The Power Of Giving
A few weeks ago, I checked off one another one of my goals on my bucket list as I was honored to give not one but two TedX Talks and while my first one about education and social media in Sydney, Australia still has yet to be posted online (to all of you messaging me daily, don’t worry, I’ll tell you when it is posted), my 2nd talk on charity and the power of giving in Jakarta, Indonesia was just posted so here it is for your viewing pleasure, and thanks to my hardworking team for transcribing it below too for my valued deaf students:
Download the key points of this post as PDF.
Also, this one was a Tedx Youth event so it was pretty interesting trying to get a bunch of young capitalists into the charitable mindset…please leave a comment below this post and let me know what you think!
It kind of worked out that I just happened to be in Indonesia, as I’ll tell you about in a little bit. But thank you, guys, for having me. I’m gonna be talking about selflessness, and this is a very strange topic considering I’m in the finance industry. But I’ve had quite an interesting life and I’ve learned a lot of lessons, so I wanna share them with you.
Right now, the world is kind of troubled. There’s a lot of division. There’s a lot of violence. There’s a lot of negativity that you’ll see in the news, on social media, and, you know, you guys are very young, so you are the future. And I’m sure, and I know from messages that I get on social media, that a lot of you guys are confused about your role in life and what do you wanna do. Maybe you like my cars. I have a Lamborghini and a Ferrari and they’re both very fun and very fast. And I’ve also been able to travel, you know, because I trade stocks. I can do it literally from anywhere.
This was a picture of me, in Bali, just a few days ago, chilling in a pool thinking about the stuff that really matters. Because, even though I’ve done well in the stock market, and I’ve made a lot of money, and I’ve traveled, and I have a few toys, lately, I have really been giving back with my charity. This was actually a check that I donated last year. I started my own foundation in 2016 to the Bali Children’s Project, a great charity that works in Bali, which is why I’ve been in Bali for the past three weeks.
And then this was a few weeks ago in LA. LA Makerspace is a charity that I donate too and they actually kind of convert libraries into schools, and the librarians become teachers. It’s a very cool little project. I am able to work from anywhere. So I wanna show you my charity stuff. I wanna show you my life because I think that it’s all rather inspirational, rather positive, and educational.
This was me a few weeks ago in Greece. I had a nice office with a view. Here’s another office with a view that I had in Italy. I like to take pictures, just to show you guys that, you know, literally with a laptop or smartphone, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the stock market or pretty much whatever you do these days. If you’re on the internet, all you need is Wi-Fi and you can work from anywhere.
But this is what I’m also most proud of, I’m also a teacher. So I’m a stock trader but I post daily video lessons. I’m in…you know, my chat room, I have 1000 traders. I’m posting commentary about the stock markets, you can ask me questions, and these are my students. I have nearly 10,000 students now across the globe in over 90 countries, and I love meeting them in person.
But this is why I’m here today, the Timothy Sykes Foundation is my charity, and this is my kind of obsession lately. I started off donating to a few other charities like Make-A-Wish and Boys & Girls Club. When I first began, I didn’t really know that much about the charity world. Make-A-Wish grants wishes for sick kids. And Boys & Girls Club helps mentor and raise a lot of youth in America and all over. But really, when I started merging my passion for traveling, that’s when my charity stuff really got exciting and this was the Bali Children’s Project, so I built schools with them and that’s what the money goes to, schools and libraries all over Bali.
This was our first school and some of the kids. And they made these cute little signs for me to say thank you. And then I also donated $1 million a few months ago to Pencils of Promise, which is my favorite charity. They’ve now built over 400 schools worldwide in Laos, Gala, and Guatemala. So I’ve been ramping up my charitable giving lately and this was just a few days ago. Right now, America seems to have a lot of natural disasters. We had a hurricane and flooding in Houston, so I donated $50,000 to several charities that help those people.
When you do give back, and hopefully you guys, by the end of this speech will want to give back a little bit, not all your money but a little bit, you can choose what topics you want to focus on. You can choose different charities and you should try to be open-minded. You know, I love education, I love travel, but when there’s a natural disaster in your area…you know, I know a lot of people in the Houston Texas area, I couldn’t help but try to help them out.
This was my first school in Cambodia a few weeks ago. Cambodia is a beautiful place if you ever get to go there. This was with the Cambodian Village Fund, which is a charity that I work with there. I just donate the money, I don’t know anything about building schools. A lot of people ask me, “Oh, what’s the first step of building schools and stuff like that?” I don’t know. I always partner with local charities because the local charities work with the communities and the leaders, and they really, you know, own the structure. They take over and that way, the community is involved. And it’s not just a building anymore, it’s a community project and I think that’s the best way to do it.
Here was literally just a few days ago. I got tired of naming schools after myself, so I named this school after my second millionaire student, his name is Tim Grittani, and that was him in the green shirt, him and his wife came. And he’s with the kids there too, look at how cute they were. This was my first school in Bali last summer and you can see all the cute little kids. They made these little flowers for me that say, “Thank you, Timothy.” And I love going to these schools. It’s not just about giving money, you know, it’s not just about giving it to a area that’s far off from me. I really wanna be involved. I wanna meet the kids. I wanna meet the families and it’s amazing for me, as somebody who’s literally from the other side of the world, to meet different cultures and see how education can really improve their lives.
I also sponsor a few kids. These were some of the kids that I sponsored with the Bali Children’s Project, you know, education isn’t always cheap in this country or around the world. So it’s my honor to really donate some money so that these kids can get educated. I cannot tell you how important education is and that’s why you guys are all here to, hopefully, learn and just increase your knowledge. That way you’ll have more options in the future. It doesn’t matter what you’re studying, focus on what you love.
These are some kids in Guatemala, they’re just so cute. I don’t even know what to say when I look at pictures like this. Like, I get a feeling inside of me and it…and I’m very privileged to be able to do this and to give back. This was playing soccer with some kids at my first school in Laos. I’m not a good soccer player. I kick with my toe, you’re not supposed to do that, so learned from my mistakes but the kids in Laos didn’t care. We had a good game. This was me dancing in Guatemala too, you know, I like to dance, even though I can’t. So I try.
And I’m not just building schools anymore, now this is actually under construction right now in Cambodia, I’m building a soccer stadium. So I want you to understand that when you do give money, hopefully, eventually, when you have enough to give, don’t just be focused on one thing. You know, like, education is great but extracurricular activities are great too. A lot of people like soccer, raise your hand if you like soccer or football. A few of you guys, the rest of you, guys, are studying. That’s cool, whatever you like.
Whether it’s studying, or soccer, or, you know, bird-watching whatever you guys like, embrace your passion. How many of you guys like bird-watching? Raise your hands. Don’t be shy. I don’t know why I said that. But I want you to look at these photos and say, “Okay, here’s this stock trader who’s giving back. He’s embracing his charitable side,” but I want you to understand that it’s not just about the money. This is a great quote from Arthur Ashe, and he says, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can,” and that’s what, for me, charity is all about.
For me, I’ve made money in the stock market. I continue to make money, from my teaching business too, and so I do what I can to give back. But a lot of you guys, maybe you don’t have a lot of money yet, guess what? You can still help out. You can still get in the charitable mood. This was my top student Tim Grittani, actually wearing the same exact shirt, which is kind of crazy. This was over a year ago, but I donated $50,000 to his favorite charity, which is a Humane Society, which helps animals. So if you like animals, by all means, help them out.
You know, the charitable world, sometimes it can get a little narrow-minded, where it’s like, “Okay, you have to donate to this one thing.” For me, I wanna give to many different causes and embrace a bunch of different stuff. I love animals too. Here’s a picture of a few cute puppies, right? And this is what I want thinking, like, think outside the box. If you don’t have enough money necessarily to donate $50,000 to build a whole dog park, you can just go to your local charity or go to, even somebody, you know, who maybe is working two jobs, and offer to walk their dogs, okay? Charity does not necessarily mean having to give money to an organization. Charity is a way of life.
So if you see somebody who needs help with their pet or anything in life, try to help them out, you know, walk their dogs if it’ll help, buy the dog some toys. I posted this picture, I thought this was funny, just because, you know, what is a few dollars or, you know, a few rupee where you can get like a little toy for maybe a dog that its owner is working so hard and it doesn’t have a lot of in its life, so you get the dog a little toy. That’s charity. It doesn’t have to be anything huge. And you helping that pet or a dog or, you know, person it could be anything. Just start to think about what you can do for others.
And this is a great quote, “Giving is not just about making donation, it’s about making a difference.” So even if you have no money, whatsoever, that doesn’t mean like, “Oh, I have no money, that means I can’t be charitable.” Not true at all. You have yourself. You have your time. You have your interest. You know people, you have friends, you have family. Everybody needs a little help in this world and I want you to start to realize that. Even though I’ve made a lot of money, I’ve gotten so much more satisfaction from giving back and from, you know, just helping where I can. That is my secret to happiness. I’m a very happy guy right now. I don’t know if you can tell, I’ve talked to a few of you guys. I’m a pretty happy guy. It’s not just because of the money that I made, it’s because I found what really gives me meaning, and that’s giving back.
Here’s a homeless person in America and, you know, you can see here, I just took this picture off the internet. There’s just some cookies on the side of the road, right there, right? So if you see somebody who’s hungry, give them an extra meal. Start to think like this every single day, it’ll blow your mind how many people in this world could use a little extra help, and you don’t have to go very far out of your way to give that help. You just need to start thinking this way, start thinking about giving.
And again, many of you guys are very young, you’re just beginning in life, if you start in the giving mood and the kind of giving mindset now, as opposed to later, trust me, you will be so much happier in the long run. This is another great quote, “One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time,” even if it’s just a few seconds, okay? Instead of seeing somebody who might be struggling or who needs a little extra help and just walking by them, give a few seconds of your time. See what you can do to help that person. It doesn’t have to be anything great.
Here’s a picture of this guy helping this older lady with her groceries, you know, helping her across the street. If you see something like this, I want you to remember my speech, and next time you see somebody who needs help crossing the street or something, go help them out. It’ll take you a few seconds or a few minutes. It’s very small in the grand scheme of things but when you start doing this again, and again, and again, it’ll be very meaningful for you. It’ll give you fulfillment like money cannot give.
You’ll also meet some interesting people when you give. This is my friend Sara Underwood and I, in Greece, donating some toys. We’ve donated a lot of toys, you can see here. I actually donated, and I brought my friends with me because I wanted them to, you know, experience it. Charity and giving back to others doesn’t have to be a lonely process. You can do it with your friends, you can do it with your family. It brings you closer together. It’s actually kind of a beautiful thing.
And, you know, I actually took nearly a dozen of my friends to this charity, The Smile of a Child in Greece, and we all will remember that forever. These are the moments that really matter in life, it’s not just about material things. Although, I saw how many of you smiled when I posted that picture of my Ferrari and Lamborghini, okay? I know you want fast cars, okay? If you follow me on social media, I post my fast cars too. But I’m just saying that this stuff matters much more in the long run. The fast cars get old very quickly.
So this brings me my next slide, does a car equal happiness? No, it does not, okay? I have too many cars, they sit in my garage. I travel too much. They’re fun, I’m not gonna lie. I’m not saying, you know, “Don’t work hard, and treat yourself, and get yourself your dream car,” by all means, do that. But understand that, I know a lot of rich people, I know a lot of wealthy people who aren’t necessarily happy and it’s because they’ve invested all of their time, all of their efforts, all their hopes at trying to be happy in their material possessions. And then when they have the material possessions and they’re not fulfilled, they get very depressed. I don’t want that happening to you.
So here’s a funny picture that I saw. You know, a lot of the richest people that I know are miserable and I talked to a few of you guys before this and, you know, you looked at me like I was, like, crazy. But I know several billionaires, I know several people who have over $100 million to their name, and this picture accurately defines their life. The money weighs them down, okay? They have to have bodyguards. Everyone’s watching them wherever they go. They can’t trust anybody. They’re always worried about somebody using them for their money.
Let me just tell you this, do you wanna be a billionaire? Raise your hand if you wanna be a billionaire, pretty much everybody. I will never be a billionaire and I don’t want you to be a billionaire either. I’m not trying to be mean, I’m trying to be real. I’m trying to save you. If you have a few million dollars to your name, that’s all you need to live very well. If you follow me on social media, you can see I live very well. I like to show it off to inspire you, guys, to study hard, but you don’t need $1 billion. You don’t even need $100 million.
And I promise you, right now, I will never be a billionaire because I will always be donating so many millions of dollars. Whenever I get close, I’m gonna be like, “Nope. I don’t wanna be like this guy. I don’t wanna be imprisoned by my wealth. I don’t wanna live that life where I have so much where…you know, life changes when you have that much money and I know quite a few people like this. And everyone’s always surprised when I bring this up, like, everyone thinks, “Oh, it’s so cool to be a billionaire. It’s not cool to make $1 million, it’s just cool to make $1 billion.” Okay, make $1 billion and then donate three-quarters of it, how about that?
Here is what really matters, okay? And I know this is just me playing soccer and smiling with some kids in Laos. But if I look back on my life, if today were my deathbed, hopefully, it’s not but if it were, I’d look back, this is the kind of stuff that I’ll remember the most, not the material possessions. I’ve lived in fancy houses. I have the toys. My watch is, you know, more than most people’s annual salary. It’s nice, but this is the stuff that brings true meaning to your life and I want you to recognize that.
If you have any questions about how to find charities, you know, maybe you wanna walk your neighbor’s dog, or you wanna donate to a charity near your, or you have no idea, online, you can find out about every single charity. These are two good websites: volunteermatch.org and pointsoflight.org, and you can match your own interest to a charity. I highly encourage you to do that. Don’t just donate to any random charity you hear about, try to find topics and find subjects that you care about. If you can merge your passion with giving back, it really enhances it.
And ask your family, you know, we all have families. We all have friends. We all have people in our lives, ask around. See what you can do to help out. It doesn’t have to be a charity in Laos or Cambodia, like, across the other side of the world, it can be in your own backyard. There’s so many people, so many projects that need help: a little money, a little time, a little volunteering. Don’t forget that just volunteering, you know, your own time. Spend a Saturday morning at a soup kitchen and feed some homeless people. You will be changed over time the more that you get back and you’ll be changed for the better.
I wanna close with this one quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wanna see in this world.” So, for me, I’ve made a lot of money in the markets, I continue make money with my business, it’s very nice but I want to pass these lessons down to you before it’s too late. You’re all very young and the people watching this online, most of them, are young too. So if you want to change the world, try to share your experiences honestly, and that’s what I’ve tried to do today. Thank you.