Another Unusual $100,000 Birthday Present (Plus: Free Round-Trip Anywhere in the World)


Soon 35-years young… and still not acting my age. (Photo: Sir Garrett Camp)

35! I’ll turn a glorious 35 this week.

It’s going to be a great natal year–I can already feel it. Perhaps it will be good luck for you, too. In this post, I’m giving away a round-trip ticket anywhere in the world.

But back to that strange birthday gift…

Much to the chagrin of my momma-san, I’ve become quite difficult to buy presents for. Some friends even think I’m impossible to find presents for. Not so. I love handwritten letters, homemade brownies, and–most of all–when people do something nice.

You, dear readers, have a record of being nice and making it count. In fact, you’ve changed thousands of lives with small acts of kindness!

For my b-day in 2010, you all raised more than $100,000 for high-need public school classrooms in the US. Then, last year, you helped build libraries overseas (See the construction progress on Cambodia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka here, as well as the completed schools in Vietnam.)

In lieu of gifts this year, my birthday wish is to help poor youth in developing nations finish school. This breaks the cycle of poverty and creates problem solvers in places with problems that affect communities, entire countries, and the world at large.

And there are a few fun twists…

First, think for education. Unlike last year, we’re actually giving loans. By using loans, only the most hard-working and ambitious students participate., the organization I’m partnering with, currently has an astounding 99.8% repayment rate! That means you should actually make your money back, and you’re giving a hand up instead of a hand out.

If you prefer to “donate,” you can opt to have the funds automatically reinvested in Vittana, which is what I do.

Here’s how it works:

1. Join my 35th birthday challenge by clicking here. It’s worth clicking through just to check out the site.

2. To get your engines started, I’ve put in $10,000 of my own money, primarily into women studying to be programmers and teachers. Under “Find a student,” you’ll see “Students we’re helping.” That’s the gang.

3. If the spirit moves you, please make a $35 loan (or whatever you can: $1, $35, $1,000, etc.) to the student of your choosing. Click on “Find a student” to search outside my group. Even a $1 can make a big difference to these students!

4. Over the next several months, your (and my) students will finish school. They’ll then find jobs and begin repaying their loans.

Vittana’s impact is incredible, and your good karma compounds over time. Take a girl like Ana Lizbeth for instance — with a $713 Vittana Loan, she became an IT administrator and doubled her income. I’m so excited about Vittana that I just recently became an advisor, joining supporters like Google, Tim O’Reilly, and Mitch Kapor, among others. It’s really awesome.

So, to get this party started in force…

Sweetening the Pot…

– If you all help raise $50,000, I will personally foot the bill for another $50,000. This means that if you get the total to $60,000 (as I put in $10K already), I will pay the remaining $40,000 to get us to $100,000. The deadline for this is 11:59pm PST on Friday, July 27th.

I’m giving away a free round-trip ticket anywhere in the world that Star Alliance flies, which is just about everywhere. There is no expiration date on the trip, so no rush on deciding where or when to go.

Now, here’s how to get it:

– Spread the word however you can. Send people to this post or to my Vittana donation page.
– Leave a comment below telling me what you did (Facebook, Twitter, blog post, e-mail blast, e-mail signature, encouraged employees/friends to do the same, company donation matching, etc.). Measurement of any type gets huge bonus points. This comment must be put up no later than 11:59pm PST on Friday, July 27th, 2012.
– Lastly, answer one question at the very top of your comment: “What does education mean to you?”

I’ll pick the top five promoters, and you’ll all vote on the winner of the round-trip.


But the best reason of all…

Beyond the bribes, you’ll feel awesome about yourself for doing real good for people who have so little. People who, without education, might not have a future at all.

Trust me. It feels great.

Will you pause for a moment and step up, even if for $1? It would mean the world to me. I’ll share updates as I get them.

Again, here is where to go to loan/donate $35, $1, $1,000, or whatever you can.

Thank you for reading this post. You are all rock stars, and I continue to write on this blog purely because of you.

Posted on: July 19, 2012.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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282 comments on “Another Unusual $100,000 Birthday Present (Plus: Free Round-Trip Anywhere in the World)

    • Loaned $35 (happy B-day) wish it was more but I am an entrepreneur without any profit yet ;) Shared on facebook 371 friends.

      Education means breaking the cycle. My mom was single and uneducated. Statistically I should be too. Instead I got in to college by the skin of my teeth and have been working towards my dreams since.

      Love what you are doing and glad to be a part of it. I can’t wait to see what Perla Concepción does!


  1. Tim education means a lot to me. I recently graduated and doubled my income. The network I developed at school led to my job. I am happy to promote and support this cause.


    • @Jayson: I find it interesting, that a person who’s comparing schools to prisons praises a post that advocates loaning money to students.


  2. To me, education means acquiring information that has the potential to create a better life for the next generation. Love the Vittana site, thanks for sharing Tim. BTW.. I turn 35 in 3 weeks.


  3. Happy Birthday!

    What a fun way to celebrate!

    Here’s how I’ve shared so far:
    Retweeted your tweet to all 121 of my followers :-)
    Shared link to this blog post with 615 FB friends.



    • I forgot to say what education means to me… it means learning a new way to look at the world – opening your mind to new ideas, information, and knowledge.


  4. Education means empowerment–empowering a person to help him- or herself and then to go beyond and help others… Like this!

    Frickin’ awesome, Tim. Thanks for getting folks involved. I updated the very beginning of my email signature (and as you can guess that’s a lot of eyeballs every single day) and am using this as a reason to reach out to my friends, clients, and mailing list. That’s 3,880 people right there. Let’s hope they do the same. :)



  5. Education to me means that one is able to achieve a higher state of awareness and self fulfillment. Education is an outlet that allows us to mature and develop. We can learn about things that intrigue us or learn skills to find success in life. Most importantly education is a opportunity, one that all people across the world should be given access to.

    My contribution was a $5 donation. I know this doesn’t sound like much but as an unemployed recent college graduate living at home, it was hard to part with that $5, yet I know it is going to much better use now serving education. I have also forwarded this website to several friends and family. Best of luck.


    • Really agree that education is a huge opportunity, it’s a real shame that a lot of kids in the US/ UK don’t see it that way. When I hear stories of kids and families in developing countries putting everything on the line to get an education it brings tears to the eyes (in a different way to the school fees bring tears to the eyes in the UK!)

      Have you heard about PISA? Its the Programme for International Student Assessment and assesses 500,000 children across 70 countries. China is now topping the charts comfortably. In China education is viewed as a life changing opportunity. As President Obama said “the nation that out-educates us today will out-compete us tomorrow”, so we better learn quickly.

      How can we not support people who want to educate themselves! Great cause Vittana, will share on my blog, it may be a small readership but it’s about the steps I took to leave my office life behind (as inspired by the 4 hour work week bible)


  6. I made a donation and shared with all my friends on facebook and twitter. To me, education = opportunity. Every child in the world deserves one!


  7. 1. Told VisionSpring office to donate (7 people)
    2. Facebook status post (934 people)
    3. Twitter (296 people)

    Absolute collision of worlds – I’ve volunteered for Vittana for years and read you for years, and out of the blue, this happens. Hilarious and appreciated. Happy birthday.


    • As Vittana Community & Culture Mgr (and volunteer mgr for the very translation team Jared mentions), it’s a huge thrill to see Tim’s community coming together like this for global education.

      New favorite hashtag: #EduMob :)

      Let’s make some serious change for students across the globe and graduate a generation beyond poverty! Thanks Tim, thanks Jared, thanks everyone!!


  8. Hi Tim,

    This is really good. I may not have many friends to spread out the message but I’m very happy to show my support to your kindness.



  9. Education means to me: freedom, possibilities, opportunity, adventure, hope, promise, dreams fulfilled, strength, experience, security and a insatiable hunger to learn more…
    Tim, thank you for the inspiration. Not only have you inspired me to donate and to spread the word but to also remember what I appreciate most about my education and my parents’ sacrifices for my education. I have shared this page on FB, Twitter, via email and am sending to all of my friends asking them to support the cause by contributing in lieu of (early) birthday presents for me too. Tomorrow am presenting to my team at work as a team building exercise. I hope that I can help to increase awareness and that the students are able to reach their goals and realize their dreams.
    Happy Birthday Tim!
    Keep up the good work in helping all of us realize our dreams :)


  10. Tim,

    I believe that education is the one levelling tool for all of those around the world. It can bring people out of poverty and hard times, and by providing these people the opportunity to gain education, I believe that we are helping them to help themselves. I was once given this opportunity, and I stand by allowing others access to it also.

    I’m 9 years your junior, but it seems that we share a birthday! So, on the eve of this day (I’m in Australia – slightly forward in time), I’ll spread the message to my Facebook followers, to my LinkedIn friends, the Google business groups I am part of, and through a company wide work email. I will also be pledging my own money to the program.

    Let’s get this thing rolling!!



  11. Love this idea. I rarely donate (trying to pay off student loan debt at the moment) but I told myself “Really… you cant afford 25 dollars to help improve someones chances at forwarding their education.” Thanks for bringing this site to my attention and the call to action as well.


  12. To me, education is the opportunity for people to learn what interests them in a controlled environment, and then pursue a course of study in that field.

    Spoken like a true Liberal Arts student who majored in English Lit and minored in Art History.

    1) Tweeted post to 10,800 followers (@rtwdave)
    2) Shared link on Go Backpacking’s Facebook page (4,050 fans)
    3) Shared a link on my personal FB page (650 friends/subscribers)

    I’m a big fan of Kiva, so this was a no brainer. And I liked how easy it was to create a new account with Vittana, in the course of giving my loan.

    Welcome to 35, by the way. I’ve managed to enjoy 6 countries in South America since I celebrated my 35th last September!


  13. Liked this post for Facebook, shared it on Twitter (mentioned you as well!). Doesn’t matter if I win or not, good to spread the word.

    Happy birthday Tim! : )


  14. and you guys don’t have to publish this comment, but do you know if there is a way to place tracking pixels on the donation thank you page?


  15. Amazing ideas as always Tim. I could not give much, but I gave some. And I used Rockmelt to share the message with everyone that follows me, or I am friends with on Twitter and Facebook. Hopefully will get some more of them to join in as well. Happy birthday!