How to Change The World with 200 Books — You Decide (plus Finalists of the Endless Summer Competition!) 114 Comments
My view from three hours ago in Fortuna, Costa Rica: Volcano Arenal (Photo from Arenal.net)
One of the most common questions I get is: what now? Following the book, what’s my next project? I have a few interesting ideas brewing, but one is bigger than all the rest combined: double the number of science majors in the US by 2012.
I want to change the world. But fundamentally overturning US education will some serious lateral thinking and allies. First things first…
Is it possible to start with just 200 books? I think it is.
No one expected the 4HWW to do what it’s done — least of all me — and I’ll like to give a little something back, something that might catalyze a domino-effect of entrepreneurial and innovative thinking.
Here’s the question I’d need your help with: where should I donate these first 200 books for the greatest effect? In other words, if you had 200 copies of the 4HWW and wanted to change the world, where would you send them?
To keep it manageable, I’d like to mail them in bundles of 25 books or more. I’ve thought of the Kauffman Institute, tradeshows where CEOs attend, undergraduate or high school entrepreneurship classes, as well as at-risk youth programs, but the question is: specifically who should I mail these to for a large ripple effect?
I post this question because I believe that crowdsourcing answers will get me much better results than operating on my guesswork and best estimates.
What do you think?
Finalists for the Endless Summer Competition:
Before I announce the chosen 10, please note two important points…:
1. The judges and I all wished we could have selected at least 100 people. The most common thread was education, whether done in-person, via books, or through documentaries. The 200+ submissions we read were incredible and all worth pursuing.
2. Given the above thread, and as encouragement to everyone who participated, I will be e-mailing a $25 gift certificate for Donors Choose to everyone who submitted an entry (not just a comment) before the deadline on June 15th at 12pm ET. Donors Choose, partially backed by Pierre Omidyar, the co-founder of eBay, offers anyone the chance to fund class projects — ranging from crayons to field trips — posted by public school teachers. And you get thank you letters from the students! How cool is that? It’s feels great and is addictive. These will be sent late next week. Please share your experiences in the comments!
Here are the 10 finalists, in no particular order:
2. Robert Prieto
4. Brenda Wehrman
5. Jeff Quick
6. David Bachman
9. Dawn G.
10. Brian McCormick
Evaluating more than 200 pages of submissions took a lot longer than we expected! For that reason, voting for the grand prize winner will be extended until 5 PM (PT), FRIDAY, JULY 13. Please find the finalist essays below and vote for your favorite here!
For you finalists, please put “ENDLESS SUMMER FINALIST” in the subject line and send your mailing addresses to my assistant at xxx [at] fourhourworkweek [dot] com for your DVDs. Encourage your friends to vote and cross your fingers! You could be headed off to change yourself and the world.
Happy Independence Day to all!
I turned 21 and got my electrical engineering degree within the last three weeks, switching from full-time student to full-time improviser.
I’ll spend the next few years on the engineering campuses of universities in 6 different countries: Japan, Germany, China, India, Uganda, and the Philippines. I wouldn’t be studying in them; I’d be studying them, immersing myself into the local cultures of making.
It’s the beginning of a quest to turn people into hackers (definition 7) and hackers into teachers; first I need to learn about how hackers are made (and why they aren’t – as a disabled minority female from the developing world in open-source engineering, I want to level the playing field until people like me are not an anomaly).
I’ll shoot documentaries (making my first now) and write blogs, books, and research journals about engineering education (a woefully underexplored subject) and teach classes (on local campuses, open to all) on open-source hardware, software, and content development. Everything will be released under an open license; much will feed into the curriculum and library work I’m already doing for the OLPC project.
A special focus of my open-source hardware design will be devices that can be used by the handicapped but aren’t made for the handicapped – bluetooth headsets as hearing aids, webcams as pointers, making devices for everyone that just happen to be assistive for the few who need it. Growing up severely hearing-impaired, I shunned gadgets that marked me as deaf. Now an engineer, I want to create devices without stigma and release the technologies into the public domain.
I would train my speech (muffled from 19 years with poor aural feedback) so I can teach clearly. I’d learn jazz piano (I play classical), and cooking chemistry. I’d sit in the shade with a lemonade and a friend, talking about learning and life – and then plunge back in to live it.
If I was already doing all but the travel as a full-time student, what more could I do with another 36 hours a week? I’m finding out right now.
2. Robert Prieto-
My passion is helping underprivileged and/or abused children. Two years ago, I started a program for children right here in San Jose.
Each year, about two weeks before Christmas, we take underprivileged children Christmas shopping. Each child is chosen by their Teacher, Principal or Counselor, based on improvement in their grades, attitude or their willingness to do good deeds for others.
Each child is granted a $150 shopping spree at the local Target store on Capitol Avenue near McKee Road. On the morning of the shopping spree, Target opens early just for our group. The parents of these children bring their child to the store and turn them over to one of our volunteers, who then take the children shopping. This is so the child is free to choose what they really want without any outside influence. In my experience, most of these children buy for family first and use what’s left over to get something special for themself.
In our inaugural year, we raised enough money to take 115 children shopping. Last year, we were able to take 211 and this year, I have set our goal at 300 children. Needless to say, I am working very hard to raise the $45,000 necessary to make this happen.
So, what would I do if I had an extra 36 hours per week? I would dedicate it to travelling up and down the state of California and getting this program started in several communities. That is my goal over the next twelve months. After getting it going in several places here in California, I would use the time to start branching out to other states.
The thing I like most (besides helping the kids) is that every one who helps out on this project is a volunteer, so every dollar we raise for this fund goes directly to the children. All donations are 100% tax-deductible as this is a 501(c)3 fund. Yes, I’m always fund-raising, but it’s for a good cause.
Three years ago a Fortune 500 CEO asked me from across the diner table, “What will you do if you don’t get this job?” My answer left him staring at me with his moth open so I could see the mash potatoes he was eating. It all seemed quite logical to me. If I didn’t get hired, I would have taken my horse and ridden it from Canada to Mexico through the heart of the Rockies along the Continental Divide Trail.
He wanted more background an so I informed him that, tracing the backbone of America, the 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail, also known as the King of Trails, runs the length of the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Mexico. The King of Trails runs through, 5 states, 20 Wildernesses, 3 National Parks, 1 National Monument, 25 National Forests, and 8 BLM land areas comprising areas tread by Lewis and Clark, roamed by Jim Bridger and Kit Carson, and inhabited by Native Americans more than 5,000 years ago. Scores of individuals have ridden horseback across the continent but none have completed that CDT traipsing across some of Americans most rugged and beautiful terrain.
“Who would hire you after that?” he wanted to know. No one at all. I would use the ride to garner publicity and fundraising for a ranch where struggling teens could learn about hard work, dedication, and responsibility. These teens would come from, and return to, some of the most difficult environments: broken homes, inner cities, crime and drug use. However, they would return with new skill sets, skills that would form a foundation where other life lessons can be learned. Theses life lessons will help them rise above undesirable situations to become happy, fulfilled and giving adults.
Three years have passed and I’m up for a significant promotion. My new boss asked me, “What will you do if you don’t get this promotion?” Interestingly, I have had the answer for over three years for a question asked only moments ago. In fact, I did get the promotion, but I might just do this anyway.
4. Brenda Wehrman-
Due to growing up in the tropical jungles of Papua New Guinea amongst reformed cannibals and my work in other third-world nations, I’m often asked for financial assistance. But there is a limit to what one person can do. Besides, despite over US$80 billion in foreign aid last year, most will remain in a destitute state. Clearly money alone is not a long-term solution. Education is necessary to galvanize people with both the impetus and innovativeness to solve their own problems.
With an intense desire to create a program that would help people help themselves, I went to sleep a few weeks ago meditating on a possible solution. The next day, I awoke with the concept for a competition which with very little dollar investment can reap huge dividends. The ValYOU Freedom Leadership competition is designed to imbue a community with the incentives and self-empowerment to restore dignity and honor. Participants are asked to 1.) Start/Join an action team, 2.) Pick a project designed to tangibly liberate their local community, and 3.) Submit a report of accomplishments before completion deadline (September 1, 2007 – March 1, 2008). I am personally offering a cash prize of $1000 and hope with corporate sponsors and your charitable contribution of $1000 to provide regional prizes. Visit http://www.valyou.org/groups.htm
I am so thrilled that already, people in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and even New Zealand want to get involved in the contest. Imagine if we could document meeting some of these people face-to-face. Please thank film maker Brook Silva-Braga in advance for me as I sincerely hope I win this competition and shake his hand for using his talents to help better our world.
Specifically, I would use the extra 36 hours per week to complete the nonsectarian leadership training program I am currently developing for these groups to download and listen to each month. Tim could help teach too! I would be delighted to glean his ideas and consultation input. Together, we can truly help people feel the rewards of global contribution as well as personally design the life they deserve.
5. Jeff Quick-
Some friends and I recently started a entrepreneurial non-profit business with the goal of getting clean water to people in other countries who don’t have it. It’s called Unda Water. We sell bottled water in Philadelphia, and give the proceeds from our sales to benefit clean water efforts in Africa and China.
The process is slow because we have our own regular jobs, and we can’t give Unda Water as much time as we would like. With an extra 36 hours per week, I would devote myself to making Unda Water happen faster, getting water to people in developing countries faster.
The excitement of this project comes from quickly and decisively change the lives of thousands of people for better, while at the same time shifting our employment away from working for other people toward working for Unda Water. It improves the world by increasing sanitation and reducing dehydration in water-starved places.
It also improves my life and the life of my family, because I would gain considerable job satisfaction from working on Unda Water full time instead of scrabbling for work as a feeelance writer.
The thing is, we have the water. We have some start-up funding. We have the organizations we will give the proceeds to. It’s already happening. It’s just happening slowly, and I’d like to make it happen faster.
With the ticket, I’d fly to China and visit the sites where we would be funding well-digging efforts, meet our local contact, take pictures, and cement relationships. I’d spend the money on promoting Unda Water in Philadelphia.
Sound good? Email me at jeff.quick-at-gmail.com. I don’t care if you’re not Tim Ferriss. If you have questions or want to find out more, email me.
6. David Bachman-
Technology will solve all the world’s problems. Today, the biggest challenge the world faces is providing cheap, clean, and abundant energy. With unlimited cheap, clean energy, so many problems are conquered. Human-made greenhouse gasses are eliminated, halting global warming. Cars become electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell powered. Clean-burning hydrogen becomes the portable chemical fuel, generated from electrolysis of water. Oil becomes irrelevant. Money, politics, and wars over the Middle East cease. Water shortages no longer exist, as abundant energy allows desalination of sea water. With abundant and clean energy, even perfect, effortless recycling becomes a possibility. Throw all your garbage and toxic waste into a giant plasma incinerator. Extract the resulting ions and magnetically separate them into their pure elements, and then resell the pure elements back to the manufacturing sector.
All this follows from cheap, abundant, and clean energy. So how do we make this happen? Much of the needed technology already exists. The first step is to fully support nuclear power. Specifically, take a look at Wikipedia on the Integral Fast Reactor: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_Fast_Reactor This particular reactor very efficiently consumes fissile fuel without long term radioactive waste products. Short term radioactive waste from this reactor is a manageable storage problem.
Next, we must fully support research in clean nuclear fusion technology. Fusion technology promises clean, abundant energy from elements extracted from seawater. The waste product from fusion is helium, which we use to fill our balloons. I’m convinced that fusion technology progress is mostly limited by politics and money. Fusion research continues on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, but the pace is not fast enough. We need the technology now to provide all the benefits I’ve discussed.
If I had 36-hours per week, I would dedicate my time to making this a reality. I can’t do it alone, but I can use the time to educate and lobby Congress, private companies, environmental groups, foreign governments and international corporations to support this cause.
If I succeed, it will be far more satisfying than anything I have ever done.
June 15, 2007
I am living Parkinson’s Law.
July 24, 2006
I begin work at a financial firm as a bond trader. 60 hours per week minimum. No lunch break. No sun, sky, or nature.
Yet I am excited. I have made it. I am a college graduate, I have obtained a respectable job, and I am banking a dream salary. I will always remember this day.
December 25, 2006
Christmas at my girlfriend’s house.
I am burnt out and thankful to have a day off. I enjoy the food, the company, and the holiday atmosphere, but something is missing.
I can’t help but experience jealousy as I watch her younger siblings open their presents. They are laughing, smiling, and approaching each moment with such verve for life. They are wise beyond their years.
Five months at my new job have passed. I am depressed.
May 2, 2007
Enter 4HWW. I back my way onto the book’s website after perusing Tim’s blog. It is a clever enough tag-line that I call Barnes & Noble.
It is my lucky day — one copy is in stock. I leave work early. As I read the book in Love Park, there is sun, sky, and nature.
May 17, 2007
I quit work today. Two weeks after picking up 4HWW, I am a free man. I have one new business in development, no respectable job, and I am not banking a dream salary. I will always remember this day.
36 hours a week. I would spend half of the hours helping children and returning as a tutor to a Learning Center I worked at in college. In turn this will help spend the other half reclaiming the child in me and fulfilling my dreamlines.
“Ichi Go Ichi Ei” — Each chance encounter could be the one that changes your life. I stumbled across that quote, which was used to describe Japanese tea ceremonies and living each unique moment to the fullest.
With your blessing, I am off to Japan to enjoy the sounds, sites, and sushi. Here’s to living in the moment.
If I had 36 additional hours each week, I would primarily do more of the same. That is because my life’s work isn’t “work” in the miserable American sense of the word â€“ my work is the manifestation of my values, core beliefs, talents, and my purpose for being on this planet.
For the last 15 years, I have worked on women’s rights and human rights issues through nonprofit organizations, a women’s foundation, and the Clinton Administration. In the US I have helped to reduce sexual assault, domestic violence, poverty, stalking, and unemployment. Overseas, I have worked on rape camps in Bosnia, brothels in Thailand, promoting women’s rights in post-apartheid South Africa, preventing trafficking of women and children, spreading micro-credit programs, and providing human rights trainings. With 36 extra hours, I would devote more effort to ending violence, inequality, poverty, and other human rights abuses. Unfortunately, there is enough work to fill the time! I would also strategically use the extra time to sit on boards of organizations, thereby increasing my impact through sharing my expertise, strategic thinking, and fundraising and management skills.
Having said all that, I would add a little more fun and health to my life with 36 extra hours. With the extra time, I wouldn’t have an excuse to avoid the gym! I would take more time to cook healthy meals. I would use more of my cell phone minutes to stay caught up with friends who are spread around the world. I would spend more time playing with my cats. I would host more parties. And I would take more weekend trips with friends to explore the amazing Bay Area.
If I won this contest, I would include India in my travels. In India, I would like to spend a couple of weeks in an ashram for yoga and meditation (advancing my health-related goals and learning to calm my busy mind!), and I would like to volunteer with a local human rights NGO as a way of connecting to the culture.
9. Dawn G.-
If I could establish a decently profitable muse business, I would devote the rest of my available time to my life long dream. At the age of 18, foster children are bumped from the system. There is no subsequent support whatsoever.
So, here’s the plan: Purchase or lease an apartment building that supports a minimum of 24 residents. Invited residents would be pulled from the foster care system when they turned 18. They would attend group activities, financial management classes, individual counseling, nutrition and fitness counseling, to include cooking lessons, GED assistance if needed, and college application assistance if needed. They would be given a paid intern position provided by a local corporation (tax deductible to the Corp.).Alternatively, they could attend the vocational school of their choice during their stay with us. They would be allowed to stay for 2 years. At the end of their stay, they would be given the first month and security deposit to get their own apartment, a car, and assistance obtaining full time employment. Any resident wishing to pursue the FHWW lifestyle would be encouraged to do so.
All of this would be funded and supported through grants, charitable donations and other fund raising activities, such as benefits. Counseling would be handled by graduate students supervised by university professors, or by pro bono work. Residents would be required to return regularly and mentor new incoming residents for at least two years.
Weâ€™ll be the YMCA of foster care graduation facilities, in every major city. I was never a foster child, I just can’t stand the idea of these people being tossed like refuse. I need a muse business so that my survival does not depend on this project, as I don’t expect to draw a salary of any kind for at least the first few years.
10. Brian McCormick-
With an extra 36 hours a week, I’d follow-through on a couple delayed plans. In 2001 and 2002, I traveled to South Africa to do basketball clinics and coaching clinics. I’d go back and help my friends Thierry Kita and Mark Crandall with the Hoops 4 Hope program. And, this time I’d surf along the coast, finish my oft-delayed novel set in Cape Town that I started in an Exension Creative Writing class in 2003 and go on a safari. Or, I’d visit a coach in Sao Paulo, Brazil who works with hundreds of kids and see what I could do to help his basketball program. And, I’d find a way to help Eric from the Philipines who emailed to seek my advice on re-organizing their national basketball programs.
Posted on July 4th, 2007