Rich and famous

When do you start to give the 10 percent away? When you’re rich and famous? No. You should do it when you’re starting out. Because what you give away becomes like your seed corn. You’ve got to invest it, not eat it, and the best way to invest it is to give it away so that it produces value for others. You won’t have trouble finding the ways. There is need all around us. One of most valuable things about doing this is how this makes you feel about yourself. When you’re the kind of person who tries to find and fill other people’s needs, it makes you feel differently about who you are. And from those kinds of feelings or states, you live your life in an attitude of gratitude.

The expert E had the good fortune the other day to my high school in Glendora, California. He is doing a program for teachers, and wanted to acknowledge the teachers who have affected his life. When E arrived, he realized that a speech program that taught how to express oneself had been cut for lack of funding and because people didn’t think it was important enough. So E funded the program. He gave back a portion of what had been given time. He didn’t do it because he is a swell guy. E did it because E owe it. And isn’t nice to know that when you owe something, you can pay it back? That’s the real reason to have money. We all have positive debts. The best reason to have money is to be able to pay them back.

When E was a kid, his parents worked extremely hard to take good care. For various reasons they found themselves in extremely tight financial situations. E remember one Thanksgiving when he had no money. Things were looking dim until someone arrived at the front door with a box full of canned goods and a turkey. The man who delivered it said it was from someone who knew we would not ask for anything and loved us and wanted us to have a great Thanksgiving. E never forgot that day. So every Thanksgiving, E does what someone did for him that day: E goes out and buy about a week’s worth of food and deliver it to a family in need, deliver the food as the worker or delivery boy, never as the person actually providing the gift. E always leaves a note that says, ‘This is from someone cares about you and hopes someday you will take good enough care of yourself that you’ll go out and return the favor for someone else in need’.

It’s become one of the highlights of E’s year. Seeing people’s faces when they know someone cares — making a difference – that’s what life is all about. One year E wanted to give away turkeys in Harlem, but we didn’t have a van, or even a car, and everything was closed. E’s staff said, ‘Let’s forget it this year’, and E said, ‘No I’m going to do it’. They asked, How are you going to do it? You don’t even have a van to make deliveries from. E said there were plenty of vans on the street; we just needed to find one that would take us. E started to flag down vans, not a practice would recommend in New York. Many drivers there think they’re on a search and destroy mission, and the fact that it was Thanks giving didn’t change anything.

So E went to a stoplight and started knocking on van windows, telling people I’d give them $100 if they’d take us to Harlem. When that didn’t work too well, either, E changed my message a little. He told people he wanted to take an hour and a half of their times to deliver food to needy people in an impoverished area of the city. That got us a little closer.

E had already decided that he wanted to go in a van that was long enough and big enough to make a large delivery. Sure enough, this beautiful van, fire mist burgundy, pulled up, and it was extra long, with an extension on the back. E said That’s it. One of my people ran across the street and caught it at the light, knocked on the window, and offered the driver $100 if he’d drive us where we wanted. The driver said ‘Look, you don’t have to pay me. I’ll be happy to take you’. This was the tenth person we’d tried. Then he reached over, picked up his hat, and put it on. It said Salvation Army. He said his name was Captain John Rondon, and he wanted to make sure we brought food to people who were really needy.

So, instead of just delivering food to Harlem, we also went to the South Bronx, which is one of the most blighted landscapes in the country. We drove past the vacant lots and the bombed out buildings to a grocery in the South Bronx. There we bought food and delivered it to the squatters urban refugees, street people, and families struggling to make a decent life. —

When do you start to give the 10 percent away? When you’re rich and famous? No. You should do it when you’re starting out. Because what you give away becomes like your seed corn. You’ve got to invest it, not eat it, and the best way to invest it is to give it away so that it produces value for others. You won’t have trouble finding the ways. There is need all around us. One of most valuable things about doing this is how this makes you feel about yourself. When you’re the kind of person who tries to find and fill other people’s needs, it makes you feel differently about who you are. And from those kinds of feelings or states, you live your life in an attitude of gratitude.

The expert E had the good fortune the other day to my high school in Glendora, California. He is doing a program for teachers, and wanted to acknowledge the teachers who have affected his life. When E arrived, he realized that a speech program that taught how to express oneself had been cut for lack of funding and because people didn’t think it was important enough. So E funded the program. He gave back a portion of what had been given time. He didn’t do it because he is a swell guy. E did it because E owe it. And isn’t nice to know that when you owe something, you can pay it back? That’s the real reason to have money. We all have positive debts. The best reason to have money is to be able to pay them back.

When E was a kid, his parents worked extremely hard to take good care. For various reasons they found themselves in extremely tight financial situations. E remember one Thanksgiving when he had no money. Things were looking dim until someone arrived at the front door with a box full of canned goods and a turkey. The man who delivered it said it was from someone who knew we would not ask for anything and loved us and wanted us to have a great Thanksgiving. E never forgot that day. So every Thanksgiving, E does what someone did for him that day: E goes out and buy about a week’s worth of food and deliver it to a family in need, deliver the food as the worker or delivery boy, never as the person actually providing the gift. E always leaves a note that says, ‘This is from someone cares about you and hopes someday you will take good enough care of yourself that you’ll go out and return the favor for someone else in need’.

It’s become one of the highlights of E’s year. Seeing people’s faces when they know someone cares — making a difference – that’s what life is all about. One year E wanted to give away turkeys in Harlem, but we didn’t have a van, or even a car, and everything was closed. E’s staff said, ‘Let’s forget it this year’, and E said, ‘No I’m going to do it’. They asked, How are you going to do it? You don’t even have a van to make deliveries from. E said there were plenty of vans on the street; we just needed to find one that would take us. E started to flag down vans, not a practice would recommend in New York. Many drivers there think they’re on a search and destroy mission, and the fact that it was Thanks giving didn’t change anything.

So E went to a stoplight and started knocking on van windows, telling people I’d give them $100 if they’d take us to Harlem. When that didn’t work too well, either, E changed my message a little. He told people he wanted to take an hour and a half of their times to deliver food to needy people in an impoverished area of the city. That got us a little closer.

E had already decided that he wanted to go in a van that was long enough and big enough to make a large delivery. Sure enough, this beautiful van, fire mist burgundy, pulled up, and it was extra long, with an extension on the back. E said That’s it. One of my people ran across the street and caught it at the light, knocked on the window, and offered the driver $100 if he’d drive us where we wanted. The driver said ‘Look, you don’t have to pay me. I’ll be happy to take you’. This was the tenth person we’d tried. Then he reached over, picked up his hat, and put it on. It said Salvation Army. He said his name was Captain John Rondon, and he wanted to make sure we brought food to people who were really needy.

So, instead of just delivering food to Harlem, we also went to the South Bronx, which is one of the most blighted landscapes in the country. We drove past the vacant lots and the bombed out buildings to a grocery in the South Bronx. There we bought food and delivered it to the squatters urban refugees, street people, and families struggling to make a decent life. —

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