When Chanie and I married, 19 years ago today, the 11th of Shevat, we were committed to living our lives together and raising our future family as Shluchim (emissaries) of the Rebbe. In simpler terms that meant to be wholly dedicated to positively impact the lives of individuals and the world. It also meant to do it on our own and without institutional support. In other words, alongside being fully focused on enriching people’s lives, we’d be fully dependent on the generosity of others to operate, live, and raise our family.
Needing to continuously ask people for financial support has been enlightening as it’s a window into their soul. In the immortal words of the 2nd century Talmudic sage Rabbi Ilai, “A person is recognized by his wallet.” Over the years I’ve seen a lot. I’ve been inspired, moved, as well as disappointed and hurt – though ninety percent the former. But what I observed from my conversation with a young alumnus, recorded in our latest podcast, was a new level of brilliance and inspiration.
Most recent graduates from college begin their career by opening a bank account to deposit their earnings. Noah opened an additional bank account, this one dedicated to depositing what he planned to give away. Ten percent of his after tax earnings, as meager as it was, would be deposited there.
A prudent investor does not simply drop money into an enterprise, instead they also invest their skills and talents ensuring that the enterprise succeeds with the maximum ROI (Return on Investment). This is what Noah has done from his earliest days out of college with his ‘tithing account’. Not only does he give money, but more importantly he devotes his time, skills and talents to causes he supports.
He calls it philanthropy and believes everyone can be a philanthropist regardless of their financial resources. In fact he promises that if you simply begin you will find yourself wanting to do more and more. That’s what happened to him.
Philanthropy is generally associated with individuals who have so much money that giving it away is the most reasonable thing to do, not to mention the honor and influence it provides. Noah has redefined a philanthropist to mean investing of oneself in a cause, which everyone can do.
By giving this topic significant thought and living by its creed at a relatively young age, Noah is a unicorn. He combines humility, confidence, and selflessness; muscles that are built by resisting narcissism through investing in others – making it the perfect antidote to narcissism.