Every year, in december, I attend LeWeb Paris, the best tech conference in Europe. It’s organised by my good friend Loic Lemeur and his wife Geraldine. It’s always a great opportunity to reconnect with friends, meet cool people and enjoy great presentations.
Last december I was also wearing the team badge, helping out my buddy Teymur with a photography project in the backstage. You maybe remember that we pulled out a complete portrait gallery with all the speakers. You can have a look at it on teymur’s blog and on my backstage post.
In that occasion I met Scott Harrison, Founder and CEO of Charity:Water. I remember that I was cleaning my lenses and getting ready for the next shot, when Scott came by and like all the other speakers took a seat on our set and in a couple of seconds the portraits were done and he was off to the stage.
In the backstage there were monitors with the live show, directly from the main stage and during pauses, the crew used to watch bits and pieces of the presentations. Usually we were hanging out there just for a couple of minutes and everybody was back to his work.
With Scott it was very different. I clearly remember that only a few minutes after he went on stage a few people were staring at the monitors. After a while is was a small crowd. Fifteen minutes after, everybody in the backstage was glued to the screens.
He was telling a story very unusual for that kind of event. We were used to young engineer that made millions with a groundbreaking online service, CEOs of big companies sharing their success stories, but none of us was expecting to listen to a story about misery, sickness, poor kids and pain.
We tend to avoid those topics, we just like to think that someone else is taking care of it: it’s not our core interest. Especially in such context. We were there to celebrate the top notch of our technological industry, not to think about the misery of our planet and Scott was punching everyone of us in the stomach with a personal story of diseased children.
But he was unusual not only in the context, but also in the method. He was not telling a boring story of pain and tears. He was telling a very compelling story in how he’s changing the world with clean water. Everybody was with him, feeling what it meant to give clean water to the most remote village in the world.
I briefly went to main room and I had a look at the people there. No one was tweeting anymore, they were just listening to him.
If you want to better understand what I’m talking about, have a look the the video.
So, this year I decided to donate my birthday (2013-05-30) to Charity:Water. I created my own campaign and all I ask is to donate a few bucks in order to help people to have clean water.