How I Raised $700 Million: Charity: Water Founder: Scott Harrison | E153 | Transcription
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I'm emotionally bankrupt, I'm morally bankrupt, and this is not how I'd want it to end. The founder and CEO of Charity Water, making a difference all over the world. A New York Times bestseller. He's a certifiable badass in his name is Scott Harrison. The lifestyle of a promoter is one where you get lots of attention. The fun I had for 10 years in nightlife was a lot of cocaine in the MDMA, 40 to 60 cigarettes a day fun. I realized, what if I did die? What would I have to show for life? So that started a process. 10% of the world is drinking dirty water. And I realized so many of my friends didn't trust charities. Where does the money really go? So I had a very simple idea, promised the public that 100% of anything they would ever give to Charity Water would go directly to help people get clean water. Nobody thought this business model was a good idea. And I was hitting a point where I realized maybe they're right. We're about to go out and build 100 wells. And we're about to miss payroll. There's no miracle that can save us. So without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett and this is the Dyer over CEO USA edition. I hope nobody's listening, but if you are, then please keep this to yourself. Scott, four years old.
Life Story & Humanitarian Efforts
Early Years (01:21)
Do you still remember the day your mother collapsed? - Adult. - You don't? - Adult. When I read through your story, that was a pretty significant sort of catalystic moment. - 1980, right? New Year's Day. - 1980. - Mm-hmm. Tell me about that day that week. - We had just moved into a new house. My dad wanted to get closer to his job. We moved into this house in the dead of winter and we all started experiencing some health symptoms, headaches and fatigue. And nobody really knew what was going on. I think my dad had a couple of people come and just checked to make sure that the house was fine. You probably checked the radon or maybe asbestos, I'm not sure. And then on New Year's Day, 1980, my mom, according to her and my father walked across the master bedroom and they collapsed unconscious. - Both of them? - She did. And so she was the canary in the coal mine, that then led to eventually a discovery of a carbon monoxide gas leak in the house. There was a faulty heat exchanger that had been leaking carbon oxide. She had been 24/7 in the house, unpacking boxes from the move, putting pictures up on the wall. My dad had been working, I'd been at school. So we were spending the evenings in the house, but not 24/7. And blood tests revealed these massive amounts of carbon monoxide in her bloodstream. And that was really the day that everything changed for our family. Mom never recovered from that. My dad and I both did, but her life was irreparably damaged from that point on. Her immune system just kind of fully shut down in its ability to process any chemicals. So anything that was unnatural. To give you an example, perfume would make her violently. If she smelled perfume, soap would make her sick. Car fumes like kryptonite would make her sick. So over the next period of years, we would come up with hacks for all this stuff. The hack for her living space eventually was a bedroom upstairs in the house. Sorry, it was a bathroom upstairs in the house near the bedroom. And the bathroom was washed down with a special soap that didn't smell, it was completely hypoallergenic. The door, the wooden door that had a stain on it was then covered in sheets of aluminum foil to keep that stain smelling. She would sleep on an army cot that my dad had found somewhere that was washed in baking soda more than 10 times. So there'd be no odor. And then my mom wore a mask her whole life. So I rarely saw my mother's face because she was wearing an N95 or similar version. Now, I see your face. There were some people that are like, I think this one was just crazy. Right? I mean, there was an element growing up of wondering of some level of doubts. You know, is this real? You know, the mass amounts of carbon dioxide were certainly real and discovered by the doctors in her body, but were all of these symptoms, hypertension, headaches, you know, a lot of the stuff you couldn't really see. There were things where she would break out in terrible rashes and that was very real. But I do remember growing up with that, you know, that edge of a little bit of doubts sometimes. Where did that come from? That doubt. From others, I think, I mean, nobody knew how to process someone who's allergic to the world. And so among the things that made mom sick, also radio waves, telephones and TV. So as a young teenager, you know, I'm thinking, mom is just trying to rain on my parade. I mean, we can't have a TV, but I just didn't believe that invisible electromagnetic waves were gonna make her that sick. So I remember one night when she had gone to bed, I snuck up to the hallway and I took a boombox and I turned the radio on with the sound all the way down and I aimed it through the door, which I didn't flail on the inside, right? And, you know, effectively trying an experiment to say, well, she doesn't know the radio is on, well, she's gonna be fine. And she woke up the next morning very sick. - Really? - So I remember as a kid, for me, that was a big defining moment of, you know, mom's telling the truth. And unfortunately, radio waves affect her and give her symptoms. - How can you develop a relationship with your mother when she's trapped in a room alone behind in fall and wearing gloves? How do you have affection and... - Yeah, well, there wasn't a lot of touch. 'Cause I wasn't, you know, I wasn't really allowed to touch her. I would always be smelling of something from the outside world. It was a weird childhood. I was an only child 'cause the family planning stopped after the accident. And I just remember a lot of caregiving, helping my mom, doing cooking, doing cleaning, helping my dad out with her and trying to be a cheerful companion. I would try to cheer her up. I'd play piano outside her, you know, like play a keyboard outside her door. - I had a gentleman sit here the other day that used to coach Kobe Bryant. And he talked about this concept of having a dark side. And his dark side is quite graphic. But he refers to the dark side as a concept where things that happened in our early years end up being both destructive and constructive. So, and they, when I sit here with people that are anomalies, you tend to find these stories because, so they had some kind of anomalous upbringing, which led to them being an anomaly in their early years for better or for worse. When you reflect on your, shall I call it dark side? - Yeah. I think it's anger. And I've been able to make that anger useful by, you know, for the last, what, 17 years, you know, fighting against people suffering in needless poverty or, you know, specifically people without access to clean water. But that's probably the darkest side that I have is, you know, I can lose my temper. You know, I can get angry quick. I've gotten really good over the years at trying to harness that in a really constructive way. The angst maybe, you know, maybe it's not even as much anger as just the discontent with the way things are and the willingness to fight to make them the way they should be. - Is that a discontent with the external world and the, and your internal world? So like your life and the situation you find the world in? - I am not naturally reflective. It was a really difficult journey for me to go back into childhood to write the book and kind of go back into, you know, some really dark years of addiction and, and, you know, well, just kind of decadent advice. It wasn't really fun growing up. And, you know, I think now I'm a parent of two kids and I'm 46 years old. And as I think about the childhood, I wanna give my kids, I actually think I'm overcompensating for fun. My wife and I were just talking about this the other day. You know, it is all experience. You know, it's let's go do roller coasters 50 times. You know, it's let's jump on a plane and, you know, go to Niagara Falls. - Why? - Let's have all of these experiences because I think I'm making up for my lost childhood. You know, I want to, I think I, I also wanna have fun. I wanna do the things kind of vicariously through my kids at that age, at these young ages, that I never got to do. One of my fears when I come to have kids is my dark side will manifest in both ways. It will mean that, for example, in your case, that because I was deprived of that childhood, I will make sure we go to the theme park all the time. But then there's gotta be other ways where that dark side in us, dark side is a bit of a loaded term, but that side of us, that formed our greatness, or forms our desire to overcompensate as a parent, also has a adverse impact, which might be overworking, or it could be. - I think it'd be too much fun. It could be, you know, I could wind up with kids who don't know the value of work. See, I learned the value of work growing up. I was doing yard work. I was washing windows. I was cleaning a four bedroom house. I was, you know, washing mom's sheets in special, you know, baking soda concoctions. So one of the best things I got from my childhood was I was needed. I was performing a role that was essential to the family. And that's, you know, that gave me a lot of confidence. The lifestyle of a promoter, which you went on to become, is one where you get lots of attention from lots of people.
Attention seeking & becoming a nightclub promoter (10:58)
You get it from women. You also have a ton of power. You also have a ton of control. My brother, my oldest brother, actually, his early story sounds has shades of the experience you had in terms of school. And he went on to be a promoter. He actually was a bouncer and a promoter, even though he is maybe the smartest academic person I've ever met in my life, he was a bouncer and a promoter in a nightclub and works in nightclubs. And when I fit reflected on that, I think much of the reason is because he was seeking attention. And the way he felt psychologically in those scenarios was filling some kind of void he had in his childhood. And this is an assumption I'm making, but I don't know how far I've been. - I mean, if you asked me at 19, what I wanted to do, it was open up for you two. Our band was gonna be instantly rich and famous. And I was the band's manager and I was booking us out. And so I'm sure if I played that out, it would be look at me on stage, look at this band, a way of feeling validated. - We did the band dream. And very quick, very, very soon after. The piece, the connective tissue there, which eventually led to a 10 year career in nightclubs, in nightlife, was that when our band would play gigs, it was the promoters that were making the money. We would bring a lot of people. Our people, our friends would pay the cover to see us. And then the promoter would throw us 100 bucks at the end of the night and say, split this five ways. It wouldn't even pay for gas, let alone a guitar cable, the broke or an amp that broke. So I befriended one of the promoters that had booked the band in the immediate aftermath of us breaking up and said, take me under your wing and teach me the ropes. Teach me how to be on the other side of the velvet rope. You know, the other side of booking bands. And I jumped into that business at 19 years old. Now, the funny thing is I wasn't even allowed to be in clubs. - And you, by all accounts, really successful. - Yeah, yeah, there were probably eight or 10 of us that were at the highest echelon in New York City. - What was it about your character and about you that made you successful at that? Because that is a very specific set of skills. - Yeah, I was curating fun. I was creating and curating fun. My first experience in New York City was with somebody who was courting our band. And he took me to a club called Club USA. I had never been inside a nightclub in my life. And here I am with, you know, 3,000 people. And this club had a slide. And I remember he took me up to the balcony and he's like, go in the slide. And I remember just, you know, you go in this long kind of like tunnel slide and it dropped you in the dance floor. And I loved it. I mean, there was just something so electric, something so illegal about it. Coming from my Christian kind of rule based world view and childhood. I mean, if my parents had seen me at that club, my gosh. - It's a really interesting through line between you saying, I said, why are you really good at the nightlife scene? And you said, 'cause I'm good at curating fun. And then like five minutes before we were talking about the fact that you create fun for your kids, you were in index there, you were super successful. - Well, and charity water is, you know, we've been called externally. I mean, it's a really fun brand. And you know, this is a little bit of a joke, but what are the first three letters in fundraising? - Oh yeah, okay. - A lot of charities would say shame raising. - Oh yeah, you're right. - Guilty raising. Let's make people feel terrible that they have too much. You know, let's show pictures of kids with flies in Africa, you know, on their face in slow motion locking sad eyes with the camera. So we've very intentionally taken the opposite view of building the charity water brand over 15 years. And fun is a word in our culture. - Do you think fun has such a big importance for you in your work because it was something you had a pride build? - I think so.
Being deprived of fun led me into drugs and alcohol abuse (15:22)
And I also think now the kind of fun really matters. So the fun I had for 10 years in nightlife was a lot of cocaine fun, a lot of ecstasy, MDMA fun. You know, 40 to 60 cigarettes a day fun, gambling fun, pornography fun, strip club fun. Well, I'm using fun loosely. So it was a really unhealthy search for fun in those places which were highly destructive for me. - Give me the symptoms of highly destructive, psychologically, physically. - It all started with smoking. You know, it was like the first cigarette. I did everything to such an extreme. Like everything kind of with reckless abandon. You know, there was really this all in. I mean, I'm not gonna be an occasional smoker. I'm gonna smoke two to three packs a day. You know, I'm not gonna be occasionally sleeping around. I'm gonna go and try and sleep with, you know, every beautiful girl in New York City. So I was brought up to save myself for marriage. - So for like medication, isn't it? In a strange way, it feels-- - Well, we're playing things out to their end would be another way of, you know, you can't have this thing. Okay, so I was brought up, you can't have sex, you can't have smoking, you can't have drinking, you can't have drugs. I think a part of me really wanted to make sure that there wasn't happiness at the end of it. And to really play it through to the end. So I actually never felt like an addict to any of these things, maybe smoking aside. But I would do cocaine for two or three years and then kind of get bored with it. And I would do marijuana. Like I'm just gonna smoke and get stoned every single day. And then, now I didn't find what I was looking for there. Okay, let me try and gamble. Let me go to Vegas, let me go to Atlantic City. Let me, you know, learn craps and blackjack and poker and okay, I didn't find it there. I just got a lot of broker. So I think it was this exploration of, you know, I didn't know what I was looking for. I was trying to fill a hole. And I needed to make sure that I left no stone unturned down that path. - Are there days when you look back and go, that was one of my lowest days? Then I know there's probably a sequence of them. I think about my own life. There's a sequence of days I think that was a, but what was the first day where you think there's something's gonna change? - Yeah, this is towards the end. So maybe I'm 26, a couple of years before I got out of the business and a typical night would look like a fancy dinner at 10 o'clock. We would then go to the club that we were promoting at around 11.45. We'd stay at the club until three. We'd leave with a group of 20 people maybe and we'd go to it after hours. And that might last till 11 a.m. After hours is gross. I mean, it's only drugs at after hours. And I just remember this one day coming back from after hours and I remember looking out the window on Halston Street and people were on their lunch break. You know, the people gotten up in the morning, done yoga, gone to the gym, had a full morning at work and now they're on their lunch breaks. And here I am taking Ambien to come down. I remember needing to block out the light and taking a comforter that I would duct tape on the window so that I could simulate darkness and then I would sleep till seven o'clock or eight o'clock and then wake up and do it all over again. You know, it's not like I'm a doctor who works the ER shift where I worked the night shift. I stitched up a bunch of patients. I was really useful and you know, I'm going to bed at noon because I've been a contributing member to society. Like I had just gotten, I don't know, a thousand people wasted the night before and then gotten wasted with my 20 friends. And it was a real darkness in that. - And the thoughts start to creep in, right? At some point that, I mean, the feeling probably comes first in that case where you start feeling something psychologically or emotionally. - Yes. Sadness, I think it's a sadness. I think it's an emptiness. And then you mentioned the health problems. So about a year later, half my body goes numb. And I just remember I couldn't feel my hand. I was running it under hot water and I couldn't feel the hot water. And I'm like kind of tapping. It was this kind of weird, parastasia, numbness and tingling. So I'm now seeing doctors and I'm getting MRIs and CT scans. I'm convinced I have a fatal disease. I have a brain tumor. You know, there's just something weird. When you, the loss of feeling was really scary. I'm connected to EKGs. None of the tests reveal anything. And that was such a, that was a really clear moment for me where I realized what if I did die in the next month? And what if I did have an inoperable brain tumor? Would I be happy with the life that I lived? Hadn't done anything for others, hadn't mentored others, hadn't given charitably. Hadn't been a good friend particularly. Hadn't been a particularly good boyfriend. And I just realized, wow, I've really gotten to the end. I'm emotionally bankrupt. I'm spiritually bankrupt. I'm certainly morally bankrupt. And this is not how I'd want it to end. So that started a process.
Finding my purpose (21:17)
When people face, face, you know, that feeling in their life and sometimes it's just, it's exactly that. It's the feeling that their job or the path they're on is not fulfilling them deeply. And they almost arrive at this acrossroads where they realize they've got to make a decision. They don't know what's down there. But they do know that if they go down there, they're going to have to shed a lot of things. One of them is their identity. One, and everything that comes with their identity. Did you feel a fear of having to shed pretty much everything you'd built for a decade, friends and all of that? I don't know how, I didn't even know how to do that. I mean, at this point, I just know things need to change. I start reading the Bible again. I start reading this book that my father had given me, which it's interesting. I've tried to read it, you know, years since. And it doesn't hit me the same way that it did then. Interesting. The book was about finding God and living a pure life and returning to the innocence of a child. Here is a man's pursuit of righteousness, honor, integrity, peacemaking, innocence, virtue. And I am none of these things. In fact, I am leading people to the opposite of those things. So I think just what was happening here was these extremes, like worlds were colliding and I realized I didn't need a pivot in my life. A small course correction was not gonna be the answer. I was somehow gonna have to find the 180 degree opposite of everything I said, thought and did. And that's what I didn't know how to do. - What was the first step in doing that? - I came back and I tried to sleep with my girlfriend less, smoke less, figure out how to, you know, figure out how to get out of that relationship because she didn't love me and I didn't love her. Smoke less, drink less and knock it off with the drugs. And then I was miserable with my failure in all those things. I'd quit smoking for a week and then I was back at it. You know, I wouldn't do Coke for a couple weeks and then I was out of the party and like some celebrity was there and offered it to me and it's like, "Well, you know, I mean, I'm doing Coke with so-and-so, like I can't pass up this opportunity." So for me, it was a little bit of a process. The process took about seven or eight months from the beginning of the health issues to eventually the change. - And that, the first significant step that didn't feel like a pivot then, was that when you applied, started applying to humanitarian causes and charities and organizations? - Yeah, well, there was an event at a nightclub where I had fired somebody. You know, interestingly, I was actually offered a business interest in a new restaurant. So there was this kind of path that might be a little bit of a pivot out of nightlife into a more reputable restaurant owner world where we'd be promoting a restaurant, which also had a little club upstairs. But anyway, what happens? I'm in a club that was not one that we worked at, but I knew the owner very well. And I was with the new business partner of the restaurant. And I actually still remember this. This is so many years ago, but I came out of the bathroom. I remember I was high that night and I sit down back in a bank cat with him and he says, "Hey, this bouncer just tried to shake me down for money." And he's like, "You know the owner here, right? "You know, that's not cool, bro. "You brought me to this club and this guy's "trying to hustle me for money and like, "Pay me to stay in here. "I'm gonna throw you out." Or he didn't, I was in the bathroom, so apparently didn't know, he was with me. So I remember, you know, going outside and getting in this bouncer's face and saying like, "You know, you picked on the wrong guy. "This is my new partner." So there's like a, there's an element of loyalty and honor, you know, here for me. And I remember stepping on the street. It was on 27th Street between 10th and 11th. And I call the owner to, who wasn't there that night. I left the message about what happened and left the club. And then the next morning she woke up, got the message and then she fired this guy, the bouncer. The next night I met the club that I was working at. And I remember leaving about 15 minutes early. And then on my way home I get a text from our doorman saying, "Hey bro, there's like a bouncer "that just turned up." And he said, you know, you cost him his job and he says, "This is gonna kill you." Now, you have to understand, in nightlife, like we get threatened all the time. And this would be like death threat number 17. You don't let people in your party, they're embarrassed. You know, there's a lot of animosity towards people working at the high end of nightlife. But this felt not trivial, you know, to be quite honest. And I remember just saying, well, I'm just gonna, I remember going to my girlfriend's house that night, not going home. And woke up the next day and said, "I'm just gonna get out of town for a couple of weeks." And called my partner and said, "I need to break anyway. "You know, you handle the clubs for a couple of weeks. "I'm just gonna get out of town for a little bit." I wound up renting a cobalt blue Ford Mustang. And I think it did a month long rental 'cause it felt cheap. And wound up just driving north. You know, I was also like kind of just excited to get out of the city and the idea of being alone away from this relationship that wasn't really healthy as well. And I wound up calling this guy on the phone the next day and saying, "Hey man, I'm really sorry." Like, you know, I was a little out of it. What you did wasn't cool, but I'll try and get you another job. You know, here's a couple of places that are hiring and feel free to use me as a reference. And, you know, he seemed like he accepted the apology on the phone. So maybe there was never any danger. You know, I'm not sure. But I was heading north and I was gonna, you know, get out of town for a while. And I remember bringing a Bible and a bottle of doers and a carton of marble ritz. So I start like reading the Bible while I'm drinking and smoking. And I wind up going through Connecticut and through Vermont. And I wind up in Maine. And, you know, an inter transformation is really happening the farther I get away from New York City. Like the farther north I go, the farther into kind of, you know, deserted beauty. The less I wanted to go back to New York. And it just kind of hits me. I don't ever need to go back. What if I never went back? What would I do? And, you know, called this a God-given idea or whatever, I got this idea to, so when I grew up in the church, there was this idea of a biblical tithe where like 10% of your money goes to the church or to the poor and then you get to keep 90%. Well, I got this idea to tithe my time. What if I gave one year of the 10 years that I've selfishly wasted back in service to God and the poor or people who needed help? Could I be useful? That was really the question. And putting action to that, I remember being in a dialup internet cafe with a bunch of old Dell computers in Greenville, Maine on Moose Head Lake. I'm staying in a little motel and I started to fill out the applications for the famous humanitarian aid organizations I'd heard of, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross, World Vision. And I commit in my mind that I'm not gonna go back to New York and I'm going to actually change my life and I'm gonna give a year back. I don't go back to New York. While I'm waiting, go ahead.
Leaving my life and vice behind (29:22)
I was gonna say, it's just so I find it really interesting that the further away you got from New York, the more, because people can relate to that in their lives in so many ways, if you've ever taken a month off from a job. Yes. And you can finally feel it once you stepped away from the thing. And said another way, the further I got away from this destructive environment, for me, you know, the more clarity I think I got. So I wound up going bypassing New York. I went to the south of France, a buddy had a house in the mountains, in the remote, Pyrenee mountains. And I go there, there was no internet, so I had to come down, there was no phone and no internet. So I had to come down into the town on a bike just to, you know, check messages. But I go there and it's time alone, it's solace, it's time for prayer, it's time for reading. You know, it's this kind of, this cleansing reset, you know, there's no drugs. I was probably smoking a little bit, but, you know, no gambling, no pornot, like it's kind of a reset moment. And what happens is one by one, the denials from all these organizations come in, to tend organizations reject my volunteer application, which makes sense because they're not looking for nightclub promoters, you know. In the same way that, you know, maybe a, this is not a, you know, doctors without borders, looking for a reformed high-end nightclub promoter to go to Sudan. - Maybe they should have been. - In hindsight. - Well, so one day, I remember I'm driving my bike. It's probably, you know, five miles, you know, down from this house through the little town. And there's a small patch of cell phone reception where I would stop and check messages. And as I'm actually on the bike, riding through this area, the phone rings, and it's a group that hadn't rejected me, and they said, "Hey, we're called Mercy Ships. "We saw your application. "Our ship right now, our hospital ship, "is in Bremerhaven, Germany." We haven't agreed to accept you, but we will meet you. So can you be in Germany and meet us? And I'm like, "Well, I'm in France. "I'll get right there." And I got there maybe 18 hours later, and convinced these people, these doctors, that I was not going to throw any wild parties on their hospital ship. I was not going to corrupt any of the young nurses that I really was reformed and wanted to change my life. And the position I had applied for was photojournalist on the ship. Now, I hadn't mentioned this, but I'd gone to New York University part-time when I was working at the clubs, just to get a degree from my dad. Terrible student, C-minus, didn't even see the degree for 10 years. They just mailed it directly to him 'cause he'd saved up for his only child to go to college, and I felt like I owed that to him. But I had gotten a communications degree there because it was the easiest thing. I was a pretty good writer, and I was a hobby photographer. So I dusted off this degree that I've never used with nightlife, and I say, actually I have a comms degree from a decent university, and I can do this job. I also said to them, "I have 15,000 people "on my club email list, so I have a built-in audience "to be able to share the stories "of the amazing, redemptive humanitarian work "I'm sure you're doing." So maybe to set it another way, let me promote something different. Let me promote you and the unbelievable medical work that you're gonna be doing, and I have a bunch of people that I could already promote to. - Tell me about the emotional journey you went on from there. So you get on this ship, it goes off to Liberia? - Yeah, it goes to Benin, West Africa, and then Liberia. Well, this happens very quickly, so I go back to France, I pack up, and three weeks later, I'm on this hospital ship. And the night before I joined the ship, I had this moment of clarity. So this is a 522 foot ocean liner, so a huge cruise liner that had been gutted and turned into a state of the art hospital. And this organization for 25 years had sailed up and down the coast of Africa, bringing volunteer doctors, surgeons, and nurses on their vacation time to provide free medical services. So the ship would pull into a port and then work there for a year and then sail off to the next place. So I have this moment of clarity that I really am going to need to quit all the vices before I joined this group of Christian doctors and humanitarian on a ship. And there was something symbolic about the gangway. And I'm going to walk up the gangway of this ship. They're going to lift the gangway. I'm kind of trapped on it with 350 other volunteers. And then I'm going to sail away to a new continent and a new life. I better not bring any of that stuff with me. So very intentionally, the night before I got on the ship, I remember smoking 60 cigarettes, smoked three packs, my last three packs of cigarettes. I remember getting hammered through an eight or nine beers and just knowing that I would have to go cold turkey or all in to allow this new life to develop. And that was a clarifying moment. I drink a little bit now years later, but I've never had another cigarette. I've never had a drag or 17 years now. Never touch Coke or any of those things. I haven't looked at a pornographic image in 17 years. Never gambled again. And actually didn't sleep with anyone for the next five years until my wedding night with my wife. So I really went full circle, back home in the most extreme way to allow this new life to unfold. - Quick one. We bring in eight people a month to watch these conversations live here in the studio and we're here in the UK and when we're in LA. If you wanna be one of those people, all you've gotta do is hit subscribe. - I was reading through the book about what you saw when you arrived in Africa.
Humanitarian work in Africa and its impact on me (35:41)
- Oh my gosh. - They were a few things. There was actually a photo in here, I believe. - So let me set the scene. So the ship is pulling into the port. A small advanced team for the previous three months had posted flyers throughout the country advertising the coming of the hospital ship. And we have 1500 available surgery slots to hand out. So we're gonna make 1500 sick people healthy. Those are the surgery slots we have. So I'm so excited, right? This is like my new life. I've got two Nikon D1X cameras and I learned that the name for what the first event is the patient screening. It's the big triage moment. And the veterans on the ship called it the screaming. Oh, we're headed to the patient's screaming. We should have sounded ominous. So I remember thinking, looking at these flyers which are advertising facial tumors, cleft lips, cleft pallets, cleft faces, flesh eating disease. Like people with parts of their face completely missing, holes that you can look through to the back of their throats. Burns, many people had been burned during the war by rebel soldiers who would pour oil on their bodies to disfigure them. I remember thinking like, are there 1500 people that are gonna turn up with these conditions? Like, really? So getting a Land Rover, a convoy of Land Rovers at 530 in the morning. This is my third day in Africa. So like the ship comes in, everybody gets ready. Let's go. I learned that government has given us the football stadium in the center of the city to do the screening inside the football arena. Put on my hospital scrubs, jumping a convoy of Land Rovers, we sneak through the city, we get to the stadium and there's more than 5,000 sick people standing in the parking lot, waiting for us to open the doors. I'll never forget that moment. Realizing, wow, we're gonna send 3,000 sick people home with no help, with no hope. And I later learned many of those people had walked for more than a month from neighboring countries. The word had spread Sierra Leone to Guinea, to Cote de Voir. Many of them had brought their children on a month-long journey just in the hopes of their child seeing a doctor. But we didn't have enough doctors. We didn't have enough available slots. So then the door is open and everybody tries to, there's a whole crew that's trying to put everybody into this line that just kind of snakes back and forth and back and forth. And the first child that, so my job is gonna be to photograph all 1,500 people up close for the medical library. And the first child I see is this 14 year old boy and he's suffocating to death with a volleyball-sized tumor. This pink red tumor that is occupying his entire mouth and he's having a hard time breathing. He's terrified. You know, I just remember the fear in his eyes. I'm terrified. You know, I remember just weeping. I'd never seen suffering like this before. And I remember kind of just shutting down and going in the corner of the stadium and one of the doctors came over and said, you know, hey, you're the photojournalist guy, right? Like he said, you're gonna get back in there. Like basically do your job. You're gonna see way worse than this. So kind of toughen up, kid. And then he said, focus on the hope. You know, focus on the 1,500 people like this child that we're gonna be able to help. And that was two days of really grueling every single person you see is sick, leprosy. Clap, you know, some of the conditions that I mentioned. Sick and scared. And a couple days later, I got to scrub up again and document this eight and a half hour surgery when Alfred, the first child that I'd met, had his tumor removed by this remarkable man named Dr. Gary Parker. And a couple weeks later, I got to see Alfred go back to his village. I asked whether I could drive him home. In my mind, I knew there was gonna be a party. I knew that when the village had sent this, they'd written this boy off. They had sent him to the witch doctor who, you know, cast spells and spread chicken blood on his tumor. I mean, none of this worked. So he had literally been written off for dead. And I wanted to see what it was like, like when he came back to the village without his tumor. Healthy. So I remember driving him, it was a few hours and just the whole community kind of coming out and looking at him and touching his face and seeing, you know, celebrating, you know, a child that they thought was lost who was found, who was healed. And then over the next year, I was able to witness 1500 of those transformations. Wow. How did it? I'm blasting my club list. All right. The whole time. So that was fun because in a very short turn, people were getting emails from me inviting them to the opening of the Prada Megastore or Cosmopolitan, you know, fashion week party. And now they're getting pictures of 14 year olds with facial tumors and pictures of the operating procedure and then pictures of post-op. And what are you asking them for? I'm just sharing my experience. Well, really? Okay. And I'm promoting the work of the doctors. Like guys, this is amazing. These doctors are here. We're changing people's lives.
How did it feel helping people & starting your own charity? (41:58)
So when you drive that kid home and you see the reaction or even when you see the before and after, how did that feel in comparison to the best club night you ever threw? So much better. So much better. And healthy and redemptive and positive and life giving. It was joy. What I didn't realize until later was my environment, for me to kind of step into this new life or into this new calling or to find the 180, my environment also needed to drastically change. I was never gonna be able to change my life working at the clubs four nights a week. Surrounded by sex and drugs and alcohol. But my environment changed. And here I am with a bunch of Christian humanitarian doctors who are the most sacrificial people that I've ever met in my lives. Smoking is not cool on a hospital ship, right? Drinking is not cool. There's no casino. Nobody's playing blackjack. I mean, this is so missional and so purposeful. And I loved the new environment. I couldn't get enough of it. I never wanted to leave. It was home. It felt like coming back home. This leads you ultimately to discovering that there's a real issue out in Africa with water. Yeah. And I, but that quote, you've got to be kidding me, they drink this. Feels like quite a powerful quote in hindsight. When I look at the work you've done from then on, tell me about that moment where you said those words. Maybe first just the doctor through line. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor. To cure mom and sick people like hers. I didn't do anything doctor-like for 10 years in clubs. Doctors don't come to nightclubs and buy bottles of crystal. So I didn't know many doctors. But now I'm with a bunch of doctors. And there was one doctor, this guy, Dr. Gary Parker, who had been there 21 years and I made him a mentor. I wanted to spend as much time as possible. He was one of the reasons why I went back for the second year because he had dedicated 21 years of his life to this work. And I'm like, why have at least another year, right? Let me, let me just not end with this year long tithe when the year was finished. Let me go back for a second tour. In the second tour, I felt like I really understood the medical world and I still had to take all the pictures of the surgeries and the before and afters. But I wanted to get off of the ship and understand more of the context of how people were living in Liberia. And this was a post-war country, 14 years of brutal civil war led by Charles Taylor, had torn apart the country. There was no electricity, no running water, no sewage system and no mail system. So just imagine like shambles, like everything broke down in a decade and a half of war. I mean, look how much destruction is happening just in a short time, you know, what we're seeing now in the Ukraine. 15 years of war, tour of the partner. So that was the backdrop of which our doctors came in. At the time, there was one physician for every 50,000 Liberians. Okay? Our ratio here in America is one for 300. So every 300 Americans is a doctor, one for 50,000. There were two surgeons apparently in the country, but nowhere for them to operate. No hospitals, they were working. As I got into the rural areas, I saw the water that people were drinking and there were swamps or ponds, you know, or sometimes like a muddy river, you know, running near these villages or in the center of these villages. And I remember seeing kids come and filling up their buckets and drinking unthinkable water. And I was like, wait, people drink this? To contrast that, and I think why this resonated so deeply, I used to sell Voswater for $10 a bottle in the clubs to people who would just order $100 a water to let it sit there, just in case anybody needed a hydrate. But really they were drinking champagne or vodka instead. You know, as I started to explore this, the water issue in the country, I learned two things. Half the country was drinking dirty, contaminated water every day. And half the disease in the country was because people were drinking dirty, contaminated water and didn't have access to sanitation or hygiene. So I go back to Dr. Gary and I'm showing him my photos, like on the back of my camera, like you should see what people are drinking. And he says, I know. And, you know, I make this quick link. I'm like, well, I wonder how many the 5,000 people needed to stand in the parking lot of a stadium to see doctors if they just had the most basic health need. You know, learned there were 28 different diseases you could directly track back to dirty water. So it was really Dr. Gary who took that information. You know, he sees this young kid like on fire with this aha, eureka realization. And he says, why don't you go do that? Why don't you go make sure everybody in the world has clean water before you die? And he gave me the challenge. And I remember, you know, he said something to the effect of you'd be the greatest doctor the world had ever seen. If you just gave people the most basic need for health, if you gave them clean water, you would touch more people than I have ever operated on by an order of magnitude. And there was something so simple about that. I'm like, well, okay, my second year ended. I was 30 years old. I went back to New York City and I tried to put action to that very simple commission. Very simple commission.
Promoting clean water for the whole world (48:01)
Well, it was simple. I mean, simple missions, wrinkly water to everybody on the planet. It's a few words, but it's a big, I mean, it's an impossible challenge, right? It's a tremendous, tremendous challenge. And you know, you said it simple, but I'm sure there's lots of people who've been given similar kind of flippant mandates from people in their lives. Go and fix that. Why don't you go and fix that? And 99.9% of them will never attempt to fix that, which makes me ask the question, why did you believe that you could do that? So I saw the small impact that I had made promoting the work of Mercy Ships. In between the two missions, there was a little gap in between year one and year two. And I came back to New York City with my photos. I got a gallery donated in Chelsea. I printed 108 of my photos and I invited all my nightclub friends to come in and see the work that these doctors were doing. And I raised about $100,000 for their work through that show. I remember people, callous people, that would come to the nightclub, who just kind of didn't seem like they would care about anything, standing in front of some of my images weeping. As they read the caption, as they learned, "Hey, this is someone just my age, "born in a different environment "with a terrible affliction, "but no doctor to go to." So I had a little bit of like, wow, that success. And while my email list shrunk a little bit with some unsubscribes, at the beginning, it actually began to grow as people would forward it to their friends. And like, oh my gosh, there's like this guy. He's like, I used to do coke with this guy. And he's like on this hospital ship in Liberia, I've never even heard of Liberia. And like, look at these photos. I mean, look at these doctors. Like blind people are seeing. And faces are being fixed. And we would find a 65 year old woman in a village with a cleft lip. Food and water had spilled out of her mouth, her entire life. And we provided a $280 surgery. And she could speak. And she could eat. And had her dignity in her life back. So, you know, this stuff was like, it was inspiring people. The work of the doctors. And I was the promoter. So instead of promoting the DJ and the $1,000 bottles of crystal and the celebrities that were gonna be in the club that night, the special guests, I was promoting something very different. And I saw that that was working and that that skill that I had, you know, potentially learned over 10 years or misused for 10 years. Provoting something, you know, certainly less redemptive or purposeful could actually be translated and used to promote the work of Mercy ships. The next step was, I thought it'd be possible to promote clean water for humans. So, and in fact, it didn't even more simple way. I mean, it's, what do you do? We bring clean water to people around the world. Everybody should have clean water to drink. I thought it was a really promotable cause. - And what is, what was your business model though, in terms of the model? So how are you gonna bring water to all of these people? - At this moment, I'm broke. I am back from Africa. I have no savings. I've given everything that I had to Mercy ships and the people I'd met. So I crashed with my old club partner who lets me sleep on his closet floor for free rent. And I had the idea, bring clean water to everybody on the planet. And I had the benefit of not having any institutional charitable knowledge outside of my experience with Mercy ships. And I just was talking to people that worked at MTV or at Fashion magazines or at Sephora and or at the local bank. And I realized so many of my friends didn't trust charities. They did not trust the system. Almost all other problems had to do with money. Where does the money really go? How much of the money actually gets to the people who need it? Now how much of the money actually goes to the cause? And the term social entrepreneur wasn't even around back then. But I just took a very entrepreneurial approach to this and said, well, I wonder if through a new business model, I could speak to those objections. I could reach out to these cynical, skeptical, distant chanted people and get them excited about giving in a new way. So I had a very simple idea, separate the overhead from the money that people would give to the organization. So open up two bank accounts, promise the public that 100% of anything they would ever give to charity water would go directly to help people get clean water. And then in the other bank account, go and find a small group of business leaders and entrepreneurs to pay for those unsexy overhead costs. The staff salaries, the office rent, the flights, the insurance, the Epson toner for the copy machine. So church and state, two differently audited bank accounts. And I wasn't sure how I would fund the overhead, but boy was it clean. And I thought it was a really compelling story that beyond just promoting clean water and inarguable common good for the world that I thought everybody could get behind, we would now have this hyper-transparent business model that would speak to the most common objection people have to giving to charity, which is where does the money go? So I tried this out. My only idea on day one was to get a club donated. It was September 7th, it was my birthday. I was turning 31 and I got a club in the MePacking District donated during Fashion Week. I got open bar, donated for an hour, and then I invited everybody to come to celebrate my 31st birthday. But to get inside the club, they had to put $20 in this big plexy box. And we were gonna take 100% of whatever was in that box at the end of the night, and we were gonna go help our first person get access to clean water. And I printed up my photos. So in the club, it's kind of juxtaposed with people drinking dirty water and wells being drilled and people drinking clean water. I'd also seen that when I was in Africa. I'd seen the solution to the problem of wells being drilled and communities going from dirty to clean. So I put those photos up and 700 people came that night and I'll never forget a drug dealer came that night. He was a pretty high end weed dealer. Eight but $500 in the box. And he looked at me and he said, this is the first charitable gift I've ever made in my life. - Really? - And I know where this money's going and I trust you. We raised $15,000. I remember we counted it and double counted it. And like, we're taking pictures of the money and the stacks. Like, you know, 'cause this is your first, this is day one of the organization. And we took that money immediately to a refugee camp in northern Uganda. We built our first water well and then we fixed a couple other broken wells. And then the most important thing was we sent the photo proof video of clean water flowing and then the satellite images of where every single water project was. And I emailed the 700 people that came and said, you did this. Here's where 100% of your $20 went. And because you came and gave, people are drinking clean water. And here's the proof. - Thank you for voting for sponsoring this podcast. One of the greatest tips I can give any small business owner listening right now is to take risks. In fact, the biggest risk to your business will be taking two fewer risks, complacency and comfort seeking will harm your success. But taking risks can be incredibly daunting. That's why I've partnered with Vodafone Business and their V-Hub, which offers free one-to-one sessions with V-Hub digital advisors. And you can call up and speak to one completely free of charge, sharing your ideas and getting input from someone who's knowledgeable on the topic and able to help you towards your next business step. To find out more, search V-Hub by Vodafone. As you might know, my energy re-sponsor of this podcast and they offer countless ways to make your life a little bit more sustainable and make that transition from where you are now to a sustainable life, 10 times easier. Their products are all about energy independence, allowing you to create a greener home through their cost-effective and super user-friendly products. And one of my favorite products right now is the Zappy. It's a smart EV charger, which simply allows you to charge your electric vehicle from solar or wind power. So if you would like to find out more about my energy, then head to myenergy.com. And if you've tried the Zappy, let me know how you got on with it in the comments section below. Was there a time in the early startup phase where you genuinely considered that you might fail?
What struggles did the charity face? (56:40)
- Every day. - Really? - Absolutely, every day, especially with this business model. If I couldn't raise the overhead, it didn't matter how successful we were with the public funding. So every day. - And in terms of difficulties with business, with people, with everything else, what was the most painful time of that early years, the most painful day event that you went through? - Yeah, well, the charity started off very quickly and people loved the 100% model. It just began to build a lot of momentum. We raised $2 million in the first year through a flurry of activities, gallery shows and events, and people doing concerts for us and people giving online, and we were selling a $20 bottle of water, just as a symbolic gesture where all $20 would go and people would buy cases of the water. So it was just, it was a year of a lot of success. And then in the second year, we were on track to raise $6 million. But all was a struggle for the overhead. All was a struggle to find a donor to pay for employee number two or to pay for the next month's office rent. I mean, we were in a really crappy office, like covered in grease floors. It was an old printing press. So I was doing all that work trying to convince people to help me build the actual organization because the 100% model was so resonant. We got to a point about a year and a half in where we had almost a million dollars in the water bank account, about to go out and build 100 wells. And we were about to miss payroll. And we had nine people at the time. And I remember just thinking, and by the way, people had been warning me that this model would fail. You know, nobody thought this business model was a good idea. I mean, effectively, you can't use any of the money you raised from the public to actually run the company to run the organization. But I just had such faith in it. And I had tapped out all the people that I knew for the overhead. And I was hitting a point where I realized maybe they're right. You know, maybe this is a really dumb business model. So I start calling lawyers about shutting down the charity to a year and a half in. Even though we've raised millions of dollars. I remember praying, you know, with very little faith. And, you know, I didn't start a religious charity. So I was still kind of animated by my personal faith and, you know, a belief in prayer. But I remember like praying for a miracle. But I'm like, there's no miracle that can save us at this moment. And the advice I was getting was to borrow from the million dollars in the water account to make payroll. So that was the kind of conventional wisdom. Hey, write yourself an IOU. You know, you're not bankrupt if you have a million dollars. But for me, if we borrowed one penny, one dollar, one pound from that bank account, and we used it on anything overhead related, our integrity would be forever compromised. You know, in such an extreme way, I'm like, there's a crack at the foundation. I would never even want to build on top of that. I'd much rather shut it down and have my integrity. And at that moment, I'd written a cold email to a British Internet entrepreneur, actually about something completely different, about funding, about trying to get exposure on his social media network. It was called Bebo at the time. And everyone knows Bebo. That listens to this. So he writes me back and says, man, I love this idea. Like, what a cool idea, getting everybody clean water, checked out your website, you know, really good design and branding. But it's a bad time for me to help. So I don't think anything of it. I was just happy that, you know, somebody responded to a cold email. Well, around this time of near insolvency or bankruptcy, at least on the overhead account, he writes me and he says, hey, I'm going to be in town. I'd love to meet you and learn a little more about what you're doing. He comes in. I remember I pull out my laptop. I take him through a hundred photos and my whole story. He's working in this, we're in this crappy office. There's nine other people. There's a couple of volunteers around. And I remember just thinking, boy, this is the worst pitch I've done. He is not into it. He's not really laughing at the jokes. He's just doesn't seem very compelled by this. He leaves and, you know, says, well, you know, give me your bank account details and, you know, I'll see how I can help. And two days later, it's around midnight. Again, I'm almost to this point just relinquish to the fact that I'm over. I'm going to shut down the charity. Maybe I'll try with a different business model or maybe I'll just try with a traditional business model. And I get an email from him and he says, hey, it was great meeting you. I just wired a million dollars intro overhead account. And we went from bankrupt to 13 months of funding. He said, I believe in your idea. You just need more time. And that was $700 million ago. And this year we'll raise over $130 million. And that entrepreneur was Michael Birch. That was Michael Birch. He's a mutual friend of us. He was a mutual friend and an amazing guy and really, you know, saved the organization. And I think even more, you know, Michael and I have been, become really good friends over the years and even more than the money was that somebody believed in me. He believed that I could do it with the right amount of time. We never look back. Today, there are 131 unbelievably accomplished entrepreneurs and business leaders who pay all the overhead, 20 of them in the UK. You know, it's the founders of Spotify and Shopify and WordPress and LinkedIn and, you know, an unbelievable group of really a lot of tech entrepreneurs who love paying for the software engineers and the UI UX designers and the actual core organization of charity water so that now millions and millions of people around the world are donating and have the purest way to give, knowing that 100% of the money goes. But that was really a key moment of it was almost all over. But, you know, if I were to go back and the money was not going to come in, I still would shut down the charity. I wouldn't have borrowed. Really? It was that important for you to... It was that important to keep good on that promise. It's funny because that defining promise is definitely really one of the fundamental things that has made charity water so successful in a landscape of charities where trust as you identified very early on is a central issue with people giving their money and hindsight is a wonderful thing but it's definitely proving you right to hold your integrity there. How many people have you now reached? I read it was like 15 million people. Yeah, we just crossed 15 million people in the last few weeks of the year in December in our 15th year. So we closed our 15th year. We got to the 15 million person milestone. You know, it's one 50th of the 771 million people who need our help. So as we record this, 10% of the world is drinking dirty water. It's crazy. 10% of the world. One of the 10 people. 771 million humans and we've helped 15 million of them. So we're at the very beginning of this journey. So we're in year 16 and, you know, it really... To quote my friend Daniel at Spotify who uses this a lot. Like it really feels like we're in the second inning of impact, the second inning of the movement, the second inning of raising the capital. We need to go faster and accelerate. Last year we helped 2 million people get water. So it's over 5,000 people every day. So we're at kind of peak velocity over the 15 year journey and in a time where I think we can really exponentially scale. So you're an entrepreneur.
Work-life balance (01:05:15)
Would you describe yourself as obsessed? Because you said earlier about your health. No. No. Driven. Committed. Not obsessed. What's your work life balance like if that's even a thing you sort of espoused and you sign up to? Yeah. Yeah. I don't love the balance idea. I think there are seasons when there's an emphasis. Then I dropped to very little and you know what the zooms with the rest of the world. And I spent an extraordinarily more time with my kids during COVID. So I think there are different seasons of life when something different is required of me to move the mission forward. I mean in some ways I feel really lucky to have put in the 100 hour weeks because there really were 100 hour weeks at the beginning. And everybody knows that. You are just when you're trying to birth something, you know, whether it's a company or a nonprofit or a, you know, a for good company. There's an extraordinary amount of work that is required in those early days and years because you really could kind of die at any moment. Like, you know, the thing could die. You could go bankrupt. Like you're only as good as your last sale or your last donor, you know, that believes in you. So I'm lucky that I got that really hard work in early and built the organization to, you know, now there's 2,000 people around the world that are working on charity water projects every day. You know, there's 100 people here in the States and in London, you know, who are working on the fundraising and the campaigns and managing all these water projects. So I work differently, but less, you know, I'm really present with my kids. I take my kids to school every morning when I'm home and I pick them up from school.
The importance of giving and service (01:07:11)
Having tasted a lot of ingredients of life, what do you think is the recipe for, in your view, for yourself? Because I guess that's any perspective you can talk from, but for yourself for a fulfilled life. Having been in the clubs and this, the planes, the private jets and what would you now say is the recipe for a fulfilled life? Service. You think that's central to a fulfilled life? Service, generosity. Yeah, it's the only game in town. I mean, there's so many people that I've seen, you know, I've gotten to spend, I've been to 70 countries now. I've been to the continent of Africa more than 55 times. I have seen some of the most marginalized suffering, people living in conditions that are shocking. I've been with moms that have lost seven kids to diarrhea and waterborne diseases. I've seen horrible, horrible things around the world. And then I've been with, you know, dozens and dozens of billionaires. And I've seen the top echelon of private planes and 40 cars and 70 million dollar houses. And I'll tell you that, you know, the houses and the cars and the watches and the planes and the, you know, the outmarket capping, you know, your competitors is not where purpose lies. It's really in service. And asking how, for me, how can I use my time and my talents and my resources, my money in the service of others? How can I look around and see who is needlessly suffering in my local community, in the global community? And how can I contribute to stop that suffering? And it's kind of a never ending work. There's no finish line to that. There is no, you know, well, I'm trying to get to the unicorn billion dollar evaluation and then, you know, this is a life of service or a life trained or kind of pointed at being useful and loving others. There's no end point. There's no finish line. There's always going to be someone who could use your help. And I've found the more you give, and let's just say, you know, some people don't have money to give. They could have time to give or they could have mentorship to give. The more you give, the more you give. It's like this muscle, you know, you need to use it. Like if you exercise the generosity muscle instead of saying no, you know, to all the incoming requests, the most generous people I know, they love giving to 50 or 60 different causes a year. They're not saying, oh, I just get hit up all the time. They love being useful and, you know, it's a privilege for them to be asked for money for a noble cause because they get to contribute. Interesting. We're framing, but a very significant one. So I hate the word giving back that we use a lot here in the States and, you know, oh, my company gives back, right? You hear about these giving back programs. What almost implies that we have, you know, pillaged and plundered to such extent, to throw some scraps to the poor. Let's throw a few scraps back, right? So we feel better about ourselves. So I encourage companies, just drop the back language. Just giving. Let's build a culture of giving in our families. Let's build a culture of giving in our companies. Giving not because we've taken giving because we can give, because it's a joy to give. It's a blessing to be able to give. People listening to this now, how can they, if they're driving up and down the country, washing the dishes, whatever, how can they support what is a very, very worthy cause, like charity water? We have an amazing community of people who show up every month, giving a little bit, whatever they can for clean water. It's called the spring. UK is our second biggest market to the US, but we now have people in 150 countries. We have people in Africa that give a little bit every single month for clean water. It costs about 30 pounds or $40 to get one person clean water. So there's a lot of people to just do that every month, and they don't get music or movies or, you know, our next hour shipping from Amazon, you know, for more stuff, but 100% of whatever they give every month goes directly to help people get clean water, and we're really good at proving where that money goes and sharing stories of impact. So people can learn more at charitywater.org or just thespring.com. And you're, I guess you're always looking forward for individuals that are also willing to join the game. Yeah, the well members, of course. I mean, if there may be some entrepreneurs who love building, you know, businesses or organizations, so those 131 families are the lifeblood of the organization, and we're always looking to grow that really incredible group that then allows millions of people to give in a transparent and effective way. Scott, the work you do is, I mean, I don't really know the words to describe it. I sometimes think of like nice adjectives and stuff, but it's like a really deeply profoundly inspiring journey, story, book, cause, and future that you're creating. And it's really made me question a lot of things about myself. I'm in that phase of my life now where I'm also asking myself serious questions about that part of me, the purposeful service part of me. And so meeting you today feels like it was meant to be in many respects, reading the book felt like it was meant to be, but I'm sure the conversation will have will continue. You have to come with me. Come with me on a trip. I'd love to. We work in 29 countries now, so. I'd love to. I'd love to. I think you'd love to sing the work for yourself and water is just so basic. You know, it's when you hear what it means to people, you know, in their own words, it's, you know, we just step back and it's very powerful. Well, if you'll have me, I definitely will. I see that's being a very kind gesture to allow me to.
Our last guest's question (01:13:14)
We do have a closing tradition on this part, which is the last guest writes a question for the next guest. The question was, when was the last time you got badly rejected? I won't use the donor's name, but it was definitely, you know, someone who just kind of pretended to be really interested and, you know, felt like was really stringing me along and then just, I don't know, inexplicably never gave, never engaged and felt like a huge waste of time. And you committed a lot of time and energy. I did call it a lot of time and energy and was really, you know, maybe expectancy. And it was just, it was a big disappointment. It normally doesn't happen. I mean, I'm, we're really blessed by, you know, being surrounded with an amazing group of people and an amazing community. I just had, I just had maybe to end on a more positive note. I had a situation, very, very accomplished on internet entrepreneur recently. And I asked him for a very, very large sum of money. And we caught up afterwards after he had time to consider with his wife and he said, "Why'd you ask for so little?" And then he gave four times more. Well, swings and roundabouts. Why did you ask for so little? So I was like, "Wow, my mind, like, absolutely expanded. Am I asking for too little? Am I think 15 years in, $700 million raised, you know, like a global movement? Am I thinking too small? There's more, there's more generosity. There's more goodwill out there. So I focus on that, not the rejections. It's very easy for me to kind of, you know, brush that off and, and just not carry that around and find the generosity to really let that fuel me. So that's been fueling me now for weeks. It's like, "Okay, maybe I really need to go for it." Scott, thank you. Just an amazing conversation and one that's going to stay with me for some time. I can feel that certainly. And your book, if nipplies. I mean, there's two things. There was a couple of catalysts that really brought me to you. I said to you earlier, my manager had seen you speak and insisted that we had this conversation and I read your book. Then I saw that famous video, which anyone can watch, which kind of summarizes your story in about 20 odd minutes, which has done some 25 million views on YouTube. That had me completely. Scott, thank you. Thanks for having me. I had a few words to say about one of my sponsors on this podcast. My girlfriend came upstairs yesterday when I was having a shower and she said to me that she tried the heel protein shake, which lives on my fridge over there. And she said, "It's amazing. Low calories. You get your 20 odd grams of protein. You get your 26 vitamins and minerals and it's nutritionally complete." In the protein space, there's lots of things, but it's hard to find something that is not a good thing. That is nice, especially when consumed just with water. And that is nutritionally complete. The salted caramel one, if you put some ice cubes in it and you put it in a blender and you try it, is as good as pretty much any milk shake on the market, just mixed with water. It's been a game changer for me because I'm trying to drop my calorie intake and I'm trying to be a little bit more healthy with my diet. So this is where heel fits in my life. Thank you, heel, for making a product that I actually like.