On Friday I was invited to Oxford University at the Skoll Centre as part of their confessions of an entrepreneur, to talk about Risk to a bunch of talented MBA types.


I spoke about Magnitudes and Manifestations of risk.

Magnitudes : personal // operational // existential 

Manifestations  : physical // emotional // social // intellectual // financial 

This was a poem I opened the session with in an effort to embody the message I wanted to convey, going to oxford and reading a poem you wrote one hour before is risky for me!

Screenshot 2015-12-14 15.25.43

*drop of self, helps NOT ‘myself help’

Whilst writing this blog I have come to the conclusion the best metaphor for good ambitious leaders are shining stars, able to tolerate and thrive with unusual magnitudes  and manifestations of risk.

PS. Do not judge the quality of the diagram by the incompetance of its aesthetics :)……..ok you can if you want 🙂

Star Leaders

1. personal  // 2, operational // 3. existential

4. physical // 5. emotional // 6. intellectual // 7. social // 8. financial

I think somebody who is able to display unusual capacity in the above areas is most likely to be able to withstand the longer more difficult legs of the journey required for founders and leaders.

The most enjoyable part of the talk however was moving on to existential risks,  My journey has continued to evolve and change over the years and whilst being in San Francisco this year and getting up close and personal with the future of technology I have become quite intrigued by what the biggest risks to our extinction are that something can be done about and I could be helpful to.

I will go into this in much greater detail sharing my thoughts on beliefs but for now I will leave you with a lecture that inspired and encouraged me that my line of questioning is not without merit.


Screenshot 2015-12-21 12.55.12I am currently working on a poem project and looking to get it poetically translated into languages but can’t do it so need help. I trust you guys to carry the essence and resonance of the poem better than google can 🙂

If you are fluent in english but have another native tongue and feel you can capture the essence of the poems in your mother tongue then please go for it. I will have to trust you as I don’t speak your language so please take care as I will use the first version I receive from each language,

When I receive translations I will add them on this blog so you know what is no longer needed, Please send translations to hello@solvey.com

Currently in :








Let me introduce myself

David Andrew Erasmus

Son of Andries Stefanus David

A quarter Afrikaana  and 3 quarters from the valleys

I grew up at Jesus cross now I’m exploring silicon valley.

I grew up never feeling lost, now I’m losing it in Cali.

If you know me from a year ago you don’t know me at all,

If you view me on the internet your view of me is old.

See my digital self, is my networking wealth

It’s the dust in the tracks where my essence had health,

It’s crumbs… for hansel and gretles,

Nostalgic, like the dust when it settles.

I might be 29 but I’m not a has-been,

I’m barely getting started,

I’ve been waiting at the lights and they’ve just turned green.

If I talk about shedding my skin you might think it sounds a little shady,

But it’s natural, biological if I didn’t I’d be lazy.

See every 30 days part of our heart becomes brand new,

Why is that our mentalities are not so easily renewed.

Press ok, on your operating update,

Shut your history folder, be present and here me say’ ,

It’s nice to meet you,  tell me, what is your name?

What’s the point?

What’s the point?

Did anyone tell you?

Coz In school I heard lots but nothing big to chew through.

No one said, what this work gets made for,

what the arithmetic and algorithms should build the foundations for?

What’s the point?

I would ask my teachers frequently,

who were teaching the what without the why which made no sense to me.

I tried to sit sensibly but the science becomes boringwhen you don’t connect its spirituality

What’s the point?

This sentence Got me in to trouble,

the system ain’t designed for questions and the detentions got doubled,

branded arrogant and talkative I was inconvenient in class,

another mark upon the board every question I asked

What’s the point?

To love to care, to follow Jesus, to learn to share?

To avoid offense? To love parents, to dance in the kitchen in our underwear?

What do you want from me? What do you need?

Give me a story that I can believe?

What is the point?

I will shout and I will scream till the mountains crumble and whisper to me,

look at the flowers and see how they breathe.

The point my friend, is written in their leaves

What if? 

What if Love is the answer?

What if God is Love?

What if God is the Great Unknown?

What if the Great Unknown is bigger than we thought?

What if we know less than we thought?

What if some of what we know in science and religion is wrong?

What if being undignified, embarrassed and humiliated for love were success?

What If I am the Peadophile?

What if it is our calling to design and build society as if Love is the answer?

What if ‘good’ wasn’t enough but sacrifice and suffering are the expectation?

What if ‘We’ was more natural than ‘I’ and ‘you’

What if ‘we’ wasn’t just who we could see or who could hurt us?

What if Control is the opposite of Love?

What if hate and anger are not to be feared but subordinated to break ground for Compassion to grow?

What if our conversations are the wrong conversations?

What if Jesus’ cross was not meant to get in the way of our connection to the Father.

What if we have been waiting around for role models but they have run out?

What if we are actually lazy, risking very little when we think we are risking a lot?

What if we took the Litany of Humility Seriously?

What if we acted like we really believed that Love was the answer to any question being asked by anyone at anytime?

What if we applied that to the Military, to Economics, and Businesses, to government to our Families, to our Innovations, to our language to our art?

What if Heaven is here?

What if we are ‘missing it’ because everyone agreed we were doing ‘ so good’?

What if I am the problem?

What if I am wrong?

What if you despise me?

But what if I believed that Love is the Answer?

What if I would go down down with the Ship?

What if I would fly past, at 100 miles an hour by the power of the wind dressed only in a bed sheet with my butt naked in friends faces not because I wanted to offend but because I was born to go fast with the wind?

What if I am not doing my bit?

What if not being sure whether I am isn’t quite good enough?

What if Love is the Answer?

What if Love really is the Answer?

What if we basked in the beauty of the unknown?

What if I had integrity with what I believed?

What if I actually shared this post with you?

What if we shared in this post together?

What if we talked and joked about this post and drew doodles together?

What if those doodles became designs?

Those designs got sponsors?

Those sponsors got funding?

And  the funding got stuff built?

What if it worked and produced numbers?

And the numbers stacked up?

What if Love is the answer?


Where can I go to find your wonder?

Tell me. where can I go to get some awe?

I have a fire on my inside and it is starving for oxygen, and a leaking bucket desperate to be held.

I used to know what to do, what songs to sing what words to read, but they don’t work anymore, they limit me and they limit you. They are Christmas cards with shiny faces nothing like the real thing.

I want the real thing.

I have expanded the mind that you have given me, I have explored other cultures, tried desperately to understand the way things work, I have alienated myself from everyone, but I still need to connect to you. I have to be one with your sentience,

there is nothing that I have found in science or religion, in work or in rest that sings to my soul and resonates like an earthquake in my bones as your presence, your spirit, your love. I desire to worship with reverence and fear, with trembling and shaking at the enormity of your eternity, I want to be one speck on the body of the universe.

To merely observe you changes my state,

I want to be dumbfounded, made to feel insignificant yet meticulously known.

Who can show me this experience? Who can crash like the mighty ocean or sparkle like the burning stars? Who can blind me with a blink of light and flood the oceans with one drop from my eye?

You are love, you are here, you are my presence, you are yesterday today and tomorrow you are omnieverything. Space and time are your origami, you fold them as you like into beautiful shapes just for us so that we can recognize their beauty and potential.

Your grace is enough.

Your love bowls me over like a strike in an alley

Why would I settle for anything less?

I will find new ways to worship,

To connect, kneel down and to be Ernest

To be put in my place, to feel safe in the furnace

You are the presence, the peace and the purpose.

The Affect

So once more I stand and I ask you to see,

What’s in your hands, who can it free?

Take your feelings and cloth them in action

Bottle your tears & observe your reaction

We don’t need great acts from above but simple steps, done in great love, clothed in the silk of the still great unknown, we act, it echoes, how far we don’t know, but echo it does and mountains will move. butterflies flap by, we say ‘isn’t that cute’.

But What if our voices are like butterflies wings, they magnify and tear down the strongest of things. What if the further away our voice goes it doesn’t become silent but rumbles and grows. Even if inaudible to our human range, what if dogs go crazy as they hear their name?

I couldn’t care less where you are from, or whether you know the words to the song

‘But do you withhold good to whom it’s due, when it’s well within your power to do?’

On this enquires your souls honest truth,

If you do it then I’ll be right there with you.


Thanks guys, please also submit your preferred online tag so I can credit you in the work.




NB : This is a post I wrote in Feb but guess I wasn’t ready to post, well sorry old version of me…its going!!  🙂

‘Stop being so sensitive!’

This is one of the most debilitating things that people have said to me.
I often feel ‘too much’ especially for people in England.

Growing up, along side this sense of being ‘too much’ I was often called arrogant which I began to hate especially as I realised that there was much truth in the accusation.

5 years ago I found the most important talk that gave me a simple, idea, question and focus to work on to make sure that I was engaging with my arrogance as often as possible, This idea is vulnerability, described beautifully by Brene Brown.

When I realised that for me that the answer to my arrogance was vulnerability and that vulnerability leads to feelings, not all of which are desirable but all important. I began to view my sensitive side in a different light. From this place I started to create things like this track, tears of the strong.

Around this time I also had an amazing girlfriend who taught me a great deal about the beauty and importance of being sensitive, from teaching me to notice the different kinds of bubbles in sparkling wine as it rolled over my tongue to watching how she noticed, felt and dealt with the tiniest of insects.

I have also noticed that the 5 most deeply creative people that I know are all deeply emotional and sensitive and in many cases to senses like touch, light and audio.

The Question came to my mind recently, ‘Is sensitivity synonymous with Intelligence’?

(physiology) The ability of the cell to receive and respond to a stimulus.

Ken Robinson’s book ‘The element’ discusses intelligence and talks about the different Senses.

He quite rightly helps us reframe our questions from ‘Am I Intelligent’ to ‘In what way am I intelligent’ which exhibits a better appreciation for the multi-dimensional facets of intelligence. And points to the holistic understanding of its application in asking ‘ Can I deal effectively with my situation?’

We know our phones are getting much ‘cleverer’ because they are able to sense and analyse complex sensory data, visual, auditory social and geographical amongst much else.

Any connoisseur or expert demonstrates their speciality often not just through knowledge but also though an unusual ability to pay attention to the intricacies of their subject and in many cases to create something unique.

Children with autism often have to cover their ears as some experience sensory inputs

For example a wine lover can tell many different layers within a wine showing complex understanding of fruit, age, storage and timings. An exceptional dancer differentiates themselves from an average dancer through their control and precision which requires great power and strength.

I know very many genius people who the world would consider the pathological definition of irritable to apply ‘undue susceptibility to the influence of a stimulus.’

My question is who gets to decide what an ‘undue’ response is.

Whilst I have met a very many sensitive intelligent people I am yet to meet a numb, unreactive person who I feel exhibits the capacity for intelligent responses to complex scenarios.

Therefore it leads me again to the question
Is intelligence synonymous with the term sensitivity?

There are great many differences in peoples understandings of intelligence http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence although all point in some way to an overall ability to manage ones situation

This is also demonstrated in Nassim Taleb’s work on Anti-fragility http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antifragile where he talks about the acute difference between things that have a concave or convex response to volatility.

Taking one day at a time.
Learning skills not tasks, so for example learning to articulate your real feelings rather than learning a quote from someone else about the analysis of their feelings.

Thinking for ourselves, trusting the rules less.

In my speed awareness course (Whoops) we were asked to grade ourselves out of 10 as a driver and raised my hand and said that honestly I feel I go from a 3 to an 8 purely dependant on my aggregate ability to attend to the task at hand. In this way I think I was saying my level of driving intelligence fluctuates dramatically based on my ability to attend to it.

On the basis our intelligence is a moving target the question ‘Am I intelligent?’ is completely inadequate.

I prefer the question ‘ In what conditions and contexts can I perform most intelligently?’

What if the goal of education was to help students to embrace their sensitivities and to build upon them?

In what environment am I likely to fulfil my capacity to love and contribute the best I can offer?

I think there is a bell curve where the level of sensors becomes too great either for our other sensors or indeed for our context, eg those around us. The first is a problem but the second you can find others in your hyper sensitive tribe.

My IQ relates to verbal reasoning and mental arithmetic which I describe as real-time thinking. I can talk at the same rate to which I think which I believe to be a blessing.

Through two conversations on Thursday night with friends donovan and holly I realised that all this time my ‘specialist subject’ that I am attempting to train for is volatility in the words of Nassim Taleb. I am always trying learn by doing a bit in new concepts and areas all the time and I want to be the best prepared to act when nobody else can, because it is what I have trained for.

I have done many talks and youtube videos http://youtube.com/daveerasmus but I always do hard, fresh content, never want to repeat myself in business, music, or conversation. this is a problem as people only really get paid and praised when they get good at something and specialise.

When I mix my natural intelligences, experiences and desire to stay close to a lifestyle of vulnerability the only thing I can think of is facilitating and experience where we are all locked in for a period of time and together, in the room discuss and experience whatever feels most real, no plan or preparation, just a desire to experience something real and honouring, to go deeper and connect. I would be limited only by my experience and skills so probably using dance and music to try and illustrate points that I am trying make as they are the tools I can use.

This, to me is SCARY AS SHIT – I can be seen as arrogrant and cultish, self important and pompass.
Also people may not enjoy it or understand it as I have no precedent for it. There is nowhere to hide. This is what feels vulnerable, this feels like something only I would do and it feels like the best use of my Sensitivities.

5 Tips for getting donations on Youtube!

You may have seen this video where I was doing a workshop and interviewed an amazing young man named Amaar, I also wanted to see what effects the Beta donation tools on youtube would yield.

I will look at the engagement data and donation data to see what we can learn.

Viewed in 10 days by 2,500 people around 2,000 of those were my subscribers

50% male and 50% female

50& UK & US and 50% 91 other countries

Video was 7m 30 in duration with no adverts served.

Average view duration 3m47

The donation flow is amazingly simple,

You are watching a video, and at a specified time, ideally well timed with the content, a small box, known as a card teaser appears for a few seconds in the top right hand corner.

Screenshot 2015-12-01 08.20.25

If you click this teaser you get shown the full card overplayed on your video

Screenshot 2015-12-01 08.23.59

Cards can be used to link out to a number of 3rd party sites for donations or crowdfunding which you can see here https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6083754 including Givey!

This new Beta functionality is the first time you can use cards to donate through Google’s own system without leaving youtube! you can give to virtually any US registered not for profit, for free (fees covered by google) with their partners http://www.networkforgood.com.

Screenshot 2015-12-01 07.27.09

A draw back that has to be noted is that in some cases the money will not reach the charity you picked, in fairness this is highly unlikely http://www.networkforgood.com/about/privacy/

Screenshot 2015-12-01 08.33.40

It only really happens if charity turns out to be dodgy or they don’t have payment details for them, which is apparent in the long tail of small charities but medium and large are all good to go.

– When you click the card you are presented with the following donation opportunity to Donate, pretty cool! although shame they can’t do $1 micro-donations.

You can then complete your card details in context without leaving youtube!!

So what did we find?

My First donation call was @ 5m 2/3 way through and 60% saw it.

Second call was @ 6m30 and only 30% of the audience saw it.

They were both visual and audible as well as technically in context

Screenshot 2015-12-01 07.30.35

In hindsight I think half way through video is latest to make a call to action.

Some other general engagement learnings whilst I am at it,

My average retention of viewers is as follows…

60% for dancing videos

50% for poems

40% for interviews

What is interesting is these styles get longer in format and lower in retention.

With an average view time of around 2m30 regardless of length as longer videos have this lower retention.

I lost 30% in 30 seconds in this video  – this is fairly common for me and below average performance as per below,

Screenshot 2015-12-01 07.54.26

You can see this is not normal as it is significantly below average on the average youtube video

Screenshot 2015-12-01 07.56.18

Even though it picks up over time

Screenshot 2015-12-01 07.54.48

I was half asleep, I think I need to work harder on engaging introductions, maybe some cool titles or higher energy or a hook to the end of video.

Now on to the actual donation card data, this is where it gets new and interesting…

Firstly, It worked! Hoorah!!!

This is where it gets interesting…

Screenshot 2015-12-01 08.05.44

Screenshot 2015-12-01 08.07.08

Whilst both times I asked verbally and a cheeky teaser popped up and a similar amount, around 7% clicked to expand it.

A whopping 70% went on to click ‘donate now’  in the first call out, but a measly 3.5% clicked on the second call out.

This is HUGE 20X LESS engagement on repeating the request. 

This shows me that it is not worth doing the second but the introduction of cards is a big deal and worked amazingly well!!

Also more importantly $73.55 was raised through card 1. THANKYOU PEOPLE 🙂

And a big fat donut – zero was raised through card 2, adding more fuel to my fire!!

This means I raised approximately $30 per thousand views! – 10x more than the equivalent advertising CPM.

Screenshot 2015-12-01 17.14.33

It is also worth noting that both calls massively out performed the other ‘card test’ I had done promoting a musician whose music I used in the back of a poem! even though the poem video had more than double the views. – Clearly there was no verbal or visual accompaniment which I would think contributed considerably.

The final call to action I tried was a normal annotation with a link to doctors without borders on Givey, this was in the final 30 seconds where engagement was already down to 28%, I wanted to see the CTR.

Screenshot 2015-12-01 08.47.15

Estimated 700 viewers and 28 viewers clicked to Givey ,  = 4% roughly CTR

8 sessions on givey clicked the action button = 28.5%

i am surprised at the level of conversion, I guess viewers who make it to the end of content are more committed therefore probably statistically more likely to take action than a random viewer in first 30 seconds.

There are many pros and cons of internal vs 3rd party donations on youtube which I will go into in another blog but all in all felt like a very nice on site experience and am really proud to be a part of this exploratory work with youtube for good.

These are the first 5 questions this experiment throws up for me…

  1. What happens if you change the donation text on card?
  2. What happens if you change small donation default?
  3. What happens if you should how many others have given?
  4. What happens if you allow user to ‘add donation history to G+ profile’ both to share now and store a giving frequency.
  5. What happens if we A/B split test Google VS Givey

I will leave you with a few personal learnings that you could implement too!

5 Conclusions and Tips for Youtube Donation Videos with Cards.

  1. Make really exciting opening 30 seconds
  2. Make primer message to make user feel ready
  3. Make donation visual, audible and Card call at 2/3 minutes
  4. Keep video length to less than 5 minutes
  5. Use outro to thank people, link to more info and invite to share

I can’t wait for the next step of this : )

Let me know any thoughts you have or curiosities that were not satisfied?