Tag Archives: social good

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 …

Is Your Business Socially Useless or Worse?

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 …

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 …

A Not So Merry Christmas

Christmas in ThailandFor hundreds of millions around the world, Christmas is the most important holiday of the year. It’s a cherished time to spend with family and friends enjoying great food, drinks and abundant consumer goods. For billions of others around the world, Christmas is not so merry.

Poverty and abuse in other parts of the world don’t really matter, as long as we have our oversized houses, gas-guzzling SUVs and an over-abundance of goods produced in factories on the other side of the planet.

Life is Damn Good.. if you are one of the Haves.

If you’re reading this post, your life is pretty damn good. You are in the top 10% of the wealthiest people on this planet. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how lucky we are.

All the opportunities I’ve had in my life were because I was fortunate to be born in a wealthy country. That only happend because my great grandparents, on my mother’s side, and my father escaped communist Eastern Europe for a better life.  If I were born in Haiti, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Bangladesh, North Korea or most countries in Africa, my life wouldn’t be so good.

You Are What You Buy

We don’t really …

Interview with Long-Term Traveler and Blogger, Dave Dean

The best part of working on this site and doing so many interviews, by far, is the opportunity to meet and connect with people in person. I was fortunate enough to meet up with Dave Dean three times this year. His inspiring fundraising work with OneGirl is a perfect example of what all of us can do if we set our minds to making the world a better place. In this interview, Dave provides some details on his travel lifestyle and how he earns a living,  He also gives some great advice on making money with a travel blog and how to get freebies and sponsorships. Enjoy the interview!

Please tell us about yourself?

I was born and grew up in New Zealand, graduated with a History/Political Science degree and fell into working in IT. At the age of 22 I left for the UK, living and working there for three years while developing a travel addiction every chance I got. For several years after that I tried to juggle my career with regular travel stints, failing miserably to achieve the balance I desired. Finally, a little over a year ago, I ditched the cubicle for the final time in …

When Capitalism Stops Working and Traffic Jams in Thailand

Free market capitalism has done a pretty good job of improving our quality of life. Compared to the alternatives, there really is no comparison, however, it also breaks down after a certain point. Individuals acting in their own self-interest create a big mess where everyone ends up worse off.

Bangkok Traffic Jam

Chiang Mai Traffic Jam

The other day, I was riding in a taxi truck in Chiang Mai, Thailand when a thunderstorm knocked out the electricity and traffic lights. At a major intersection, traffic from all directions got all jammed together in the middle because everyone was trying to push forward. All the cars trying to squeeze ahead without yielding to others, prevented everyone from moving ahead. We were stuck. This was a prime example of how Adam Smith’s Invisible hand doesn’t always work. When everybody gets greedy, most end of up suffering.

When Breaking the Rules is Good

Make no mistake, acting selfishly does accomplish a lot. In a city like Bangkok, if everyone strictly obeyed traffic signals and laws, I have no doubt the city would grind to a halt, even worse than the normal traffic patterns. The chaos of motorcycles, Tuk Tuks, cars and every other form of transportation …

The Biggest Difference – My Most Important Blog Post Ever

Writing this blog post, and taking on this challenge was difficult for me. What if I fail? What if no one cares? It’s difficult to take risks and challenge ourselves but that is precisely why I need to do this. I hope you read to the end.

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Make a Difference

What is the most effective investment you can make you improve the lives of others? Whether you give $5 or $500, what donation will have the greatest impact on the world?

I know we are all inundated with requests to donate, but not all causes are equal and that is a very important consideration. It’s a very complex issue, and people give for different reasons, but if you are donating your hard earned dollars, it’s prudent to maximize the net benefit of your investment.

All Charities are a Rip-Off

It’s easy to get cynical when non-profit CEO’s make half-million-dollar salaries or when fundraising and administration expenses take up 40% or more of total donations raised, but again not all charities are equal. Some are much more …