This, a phrase written by a dear friend is all too true for me at the moment as I am living on California time, 9 hours behind my girlfriend in London.
It is not that Kate and I can’t find any time to talk,In fact we speak most days on facetime and whats app, the challenge is the mindset, energy levels and intensity disparity that come with falling asleep versus downing the second flat white of the morning!
Yesterday I spent the morning putting the world to rights with a deeply clever man named George who is a historical african map specialist. This is one of the original maps of part of Africa, early 16th Century.
After learning about counting, imaginary numbers, mapping and hearing his views that there is no true learning other than self learning, I took the opportunity to share my thoughts above and he helped move the ideal along and think about longitude as an appropriate tool for grouping people.
We found a longitudinal map showing population here and then overlaid it with 7 potential zones. The latitudinal one was less interesting as it was grouped more heavily and sits more in alignment with current disproportionate wealth distribution trends.
This morning I am looking at all the 24 timezones and think that more or less I have group 3 hour timezones together to make 7 timezone groups
Time is the only true currency. No matter what your situation, age or education, if we are still breathing we all wake up under the same sun and have choices what to do with the day.
In the complex world we now live in I think that timezone grouping is much more natural than countries, continents or languages.
My brain is fried, next blog I will do the precise groupings and precede to give the zones names – Any ideas are very welcome.
We are currently having a great time working with OneWave the guys who grabbed the Solvey Spotlight this year but I have to say I am very excited about many of the Solvey applicants who have continued to move forwards with their ideas and I am loving that some of them are keeping me in the loop!
Take Mac Rithvik for example, a 15 year old lad from Bangalore who is working on a way of killing bacteria through a hardware plugin to a smartphone.
When he applied to Solvey with the experiment he had done he said that he could only kill around 75% of the bacteria and this solution is only interesting if equal to hand sanitizer solution of 99.9%
I asked him could you get it to 99.9%? He said yes
I asked ‘What would it take for you to get to 99.9%? He said a $10 part.
He sent me the link, I ordered him the part and he emailed me back!
I cannot wait to see what he does next, I have no idea where this journey will lead but working with genius people who appreciate the help is an absolute delight when I have spent so much of my time trying to work with charities who frankly don’t want it.
Solvey is not a competition it is a community.
A community of smart risk takers who dare to put themselves and their ideas out there for the sake of others, not because they are right or because it will work but because it is good work and its fun! 🙂
I think more than business, or charity, or social enterprise I am just getting excited about helping people with good ideas and good intent take one exponential meaningful step forwards in their project.
I look forward to sharing plenty more stories like Rithvik’s with you as they take a step 🙂
I will make a video soon to show the journey so far including the massive experience of bringing OneWave to Vidcon but here I want to articulate the themes of work needed and how we can all work on this together!
But first a few frames for the work :
The Goal of Solvey is to try to help scale wise solutions using the internets capital.
The 3 key aspects to the internets capital I refer to are :
1. Intelligence 2. Financial 3. Social
All 3 are required to accelerate an ideas journey to get good, get built and get spread.
The Goal is NOT to try and raise as much money as possible especially from individuals to grow onewave into a big entity. The entity, or corporate structure should only be supported if it in turn serves the purpose of serving those who need help.
The goal is to solve the lack of effective support for those with mental health issues around the world. The scale of the One Wave work may not even be achieved from within the charities activities. Good ideas are far bigger than one ‘registered vehicle’ and to treat them as anything less limits their ability to change the world.
In the first Solvey video Louis & I said the following…
“We want to get behind them with all the stuff we are doing. We have the networks and the platforms and we know some things”
What does this actually mean?
We have identified 3 streams of work that we believe can help develop the OneWave project and take it to the next level
1. Help develop the scientific and economic argument that underpins OneWave
– We hope this will unlock bigger partners and other forms of capital from grant makers, foundations and government bodies.
2. Help get funds for new and risky work like new locations & activities
– Through the givey community we hope to get enough capital for One Wave to keep taking risks on their newest and most exciting work
3. Increase exposure by telling story to our friends to create new connections
– By sharing and endorsing OneWave’s work we will create new connections completing the loop allowing this process to continue to develop and expand.
The first involves all of our intelligence, the second involves our money and the third involves our social influence. Doing the work in points 1 & 2 unlocks the stories that makes it natural for us to share according to point 3.
This is Joel, Emily, Emma and me in our first video call to start talking about the real work!
After our call on tuesday I will try and make a full video to pull together all that has happened since we found the OneWave boys.
I thought I would run this whole #solvey process on my blog to ‘show my working rather than produce one surprise result.
Firstly a few notes on what I have noticed. Really young average applicant age, good balance between girls and guys, reasonable global response although western dominates and disproportionately white focused. All applications were in english which again is evidence of our implicit biases and constraints.
I threw out a tweet yesterday saying
I find it interesting to see that I got hit with around 100 ‘favourite’ tweets but all for just four projects out of the 80. Typically ones where young people had already gone out and done something good and possibly already have a fundraising / activist community rallied around them.
To me this is an interesting dilemma as I want to support the quietest voice with the loudest idea, I want to support the person who is daring most greatly! Even if not one person has ever listened to them before. BUT having said that, showing that someone can create momentum around their idea also shows fantastic leadership skills. Social media can be little more than an echo chamber, amplifying people and ideas who already have a foothold in our society.
This is why I think the ‘winner’ of The Solvey Project shouldn’t be the idea that simply has the most ‘sellable’ idea, the most supporters, the nicest video. or coolest brand.
As Michael Green states in my interview with him, his ‘Biggest critique of philanthropy is it doesn’t take enough risks.
The most efficient role I see for philanthropy or ‘giving’ in society is as insane risk capital to invest in the least well resourced people with the craziest world changing ideas. Therefore I though Givey and the #solvey project want to find the person with a quiet voice who has the loudest idea and give them the stage.
Risk is called risk for a reason. By taking this approach the person we support may not succeed in the way that we hoped but I believe this to be the most holistically helpful direction we can head in for the Givey community to leverage our small contributions to make the biggest change in society.
The only way I think the Solvey Project will fail is if we choose a safer project with a bigger person or smaller idea because we think we will be more likely to save face. I wrote this recently when speaking to a group in Derry / Londonderry in Northern Ireland….
This was an experience I had in February in Havana, Cuba which I could only describe as Serendipitous, after only a couple hours of arriving, and 5 minutes after meeting 2 men with a guitar and a bottle of rum on the street, the following happened, and trigger finger Louis caught it on camera.
No sooner had we started our first impromptu salsa lesson and singing our first song did a choir of 8 other random people arrive all singing and dancing at the exact right time! – I get the goosies when I think about it.
Now you could call this random, it’s random that a guy had a guitar, it’s random that people knew the song, it’s random that louis had his camera on at that moment…or is it?
Sometimes the stars align and these are the moments we crave for. We certainly cannot control or manufacture them but we sure can optimise for them, internally and externally.
Think about fishing, finding a partner or playing poker. All of these activities sure need a special unexpected ‘pleasant surprise’ but the fact is, if you are fishing in a bathtub, looking to find a wife on grindr or playing poker with your eyes shut you are minimising the chances for serendipity.
The reality is that certain spaces are designed for certain behaviours and activities, and our decisions are far more conditioned by our environments than we would like to admit.
Cuba’s communist economy means that my 30 minute taxi ride to the airport cost more than the driver earns in a day and more than his wife earns being a teacher in a month! This along with government controls and the US trade embargo means that people are not addicted to consumerism and the mutant form of capitalism we have come to accept as somewhat normal. This means people don’t work too hard which means they have time to create, which means I found it to be the most culturally rich place I have ever been on the planet. With dancing, music and art coming out of every corner of the city.
I had never heard the spanish song our guy was playing but I now know it is called ‘Bailando’ by Enrique Inglesias which means dance in spanish. In the last year on youtube this song has had 900,385,902 people watch it! Almost a billion views, and Its narrative plays straight to the core of the dominant culture in the spanish speaking land of Cuba.
When the economic system, the cultural narrative and the social consciousness are all aligned you have the external conditions for a serendipitous moment to occur. Combine that with camera ready, travelling content makers, Louis, Raya and Myself, ready to say yes to opportunity and conditions are perfect for magic to happen.
Was this a random event? or was it to be expected?
I would say it is in the air, this was Cuba making moments it has been designed to make, and everyone enjoyed playing their part naturally and beautifully.
I could bore you with many stories of why I think that the culture of your environment matters a lot in creating serendipity to lead to something special but instead I just want to tell you about the awesome day I had yesterday that I think is a fair example of the dominant themes in San Francisco.
I started the day on the 45 minute caltrain journey writing the full lyrics to a track a producer friend had sent me the day before. My first meeting was with @12_fps studio discussing a project that Louis and I are planning in a couple of weeks, this awesome conversation with Dwight led in 5 different directions, with loads of connections from accommodation to startup advice to showing him the track and lyrics, it also led him to giving me a lift to my next meetings at Salesforce.com. A completely different space yet with the energy he gave me I was feeling good and it turns out that the exec I was meeting is married to a musician so was happy to hear about my creative projects as well as discussing some seriously awesome ideas to scale Givey in the US and UK. Leaving this meeting even more pumped with momentum I text Dwight saying ‘hey do you happen to be around tonight to record the track?
He said yes! He pulled in @trapexoid and a few beers and we made something happen, it was difficult, the first time I have tried laying words to a track in a studio but they are pro’s and we wiggled through, and it felt amazing to get this whole thing done in a day, AND it made me better in my business meetings!!!
(The track is done but I can’t show you as the original hasn’t even come out yet – I will update the blog when I can show you for sure)
For me, this is serendipity.
Being able to explore my creative side, and develop our business with the right partners in the right place. It is a beautiful thing when every part of who you are helps you make progress and build momentum rather than feeling if I am doing anything other than obvious business then I am being lazy or distracted.
It seems to me that the optimum conditions for serendipity, are firstly ‘internally’ when we pursue our passions, and relationships and put ourselves on the line for the things we care about and secondly, ‘externally’ when we place ourselves in an environment that is designed to produce things we are aiming towards.
This is not the first goosebump day I have had in SF and I am doubtful it is the last as it is not random or even a pleasant surprise that amazing productive things are happening as I am lucky enough to be currently experiencing optimum conditions both internally and externally for serendipity.