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TEDxWarsaw - Noam Kostucki - 3/5/10

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Thank you. Can I get this side to applaud first? (applause) Can I get this side? (bigger applause) Perfect, thank you. So I'm talking to this side. Now, jokes aside, this is how life is. In real life, I'll be talking to these guys, because they've been applauding more. Be good to people, and they'll be good to you. Be good, and good stuff will come back to you. And you've seen this for the whole morning today. Whether it's Ivan talking about the trapeze and jumping, you've got to help eachother. But as a result of that, you put on an amazing show. And people clap for you. People will even pay to come to see you. And this is why the topic of my speech today is, "When selfishness is the best reason to cooperate." I'm happy you all like it that much. So I'm going to try to summarize all the learning I've had in the last 23 years, into these 18 minutes. And I want to engage you in the largest cooperation project ever attempted. And it's starting here. And when I say, "It's starting here," I really mean it. An hour before my speech, a guy comes to me with this business card, and says: "I think we've met. I think I know you." Couldn't remember the name, -- And he's going to speak in a minute here. -- until I told him what my topic was about: "When selfishness is the best reason to cooperate, because if you do good, good things will come back to you." Suddenly, he was like: "Yes! A year and a half ago, we got in touch and you tried to help me when I arrived here in Warsaw." And you know what? We just met here and we're going to do stuff together. We are going to keep cooperating in the future, and his idea is very similar to what I'm talking about here. So why are you here? You're here because you want change. You believe in TED's tagline: "Ideas worth spreading." I want my children to live in the world that we all dream of. And we all dream of a world that's a little bit different than this. Because in this world, what is rare, has a lot of value. So that means that all the stuff that are common to all of us: friendship, love, the ability to care, the ability to help eachother, the will to cooperate, is devalued. It's worth nothing, because we all have it. Now, that's because we're moving from the industrial age, which has brought us a lot of great things, don't get me wrong, to the information age in which we can decide what we value. We decide-- You decide, by your actions, what you give value to. Now, this is where selfishness comes in. Because, how do we give more value, and how do you make more people want to cooperate? How do you make more people want to be good? You give them selfish reasons to do so. And I'm here to break a paradigm, break the thought that selfishness is bad. -- It's not. Selfishness is neither good nor bad. We do things because we're rewarded for it. That's how we teach our children. Cooperation is only possible when we have long-term relations and memory, which has been shown very well by all our speakers this morning. Now, this is to make cooperation possible. But to make cooperation grow, and be sustainable, we need to give people selfish incentives to do so. Now, my favourite examples are people like John Bird who has created something called, "The Big Issue." Anyone heard? "The Big Issue." Yes, a few have, great. Now, this guy is a hero of mine. You see? When I was a kid, if I had known about him, I would've had a poster of him in my room. And I really wish that every kid, every child, has a poster of this guy in his room. What did he do? In 1991, he realized there was a problem with homelessness. You know? It's a "catch-22" thing. You're homeless so you can't get a job, and you can't [find a home, because you have no job.] And how do you get out of this? It's pretty much impossible. So what he says is: "Okay, you know what? We'll get volunteers to write a magazine, and we'll give it to the homeless people-- Sorry, we'll sell it to the homeless people for 85 cents, 85p, and then these homeless people can resell it for £1.75. And on the way, we'll teach them how to manage money. We'll teach them how to manage the stock, how to be a small entrepreneur, and at the same time, how to get out of homelessness. But we're not giving it to them. It's not charity." Because you all know, you all know that charity doesn't really work, yea? Giving stuff to people for free doesn't work, doesn't teach them anything. It shows them that they can get more stuff for free. Here, they're teaching these people how to get a job, and how to move forward in their lives. And that is, I think, one of the most beautiful things you can do. And that's why it's called: social enterprise. Have you've heard the concept of social enterprise before? Please raise your hands. Still too few people in this room. I'm very happy that so many, but still too few. -- What is a social enterprise? There's your normal business whose objective is to make money. Then, you've got the charities here whose objective is to make things better, to make the world a bit of a better place. Now there's something here inbetween. Organizations that try to make the world a better place and earn money through doing it, like, "The Big Issue." And that's why it's called, "social enterprise." And I hope that today you will all leave this place thinking about how you're going to turn your business, the company you work in, into a social enterprise. Seeducation, the social ecosystem that I created, tries to go a step further. Because that was in 1991. Come on. 20 years later we must've gone somewhere. So you'll hear a lot more about this from Paweł [Szczęsny] who'll tell you more about biology and how that influences business. And that's how we took our idea. -- That a tree doesn't produce fruit like that, out of nowhere. The same way a company can't produce value out of nowhere. It's got to come from somewhere. And that "somewhere" is, having different organizations supporting each-other. So we've got a charity that gives charitable training, supports the organization to grow, for free. And then we've got a company, in which you do the same thing for business as those who can afford it, and they know that everything that buy from us, all service they buy from us, will give someone who cant afford it, the same thing for free. Now I hope that you all think about, "How can I get this done in my organization too?" Because once you start doing that, you will have a selfish reason to start helping others. You'll have a selfish reason to make this world a better place. So, "Selfishness," according to The Great Oxford Dictionary, "is being concerned chiefly with ones-own personal profit or pleasure, at the expence of consideration for others." In plain English that means, looking after yourself despite others. It's not good nor bad. So what I'm urging you now here, is to start looking for selfish reasons to help others. How can you benefit from that? My best advice is, reputation. Because if you're good to other people, other people will want to be good to you. Now, am I being really serious? If you start being good to other people, that will, you know, start to bring cash? That will start to bring money? Really? I've got this book. My mentor gave me this book. He said: Origins of virtue. Read this. The best book I've read in my life. This book tells us about why we are virtuous, why are we good to each other. And I bet that you didn't believe that there was so much knowledge, ranging from molecular biology to macroeconomics, showing why being good to each other is a good thing, and that we all benefit from being good to each other, and that selfishness is the best reason to cooperate. Now, how do you take this? What kind of things can we do? The first thing you can do: transparency. If you're proud of what you're doing, If you believe deeply, deeply in what you're doing, be transparent. We've heard today about networks and trust. Build trust. Start telling people about what you're doing. Start sharing all your information for free. As much knowledge as you can, for free. Because people will come back to you and say: "You know what? This guy is great. He's been so helpful. Why wouldn't I want to collaborate with him?" If you have a choice to go and pick two lawyers, and you've got one who doesn't give you anything, and then you've got another one like Stephen [Kines] who's ready to give you some stuff for free, who are you going to go and trust first? Yea? And there's nothing wrong in what Stephen is doing. It's a great thing and I really encourage all of you to start doing that. Now, this calls for a little bit of a change of perspective. It means you need to start looking at things in a slightly different way. A friend of mine, yesterday, with whom I'm staying here in Warsaw, is starting an airline tickets-- selling flights online. And he was telling me: "Look, I'd love to make something more with this. You know, this is just not enough. It's just not meaningfull in my life. What am I going to tell my kids? That I just sell flights?" What are you going to tell your kids? It took a two-hour conversation before he said: "You know what we'll do? For every person that buys a ticket, we can give 10 or 20 percent onto a fund, and then people can apply for the money, and they'll say what they want to do with this money, what kind of social good do they want to do, and all the other customers can vote on the best idea." And that it means that when you're buying a ticket, you're actually putting money on the side for someone to go and do social good somewhere else. And I think that's a beautiful idea. And that's something you can do in all your organizations without any problem. It is easy to do. Now, which one of the world's problems does interest me the most? Education. Because I believe everything starts with education. Everything starts with what we learn. And education is this thing we all have. Unfortunately, for the moment, education is synonymous of, "degree, qualifications." We spend so much money on education, and we're not teaching our kids how to do things, the way that's supposed to happen. Otherwise you wouldn't be here. If you had the best education in the world, why would you be sitting here? You would all know how to do these things. In the UK alone, the government has spent 607 billion pounds on education in the last 10 years. What I see, is something like Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, where all teachers, all students, all parents, all professionals, you, you over there, you over here, me, we can all share our knowledge, our information, so that students, teachers can find it, and that they can rate it. And that that way, the best teacher has actually got a selfish reason to create an amazing class. Because people will start noticing who he is. It will build his reputation, and will give him a reason to go on, to spread this word. And I think that TED has done this superbly. TED has shown us how a small shift on the mindset, being, coming from having a little conference in California that's amazing, and sharing the knowledge on the Internet, for free, to making it possible for anyone in the world to do a TED [event]. Yea? Do you see the difference of reach? Although, it changes only one thing. A little change of perspective, and accepting that you're losing a little bit of control, for cooperation. A little bit of loss of control for common good. And we can get there. We can all get do this together. And it starts here in this room. That plenty of other examples, I believe, we can solve through these social enterprises. These social ecosystems. And I encourage all of you to start doing it. Please connect with me. Connect with people in the room, your neighbours. Start talking to your neighbours and tell them what are you going to do to help each other, and how are you going to benefit each other. We need to create new role models. I think we really need to inspire our children. We need to inspire our children, and show them that we're actually building the world that we all dream of. If we can dream of it, we can do it. We've shown so many times in history that the impossible is possible. Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia has crushed Encyclopaedia Encarta by Microsoft in which so much money was poured in. The amateurs have shown that they can lead the world to be better. We're moving away from this world of experts, from the industrial age, into the information age. Into the age where everyones contribution is equally valid. And we want to know what you think. You have great ideas, you have great minds. That's why you're here. You want to cooperate. And I think the only thing you need is the confidence that being good to each other is clever. It's a good strategy to be good in life. I promise you. It's a good strategy to be successful. Be good to other people. I don't know when it'll come back to you... And that's the magic of cooperation. It's that you never know how will you end up. You never know what's the end of the story. And it's usually a lot better than you think. How did I get here? How do you think, at the age of 19 it is possible, I gave training at Yale University? By the age of 20 I had a corporate training, an executive coaching company. Here in Poland, giving training to people like HP, Tata Consultancy Services. What is it that they wanted to know from me? This stuff. How did I get to work for the director of Social Change as a training consultant, the largest provider of training to charities in the UK, at the age of 22? How is it possible that Seeducation, the social ecosystem started with 2 people, me and my friend, 6 months ago. At the end of this summer there were 4 of us. Now there's 6 of us, and there's another 6 or 7 people who try to cooperate with us, and it's growing faster than I can cope with it. And that's the beauty of cooperation, because we're transparent, we share everything online. And so, if you have no idea about what to do, how to increase cooperation and give more incentives to others, start sharing your knowledge. Share your information, share everything you know. And if you send it to me, I'll try to share it with other people, so that more people can get access to it. So, this is what I'm here for. To engage you in the largest cooperation project ever attempted. It's starting here, it doesn't need any leaders, you're all leading it, so I'm looking forward to seeing how we are going to get engaged together, and how I can help you. And how you can help others. Thank you very much. (applause) (Ralph Talmont:) Wow. Well, if there's one question I can ask-- Is this thing working? That wasn't the question. If there's one question I can ask, regarding education, is it's all well and good, considering how we can change the world together, right? (Noam Kostucki:) Yeap. (RT:) But the two things that really are required to change anything, or to have a group of people change anything, for the members of the group to have self-confidence and enthusiasm, while our educational system often breeds conformity and teaches us about safety, possibly at the other end of the spectrum. Do you want to, maybe, comment about that? (NK:) Comment about that? I think it's a shame that education is that. Because it's not. That's just something we've created. That's what we call, academic education. But I believe all of you here, or most of you, seem to be out of "education," yet has any one of you stopped learning? I don't believe that. I believe we all learn more from the conversations we have, and Michał [Malinowski] showed this to us that with the story telling, we learn more from sharing stories with each other. We learn-- You learn more about the world by talking to your neighbour, about what they do, and how you can help them, than by spending five years at a university. I think universities are great for some stuff. I mean, if you want to become a doctor, all of these kinds of things, it's great with universities. But for all of the other things in life, we need the best school in life, which is, life. Life, and experience, and people. (applause) Thanks a lot.

Video Details

Duration: 19 minutes and 27 seconds
Country: Poland
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: TEDxWarsaw
Director: TEDxWarsaw
Views: 179
Posted by: tedxwarsaw on Mar 16, 2010

Noam Kostucki is the founder of a social eco-system which aims to bring together people who want to make the world a better place. He started his coaching journey when he began to teach judo at fifteen. He is now a training consultant for the Institute of Fundraising and the Directory of Social Change in the UK

Noam's talk explores the virtues of selfishness as a tool for positive growth.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events which bring people together to share a TED-like experience. x=independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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