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I am selfish


I am selfish.

100 days ago I got an email from a lady who had seen my viral dance video. I got lots of emails from people who wanted to learn to dance but that’s not what she wanted. She had multiple sclerosis and what she wanted was to walk again.

So I taught her how to use Dropbox (the very first version of 100 was files in Dropbox folders) and she started taking videos of herself learning to walk every day.

Today is day 100 and you can see she’s made a lot of progress.

When people ask me why I made the dance video I say it’s because I wanted people to see the invisible hard work behind talent. And that is true but you know why else I made it?

Because I am selfish.

I knew if I could make it go viral it would give me opportunity – as a dancer, as a writer, as a speaker.

And when I had the idea for 100 I said I wanted to build it because I wanted to help all these people. And that is true but you know why else I wanted to make it?

Because I am selfish.

You know what one of my hidden motivations was? I thought it’d be cool to write a book one day and I felt like a viral dance video wasn’t substantial enough material. But something like 100 – ohhh that would be good, that would be big, that would give me enough material for a book and I could become a nice published author.

Well it’s been one month since Finbarr and I launched 100. It’s been stressful and I feel burnt out and it’s tiring be constantly on.

And I wasn’t even going to admit that because potential investors will look for cracks and weaknesses and no doubt they are reading this very sentence right now. And they don’t like to smell weaknesses on a founder. Especially not a female one.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last year, it’s that ripping your weaknesses open for everyone to see is where you can draw your greatest strength. If you try to hide it, you give it power. But drag it out in the daylight and you will be liberated.

I am selfish.

But now I can see that 100 is bigger than me and it is bigger than a viral video and it is bigger than a book. If we do this right, it’s going to be the thing every person learning a musical instrument turns to. Every person learning a language. A sport. Every tinkerer toiling away on their side project. Every scared soul starting a business. Every teacher and every student. Every parent recording every child growing up – learning to talk, learning to walk. It will give people confidence, it will give people an army of others who support them, and it will give them belief in themselves.

How someone as selfish as me could create something that could affect so many people and make a real, practical, positive difference in the world – I don’t know. We have a long, long way to go. But we’re gonna make it happen.

3 Comments

  • I think you are being too hard on yourself. You have nothing to be ashamed of.

    We all do things for our own personal motivations and not just out of pure altruism. When I did volunteer work abroad I did it to help others (thereby making myself feel good), but I also came to realize that I did it to pad my own resume. I did it to show that I had global medical experience with NGOs, so I could enter a better graduate program.

    Your video actual came to me at a time when I was about to give up. Then I watched your video and watched it again. I must have watched it a dozen times by now and I am happy to say I recently reached the halfway mark to reading Chinese fluently. I’ve also started exercising and building muscle and it has made me a better person. Every day, one small improvement, one step at a time.

    You have created something that has helped and inspired so many people to be better. Not to be content in watching other people be amazing, but to be amazing themselves. You should be proud of what you have accomplished. Without you, none of this would have been possible.

    So, if you do ever decide to write that book, I’d be glad to read it.

    Thanks Karen.

  • Karen this was absolutely amazing. I want to say that you inspired me to start dancing and recording myself as well.

    And this line,
    “I knew if I could make it go viral it would give me opportunity – as a dancer, as a writer, as a speaker,” is amazing to me.

    Because my definite major purpose is to become a “speaker, dancer, and writer who uses synthesis to improve the lives of people and the planet.”

  • Hi Karen!

    Outside of the semantics/psychology/philosophy of “self”

    I really like your concept GiveIt100 !!

    What an awesome thing to launch with such a small team!
    I’m glad to see it has taken off.

    I found this article of yours ( http://www.fastcompany.com/3023215/work-smart/how-to-get-a-job-after-youve-been-rejected?partner=newsletter&utm_source=facebook ) and followed the link here to your website.

    Great to see your success after graduating as the top student of 2009 at UT (saw your Evernote resume on the article– great idea, and well done!!)! Congratulations! I can tell, just from reading about you that you work very hard. Apparently it pays off! You are an inspiration :)

    I graduated in 2010, and I am just now wrapping my head around web development.

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