My guest is Scott Harrison. Scott is the founder and CEO of charity:water. He’s also the author of a book called Thirst: A Story of Redemption, compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World. Scott describes himself in this interview as having become at one point in his life early on, the most degenerate, hedonistic, sycophantic person that he knew. What is so awesome about Scott and his story is the fact that it is possible to change, and you’ll hear his transformation from a nightclub promoter and a party promoter. The more effective he was at that, the more money he earned. He was able to turn his life around a complete 180 and created a completely new model of how charities and philanthropies operate. Please enjoy this conversation with Scott Harrison.
00:02:37 – What’s life about?
00:04:24 – Why he wrote the book.
00:11:20 – How it all began to change.
00:26:36 – A billion people without water.
00:37:06 – The mystery of faith.
00:45:29 – Business models.
00:48:02 – Lightning round.
01:07:24 – Watches.
Thirst: A Story of Redemption, compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World
Bryan: 00:02:20 Scott, welcome to The School For Good Living.
Scott: 00:02:22 Thanks for having me.
Bryan: 00:02:22 Scott.
Scott: 00:02:23 Nice to chat with you.
Bryan: 00:02:25 Yeah, I’m so glad we finally connected. I read your book back in November.
Scott: 00:02:29 Okay. It’s not short. Thanks for that.
Bryan: 00:02:30 No, I was on vacation in Hawaii. I had some time and it was a real gift. It really is a page turner.
Scott: 00:02:36 Thanks man.
Bryan: 00:02:37 Yeah. So Scott, what’s life about?
Scott: 00:02:40 Uh, what’s life about? Uh, I think it’s about living for others. You know, for me, gosh. I think the way I think about life now is how I can use the gifts that I’ve been given or the things that I’ve been blessed with to the benefit of others. And now I’ve got a bunch of kids at home. I’ve got this organization, you know, I’m waking up most days thinking of how I can really be a blessing to others. That was not how I would answer the question a bunch of years ago. But I think, uh, I kind of came to the end of myself. And faith is a part of it for me. You know, family’s a big part of it. The work that we get to do here, which hopefully ends a lot of the needless suffering around the world.
Bryan: 00:03:32 Yeah. You know, before I really.
Scott: 00:03:34 Sorry that wasn’t your soundbite answer probably.
Bryan: 00:03:36 No, it’s great. It wasn’t until about seven years ago I did a program with Jack Canfield and I was privileged to be with 60 or 70 other coaches and trainers and facilitators and one woman in a group I was part of. She said something to that effect about I wake up every day and I pray for how I can be of service to others. Yeah. And that was the first time I thought, there are people like that on earth. It’s really beautiful.
Scott: 00:04:00 How old was she?
Bryan: 00:04:01 She was probably in her early thirties.
Scott: 00:04:02 Yeah. Oh, well that’s, that’s unusual. I mean, I think you, um, you hear more about this in the second half of life and as people, uh, start thinking about how to give their life away, then maybe the first half of life is how they make a life for themselves. Yeah. So I’m past the 40 part now. I’m going to be 43 and I guess just looking at the second, the back half of life a little differently than the first half.
Bryan: 00:04:24 Yeah. Although I don’t think it’s an, I don’t think it’s a kind of a shift in perspective that everyone has, right? I mean I think there’s a lot of, and this is my own judgment coming up, but a lot of self centered people that don’t necessarily, I mean as we know, um, suicide rates for people, especially in developed countries in the forties, start to really spike. And I think it’s this idea of is this all there is? This is all I’ll ever be. Um, that’s a depressing subject. But you found a way to really do work that does in fact benefit other people. And part of it is your book Thirst. So my question for you about this book is why did you write it and how did you want the world to be different because of it?
Scott: 00:05:04 Wow, that’s a great question. You know, since starting the organization. So I lead an organization called Charity Water. Uh, we’re sitting here in our, in our New York headquarters. And, um, I think for years, even early on in the organization, people would just say to me, oh my gosh, you have this crazy story. You need to write a book. I mean, it sounds like it should be a book, you know, or, or a movie. And I remember thinking, I’m still living this thing. I mean, I’m still living the story. I don’t know where it’s going to end. It didn’t feel like there was any permission or any right to look back and reflect. Um, I didn’t think I had any wisdom. I just didn’t have anything to offer. Uh, that changed. I think when the organization hit 10 years, I turned 40 and had kids and, you know, now I, I’d built an organization that wasn’t going to go away. Um, that was helping, you know, over a million people a year, get access to clean water. Uh, you know, kinda hit the, I’d been at it for awhile, so I wasn’t going to be a flash in the pan. I wasn’t going to go back and become a nightclub promoter or go do drugs and, you know, some strip club. Uh, you know, I’d really lived out this, the new intention of my life for more than a decade. And then I think having kids was really thinking about how I wanted them to know me. You know, going on record, uh, I’d traveled to some pretty dodgy places of the world and death is, is often around me, uh, in, in just recently that Ethiopian aircraft, you know, we, my team missed that by about 12 hours. So I think just wanting to go on record with some of the things that I’d learned and then I really wanted the book to be a point of hope for others who may have made some bad decisions or maybe ruin their life and thought or, or believe that there’s no getting past that. Uh, and you know, and maybe we’ll get a little more into my story, but you know, I was, as I was as bad as they come, I was the most degenerate, hedonistic, um, sycophantic person that I knew and managed to turn a new page managed to change in a dramatic way that then led to a completely new life in a completely different intention for life. So I think I’ve, I know I’ve heard over the years, I feel stuck. I could never do what you do. And I was hoping to say through the book, actually you could, I mean, if a degenerate drug addict, nightclub promoter, you know, could give 10 million people access to clean water around the world and wind up with a beautiful wife and kids and a life that, uh, you know, I travel around the world speaking about generosity and compassion and empathy. I mean, these are the opposite things that I was living a little over a decade ago. So I wanted that to be a gift to others. I also wanted to raise awareness for this issue that I’ve spent 12 years working on the, the global water crisis. And I wanted to compel people to learn about this issue, to think about this issue and then to get involved with us. I mean, I think it’s crazy that today as we’re sitting here and I’ve got a glass of water in front of me, they came from a purifier, you know, here at the, in our kitchen, you know, right now, 660 million people are drinking bad water. It’s one out of every 10 people alive. So thirst was really the, even the title was double entendre. You know, my search for meaning and purpose. Um, and then the literal thirst of 10% of the planet right now.
Bryan: 00:08:26 Yeah. It is amazing that there are so many who have so little, including the most basic necessities to exist. Um, and what you, so you covered a lot in why you wrote it and in fact, so I want to go back and touch on two things. One was about your, about who you’d become. You touched on that in the book. You say you had become the worst version of myself. Yeah. Right. And, and so what do you, to someone who’s in the position of wanting to change, but they maybe don’t believe they can or they don’t know how.
Scott: 00:09:03 Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s, it’s tough to give advice. I mean, I can, I really just wanted to share my story. You know, I, I had grown up in a very conservative Christian home. My mom was an invalid. There was a terrible carbon oxide gas leak in my house. And I grew up playing by the rules, helping take care of mom. I mean, I was that, that, that kid playing piano in Sunday school and every Sunday, and then I just woke up one day at 18 and said, now it’s my turn. You know, the, the utter act of rebellion, almost the cliche prodigal son story, just gave everybody the finger, my parents and the church, you know, everybody who had told me what I couldn’t do. And then I went off to explore a life of vice and a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll and power and money. And, and I did that unfortunately for 10 years, and then came to the end of, of that period realizing that I’d actually gotten most of the things that I was chasing. Um, I had dated girls that were on the cover of fashion magazines. I drove the BMW, I had the grand piano in my New York City apartment, and I had the Rolex watch and all of these markers, these external markers of success.
Bryan: 00:10:14 And the dog, you even mentioned the dog.
Scott: 00:10:16 Yeah, the Labrador Retriever. Right? The punchline. I mean, come on.
Bryan: 00:10:20 It’s just everything, right.
Scott: 00:10:21 Right. I mean, the perfect dog that fit the, the life. And, you know, I realized that because, I mean, my job was actually getting people drunk for a living. So the more people would come into our clubs and get wasted now often maybe cheat on their spouses. I mean, right. There was, this was some, some dark stuff going on, um, at the highest end nightclubs in New York City. Uh, the more all of that happened, the more money I made, the more successful I became. So it was come as an inverse correlation to morality. Right? Like the more immoral I became, the, the more successful I would become. And I just realized that if I continued down this path, I would leave perhaps the most meaningless legacy a person could leave. I might die before 40 of some overdose, or, you know, think I was snorting cocaine and snort heroin instead. And that could be over. I’d seen that happen.
Bryan: 00:11:16 What was the moment you realize that? I mean, what changed?
Scott: 00:11:20 Well, it was, it started with this vacation Point del Este, Uruguay. And it was over New Year’s Eve and it was just this taking stock of wow, beautiful place, I’m, on a yacht. Um, my girlfriend’s in the cover of a magazine. I spent $1,000 on fireworks. There’s magnums of Dom Perignon everywhere. I mean just private planes. Uh, well, what, what, what’s better than this and how is it possible that I am not ultimately satisfied by this? This is what I’ve been chasing for 10 years.
Bryan: 00:11:52 The dog that caught the car.
Scott: 00:11:54 Yeah, it was the, exactly, that’s a great way of saying it. Uh, and I just realized, I think the big realization was that they would never be enough. Someone would always have more. So I’m going to have a more beautiful girlfriend, a better watch, a better job. You know, if I ever got a plane, somebody would have a bigger plane. And it was this endless pursuit of more of selfishness, of hedonism. It was all about what I could accumulate, what I could amass, how people would look at me and envy the things that I had. And you know, I might’ve written this in the book, you know, it felt like the game of musical chairs where the music stops. And for the first time I didn’t have a place to sit. And it was just this moment of disruption. It was this kind of Cathartic moment. So, um, you know, I found my way back to very lost faith after 10 years and I hadn’t gone to church. I hadn’t read the Bible or been interested in, in the teachings of, of anything. Um, and you know, for me, I came back, I think I opted back into, uh, uh, lost Christian faith, but really through the lens of social justice and service. And I rediscovered a, a Jesus who seem to be against the religious establishment of the day, against the hypocrisy of people. I mean, I was a hypocrite. I remember reading in the book of James on this vacation that true religion was to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep yourself from being polluted. So I was, I was clearly 0 for 2. I’ve done nothing to serve the poor either with my time or my money and I actually polluted the world for a living. Um, the more people you know would, would get wasted and the more success I would have. It was this realization and then it kind of led to a six month process of, of trying to shed the vices one by one. And, uh, you know, to eventually led me about nine months later to this, this start over moment, this clean sheet of paper where I left New York, I sold almost everything I owned a and wanted to make my life looking completely opposite. So that was a very clear intention. I realized that a pivot was not needed and maybe this is useful for somebody. I mean it wasn’t a small course correction. It was like sale exactly in the find the exact 180 degrees. Like keep nothing of the former life, lose every single thing and just pretty much do the opposite of what you’ve been doing.
Bryan: 00:14:20 I think that’s actually a surprising common desire for people who they just want to start over. They want to disappear, they want, they want a new name, they want a new life.
Scott: 00:14:31 Go live in the cabin in the woods, right. We’ve heard these, this mystery. We want to get off of our phones and our devices. We’re slaved to these things and just go live in the mountain.
Bryan: 00:14:39 Yeah. And just reset. Just re maybe reconnect, connect to something deeper. Um, so how well did that work out for you?
Scott: 00:14:46 Um, I was very fortunate. I mean, I got this incredible opportunity to join a humanitarian mission in West Africa. Uh, that took me to a country called Liberia, which at the time was the poorest country in the world. And I embedded with a group of humanitarian doctors and surgeons. Um, and my role in this volunteer mission, uh, ironically I had to pay $500 a month just to volunteer. So nobody had, nobody would take me at first. Like I couldn’t volunteer, nobody would take me because I was this nightclub promoter. And those skills didn’t seem affordable in any way to the humanitarian space. But eventually one organization said, look, if I paid him $500 a month and I could sign up and be there, they’re photojournalists. And I, I’d had, I had a journalism degree from NYU that I’d never used and was a pretty good writer, pretty good photographer. And I think I understood that maybe my gift or my skill set really lie in being a promoter. I had promoted this idea that if you got past my velvet rope and inside the club, and if you spent $1,000 on a bottle of cristal champagne and you were sitting with all the beautiful people, then your life had meaning. And to be successful at what I was doing, you’re just constantly, you’re, you’re spinning up this story, this mystique. So I was really interested to see whether those skills of promoting could promote something altogether different. The redemptive humanitarian compassionate work of a group of doctors and surgeons who instead of flying to the Maldives, you know, for a month vacation every year, instead took that month off and went and operated for free in the poorest country in the world and people who couldn’t afford access to medical care.
Bryan: 00:16:26 That’s really beautiful.
Scott: 00:16:27 And I and realized I would, I would switch community as well. You know, a lot of people say, you know, how has it, so I had this moment where I, um, I was going to be living on a 522 foot hospital ship. So imagine a giant white ocean liner that used to carry passengers from Europe to the Far East as a cruise liner. The ship had been gutted. It turned into a state of the art hospital, uh, and it would sail up and down the West African coast, bringing the best doctors and surgeons to people who couldn’t afford it. So there was something really symbolic, uh, about me walking up the gangway of the ship. Leaving all of the detritus of my former life on land and then sailing away to not only a new continent I’d never been to before, but to this new life. You know, sailing away into the unknown. So I had this, this real clean break where I smoked three packs of cigarettes the night before I got on the ship and I got fantastically drunk and uh, you know, and then I joined, I surrendered my passport to this mission and I never smoked again. I never touched coke or any of that stuff.
Bryan: 00:17:32 Even to this day, not even a single cigarette?
Scott: 00:17:33 Never gambled again, not a single cigarette. Now I’m not a drag. My wife will have like two or three, you know, a year. And I’m jealous because she has them all at the right times. Like in Italy, you know, after a bottle of wine, you know, out with the locals. Uh, no, I, I, you know, haven’t, I didn’t gamble, uh, uh, just never looked at porn again. I mean, I just kind of walked away from all of the trappings that all of the vices of that former life. So I think there was a, I felt like I had to do my part as well and make the clean break. Um, what I think made that easy was my community shifted. So I’m with doctors. Okay. So they don’t think smoking is a good idea. You’re in a hospital ship. Right. There’s not a culture of smoking. There’s not a culture of cocaine or marijuana or gambling.
Bryan: 00:18:20 And, and I do think that the addiction as much obviously as nicotine is a real physical addiction, a very intense one, that that social, that social milieu that we’re in is part of what keeps that pattern in place I think.
Scott: 00:18:31 Yes. So, so I was very fortunate to be around people who valued the exact opposite of maybe what my night club friends, you know, would value. Yeah. So this was getting drunk and getting laid. You know, these were doctors who were there with their families and their kids who valued service, who valued, um, morality, who valued compassion. So I think that made it very easy for me to just say, this is way better. I don’t miss the smoking. I mean smoking was actually the hardest of all of them. You know, I remember, you know, doing the blister packs of Nicorette on the ship. And I had, there was one moment where I’d probably four packs of gum, you know, four of the blister squares of gum and I had the patch on. But that was it. I was determined to never go back to those former vices. And I believe that if I could do my part there, this new, uh, story for my life would have the chance to unfold in a, in a very different path. Uh, could, could have evolved, I guess.
Bryan: 00:19:25 Yeah. Well, and as you said, and I personally as a coach, I appreciate you saying I’m not into advice. You know, I’m not, I’m not here to give advice, but I think a few things that others, you know, people listening, if they didn’t hear it in what you shared, that first of all you were able to take your skills of journalism, communication, building relationships in a large way and redirect those in service. So it’s not like any life is ever wasted any experience, any education, it can all be repurposed or redirected. And then as you talked about consciously creating a social, a new social group, even though you might not have realized that was what you were doing, that was a part of the path that was pretty significantly different. And you talk about learning like many people like doctor Gary. Yeah, right. Will you just share a little bit about him? Why was he such a powerful force for you and what did you learn from him?
Scott: 00:20:15 Yeah, well my, my initial idea was I was going to give one of the 10 years that I’d selfishly wasted back in service. So I only signed up for one year in my mind, I was going to do a year and then I’d figured out what was next. I’d probably come back and yeah, not into the clubs. Maybe I own a restaurant or do something else in hospitality. Um, when I met Dr. Gary, he was the chief medical officer on the ship and he was kind of the moral compass, you know, the Mother Teresa character of this huge operation. There were 400 volunteer crew living on aboard this ship. And I learned that he like me, had signed up for a short term, even shorter. He had initially signed up for three months. And when I walked up the gangway of the ship, you know, hoping to embrace a new life. He had been there for 21 years. So he was so moved by his three month experience that he never returned to his, uh, plastic surgery practice in California. And when all in on service to, uh, as he would say, the poor and needy. People who needed access to the kind of care that he could provide. So that was just amazing to me that someone had become a lifer, effectively had had taken an idea of, I’m just going to, I’m going to donate a little bit of time and then, oh no, this is all I ever want to do for the rest of my life. And he made it look really good. He made it look really good.
Bryan: 00:21:37 Well that’s amazing too to think, you know, we’re always teaching whether we mean to or not by the example that our lives are, and for Dr. Gary to show you, you know, to be the embodiment of somebody who’s devoted an entire life to service. I imagine that was pretty pivotal at that time in your life.
Scott: 00:21:57 Yeah. And I don’t think he realized at the time the impact that he had. You know, when he was reading the book, I think we exchanged a few emails. I think he was surprised because he was just doing his Dr. Gary thing. Right? I mean, he’d been doing it for 21 years. I’m just some new kid that walks up the gangway this ship like 20,000 other kids had, you know, over the decade. Yeah. And you know, and, and, and to, to that point, I’m sure he’s touched thousands of others, just like me who could look at someone who would show up for that long and say, wow, that, that kind of determination that, I mean, it’s, it’s what so many people admire about Steve Jobs. I mean, the guy just never gave up, you know, think what you want. But through failure, through getting kicked out of the company, I mean, he just kind of was dedicated to one thing. Um, he wasn’t a dilettante right. I think we see a lot of, uh, we see a lot of dilettantes behavior today. I’m going to work at a job for 1.2 years. I’m working in the next one for 0.9 years and I went 10 experiences throughout my twenties and you become a master of none. So there was something, uh, and, and, and that was me working 40 clubs. I didn’t stick to one club, we would just get board. So over ten years I was averaging four different venues that we would effectively bring people to and then ditch and then move on. And there was something so attractive about a man who could stay committed to one cause for such a long period of time. I will say as we’re sitting here, he’s now been on that ship 35 years.
Bryan: 00:23:23 Holy Cow.
Scott: 00:23:24 They still go on. He’s operating today, uh, I think in Guinea, in West Africa on that ship three and a half decades later.
Bryan: 00:23:33 That’s amazing. So with mercy ships, mercy ships. Yeah. That’s incredible. Let me turn the conversation to an exploration of another value that I’ve heard you talk about the importance of which is, um, which is integrity. So the one story is I listened that really impressed me about integrity was with Michael Burch. Yeah. About how you were within days of shutting down Charity Water because of your insistence on keeping the money that went to fund Clean Water, not to use that for operations. So I’m kind of maybe leading this, but I’m wondering if you’ll tell a little bit about that, that story of how close you came and, and then him coming and seeing the operation and if integrity played a part in that. Like I think it did.
Scott: 00:24:18 Yeah. So a little background to that story. So I’m just catching people up. I join the ship, uh, and sign up for one year. That one year becomes two years. And in the second year I’d seen so many things. I had been exposed to leprosy and cleft lips and facial tumors and, um, burns and just so many problems when you live in a country with no access to healthcare. Uh, in a country where there was one physician for every 50,000 citizens. Um, you know, our comparison here, I think we have a doctor for every 300 of us. Wow. So I saw so much, uh, pain, suffering, disease in, in extremism. Um, however, the one thing that struck me the most was the lack of access to clean water across the country. Uh, and when I was there in Liberia 50% of the people were drinking dirty, contaminated, diseased water. They were drinking from brown, viscous rivers. They were drinking from green swamps. Water we wouldn’t let an animal drink. Um, but yeah, that was all that they had. So, uh, Dr Gary really encouraged me, well, he, he, we were talking and exploring a lot about the link between so much of the disease that we were seeing on the ship and the lack of access to clean water. Um, and learned there were 26 different diseases that you can track directly to, to bad water. Um, at the time this is a crazy stat, but half of the world’s hospital beds throughout the planet were occupied by people who had bad water to drink. So he effectively said, if you’re really interested in pursuing a life, uh, like mine, uh, of global health, the best thing you could do to get everybody clean water. You know, instead of helping us raise money for the next very expensive hospital ship, you would just go make sure everybody in this country had clean water. Maybe we wouldn’t even need to sail the hospital ship into this country because we would just eliminate so much of the disease. So that led to the creation of Charity Water, um, 12 years ago, so I was 30 when I came back from West Africa, started the organization, very simple mission to bring clean and safe drinking water to everybody in the world.
Bryan: 00:26:27 Simple but big.
Scott: 00:26:29 Sure. And at the time there were a billion people without water. So yeah, this is, this was a big massive problem.
Bryan: 00:26:35 It’s working.
Scott: 00:26:36 A billion people. Yeah. The numbers coming down for sure. And it is working. Uh, so that was the mission. So we would know that Charity Water had accomplished our mission when every single human being on earth had access to life’s basic thing. Everybody had access to clean water. Um, however, as I started the organization and started talking to potential donors and potential supporters, I realized that this was going to be incredibly difficult because so many people didn’t trust charities. And I would hear stories of scandal, stories of mismanagement of funds, stories of ineffective philanthropy or bureaucracy or opacity. And just all of these problems, myriad problems that people seem to have with charities writ large. And I realized that if we were going to make a significant dent in an issue, as you said, this big, an issue as big as the water crisis, we would need a completely new construct and knew we would need to imagine a new business model and to speak to some of those objections. So I, I was really fortunate to not know any better. I’m just a 30 year old kid who had experience running clubs for 10 years and running around as a photojournalist, a trailing a bunch of doctors for two years. So I didn’t know how you’re supposed to run a charity. I didn’t know anything about traditional institutional philanthropy. I just took the cue from everyday people that I was talking to who worked at MTV, who worked at the local bank or in, you know, retail at the mall and realized that maybe I could speak to some of those objections by creating a new business model. And, uh, we, we’ve done a lot of different things and you can read more about that in the book if they’re interested in the, the um, some of the differentiators. But the most pivotal one was this hundred percent model, this belief that most people are not giving to charity because they don’t believe that the money will actually go to solve the problem, go to meet the needs of the people that have been marketed to them. And you know, that’s what I just kept hearing over and over again. So I said, well, I wonder if we could create a model where we could just bazooka that objection where we can just take it off the table and we could say 100% of every donation Charity Water takes, whether someone gives a dollar or $1 million or $10 million or $1,000, 100% of the money would go directly to fund projects that would help people get clean water projects that we would then prove using satellite images and later remote sensors. But we would, we would be accountable and transparent to our work and then somehow in another bank account we would raise the money for the overhead separately. So that was the idea. Um, and then, you know, you people couldn’t say, oh, how much is my money is actually going to reach 100% would always be the answer.
Bryan: 00:29:23 Even the credit card fee?
Scott: 00:29:25 Even the credit card fees. Well, I said, if we’re going to actually say 100%, you know, for there to be true integrity, uh, we should pay back the 3% Amex or, you know, mastercard fee. That’s amazing. Um, so to do that, I had to open up another bank account and effectively raise the overhead separately from a, hopefully at the beginning of small group of business people of entrepreneurs, people who would understand, hey, there are going to be overhead costs. There is going to be an office and rent that needs to be paid. Somebody’s gonna need to go buy the Epson copy machine. So I’m just gonna need to pay the salaries and, and eventually benefits and healthcare. But I thought a very small group of visionary investors could catch that vision, fund those costs so that the distrusting public, um, would get this pure play where all of their money could go straight to impact. Um, that worked really well when it came to the distrusting public. So we raised millions of dollars out of the gate just in the first year, year and a half. Um, but I was really struggling to raise the overhead money and effectively you’ve got two different messages and you’ve got to run these two different bank accounts or these two different messages in perfect balance at the same time. So I don’t run them in perfect balance and I’m left at this moment a year and a half in where I’ve got $881,000 in the bank for the water projects when it’s about to go out and you know, help a bunch of people get clean water and drill 80 wells or so. But I’m about to miss payroll and run out of money in the overhead side. And the advice I was getting at the time was to go and borrow against the 880 grand, which would have been oh eight or nine months of working capital and people would say, you’ve got money. What do you mean you’re broke? You’re not broke. Just write an I O U. Just borrow. Money’s fungible. You’ll pay it back. You got to pay your people. I mean, they have left higher paying jobs that you can’t miss payroll, bro. And I remember just thinking, I mean, just being so upset at that idea, the insinuation, I mean we made this promise to the public. If we borrowed one penny, I really believe this from the account for water projects are integrity would be compromised. There’d be a crack at the foundation, but we might as well just quit and resign in shame rather than than, than go on. I mean, you can’t. Um, we would have betrayed the public trust. We would have broken our promise. So I was going to shut the organization down, send all that money out to the field, help as many people as possible, and then just cry business model failure and say, hey, this model didn’t work. I couldn’t raise the overhead fast enough in separately to keep this thing going. And you know, I remember praying at the time with very little faith. I mean there was, I didn’t think that, you know, there was going to be any sort of answer to my prayer and you know, wouldn’t, you know, a complete stranger, uh, at that moment, that week walks into the office. Uh, it was an entrepreneur who had just sold his company to AOL, sits down with me, spends two hours, understands what we’re doing and what we’re trying to do and leaves the meeting and writes a million dollar check into the overhead account. Wow. And we go from, uh, you know, running out of cash in solvent to over a year of working capital, which then allowed us to build what’s now very sophisticated multi year multi tier giving program that we call The Well that now has 133 families funding the overhead. Um, that’s also made it possible for over a million donors now to get this pure play of, of giving. So I think the lesson there was I was absolutely willing to die on the values there. I mean, you know, I would much rather, even if we did borrow against it and we managed to raise the overhead that would always be there, that time that we compromised. I mean, it would be this kind of fatal, um, hidden skeleton in the closet. So I would’ve certainly wouldn’t be sitting here if it wasn’t for Michael Birch, an amazing entrepreneur who had sold Bebo and funny. He’s actually flying in tonight. I’m going to see him in a few hours, um, he lives in San Francisco. And he, uh, he and his family have become dear friends and we’ve now traveled to 13 different countries together. Um, they’ve been integral to the mission. That was really their start of impact. But, uh, I would have been happy. I would’ve much rather run no organization and at least stayed true to our values and know that I didn’t, I didn’t lie, I didn’t compromise. Um, and this was not true, but my former life, I was a liar in my former life. So I think it was, you know, wanting to make good, wanting to make sure that everything was very different. And I read about this in the book, but there was a time when I throw a party tonight club and I advertised that we were going to give a percentage of the proceeds to a charity. And I remember sitting with my partner after the party, we made a lot of money that night and I think we decided to give 1% right so that it would technically be true, but I’m not sure we even followed through on the donation. Wow. Out of busyness. It wouldn’t have been important to us to follow it through in the donation.
Bryan: 00:34:16 Yeah. It really is a different, a different way of being. And you know, I’ve heard Buckminster Fuller said, integrity is the essence of all things successful.
Scott: 00:34:25 Cool. I like that.
Bryan: 00:34:26 Yeah. And what, and what you’re saying, I’ll, I’ll text, I’ll text you that. But this idea, and then, you know, Warner Earhart says, without integrity, nothing works. And what I’m impressed by as I read your story is that many people probably see the sexy parts, the, the gallows, the, you know, the video’s online, the things, and they want to be a part of it. But I wonder how many of those people really perceive that the integrity that you’re now talking about is an integral part. I keep integrity is an integral part. Right. But, um, I perceive when you, when I heard you share that story about Michael visiting and he saw the integrity that you had, and I suspect that was a big part of why he wanted to be a supporter of your work.
Scott: 00:35:12 Yeah. I hope so. I mean, I would’ve been in oblivious to that at the time, but you know, I, I believe that so much more important than what you do is the way that you do things. Yeah. It’s character. You know, even I was, um, I do a lot of public speaking these days and I’m always trying to get that extra 2% better. So I just started working with a, a friend who’d spent four years writing about public speaking and his big after four years of studying public speakers was the character matters more than anything else.
Bryan: 00:35:42 Interesting.
Scott: 00:35:42 Characters more than content. Um, the audience is trying to decide, do I like this person? Do I want to root for them? Um, do I believe that they have character. Now I’m sure you can con people and um, they’re, they’re, um, well, there have been stories, but I just thought that was so interesting that it’s character. It, the content is almost less important if it comes from a place of deep character that is what resonates. That’s what makes that connection, that moves people to the cause.
Bryan: 00:36:13 We feel it as much as, or maybe more than we intellectually, you know, perceive.
Scott: 00:36:19 That, that gut level. Right?
Bryan: 00:36:20 Yeah. Well, okay. So let me just, I think two more questions before we transition. Um, you’ve talked a little bit here about prayer and you’ve talked a little bit about faith and it’s my experience in our society that spirituality, faith, things like prayer are things that we don’t talk a lot about. I feel like we don’t have public conversations about these. And of course we, it’s very personal. You know, these things are very personal. But, um, you say in the book over time I’ve come to embrace the mystery of faith. And then you say, I think it’s my job to work as hard as I possibly can, but also to pray. And here you’ve talked about that. Will you tell me what do you mean by embrace the mystery of faith and as a practical matter, how can we do that?
Scott: 00:37:06 Oh Wow. Um, well, personally, look, I, I believe in the power of, of prayer. I have absolutely seen the most radical and uncanny answers to prayer in, I’m going to have so many stories that, you know, are, that have, um, how do I say this? That have increased my faith in such dramatic levels. I mean things that I would never be able to write off to coincidence. I have also prayed for things to happen that feel completely just, that have not happened. Um, my mom just died of pancreatic cancer in four months from diagnosis to death. I mean, I was praying like crazy. Um, she was not that old. She was doing fine outside of that and no amount of prayer or faith or belief, you know, for my myself, my father, um, change that outcome. Um, but so I kind of, you know, you hold these two things in intention. So I think it’s, it’s the job to pray. And I pray for the safety of my kids. I pray for the, the character of my kids to develop that they’ll be kind, that they will know and love God, that they will, um, you know, be people of integrity. Um, I think you have to, so that’s kind of prayer, but then you’ve got to work hard and you know, there’s, there’s a, there’s a discipline, there’s a correction that also happens. When my kids are being punks, you know that. So I think it’s a, I don’t know, I guess I’ve just, you hold that tension. I feel like whatever your beliefs, um, we don’t always get our away or what feels so obvious in the natural, you know, I mean for a sick child to be healed for people in the world to get clean water now. I mean, I would think that, you know, just snap my fingers and you know, God doesn’t want anybody holding the hose. I was in new share a couple of years ago with a woman in the Sahel desert who lost eight of her kids. Yeah. She’s telling me that she buried eight children. She’s telling me their names, how old they were at the time of death. I mean that is not, uh, the picture of the Kingdom of God. Right. And I think there’s, there’s prayer, but then we built her a well, so no more kids would die because she was living on top of clean groundwater. So I think there’s a, there’s a response. There’s an action. Um, the book of James is my favorite book in the Bible, cause it just, you know, it talks a lot about when faith is great, but it really requires deeds. It requires action. Um, and that, that, that if you really have true faith than the actions are an expression of that. So, you know, I should say for the record, Charity, Water is in no way, nor has it ever been in a religious organization. Um, it was birthed out of, uh, you could argue a faith experience that I had, but I would say a small portion of the people who would work here would do what I do on a Sunday. Um, or would believe what I believe, you know, when it comes to faith. Um, and I don’t think that you should have to do that to be able to use your gifts to serve others. Um, and that’s been a really freeing and exciting thing. I mean, we have, uh, such a wide diversity of supporters, you know, on, on from the far right to the far left of the political spectrum to a Jews, Atheists, Christians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness. I mean that’s, that’s the beauty you mentioned Michael Birch and he’s, he and his family have given close to $20 million now, you know, he thinks I’m a lunatic for having any faith. I mean, he is about a staunch atheist as possible, but, um, we have a great relationship and we’re, we’re really amazing friends and he is very, uh, excited about the work that we’re doing. So it doesn’t care that that’s an expression of my faith. He just thinks it makes sense for every human being to have clean water.
Bryan: 00:40:57 Sure. Yeah. It’s a political, right.
Scott: 00:40:59 It’s a political. It’s a religious, it’s something, it’s one of the very few things that everybody can agree on. You know, we can agree to agree on clean water regardless of of your, you know, your beliefs on every other spectrum. I mean, it’s, that’s the beauty of doing what I do 12 years later. Um, you know, I never come off of a stage or end a podcast and hopefully this one’s no different. And have people say, stop it. Stop giving people clean water, Scott. Let the children die from dysentery. Let the women walk six hours a day and be attacked by wild animals at the waterhole. Let them be raped in the jungle on the way for water. And no one ever says that. So it’s, it’s actually, uh, it’s a wonderful unifying, uh, issue. And then I think the way that we have run Charity Water and the values that we have embraced, uh, also have made an invitational, it’s made it very easy for children to join. We have four year olds that are raising money. We have 90 year olds that are giving from their pension. Yeah. That’s been really fun to, and we’ve tried to celebrate that.
Bryan: 00:42:02 And that’s part of, I think what is really beautiful to me about Charity Water is that it is inspirational. It is invitational. It’s not making people wrong. Shaming them, you know, for, for the horrors going on in the world. And how dare you stand by.
Scott: 00:42:15 We’re just saying, don’t you want to help, you know, can you bring what you have, your time, your talent, your money to this issue. And we’ll try and, you know, we’ll just focus on being the best stewards of what you bring as possible.
Bryan: 00:42:29 Well, and, and just maybe a last thought on this about faith is as I look at some of what I think are the most powerful leaders, or at least some of the most conspicuous and effective leaders throughout history, whether it’s Mother Teresa or Gandhi or Martin Luther King, that their action is, you said, you know, as perhaps an expression of their faith and there is a deep spiritual source there. And, and so for anybody listening, without preaching in any way, just inviting them to think, you know, if you’re maybe where Scott was, meaning somewhere that you not, your life is not a reflection of the life you want, you’re not making the difference that you want to make. Perhaps there is something to look at in your relationship with, with faith. Um, something, to.
Scott: 00:43:14 Well I was the god of my life for 10 years? You know, I was, I was in charge. It was all about me. You know, there was no idea of submitting to, to any other, uh, belief or value system. Um, and I think that’s the big shame. Yeah, that’s a big change. I’m not, I’m not the God now, you know, I’m, I really look at my role as the servant to a much higher, um, power, a much higher ideal, um, a different way. I mean, you know, love, love is important. Charity, you know, that’s what I love about Charity Water. Just the word charity means love. It goes back to the Latin keratotomy means to help your neighbor in need. So I think we need more of that in the world. More people walking towards that and not away from it. Uh, either being skeptical or cynical about charity, about giving, about generosity, about compassionate, about empathy. So we’re trying to make it, look, I, I loved, um, best, one of the best things I’ve seen recently was a, the Mr. Rogers movie and just that beautiful saying of let’s make goodness attractive. So I would hope that we’re able to do that at Charity. Water with the stories that we tell and the people that we celebrate, uh, around the world. And, and again, not, not hitting people over the head, not pedaling in shame and guilt, but just inviting people, hey, we’re doing this amazing thing. Do you want to, do you want to join the party? It’s a party where we’re creating parties around the world where people get clean water for the first time. Um, or celebrating health. We’re celebrating better education. We’re celebrating women and girls who are now empowered to lead their families and their communities in their countries forward. Uh, it’s, it’s an amazing thing.
Bryan: 00:44:52 Yeah. Well then maybe this is a great place to talk about The Spring and to extend that invitation to anyone who’s hearing this that maybe hasn’t already joined. Will you talk a little bit about what that is and, and why it’s important and how people can participate?
Scott: 00:45:05 Yes. So that’s a great way that people listening can, can learn more about us. Um, The Spring is basically Netflix for clean water or Spotify for clean water. Uh, we wanted to just create a giving community of people who would show up, not just once, you know, maybe not just watch a video online or hear something or read something and say, I’m going to give a hundred dollars or whatever, $10 or $1,000.
Bryan: 00:45:29 Or donate their birthday which you can do as well.
Scott: 00:45:32 Exactly. But we said, look, you know, we’re, we’re loyal to so many of these companies these days. I mean, the average person listening would have 10 subscriptions, right? The HBO and Cinemax, Hulu and Spotify and Netflix and Dropboxes and you know, Youtube Red. I mean, this is, we live in a world where we are paying for content often it’s actually distracting us from our real work or our families or our purpose. So that’s a, that’s a whole nother topic. But could we create a community of people who would show up for clean water in the same way that they are loyal to these other, um, content or, or storage companies. And we would make a promise that whatever they gave, whether it was $30 a month, which is enough to get one person clean water or $60 a month, which would be enough for two people to get clean water or $10 a month, we would use 100% of the money to directly help people get clean water month in, month out. And we would share stories of impact. So we would say, look, these are the people you’re helping in Cambodia, these are the people that are getting help in Ethiopia or Malawi or um, or Nepal or Bangladesh or, so. Uh, that’s called The Spring and we weren’t sure it was going to work. Launched it two years ago and now it’s just been amazing to see this community grow worldwide. We have spring members now in 110 different countries.
Bryan: 00:46:50 It’s awesome.
Scott: 00:46:51 It’s so cool when people write me now and talk about the sacrifices they’re making to join The Spring. So people say, I just had a teenager right recently and say I cancelled my wrestling subscription so that I could give that money. You know, I don’t know WWF or whatever, I guess was selling some sort of subscription. Um, we have people that say, I wish I could give more than $10 a month, but it’s coming out of my pension and I’m in my nineties. But you know, I’ve had the ability to live to 90. You know, I’d like to make that possible for other people and I realized they need clean water to do that. So we would love for sure it’s an invitation for anybody listening to learn more about us. Um, you could just go to Charity Water.org/the spring or a Charity Water.org/spring and there’s actually a video which tells the whole story of Charity Water. Um, if you want to learn a little more about, um, about our work and about this issue and about just how the organization tries to function differently.
Bryan: 00:47:44 No, that’s awesome. My wife and I are part of the spring.
Scott: 00:47:47 Thank you. My wife and I are too. My kids, my kids are a little young, but we’re just, we’re on, we’re on the quarter for garbage kick at the moment. I have a four year old that, um, that has saved up $7 at the moment.
Bryan: 00:47:58 That’s awesome.
Scott: 00:47:59 But I think he wants to buy toys. I’m gonna, I need to work on him.
Bryan: 00:48:02 Okay, so a few questions. Um, the enlightening, right? The, see I have a hard time saying it. The enlightening lightning round.
Scott: 00:48:10 Okay. I like it. I haven’t, I haven’t heard of that before.
Bryan: 00:48:12 A few questions designed to be short answer. You can answer as long as you want. Okay. Number one, please complete the following sentence with something other than a box of chocolates. Okay. Life is like a?
Scott: 00:48:28 Beautiful sunset.
Bryan: 00:48:30 Number two, what’s something at which you wish you were better?
Scott: 00:48:35 Organization.
Bryan: 00:48:37 All right. Number three. If you were required every day for the rest of your life to wear a tee shirt with a slogan on it or a phrase we’re saying or quote or quip, what would the shirt say?
Scott: 00:48:48 Give
Bryan: 00:48:52 Number four. I feel like I just want to touch on that real quick. I’ve heard you say that you encourage people to say, give, not give back. Yeah. Will you just explain that a little bit?
Scott: 00:49:02 Yeah. Look, we hear a lot of this language giving back. My company’s giving back. Um, I just, I don’t think that language is helpful. I think it’s, it’s the language steeped in debt and obligation. You know, you’ve got an iPad in front of me. If I grab that out of your hands, you might say give it back. You know, it’s because I’ve taken a, to me that language implies that we have gotten so fat. We have pillaged and plundered to such an extent that we should probably give a little back, throw a few scraps to the poor. Um, so I don’t like the back part, um, because it’s, uh, it implies that something has been taken. So I just tell people drop back, just talking about giving, just build a culture of giving, frame it only in the positive. Build a culture of giving in your family. Build a culture of giving in your, uh, in your company or in your faith community. Um, frame, giving in the positive giving because it’s a joy and it’s a blessing, not something you feel you have to do because then you’ll deprive yourself. And I believe my last riff on this, the more you give, the more you give. All right. We’ve, we’ve also, we’ve all heard like it’s more blessed to give than receive. I just, I think the more people get in the habit of giving, the more fun they have giving and the more they want to give. Um, but it’s the mindset shift that, you know, I think framing that in the, wow, this I have an opportunity to give. And that could be time, it can be money, it could be mentorship. There’s so many different ways of give. So I just liked the word give, uh, as a standalone.
Bryan: 00:50:35 Awesome. Thank you. Okay. Number four. What book other than your own, have you gifted or recommended most often?
Scott: 00:50:42 I really like C S Lewis’s Surprised by Joy. Uh, in the, in the faith space. I like a lot of stuff from C S Lewis. Um, these days I’ve been gifting E B Whites, Here’s New York.
Bryan: 00:50:55 Why that book?
Scott: 00:50:55 I have a bunch of, oh, it’s a wonderful book about New York City and just the unique crazy place that this is. And it’s, it was written a long time ago and it feels like New York has not changed the, the way that he, now I just, I read it recently and so I’ve been on Ebay you know looking for first additions and they’re like eight or nine bucks, you know, they’re really cheap. But the idea is giving them two employees here who are relocating into the wonderful place that’s New York City.
Bryan: 00:51:23 That’s awesome. All right, number five. So you travel a ton. What’s one travel hack, meaning something you do or something that you take with you when you travel to make your travel less painful or more enjoyable?
Scott: 00:51:35 I like being comfortable on plane, so I’m, I’m doing, as you said, about 70 flights a year. Some, some years before my kids were born almost a hundred. Um, I’m big on really warm, cozy wool socks. I have some nice wool socks and I like the long underwear and sweatpants. I hate being cold on a plane. So I am wearing two layers, cozy sweatpants, long underwear every time, you know, really, really warm socks. And I, I may look a little stupid on planes but.
Bryan: 00:52:06 But you’re warm.
Scott: 00:52:07 I’m warm and I’m comfortable.
Bryan: 00:52:09 Are you flying something above coach class yet? That’s an interesting story. So you know, again, back to the integrity or the stewardship value. Um, you know, charity waters now raised almost $400 million. And again, that’s thanks to the generosity of, of everyday people from all around the world that have said yes to the, this issue of clean water. Um, we have never bought a business class ticket for myself or anybody else at the organization and that’s just a stewardship principle. Um, I am taking the upgrades whenever I get them. I mean, I’m the highest status with Delta. I’m a longtime Diamond member. Um, believe me, I’m using those vouchers to, to upgrade whenever possible. Um, and if a conference, if Google’s flying me out to Europe, um, for a day, I’m happy to let them pay for it. Um, but never our donors.
Bryan: 00:52:57 That’s amazing.
Scott: 00:52:57 So I, I’ll tell you a really funny story about this. I was with, actually yesterday I was at a conference, it was just talking about this and it was a couple of people who live in New Zealand and they can actually afford to fly business. And he said, think about it this way. He said, think about it. If you are expecting to fly business and you turn up and they put you in the back of the bus, right? And you’re just all upset. And you know, you just had, 16 hours to New Zealand, have a really uncomfortable flight, right? Let’s say, and this is a business traveler. He says, imagine you land. And this, the, um, the steward walks up and says, I’m so, so sorry for your inconvenience. Here’s an envelope with $7,000. What would you think you’d be like, oh my gosh. No convenience at all. Right? Yeah. So I think, you know, when it’s $7,000 of your donor’s money, right. The difference between, I mean, I’m flying to Ethiopia all the time, it’s 900 and coach and it’s like 7,900 in, in business. So that’s, that’s three quarters of a, well, I mean, you start putting that in people. So it’s, it’s been a very, very easy decision to make, uh, here at the organization, you know, 12 years in.
Bryan: 00:54:05 That’s a big deal, I think. Um, okay. What’s one thing you’ve started or stopped doing in order to live or age well?
Scott: 00:54:20 I’m trying to get a lot better. Uh, um, I’m trying to get a lot better with my relationship with devices, with young kids now, shutting down the phone at night, getting it out of the bedroom. Finding, um, I just, I just, um, got a small point and shoot camera because that was my excuse of having the phone. So now I’m leaving the house, leaving my phone in the apartment and I’ll just go out with the camera with the kids on bikes or whatever. So, um, I, I have not mastered that yet. Uh, I’m a kind of power email. I mean we’re, you know, we’re running an organization that’s in a period of growth and we’re hiring 20 people and there’s, there’s just a lot going on with the travel. But I’m really trying to, I, I feel like the phone is aging my brain poorly and the devices and just this constant on a, we were expected to be instantly texting people back, instantly emailing them back. And it just feels really unhealthy as a dad, as a husband, as a, you know, it feels unhealthy for my emotionally. So I’m exploring more of the sabbath, really trying to take a day off and just go dark.
Bryan: 00:55:25 Good for you and your family. That’s great. Um, what’s one thing you wish every American knew?
Scott: 00:55:33 When it comes to giving Americans believe that we are doing infinitely more than we are for the poor around the world. And you know, one stat that I think shocks people is so Americans are known as being very generous, give away a lot of money. Uh, only 4% of all that money goes to help people outside the United States of America. Only 4%. 96% of all American philanthropic giving stays here. Our faith communities, our hospitals, our universities.
Bryan: 00:56:06 Are you talking about individuals?
Scott: 00:56:07 Yeah.
Bryan: 00:56:07 Okay. Because I understand there’s like foreign aide.
Scott: 00:56:11 Yeah but USA ID is way, way less than people think to look. So I wish that Americans would go and actually see how little we’re doing to be a great neighbor. You could argue around the world little, we are sharing our resources with people in dire need. You know, we’re not born into the same affluence as us and I just, every time I ask people, how much do you think is going over? Oh, 20%, 30%. It’s tiny, 4%.
Bryan: 00:56:36 And we’re spending on the military a lot of it. Yep. So, okay. Um, last question from the enlightening lightning round. What’s the best relationship advice you’ve ever received and successfully applied?
Scott: 00:56:50 Expectations. Setting expectations are very, very important. Uh, I have, and I think I do this pretty well with my wife sitting down sinking calendars. Here’s what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks. Hey, this is going to be a month where there’s a lot of travel, but it then it’s followed by a month where I’m home for three and a half weeks and here’s, you know, just, just knowing what is coming has been really, really helpful and that’s helped us with planning and I’m really not take my wife or kids by surprise. I’m, I’m starting to do with my son now. Okay listen, Daddy’s going to be gone for a week and a half in Rwanda and Uganda. It’s going to feel like a really long time, but I’m coming back and then I’m taking the whole week off and we’re going to spend that time as a family. Just, you know, being able to communicate the ebbs and flows and you know, I don’t feel like I have balance in my life, but there’s a, there’s periods of extreme on and then there’s periods of hopefully extreme presence with, with the family and with loved ones.
Bryan: 00:57:54 Yeah. Do you have a formal process that you do, like a Sunday evening planning or.
Scott: 00:57:59 Not as good as I should. It’s more ad hoc, but yeah, but you do em, I’ll grab my wife and make her sit down next to me on the couch and look at the calendar for the next month. My wife’s a creative, so she’s, Oh, can we do that later? I’m like, no, we have to do this now. You need to know what is coming up.
Bryan: 00:58:14 Yeah. Okay. So the last question, questions that I have for you, just a couple more about creating the creative process and how you got the book done. Before I get to that, let me just put this in here too, so I’m not squeezing it at the end. Um, as one way of expressing gratitude to you for making time to talk with me and everybody who’s listening today, um, I’ve done a couple things. One, I’ve gone on Charity Water.org and made a hundred dollar donation.
Scott: 00:58:39 Oh, thank you so much.
Bryan: 00:58:40 And, um, it’s, it’s my pleasure. And I’ve also, I do this for every guest. I, I’ll go to kiva.org and I made $100 a micro lawn.
Scott: 00:58:49 Very cool. Which will keep, keep giving.
Bryan: 00:58:51 Yeah, that’s right. So this one’s for that. This was to a woman in, in Liberia, a woman named Beatrice who will use this money to buy more fish to sell. Oh, how cool. So that that happened. And then, um, let me ask this as well. So if people want to learn more from you, they want to learn more about Charity Water, they want to get involved, what would you have them do?
Scott: 00:59:12 Sure. I would say Charity Water.org/spring is the best place to start. Um, go watch that video. That’ll lead you to others. Consider joining us in community as you’re able. Um, and then the book Thirst is, you know, I kind of put it all out there. It’s, it’s 100,000 words of, of the personal story. Growing the organization, some of the challenges and just screw ups. I mean, we did some really boneheaded things early on and um, hope that by sharing some of those failures, it would maybe be a lesson for others. And they could avoid some of the same mistakes. And you know, one thing just to mention with the book, you know, 100% of my advance, all the proceeds go to the organization. So I don’t make a penny from any of the, any of the sales internationally or domestically. So you are actually supporting Charity Water and, and people that need clean water just by picking up Thirst.
Bryan: 01:00:00 That’s awesome. That’s really great. Okay. So the last question about the creative process. So writing a book is already very challenging and writing a book while you’re running an organization and balancing all of your other home responsibilities and your own health and faith and all of that is challenging. Will you tell me just a thumbnail or whatever feels appropriate? How did you, as a practical matter, how did you get this book written?
Scott: 01:00:27 Yeah, well I knew that I wanted to work with a writing partner. So this is complicated by the fact that I think I’m a really good writer and I think I’m a better writer than I am at most things. I’m a better writer than a photographer, better writer than CEO. I mean, I was a journalism major. I was writing for the local paper when I was 13, so this is just, um, I just, I loved reading as a kid. My parents would let me watch one hour of TV a week. So I just, I was an avid, avid reader and lover of, of English. So when I, I also realized that running this organization, um, demanded everything from me. So I went, uh, probably met with four or five different writers and, um, finally clicked with this amazing woman named Lisa Sweetingham in, in the Palisades in California. And she just really worked with me to help me talk out the book, came to Uganda with me, uh, would try to get me to go there and these dark places that I didn’t really want to go. I’m a futurist. I like thinking about forward. Um, and I think I was very fortunate because I had written so much during the process. Um, so there was a lot of stuff from childhood that was written down, uh, the toughest part where the 10 years of club years where I was just just drugging and drinking my way through New York City. So we did a lot of interviews with people that I’d worked with, some people that I had screwed, unfortunately over that time, some club owners, uh, that I had worked for. And those interviews would trigger the memories. Oh my gosh, I completely forgot about that. Oh, I can tell you exactly what the air smelled like or where I was or, you know. Right. So they would bring back these vivid memories. Um, and then the Mercy ships, uh, the period from getting on that ship, I wrote almost every day on the ship. So that was almost too much of my own words, uh, writing about the patients, writing about Dr Gary, writing back home. So there were all, there were probably hundreds of thousands of words on record just from that two year period. And it was then so helpful to have Lisa saying, this is not interesting. You know, you want to include it all. I mean, I was going to write a doorstop. I was going to write a half a million for anybody who would let me. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Thank goodness. Release it. So it was a, it was a really great collaboration. We spent a lot of time together. She became a member of the family. My wife loves her. Uh, and uh, and then again, you know, the Charity Water stuff, so much was, was documented. I mean there’s a, there’s a mentor in the, in the book, uh, called Ross and you know, I think I just did a search in my email inbox and they were 10,000 emails plus. Saved, that we had written back and forth to each other. So it was just this wealth of information. It was really trying to find the most relevant parts that would be useful to people. That would be interesting. That would move the story along.
Bryan: 01:03:23 And then how did you structure your time? I mean, how long did it take from the time that you found Lisa and agreed to work together to the time you got it done? And what did your working sessions sessions look like in between that?
Scott: 01:03:34 Two years, uh, from the beginning to the end. And there would be a lot of time on the phone with Lisa, a lot of time in person. And then there would be these moments where I would go off for a week and I would write in a cabin. I would leave my family, um, literally right in a hotel, a cabin in the Catskills. Um, somebody gave me a little writer’s house in Los Angeles, um, wrote at a house in the winter in the Hamptons. So I would have these kind of week long blocks where, you know, Monday morning through Saturday, and then I’d come back and see my kids on Sunday and I’d go to work. So really, the family made some sacrifices during that period of time for sure. But I needed just the flow time to be completely disconnected from work. And, and in writing mode.
Bryan: 01:04:23 Did you have a soundtrack music or no music?
Scott: 01:04:26 Oh, interesting. Um, the, I did kind of have a soundtrack. There’s one song that I would write two, which is a William Orbits version of Adagio for strings that I would have on repeat. And that actually was something that I used to edit photos too in Liberia that just worked for me. Um, the other song, uh, that, or the album that I would play a lot was weightless by Marconi Union. Which they say is the most relaxing song in the world.
Bryan: 01:04:52 Well, how would they measure that?
Scott: 01:04:54 I don’t know. A bunch of data sciences at MIT or something? No, actually articles on that. There’s, I guess look analyzing the sound waves or, there’s a whole science to that, but Marconi Union Weightless it’s on Spotify. It’s awesome.
Bryan: 01:05:07 Awesome. And then caffeine or no caffeine.
Scott: 01:05:10 Caffeine and some red wine.
Bryan: 01:05:12 And what’s your favorite delivery vehicle for Caffeine? Tea. Coffee.
Scott: 01:05:15 Just coffee. Yeah, I drink black coffee.
Bryan: 01:05:20 Okay. And then the final thing is, what do you say to someone who wants to complete their own book, but they either maybe feel they don’t, they don’t know exactly what to say. They don’t believe they can do it. They don’t know where to start or they’re in the process, but they may feel stuck. What do you, what do you have by there?
Scott: 01:05:39 I don’t know. I was gonna I was going to, wow. It’s really, really hard. And then when you’re done the book, then the hard work really starts. Yeah. Cause then you’ve got to get it out there and promote it. And that’s, you know, some people who are really have a skill at writing, you know, almost turned into a, uh, shy, oh, I don’t know if I really, was it good? Did I have anything to say? I mean, you’ve got to be freely out there believing that what you said is, is what people need to just cut through the noise of, you know, how many books are published. And I don’t have the stats, but it’s all, it’s all daunting. You have to be really committed, let’s say to the process. Um, all the way through and count the cost that, you know, I really thought that when I was done and turned the manuscript and there was this kind of deep breath. No, no, no, no. That’s when you add another 12 to 15 months of really, really hard work.
Bryan: 01:06:33 Editing and promoting?
Scott: 01:06:34 Editing, promoting a book tour. I mean, you’re out there, you’re out there telling the story.
Bryan: 01:06:41 What from your journalism background was useful for you and were there any specific teachers or you know, people, just people that you learn from? What did you learn from them? What was useful for you?
Scott: 01:06:52 I think just curiosity. I’m a really curious person. I want to know how things work. Um, I’m interested in, in motives and uh, that just, I ask a lot of questions
Bryan: 01:07:02 Right on. Okay. Well those, that was my final question. The last thing I just want to share with you is, um, when I read about your Rolex. Yeah. Um, I realized, and I don’t know that I’ll put this in the podcast, so maybe Dallan and I might producer can talk about if this goes in, but I have a Rolex and by.
Scott: 01:07:24 Someone just asked me where, where mine was the other day this week. So we just said you still have your Rolex it, I don’t.
Bryan: 01:07:35 Do you remember what happened with it?
Scott: 01:07:36 I do. I think I got drunk and I left it on a bedside table in Chicago.
Bryan: 01:07:40 Oh, are you serious? What kind was it? Do you remember?
Scott: 01:07:42 Before Mercy ships. It was an oyster perpetual.
Bryan: 01:07:45 So I bought, I bought this rolex about 10 years ago and I realized I don’t wear it much anymore at all. So it just sits in my house. But I’ve been thinking, um, that I’ve actually found somebody who’s agreed to buy this. So then I want to give Charity Water the money from this watch. So yeah. So I understand a well is about 10 grand. Yeah. And somebody’s going to pay me about 12 grand for this.
Scott: 01:08:12 Actually, you can do a well for 12 at 10 to 12. So it depends on the country.
Bryan: 01:08:15 So before I leave here today, I want to give you a check for 12 grand for, for the sale of this watch.
Scott: 01:08:22 You look at that, you took something from your closet and a whole community is going to get access to clean water.
Bryan: 01:08:27 Isn’t that cool?
Scott: 01:08:28 That’s awesome. Um, I’m just thinking about you ever want to go to the fields?
Bryan: 01:08:33 Yeah I do.
Scott: 01:08:35 Um, I’m just thinking about where to, where to do that. Okay. Let me think about it. What a cool, what a cool story.
Bryan: 01:08:41 Yeah. So I actually bought this and my story behind the watch was I told myself that I was going to buy a black face steel Daytona Rolex when I achieved profitability for business. And then it just, it wasn’t happening. It wasn’t happening. And then I made a switch. I said, well, why don’t I buy a white one instead? And I’ll use it and say, oh, every time I look at it, I’ll remain myself. Just love yourself as you are profitable, not profitable, whatever. And then I bought it and I was like, I don’t need this, you know.
Scott: 01:09:14 Obviously I won’t use your name, but I’m going to put this on. Uh, just tell the story cause this is like, this inspires people to think differently. I know people that have 50 watches… I just think it’s such an interesting idea of getting people. So I had a guy once. Um, I had a guy once that heard me speak and he’s going to buy a BMW and he bought Prius instead, donated the difference to us, which I thought was just a really cool way of thinking about it. Um, I was a certain fun with it depends on, I don’t know what I’ll do with it. I just, I think it’s a cool idea that um, that this, this is a well.
New Speaker: 01:10:09 Well but I saw your whole thing was about time in San Francisco. Cause there’s a lot of people, I think that, you know, I could invite you to that service. Yeah. Oh, it’s such a, it’s such a cool idea. Um, as well. I love it. Do you mind if I get a picture of you with it? Let me very good years and then pass it on. So I figured if you just generated Russia. Yeah. So I know you’re gonna run, this will tell you minutes. Yeah, of course. And I’m going to run to another meeting so you can take all your time and then I’ll try really fish on your, yeah, this is a very straight into charity water. I’ll connect you with someone, you know, if you’re willing to come, if you want to come and see it at some point, that’ll dictate where I put it, so, okay. Yeah. And I realize that. Okay.
Speaker 2: 01:11:00 You put it wherever.
Speaker 4: 01:11:02 Yeah. I love it. At some point I’d love to come to the field, the cool and visits. Okay. Any family info here? I really enjoyed that. I don’t enjoy all. So, um, let’s, uh, I’ll let you know if I am ever solid city. Do you know? Then you can even just supposed to dinner or something. Right now I often will present, cause I think you’ve spoken in Texas, so I’m connecting with that community as we, and we’re always looking for how we can use salons and things. Yeah. Great. Okay. All right. Thanks Amy. And generosity. That’s cool. Thank you for your word about my life when I do one every year. Awesome.
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