Time To Make A Difference

I’m sitting here writing this out on my iPad. It’s been one of those days, that come up from time to time, when I feel like my abilities and ambitions are unmatched by what goes on in my daily life. I don’t actually know at the time of this dictation whether or not this post will ever make it to the website, but I feel it necessary to create it, just to help maybe get the thoughts out of my head and put onto paper.

All the work we’ve been preparing for the overseas project that some of you have heard about has run into its traditional snags. Anytime a firm like mine has to deal with foreign governments, foreign laws, foreign accounting, and foreign politics all on the same project, things are bound to go awry. It’s nothing new. It happened on the last overseas project and it will happen on the next one. But it is still disappointing when you generate so much momentum and then have to come to a screeching halt because of things out of your control. It takes tremendous amounts of effort, primarily volunteer effort, to generate the momentum necessary to start something of this caliber. It’s like a train – all of you stand behind it and push, and you know that train is an incredibly heavy, almost impossible object to move, but through sheer force of will and human effort and imagination you manage to get it rolling. It is by no means a downhill roll, but as long as you remain on flat ground it is at least possible.

Recent international politics have thrown boulders onto the tracks we were rushing down, knocked out the other tracks, and basically put on the brakes. So my team and I sit here, chests heaving, panting with exertion, but still able to see the goal at the end of the tracks. There is a long road ahead, and lots of repairs to be done before momentum can be regained, but it is still possible.

If you fast-forward a couple days you come to where I am now. I sit here, on my patio under the stars, watching them twinkle above and listening to the sounds of distant rolling thunder – something which seems synonymous with where my life is right now. I look out across the world from my safe warm haven here at home and there are so many places, like tiny dancing stars, places where I could make a difference. Much like every kid at home looks at the stars and hopes to someday travel there, or wonders what it would be like – I sit here terrestrially bound, unable to come up with a way to launch myself towards those goals.

I have a few skills, apparently skills that many people do not possess. I get a lot of credit for things I’m really not very skilled at – hobbies, interests, other things people comment about on Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate those comments, the compliments, any interaction I received from viewers. It’s nice to have them to interact with. But the things I am truly good at I am rarely able to bring to bear on a task. My life, for the most part, doesn’t place me in positions where those skills can be utilized to their maximum effect.

I’ve been sitting here all day, pondering ways to put my desires and my strengths together – to direct myself towards one cohesive purpose that would both satisfy my need to be challenged as well as my desire to help people. Throughout the last few months, I’ve been working quietly in the background with a few key people across the world to put some things together that could help a lot of people, potentially tens of thousands of people. What has amazed me, and indeed what has driven me to the point I find myself at right now, is that it is really not that hard to find good hearted people, people willing to step out of their comfort zone to help others, people willing to do so for a meager wage. That is one of my strengths. I have an innate and almost uncanny ability to find the right people at the right time for the right task. I have worked all over the world, and I’ve never outsourced the hiring of a single person on any of my teams. In fact I’ve never hired anyone I didn’t personally select. And after doing this for almost 20 years, it occurs to me now that I don’t regret a single one of them. Each of them filled a vital role at the time, though not always a role that served in perpetuity. Each of them taught me something. I learned from all of them. And I hope that some of them learned a thing or two from me along the way. So there is my first talent – the ability to put the right people on the right task at the right time in the right manner. I’m a team builder. And thus far throughout all my ventures, a 100% successful one at that. And I have managed to do it all without ever being on the wrong side of the law and I don’t owe back taxes.

My second strength is the need to get dirty and tired. I’ve chosen a career that relies on my brain 90% of the time, but the kind of person I am requires that I sweat, ache, and sometimes bleed in order to feel like I’m doing enough. I need to be tired at the end of the day. I need to build things, whether intellectual or physical constructs – It needs to be something I can look back on and see progress. I can work on flowcharts, Gantt chart’s, network diagrams, engineering specifications – I can do all of these things for days, and feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. But I can build a fence, dig in a new garden, build a roof over a barn, work a pasture, or do anything that allows me to look back when I’m done and see drastic change and feel like I have accomplished everything I needed to. That has always translated well for me in my professional career because it makes me tend to lead from the front. I don’t know the famous colonel or general that said it, but there’s a saying about good leaders leading from the front not from behind. Given the opportunity, I want to be the first one in the field on any project and I want to be the last one to fall over from exhaustion at the end of the day. I know it isn’t applicable for every enterprise, but it works well for me and the kind of person I want to be.

I guess I should clarify a little better – maybe my second strength would be better defined as the need to have a challenge. I want to do things other people can’t. I want to go where other people are scared to go. I want to tackle the projects that seem like underdogs that no one else wants to bother with. I want the things that are too hard, or too time-consuming. I especially love the challenges where others have failed and I am given the opportunity to succeed in their place. Don’t get me wrong – I’m fully aware that this is the direct result of being professionally vain and having too much ego. But again, it’s not overconfidence if you really are that good – and if the end result is success, then you know you were up to the task – that you were that good. The problem with that is now you have to seek a bigger challenge. If the last project goal was difficult and you were able to see it through to completion, then the next thing has to be even more difficult to be intellectually or physically rewarding.

Lastly, whether it’s a strength or not I don’t know, but I have a huge desire to make a difference. It’s not to leave some kind of legacy behind – something that says Tommy Jordan was here. My ego isn’t that big. Rather, it just helps me feel better being me.

So now what to do. What I have at my disposal are volunteers from various parts of the world, skilled in various things, and possessed of many usable traits. Like myself, they want to give back to the people that have made the world they live in a better place. Unlike myself, they have suffered real and true hardships. Some of them have suffered things I can only imagine. But the point is they want to help. So I have myself, some people from across the world, a great executive team in my own company, and lots of dots on the map that we could visit. Within our realm of influence we can gather help from people like Doctors without Borders, the WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, and many other entities.

Our team is light,nimble, and effective. We lack the bureaucracy that slows down the larger corporations and organizations. I am not publicly traded, nor do I ever intend to be. I have no one to answer to but my own conscience, my wife, and God.

One of my teammates and I sat together today over a cup of coffee and the subject of our conversation really hit me. I’ve traveled the world and make things better for a few people. He has traveled the world and make things better for a few people. One of the members of our team has done more for strangers than even I will ever know or be able to talk about. It struck me today that we, collectively, have the ability and desire to bring about change – real change, for people across the world – simply through our stubbornness, refusal to fail, and huge drive to help others. What I need now is the help to get started.

I can put the teams together to rebuild schools in Third World countries. I can assemble the teams and personnel to bring electricity to villages or cities that don’t have it. My friend and I were talking about Tanzania today – there are places there where something like drilling wells could bring both job opportunities and an improvement in the daily lives of thousands of people. How easy it would be for me to take a small team down to a country like that – to teach a few people how to teach other people to locate water, and dig wells. After that it is a simple stretch to basic well-fed irrigation. That leads to a new market. They can grow their own food. Places like this are rich with culture, crafts, and other items that could be popular the world over. How easy it would be while we are there to set up small shops, establish satellite connectivity, and teach these people to sell their wares across the world. We live in a country where every little trinket is made in China and Indonesia using slave labor. Within 12 months we could change that. The money spent in one tiny upscale boutique buying imported crap from China, would translate to enough money to help feed an entire village of 500 for over a year. We could simply sell the items to a distributor here in the US, fly them over on planes from DHL just like everyone else, and send the proceeds back to the people who created the items the first place. Imagine the gratification of going down to a Third World village and within 2 to 3 years having helped them establish basic local agricultural independence, the beginnings of financial improvements for their communities, or raise money for schools.

A key step in making this project succeed is complete global social network transparency. Every step could be broadcast to the world. Every small improvement could be seen by those of us at home who contribute or donate. Once this kind of project was started, everyone would want to get behind it. corporations across the world are seeking ways to shed hundreds of millions of dollars in tax liability. We set up a global nonprofit. We don’t run it through the Red Cross or anyone else that has already shown to the world they don’t know how to distribute the funds they are given. We set up a new entity entirely, one that is transparent to the public and staffed with people who really care. These are things I have the ability to do, but not the funds.

Imagine leveraging the press for something like this. One of the very cool things about the fame I’ve received over the last two years is the fact that I have producers from NBC, ABC, CBS, Discovery Channel, MTV, and even Oprah Winfrey on speed dial. I know independent reporters and camera crews who could film this documentary, produce the world’s first real reality television – letting people see what their contributions are doing to help the lives of others. I’ve already spoken to one producer and a couple videographers who would love to take some time out of their life to document stories like this day by day. Thanks to Facebook we could post the changes in people’s lives in real time.

What I need from the world, the one thing that maybe my dwindling fame could make possible, is not letting this post get lost amidst the clutter of cyberspace. If the right person at the right corporation were to see this and realize its potential, that’s all it would take. One company who wanted to donate some time and money to get this started could change the world for many people. We could launch this project. I don’t even need to be the one to decide where we go – there are so many places across the world that could use help, maybe we make it a social experiment. We could come up with a list of 25 places to start, launch a website detailing each of them, and let the world and viewers decide where we go first. Once we begin, updates are made daily, even hourly, on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and the website.

If memory serves me correctly, in the last few weeks both Facebook and Apple have been in the news for the amount of massive taxes they avoided paying. If companies like this would give a mere pittance, it would still be a tax deduction, but imagine what I could do with it. Figures like $25,000 and $50,000 sound like a lot to you or me, but they’re nothing to big business. With about $100,000 in capital, I could launch this project. Within six months we could be in place across the world at some remote location, with boots on the ground, helping people improve their lives. Once there, the social sphere in cyberspace itself would drive the momentum. Seeing small changes and improvements in the lives of people half a world away will inspire others to come on board.

Anyway, this is what has been taking up all my time the last six months or so. This is why you haven’t seen me blogging much or making many updates to the website. I lie here in my bed at night, staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep while this idea runs through my head. I want to affect change. I want to be the catalyst for something amazing. I want you to help.

Whether or not you think it’s possible, if you at least believe that there’s a possibility that there are people out there that would want to help with something like this, then I simply encourage you to share this blog post with them. I’ll do the work. I have enough people at my disposal already to know we can make this a possibility. I don’t want to do it the way everyone else has in the past. I’ve never seen an organization effectively do this anywhere in the world. Every time you hear about something like this on the news is usually because of the scandal, tax evasion, corporate shady dealings and the like. You never hear about it being done correctly. That is a challenge I would like to accept, but somewhere across the world I need the first corporation, philanthropist, or just a generous benefactor to get started.

PS: Apple, if you’re listening – I recorded this entire blog post via dictation with Siri on my iPad.

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