleman

This is a random book that I found somewhere but one that I have loved because it unpacks the complexity of the brain. We are not one person, but many ‘persons’ – which may sound a little shady, but if you have ever found yourself having an internal debate on a topic it is important to ask, ‘who am I debating with?’.

I don’t agree where David lands with the final premise of the book which is essentially that we don’t have much control over most of what we do, therefore we can’t be held responsible for most of our actions, but the debate he creates is worthwhile.

Meditations – Marcus Aurelias

I made my way through this slower than I did last time. There is still much that I don’t grasp but the philosophy of life and death is extraordinary.

My favourite quote:

“Remember that to change course or accept correction leaves you just as free as you were. The action is your own, driven by your own impulse and judgement, indeed your own intelligence.”

Give & Take – Adam Grant

This is a book about how generosity breeds success, in all parties involved. Still my go-to generosity guide book.

I look forward to more quality reading in 2022. Any suggestions? What are your favourites?

The Only True “Two Types of People” Statement

“There are two types of people, those that believe there are two types of people and those that don’t.”

People are complex and cannot be sorted into two types of anything, let’s not oversimplify, except for the statement above.

Take vaccinations for example. There are those who are pro-vax and those that are anti-vax, right? Wrong.

It’s more like this:

100% Passionate Support                                                                 100% Passionate Against

Forget vaccination, let’s talk cheese. There are those people that like cheese and those people that don’t, right? Wrong.

It’s more like this:

100% Passionate Support                                                                 100% Passionate Against

And that’s just one small part of the person.

The world is a spectrum of beliefs, experiences, thoughts, and traditions. How I ended up having the same opinion as you is most likely a very different journey to how you ended up with that opinion. We think the same on that issue, we both like cheese, but we are not the same person. We don’t have an equal amount of commitment to it. We don’t have an equal amount of experience with it. We don’t have an equal amount of care for it. We are at different points on the spectrum of our love of cheese.

It is generous to see people as complex and more than a cheese lover or not.

Stop Looking for Your Purpose

It’s a cliché now. Finding your purpose is so mainstream that there are numerous books, podcasts, blogs and articles on how and why you should do it. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with young, and not so young, people about how they can find their purpose.

I haven’t really had a succinct answer for them. I can only share about how I found mine – but they are not me, so that might not be helpful.

I can give them lists of the 12 top tips to finding purpose in life, I can lead them to ask the 7 strange questions that will help them find it, or even teach them the 4 easy steps which is guaranteed* to map out their life purpose. (*Not an actual guarantee).

But none of that seems to work.

Here’s what does. Finding purpose in whatever you are doing right now. That will help you find your purpose.

Most likely, your purpose won’t come to you in your late teens/early 20’s as one grand vision which shapes the rest of your life.

More often than not, it will consist of dozens of small pieces that you have picked up at random times, doing random things, in random jobs and having random conversations.  

So, as you go along, find purpose in what you are doing right now, and you will help create your broader purpose in life.

Don’t Hit the Traffic Cones

I heard a story of a defensive driving instructor teaching people how to safely navigate obstacles on the road. He set up traffic cones on the roadway they were using and instructed each driver to drive straight towards them, then when they got to a certain point, brake and avoid hitting them.

Every single driver ran into the cones.

He then asked, ‘What are you looking at when you are braking?’

‘The cones’ they all said.

To which he replied, ‘Don’t look at the cones, look at where you want to go’.

Every driver was then able to navigate past the cones without hitting them.

Often, we can get so caught up in what we are trying to avoid that we focus all our attention on that one thing, and keep running into it.

Ending poverty can sometimes feel like that. We know that we want to avoid people suffering in poverty. We don’t want people to go hungry. We don’t want people to get sick and die from easily curable diseases. We don’t want people to fall into generational cycles which traps families in a vulnerable state.

We know what we don’t want, but what do we want instead?

Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen nails it when she says, “The opposite of poverty is not income, it’s dignity.”

So we are not just aiming for everyone to have more dollars in their bank account, that would help, but it is only one part of the process of each human being having dignity. We are aiming for every human to be respected, belong to a community, receive justice and have the capacity to reach their full potential.

Take your eyes off the traffic cones and aim for where you want to go.