I was moved to tears on more than one occasion watching the kids at the Sanimarco School care for each other in such profound ways—no “Mean Girls” or petty fighting among these students.
They all have a voracious appetite for education and they embrace gratefulness for what little they have in possessions and creature comforts.
How they express unconditional love and support for each other is a lesson for a lifetime and an example for all of us to follow.
When water and electricity are luxuries…and a deflated soccer ball is a prized possession…pettiness, jealousy and so many other emotions many of us obsess about daily are non-existent.
For those of you who were not following these blogs the last few weeks, Titans Marketing was able to donate a classroom to the Sanimarco school in rural Kenya thanks to so many of you who have bought educational products from me or participated in the growth of Titans over the past 4 years.
This was the 12th school built in Kenya by Village Impact. It was a privilege to participate. Please check out their site–they do amazing work.
The classroom is officially “Titans of Kenya”
Two big takeaways from this trip which I hope resonate with you in some way:
Many of you wrote to me over the past few weeks expressing a sentiment I felt while I was there too—specifically, “why are folks who have the means to travel and make a difference in a foreign country not doing more right here in the United States where there is more poverty and depravation than we would like to admit?”
It’s hard to argue with that point so I won’t.
I can only tell you that making a difference in as many places as we can where we can teach more (and support education)—which maximizes the number of people we can encourage to “go forth and multiply” (i.e. teach what they learn to others around the world)–is always worthwhile.
I’m sure you know this quote and it is especially applicable here:
Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime
The notion of building a school which becomes the focal point of any community, foreign or domestic, is an exponential contribution and it’s one that we should always look to participate in whenever we have the opportunity.
And those kids in Kenya are well aware that it was mostly Americans and Canadians who donated that school…and I’m confident that they will all want to come to North America someday to share all they have learned.
Maybe one of those Kenyan students becomes a doctor or scientist and comes up with a cure to some dreaded disease? And who might he or she help first?
Just throwing that out there.
Having said that, only a few miles up the road from my house in Connecticut is the city of Bridgeport where there is a pressing need for more volunteers to help with programs in the schools–and participating there at least partially inspired this trip to Kenya.
I’m sure you have similar opportunities in your communities.
In Bridgeport, my wife goes into the classrooms to help challenged students learn how to read—a program called “Book Buddies”; in Kenya, we went into classrooms to try to make a difference any way we could too.
While I will tell you that the students in Kenya were grateful for the “free pencil cases” we gave out (as kids in Bridgeport would be as well), I know they are far more grateful for the school itself and the long term education and stability the new schools will supply for them.
Their gratefulness for being able to attend school every day is about:
“Presence over presents.”
“Learning to fish.”
One thing that was particularly striking among the children we met in Kenya was how much responsibility is put on each of them, even at a very young age.
That is, I saw numerous kids as young as 12 years old caring for younger siblings, even bringing them to school with them since there was no one else at home to watch them.
And these same students often need to miss school to work on behalf of the “family business” whether it’s farming, crafts or whatever brings in revenue to their households.
But it was this caring for their siblings, almost as surrogate parents, that got to me—and put a whole new meaning on a topic we talk so much about here, especially in our business community:
When I had an opportunity to speak in front of the 12 year olds who are the students in the “Titans of Kenya” classroom (through an interpreter although so many of these kids speak fluent English too), I wanted to teach them about mentoring and the importance of passing on their wisdom to the next generation.
Then I realized that I was telling them something they already knew.
The importance of mentors and mentoring was paramount in my life but only crystalized for me when I turned 40– but this is something that is part of their makeup, almost from birth.
I also got to speak with students who are now in high school in some of the schools built by Village Impact years ago, and it was clear that they all come back to the primary schools to teach and encourage…and mentor.
It’s amazing how much these kids know about mentorship without ever being taught about it.
All I can say in summary is that I came home believing more than ever that being wealthy is a blessing and not a curse since it is how we can do more—that is, live on what we need (and still take good care of the “prized racehorse”—us!)—and then figure out the most productive ways to give away as much as possible, in money and time, to create the most impact possible.
And I believe it starts with education and schools—which produces the maximum return in terms of gratefulness– but more importantly, it is the key to creating world class mentors so everything gets paid forward in the future.
And the next time I find myself complaining about a flat tire, traffic, a blackout, or not having enough hot water…anything that has no bearing on long term happiness or is simply an inconvenience…I will think fondly on the Titans of Kenya and know they can power through much more than I ever will.
P.S. I hope you don’t mind that I took a little break from marketing info this week.
But I’m sure you all agree, the overlap of “marketing information” and “personal development” is much more significant than meets the eye.
In fact, the publisher of my new book, Hay House, is known as the premier publisher of personal development content in the world; yet they recently created a “business imprint” because they are aware of this huge overlap and wanted to address a need in the marketplace.
Hay House, like all of you, knows that everyone needs marketing knowledge.
I plan on making the case with my new book—to marketers everywhere AND anyone involved in the personal development space—that “marketing is not evil” and that making lots of money inside of our mission has no downside.
As I’ve said before, why share your life’s work with dozens of people when you can share it with millions?
The lesson is, I think, that to be a great marketer you need integrity, heart, congruence, conviction and of course some marketing smarts—and when you add being a great humanitarian to that formula, and you are always looking to improve, you will be a “better-than-great marketer.”
As I said in my reflections from Kenya, I encourage all of you to be rich beyond belief (with money and personal satisfaction) so you can live a glorious life–and on the money front, give away as much as possible so that others can live glorious lives too.
And thanks to many of you for pointing out that we don’t necessarily have to go to Africa (or anywhere outside of our own community or country) to do any of this great work either.
Just do it where it feels right for you.
I know I am not saying anything all that profound or something you don’t know already—consider it a reminder.
P.P.S. We went on a safari after spending time with the Titans of Kenya and there were some additional lessons learned in the jungle, albeit a little more violent.
Seeing in real time many “circle of life moments”…how animals in the wild have to live day-to-day since they never know when they will go from a happy-go-lucky zebra grazing in the grass to becoming a full course dinner for a hungry lion, is a reminder to live in the moment and do good deeds every day.
And of course we should all eat well and only the healthiest food too!
And then there is another piece of advice learned on safari:
Always watch your step since you never know what might be lurking in the grass under your feet…