How Would You Change the World with $100?

Last weekend I was in Portland, Oregon at the World Domination Summit.

No, this was not a conference for evil masterminds who want to rule the world.

It was a weekend convergence of 1000 people from all over the world who want to live unconventionally, follow their passions, and make a meaningful difference in their own lives and the lives of others.

The World Domination Summit is the brainchild of Chris Guillebeau — world traveler, best-selling author, philanthropist, and founder of the blogย  The Art of Non-Conformity (and book by the same name). He created the Empire Building Kit, an amazing course on creating your own lifestyle business, and just released the bookย  The $100 Startup.

Chris is the real deal — a gentleman, a person of integrity, someone who is actively changing the world in his own self-effacing but unconventional way.

During the conference, we heard from several amazing keynote speakers including Dr. Brene Brown, who spoke on courage and vulnerability. Her TED speech will give you an idea of the power of her presentation.

We also heard from J. D. Roth, the founder of Get Rich Slowly; Susan Cain, the author of the new bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking; and mega-blogger Chris Brogan among others.

The most compelling keynote address was from Scott Harrison, the founder of Charity Water, a non-profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries.ย  Scott's personal story of how he transformed himself and created a wildly successful non-profit helping 800 million people have access to clean water, is moving and inspirational.

These are just a sampling of the many presentations, workshops, and events that were a part of this unforgettable and transformational weekend.

But the most amazing happening during the event occurred during the last 10 minutes of the entire Summit.

Chris Guillebeau was winding up the conference in a final talk. He was summing up the powerful work not only of the presenters and speakers, but also of all of the Summit attendees. He mentioned that one attendee from the 2010 Summit was so impressed with the event that he/she made an anonymous donation of $100,000 to the event.

That alone made the audience gasp.

But then Chris knocked our socks off.

He said as he was brainstorming the best use for this money, he had a realization. There were 1000 people attending the event. That $100,000 could provide $100 for every person at the event. What better use for this money than to put it into the hands of 1000 change-makers.

So here's what he did.

He handed every single attendee an envelope which contained a crisp $100 bill and a note which reads:

The $100 Investment

Thanks for making #WDS2012 a fantastic experience. We'd love to see how you can put these funds to good use. Start a project, surprise someone, or do something entirely different — it's up to you.

So now I am charged with making something of this $100 gift. And when the envelope was handed to me, my first thought was of all of you. You are the people who have transformed me, helped me to live my passion, and hopefully make a difference in the world.

So now I'm turning to you. This is our $100 to use for something good.

  • How can we make it grow?
  • Where should we use the money?
  • How can the over 11,000 of us (+ thousands of other non-subscribed readers) work together to really make a substantial difference?

Please, please share your ideas in the comments below.

I will outline your ideas in a future post, and we will decide together how to turn this $100 bill into a powerful force to make a difference in the world!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 24 comments
  • Carrie Smith

    I’ve been thinking about this question since WDS ended (I didn’t get to go, but I personally know bloggers that did and I also know about Chris and his work). My thoughts about this; if I was given the $100 I would reinvest it in myself/my business to jump start my next project. A digital product like an iPhone app, a get out of debt toolkit or other sort of ebook (since I currently have no digital products). I want it to be something super practical that a lot of people could use and be helped in their daily lives. We have a lot of advice and tips out there, but it’s not particularly practical.

    I would then offer the product to my readers for a small fee and donate all the proceeds to Charity Water or other charity that I care about. For me, this would be the perfect mix of overcoming my fear by publishing a digital product, that would also help people and then of course better others by donating the proceeds (or a portion of them). But since you already have products and openly share very inspiring work, you might be able to have a variation of my idea. That’s just what I’ve been thinking about. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Marci | Liberating Choices

      Sounds like a great conference Barrie! I love Carrie’s idea. Invest in your business and then give the proceeds of sales to a charity.

      Or, maybe you will meet someone in the next week that needs it more than you do. Keep your ears open and then just give it away. I think it doesn’t have to be a huge gesture to change the world. It can be a small random act of kindness that changes someone’s day. Opens an opportunity to them or provides them with something they couldn’t get/have on their own. I say let the world guide you to this person and share the story with us!

      Barrie Davenport

      You are so right Marci. Sometimes just one small ripple can have a huge impact. I will keep my eyes and ears open! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Gary Alexander

      That is a great gesture, my passion is to always put someone else’s needs before my own. Life is so much more fulfilling when you can change another persons life! Great idea God Bless!!!!

      Barrie Davenport

      That’s a fantastic idea Carrie. You would be helping others with your work and creating an income generating product that would provide money for a great charity. That’s very cool!

  • Meg

    I don’t have a lot of money to donate to various causes, but my charity of choice is Heifer International because, like you are trying to create, they parlay a small flock or herd or even just one animal into a force for change in a community, then a region, and hence the world.

    At the moment, I don’t yet have an idea for the $100, but it is that concept of exponential expansion that I share with you, and I’ll put in in the back of my mind to marinate.

    As always, thanks for sharing such inspiration!

      Barrie Davenport

      Thank you Meg. I’ve heard many great things about Heifer International. It is one of those organizations where a small donation can make a profound difference.

  • Mary

    I recently read a story about a man who wanted to do a random act of kindness for every year of his life on his birthday. One of the things he did was stand outside with a sign that read something like: “I have a job. I have a house. But maybe you could use a few extra bucks for coffee.” He then gave anyone who stopped $5. I imagine that $5 really helped a couple people that day and brightened the day for many, but more than that, it INSPIRED people. Whether they took the money or not, people thought about how they could do something to give back that day. I’ve also heard stories of people picking up someone’s tab at a diner and, for hours, the people who were treated to a meal decided to pick up another diner’s tab.

    I love the idea of creating snowballs of generosity.

      Barrie Davenport

      Hi Mary,
      I love stories like that. Those small gestures really stick with you. And I love your expression of “snowballs of generosity”!! That is exactly what it is.

  • Beth Wilson

    I’m thinking really big and BOLD, Barrie. Since we’re brainstorming, and since I’ve been hyper focused on Brene’s vulnerability work, my thoughts are about creating a Peace University that teaches people how to become peacemakers. Brene talks about putting your own oxygen mask on first.

    I think we can all agree that, at least here in the United States, we have a crisis of major proportions when it comes to how we treat others–just look at our political campaigning. We’re all about blaming. But if we take the time and effort to learn how to treat ourselves better first (physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally), doesn’t it make sense that we can then put the oxygen mask on the person next to us? Before we know it, we’re teaching others how to help with someone else’s mask.

    Gandhi said we must be the change we wish to see. But do we know how? I think we need guidance and I think it might begin with your $100.

    What do you think?

    Thanks for getting the ball rolling AND for attending the conference!

      Barrie Davenport

      Wow Beth — that is a bold and amazing idea. Can you tell us more about what you have in mind for Peace University? Have you fleshed out any of the specifics? I love the idea!

  • Dave Metzler

    In a world that has focused on material and technological improvements, we find it has sacrificed, to the greater loss of us all, what really counts, namely – VALUES.
    It is my firm belief that if we can gather the resources of sufficient supporters, we can make a huge and meaningful difference to the future generations of our children.
    I propose we form the biggest mastermind group of caring folk to put their muscle behind a programme such as found at

    Gandhi also said, if you want world peace, start with the children.

    In my heart I believe women will drive this effort as mentioned in the book “Miracle Women – Triumphing over Adversity”

    Over to you and thank you for your platform to challenge us to change the world for the better.

      Barrie Davenport

      Dave, I so agree with you about values. Our values are (or should be) the foundation for every decision we make and everything we do. But if someone doesn’t understand the value of values, they can so easily get lost or off track.

  • David Moore

    Not sure how to “invest” the $100. I have also discussed the issue with Scott Dinsmore. But I do want to make the same comment about Chris that I made to Scott:

    If you have followed Chris for even a short while, you have a good, general idea about what he is like or appears to be like. But…after the $100 rebate at WDS, you get a much deeper perspective of who this guy really is and the depth of his convictions. Very, very, very few people would have returned money like this when there was absolutely no reason to do so. No one would have ever thought twice about it if the WDS was profitable. CG is a rare breed.

    And thank you for continuing to publicize this great act of kindness.

      Barrie Davenport

      He is a rare breed indeed David. I was so shocked when he made the announcement — shocked and a little daunted. I felt like I was charged to do something really meaningful with this money since he made such a grand gesture by giving it to us.

  • Debbie

    First I want to say that I love Beth Wilson’s idea of a Peace University….that peace and humanity is severely lacking in our world today. If I was the recipient of $100, I would call food companies or grocery stores and see if I could get a discount on buying food for the food pantry. I would also look into couponing as well to help save some money. The food pantries are practically bare here and the need is increasing. Thanks for all that you do!

      Barrie Davenport

      Hi Debbie,
      Another wonderful idea that touches such a basic human need. Thank you!

  • Marley

    I’ve actually been giving this a lot of thought.

    With $100 you could potentially start a website (web designer donation?) that could direct people to worthy charities for women and children
    You could invest it in someone who could embody the $100 startup (me!)
    You could buy ice cream for kids at the Boys & Girls club.
    You could buy flowers for local senior citizens
    You could compile a list of resources for others that want to invest $100 in a startup
    You could use it to seed a Kickstarter campaign for a child -based creativity project
    You could buy 50 small canvases and with the help of local kids, create a collage for a school
    You could arrange a networking event
    You could find free educational resources and create a directory

    Oh my, there are so many things that I would want to do with $100 that I could not (would not) spend on myself. Truly though, if I had $100 I would set up a website, buy business cards, and ferociously market myself as a freelance writer. Being unemployed is a great motivator ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Whatever you choose to do, I know it will be meaningful.

    Cheers, Barrie! You continue to inspire me.

      Barrie Davenport

      Hi Marley,
      Wow, you have put a lot of thought into this! All of these are great ideas. Thank you for sharing them. And I’m sure you would be an excellent investment. ๐Ÿ™‚ Have you read the $100 Start-Up? It is a great resource for starting a small business. Why don’t you start by creating a blog?


      $100 Start Up is on my library list, I finished The Art of Nonconformity and it sure opened up some ideas for me!!

      I currently have two blogs – one I ramble about my health, and the other blog is about the changes I am making in my life overall (big changes!). I was hoping to focus my efforts at changing my life separately than the informal life rambling but it is all intertwined. I did write a personal Mission Statement and that has been a wonderful reference for my writing.

      The third blog is for a business, you nailed exactly what I am procrastinating with. I’ve been unemployed (!) for a week now and I cannot sit still and wait for my applications to produce a magic job. I want to create my own job based on my passion for writing and for empowering girls. A blog is where I need to start, and now I have the time I wanted. I’ll keep you posted ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Barrie Davenport

      Marley, you sound like you have the drive to make things happen. Yes, please keep us posted, and try to save some money for next year’s World Domination Summit. It is the perfect event for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Stacey

    Ooooh … I love when the creative juices of
    generosity gets flowing Barrie. So exciting!
    So, as I was sharing the cause of this act of
    kindness to my love, the ideas poured out.
    One of his was to wait until August when
    parents are doing the preps for back to school.
    Take that $100 and hang out in one either a
    Wal-mart or some other department store and
    listen out for that family that you know may
    not have enough to buy all the supplies. You
    know, the one where the mom tells her son or
    daughter that they’re going to have to re-use
    the same bag and pencil case that they’ve used
    for the last few years because she only has enough
    to buy them shoes. So when they reach the cash
    register, what a pleasant surprise when someone
    randomly pays the bill, affording them to go back
    and pick up those other items that they once could
    not afford. Or, you could use the $100 to start the
    back to school pay it forward fund and see if any of
    your followers would like to be a part of this. I’d sign up!

  • Debbie

    If I had been there and gotten the $100 I would use it on Kiva to make 1 or 4 micro-loans. The loan would help the individual, their family and their village. I’ve had excellent success with repayment so then I would continue to loan the $100 to continue making a difference in a person’s life, their family’s life and hopefully the villages they live in.

    For me it all started with $25 loan several years ago that I’ve added funds to and keep loaning out as soon as I get repayment.

  • Kate @ Eat, Recycle, Repeat


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