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Thank you.
Today I want to talk about 3 stages of generosity
that I have learned along the way.
The first is the obvious one which is "to give."
Repeated research shows that we are predisposed to altruism.
This is not a new thing.
And all of us probably don't need research,
we all have had our moments.
True story, in Mexico, on Christmas Day,
a father and a son are sitting by the tree.
And there's a kid from the slums walking past them.
Father turns to his son and says, "Son, give him one of your toys."
The son is reluctant, naturally,
but when he sees his father is pretty serious,
he picks up one of his toys,
and he picks up the least favourite toy.
And he's about to go up there
and his dad says, "Son, give him your favorite toy."
And the son goes up and initially, of course, he is reluctant,
but he actually goes out and does it.
When he comes back, the father thinks he needs to appreciate
and acknowledge what his son has done.
It was a big sacrifice.
But much to his surprise, this kid comes back with joy.
He looks at his dad, looks up and he says,
"Dad, that was amazing. Can I do it again?"
And we've all had these moments.
Some of us are late bloomers.
I was in my early twenties when a few of us got together and said,
"We just want to give with no strings attached. What can we do?"
In Silicon Valley, we went to the homeless shelter
and we ended up building up a website.
It felt great, we told our friends, we came back,
and it became the organizing principle
for this organization called CharityFocus.
Along the way we re-learned one very interesting insight,
and that was this: compassion is contagious.
When you start organizations, you say,
"I want to grow this tree," and you focus on it,
but with compassion it doesn't work that way.
You actually have to nurture the whole eco-system.
So on one side, we were doing technology work,
but on the other side, on the weekends,
we would go out and share meals with the homeless
and learn about their perspective on life.
On Wednesdays we'd get together in people's living rooms and meditate,
see what that is all about.
We would go out and do acts of kindness, this is the smile card.
It tells you to go out and do something small for someone else.
And you do it anonymously, so the person who received it says,
"Who do I thank?"
Well, you can't pay back, but you can pay it forward.
It serves as a reminder to do that.
It's very beautiful.
So we've realized that compassion is very contagious.
Along the way --
The second stage of generosity was "to receive."
This is Arthur, he loves to give hugs.
Anyone who's given a hug, which is all of us,
knows that you can't give a hug without receiving one.
And that's obvious, but where we get caught up
is that so many times when we give, we expect to receive in the same way.
And that expectation blinds us to new forms of value.
Now, in CharityFocus, we have three organizing principles.
One of them was that we don't fundraise.
We did this partially just to stay humble
and to be real, we start with what we have.
If we have a lot, great, if we don't have a lot, great,
we can still serve.
That was our organizing principle and we never thought we'd have abundance,
but lo and behold, we actually started discovering abundance.
We say what was happening?
The first kind of abundance we discovered
was social capital, that's "Simpson's-ville."
Lots and lots of people, right?
And partially this is because of the Internet.
It made organizing very easy.
The transaction cost went down
and you saw all kinds of movements without a center.
Now, social capital, we have a lots of it.
Every time we do an event,
there were hundreds of people that we'd interact with offline,
there were tens of thousands of people online, they're all mixing together,
creating lots of ripples.
This was great.
Then we went to the second stage, which was Synergistic Capital.
The Internet allows you to do loose ties,
but what about the deep ties, when you really know somebody,
you can look them in the eyes and share something deep and profound.
When you can start to create those deep ties, it increases the trust,
and when trust is increased, productivity goes up
and all this good stuff happens,
but most interestingly, synergy starts to happen.
Synergy is where one plus one is no longer two.
It's much more than two, it's a whole different realm of value.
We started discovering that.
And the last thing was the "Subtle Capital."
I am not sure how else to describe it,
but when you give, there's some inner transformation.
That inner transformation creates a stillness in your mind
and that stillness is an unbelievable asset.
When you have a posse of people committed to cultivating that stillness,
it really builds new kinds of value
that is unexpected and awesome and amazing.
That was discovering an abundance.
Now, the third stage, which is dance.
No, I'm not gonna dance. Or maybe I will.
(Laughter)
When you give and receive, there's a tendency to keep track.
Even though we might not do it overtly, subconsciously we're thinking,
"OK, how much did I give, how much did I receive."
We do this mathematics. But when you let go of that,
you start to dance, it becomes very dynamic.
You see a bunch of dancers over there,
there're giving each other a shoulder rub.
But what you notice is that no one is doing a quid pro quo transaction.
Everyone is doing a massage for somebody in front of them,
and yet everyone is taken care of.
When you start dancing to the spirit of not keeping track --
That guy could say,
"Oh, the person behind me is giving me 15 joules of pressure on my back,
so I'm going to give only 12 joules."
If you do that, it doesn't work.
But when you let that go, all of a sudden you can have the circle
which works in a very different way.
So, it works for shoulder rubs, but what about something practical?
So, we decided to try a little experiment.
We called it "Karma Kitchen."
On Sundays, we take over a restaurant.
You walk into this restaurant, it's like a regular restaurant,
but it's run by volunteers and at the end of your meal
your check reads zero.
It's zero because someone before you paid for your meal.
And you get to pay forward for somebody after you.
And people are always confused.
"Does that mean it's a free meal?" No, it's not a free meal.
When you go to a soup kitchen, who is paying?
Someone else outside who's got some other reason for making that happen.
Here, it's literally the person in front of you,
the person who was here the week before
that pays for this week. This week's is for the next week.
And when you count on people like that to be generous,
how long will that chain last?
It has been going for three years.
And then it started in D.C.
From the surplus there, it started in Chicago.
But what's most amazing about this
is that it creates a context for a very different kind of value.
So for example, there was a UC Berkeley PhD in computer science guy
that came over and said, "I want to volunteer."
So one Sunday, he is volunteering.
He is serving a table, and the guest at the table says,
"Oh so, how does this work? You trust me to pay what I want?"
He says, "Yeah, it's this chain, and you're part of this chain."
Really we are all part of this chain,
from our ancestor onwards.
So he says, "OK," he takes out his wallet, gives him a hundred, and says,
"OK, well, I trust you to bring me back whatever change you want."
(Laughter)
And this guy goes in the back and he's scratching his head.
"This wasn't part of the volunteer orientation!"
(Laughter)
What are you gonna do?
So, he is thinking about it.
And then, he decides to tap into that space in himself about what this is.
This was not taught, but he taps into that space,
he goes up to the guy, gives him back his hundred,
takes out a twenty from his wallet, adds to it,
and this guy is completely blown away.
(Laughter)
Because he's blown away,
this guy is blown away and you know how this stuff ripples out.
Everybody is energized.
And you can look at that transaction and say,
"There was a cost of food, there was twenty bucks."
But the value generated there --
I can guaranteed you that that guy went home
and he has been telling that story to everybody he encounters.
Because this is like, "Which restaurant? Where does this happen?
Which place on Earth? Give me the address."
So it's the kind of thing where there's a new dimension of value.
And if we don't have context where people can practice this,
we lose this entirely.
So, really I just want to conclude by saying,
you Give, Receive and Dance.
When you give, you find that compassion is contagious
and you start to create a community.
When you receive, and really learn to receive,
you start to discover abundance.
And when you dance, not only do you create micro-gift economies,
but we start to seed a gift culture.
Thank you.
(Applause)
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【TEDx】Pay it Foward: Nipun Mehta @ TEDxGoldenGateED

6569 Folder Collection
陳冠宇 published on January 22, 2015
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