TED Conversations

Noel Oco

Fundraiser, Project Management

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What would you do to make a difference if you were a multi-millionaire right now?

If you had a lot of financial resources to tap on, how would you spend or invest your millions to make a positive change in the world that will leave a lasting legacy of hope for others?

This is a good exercise even if you are not financially rich yet to keep you motivated to reach your goals in life.

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  • Nov 6 2012: I think I would look for good people doing great things and proportionally amplify their effect.

    I think I would make a habit going to charity bake sales and giving people that made something I like from scratch or with a lot of attention to detail and care 150% of the price, saying "I am sure it is worth more than that"

    I would buy at least one glass of lemonade from every lemonade stand I came across.

    I would find places where nature has caused an extreme hardship and see what I could do to help make things better.

    I would be a silent Santa for children of fallen warriors.

    I would look for schools that taught children more than academics lessons and make silent donations.

    I would look for science and engineering students in danger of dropping out due to financial hardship and see if a small amount could make a difference, then make the difference.

    I would look for hard working volunteers whose effort has gone largely unrewarded, and see if I could make a donation or somehow make a difference to re-energize their spirit.

    I would look for naturalized immigrants that are struggling to adapt and see if i could make a difference.

    If I had more, I would probably see if i could leverage government support to get scholarships for engineering students heading into public service at the city, state or federal level. Similarly, doctors and nurses.

    If I had more, I would see if I could set up an institute for design engineering and production that focused on producing design and production engineers that had the entrepreneurial spirit.

    If I has more, I would try to set up programs in nursing homes that enabled residents to volunteer as mentors in a way that acceptable to both parties.

    If I had more, I would look for ways to convert salt water to fresh.

    Finally, I would make a contribution to TED!
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    Nov 6 2012: Help to change the system, so that no one need to be a multi-millionaire first to make a difference... especially in democratic politics.
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      Nov 6 2012: What are some examples of how you like to change the system? It is a very interesting concept.
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        Nov 6 2012: Take democracy in the USA for example. If 47% of the members of the US House and Senate are millionaires today, representing just 1% of the US population by their income group, we can tell just by simple statistics, that the core value, the core idea of democracy got lost.

        I have to apologise for not putting my own country, Germany, as an example here. It is not because we don't have the same problem, it simply is because I could not find exact data on it, which, by itself, is even more frightening.

        Even though there is no job description or mandatory education level to become a professional and influencial politician in democracies, it is no random chance anymore to find those clusters of wealth on those levels.

        It seems the principles of democracy appear socialist the very moment it runs itself on capitalism and therefore has to be tamed and manipulated in the fashion of the 'big money'.

        Why is no carpenter, mechanic or nurse running for president? Are they really to stupid to do a good job in this position? Is it because they do not hold a dimploma of Cambridge, Yale or Oxford?Is it because they do not share this elite background or lack special knowledge in economics, law or whatever? Or do they simply lack the budged for campaigning?

        A democracy is a 'peoples republic' not 'some peoples republic' and it is about time to rember this and to take action to live up to it again. In the US, in Germany, in any nation calling themselves Democracy!

        By all this hype and party about open and global markets 'they' forgot about 'us' and it is time for 'us' to forget about 'them'.

        As money is part of the 'club badge' today a multi-millionaire could make a difference here, for re-entrance ...
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          Nov 7 2012: Okay, I gave both comments thumbs up, because they represent great points... but... You didn't answer his freakin question : p

          What would you do with money, to accomplish your goal? I love to hear new ideas on this subject.

          BTW... and this is a really weird question to ask... but is dissenting journalism and anti government messaging actually illegal in Germany? And, is it the US and British governments fault?

          I've seen different answers to this question online, living there, I figured you'd be able to answer me a bit better than most.

          Neil deGrasse Tyson agrees with you as well by the way. http://youtu.be/v-gKXlaEExY
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    Nov 6 2012: I'd build the interactive museum I've been dreaming and planning for the last several years. It emphasizes the implementation of sustainable and socially, economically, and globally responsible business models and includes symbiotic relationships with local businesses and charitable groups to enrich the local community in every way imaginable. I'd also build a FREE large, public, year-round city garden that would help to grow not only food, but medicinal herbs, and provide compost and mentorship to help citizens grow their own. Surplus items would be donated to locally owned grocery stores and the local food bank. And also, a non-religious community support center, which would include a clothes closet, food pantry, toy room, free handyman services, cooking and childcare classes, breastfeeding support, cloth diapering help, things of that nature, that you can't get in my town outside of religious organizations that tend to proselytize. Poverty is of great concern in my area.
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      Nov 6 2012: Very good idea Rachel! Where is your area?
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        Nov 6 2012: I'm in Amarillo, Texas. It's in the Panhandle. :)
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    Nov 5 2012: I would invest in health. Specifically start with the basics. Clean potable water sources and equitable food distribution.
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      Nov 6 2012: Hi Linda, clean portable water sources can be digging wells. I am not familiar with equitable food distribution yet. What are some examples of that?
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        Nov 6 2012: I wish potable water was that easy. Many times even if you have water, it is not drinkable. The Carter foundation has done some phenomenal work against the Guinea worm with teaching and outreach. Potable water would include some type of easy, inexpensive sustainable filtration system.

        In the US we throw out a lot of food while many children do not eat all weekend until they get to school on Monday. Food prices are higher in low income neighborhoods and food access is non-existent in many areas. Food surpluses in the US are sometimes exported to famine stricken areas and not distributed. There are many issues with access to food. While I in my kitchen make a Tart with Kiwi that comes from across the globe and some people fly in shipments of seafood just for dinner.

        So I think we need to look at food distribution globally and in regions. Sustainable food resources. Look at Cuba. An island nation that grows most of its own produce and food. I am not supporting the socialism, just the sustainability. Ignoring political boundaries. So food can move freely to where it needs to go.

        Farming practices are destroying the earth and we need to farm in sustainable manner. For instance, I live in a corn agricultural area. They not only harvest the corn, but destroy the entire plant. Instead of tilling the stalk back into the earth to create more topsoil, they just scrape billions of tons of product and then decry "erosion." It is not wind or water, they are just scraping off layers of topsoil with each harvest.

        There are many food issues that need to be addressed but I am mostly interested in sustainable food practices across regions.
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          Nov 7 2012: I would only be a bit of a jerk... and add, that you can't equitably distribute food for a few million dollars. You can build a business, that creates jobs producing healthy food in as sustainable, and cheap a way as possible... but, if you don't make a profit, you're just buying a few million dollars worth of food and giving it to people.

          Food is however, the best place to start. Personally I'm a sucker for cities building vertical farms to help take the production strain off rural communities who can then focus more on sustainabillity.

          In San Fran, if you could find an old multi story building with a thick foundation. You could probably knock out the walls and throw a solar array in the parking lot, to grow some really posh organic yuppie food, profit, rinse repeat in Portland : )
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        Nov 8 2012: @ David
        You are right of course. 2 million would not do as much as 999M but he didn't specify. With all the R&D that would have to go into those solutions, probably the best thing would be to start a company.
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    Nov 13 2012: What would you do to make a difference if you were a multi-millionaire right now?If you had a lot of financial resources to tap on, how would you spend or invest your millions to make a positive change in the world that will leave a lasting legacy of hope for others?

    This is a good exercise even if you are not financially rich yet to keep you motivated to reach your goals in life.
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    Nov 8 2012: Sub; ground Mat
    Necessity -Demand Structure
    Inventors- Intellectual Interaction
    necessity -Demand Structure
    Technology management Developing network
    necessity -Demand Structure
    Space Cosmolgy World Peace
    Spirit of Cooperation:
    Curiosity and sustain : Conscious Intellectual function
    Wisdom will prvail
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      Nov 8 2012: Thank you Mr. Vidyardhi for your reply.

      Which specific region in the world would you like to apply your suggestions to spend or invest millions to make a positive change in the world that will leave a lasting legacy of hope for others and why?
  • Nov 8 2012: You don't need money to leave a legacy. You dont need be a mutil- millionaire to make a difference.

    What you need to do is find people that believes what you believe in.

    Look at Martin Luther King. The guy wasn't rich.

    He lived what he had. It all didn't start from money, but his visions.

    He had supporters that believes what he believed in.

    " I have a dream....."

    "I believe......."
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      Nov 8 2012: I agree Steven that one does not need to be rich to make a difference. Actually, in most cases people like Mother Teresa who are "poor" have made a deeper impact to the world as with other countless less "famous" social changers.

      ***

      The questions is designed to help individuals think creatively:

      If you had a lot of financial resources to tap on, how would you spend or invest your millions to make a positive change in the world that will leave a lasting legacy of hope for others?

      This is a good exercise even if you are not financially rich yet to keep you motivated to reach your goals in life.

      ***

      You mentioned putting it all in your pocket :) It will be hard to walk around with that amount in your pocket :)

      I want a more concrete answer to help the world with your creativity :) Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
  • Nov 8 2012: Put it all in my pocket.
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    Nov 7 2012: Sow a seed - The intellectual Trees will grow
    perception to vision is a long way to transcend borders.
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      Nov 7 2012: Which specific seed would you sow Vidyardhi that will transcend borders? What examples can you share with us?
    • Nov 8 2012: Vidyardhi, so what are you actually suggestion? I don't think you could sow a seed if you don't know or have the specific seed.
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        Nov 8 2012: Mr. Vidyardhi responded above this thread 2 hours ago.
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    Nov 7 2012: It's more of a billionaire wish, but you could build a scalable model with a few million, then repeat it...

    I'd build a vertical organic, maybe hydroponic farm, in an abandoned building in a major city. Run a posh organic restaurant on the top floor. Maybe even head chef it, if people other than myself enjoyed eating my food. Profit, rinse, repeat, hopefully...
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      Nov 7 2012: Due to the given response limitation, I have to answer here:

      Neil deGrasse Tyson is asking the right question: 'Where is the rest of life represented here?' He brings in engineers and scientist and I would like to add any other profession to complete the picture. Academia is a minority in society so why should they be a majority in congress? As consultans they are fine, as their specialized knowledge would be needed, yet the voting power should reflect more equally the fabric of its society.

      '... is dissenting journalism and anti government messaging actually illegal in Germany?'

      No, it is not illegal and the freedom of speach is guaranteed by law.

      This much for the official record, but most of us know, that there are practical issues to this matter in our daily lifes, and this not only for journalist...

      Most modern democracies are contradictory in the way they organize economy and almost all companies are not democratic! This is a crucial point, as on this level any 'freedom of speach' faces consequences.

      This is where the invisible minefield of careers begins. Where opinions and values get silently traded for promotion, boni and rank. Of course, no one is foced to play along, as we are all part of the family, right? But many people do as they know what happened to those who didn't...

      In most media, ' ... dissenting journalism and anti government messaging ...' is based on those minefields and thereby influenced by this very sophisticated and delicate level of censorship.

      After the ending of Nazi Germany, the new constitution adopted the model of the BBC to create a broadcast system which was independend from governmental and economic influences and financed by 'the people'.

      This is still working today, sort of, as also on many of those programs commercials are shown as well.

      So is this a guarantee for independent, unbiased and uncensored journalism? No, it isn't, but this is the clostest you'll ever get out of a single source of information...
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      Nov 7 2012: ' ... but... You didn't answer his freakin question : p'

      Yes I did! But I would agree on suggestions that I could have been more 'to the point'. :o)

      Cross 95% of my words, bring the remaining ones in a new order and you have my answer right there!

      'The re-entrance of 'the people' into our democracy, by giving them a budged for campaigning.'

      That's it! Charmingly simple, undeniable true and desperately needed today! :o)
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    Nov 6 2012: Forget the money and continue what I've been doing the last 5 years. Working as a "Big" to two "Littles" in the Big Brother/Sister program.

    Working one-on-one with a boy or girl who is missing a positive adult influence in their life during their formative years; that's "boots on the ground" activism.

    More importantly, it works.

    http://tinyurl.com/2ch49zk
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    Nov 6 2012: I would start a scholarship scheme for children from poor families in Akure, Nigeria, where I was born. This would cover their sponsorship from Secondary school till the end of the undergraduate years.
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      Nov 6 2012: It would be interesting to know what is the approximate cost of the scholarship scheme you have in mind for Akure, Nigeria.
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        Nov 6 2012: Approximately 5000USD for six years of secondary school education; approximately 16000USD for 4 years of University education.
        This is an approximate cost for just one beneficiary.

        The focus will be starting with the available resources and then progress from there.
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    Nov 6 2012: In the overall scheme millions are a drop in the bucket for a venture of any size at all. Having said that there must be an investment to ensure the constant flow of money over a long period of time. Having said that the one investment that you could make would be setting up a educational fund with unique return clauses.

    1. Scholarship selection committee.
    2. Partnership with perhaps ten corporations worldwide.
    3. Build houses at four major universities (more later) MIT - Stanford - etc ... to house the selectees.

    If you could educate these students and employee them in a internship for XXX years and then the company would send them back to their home countries for employment in expanding ventures. The student and the companies would each contribute back to the educational fund thus keeping the cycle going hopefully forever.

    If this is done right it would develop future leadership for developing countries. They would contribute to the economic growth and the stabilization of existing governments by bringing corporate business into the country through these founding companies. (long range hopes)

    In this manner I could have influenced education, growth, and development on a world scale with pertetual funding. There is no reason to believe that this would work in developed and undeveloped countries. The trick would be to marry the student with the long range plans of a corporation and convience them this is a win win venture.

    Just a thought. My original investment would be one million tops. The returns priceless.

    All the best. Bob.
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    Nov 6 2012: I would donate first to help those affected by Sandy.

    I would donate 1 millions dollars annually to the Canadian Cancer Society to help those like me effected bu cancer, and help fund reasearch to find a cure.

    I would fun inititatives to create awareness and education to combat preventable cancers, like skin cancer.

    I would then fund refugee camps in Sudan and set up education and medical care initiatives that would help the refugees standard of living.
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    Nov 6 2012: Hi Noel!

    I would buy land inhabited by endemic species and set up wild life reserves.
    With more resources I would likely fund genetic research associated with longevity.

    Regards!

    JB
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      Nov 6 2012: Hi Julian, wild life reserves are important. Where would you have it?
  • Nov 5 2012: I am from Ghana. we are only 24million people but a very large rural folks. The rural people are very people. So, I would help to balance rural-urban development. OR I will invest in rural development.
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      Nov 6 2012: Thank you Augustine for sharing your thought. What kind of rural-urban development is the most needed in Ghana right now?
  • Nov 5 2012: Hi Noel

    I used to ask people a rather philosophical question:
    "Would you like to have a rose of to be with a rose" (this mainly to women)
    "Would you like to have a billion or to be a billionaire?" (this mainly to men)

    their answers varied and they let to different approach to the mindset.
    you may have noticed that it is about TO BE and TO HAVE version.
    now your question is about TO DO.
    so we have this thriology. TO BE; TO DO, TO HAVE. ... most people approaches to this: TO HAVE, TO DO, TO BE

    to answer to your main question, I would say
    First I have TO BE so I will be able TO DO and so the world will be able TO HAVE a lasting legacy of hope.

    well, I think I would invest in youth. get some kid-soldiers back to school... that's one if my concerns.
    because we all want better world for our children, but only few of us want better children for our world.

    did I answer to your question?
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      Nov 6 2012: Thank you for your insight Edwin. It is true that one has to BE then Do in order to HAVE in reaching any goals in life. Bringing kid-soldiers back to school is important to help make this world a better place. Go for your goals Edwin and start the first step on how you can help kid-soldiers back to school.
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      Nov 6 2012: Here is an article about Theresa Betancourt's path-breaking work with former child-soldiers: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/fall-2011/child-soldiers-betancourt.html
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        Nov 6 2012: Thanks Fritzie for the article. Is helping kid-soldier get back to school you would do to make a difference if you were a multi-millionaire right now?
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          Nov 6 2012: I would think carefully and consider the options for how I could make the most impact in the areas I care about. Some of the areas I care about don't budge for reasons not so much related to money, so it isn't only about which issues a person cares about.