500 Words To Save The World

500 Words To Save The World

You don’t have to have all the answers
to tackle the big questions

Stephen S. Nazarian

Shakespir Edition 1.0

Copyright © 2016 by Stephen S Nazarian

[Dedicated to my wife Emily who is always encouraging me
to say what I have to say with fewer words.]

Copyright © 2016 Stephen S. Nazarian

All rights reserved.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
















When I started my blog in March 2014, I had a short list of goals:

p<{color:#000;}. Talk about creative problem solving

p<{color:#000;}. Share stories that were entertaining and insightful

p<{color:#000;}. Create a community where like-minded people could discuss challenges and solve problems together

I has succeeded on one and two, but number three had remained somewhat elusive. So, I decided to do something about it.

In February 2015, I began posting a single problem followed by a solution in no more than five hundred words. I did this exactly ten times.

The famous physicist Richard Feynman was once asked by a Caltech faculty member to explain why spin 1/2 particles obey Fermi-Dirac statistics. He gauged his audience perfectly and said, “I’ll prepare a freshman lecture on it.” But a few days later he returned and said, “You know, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t reduce it to the freshman level. That means we really don’t understand it.”

Albert Einstein has been quoted as saying:

[[If you can’t explain it simply,
then you don’t understand it well enough.]]

My research shows that he never actually said this, but I like the sentiment and it is a logical simplification of what Feynmen said, and as such a proof of its own point.

I for my exercise, I chose problems to which I could offer a solution in exactly five hundred words. I set out with ideas as simple as:

How to improve the water pressure in your faucets and showers.

to as complex as:

How we can we reasonably reform our federal tax system?

I decided nothing would be off limits, and I asked for contributions from my readers. I asked them to send me the problems that kept them up at night and I promised to take on the ones where I could offer a reasonable approach within the constraints of the exercise.

I received a few suggestions.

Now, to be clear I had no delusions that I would be offering the only or even the best solution to any of these problems. My goal was to offer a straightforward, logical approach that could be explained to any human being capable of reading five hundred words.

My hope was my writing would inspire discussion, debate and meaningful banter. I am not the guy with all the answers (is anyone?), but with my website and more than 200,000 words under my belt, I did have a platform on which to execute this grand experiment.

When I wrote this introduction I had the first topic set, but beyond that I didn’t know where things would go. The rest, as they say, is history and I am hoping by combining all of the essays into this little book, they might find their way out into the world a little further.

This eBook is not copy protected, so please share it freely. Let’s talk about this stuff. If we’re lucky, we just might make history.

By the way, this introduction is exactly five hundred words.

1 – Toddler Empathy

After asking folks to send in their problems, I received a message from a reader in Texas who wrote:

[[Being a parent yourself please tell me,
how do I get my 5 year old and 3 year old (both girls)
to get along for more than 5 minutes?]]

I had a heavier topic planned for this first installment, but after reading this question I couldn’t shake it.

Small children, appear to us adults like little “Jekyll & Hydes.” Sitting on your lap reading a book they are the sweetest things in the world; however moments later they can issue a completely credible murder threat to a younger sibling over something as small as a liquid-filled fruit snack. (Our boys refer to these as “fruit zits,” but I digress.)

As they age, they get (a little) better at expressing their thoughts, feelings and desires, but at three and five this is something they cannot yet do…alone.

So what is a parent to do when, the little creatures they love more than anything treat each other like characters on The Sopranos?

This is where this mysterious thing called parenting kicks in, and although I’ve never done exactly what I am about to suggest, my wife and I have had luck with similar approaches.

p<{color:#000;}. Get nine pieces of paper or index cards (per child).

p<{color:#000;}. On the first three pieces of paper write “I don’t like it when [sibling name] does/is/other verb”

p<{color:#000;}. On the next three write “I wish [sibling name] would”

p<{color:#000;}. On the last three write, “I wish [sibling name] knew”

Sit with each child separately and bring up recent “incidents.” Ask how he or she felt about each situation, and then help them fill in each of the cards about the sibling in question.

When you’re done, sit them down together and “play” the cards. There is no wining or losing, but everybody gets the same say, and they will each learn a great deal about the other. There is no discussion while the cards are being played, only sharing and listening.

This is much more art exhibit than trial.

When it is over, each child takes the cards that bear their name (even if they can’t read) as a reminder that siblings have feelings too.

I can’t promise this will end the fighting, but it will help them develop the empathy for others that is so lacking in modern society.

A friend from high school posts things about her kids on Facebook, and she posted this note between her two girls who are eight and ten.

The names of the two girls have been blurred to protect the guilty.

If a five and three year old are communicating like this by the time they are eight and ten, then you’re doing something right.

Children learn how to interact with others at home. If you can teach them “love comes first,” and everything else is details, they will be the next generation we are all hoping for.

2 – Unemployment Moneyball

The 2003 book (and 2011 film) Moneyball, tells the story of Billy Beane and how he and the Oakland A’s turned Major League Baseball upside down with a completely different approach to statistics called Sabermetrics.

The crux of the story is that the conventional wisdom on player statistics was rooted in a 19th century view of the game, and measurements such as batting average, stolen bases, and RBIs, while accurate, were meaningless in the modern game.

The A’s started focusing on statistics they believed were more relevant, and in turn were able to acquire highly effective players at low prices; players everyone else was ignoring.

They stopped doing things the way they had always been done… and they won, big.

With the third lowest payroll in the league, they won the AL West in 2002, 2003 and 2006. Every team in baseball now uses Sabermetrics.


In early 2015 Jim Clifton, the CEO and Chairman of the Gallup polling organization, published a piece about the problems with the Unemployment Rate.

To be sure it was politically motivated (it was called The Big Lie). Furthermore, a criticism of statistics by the head of a polling organization should be taken with a big chunk of salt. That said, the manner by which we measure how many Americans are working is long overdue for an Oakland A’s style makeover.

You’d think that the National Unemployment Rate, issued monthly by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics would simply be… the percentage of adult Americans that want full time jobs, but don’t have one. Unfortunately this is not the case.

At that time, the stated unemployment rate was 5.6%, but that number did not include:

p<{color:#000;}. Anyone who has given up looking for a job, but would still work if they could find one

p<{color:#000;}. Anyone who wants full time employment, but works a minimum of one hour each week and is paid at least $20 for that work. Basically anyone who wants a full time job, but is trying to get by on what they can find

p<{color:#000;}. Anyone who is out of work, but has not applied for unemployment benefits

Essentially the people who have been unemployed the longest, and the people who are doing whatever they can to scrape by, are not being counted at all.

What I’m talking about here is not political. Politicians of every persuasion for have used the current measure for as long as it has been in existence. I am not talking about policy or ideology; I am simply asking our government (no matter who is running it) to give us meaningful, accurate data.

I propose a new unemployment rate that is simply the percentage of adult Americans who would like to have a full time job but don’t, period.

By the way, they already have the numbers. It is something called the “U6 Report” which is found in the “Alternative measures of labor underutilization.”

That number was not 5.6%… it was 11.2%. I think Billy Beane would approve!

3 – Knock Knock!

I have been fortunate.

Growing up, my father worked, and my mother stayed at home. She cooked our meals, volunteered at school, and helped with homework. My dad brought home a paycheck and helped run the Boy Scout troop.

My siblings and I participated in sports; and my parents were always there, cheering us on.

As I said, I have been fortunate.

Now that I am a parent, I can tell you it is the best and hardest job I’ve ever had. My wife and I have four children, and we both work.

Our family is logistically complicated, but we are able to figure it out and make it work, most of the time.

Sometimes we find ourselves at the margins, and we turn to family and friends for help. We are lucky to have such resources, and in turn we help others when they need it.

Here’s the thing… there are days when no amount of appointment juggling or pizza delivery will connect all the dots, but for us these days are rare.

Unfortunately, millions of American parents face this situation… every single day.

More than a third of school-aged children live in single-parent households, and those households are more than twice as likely to have low-incomes, compared to all families with children.

These families struggle, and the children’s school performance suffers.

Education is the single greatest weapon in the war on poverty, but without success in the classroom, at risk children simply grow up to lead the next generation of struggling families.

According to a 2007 Harvard Family Research Project Study:

p<{color:#000;}. Increases in family involvement in the school predict increases in literacy achievement

p<{color:#000;}. Family involvement in school matters most for children at greatest risk.

Every teacher in America can tell you we didn’t need a study to tell us that.

The answers don’t come from singling out ethnic groups or geography. Although there are concentrations, the problems I describe are EVERYWHERE.

Telling a parent, “your situation needs to change,” or “your kids are failing,” is about as effective (and compassionate) as telling the drowning Titanic passengers “next time we won’t hit the iceberg.”

Schools programs can’t do it all, resource-poor parents need help with parenting. I am not qualified to speak on the economics, but I have an idea for the logistical piece, and in many ways, time is money. I have the benefit of all the resources I need, why not then give struggling families the same thing?

I am not talking about money, or subsidies, or a bloated government bureaucracy. We need a simple exchange of resources where people help other people. A place where people get what they need and give what they can.

This is an idea, not a plan, but I welcome all thoughts on implementation.

I believe most people, when given the opportunity; will help their fellow man. Let’s provide the doorway so that opportunity has a place to knock.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

We are… how can we help?

4 – Five Things You Can Fix Yourself

Okay, it is time to roll up your sleeves, get a bit dirty, and bask in the glow of true mechanical accomplishment. In every case here, turn to YouTube and Google whenever you have a question. The Internet will provide you with all the information you need to safely and effectively get the job done.

Blades & Bulbs

I lumped these together because they are so easy. You should change the wiper blades on your car once a year, and to have a mechanic do it is both expensive and, to be honest, embarrassing. Go to the store, get new blades and follow the directions. Headlights and other bulbs on your car are a little trickier but usually require maybe a screwdriver and a little patience. Don’t be a chicken.


Appliances are either super-easy, or impossible to fix yourself, but you really should try. If your dryer is making a funny noise, or your dishwasher won’t drain, spend fifteen minutes at a place like repairclinic.com and you’ll be amazed at what you can tackle on your own. Not only will you save money, you’ll fix things faster.

Oil Changes

You can go to a “quickie-lube” place and get an oil change for something like $30, but for around than half that, you can do it yourself. Why would you want to lie down on your back and get filthy just to save fourteen bucks? Knowledge. Not only will you learn how to change your oil, you will get familiar with the greasy underside of your car, and perhaps you’ll spot a problem before it leaves you stranded by the side of the road. If you’re afraid of your car, you can build confidence on a lawnmower or snow blower.

Switches & Outlets

Electricity is like magic, but unlike magic, it is real and as such it’s inherently understandable. Some people are comfortable changing switches and outlets in their homes, but many are not. I’m here to tell you it is safe, easy and inexpensive to do. A 10-pack of standard wall outlets at the Home Depot is only $3.90. Yes, new outlets are $0.39 each, and there is 9-minute installation video on the web page. So, when you paint a room, don’t tolerate those nasty old outlets and switches, treat yourself to new ones.


Dogs, kids, and yes even clumsy adults poke holes in door and window screens, all the time. Simply Google, “how to fix window screens” and you’ll find instructions and videos specific to your situation. It is one of the easiest home-fix projects and the results are instant. I recommend buying a roll of screen so the next time (and there will be a next time) you’ll have everything you need on hand.

Will fixing things yourself save the world? Maybe not immediately, but it will save you money, give you a tremendous sense of satisfaction, and make you a bad-assed hero in the eyes of all those around you. And who doesn’t want that?

5 – Whirled Peas

When I requested “problems to be solved,” I expected some Jackwagon to ask for world peace. One reader came through within an hour. Then, the day after the Grammy’s someone asked when I was going to address the antics of Kanye West, I replied, “too easy, not doing it.”

If Kanye is too easy, what is appropriately challenging? The siren song of the Jackwagon rang out loud and clear.

Most people (save a handful of despots) want world peace. This elusive state where nations are not at war with each other (or with themselves) has never happened in human history, and it won’t until we use the only weapon that can deliver it.

That weapon, is love.

Love exists in more forms than I could describe in 50,000 words, let alone 500, so I’m not going to try. Before you all get your dander up and tell me that there is evil in the world that must be vanquished not loved, just read to the end.

This is Bob

My friend Bob Goff is an attorney, a best selling author and a man of more energy than I have ever witnessed in a single human.

Bob is also Honorary Consul for the Republic of Uganda to the United States. His organization Restore International does human rights and educational work in Uganda, India and Somalia.

In 2013, Bob and Restore International set out to try and solve Uganda’s problem with child trafficking and ritualistic sacrifices. Witch doctors and traditional healers are a shunned part of society because of these activities, but paradoxically, the strong underground demand for their services is a horrific cultural reality.

A witch doctor that deals in human trafficking and child sacrifice is certainly as evil as any other threat we face as a people.

They started a school for witch doctors and traditional healers to teach them basic literacy skills and, “unify the group into a community of people who fight strongly and bravely against any form of trafficking, are educated about the laws, and empowered to report crimes.”

The results have been astonishing.

In October of 2013, the school issued 47 literacy certificates. This group is now united for love and justice. Where they once turned a blind eye, they are reporting crimes and improving the safety of all children.

The first graduating class of witch doctors & traditional healers

These people were doing evil things, not because they were evil, but because they had no options. Bob saw this, and delivered enough love to provide them with what they needed to evolve from a threat, to a blessing.

I’m not big fan of peas (whirled or otherwise), I never have been. Love on the other hand is something I can get on board with. Make no mistake; love is the foundation of the strategy, not the tactics – any parent of a teenager can tell you that.

There have been many weapons in the history of warfare… and the greatest of these, is love.

6 – K.I.S.S. Me You Fool

Years ago I received a Lego set for Christmas. I wrote about it in a piece called Why Legos Matter. This set included gears and axles. One day my Dad and I were playing, and he taught me how to make a speed multiplier gearbox. When you mesh small and large gears in an alternating pattern, turning the input end produces a substantially greater rotation at the output end. It seemed like magic… I set out to build a bigger one using all the gears I had.


Our nation has a crisis with healthcare. The problem is not in our ability to treat symptoms, cure disease and in general support a healthier populace; no, our entire problem is centered on how to pay for it.

There is no argument that the United States has the finest healthcare delivery system in the world, unfortunately the access to that system is a mess.

I am not here to bash the ACA, its creators or supporters; but rather to point out that everything we have tried to date has not worked.

So, here is my answer. Keep It Simple Stupid

As I stated, it is a money problem, yet we keep trying to solve it with process, rules and behavior shaping regulation; wrong answer. Here are the right ones:

p<{color:#000;}. Leave the parts of the system that are working alone – If you have insurance you like (by whatever means) it should be allowed to continue unabated

p<{color:#000;}. Create a sliding scale, (Health Savings Account) HSA policy based system for everyone who wants insurance, but does not have it

p<{color:#000;}. These policies would be offered nationally by any interested company. The price would be the same for all policies, differing only in features.

p<{color:#000;}. For the most needy, the monthly premium and HSA funding would be completely covered. As income increased, the subsidies would decrease until the subscriber was paying the full price

But wait a minute… if someone is receiving a fully funded HSA for free, what’s to keep them from overwhelming the system?

For anyone receiving a subsidy, 50% of the money in the HSA not spent in a given year would be placed in a 401K or 529 account, where it becomes the property of the subscriber, with the other 50% being returned to the system.

If you truly need healthcare, you’d have it. If you didn’t, your judiciousness would be rewarded with an investment in your future. I’ve done quick math on this and it would be less expensive than the complex road we are speeding down. Better access for fewer dollars, simple.

Oh, I built that gearbox using all the gears in the Lego set. Guess what, it was so complex and encumbered by friction it wouldn’t turn, and when I tried really hard I broke it.

It reminds me of a picture I saw once

Simplicity is all we really need to take care of each other. We’ve proven that every other approach simply doesn’t work.

7 – Make Less Mistakes

There is nothing that makes you look less intelligent than a regular misuse of language. I am a musician of language; English is my instrument. Like music, language is alive, fluid, and evolves over time. However, just like music, language has rules, and if you don’t follow them, you will hurt people’s ears.

Most people aren’t fools, but when they say stupid things, what are the rest of us to think? Here are four of the language misdemeanors that make a little vein on my temple throb. If you know someone who needs help (and you do), please share this. I thank you in advance.

The title of this piece should have made you cringe, but to many it looks just fine; it is not.

Lesson One – Speedy Delivery

This one is simple; if the subject is broad, use the word less, but if specific units are involved use fewer.

p<{color:#000;}. Tom has less money than Sharon.

p<{color:#000;}. Tom has fewer dollars Sharon.

Clearly the title of this piece should be “Make Fewer Mistakes.” The next time a TV or radio ad proclaims that you can have your new furniture delivered in three days or less, it’s okay to scream.

Lesson Two – Tax Time

Every year begins with a countdown to the dreaded April 15th, but the misuse of two tax words is around us all year long.

p<{color:#000;}. A Tax Return, is the form you fill out and send to the IRS or state.

p<{color:#000;}. A Tax Refund is the money you receive when your return shows a negative balance.

Any advertiser or company that suggests you come spend your Tax Return with them deserves fewer of your dollars, not more.

Lesson Three – Geopolitical Skin Care

When an individual or group runs a government for a period of time it is called a Regime. The word is typically used in countries where regime change is a frequent and sudden event.

A routine that involves several steps is called a Regimen. So, if you have six skin-care products you apply in a specific order every night, you have a well-defined regimen.

In 1989 when regime change came to Panama, Manuel Noriega saw the end of his regime, giving him more time to spend on his skin-care regimen.

Lesson Four – Damn Groundhog

Every February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil decides if there will be six more weeks of freezing temperatures, snow, and ice.

When winter finally ends (in 6 weeks or fewer) the snow will begin to melt, however things will not unthaw. Why you ask? Because unthaw is not a word.

The prefix “un,” when slapped on the front of a word, inverts the meaning of the word to which it attached. So, if unthaw were a word (which it is not) it would actually mean something not thawing. We have a word for that, freezing.


We use language every day, so why not use it properly? Weird Al Yankovic agrees. Google “Wierd Al Word Crimes.” You’ll thank me… I promise.

8 – Payroll It Forward

Small business is the backbone of the US economy. More than 50% of the working population works in a small business.

The worst part of running any business is the paperwork that comes with employees. Tax withholding and regular reporting is cumbersome, difficult and expensive.

It is for these reasons that many small businesses don’t bother to play by the rules.

Years ago, my wife and I hired a nanny. Full compliance would mean withholding taxes and making quarterly reports and payments to both the IRS and NY State. I purchased a piece of software that did the math for me.

When it came time to make the first payment, they wouldn’t take my money. I had a temporary tax ID number, but to make an actual payment, I needed a permanent one. I called, but the person I spoke with could only tell me that I couldn’t make a payment with my ID; she was powerless to get me my permanent number.

I returned the withheld funds to the nanny and told her to report it all as “self-employed” income.

They made it too hard to follow the rules.

For years my uncle ran a successful contracting business. At one point he got into trouble with the IRS because he had been running an entirely cash-based operation and the taxes he had paid were, well, lacking.

I heard him complaining to my Dad about how “the damn government” was all up in his business. After a while my father said, “I am the damn government, because every dollar you don’t pay has to come from a guy like me.”

Here is the solution:

For businesses that have ten or fewer employees, the government should provide a free payroll service that works like this:

p<{color:#000;}. Large payroll processors (ADP, Paychex, etc.) would offer a free basic payroll service that would be paid for by the federal and state governments

p<{color:#000;}. The fee would be the same for any company willing to get into the game. They could differentiate themselves by the features they offer

p<{color:#000;}. Even if they had to do it at a loss, access to these new customers for other products and services would be worth millions, and when the free customer crossed the line to eleven employees, they would be able to charge market rates

p<{color:#000;}. Whatever the government had to pay for the service, would be more than offset by the increased revenue

p<{color:#000;}. In addition to capturing revenue that is currently being lost to non-compliance, the biggest net result would be a material improvement in fairness

People do want to follow the rules and make meaningful contributions to the society in which we live. However, when that society makes it easier to skirt the rules than to follow them, the losses go beyond financial.

Make payroll for small business as welcoming as the old guy at Wal Mart with the stickers.

If we choose to “Payroll It Forward,” we will all be better for it.


9 – Inactivity Timeout

One day I received an email from my library informing me that my card was about to expire, however if I had used it within the last year it would automatically be renewed, no further action necessary. By using something, I was permitted to keep using it.

I subscribe to a satellite radio service, and on the weekends I regularly listen using an app on my phone. If I stay on the same station for more than two hours, without pressing any buttons, the music pauses due to something called an “inactivity timeout.” The reason they do this is their resources are finite, and if I were no longer listening, they’d rather not use up bandwidth playing music to an empty room. Of course to keep listening, all I have to do is click a button. I do not consider this an inconvenience.

We Americans have one of the worst records in the world when it comes to turning out for elections. According to The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) from 1945-2014, the USA on average saw 47.5% voter turnout, which is 15.2% below the international average of 62.7%. Italy is the leader with 89.4%.

For a nation of “doers,” we don’t do much voting.


[[They say, “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain,”
but when has that ever stopped anyone?]]

Something needs to be done so that winners of American Idol don’t get more votes than the winner in a Presidential election (not a joke, look it up). Americans don’t like to have things taken away from them, so leveraging that idea I have a proposal:

Once registered to vote, and you choose not exercise

that right for five years, your ability to do so expires,

and to vote again you must re-register.

Now, before you all start screaming about disenfranchisement, let me be perfectly clear: I am not suggesting anyone’s right to vote be taken away, only that to keep it active you must actually use it.

I had a dog that hated vegetables. Put a slice of cucumber in her bowl and she wouldn’t touch it. Then, I got another dog. Once the idea that the other dog might get the cucumber came into play, the first dog suddenly loved them.

Human beings take for granted the things that we believe are not at risk, which is the very definition of “granted.” However, once there is a threat of loss, our vigilance kicks in and suddenly (pardon my language), we give a shit.

The voting rolls are rife with duplicates from people moving from state to state. My plan, solves this problem also.

Decades of attempts have been unsuccessful in lighting a fire under the collective arse of more than half of the eligible American voters. Perhaps bringing a second dog into the house will be enough to get everyone to eat their cucumbers.

America is credited with creating the modern democracy. This single, simple idea could prevent us from also being responsible for its demise.

10 – Be The Sea

I am writing from an eastbound Amtrak train.

The musician Jill Sobule said, “there’s something about a train,” and on this point I must agree. Like attending a live baseball game, a train forces you to slow down and accept its pace for what it is. It might be on time and it might not, but in the end, you will get there when the train does; nothing you do is going to change that.

Last week I purchased digital versions of some music I once had on cassette. I say “had” (not owned) because I never paid for these albums before. It felt good to toss these artists a few bucks after enjoying their work for decades.

One of the albums was “All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes,” by Pete Townshend. I don’t know what the title means, but it contains a song that I have always loved, The Sea Refuses No River.

Listening for the first time in years, I heard things in the lyrics that had simply bounced off my younger self.

Wanting to know what Mr. Townshend was trying to say, I Googled the meaning of the song. The Internet consensus is that the song is about heroin, which is something to which I cannot personally relate. However, since art is something to be interpreted by the beholder, I have found my own meaning.

Towards the end of the song, there is a line:

The sea refuses no river
No pecking code
Respected for the damned

In the context of the world in which we live, this lyric screamed out something everyone on this big blue marble should stop doing… judging.

The metaphor for the song is simple; the ocean accepts all that flows into it; every drop, no judgment.

The ocean has no free will, and could never actually choose to refuse a river, but that’s not the point. By definition the sea must accept every thing that comes towards it, from pristine waters to sewage chock-full of garbage. Refusing anything would be pointless since it can’t be done, at least not for any meaningful measure of time.

One only need look at man’s perpetually failed attempts to hold back the sea, to see the futility.

As humans, I believe we are our very best selves when we receive everyone we encounter… everyone.

This does not mean we must accept risk and invite danger into our lives, but rather welcome the opportunity to learn and enrich every person who crosses our path.

I am not asking you to become close friends with every menacing person on the streets where you live, but instead to welcome the idea of every person as a fellow man, instead of a list of bad decisions to be judged and admonished.

Strangers know nothing of each other struggles, yet we judge them without hesitation.

I know it will be uncomfortable, and I know it will be hard, but every chance you get… be the sea and refuse no river.


So you’ve consumed 5,500 words. At the very least, I hope I’ve made you think a little, but to be honest I am hoping for a great deal more.

I recently discovered that my friend Marcus (whom I’ve known more than forty years) started an organization in Detroit to help the homeless, called Just-BE-Cause. According to the group’s Facebook page:

“Just BE-Cause” is about YOU paying your “gift” forward. It’s about you helping others and finding ways to help others, help others. It’s about you finding your own “BE”…your How & Who… how do you want to contribute and who you want to be and feel. It’s about you finding your own “CAUSE”… your own Why & What…why you’re motivated and driven to help and your what…what’s in your heart and what do you want to contribute to for your own reasons. It’s about potentially planting a seed, your “gift”, in someone’s life to create change. It’s about giving seeds to those who can “afford” to give to others. You are giving those seed for them to grow their own garden.

Marcus saw a problem and he decided to do something about it. By any measure, the unemployment rate in Detroit is twice the national rate, and (based on what we learned in Chapter Two) the homeless are not likely being counted in that figure.

Marcus did not gather focus groups. He did not form a committee. He did not hire a lawyer to file a 401c3 application to gain the benefits of not-for-profit status. He saw something that he couldn’t stand to ignore anymore and he started doing something.

He had no idea what would happen next, but that didn’t matter, he knew he needed to do something. Here is the thing about Marcus… he’s really smart. He recognized the problem he chose to tackle is staggeringly large, so instead of just attacking it with brute force (which he also does) he added a level of sophistication to his efforts.

The Detroit Auto Show takes place in January of every year, right in the middle of the coldest time of the year for the homeless. The Auto Show brings thousands of people, and millions of dollars into the city from all over the world.

Marcus gathered up some change, paper and tape. Here is what he did:

He took what little he had and used the influx of people and money to multiply the effect of what he could do alone. What’s more he catalyzed a human connection between the visitors and the “houseless family” of Detroit. If this effort caused even just one positive change to occur that otherwise wouldn’t have happened, it would be worth it. I’m betting the effect was even greater.

What problems do you see? What can you do to address them?

Like the subtitle of this little book suggests, you don’t need all the answers to get started.

Step up, figure out something that needs to be done and start doing it… today.


Now you’ve read 6,000 words. Put the book down and get out there.


500 Words To Save The World

This little book is a collection of ten essays. In each chapter I take on one problem or challenge and attempt to solve it in exactly five hundred words. The topics are: - How to get toddlers to get along - Fixing the accuracy of the unemployment rate - Addressing the resource issues of the working poor - Five things anyone can fix themselves - How to achieve world peace - How to fix the healthcare mess - Commonly misused words - Getting small business out from under the table - How to stop judging Each essay offers a solution, but not necessarily the only solution. The goal is simply to get people talking, and since each chapter is only 500 words you won't spend too much time reading.

  • ISBN: 9781310610356
  • Author: Stephen Nazarian
  • Published: 2016-01-28 20:05:12
  • Words: 6230
500 Words To Save The World 500 Words To Save The World