Coffee with Nick V 026: Charles Feeney, Simon Sarris & Naval

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dear reader,

i have a few pieces that i am working in, but have not done much writing in the last week. i think some of you will really enjoy them when they’re finished. stay tuned.

interesting things


Charles Feeney gives away $8 Billion

it took decades, but Charles Feeney, the cofounder of Duty Free Shoppers, has finally given away billions of dollars to charity. Feeney created The Atlantic Philanthropies in the mid 80s and quietly transferred his entire 38.75% stake in Duty Free Shoppers to the foundation (then worth ~$500 million). not even his business partners knew he no longer personally owned any part of DFS. he has been referred to as the ‘James Bond of Philanthropy’ because of his secrecy and success.

Feeney has given nearly $1 billion to Cornell University (his college alma mater). he’s made countless other donations including $1 billion to education in Ireland, investments in education in Australia, Bermuda, Cuba and South Africa too.

Feeney once said, “I’m not here to tell anybody what they should do with their money. If you make your money you can do what you want with it, but I’m just convinced that the satisfaction you can achieve from helping people, it’s a level of satisfaction you can’t get otherwise.”

his approach to philanthropy inspired the establishment of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Feeney actually became a signatory to The Giving Pledge of which Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are the founders. in his letter to Gates and Buffet, Feeney wrote, “I cannot think of a more personally rewarding and appropriate use of wealth than to give while one is living—to personally devote oneself to meaningful efforts to improve the human condition. More importantly, today’s needs are so great and varied that intelligent philanthropic support and positive interventions can have greater value and impact today than if they are delayed when the needs are greater.”

on September 14, 2020, Feeney shuttered The Atlantic Philanthropies after the nonprofit accomplished its sole mission of giving away all of Feeney’s money by the year 2020.

more on this: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2020/09…

Where to Live by Simon Sarris

i enjoy all of Simon’s writing, but really enjoyed this piece as well as the poem by Du Fu that he included. i’m going to share the poem below:

Where to Live, by Du Fu (712 – 770)

West of the Flower Washing Stream,
not far downstream from the bridge,
the master has chosen a quiet spot
here in the woods by the river.

Living apart from the city crowds,
the world loosens its grip;
murmuring of this clear water dissolves
the sadness that burdens a stranger.

Countless dragonflies play in the air,
dancing up and down;
a pair of wild ducks out in the stream
swim and dive together.

You could take a boat downstream,
thousands of miles to the east­
or else forget the boat, and live
here by this stream forever.

i first found Simon’s work early this year. i stumbled upon his piece called ‘Designing a New Old Home’, which got many shares across the Internet. in that piece Simon goes into the detail he and his wife took (and are still taking) to design and build their beautiful home in southern New Hampshire.

link to the Where to Live essay: https://simonsarris.substack.com/p/where-to-live

link to Designing a New Old Home: Part 1: https://medium.com/@simon.sarris/designing-a-new-o…

many businesses are “Curation Businesses”

i stumbled across this Tweet by Naval and really enjoyed the thread. the thought process is that Universities, Incubators and VC firms are all curators. in Naval’s words, they build an umbrella brand to attract as many applicants as possible, run a tight filter to select the very best, educate and help the curated and finally leverage the brand with the curator’s umbrella brand to gain validation.

i saw a reply that states one might argue that the USA is the most successful ‘curation business’ of all time – i tend to agree with this!

link to the full Twitter Thread: https://twitter.com/naval/status/96437352149209497…

interesting quote i came across

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.”

– Aristotle

that’s all for this week.

until next time,

Nick V

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