How to build a school in 3 hours: Taylor Conroy at TEDxJuanDeFuca
Translator: Alwaleed Abdeen
Reviewer: Miguel Cisneros-Franco Now before I start telling you
how to build a school in 3 hours. I want to tell you a bit of the back story and some of the research
that went into it first. So the back story started in 2003, when I first started giving
10% of my income away to Charity. Which at the time didn’t amount to much,
because I was living in a rented basement suite,
driving a truck with no reverse and recycling the same 3 T-shirts
every 3 days, and you don’t even want to hear
about my boxer situation. (Laughter) But luckily that changed,
and it changed mostly in 2005, when I got into real estate.
I’m not sure if you remember, but — the real estate market wasn’t always like this;
it used to be really good, and that’s when I got into business,
when it was doing that, and I rode the coattails of that market really hard,
and then, in 2008, I was so busy, I had my biggest year
ever in real estate, that I didn’t have time to choose
where to give that 10% of the money, so it just kind of accumulated into an account,
and then in November, I looked at it and realized
there’s a lot of cash in there. I thought, “Wow!
This could really make a difference, but all I know is real estate.” I had no idea where to give it. So I sought out the most knowledgeable person
on charity in the city, a guy named Zack Whyte, who’s sitting right there.
He’s really tall. And I said, “Zack look! I’ve got this money saved up,
I have no idea where to give it, all I know is condos.
Where will it make the biggest impact?” And he told me about 3 different charities going on,
or projects going on in Africa one of which he was raising money for at the time, called “Free The Children.”
Within 45 minutes, we created a beautiful bromance.
And I looked at him and said, “Zack this all sounds fantastic!
Let’s go check it out.” And he said, “What do you mean check it out?
We’ve just met.” And I said, “Let’s go there!
Between the money that you’ve rised, and the money that I’m going to give;
we’ve got a lot of cash. This could make a big difference.
Let’s go to Africa and see for ourselves.” And he looked at me like I was nuts, and he looked at me
like he was looking right into my soul and he said, “Taylor we’re going to change lives,
I mean a 100% I just got to check with my wife first.”
(Laughter) And luckily she said yes. And 4 months later,
Zack and I went and landed in Uganda. We travelled for 2 days
outside the capital city of Uganda to the border of The Congo,
at the top of the Ruwenzori Mountain Range, where we saw this.
And it’s beautiful, I was so separated that I remember saying to him,
“Zack, this is so cool, we’re so bad-ass, we’re in Uganda!” I was like, “I know there is stuff going on
in the Congo right now, I don’t know what, I’ve heard bad things about it,
like — this is dangerous! This is really cool!” (Laughter)
And I looked to him and said, “Zack it’s so beautiful!
There’re so many kids everywhere. Zack, why are there so many kids?” And he turned to me and looked — he’s 6’7” —
he looked down at me and said, “Taylor,”
(Laughter) “50% of this village has AIDS,
their parents are dead.” At that moment, the trip turned
from being an adventure, really fun, to being the most
transformational experience of my life, because this was the first time I saw the world,
instead of just my world. Then we went to Kenya,
where we met kids who would have to walk 11 kilometres,
each way every day, to collect dirty water
that their families would use to cook with, clean with,
bathe in and drink. And then we saw the schools they were learning in,
and they’re made of mud, dung and sticks, and tiny little rickety desks. And there’s no overhead lights, no electricity,
small windows, dirt floors. And just keeping kids coming to learn
in this environment, let alone keeping teachers coming to teach,
was a massive challenge. But then we saw the schools
that ““Free The Children”” was building. And they’re beautiful:
there’s skylights and huge windows, and the kids were smiling
and so happy to be there and learn, and the teachers were happy to be there
and to come and teach. And 2 weeks after I got back to Canada
from that life changing trip, I got an e-mail from ““Free The Children”,
saying that the money that Zack had raised was going to build a beautiful school just like that, in Kenya and the money that I’ve donated was going to build the first library
in that region of Kenya and help educate
thousands and thousands of kids. And that feeling, that feeling of contribution, that feeling of changing the world for the better, was something I can’t put into words. And it’s something
I became addicted to immediately. It’s something I wanted to get
all my friends involved in, all my family; I wanted everyone
to feel this feeling. I became that —
you know when you read a book, like a really good life-changing book,
or you watch a documentary and something like clicks in your head,
and you go like, “Oh!” If everybody just read this book
or just watched this documentary the world would be a better place.
And everyone would be so much happier.” That’s who I became.
And you know, you go around, That’s who I became after I came back from Africa,
and I was like running around, I was like, “You guys have to give,
it’s unbelievable, it feels incredible. You don’t need the new truck,
you don’t need the house you don’t need anything, give everything away,
it feels so amazing! Hop on the giving train, it’s a sweet ride!”
(Laughter) I remember looking back and being —
and no one was getting on. (Laughter) And it was at that moment that I realized
that that model of fundraising, where we have a cause like: “Oh! AIDS in Uganda,
and there’s the bad schools in Kenya.” And we go around kind of shoving it down
as many people’s throats as possible, hoping to cough out cash, is not only exhausting,
but it was really pissing my friends off. (Laughter) So at that moment I decided I wanted
to get my friends to give on their terms, and I wanted other people to give on their terms.
I wanted them to feel the feeling that I had when I found out
that I’d built a library. I wanted them to feel it out of pleasure and joy,
not out of guilt or duty. So I started to experiment, to find out what it was that truly makes people
give on their terms. And the first experiment I did was called
“A $1,000 into $5,000 contest”. And in that I put on my blog,
and on my Facebook that I’d give a free trip to anywhere
in North or Central America to the best idea to turn
$1,000 into $5,000 for charity. And I got dozens of ideas from four different countries,
the most memorable and tempting of which came
from a young woman in the United States, who suggested that I get
50 of my male friends together and we all go donate sperm.
(Laughter) Collecting the $100 you get per donation.
She argued it was a brilliant idea because it was an activity that most of the guys
were probably doing for free that day anyways.
(Laughter) And so it should probably be going
to benefiting a good cause. (Laughter) She didn’t win.
(Laughter) The person who did
win was a young and inspiring runner, named Megan Nickle, from Vancouver.
What Megan did, she took out a $1,000 and she built a website called
“Themarathonofgiving.com”.” And she got a bunch of her friends to commit to running the Vancouver marathon with her,
and then featured them on the site, and got other people to pledge on those runners, in a micro giving sell fashion
that I’ll talk about in about 5 minutes. The next experiment I did was called
“A $100 give away”. And in that I gave 25 of my friends
$100 each, and said, “All you have to do with this money
is add at least $20 of your own money, you can add as much as you want,
at least $20 of your own money, and give it away to charity.
Then send me a video of you that says who you gave it to, why you gave it to them,
and how it made you feel. Some people gave $20, some people gave $40,
a friend of mine from Kelowna, Joel, gave $400; and Zack, the guy I went to Africa with, Zack went on to Facebook
and wrote a post saying, “My friend just gave me $100
to put towards this cool cause. I’m putting in 20 dollars;
I’d love for my friends to get involved too”. And overnight Zack raised $800
from one Facebook post, and that taught me an incredible amount
about what people really get involved from. And the next experiment that I did, is my favourite by far, and it’s hilarious. It’s called
“The Early Entrepreneurs Experiment.” And in this I partnered with a young teacher
from an elementary school here in Victoria, named Cristina. And Cristina and I went around in her school,
we gave $100 each to 18 classes, with the challenge of them
turning that $100 into $500 for charity. And we said if they did it, 18 times five is $9000 — which is just enough to build a big beautiful school in Kenya, for kids just like them,
on the other side of the world. And I have just enough time
to tell you a quick story, about one of the classes that I went into.
I was walking around, giving these $100 bills away, it was hilarious.
And the kids — I walked into a class,
a grade 2 class, so picture 7 years old all cross legged on the floor, and they gave me this
stupid little chair to sit in (Laughter) and I sat in it, and I said to the kids, “OK you guys, what are your ideas?
How are you going to turn this $100 into $500 for charity? It’s going to be amazing.”
And the teacher said, “Well we’re already prepared for you.”
And they had this flip chart, she flips up this flip chart,
and it’s got the regular basic ideas: bake sale, lemonade stand,
candy counting contest, pizza night… and right here, in the bottom, it says:
“Dylan’s plays and stories”. And I went, “Who’s Dylan?”
And this kid at the back, let me show you this,
this kid in the back sitting totally nonchalant,
separated from the rest of the group, goes: “Uhhhh!”
(Laughter) And I said, “Dylan what are your plays
and stories buddy?” And he goes, “Uhhh!” [He] gets up, all the kids look up at him like,
“Yes! Dylan’s gonna talk.” (Laughter)
And he starts pacing, he says, “Well, I’ve written a couple of books.”
This guy is seven! “I’ve written a couple of books and plays,
they’re pretty successful. (Laughter) “And I’ve written a play
for all the kids to perform.” And the kids were going, “Yeah!”
(Laughter) “And for all the kids to perform,
were gonna charge $50 a head, we’ll probably get it done in a night.” (Laughter) Like this. And that,
and dozens of other stories like it, taught me more about peoples’ true motivations
behind giving, because I’ve learned more from this group
of wide-open-minded creative children than I ever could from
a socially-conditioned group of adults. After doing these 3 experiments, I came up
with a formula of five motivators behind given that I believe,
when combined correctly, will not only motivate anyone to give,
but it will make them happy, excited and thank you,
for getting them to give in the first place. Those five motivators are:
Number one, group mentality. We love to be part of a group,
whether it’s teammates or co-workers, or family or friends.
People are far more apt to give when they know they’re part of a group,
because of that kind of peer pressure mentality. Number two, tangible outcome. Whether it’s buying a goat or digging a well,
or building a school, people love to see
a visual representation for their giving: this amount of money went to this, and I’ve changed the world with this.
It feels really good, so it’s a huge motivator behind giving. And number three, micro giving. This is what I was talking about
in that marathon of giving contest, because Megan,
when she asked people to pledge, she didn’t ask for people to pledge
3 or 4 hundred dollars at a time. She asked people to do what she called “Give a marathon”, and what that means is, she asked people to give 4 dollars and 20 cents a day
— the price of an expensive latte — for 42 days, because there’s 42 kilometres
in a marathon, 42 days! And she said that was the secret
behind her success. She said that people could relate
to 4 dollars and 20 cents a day, far better than they could ever relate
to a big chunk of three or four hundred dollars. And number four is personal connection.
This is best reflected in Zack’s Facebook post.
And if you read the comments below his Facebook post,
everyone who donated commented and said, I’m giving 5 bucks, 20 bucks, whatever;
nothing mentions the cause. All it says is, “Thank you for getting us
involved in this, Zack”, “You’re the best Zack”.
“We’d get involved in everything you do”, Zack, Zack, Zack — Nothing about the cause.
(Laughter) Which, on a serious note, is what I think is, not wrong,
but has evolved in the traditional model of fundraising, in that we’re “caused out” as humans.
You know what I mean. There’s an application
called Facebook causes, the thing that makes it work
is saying that your cause is worse than the next cause,
and worse than the next cause, and showing, like, Photoshoped pictures of kids,
you know what I mean, to really make you feel bad,
which I don’t really like. And I realized that us as a society
are numb to this, because we’ve been
inundated by it for decades. So I realized that the relationship
between the potential donor and the fundraising itself
is far more important than the cause. And number five is Recognition.
This is very evident in the early entrepreneur experiment
’cause kids are very honest with what motivates them.
They love recognition. I think us as adults love recognition as well,
but we’ve been conditioned to say that we don’t.
And I love recognition in giving for two big reasons. Number one,
it correlates a really good emotion to the act of giving,
making people far more apt to give more and continuously in the future. And number two, recognizing people for giving
inspires other people to give, and recognizing them
inspires other people to give, etc. So those five again are: number one, group mentality; number two, tangible outcome; number three, micro giving; four, personal connection;
and five, recognition. So after I had this group of five, this formula
of 5 motivators, I had to test it. So we created the most thought out, yet
casual-sounding, text message ever written and I wrote it to 15 of my friends and it said,
“You, me, and a bunch of our friends are going to get together
to build a school in Kenya for hundreds of deserving kids.
We are all giving $3.33 a day for 3 quick months — I know you spend more than that
on hair product every month. There is a site being made
with your picture on it — your mom is going to be so proud!”
(Laughter) And if you look at that a bit closer,
it has all five of those motivators in it. “You and me”, personal connection”;
“a bunch of our friends”, group mentality; “are going to get together to build a school
in Kenya”, tangible outcome; “for hundreds of deserving kids.
We are all giving $3.33 a day”, micro giving”; “for 3 quick months. I know you spend more than that
on hair products every month” — that’s just a fact with my friends.
(Laughter) “There is a site being made with your picture on it, and your mom is going to be so proud!” After sending this to 15 of my friends,
these are the replies that I got:
“Yes!”, “I’m in”, “Done”, “How do we pay?” and my personal favourite from my friend Pete: “I guess I’ll look like a dick if I don’t do it
so count me in”. (Laughter) Worked!
(Laughter) After this — this was 15 people,
$3.33 a day for 3 months — I realized I’d just raised
$5,000 from a text message. A little bit more would be enough
to build one of those beautiful schools in Kenya for hundreds of deserving kids,
from a 67 word text. My head was exploding
with how easy this was, and I knew that I was just
a huge step forward toward my goal of getting my friends
involved on their terms, and wanting to get involved.
So I partnered up with a friend of mine, who’s a brilliant graphic designer
named Steven Zozula, and we made a video, an animated video.
I don’t have time to show it all to you, but the video said how it was $3.33 a day,
how it was building a school, how it was a whole bunch
of a group of us doing it, and that we’d given them
certificates for doing it, for that recognition factor. And not only do we say that they would be
featured on our website, but we said that we’d give
them e-mail signatures and web badges; so it kind of spread the news
and show people they were giving, giving more recognition. And we codded
the e-mail signatures and web badges, in a way that, for example, if John Mardlin,
who is organizing this TEDx event, was in my campaign and I sent it to him,
and he got the e-mail signature, if someone clicked on John’s e-mail signature, it would move his picture to the top of the site, giving him all the recognition.
So [we] basically took the recognition and put it on steroids.
The only thing that was missing from this was the real personal connection. So before sending
any of my friends the video I filmed, 33 10-second clips of me,
individually to each friend that I was gonna send it to,
saying for example, “John you’re amazing, how did you get all these
good looking people here at TEDx, we’re gonna change the world tonight, this is how it’s gonna work.”
That would lead into the 4-minute video and then we put those,
the combination of those videos right at the top of a donation page. So people would watch the video.
It’s all encrypted, it’s a secure site, and they didn’t have to click anything,
they’d be inspired from the video they’d just scroll down a little bit,
enter their information, so within one minute of watching the video they could click
“Let’s build a school”, and they’d be done. I sent it out to 33 friends and acquaintances. And with what took me 3 hours to do,
to narrate over the animated video, to film my short videos — I’d raised $10,000
to build a school in Kenya. (Applause) So we knew at this point
there were going to be some people saying, “Well, maybe Taylor’s got a bunch
of his friends that owe favours”, or something like that,
so I needed a guinea-pig. And I wanted someone technically challenged,
so that anybody would look at them and say,
“Well, if they could do it I can do it”. I wanted someone so technically challenged that they didn’t even know how to text. So I called my mum.
(Laughter) Sorry mum, she’s right here.
(Laughter) I didn’t have any other pictures
on Facebook, sorry. (Laughter) And my mum, in the time
that it would take to watch the season finale of “Survivor”,
raised enough money to build a school in Nepal for hundreds and hundreds of girls. And then my dad did it,
probably because my mum told him to. And now, my girlfriend is doing it.
She’s raising enough money to build a school in India. But the cool thing about this,
is that it doesn’t have to be people close to me. Anyone can do this.
We’ve made a website that anyone can build a school in 3 hours
in five simple steps: Step 1, you enter the friends
that you want to have take part. Step 2, you pick the country in the world
that you want to build your school in; it’s already set up,
dozens and dozens of countries. Step 3, you narrate over the animated video we give a script and all that, it’s really easy. Step 4, you film those little personal videos
to establish that really good connection
with each friend that you’re sending it to. And number 5, you sit back
and watch your friends’ elation and $10,000 come in to build a school,
anywhere in the world that you want. Now all of this can be summed up
in a really brilliant quote by Margaret Mead. It says, “Never doubt that a group
of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.”
Thank you. (Applause) Presenter: Before you step off,
at the end of that presentation, what’s the name of the website
that you talked about, but you didn’t give a web address for? Taylor: It’s ten in three dot com,
which stands for $10,000 in 3 hours. So it’s “”teninthree.com”” P: Thank you very much, Taylor.
T: Thank you.