Is Giving Good for You: Dave Erasmus at TEDxChisinau: Next Level

Is Giving Good for You: Dave Erasmus at TEDxChisinau: Next Level


Translator: Leonardo Silva
Reviewer: Carina Lucindo [Dave Erasmus, entrepreneur] If the question today was
‘Is giving good?’, then it wouldn’t take us long
to find agreement on the matter. But the question today
is profoundly different. It’s: Is giving good for you? And that is a question
that divides opinion wherever I go. You see, some people’s giving experiences
are that it’s like a black hole, that they get nothing back, even if they expected it. And other people fundamentally believe
that giving is about the cause, and they shouldn’t get anything back. But, what I want to suggest today is that not only can giving
be good for you, but that understanding the power of giving is fundamental to understanding who we are and our role amongst others. When I was ten, my teacher, Mrs. Taylor, told us a story about two places
that looked really similar. They were banquet halls, decorated and beautiful,
like this venue here. They were laid out for a feast, for hundreds of people, and, on each place, the only weird thing about the places was that the only piece of cutlery
were huge wooden spoons. In the first place, the people were depressed,
hungry and alone. And in the second place,
people were happy, laughing, talking into the feast and enjoying life. She went on to explain to us that,
in the first place, the only difference was
that people thought the spoons were there to feed themselves. And trying to get these huge spoons
back into their mouths proved so tricky, and they ended up
becoming frustrated, depressed and obviously hungry. In the second place, somebody realized that the spoons were not there
to feed themselves, but that they should feed people
on the opposite side of the table to them. As people saw this working, they copied and shared, built bonds, and ate the food together
and enjoyed life. I didn’t listen to much
of what Mrs. Taylor told me at school. If you’re listening, I’m sorry. But this story stuck with me. When I was fifteen,
I went to a youth camp, and on the first day, they asked us to gather around
in a big circle. Then, they said,
‘Everybody take a step in, and then, take another step in’. Now, you’re standing hunched,
shoulders close together, feeling awkward as you do
as a spotty teenager, when other people are too near to you. They then said, ‘Turn sideways,
and take another step in’. We’re now completely front and back
next to people beside us. And the next thing they said to do
was completely counter-intuitive. They said, ‘On the count of three,
we’re all going to sit down’. With no chairs around,
that feels completely bonkers. But they went,
‘One, two, three, sit down’. And if any of you have done this in a cheesy work experience
or team building exercise, you’ll know that the person
in front of you sits on your lap, and you sit on the lap
of the person behind you. Somehow, together, you create
a structure that is so supporting, something that you couldn’t
have achieved on your own. I feel like I learned then
something deep and profound that I didn’t know how to put into words, about the interconnectedness
of us as a society. So, Rabbi Jon Sacks, in London, tells this a lot better than I can. He says, ‘Imagine for a minute
that you had all the power in the world. And, in a moment of lunacy, you decided to share that power
with nine other people. What would you have left? One tenth of the power
that you had in the beginning’. He, then, says, ‘Imagine that you had
all of the love in the whole world, and then you decided to share it
with nine others. What would you have left?’ Love works
on a different economy to power. When you share your love,
it doesn’t take away from you. It only adds more. And it adds to the people
that you share it with. Love is viral. It magnifies when you share it. It is made to be shared. I’ve got two friends. One of them is called Dani, and the other one is called Isla. We’re quite good friends. They’re very close. We spend a lot of time together. Often when we’re at dinner,
I began to notice a theme note. It’s that Dani nearly always pays
for the meals, for Isla’s food. She’s nearly always the designated driver. Isla’s always up and down. One minute, she’s happy.
The next minute, she’s upset. Dani’s always telling me stories
about Isla crying on her shoulder. I haven’t known Isla
as long as I’ve known Dani, but sometimes I’m wondering
why Dani wants to keep giving, keep on giving to Isla, when all it feels like is Isla is taking. But there’s something
that you need to know about Isla. It’s that she’s seven months old
and Dani is her mother. (Laughter) And when you know that,
it fundamentally changes the equation. Whatever you were thinking
about Isla, you’ve changed. Not because anything material
in the equation has changed, but that something intangible
has been added to the equation: the bond between a mother and a daughter, that we all understand,
but can’t necessarily articulate. And this is the challenge of understanding how a mother continues to give
when she gets nothing back. Really, what it is, is that, when Isla smiles
or looks at her in the eye, she receives something more from Isla than Dani could ever give her
in material goods. See, real giving
is not just a transaction. It is about love in action. And when you look
at the tangible things in this world, you’re only seeing a small part
of the equation. When you do a search on Google, it doesn’t take you long to find
a whole raft of research to prove the thesis
that we’re talking about today: Is giving good for you? The answer is, unanimously, ‘yes’. You could look at physiological research, the impact that it has on our health. You can see that actually people
involved in an active giving lifestyle can add years to their life, reduce blood pressure, and the risk of heart illnesses. We could look at the sociological impacts. We can see that people
who give to people around them build stronger bonds, and this forms better communities
and societies, promotes well-being and peace
within the living arrangements. We can even look
at the neurological level. We can look to see the impact
that it has on our brains, when we actively participate in giving. It reinforces the serotonin
and dopamine pathways, that get activated
when we do things like have sex, eat chocolate or take drugs. It’s fundamentally good for you. But why, then, are we finding that there’s an epidemic level decline
of giving in our generation? I don’t believe it’s due
to a lack of proof, a lack of research
or a lack of thought on the matter. It’s my persuasion that it’s simply due
to a lack of leadership. And that’s why we’ve started to experiment
with different ways of giving, to see if we can activate
different behaviours in people, to get them engaged in causes that matter. So, meet Herb. Herb is a good friend of mine. He runs TEDx in the North of England. We decided to run an event last November, called ‘Stitch your friends up’. Five people would get on stage and, for the sake of a cause
that they care about, they would do something stupid,
if we raised the right amount of money. I managed to convince Herb
that this was a good idea, and he stupidly agreed. We had some biz, we had some fun, some live music, and we enjoyed our time together. Halfway through the night, we raised the total we needed
to get Herb to commit to his action. And then, we dressed him up
as a Japanese geisha. (Laughter) He’s going to hate me for this,
by the way. (Laughter) But we had a great time, we went home, we raised lots of money, but the real learning
of this experiment for me was in the morning, the day after. See, I woke up, I grabbed my phone,
and I looked and I could see that Herb
had posted a photo on Facebook of him dressed
as a female Japanese geisha. And what happened was,
as you can see, it went mental. Ten times more interactivity
on that piece of content than I’ve ever seen on his wall. Over 120 people wanting
that tiny piece of the action. And you can draw your own conclusions
as to why this is, but I think it’s because
he did something vulnerable, something creative, something a little bit stupid, for something that mattered to him. He didn’t share how much was raised, or the transactional value. He simply connected
something fun and engaging with something that mattered. He gave a little bit of himself and it made a difference to people
on his social networks. Another experiment we’re doing
is a bit closer to my own heart. In fact, it’s really about my belly. With all this hard work
and sitting behind my computer, I’ve been struggling to get out and get the exercise
that I need to stay fit and healthy. Despite my friends and family
having a go at me, telling me to get my running shoes on, it hasn’t been enough
of a motivation for me to run out and get fit. So, we decided to create
an app called ‘the burner’. And in the burner, we’re pulling
all of the running data from my running app, called RunKeeper, and then, I created
a challenge for myself. I’ve committed that I’m going to try to burn 10,000 calories,
through exercise, by Christmas. I then get to throw that challenge
out to my friends, and see if they want
to support me in that, or, knowing my friends more likely, we give them the option to bet against me. (Laughter) So, they get to make a bet. If I succeed in my challenge, then their money will go
to the cause that I currently support. By the way, we use Givey, the donation platform
that we created to do this. If I lose the challenge, then I will have to give the equal
and opposite amount of money to each of the causes
that all of my friends who were betting against me, are supporting on Givey. I’m hoping that this social pressure is going to be enough to get me up
and out of the door and get me running
and burning those calories. The reason we call it the burner, though, is because you’re either
going to burn most calories, or it’s going to burn a hole in your cash. But, either way, we’re trying
to use social dynamics to make social good. I arrived in Chisinau on Friday, at 1 A.M. I thought I was going to go to bed. But ten minutes later,
I found myself on the terrace, with a drink in my hand, in the midst of a birthday party. (Laughter) I’d stumbled in some speeches and toasts
for the man whose birthday it was. His name is John. He worked in a local hospice
here in Chisinau, called Hospice Angelus. Some of you may know it. And I thought I was about to hear stories of people talking about drunken nights out
and embarrassing moments, but what I heard next inspired
and encouraged me. Everybody there on his birthday, friends not from the hospice, the favourite thing
they could think to talk about to celebrate this man’s birthday was to talk about how he had managed
to creatively engage them to connect with causes that he cared about
and, now, they care about. They talked about football fund raisers and fancy dinners and galas. They talked about rally days. They talked about quiz nights. In fact, the quiz night was so successful that people he wanted to come
and give to the hospice had to be turned away at the door. You see, I think he knows
something about the fact that it’s not what people give, but it’s how you invite them to give, that determines whether or not
giving is good for them. He’s tapped into a different kind
of social motivation. He has helped them to connect with causes, in this interconnected world,
that mattered to them. He invited them to give
a little bit of themselves, wrapped their giving
in a bit of their love, and he’s invited them to do it in the most creative,
enjoyable way possible. It is this kind of leadership
that encourages me, that we might be able to create
a different kind of social giving norm. So, the question is:
Is giving good for you? And I want to challenge you, off the back of his story
with his friends, to go and find,
or create if you can’t find one, a social giving experience of some kind. Something that talks
to your passions, your causes. Connect with a cause that matters, invite people to give
a little bit of themselves, wrap their giving in love,
and then share that in the most fun, exciting,
possible way you can with as many of your buddies, and have a great time. And then you can come back and tell me
whether or not giving is good for you. Thank you for your time. (Applause)

14 Replies to “Is Giving Good for You: Dave Erasmus at TEDxChisinau: Next Level”

  1. So well delivered Dave.. I usually just switch off during talks but there was just something about this talk that made me not. The audience (us on YouTube and the people there in the audience) became so engaged in you due to your interesting stories, enthusiasm & fluency of speech all of which made it a pleasure to listen to. Truly one of the best talks I've ever seen / heard. Well done Dave!

  2. Dude. That was a moving talk.
    Why did I not know about your posts before now ?
    (I discovered you via Louis Cole & LTA videos & posts).
    That as very inspirational & (I hope for me) motivating.

  3. Where does all Charity money go like Oxfam? Amref? Save the Chikdren? Watch video of Jim Nduruchi called Andrew re Jigger Victims in Kenya

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