April 2022


Let me set the scene

Two middle-aged people are set up on a blind date. She’s a busy advertising executive and he’s a businessman in town for a bunch of meetings. They block out 30 minutes to grab a cup of coffee and he’s 10 minutes late. One quick cappuccino later, she heads for the door, rushing back to the office to get to a meeting about raising money for underprivileged children in Uganda. He tries to match pace with her stiletto sprint, and at the end of their four-block race, he says, “My philosophy about donating money is that there are thousands of really good causes, but I look at the people leading the way and put my money in the people rather than the causes. I always bet on the people. You impress me and I’d like to make a donation.”

Best pick up line ever

That was my first date with David, who went on to become the love of my life.

Now you might think this blog is going to go on to dish about the best and worst first dates, crazy pick-up lines and the shocking truths about the dating world, but I’ll save those topics for more intimate audiences.

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Today I want to talk about who we support.

David did double supportive duty on that date, making me feel valued, and making a grant to an organization that I cared deeply about at the same time. He’d also be the first to admit that there was a bit of self-interest in his support of me and our organization – it certainly sealed the deal for a second date!

But given the number of worthy causes, his commitment to strong leaders got me thinking about who gives and why.

How do you decide where to put your time, energy, money and heart?

The last few years have proven to all of us that our intimate connections matter most. Family, friends, people who share our values and people whom we can trust with our hearts are centerfold.

Beyond that, many of us have been digging into issues and causes that matter to us, hoping to move the needle in some way. The challenge is that there are so many important causes, so many opportunities to make progress, so many issues to cover, freedoms to protect and values to uphold, it’s hard to know where to start.

In all of the conversations I’ve been having lately, I’ve been listening to people’s choices about how to move the needle forward in ways that matter to them.

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Focus on Impact

We interviewed Sam Bankman-Fried on the Bring a Friend Podcast last week, and we learned that he thinks about issues and causes in terms of where he can do the greatest good. His utilitarian philosophy for giving is that the issue or cause is less important than the potential to have a positive outcome. His is a quantitative and calculated approach about impact. In fact, he describes himself as an effective altruist, working nearly 24/7 to make as much money as he can so that he can give it away in areas where lasting solutions can happen.

Focus on Personal Connection

Another one of our past guests, Shabana Basij-Rasikh grew up in Afghanistan under Taliban rule and is on a life-long quest to nurture and educate Afghani women. As someone who was escorted to secret underground schools taught by brave women who were willing to risk their lives to educate the next generation of women, her philosophy about giving has been to make it her life’s work. SOLA (School of Leadership Afghanistan) is as personal as it gets, and over the past few months she has bravely rescued her students, teachers, administrators and their families as the Taliban regained power, creating a new home base for learning and keeping them safely sheltered in another country.

Focus on Issues

A third guest, Nicholas Sensley, grew up in one of New Orleans’ most challenged neighborhoods and experienced his fair share of violence and racism from the police force there. But he was unwilling to accept the divide between law enforcement and citizens, and followed a career in the police force himself. Prompted by the death of George Floyd, he parlayed his expertise into the Institute for American Police Reform. He founded it to create appreciation and respect on both sides of the law enforcement divide. His is an issues-based approach.

Trust in leaders.
Confidence about outcomes.
Connection to personal stories.
Upholding social values.

Many of us choose different ways to provide support

It doesn’t matter where you start – issues, outcomes or personal – just start. You’ll be moving the needle about something that makes the world a bit better – and you never know when it will come with added benefits.

Can you imagine the impact if all 10,000 people receiving this blog do one small something to lift others? It could be huge.

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Don’t keep your actions to yourself!

Share it Small: The research we did for The Parlay Effect showed that there’s an exponential impact when something kind or generous is witnessed by others because people replicate what they see. So even your smallest action will trigger a ripple effect of good.

Share it Big: Create a challenge of your own! Maybe forward this email to five friends who also can have impact. Whether they join you for a cause, contribute to have greater impact or are inspired by the leaders who inspire you, you’re building momentum that feels good and does good too.

Share it with Me: We all learn from each other. If you have had a revelation, a breakthrough, an insight, or a triumph, we can learn from you so please tell me about it here! I’m collecting stories of these cascades of good for ongoing community building and to track The Parlay Effect in action. I would love nothing better than to hear how you lifted, were lifted, or observed something in others that made you feel good and recognize your own power.