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“Charity means love. It means to look after your neighbor in need and get nothing in return.”
From the outside looking in, he was living the dream.
Killer SoHo loft. Private jets to exotic locales. Rolex, cover model girlfriend and cash. Lots of cash.
But ten years living extravagantly as a decadent nightclub promoter in New York City took it’s toll.
By 28, Scott Harrison had become the worst person he knew.
Morally bankrupt and desperate to rediscover his sense of purpose, Scott decided it was time for a drastic change. So he sold all his belongings and decamped NYC for a year spent volunteering aboard a hospital ship off the coast of Liberia, West Africa.
Abroad, Harrison witnessed levels of poverty and illness he never knew existed. As one year turned into two, he came to understand that many of the diseases their group treated were waterborne, easily preventable with access to clean drinking water — a basic need sorely lacking across vast swaths of the undeveloped world.
Upon returning to New York in 2006, Scott turned his full attention to the global water crisis and the (then) 1.1 billion people living without access to clean water. The manifestation of that commitment is charity: water — a revolutionary for-purpose endeavor that to date has raised over $3000 million to bring clean drinking water to more than 8.4 million people all across the world.
Equally impressive is the extent to which Scott has quite literally reinvented and re-energized how we give and how we think about giving. He did it by creating an aspirational brand. He did it by restoring public trust in charity. And he did it by leveraging technology to deeply connect each and every giver with the gift’s specific result and impact.
Simply put, Scott Harrison is one of the most impressive people I have ever met. His inspiring story from lost to found is legend — an astounding example of what can be achieved when a life pivots from self-serving to selfless service.
Scott’s story can be found in his riveting new memoir, Thirst, which vividly recounts Scott’s redemptive tale of transformation and the twists and turns that built charity: water into one of the most trusted, disruptive, innovative and admired nonprofits in the world. Debuting at #7 on last week’s NY Times bestseller list, it’s a must read page-tuner, the profits of which funnel right back to (you guessed it) charity: water.**
Picking up where left off in Scott’s first appearance on the podcast (episode 305 from July 2017), today we dive deeper into previously unexplored aspects of Scott’s personal evolution. We discuss progress made by his organization and the work that remains.
We discuss the important role faith has played in his journey. He explains the true meaning of charity — and the sense of purpose and personal fulfillment that goes hand in hand with service. We end with a call to action. And a reminder that we all possess the power to make the world a better place.
Because nobody should fear work that has no end.
Here’s my call to action: in celebration of my 52nd birthday, help me raise $100,000 by December 31, 2018 — 100% of which will be deployed to bring clean water projects to over 3,300 people for the very first time. Projects that will save lives for generations to come.
Specifically, I’m asking that you donate $1 for every year that I have been drinking clean water – a pledge of $52 (or whatever you can afford – every penny helps). When the water projects are complete, charity: water will then send all of those who donated photos and GPS coordinates so together we can experience up close and personal the exact community that we impact.
It’s an ambitious goal. I can’t do this alone. But with your help, it’s entirely doable. Because together we are powerful. For the price of a night out at the movies, we really can save lives and positively change the world. And that is priceless.
For more information and to donate, please visit my campaign page at my.charitywater.org/richroll.
My hope is that this conversation inspires both self-reflection and action. Because each and every one of us holds the power to positively impact the life of another. And because life is more fulfilling, meaningful and rewarding when we are persistently engaged in the pursuit of service and giving.
I love this man. I love his mission. And I love this conversation.
For the visually inclined you can watch our entire conversation here: bit.ly/richandharrisonyt
Peace + Plants,
** You can unlock a $30 donation that gives clean water to one person by purchasing Thirst in any format. Simply forward your receipt to [email protected] while funds remain to unlock a donation in your honor.
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Thanks to this week’s sponsors
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In return for 52 years on Earth, help me raise $100,000 to bring clean water to 3,300 people in need.
Check out Scott’s new book: Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World*
Background, Context & Reference
- Connect with Scott: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
- Connect with charity:water: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube
- charity:water subscription service: The Spring
- charity: water: Rachel’s Gift: The story of Rachel Beckwith
- YouTube: The Spring – The charity:water story
- YouTube: How To Change The Lives Of Millions w/ Scott Harrison | Chase Jarvis
- Inc.: The Charity: Water Founder Had to Save Himself Before Saving the World by Scott Harrison
- Parade: How Nonprofit CEO Scott Harrison Went From Playboy to Patron
- ThriveGlobal: How My Kids Inspire Me to Fight for Kids Around the World by Scott Harrison
- WSJ: Scott Harrison Turned From Nightclub Promoter to Philanthropist by Alexandra Wolfe
- CNBC: How Charity: Water’s founder went from hard-partying NYC club promoter to helping 8 million people around the world by Catherine Clifford
- StartUp Grind: From Nightclub Promoter to CEO: Scott Harrison, Founder of charity: water by Nitya Timalsina
- USA Today: Scott Harrison: How I helped bring millions of people clean water with charity: water by Susannah Hutcheson
- Forbes: Scott Harrison: How He Started charity: water And What He Learned In The Process
- FastCompany: How Charity: Water Uses Data To Connect Donors And The People They’re Helping
- NPR From Scratch: Scott Harrison, Founder Of charity: water
- NYTimes: A Save-the-World Field Trip for Millionaire Tech Moguls
- Entrepreneur: Everyone Can Adopt This Founder’s One-Step Productivity Advice
- HuffPost: Doing Well By Doing Good: An Interview with Scott Harrison, Founder & CEO of charity: water
- HuffPost: 5 Lessons Learned Over 10 Years With Scott Harrison From charity: water
- Creator Lab: 6 Million Lives Impacted: How Scott Harrison Built charity: water
Notable People Discussed
Dr. Gary Parker: Chief Medical Officer / Maxillo Facial surgeon on the Mercy Ship Africa
- Albert Schweitzer: theologian, organist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher, and physician. A Lutheran, Schweitzer challenged both the secular view of Jesus as depicted by the historical-critical method current at this time, as well as the traditional Christian view
Mother Teresa: known in the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary
- Carl Jung: psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology
Depeche Mode: iconic English electronic / new wave band formed in Basildon, Essex, in 1980
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy
- RRP #305: charity: water’s Scott Harrison on Why Clean Water Changes Everything
- RRP #247: The Art of Non-Conformity: Chris Guillebeau On Living an Unconventional Life & The Power of Divine Moments
- RRP #281: Adam Braun on Lightning Moments, Reimagining Education & Blazing A Life of Purpose
- RRP #178: Doing Good Better: William MacAskill on ‘Effective Altruism’ & How to Maximize Positive Global Impact
- RRP #179: From A Life of Matter to A Life That Matters: Jason Garner’s Journey from Music Industry CEO to Spiritual Warrior
- RRP #255: Biz Stone on Conscious Capitalism & The Power of Technology to Cultivate Global Cooperation
Thanks to Jason Camiolo for audio engineering, production and show notes; graphics by Margo Lubin and Blake Curtis. Portraits by Reece Robinson. Theme music and interstitial music by Ana Leimma.
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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