Wednesday, May 30, 2007


The Mesh Conference is officially over and I'm both totally exhausted and completely inspired. I can honestly say that being here has changed my life. How many people say that about a conference?

I'm tired because since arriving on a red-eye on Tuesday morning, I haven't had a night that hasn't ended before 4am in large part because the conversations just kept naturally flowing, some slightly more cohesively than others.

While this may sound arrogant, I'm often asked to be the inspiring one. But in doing so (and investing so much emotional energy in everything I do), it exacts personal cost. The night before my talk, I really admitted how exhausted I am to my wife. I said I had nothing more left to give, and I truly felt it.

I dreaded giving the talk, and felt incredibly apprehensive. Moments before I was to talk, I found what I needed. I said "be centered. be real. be inspiring." I walked onto the stage and the first thing out of Austin Hill's mouth was the story of his younger brother who died of cancer. Both of us were grounded, both of us spoke from the heart and it showed. I felt uplifted and regained some confidence that I wasn't as empty as I had feared.

Instead of then leaving the talk and disconnecting again, I stayed open, I stayed connected. I talked with people differently than ever before, and I drew so much inspiration from them. I am leaving this conference with my heart and head full. But I am leaving with the resolution not to make this a transaction but an experience. This isn't about topping-up to deplete myself again. It's about learning what I need to do to stay full.

In the talk I was part of with Austin Hill and Rob Hyndman, I said something strange "I want to be a bum." At the time, I had no idea why I said that or what it meant. Last night (or more accurately, early this morning), I figured it out. It turned out to be the most meaningful thing I said in my entire time here.

Thank you to everyone who was part of the Mesh. I am truly privileged and grateful to have met you.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Steve Jobs said to John Sculley...

Mesh officially starts tomorrow. Year 2 (version 2?) of Canada's preeminent web 2.0 conference officially kicks-off tomorrow am. I'll start my participation off by posting this blog entry and knocking back a few with other speakers in the next couple of hours.

My experience is that some of the best tech visionaries I've met like to shoot first and ask questions later. When it comes to changing the world, this is almost always a bad idea. Steve Jobs asked John Sculley whether he wanted to sell bottled sugar-water his whole life or whether he wanted a chance to change the world. We who want to change the world need to ensure we don't do so by selling the electronic equivalent of bottled-sugar water.

There, I've just figured out what I want to say in the talk I'm giving with Austin Hill tomorrow morning. You heard it here folks.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Be the best ancestor you can be

I'm up here at Hollyhock, my favorite place in North America. I'm attending a conference called the Social Change Institute.

Joel Solomon, a friend of GiveMeaning, spoke as part of a panel on Philanthropy and closed his remarks with the advice "Be the best ancestor you can be."

I think it's wonderful advice.

Late last night, Medea Benjamin delivered an amazingly inspiring talk. Medea is a co-founder of Code Pink. Search for her on YouTube.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Back to school

Human Capital. Knowledge Economy. The ruler of Dubai just announced he is donating a modest sum to establish a new educational foundation in the Middle East aimed at "creating a knowledge-based society" in the Middle East. The amount he donated? Ten billion dollars.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister and ruler of Dubai and vice president of the United Arab Emirates, has announced that he is donating $10 billion to establish an educational foundation in the Middle East, BBC News reports.

Delivering a keynote address to the World Economic Forum, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said "There is a wide knowledge gap between us and the developed world in the West and in Asia. Our only choice is to bridge this gap as quickly as possible, because our age is defined by knowledge."

Quite right. Our age is defined by knowledge. Want to lift any country up the ladder of economic development? Best to start with an investment in building that country's Human Capital.

Now here's your chance:

As some of you might know, I met a man named Yves Habumugisha on my trip to Rwanda. He works in Rwanda and Burundi on behalf of Food For The Hungry's Rwanda office, an international development organization. Yves' passion and his knowledge and his ideas for community development inspire me immensely.

Over the last few months, I have been raising money to pay for Yves to complete his Masters degree in International Development.

Yves has been completing the degree by online correspondence but this last semester requires physical attendance at Southern New Hampshire University.

Food For The Hungry Rwanda is contributing USD$1200 plus the cost of his airfare and Yves was recently awarded a partial scholarship worth USD $1500. This means, including money already raised through the fundraising page I created, we only have CDN $1,740 left to raise!!!

This is one of the best charitable investments you can make. Without a doubt, investing in Yves education will have an exponential effect on the communities in which he works in Burundi and Rwanda.

As those closest to me know, I have fallen in love with Rwanda and am counting down the days to my return this fall.

We only have a few weeks to go before payment is due. Please give generously!

I will be attending Yves graduation in July.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Podcast episode 6 is up

The latest GiveMeaning Podcast is up which can be downloaded free here at iTunes

This episode I start to address something I think we all need to be talking about a lot more: How the basic term "admin costs" have become so unfairly perceived by many donors, a perception that I readily admit project-oriented fundraising like what GiveMeaning does contributes to the negative perception around admin fees.

I also talk about my experience as a fundraiser using an online fundraising page at GiveMeaning and what I learned from the experience.

Anyway, have a listen and let me know what you think.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

You have to watch this!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

An envoy appointed and a bit on CSR

A bit groggy this morning. Woke up at 5:30am to speak at a Rotary Club meeting early this morning.

I found this story within the news section of the GiveMeaning site.

It's long over-due and it will be interesting to hear Mr. Giujin's official statements.

In other news, I found this article through my Google Reader this morning talking about different approaches to Corporate Philanthropy. Though it is specifically referring to Australian companies, it's good reading for anyone in corporate philanthropy as it raises the question that I think needs more conversation around: "Are corporate donors dealing with the real needs of the sector or are they more inclined to fund high-profile, simplistic, and sometimes ineffective, feel-good projects?" is the question asked by Niall Mulligan.

The answer should be both and at first blush, it might seem unfair to generalize but I do see this distinct dichotomy that the author flags. There is a new breed of community engagement consultants who are emphasizing "high-touch" projects that can mobilize their client's employees in ways that a three-year capacity grant to a sexual assault centre can't do. When these high-touch projects are designed more around looking and feeling good then around an impact/investment ratio, there is cause for concern.

I've been harping on this theme all week - the "feel good versus the know good" which may in fact be the perfect play on words.

On point, I'll leave you with this link from - of all places - It's a strange day when Clay Aiken has got something poignant to say about what was missing from Idol Gives Back"

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Abandon all hope, you who enter here

A thirteen year-old stabs her best friend near fatally. My brother's high school three blocks from my childhood house is closed due to a man seen with ammunition. This was tonight's broadcast in Victoria, BC, Canada.

Anderson Cooper had tornado's and flooding in one part of the US and severe droughts in another part.

The Globe & Mail reported that despite massive gains in our economy, 1 in 8 children live in families under the povery line, and according to the same article, the instances of poor children are the same now in 2007 as they were in 1989, the year Canadians supposedly resolved to drastically reduce the number of poor children in Canada by 2000.

The likelihood of achieving anything close to the much-hyped Millennium Development Goals...

Meanwhile, somewhere in Africa, a white person takes pictures of little children, makes promises, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Say nothing of our culture, our priorities, what and who we worship, the pervasiveness of perverse and violent imagery that is truly warping our minds ...

Is all it futile? Probably. But it's my battle. I fight because it's what I consider worth dying for. The parts of Rilke that I read, I remember this (a horrible, bastardized paraphrasing): Writers write because they HAVE to write. They have no choice.

In answer to my earlier post tonight, there IS something wrong with mindless giving, with celebrity marketing, with all this complete and utter bullshit that has nothing to do with anything other than the marketing of a "feel good" effect.

If there's one group that shouldn't sell-out, it's those who are trying to save lives and change the world. Too bad. The path of least resistance is the road most traveled.

My pleasure, my inspiration comes from the crazies, the stupid, the irrational. They change the world. I will leave you with this.

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Charity and Class Consciousness

I found this blog entry through StumbleUpon today and I thought it worth sharing. It touches on the increasing "consumer mentality" of charity (consumer mentality and actual charity to many is an oxymoron) and despite the style's capacity to offend, I think it's well worth a read.

The big question from this piece (for me) is "do the beneficiaries care what motivated the funding of their assistance?"

This is far less simple a question that it first appears.

Do we really have to care? Does it make a difference if we don't?

Does anyone give a damn?

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Something tells me this wouldn' work in North America

I applaud the Viennese for creative fundraising ideas but something tells me this story wouldn't translate well as a fundraiser in North America. What do you think?

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

I walked a mile in Women's shoes

This morning I walked a mile in Women's shoes in my hometown of Victoria, BC. The walk was in support of Victoria Women's Sexual Assault Centre and it was a smashing success!

I'm just short of $2,500 in donations made and still half-way there to having to shave my beard but I'm keeping my fundraising page open for a few more days. I've shaved my legs, pedicured my feet, walked a mile and had cat-calls from passers-by in my hometown. Isn't that worth $20 or $50? Click here to make a donation and show your support.

On my fundraising page, I also have a number of other photos from today's event.

And, if you know any woman who wears a size ten medium, she might want to bid for the shoes I wore in today's event. I placed them for sale on eBay in hopes that someone might want to buy my beautiful shoes.

Thanks to everyone who supported me. I'll be posting video from the event early this week.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Just in case anyone thought I was kidding...

Here is a picture of the shoes I bought tonight for my 1 mile walk in women's shoes in Victoria this Saturday in support of Victoria Women's Sexual Assault Centre.

If you haven't donated yet, maybe this picture will compel you do so.

The pair of shoes I bought tonight are a sexy size-10 stiletto's. I'm either going to donate the shoes after the event to a women's shelter or sell them on eBay... Any one who can fit a size 10, email me if you want to place your bids today.

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New Podcast Up!

A new Podcast episode is up and available for download from iTunes! If you download it, here a few listener's notes that go along with this episode.

A few details to follow-up on from this episode:

[1:08] Here is the survey results I mentioned from Valleywag. I misspoke: Kiva was #4 out of 20.

[5:23] The guys I refer to can be found at GiveMeaning by clicking here

[7:17] The blog I refer to can be found here

[8:23] I was thinking about Ghana.

[11:30] Of course, the argument here about the "industry of aid" is that this is still economic stimulus for the local community. The point I didn't make clear was that this person's cynicism was the Westerners profit-participation in the aid-industry.

[16:12] I'm an idiot. I said "A Country like Africa." Africa is a continent not a country.

[16:58] Firm evidence I love to opine even when I know little about the subject at hand.

[17:07] Check out WorldOfGood here. Fair disclosure: They have advertised previously at GiveMeaning.

[24:29] Here is a link to the article submitted at GiveMeaning.

[32:33] I'm not talking about just "other atrocities" but any issue that needs the attention of the entire GiveMeaning community.

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