How to Change the World – An Interview with Ben Randall of ‘The Human, Earth Project’

The Human, Earth Project

Can one person make a meaningful difference in the world?  Ben Randall is an inspiring example of what’s possible in this time of great abundance. I first met Ben in Thailand last winter. He told me his story of how he saved some money and then quit his job to travel to SE Asia to search for a kidnapped friend and raise awareness for the tragedy of human trafficking.  Since that time, Ben and his cameraman Moreno Paulon have successfully crowdfunded $12,000 to complete production of a feature-length documentary film and managed to locate and meet the kidnapped girl (now an adult) in China. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and busyness of our modern lifestyles, but  relative to the billions suffering in abject poverty around the world, are you doing the best you can do? Ben Randall definitely is.

Enjoy the interview.

What is ‘The Human, Earth Project’?

‘The Human, Earth Project’ has been a long, strange process of evolution towards the goal of finding and helping my friend M, who was kidnapped from Vietnam and sold as an unwilling teenaged bride in China.

It has involved a nine-month, 37,000-kilometre journey to find 100 people I …

Make Money or Make a Difference?

In Search of Sanuk

I believe that most people want to make a positive impact on the world. Faced with a clear choice between a selfish or a generous act, most would choose to give. Yet, in our daily lives it’s easy to focus on our own immediate self-interests. We tell ourselves that someday in the future well donate more, volunteer more or work on a social business idea. It generally takes a life threatening illness or a major disaster to bring out our good side. With all the wealth and abundance in developed countries, why is doing good such a minuscule portion of our lives and economies?

People are Fundamentally Good

Disasters and emergencies, often bring out the best in people. We’ve seen it over and over again, people happily step up to donate and volunteer for tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and other tragedies.

In fact, I think most people would risk their own lives to enter a burning building or jump in front of a moving vehicle in order to save another life.

Just raising children for 20 some years takes an incredible about of giving. All we expect is that our children do the same for their children. Clearly human beings are …

The ActionMBA is Here! - Social Entrepreneurship

After many iterations and test projects, I’ve finally have some progress to show you about my next two big endeavours. The ActionMBA is a “”free online business skills building course for social entrepreneurs, non-profits and activists.” will the community to go with the ActionMBA site and will be the home for my new blog.

My Dare Big Manifesto

I first wrote about the ActionMBA in my Dare Big Manifesto post a long time ago. At least it seems like a long time ago. Since then I had another Unconference for Social Good, worked on The Human, Earth Project crowdfunding campaign to raise awareness for human trafficking, helped put on an Impact48 event for InSearchofSanuk in Bangkok, and did some other volunteer projects.

None of that stuff makes me any money. However, this is the stuff that makes me really come alive. I want to work with and assist social entrepreneurs, startup-non-profits and social activists that are making a real difference in the world.

Here it is.

Please check out the site.

If you’re interested in what the Dare Big Do Good Community is about you can visit the landing page for a detailed explanation. There will be …

Is Your Business Socially Useless or Worse?

Success in the Zombie Apocalypse

Success Zombie Apocalypse

Most people need a cataclysmic event in their life to really make meaningful changes. A death in the family, loss of a good job or a terminal illness are often required to start taking our lives seriously. It doesn’t have to be that way. All it takes is a little courage and motivation to focus on what’s most important now. To find that inspiration, take a moment to imagine your role in the zombie apocalypse.

Where Will You Be in the Zombie Apocalypse?

When most of the world gives up the fast food drive-through to become flesh eating un-dead with a taste for raw human brains, what will you be doing with your life?

When our streets are filled with zombie hoards hoping to chew off your face, will you be focused on locating a power generator to watch re-runs of Breaking Bad?

Will you spend your free time at abandoned home-centers to pick out some new designer patio bricks to match that new barbecue you’ve appropriated from your half-eaten neighbours. (Don’t worry, you never liked that guy before anyway. He always had a nicer car than you.)

Will you continue working in your office cubicle, staring at numbers on …

Do You Care About Human Trafficking?

Human Trafficking Story

Recently, I’ve been writing about the great opportunity and abundance those of us from wealthier countries enjoy. One key question that came out of those ideas was, If money were not a problem, what would you do with your time? Ben Randall of The Human, Earth Project is a perfect example of what I hope the answer to that question will be.

What Would You Do if a Friend were Kidnapped?

Several years ago Ben was teaching English in Northern Vietnam. He befriended many locals, including a 15-year-old girl called M. (We’ve hidden her name to protect her identity. There is still a real danger to her, her family and the film makers.)

After leaving Asia, Ben found out that M was abducted and trafficked to China. It’s most likely that she’s been forced into marriage, or sold into the sex trade.

Those are the facts. Facts are easy to ignore. We’re good at ignoring what we should do for the sake of our own convenience. Caring takes work, and it’s our natural tendency to do as little as possible.

So, What Would You Do?

What would you do if you were in Ben Randall’s position? You probably have …

The Next Generation of the Entrepreneur Revolution

Social Entrepreneur

Social Entrepreneur Lee from Akha Ama Cafe in Chiang Mai

The Internet has facilitated nothing short of a revolution in entrepreneurship. Business has gone from physical, real world spaces with high startup costs, to massive online opportunities which anyone with a laptop can start with a few dollars and Internet access. These truly are amazing times. While it’s great that there has been an explosion in the startup, digital nomad and lifestyle design communities, there is a conspicuous absence of entrepreneurs working on businesses that make the world a better place. An overwhelming majority seem quite happy to focus on socially useless products and services or even environmentally destructive consumer goods. There is hope however. All over the world, there is a new generation of social entrepreneurs, non-profits and activists that realize that there is more to life than profits at all costs.

Are you the Problem?

We’ve all heard the expression, “You’re either part of the solution, or you’re part of the problem.” Despite the massive wealth in the world, we still have half the planet living in abject poverty, a billion don’t have access to clean drinking water, there are tens of millions of refugees without a home …

Stressed out? Regain the Magic of Christmas this Year

Generosity on Christmas
Christmas can be the best and worst time of year for many. On the positive side, we get to spend time with loved ones, eat great food, get a break from work and share in the excitement of the children around us. It can also be incredibly stressful shopping for presents, spending so much money, dealing with family tensions and let’s not even get into what the holidays can do to our waistlines. I have a Christmas challenge this year that promises to alleviate some of that stress and bring a little extra happiness to your life.

The Christmas Challenge

It’ll only take about 15 minutes and I think it’ll have a profound effect on your life. You don’t have to take my word for it. Try it for yourself. There is no way to know unless you do it.

Control Phase

For two days, don’t do anything different. Enjoy your days as you normally would. Do whatever you want with absolutely no consideration for this experiment.

The only thing I want you to do is at the end of each day, before you go to bed, jot down how you felt about the day.

There’s no need to pull …

Kidnapped in Vietnam – Help Ben Randall Find His Friend M

What would you do if someone you’ve met and befriended on your travels was later kidnapped and trafficked to another country? Ben Randall is on a quest to discover what happened to his Vietnamese friend M and bring attention to human trafficking in the world.

I recently met up with  Ben and his cameraman, Moreno Paulon in Thailand to learn about their documentary project to bring attention to the plight of the victims of human trafficking and their search for M. This is an incredibly inspiring story of two people on a journey to make a difference the best way they know how.

They quit their jobs and are using their own savings to fund their travels and filming. It’s a great example of how much power all of us have to make a real difference in the world, if only we have the courage to stand up for what is right.

Please take a moment to watch the interview, then go and visit their website to learn more about the world changing work they are doing.

Ben and Moreno are currently putting the finishing touches on a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to finish their documentary. Anything you can …

Unconference for Social Good

Unconference for Social GoodI’ve just finished the third Unconference for Social Good. Holding events like this can be incredibly rewarding and incredibly scary at the same time. There is so much uncertainty about whether people will come, how the day will go and many other issues. It’s a lot like starting a business. While there are some general processes to follow, for the most part you just make it up as you go. Here are some of my insights after doing three of these events.

The Birth of the Unconference for Social Good

These events all started just by talking to as many people that would listen about putting on an event around social good. After discussions with about 20 people, two co-conspirators emerged to make the first event happen: Mike Simoens and Mike Bowerman.

We tried an open and collaborative approach for the first event, but that meant getting bogged down in meetings and trying to accommodate too many divergent ideas. In the end, three people did most of the work, so keeping a lean and small administrative team proved to be much more efficient for following events.

The Unconference format means that no expert speakers are required because the audience proposes …