Innovation Blog

Give Half Away…and You’re Left with Twice as Much

    (This blog is dedicated to the memory of Abraham Karu z’l, entrepreneur and inventor,  who passed away last week, and to his generation, who gave of themselves for the benefit of others, as a way of life, during their entire lives).

     Give half away.

     That is what Kevin Salwen did.  Why? Because his 14-year-old daughter Hannah asked him to.   If ever there was a radical innovation in family life…  this is it.

 The Salwen Family   

  The story is recounted in Nicholas D. Kristof’s  New York Times column.[1] 

     Briefly:  While driving their daughter home from a sleepover in 2006, the Salwen family’s car stopped at a stoplight. On the left: an expensive black Mercedes.  On the right: a homeless man, begging.

     Hannah protested. “Dad,” she said, “if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal!”

     “What do you want me to do?”, asked her mother.  “Sell our house!?”

     That’s precisely what Hannah wanted.  Sell the luxurious house, buy a more modest one with half the money, and give the other half to charity.  

     The family did just that.  They gave $800,000 to Project Hunger, sponsoring health, microfinancing, food and other programs for 40 villages in Ghana.  They travelled to Ghana with a Project Hunger executive.

     Hannah, now a high school junior who hopes to become a nurse, says, “Everyone has too much of something, whether it’s time, talent or treasure. Everyone does have their own half, you just have to find it.”

     The Salwen family enjoy their new smaller home.  There is less space to retreat to.  A smaller house, Kristof writes, “turned out to be a more family-friendly house.”   “Half as much” turned into “twice as much”.

     Read about the Salwen’s “give away half” idea in Kevin and Hannah Salwen’s book  The Power of Half.  Then — find your half.  


[1] Nicholas Kristof, “What can you live without?”, NYT, IHT Jan. 24/2010.