Episode #290: Scott Harrison – Redemption, Compassion, & The Transformative Power Within Us All

SCOTT HARRISON is the founder and CEO of charity: water, a non-profit that has mobilized over one million donors around the world to fund over 28,000 water projects in 26 countries that will serve more than 8.2 million people. Harrison has been recognized on Fortune’s 40 under 40 list, Forbes’ Impact 30 list, and was ranked #10 in Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. He is currently a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Scott’s first book, Thirst, was released in October (2018) and immediately hit the New York Times best-seller list.

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“Put yourself in value rich situations.”

Show Notes:

  • Commonalities of sustaining excellence:
    • Ability to stay the course – “long obedience in the same direction”
      • “It’s very easy to quit”
    • Play the long game — build for a long time
    • Tenacity, will
  • How to fight through the down times?
    • Your community — “the people we support” — Those who get the clean water
    • People in 69 countries receive clean water because of charity:water
    • “Seeing that drill hit the water makes it all worth it”
  • The story of Scott’s mom collapsing and getting sick — How that impacted him
  • “At 18, it was drugs, girls, booze, gambling, nightclubs.” — Did that for 10 years and it did not bring fulfillment, “I became the worst person I knew.”
  • Then… “I sold everything. I quit all vices I had. Served on a humanitarian mission as a photo journalist in Liberia.  That’s where I learned about the water crisis.  Seeing children drinking bad water.  I knew I needed to help.”
  • The power of storytelling:
    • “We’ve built a culture of storytelling.  When I tell a story it’s always about connecting it to a value.”
    • “Our job is to move people from apathy to action.  And stories do that.”
    • The tragic story of a young girl hanging her self after dropping a big pot of water.  “I needed to visualize that. I wanted to see where she lived, and the tree where it happened.”
    • “When we drill a well, we are surrounded by so much happiness. There’s dancing, laughing, kids rejoicing.”
    • “All my stories come from first hand knowledge.  They are from something I’ve witnessed.”
    • “Put yourself in value rich situations”
    • Tell counter-intuitive stories
  • “My new drug of choice is authenticity.”
  • Authenticity and radical transparency — “It’s intuitive.  We don’t do it for any reason other than to be real.”
  • Ask for feedback, “don’t try to play boss.”
  • Why non-profit CEOs need to live below their means — “I drive a Kia Sorrento. I always fly coach. 42% of people distrust charity.”
  • “We care about transparency and stewardship. That’s why our model is set up the way it is. Everyone can see where all of the money goes.
  • Why joining The Learning Leader Circle is a good idea
  • Use the “Get To Know You Document

“Our job is to move people from apathy to action. Stories help do that.”

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