I’ve never told anyone this, but I started out fundraising as a volunteer.
When I was twelve, I walked the 26 mile Walk for Hunger in Boston two years in a row. I got pledges on my pledge sheet that people would pay depending on how many miles I walked. I remember eating the juicy orange slices, and the blisters on my feet the next day. I remember feeling the sweet relaxation that total exhaustion can bring.
I remember looking down into the Charles River and seeing a dead bloated Labrador. It was shocking. I was walking with my dad, and I said, “Dad, would you touch the dead dog for a million dollars?” and he said, “For a million dollars, I would KISS the dead dog!”
Then in high school, I sold fruit for the choir. We had to go door to door to people in our town, asking if people would like deliveries of grapefruit and oranges from Florida in the winter. Our team was successful, and so our choir got to travel to Germany and Austria one year.
Somehow, this experience didn’t come to mind when I started to think about what to do with my life. Fast forward to sitting in NYC at my job at the Economist, 7am, September 11th, 2001. It was quiet, but eerily quiet. Something felt odd. Someone came running into the room. “A tower exploded! We can go home!”
So I started to walk slowly down towards where the towers were. Dust filled the air. Mobs of people ran to and fro. I was strangely calm. The next day I walked to work on deserted streets, where not even a cab went. That was the day where I decided that there was more to life than New York and commuting and editing at the Economist. I handed in my resignation that month.