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Ian Winer


Career and Workplace


Ian Winer is an investor, philosopher, humanitarian, writer and public speaker who connects people to the truth of market places and human behavior. Ian is the author of the book, Ubiquitous Relativity: My Truth is Not the Truth. A regular contributor to CNBC, Fox Business, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Reuters, to name just a few, he is known for seeking connections through non consensus thinking and making it relatable to everyone.


I read an interesting article today GIVING TO CHARITY about giving gifts to charities (monetary mostly) and what combinations of anonymity (donors and receivers) is supposed to bring the most happiness and fulfillment. In my opinion, it misses the bigger point. Society does not get to determine or define what each of us believes is the most fulfilling way to give to charities. Each of us determines that.

I can speak to this topic a bit from my own experiences. For most of my life my gifts to charity were checks I wrote to causes that meant something to friends, clients or family members. I got involved with the Wolf Rescue "ApexProtectionProject" I am now on the board of in the last few years, but I never really had something I was passionate about for most of my life. Most of the money I gave to friends made me feel good for a moment and then I moved on to something else. Most of the checks I wrote for clients were simply part of normal business practices. The client has a big charity, so every firm on Wall Street gives a little money to it. The charity gains and the client is happy and the firms on Wall Street stay within the good graces of the client. A win-win-win.

I tried something dramatically different when my wife and I volunteered in South East Asia last year for 4 months. I had never really gotten my hands dirty. Now I was literally cleaning up elephant shit, in a classroom teaching children and picking up cigarette butts off the beach. It was much harder than writing a check for me, but in many ways more fulfilling because I could see how my work was tangibly affecting the world around me. BUT THAT IS SIMPLY MY EXPERIENCE.

To be clear, one way of charity is not "better" than the others. According to the philosophy of "Ubiquitous Relativity" each of gets to decide our own fulfillment and happiness and define those parameters for ourselves. The book I am publishing soon is all about not judging other peoples' universes by the laws of our own. If I think that going out and building toilets in Africa is the most noble form of charity, then it only is the most noble in my world. For someone else, it could be a soup kitchen, and yet for someone else it could be charging a credit card to a "go-fund me" page to pay for Jake "The Snake" Roberts medical bills.

This is my key takeaway from articles like this and my main complaint with them. I don't know the first thing about someone else's universe and what brings them fulfillment so who am I to judge the morality of their giving?

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