November 22, 2013

An interview with Jim Gilliam

Jim Gilliam (his twitter) is the founder and CEO of NationBuilder - the world's first community organizing system. Their mission is to make everyone a leader. He has also survived cancer three times. The interview is from 2013.

Lessons learned
  • After he survived cancer two times, he became motivated to make an impact. After 9/11 he realized that he hadn't spend any time to figure out what he actually cared about. To find out what he cared about, he quit his job to clear his head.
  • What he cared about was the upcoming Iraq war that began in 2003. To protest against the war, he decided to produce a series of documentaries about the war (IMDB). This was before YouTube, so they didn't know how to spread the movie. They asked people for $30 to get the movie and the money would finance anti-Bush ads. It turned out that several thousands of people took the offer in a few hours. In 3 days, they had sold 30,000 copies of the movie. Cancer had come back for a third time, so he had to fight to get an Internet connection to his hospital bed so he could do movie promotions. He loved it so he didn't consider it as work. They also made a film on Wall-Mart called Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price
  • The problem with the education systems is that we have children who are curious but we teach them how to hate learning. And the so-called truth that you will get a job after a college degree is no longer a truth. So education should be designed to help us find what we love to do.
  • Entrepreneurs are told to solve a problem they have - but you also need to find a real problem - no Facebook clones. Take a topic you are mildly interested and dig into it to find a real problem.

More articles in the same series: Lessons learned from the Foundation interviews