A few videos from Rwanda

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Internet, Life | Posted on 02-12-2014


Earlier this year I had the good fortune to visit charity: water and visit amazing projects we’ve funded in the Rulindo district of Rwanda.

Here’s a couple of the videos we made:

A donor update for everyone who gave to the 2010 September Campaign (including my donors!):

September Campaign 2012 Rwanda Update from charity: water (special donors) on Vimeo.

A corporate video for Keurig Green Mountain, that then raised $100,000 through online sharing:

And the video that was most viewed (400,000 times!), this thank you for YouTube star PewDiePie:

Thoughts on the #ALSIceBucketChallenge

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Current Affairs, Internet, Life | Posted on 19-08-2014


Yesterday I was ‘nominated’ for the #ALSIceBucketChallenge. But I won’t be joining in. And here’s why.

It’s not because of the nomination. In fact, I like the video the good folk at OneLife made much more than most of the ice dumping videos I’ve seen on Facebook, because of the section at the start taking the time to outline what exactly ALS is:

(it’s really a good little video, check it out)

I’m not knocking back the nomination because I think the #ALSIceBucketChallenge is slacktivism or that the #NoIceBucketChallenge is a better option. Heck, I don’t even think it’s a waste of water. And if you know me, you’ll know I don’t mind looking stupid for a good cause.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned at charity: water is that people are good, but people are lazy. So I’ve loved watching the Ice Bucket Challenge activate people for good, when the alternative would have been nothing. But you’ve got to question whether a trend has run it’s course once Vin Diesel is challenging Vladimir Putin.

As usual, Seth Godin hits the nail on the head:

According to recent data about the ice bucket challenge making the rounds, more than 90% of the people mentioning it (posting themselves being doused or passing on the word) didn’t make a donation to support actual research on an actual disease. Sounds sad, no?

But I think these slacktivists have accomplished two important things at scale, things that slacktivists have worked to do through the ages:

  1. They’ve spread the word. The fact is that most charities have no chance at all to reach the typical citizen, and if their fundraising strategy is small donations from many people, this message barrier is a real issue. Peer-to-peer messaging, even if largely ego-driven, is far better than nothing. In a sideways media world, the only way to reach big numbers is for a large number of people to click a few times, probably in response to a request from a friend.
  2. Even more important, I think, is that they normalize charitable behavior. It’s easy to find glowing stories and infinite media impressions about people who win sporting events, become famous or make a lot of money. The more often our peers talk about a different kind of heroism, one that’s based on caring about people we don’t know, the more likely we are to see this as the sort of thing that people like us do as a matter of course.

Spreading the word and normalizing the behavior. Bravo.

But I won’t be doing the ice bucket thing for more personal reasons. I’m about to spend the next few weeks trying to inspire my friends to give to bring clean water to people in the Sahel. A place where women are working hours a day pulling buckets of dirty water from 60 feet underground in the heat of the desert. And a place, and a life, that my friends probably don’t know exist if I can’t tell them.

It doesn’t feel right to tip a bucket of ice on my head for social media when I’m spending so much time thinking about kids who might not see ice in their lifetime.

Instead, I’ll make donations:

1. To ALSA — I’ve learned from the ice craze that it’s a worthy cause

2. To Project ReMind for FTD — a debilitating terminal disease not unlike ALS that hasn’t benefited from the same publicity, but that I’ve seen impact people I care about

3. To this charity: water campaign and their #CleanWaterChallenge

And I’ll continue to try to inspire people to watch this film and give to make a huge change in the lives of people in the Sahel:

Be Happy

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Life | Posted on 24-05-2014


Patti Smith gives some great life advice on BrainPicker:

“When I left home, I asked my father what advice he could give me. My father was very intelligent, very well-read — he read all the great books, all the great philosophers. But when I asked his advice, he told me one thing: Be happy. It’s all he said. So simple. I’m telling you, this simple thing — be happy — this will be your greatest ally. Because when you’re happy, you ignite that little flame that tells you and reminds you who you are. And it will ignite, it will animate your enthusiasm for things — it will enforce your work.

Be happy, and always let your conscience be your guide.”

The Rising Tide of Purpose

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, Life | Posted on 19-02-2014


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.

3. 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.”

#PANTSFORPAULL – Citi Bike and J Crew: I love you

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.

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.

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!).

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:

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:


While some others just like making fun of their mates:


Google Glass and a Budgie Smuggler: The Killer Half Marathon Apps

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

Early Running

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” 

Pain Now. Beer Later.

“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:

Australian Global 50 & Global Citizen Festival

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.

Australian Global 50

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.

Global Citizen Festival

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!

The Tweet That Changed My Life

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Internet, Life | Posted on 15-09-2012


September 2, 2008, 5.30pm I read a tweet that changed my life — here it is:

Beth Kanter tweeted about ‘giving up’ September birthdays for clean water. I remember clicking through to the borninseptember.org website, watching a great video, and setting up a fundraising page to help build a well for a village in Ethiopia.

To my surprise, lots of people gave! A popular new blogger by the name of Pete Cashmore started fundraising for his September 18th birthday too, and we raised enough to fund ‘the well that Twitter built‘.

charity: water became my favorite charity. Two years later I started working there. Two and a half years further on, and I’m giving up yet another September birthday for clean water — and I’d love your donation.

September Campaign for Rwanda

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Current Affairs, Life | Posted on 30-08-2012


The September Campaign was how I first heard of charity: water. Back in 2008 Beth Kanter sent a tweet about ‘giving up’ your September birthday for clean water. Being a September baby, I clicked through to the charity: water site, started a campaign… and the rest is history.

Every September Campaign is special, and this year I’m excited to share an epic story of redemption from Rwanda. Rwanda’s a country I’ve always thought deeply about as I’ve tried to make any sort of understanding of the 1994 genocide that saw 1 million people killed with machetes.

It’s been amazing to me to learn how much Rwanda’s moved forward, and it’s an honor to be able to try to help the people there get the most important leg up: access to clean and safe drinking water.

Check out our video trailer to learn about the campaign, and if you’d like to help I’d love you to donate for my birthday!

And here’s the second video we posted on the history of Rwanda: “The Spirit of Rwanda”

I hope you’ll check out the September Campaign, and I’d be honored if you’d donate to my birthday campaign — just $65 can bring one person clean water in Rwanda!

On Australia

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Australia, Life | Posted on 23-01-2012


I always get a little homesick in the cold of the US Winter. Perhaps that what made a few notes from the newly annoited Australian of the Year, Charles Teo, strike me so:

So on a very simplistic level, what is it about Australia that makes it the greatest place on earth to live? Those of you who have lived overseas for any length of time will recall that it is very easy to reflect on your homeland with rose-coloured glasses. When in the US, I would recall Australia’s magnificent beaches and national parks and sunny summer days with flawless blue skies. I would reminisce on the irreverent humour of Doug Mulray, the natural beauty of Australian girls, the fresh and bountiful seafood, my friends from childhood and university days with whom I could be at total ease and the relaxed quintessential Australian way of life. I conveniently forgot about the Sydney traffic, the tall-poppy-syndrome, the flies in summer, the geographical isolation and the hidden and sometimes overt racism.

My view of an Aussie was someone who was hard working, unaffected, genuine, affable, relaxed, egalitarian, irreverent and charitable.

Spending nine years in the USA was an enlightening experience.  I felt Australia was such a great place to live, in no small part as a result of its isolation, not despite it. We appeared to be immune from world wars, border conflicts and dwindling natural resources. Why would you ruin this blissful isolation by allowing “queue jumpers”, potential criminals, into our Utopia?

My time in the USA made me reflect on how a country that was not that much older or bigger than ours had achieved such a standing on the world stage. In general, Americans were not more intelligent, diligent or talented than Australians. They have natural resources, so do we. Their pioneers did it tough, so did ours. They had a national pride, so do we. Speak to most Americans and they will be the first to concede the dependence of their economy on the hard-working and fiercely loyal Mexicans. Speak to almost any taxi driver anywhere in the 50 states and you will be inspired by a story of tragedy and conflict followed by hope and opportunity and concluded by a statement of national pride…in America NOT their country of birth. I don’t know for sure, and I don’t think anyone knows for sure, but, having lived in the USA for 10 years, I would be hopeful that our country would benefit from immigration of peoples from countries of conflict, or those subjected to political persecution, who are simply seeking refuge from violence and a better life for their children. I believe Australia has a moral and social obligation to demonstrate a higher level of kindness to and acceptance of refugees. I don’t know how this may be achieved but I certainly know that both sides of the political fence are floundering. I would humbly suggest that a bi-partisan approach would be one step closer to a solution and we need it now!

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