As a brand guy deep within the social good vortex the biggest trend I’m seeing that is largely ignored is the desire from the brightest lights of my generation to live a life of purpose: especially in their job.
I’ve got a lot of banker mates, but I’m constantly meeting amazing young people who don’t care about living a life to generate profit alone, and don’t want to work for a stifling big company. I’d include myself on this list.
Put simply, I think the next challenge for some of the biggest companies in the world – your Goldman Sachs, IBMs and General Electrics – is great young people aren’t going to want to lose their youth trapped in a bureaucracy that gives them little chance of making a personal impact on the world.
It came home to me in this post Atlantic post, ‘The Woes of Young Bankers‘, where the Author outlines a significant factor he identified for why the young bankers on Wall St are ‘so miserable’: a lack of purpose.
It might sound strange, but many young people come to Wall Street expecting to make the world a better place. This is partly the fault of recruiters, who tempt college juniors and seniors with promises of “real-world responsibility” and rhapsodies about socially responsible investing. But it’s also wishful thinking on the recruits’ part. Jeremy, for instance, had arrived at Goldman thinking that his specific job—trading commodities derivatives—could make the world a teensy bit better by allowing large companies to hedge their costs, and pass savings along to customers. But one day, his boss pulled him aside and told him that, in effect, he’d been naïve.
“We’re not here to save the world,” the boss said. “We exist to make money.”
The British economist Roger Bootle has written about the difference between “creative” and “distributive” work. Creative work, Bootle says, is work that brings something new into the world that adds to the total available to everyone (a doctor treating patients, an artist making sculptures). Distributive work, on the other hand, only carries the possibility of beating out competitors and winning a bigger share of a fixed-size market. Bootle explains that although many jobs in modern society consist of distributive work, there is something intrinsically happier about a society that skews in favor of the creative.
“There are some people who may derive active delight from the knowledge that their working life is devoted to making sure that someone else loses, but most people do not function that way,” he writes. “They like to have a sense of worth, and that sense usually comes from the belief that they are contributing to society.”
During my interviews with young bankers, I heard a lot of them express this exact sentiment. They wanted to do something, make something, add something to the world, instead of simply serving as well-paid financial intermediaries at giant investment banks. It doesn’t hurt that creative jobs—including, but not limited to, jobs with Silicon Valley tech companies—are now considered sexier and more socially acceptable than Wall Street jobs, which still carry the stigma of the financial crisis. At one point, during the Occupy Wall Street protests, Jeremy told me that he had begun camouflaging his Goldman affiliation in public.
“I lie whenever I go out now,” he told me. “I tell people I’m a consultant, a lawyer, whatever—anything but a Wall Street guy.”
Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, charity: water, Internet, Marketing | Posted on 12-01-2014
This week Twitter co-founder Biz Stone unwrapped his newest creation, the mobile search engine ‘Jelly‘. At first glance, it’s simple: post a picture and a question, people answer it in the app. However, it highlights a continued trend boosting the importance of building advocates for your brand.
I downloaded the app immediately and started playing with it – mainly because I’m a huge Biz Stone fan after reading Nick Bilton’s exceptional Hatching Twitter. But it was this Thursday while participating in a panel for the Wildlife Conservation Society (with some very, very clever people) that the shift this app represents really came to the fore for me.
We had a discussion about fundraising and the big question about what’s more valuable: chasing a few major donors (who can give millions), or targeting thousands of much smaller donors. Now in that argument, I come down passionately on the side of the little guys. It’s why our focus at charity: water is on building a grassroots movement of inspired people actively giving, fundraising and influencing their peers. We have amazing major donors, but the real power of the movement is delivered by thousands of normal people running their own word-of-mouth marketing campaigns for the water cause.
We don’t want people to give quietly, and we don’t want them to give out of guilt. We want people to become vocal advocates to influence their friends to care.
So during the WCS panel we put forward the thought experiment of who would come to mind if an individual starts looking for an organization that cares for friendly sloths – like this guy:
To do a very quick piece of active research, I posted a pic of the happy sloth above on Jelly directly from my seat on the panel, and asked “What’s a great organization to give to that supports sloths?”
This was followed up by one suggestion for the WWF from a stranger, but also two more recommendations for the Sloth Sanctuary from my good friend Shawn Cheng and another stranger. And sadly no mentions for the Wildlife Conservation Society (a great organization).
I’d never heard of the Sloth Sanctuary before, but if I was going to give time or money to help out Sloth’s now it’s them I’d support. They’ve built a brand that creates advocates, and like every human I trust my friends recommendations above any other source.
This means that your brand needs advocates. Especially in a Jelly World.
The most inspiring thing about working for charity: water is watching people get inspired. And I’d love to share an inspiring story with you.
I’d also like to make one important request: if you do feel inspired by this story, I’d love for you to share this Upworthy link of the story on your Facebook page.
It’s that simple, copy and paste this link to Facebook: http://www.upworthy.com/well-its-official-this-holiday-gift-idea-is-way-more-meaningful-than-everything-ive-got-6
And ask your friends to share this story:
The video is powerful, and the backstory is even more impactful. Here’s a note our content strategist Tyler sent around the office after he returned from the village you’ve seen above:
There’s a full trip recap/presentation coming next Friday (Jamie has promised to re-create some local song and dance for you), but I wanted to give you a quick overview of our experience in Malawi in the meantime since that’s the story we’ll be sharing at charity: ball — which is fast approaching.
For those of you who don’t know, Jamie, Esther Havens (famed c:w photographer) and I spent five days camping and living inside a community in the middle of nowhere in Nkhoma last week. Two villages in particular — both who did not have clean water.
It was the same set of villages that Scott and Christoph visited a few months ago — located at least thirty minutes away from any form of electricity and cut off from the rest of the world by a ravine outside the community.
Not only was that ravine limiting access to schools and hospitals, but it was the only thing that prevented them from receiving clean water earlier this year when the village on the other side did… because there was no way for the drilling rig to get across.
That’s the story we wanted to tell. Because after that day, these people became determined. At least one person from every household spent two months carrying rocks and bags of sand to the ravine until they had created a passable road across it. It was the first time that clean water had ever seemed like a possible reality for them.
What we didn’t know before we got there was that they had already finished building the road and that the drilling rig would arrive during our visit. WHAT?! I know.
We wanted to show the people hard at work and make the correlation at charity: ball that just as this community was coming together to do this incredible thing, we could come together to help others like them. But this news changed our story (in the best way possible).
Instead we get to show the result of that work… a convoy of trucks driving down the road in the distance, drilling rig at the front… people running down the hill at the sound… the rig rolling right over that bridge and into the community.
People sang and danced all day long. Waiting and hoping for clean water. We talked to women who were skipping chores because they didn’t want to miss anything. The entire community was there… waiting eagerly outside the ropes as drillers put pipe after pipe into the ground. 20 meters. 30 meters. 50 meters. Hours went by. And just as they were about to give up, water finally bubbled up from the ground.
Prior to this day, women had been getting water from a hole next to the river — a source they often had to share with pigs. They were walking to this place four to five times a day and often waiting in line. When that hole ran dry, they had to sit and wait for it to slowly refill.
But having clean water for them wasn’t just about saving time and work. And it wasn’t about better health. To them, water was a symbol of progress. Independence. Life.
When that moment came, the people in this village came charging past the ropes to the drill, and the drillers let them have it… flushing the pipe over and over again, shooting water into the sky so they could dance and sing in the rain.
I can’t even say what that was like.
One of the most important parts of working here, for me, is changing the way people think about charity and giving. But this moment was all about water. It has never been so clear to me how much water impacts lives. Freaking emotional is what it was.
Really, the entire week was emotional. There’s something very special about these people. They way they live. Their generosity. Their spirit. They welcomed us in instantly — not as people who were paying for them to have clean water, but as guests in their community. They shared hard stories and spoke over and over again about things like forgiveness and service.
As we drove away on Friday, the women lined up and sang once more. I asked our driver what they were singing, and he said, “It’s a song of appreciation. They’re saying it’s bittersweet — that you are like morning dew because you were here and you were beautiful and now you’re gone.”
Bring tissues to the presentation next week. That’s all I’m saying.
Posted by admin | Posted in charity: water, Humour, Internet, Life, Marketing | Posted on 09-12-2013
This Friday I was rushing to work for an early morning meeting, so as per usual I jumped on a Citi Bike from the rank outside my apartment.
It was lightly raining so there were plenty of bikes available, but as I cruised down Avenue B and took a sharp turn onto 3rd street the bike slide out from under me and I took a tumble on the wet ground. What a way to start a Friday.
— Paull Young (@paullyoung) December 6, 2013
Now this tweet got a bit of reaction — nothing funnier than a fella falling off his bike on the way to work. My good friend Ryan wanted to make sure I was ok. I was fine. Pants… not so much.
— Paull Young (@paullyoung) December 6, 2013
Now at this point in the morning I take my soggy pants and head into 4 straight hours of meetings (working at charity: water in December is intense!).
— Paull Young (@paullyoung) December 6, 2013
I emerge from the conference room to find one of our awesome interns at my desk who hands me two small cards and says “um… Citi Bike just delivered this for you???”
And then I spot this tweet:
— Citi Bike (@CitibikeNYC) December 6, 2013
Sure enough, Citi Bike and the good folk at J Crew delivered a couple of gift vouchers to my office for some brand new pants. And made my day.
I love this so much. I’m already a huge fan of Citi Bike, and now I’m a new J Crew customer. Marketing is all about relationships, and every relationship needs to have mutual benefit.
Citi Bike and J Crew, I love you — and people love brands being human:
— Will Bissell (@BissMarkie) December 6, 2013
— Christi Eubanks (@ceubanks) December 6, 2013
— hooeyspewer (@hooeyspewer) December 6, 2013
@paullyoung Didn’t you just raise 30k to run around not wearing pants?!
— JD Davis (@25jd25jd) December 6, 2013
— Christina Torres (@biblio_phile) December 6, 2013
While some others just like making fun of their mates:
— Mark Rautiola (@mraut09) December 6, 2013
— Bill (@Mullin_It_Over) December 6, 2013
Posted by admin | Posted in charity: water, Humour, Life | Posted on 25-11-2013
Every year in September I ‘give up’ my birthday for charity: water, and ask my friends to donate instead of giving me gifts. It’s how I first heard of charity: water in 2008, and each year it’s a really meaningful moment of connection for me with my friends and family.
This year I turned 30. A big one. I sat down in July at the World Domination Summit with Rael and Kaitlyn from my team and brainstormed over a good meal what it would take to do something I didn’t think possible for my 30th birthday: raise $30,000 for clean water in India.
Kaitlyn knows me well, and astutely observed ‘your friends would probably give a lot of money to make you do something really stupid’. So, inspired by one of my favorite charity: water campaigns from Sarah Peck, I eventually settled on pledging to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon in nothing but a speedo, if we raised over $30,000.
For a long time I thought I was ‘safe’ – $30K is a big goal, and while my friends are extremely generous it’s still a huge target. Then, the week before the marathon my roommate offered to give the final $5000 if we got to $25K, and with that incentive and many more generous donations – we hit the target.
So that led me to 7am last Sunday in Philadelphia, standing amongst 30,000 runners at the start line ready to take all my clothes off and run 13.1 miles. And if there’s one other item one should wear when running a race in a budgie smuggler, it’s Google Glass (we’ve got a pair in the office).
Update: just got a download of the finish line video — if you’re finishing a Half Marathon in a budgie smuggler, you sure better click your heels:
So without further ado, here’s photos and videos from my Google Glass.
5.45am race prep
“As the American Flag Crosses the Start Line!” start line announcer admiring my budgie smuggler
Chafing was a common topic of conversation
As the crowd built, so did the amusing spectators, like old mate holding a giant picture of his own head
In nearly every photo I took someone in the background is reacting to my outfit
The reactions of runners I passed was priceless. Wearing no clothes makes you a lot of friends during a race.
“Oh no! Not the GLASS!” Bad Santa
6 miles in bumped into my cheer squad. Best sign at the marathon: “Aussies in Speedos are Hot”
“Officer! No Concealed Weapon!”
Chafe Now. Brag Forever.
Brittany was a lovely Dr from Iowa running the marathon who did a few miles with me. She’ll have a funny story for her husband about her speedo clad Australian friend
These Frat Boys didn’t actually give me any beer
Chafing is temporary. Pride is forever.
As you turn at mile 8 you meet some very strangely dressed, dancing characters
11 miles in and the crowd starts to build for the finish
Howdy, Howdy, Howdy, Howdy
Less than a mile to go…
And the Finish Line
1:48:00 later – Well that was fun
All in all, you know you’re doing something right when 16 year old girls are questioning your sanity on social media.
On a serious note though — because of the generosity of many of you, we’ve been able to bring clean drinking water to over 700 people in Orissa, India. We’ll change hundreds of lives for the better because 402 of you gave $31,690, every cent of which will fund water projects.
Here’s the charity: water September Campaign video that shows you exactly the change we’ll be making:
Posted by admin | Posted in Business, charity: water, Events, Internet, Marketing | Posted on 09-08-2013
Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Events, Internet, Marketing | Posted on 31-03-2013
If you’re interested in charity: water’s digital and marketing strategy — this video is for you!
The good folk at Hubspot recently hosted my team and I at their Boston HQ and invited me to deliver a Biz Talk for their staff. I lead with info on the water issue and the story of charity: water, before diving into our marketing strategy and some learnings.
Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Australia, charity: water, Events, Internet, Life | Posted on 10-02-2013
While my time to blog has dipped considerably compared to the pre-Twitter days of 2007 and 3 posts a week, I still view my blog as my real ‘home’ on the web.
As such, sharing two pieces of personal news for posterity.
I was surprised and honored this past Australia Day to be recognized by the Australian Trade Commission as one of the ‘Global 50′ Aussie expatriates making an impact on the world.
See the full list here, it’s an impressive group and I’m honored to join them due to the great work of my team at charity: water.
Here’s a quick video of the most nerve-wracking moment of my life to date – sharing charity: water’s commitment to raise $100 million for clean water by 2015 alongside Katie Couric at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park.
The Global Citizen Festival was an amazing event led by the incredibly impressive Aussie Hugh Evans, and featured some of the world’s top bands alongside the most impactful causes, in front of an audience of 70,000 passionate world changers and the world’s largest ever live stream audience!
Speaking to a crowd of 50,000 in the middle of the world’s greatest city, on a stage shared with the Foo Fighters & Neil Young, isn’t something I’ll forget quickly — even if it was only a sentence!
Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Internet | Posted on 04-12-2012
Really exciting day at work today as Google announced us as a recipient of a Global Impact Award. I’m currently flying across the US to speak alongside the Google team at the Social Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley tomorrow, but thought I’d share this quick update.
Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re launching a $5 million pilot project with Google to develop remote sensor technology that will tell us whether water is flowing at any of our projects, at any given time, anywhere in the world. Google has funded this entire initiative through the new Global Impact Awards. This award will help charity: water further advance transparency and sustainability in the water sector.
Although our staff and local partners visit our programs frequently, it’s simply not possible to visit every project often enough to ensure that water is flowing all the time. Thanks to this Global Impact Award from Google, we’ll be able to go from hoping that projects function over time, to knowing that they are.