Episode 20: Leveraging technology for good with Blake Canterbury, Founder of Purposity
Watch the Conversation
Joey Odom (00:00):
Friends this week our country celebrates its 247th birthday. While I want to thank all the men and women who serve our country, I want to thank one person specifically. See, you wouldn't have read it in the news, but very quietly, a few days ago, one of my heroes retired from the armed forces. For the last 22 years, major Clay D. Dye has served our country in the Marine Corps as an active duty member and reservist. On September 8th, 2001, Clay asked his sweetheart, Shelley to be his wife. Three days later, the world changed, so they had to change their plans. Clay and Shelley moved up their wedding date and were married shortly before Clay began his flight training and later deployed to the Middle East to selflessly serve our country. While I went about my daily life finishing college in the early two thousands, clay flew the Boeing CH 46 C night helicopter as an air mission commander in the belly of the beast, in the most dangerous of situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While I was striving for an annual bonus at my first job, clay received the air medal, Navy Marine Corps commendation medal, and Boeing rescue citations for evacuations in Iraq and search and rescue in New Orleans. Following Hurricane Katrina, he also served as a weapons and tactics instructor for assault support missions. For those of you like me who don't know, that's a really big deal. Think Top Gun. But for the Marine Corps, and in the 14 years since he has been relevant, ready and responsive, continuing to serve our country in the Marine Corps reserves, clay also happens to be a leader on the r o team as the head of operations for the company. And remember Clay's sweetheart, Shelly, the one who three days before nine 11, said yes to being the wife of a husband whose future was uncertain as he stood in harm's way. Well true to Semper Fi, they have both remained always faithful to each other and brought into this world their three beautiful children, Caroline, Chloe, and Jackson. And while Clay knows nothing of this tribute, Shelly, Caroline, Chloe and Jackson are here to honor their heroes retirement as they recite the words of the sacred song, the Marines hymn
Chloe Dye (02:01):
From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Triple E, we fight our country's battles in the air, on land and sea. First to fight for right and freedom. And to keep our honor clean,
Jackson Dye (02:12):
We are proud to claim the title of United States Marine. Our flags unfurled to every breeze from dawn to setting sun. We fought in every climbing place where we could take a gun
Caroline Dye (02:24):
In the snow of far off northern lands. And in sunny tropic scenes, you'll find us always on the job, the United States Marines. Here's health to you and to our core, which we are proud to serve.
Shelley Dye (02:36):
In many a strife, we've fought for life and never lost our nerve. If the army and the Navy ever look on heaven scenes, they will find the streets or guarded by United States Marines.
Dye Family (02:47):
Joey Odom (02:49):
Thank you to Clay. And thank you to all the men and women who serve our country. And now please enjoy this week's episode of The Aro Podcast.
Blake Canterbury (02:56):
I don't know if you've ever seen a kid at six years old that's never had their own bed, but the look he had on his face. He didn't go jump on the bed, he didn't have a pillow fight. He turned around and ran to me a total stranger, and gave me a hug and was like, thank you for my bed. I'm like, that was right down the street from me. Like the fact that there's kids that never had their own bed at six years old down the street from us. Um, so man, there's just super tangible, simple things. Um, and I just believe most people, if you know, they knew Zion's story, they knew this kid's story. Um, man, there's somebody that needs a pair of shoes right down the street from you. And so for 30, 40 bucks you could put on their doorstep and be a hundred percent assured that the item you purchased was a ride.
Joey Odom (03:43):
Welcome back to The Aro Podcast. This is Joey Odom, co-founder of Aro, your friend who cries just a little bit more than you're probably comfortable with. And if that's you, you may not wanna listen to this episode cuz I get a little misty eyed. But actually it's very well worth listening to cuz I talked to Blake Canterbury, he's the founder of Purposity. Purposity is an incredible organization that's leveraging tech to make it easy to give to your neighbors in need. You, you walked by someone today and you knew they had a need, you would probably help them when we do that every single day. But we don't know that people are in need. Purposity makes it easy by doing that on your phone. I've used Purposity as a family. We've used Purposity. My kids have given through Purposity to meet needs in a very, very practical way. Blake goes into the story of how Propensity was founded. He tells some stories that really will move you, that you need to hear that are so good. And it gives you practical ways to help align your actions with your intentions in generosity and giving to others. So please sit back, relax, and enjoy my conversation with Blake Canterbury of Purposity.
But man, I'm tough to have you on where I, um, I'd love to just jump in. I, you know, propensity. I love prop posity, you know that I've talked about it. Um, my kids love Purposity. Um, and you're doing such amazing stuff. I, I would love to hear give, give us just for the listener a quick little, here's what Purposity is and then I want to dive then, and I really wanna dive they're, they really wanna dive into the backstory on it cuz I don't know that story. And I'd, I'd be fascinating to hear how, how it all came about. But gimme the, gimme the quick hitter first on, on what Purposity is.
Blake Canterbury (05:20):
Yeah, so we say Purposity is building the future of generosity. Um, and really what we want to help you do is take your next selfless act in the world. Um, most people generally want to do good in the world, but we don't wake up thinking, Hey, how do I actually do that today? We're busy. Um, and so we just want to walk alongside you and provide simple ways for you to help your neighbor.
Joey Odom (05:43):
You're so good. By the way, I've seen your, you're so good on the quick explainers. Whenever, whenever I try to explain something, it, it would, I would've done what you just did. You did it in about 40 words. I'd have taken 400 ish to do what you just did, <laugh>. You do such because it, and I think by, by design, like you're making, giving and generosity approachable. And so even in your explanation, it's so great how approachable you make it because it, it takes a little bit of the mystique away from it. Um, how in the heck did it, how did it start? I don't know this story. It is an amazing concept. It is progressive, it is cutting edge. It's very, very timely for where we are in culture. But when did, when did that spark start? And maybe even before there was even a thought of purposity, this whole notion of giving and generosity. How did, how did that come about for you in, in, in your young, younger years and and coming up to Purposity?
Blake Canterbury (06:33):
Yeah, so, um, so I'll kind of, I'll jump to right after college. Um, baseball was my dream, didn't make it. Um, and so I didn't know what I was gonna do and I somehow landed at a creative agency and we were building social media for companies and it was kind of the front end of it. And I had an idea, and it was basically what if Twitter was on the rise? And the idea was really simple. It was like, what if we told the story of one person in need, put the story on social media, eventually the story might get to somebody who could help. Uh, we could connect the two and then maybe we could do that over and over and over. And so two weeks later, Atlanta floods <laugh>. And so I was like, well, lightning's going to strike me if I don't do something about this to create a Twitter account on the fly.
Drove down, found an organization that needed diapers, told the story of, uh, the organization that needed diapers and people helped across six different states, uh, in a couple hours. And so, um, did a couple test runs of this, not really knowing what was gonna happen. And then I got called by a disaster relief organization that December, um, when the earthquake hit in Haiti, uh, the major earthquake and said, look, we need somebody. We see what you're doing. We need somebody to run social media for us inside this earthquake. So I, um, I went in and told my boss, he said, you're fired. Like he knew the idea and he said, you have to go do this. Wow. Um, so in a couple days I had I subleased my apartment, uh, put all my stuff into a friend's closet, walked onto a plane, really with no backup plane.
And we launched a social media campaign down there where we were able to connect United Nations doctors of the out Borderers Samaritans purse. Um, and ultimately they collectively ate at about a hundred thousand people in two weeks. Wow. And so for me, that was just a pivotal moment in my life and said, you know what? Like, let's leverage technology for good. And so the last 12, 13 years of my life is essentially in some form of fashion, been leveraging tech for good. Um, so I spent five years kind of building, uh, this social movement called Be Remedy. It was kind of experimental. Um, did everything from kind of TED Talks to, um, just kinda having fun, inspiring people. And ultimately I went on to work with a creative agency in Atlanta. And, um, the agency was building mobile apps and TV ads and, um, great experiences.
And this was the intersection for ity. I, um, was having a ball at this agency and I got an email from a homeless liaison, and I didn't know what a homeless liaison was at the time, uh, at a school district. And her email, knowing my background and we'd worked on stuff together, she said, Blake, kids are walking into classrooms with holes in their shoes and they're going home hungry. Can technology help solve this problem? And so called some buddies. We built a basic technology and gave it to this one school district and walked away. And three months later they called and said, look, you fundamentally solved this problem for us. Every school district in the country's facing this, almost every nonprofit's facing this. And we knew we didn't solve the problem, but we knew we found a felt need in the world. And so we started just conducting massive user research.
And everybody we interviewed, it didn't matter, age, religion, gender, where they lived at some level said, I wanna do good in the world, I just don't know where to start. And as we drilled down on that, most people felt like their options to be generous are some form of writing a check and walking away even if it's digitally. Um, and then the most, uh, innovative thing in this space is texting $10 to a disaster, which I had seen firsthand inside of Haiti. Um, and it's even less transparent to be honest. Uh, you're given money to an endless bucket of money and there's no accountability. It's where the money goes and the story doesn't get back to you. And so we just said, why are we doing generosity the same way our great great grandparents did it <laugh> like it's time for technology to advance and disrupt this space, uh, just like it has everything else in the world. And if we did that, uh, we said, let's build it on three simple principles. Let's make it fun, easy and transparent. Um, and if we did that, um, if we made generosity, fun, easy and transparent with great technology, potentially millions of people, um, would live a little more generously than they were yesterday. So that's kind of the backstory. We can unpack how it works, but that was the long arc of how we got here.
Joey Odom (10:51):
It, it's, it's, um, it's amazing seeing a, well, I would be curious how you describe yourself, I think technology, but you are a, would you consider yourself a, I mean, you are, I mean, you're running a tech company, which is interesting. I mean, you're running a nonprofit, but it's a tech company. Would you consider yourself a technologist? I mean, are you, did you have a history in that?
Blake Canterbury (11:08):
Yeah, so we, we, we went back and forth and we a nonprofit or we a tech startup. Yeah. And the reality is we're both right. Um, and the more we operated as a nonprofit, the less, uh, maybe efficient we were. So now internally, all of our language is, we are a, a tech startup moving that way, hiring that way and operating that way. And the outcome has impacted lives.
Joey Odom (11:29):
That's amazing. When you were young and did you go on missions trips, did you have the, did you have the stuff, what was it that kind of sparked this, this need for, um, for generosity or seeing that there's an opportunity there? Obviously you, you had the tech side, which is a great blend with it, but where, where, where did the, the early starts of that kind of pulling on your heart, where did that begin?
Blake Canterbury (11:52):
Yeah, so, um, so no, I didn't really go on mission trips or, or anything like that. Um, but one, the story that stands out to me was I had friends that had a lot and friends that didn't have a little growing up and never really mattered to me. But, um, I remember there was one day I went and stayed at a friend's house and we were hanging out and, um, their refrigerator broke. Like it just broke. And, uh, as they do, and I remember standing in their kitchen and watching his parents get into this massive fight. And, you know, it was, I told you not to spend money here. Well, I told you not to do this, and if you had made more money, we would, whatever. And I watched this refrigerator like begin to rip my friend's family apart. Wow. And, and I began thinking how many people are on the verge of that?
Um, where, uh, the average price point, and this is, I didn't know this at the time, but the average price point of $400 causes people to tip into poverty. Just fascinating number because that's a relatively threshold in the arc of the world. Um, so I remember watching this refrigerator, my, my friend's parents get into a fight over this. And then later that night I went to stay with another friend and uh, and spend the night with him. And they lived on a golf course and, you know, the nice area town. And I remember we'd been out playing basketball and his mom called us in to eat dinner. And when we walked through his garage, his dad was a hunter and he had three freezers and refrigerators full of meat. Um, wow. And it just hit me. I was like, wait, these are really, really good people.
I bet they would give one of these if they only knew my other friends needed it. And I didn't do anything about it. I was a super shy kid and it wasn't something that haunted me my whole life, but it was something I think was a pivotal moment in my life that I can reflect in hindsight now and see that it impacted me. And as I grew up, I moved, you know, to bigger cities and then go to third world countries, which actually just got back from, um, from, uh, uh, Columbia and Bogota and going out to the edges of, of Bogota. Um, but seeing more extreme poverty and then seeing more extreme wealth. And a lot of times where you see wealth, say in the city, maybe you see a homeless guy sitting on the corner, you're seeing some very wealthy people right. Nearby. Yeah. And there's just the disconnect of how do you actually help? How do you not enable a top charity? Um, how do you actually do something? And so the intersection of all of that, I think led to Purposity.
Joey Odom (14:18):
I, I'd love, what I love so much about that is it, and I is, it's like a theme as we talk with, with people. It's, it's such practical things that are making a difference in the world. It does begin obviously with, with a, you know, a heartfelt need or, you know, any of that. But you saw something very, very practical and you're very practically doing something about it. And so it's not like a, uh, and I know they're in, I want to hear about some of the needs too. But, you know, you see some of like the, what are the commercials, like the Sarah McLaughlin like singing and, you know, watching, you know, given the need and it's real, it's on your heart. You're going about this in super, super practical way. And that to your point, like what a, what an interesting illustration of these great people have three freezers.
This one doesn't have a, a single refrigerator. So they would share if they could, um, talk about Columbia. It seems to me this is just a perception. It seems that Purposity is focused in local communities. Is that correct? Is it, is it, is it global? Do you have an intent to global? Global? The thing I love about it for us as we give it as a family to ity is we're meeting local needs. I know these people are down the road from me, so I love that. But what is the, what is the intent? Is it, do you want it to remain local? Is it, is the plan for for it to be global or is it already global?
Blake Canterbury (15:29):
Yeah, so, so we're just in the states right now. So I was in Columbia with, uh, a board that I'm on Compassion International. Yeah. Um, so we just returned our board meetings. Were actually there. Uh, so we can see some of the work in the field, um, but with Prop Posity. Um, so our idea is to connect you to your neighbor. So essentially the way it works is you download the app or go to our site, um, and you see real time needs of individuals around you. So we partner with local schools, local nonprofits. They, uh, walk into the house, they see a kid sleeping on the floor, and now they enter a need for a bed, a bed in the system. And you know that every need in the system has been fully vetted. Um, there's an organization working with that person to make sure they're transitioning from say, poverty to sustainability or transition in whatever, um, series of needs that they're in.
Um, and so when you scroll through, you may see a single mom needs formula for her newborn baby, or a kid needs a pair of shoes, um, right down the street from you. You can hit one button, check out with your credit card or Apple Pay and the items on their doorstep in 24 to 48 hours. And then my favorite part is you get a notification in real time when the item that you purchase is delivered. Um, and it kinda gives you that dopamine hit for good. Most of the time you forgot you did it. And 48 hours later, uh, you know, it's saying, Hey Joey, right about now the pair of shoes you purchase is being delivered. And then that's where we typically spread. Cause you're like, oh, wait, wait guys, I know maybe we're having beers or we're hanging out or we're whatever right now, but like you, you gotta hear about this thing.
Um, and then you get a profile and you see every story of every life you impact now lives on your wall. You get an itemized tack receipt for it. Um, and so it is very practical. It is one-to-one, you're directly putting shoes on somebody's feet or dinner on somebody's table. Um, and so yes, we're only in the US now, um, but as we go, our concept of neighbor will scale. Yeah. Um, so at some point, what does it look like for the US to be Haiti's neighbor? Um, and so we, we, we will broaden that context of neighbor, but right now, um, you can either see local needs nearby you or you can go follow your favorite organizations or schools and see their needs, um, and receive a notification of their needs when they have them.
Joey Odom (17:43):
Like you said, that dopamine hit when you get that notification, it is, that is a real thing. And you think about even the, the habit loop, the way, the way people form habits. And so you can form, it's interesting to, I hadn't, I don't know that I'd considered this forming a habit around generosity. So the habit loop being cue craving response, reward, what you just described as that reward, the real reward is that somebody is taken care of. But there is a reward intrinsically for yourself. When, when you, when you see that somebody's gotten that, you'd be like, oh, that's, that's gonna sound weird. But like, I did that, I contributed to that. And it's not like you, you know, you're, you're the person, like you're the great thing that, like you're part of something that's really, really cool. But I like that to form a habit of generosity. I would assume that a lot of the people who are involved with ity, I I assume that's pretty programmatic for them, right? People who like to give to, to ity do it on a pretty programmatic habitual basis. Is that right?
Blake Canterbury (18:37):
Yeah. And that's kind of, that's where we want to go as an organization. Um, you know, we, we actually found when we started, um, there was a lot of one and dones. We had a, you know, when you're building something, they say find the, you know, a hundred who like, who love you versus the thousand who like you. Yeah. Um, and so we had that, but it was really interesting how many people got intersected by, you know, a text message or notification, Hey, I'm, I'm buying that. And I felt good and I kind of checked the box and I moved on. Yeah. Um, and then people started emailing us back and saying, Hey, look, I'm not doing this as often as I want to. I, I should. And so we've, we're really in the vein of how do we lead you towards the next selfless app.
So, um, you can turn notifications on and receive one weekly. Um, you could get emails of needs, you could get text messages of needs, and those are designed just to intersect your life. Um, right. You'll probably ignore, you know, three out of four of them, but maybe if you, if you pick up on one of them and you do that, maybe you get that dopamine hit for good and you begin building that, that habit. And so we're like, how do we begin to help you flex that muscle of generosity? And the average price point of a need in our platform right now is $29. Yeah. So it's relatively low. You can bite it off. You can go find a couple hundred item, dollar item if you want to, but how do we get you to flex that muscle? Um, and the next thing folks asked for was, uh, uh, was for a goal.
And so you can set a goal in there of how many people you wanna help per month or per year, and we'll help progress you towards that. Um, and then where we really want to go is getting really, really sophisticated with this, um, by saying, when you come in, where are you on that spectrum? Are you somebody that's saying, Hey, I'm helping, this is my first active generosity ever. Like, I don't really care about this. Um, but maybe I'm, I'm inclined to, or may, you know, I am a habitual giver and I would like to move some of my percentage giving to this directly to neighbors in need. And so once we figure out where you're on that spectrum, then we can provide insights back to you. It's kind of like Spotify gives you your, your in, uh, your in review of the music you listen to, um, you know, it'd be like, Hey Joey, what does it look like to, um, and did you realize that 30% of the needs you gave to this year were for children living poverty? Wow. Or 15% of them were for sex trafficking or that, you know, these things are breaking your heart. And so how do we use data in a really interesting, sophisticated way to begin building that habit and bring you back and help develop a strategy, um, for your giving?
Joey Odom (21:03):
Dude, that's fascinating. The idea that we all have, we all have a set of habits or feelings or whatever it may be, and then for you to go back and say, Hey, here are the themes that we saw in you. You may not have known that you have a heart for children. Right. You may not, you may not know that for people who are food insecure, like that's a, that that's a thing for you. And so to identify that in people, and then what's cool about that is what, what I love about that is that as people begin to identify themselves a certain way, they start to act that same way too. So if someone, if they, if they've, if propensity help them identify that they have a heart for, for children, then they start saying like, oh, I have a heart for children. And then what do they do? They do the things that someone with a heart for children would do for children, right. They go take care of 'em and it becomes more habitual. That is awesome. That's so cool.
Blake Canterbury (21:49):
That is so good. And then you start realizing you don't need the Sarah McLaughlin song playing in the background for you to do something. Right. And, and we like have a mantra over, we're like, we will never be the sad faced organization. In fact, we have writers. So our needs are submitted by social workers, homeless liaisons, teachers, um, and they're not necessarily like written well or grammatically well. And so we have a team of writers coming in behind to turn that story that may be saddened as something uplifting. And one of my favorite ones was, could you imagine your child going commando to school? Right. You read that, it's kind of funny, it's quirky. You get that text message or notification you like, oh, okay. And people click in just for the intrigue of it. Yeah. Cause they shouldn't be, you shouldn't feel guilty, uh, if you do or don't, you know, participate. It's more about the times that you did take an action. And so that story was actually about a special need student who needed diapers, uh, to make it through his, his day at school. Wow. His parents could provide, provide 'em anymore. And so, um, yeah. So it should be an uplifting take on it. Not, not guilted, uh, to
Joey Odom (22:49):
Action. Well, I, I, I don't want guilt, I don't want to guilt through this, but it, man, it, it just, even thinking about that I'm not, you're not gonna guilt somebody. I hope this, this isn't guilt, but this is just my gut reaction to that. Just think about that for a second. What city was that in with that, with that, with that child? The special needs
Blake Canterbury (23:07):
Child? It's actually Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Joey Odom (23:09):
Alright. So Chattanooga, Tennessee is an hour and 30 minutes from where I sit right now. And the thought that within a, a short radius of me, there's a special needs child whose parents don't have enough money to give them diapers to go make through the school day. That that's not okay. Right. So,
So we gotta do something about it. Right. And you're doing it. And so people who are listening right now, let's, let's freaking do something about it. Let's make sure that's, let's make sure that kind of stuff doesn't have, that story doesn't have to be true. Right. Like, we can actually do stuff about that. Um, that's my little interlude there. But that, that, that hits you because, and I'd like to hear it, man, man. Tell, I mean, tell me some stuff that would shock me. I mean, like, the need around us, like that is, that is painful to hear that little anecdote you just said, but tell us some other things that would like, for those of us who maybe need a little bit of the awareness, like what's going on around us.
Blake Canterbury (24:04):
Yeah. And man, your, your heart for it comes through, um, as you're talking, you're about to get me emotional <laugh>. Um, and, and honestly, what I'm, I'll tell two quick stories. Um, but the heart behind it was, was really that like when we envisioned this, if you only knew your neighbor was in need, you'd probably act, right? Um, and our thought was, what if in my city or your city, we had thousands of people that would get one notification a week of indeed in our city, there wouldn't be a kid walking into a classroom without holes in their shoes or going to home hungry in our community. Um, and we're we're in the States, right? Um, and so two stories that, that, uh, stand out to me, one is as recent, um, couple weeks for before Christmas, I'll just read you the headline of the news that said, um, 12 year old shot to death leaves a grieving twin just weeks before Christmas.
Um, and this child's name was Zion in Atlanta, Georgia, right down the street from, from where I sit. And our team saw this news, it was all over the headlines, uh, of the news every single day. And our team, uh, just slacked a message and said, um, I'm currently talking to the social worker who looks for Zion and his family were jumping in on this, like, because we can do something about it. And so, um, we went down and met with Zion's family, uh, the Charles family and got everything they needed for Christmas and threw it on a wishlist for 'em. Um, and so we've seen those stories and on the news and you're like, well, that's terrible. What can you do? And it's like, well, we can't, you know, give Zion back to the family. But at a grieving time, um, they had a couple items under the tree and a single mom and grandma taking care of Zion, plus he had four other siblings, not just a twin.
Um, and so we, we got everything they needed, told the story, um, in the city of Atlanta. And I think folks from outside the city of Atlanta just rallied from social media posts, um, to everything. They just couldn't stop. And so we did everything for that family. And then what turned out to happen is that social worker inside the school district, Kip Metro Schools, uh, Deanna, just amazing, um, she brought to us another 18 families who were homeless and Wow provided Christmas for all of these families. And this all happens in a matter of like five days. Like it's just one family, next family, next family, next family. And so, um, one story really snowballs. Um, and so that was one in particular that made headlines. One that didn't make headlines. And this is around us all the time, uh, and it always stands out to me.
Um, there was a family and they had two kids and they were born, they both children were born while they were living on the streets, homeless, uh, and, and again in the city of Atlanta. And they had gotten into an organization that helped transition them. They got stable jobs, um, built their income and credit over years. The kids at this time are like six years old. Um, and now they had bought their first home. And so we were able to partner with them and say, Hey, look, they bought the house. Let's get the beds, the silverware, everything that this family needs to get back on their feet so they can put their money towards sustainability. And, and, uh, and so we did. And so I don't usually get to be a part of a lot of the stories, uh, and like these two, and that's why they stand out to me.
Um, but we got the beds and we got to drive 'em over their house and we went in and assembled them. We kept the kids outside and um, and we assembled 'em. And finally we said, Hey, the, you know, the beds are there. So we went outside and the kids ran in and I sat in the corner of the bedroom and man, I don't know if you've ever seen a kid at six years old that's never had their own bed, but the look he had on his face, he didn't go jump on the bed, he didn't have a pillow fight. He turned around and ran to me a total stranger and gave me a hug and was like, thank you for my bed. I'm like, and that was right down the street from me. Like the fact that there's kids that never had their own bed at six years old down the street from us. Um, so man, there's just super tangible, simple things. Um, and I just believe most people, if you know, they knew Zion story, they knew this kid's story. Um, and there's somebody that needs a pair of shoes right down the street from you. And so for 30, 40 bucks you can put on their doorstep and be a hundred percent assured that the item you purchased was a ride
Joey Odom (28:26):
Blake Canterbury (28:29):
So Matt, we went to Sarah McLaughlin sad songs.
Joey Odom (28:31):
Blake Canterbury (28:32):
Joey Odom (28:33):
I'll remember you. Yeah, I will.
Blake Canterbury (28:35):
Um, that was not,
Joey Odom (28:38):
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What happens with this intersection? I'm just envisioning a Venn diagram of intention. People have an intention and then they, you couple that with awareness, but then you bring the most important, important part is a plan and a frictionless way to do it. Like yeah, you can combine your intention with now your awareness of the need. Like, and here's the plan to go take care of it. And it's, and we're without, you know, those of us with the intention now, have an awareness, ain't a plan like you, we can do it. Absolutely. Today it's a, it's a download of the Ity app and it's quick. I mean, I'm telling you of experience, it's super easy. I'll tell my, you know, my experience with Purposity is, um, two Christmases ago, we, you know, I told my kids for Christmas, I'm gonna give 'em each $50 a month towards Purposity.
And what was cool about that was it immediately became their thing. So they, they took a look at the, look at the app, they scrolled through to see, you know, what, what the needs were. And they said, oh, you know what I want, I want that. I wanna do the bed. So dad, can we, can I pre, can I pre-use January to March? Can Harrison, and this is my daughter, can Harrison and I combine our January through March money to buy this mattress together for this kid, for whomever it was. And so they like immediately, like their brain started going on their own. They, they, I had no idea that I just figured they'd pick something for $50 each individually. But instead they joined their money, they found the thing that was most important to them. And then every time they would do it, they would say they would have a little unique spin for that, which was so awesome.
Just to know. And then to be able to have a conversation with them to say, Hey, this isn't out. This isn't thousands of miles away. Like this is somebody you may have walked by in the grocery store. This is somebody that you, you know, that's right down the street from you. So for me, for anybody listening this, you know, families, listen, listen to podcasts, in a lot of cases, this is an easy way to get your kids into that habit of giving. And it challenges me again, I need to get, I need to get the kids back on that. I mean, they went through their year and they loved it and now it's time to get 'em back doing that because that wasn't what an amazing thing to give them an easy way to, to, to, to participate in giving and knowing that they are helping somebody. And not only that Blake, but like, is this what you freaking do? Like this is if like, to, to whom much is given, much is required. Like this is what you do. And that's not a guilt trip, but that's just saying like, yeah. A part of life and having anything is you share it with others. That's what we do. You know what I mean?
Blake Canterbury (31:51):
Yeah, man. And to instill that in kids, honestly, that, that story you told as one of my favorite use cases of it, um, early on we had a story of a family who, um, we found out was using it. Um, we saw that they were meeting needs in different places throughout the year and we realized every time they went on family vacation, they found a need nearby them to mark their family vacation. And I thought, man, that's really cool. And then you sent me a photo of, um, the app printed out, uh, that you were packaging for your kids in the directions of how to use it. And so to me, those are two of my favorite, um, use cases because look, uh, you know, most people think they wait until later in life to figure out what, why am I here? Or they're gonna build up their wealth and then they're gonna try to give back, you know, at the end of their life.
And the reality is, man, in $20, $50, a hundred dollars increments, um, monthly or a couple times a year, you begin living a life of generosity. Yeah. Uh, you begin living on purpose today and you don't have to wait and you begin to see all these little things add up. And the reality is, you're still gonna have that same amount of wealth, cuz the 50 bucks or a hundred bucks Yeah. Probably isn't gonna break you. Um, but then you could still have the sum later to give and then look, you, you probably lived a life, uh, a little more open-handed in life. You might be a little hap more happier about if you can just carve out that little chunk, uh, to give. So you instilling that habit in your kids at that age, um, it was just super inspiring to me and the team and, and we even shared it to our board. So, so thank you for that.
Joey Odom (33:23):
Yeah. Well, it, again, it's easy, it's approachable. It, it combines back to, it combines intention with awareness and then with a plan and then, and it's easy to follow through on. It really is so very, very simple. Um, you had, I wanna talk about maybe watershed moments for Purposity. Um, would, would, do you think the biggest moment you were interviewed on the Today Show was that, was that a kind of the big watershed moment, um, where it's like, okay, we're, we're on the map here. Is was that the big one?
Blake Canterbury (33:53):
Yeah, I think so. You know what's funny though is in the begi it was really the early days when you go from an idea to wait, this actually worked. I know week one we started with our first school district and all we had was a mobile website. Um, and we texted everyone. So we had maybe 50 people signed up. We had like 30 live needs for this one school district. And we sent a text message out and we're like, is anybody gonna respond <laugh>? And in 20 minutes every need was gone. Wow. And I remember that was maybe the biggest celebration we had as a team because we're like, this just worked. Like we went from zero to one and then, yeah. I mean obviously the Today Show was a, was a big one for us. Um, and that was really cool too because it was on the front end of the pandemic.
Um, it was right as Covid was hitting and you know, I thought the, the moment on today's show was gonna be in studio and fly to New York and like this whole Yeah. Big to-do. And I was sitting in my living room, I had my laptop on a stack of books so it had the right angle and like had two cell phones on the side to light it. Well, and I had actually just changed my like, couple month old son's diaper in that living room, like right where I was sitting. So it was like this real humbling experience <laugh>. Um, but at the same time we were able to watch users sign up in all 50 states because of one new story. Wow. Um, and so it was a really cool moment. And granted we didn't have live needs across the entire US yet, but, um, it, it did both sides of the, the marketplace. So we had users sign up and organizations inside sign up. And so that was a really fun moment for us.
Joey Odom (35:27):
I always get concerned candidly with leaders who are doing good things because of, because leadership is an island because you do open yourself up to scrutiny because you are, you know, the verse in the Bible don't grow weary in well-doing. The reason it's there is because people grow weary in well doing that. It gets, you've been doing this for 12 or 13 years, um, maybe one and encouragement, please don't grow weary and, and when what you're doing and well doing, cuz it's amazing. But I'd, I'd love if you'd be willing to, you know, be a little candid and vulnerable. What are, what are the disappointments? Like what are the challenges? Like what is, what is it, what is it like to be at the tip of the spear and, and doing good? But, um, certainly in any organization there's disappointment, um, not to mention ones where you see desperate needs out there, but what, so what is, what is that like the, the disappointment and challenges in, in managing ity?
Blake Canterbury (36:20):
Yeah, so look, there's, look, there's tons of them, right? Um, and the part of the hard part of what we're doing is to a tech startup is a nonprofit has been really challenging because how do we attract, say the level of engineers that we need? You get a computer science degree, um, from a decent school, Google's gonna pay you 200 grand right outta college, right? And so we as a startup nonprofit, not startups aren't gonna pay you that. They'll give you equity, right? Um, but, and so like we don't have the equity piece, we don't have the salary. So we've gotta attract, um, somebody that has a heart for that with, with less resources. Um, and because of that we get people that will bite it off for a period of time and then we, you know, we don't have high turnover. We actually got really good retention among our team.
Um, but it's, it's a threat to us a lot. Um, so that's one side of it. Um, fundraising for this is actually surprisingly hard. Um, and so what we found, and maybe somebody listening will say, that's not us and hey, call us up. But what we found is a lot of folks when we meet with like family foundations or families, uh, and independently wealthy folks, as they'll say, um, our family has decided that we are gonna end sex trafficking or we're gonna put our money behind homelessness. And while we can show you how our technology is gonna take that vertical and how we're impacting it, and with your donation, we will grow at x. Um, it's a different mindset to say we're gonna fund the build out of technology to increase this vertical versus directly funding, you know, those items ourselves or those those causes ourselves. So that's been a, a really one I didn't see coming, uh, to be honest, I thought that would be, you know, some, some successful tech folks would get it. Um, but they wanna, so investment buckets are a little more open-handed and uh, donations are a little more guarded is what we found so far.
Joey Odom (38:19):
That's really surprising to me because you would think you would have somebody who is progressive thinking forward thinking who can see the, the tech angle here and the benefit of that. And so it's just that, it's just cuz it has to go through, you know, building out the infrastructure, which again, you would think somebody with some business success would appreciate it. Here's here's the infrastructure you build out to have a greater impact. Cause it's a multiplier, right? I mean, you've, I mean, believe you've told me before, isn't it like for every dollar it's like an eight x multiplier or something like that to build up the infrastructure. Was, isn't there something, some metric like that you've mentioned before?
Blake Canterbury (38:54):
Yeah. As we get there at scale, like we, we like to say that this is not addition, this is multiplication. Yeah. Right? So if you, you give a donation to somebody, you know, as far as that's gonna stretch, but for us, we're gonna multiply your gift and there's really no end to it. Like, as we get to scale. Yeah. Um, you know, every year the growth compounds, the impact compounds, and so you look up five years from now and what your gift was, the impact has tremendously outgrown that.
Joey Odom (39:23):
Who's your, um, as you're talking about donors, who's your, who is your ideal candidate, high impact, high gift, big check rider who, what does, what does the profile of that person look like?
Blake Canterbury (39:36):
Yeah. So right now it's, it's been kind of interesting. So we've got a lot of, um, kind of former business executives from former CEOs of Home Depot, chairman of Delta, um, to, um, guys who run the largest branch of Merrill Lynch, uh, that exists. Um, vice chairman of ge, um, family who owns the New York Stock Exchange. So some really, really incredible folks who on paper I wasn't necessarily targeting, uh, you know, for whatever reason you wouldn't think, okay, you know, these aren't the traditional philanthropists of the world and yet they see it their heart for, it's incredible. And, you know, they, they've been our biggest givers. Um, we're obviously there's any, anybody to be willing to give to us to say, Hey, look, we understand the build out of this takes technology. Um, anybody would fit that bill. But, um, one thing we haven't done a good job of is heading out to technologists, um, Silicon Valley and say, Hey, look, you guys understand tech. Um, are you willing to do this without a financial return? Um, can we do this for impacted lives for return? Um, so we're really just running through any conversation that will lead to anybody that we can just share a story with. And if they get the story, I mean, it's not a, I'm not a pressure guy, somebody, everybody who's given has heard the story and said, okay, I'm in. And yeah. You know, I haven't had to follow up to get a, a guest from 'em.
Joey Odom (41:00):
That's so cool. All right. We'll hopefully get some, some big Silicon Valley moguls listening right now. <laugh>.
Blake Canterbury (41:06):
Joey Odom (41:07):
Hey, so tell me, you have three kids, is that right?
Blake Canterbury (41:10):
Yeah, three kids Now.
Joey Odom (41:12):
What, what do you, how old's your oldest?
Blake Canterbury (41:14):
The oldest is four. Our daughter will be three in like two weeks, and our son just turned one.
Joey Odom (41:20):
Nice. Is the four year old is, um, is the four year old, do they grasp exactly what you're doing? Have you, have you begun to introduce, or if you've not yet, do you have a plan for wrapping them into, Hey, this is, this is what we're doing. I I'm curious how it impacts your, how you are planning to raise your children or how you are already
Blake Canterbury (41:39):
Yeah, so the, the first step, uh, two, two steps. Um, one is gonna be honestly following your lead and taking a certain amount of money and reading them a few stories and letting them choose who, who needs it. Right now, the, as far as they know, um, dad helps people, <laugh> love is kinda what they know. Yeah. Love that. That's perfect. Yeah. And that we, that, um, they can use your phone or computer to help people as is, as that's cool really as much as they really know. Um, but they understand concepts that not everybody has food to eat or clothes to wear. Mm. And so, um, just this past week, uh, my wife and I returned from the board trip and, uh, and it was funny, we, we went on the trip and, uh, my wife and I had strategically tried to do two trips a year without kids, just for us, just for our relationship sake. And, uh, and she got there and she's like, well, Columbia wasn't really my pick for one of our two trips this year,
Joey Odom (42:33):
<laugh>. And that was
Blake Canterbury (42:33):
Wednesday night when she got there. Um, and by Thursday we spent all day, um, in the villages and seeing the work up close. And by Friday I was gone for board meetings all day. And by the time we got to dinner, she said, I researched every possible way that we can get our kids close to poverty. Mm-hmm. We want them seeing it, touching it. And we went from saying, Hey, that's, they need to understand it more to how quickly can we get them to touch it and see it and smell it and fill it. And wow. Realize the gap between knowing somebody doesn't have food, uh, we're actually meeting them and knowing their name, um, and seeing what that looks like and sensing the desperation. Um, so those are the two things that we'll do as, as one, get them close to it in any form and fashion we can on some type of rhythm rhythmic basis. Uh, my wife and I even decided that once a year we're gonna find a way to go in the field with compassion, uh, as one of our two trips. Um, just because it was that important to us. Um, just the perspective, you know, you know it, um, but the more often you see it inner in proximity with it, you just can't replace a knowledge versus an experience.
Joey Odom (43:46):
Dude, what a, what a goal to get your kids as close to poverty as possible. That's, that's amazing. Um, you rep you, you touched on it there, your relationship. This has to put, you know, this has to put some, some strain, just like anything, it has to put a strain on you got three young kids, oh, by the way, and you're leading an organiz organization, Owen, by the way, it's a nonprofit. Owen, by the way. It's, you know, you're seeing a bunch of needs, you know, on a daily basis. This has to put some, some strain on, on the old marriage. I'm curious, you mentioned you guys do two, two trips, uh, without kids. What are some other things you do practically as a, as a couple to make sure that this, um, the year that it doesn't, uh, doesn't flame out?
Blake Canterbury (44:26):
Yeah, man, that's a, that's a really good question. Um, so the way we approach it, we started maybe three years ago, so we'll be this June, we'll be married for seven years. Three years ago we implemented, um, whether it's the end of December, beginning of January, we sit down and we map out what success looks like for the year. Right? Wow. Not in every aspect, but the baseline of, um, two trips a year for us privately. And that's at least two nights alone. Um, quarterly, we try to do, um, like one night alone, at least, if we could do a weekend. Um, but it's at least, so there's five times a year that we have maybe a total of 10 nights throughout the year that we're actually alone together. Um, and then we, we do, we've implemented, um, and it depends on, there's busy seasons in our life.
My wife's a cpa, so she's an auditor. She has busy seasons. There's times that, you know, our work at the end of the year gets really busy. Um, but we try to implement date lunches on Fridays as much as possible. So we just take off the same way you'd schedule a lunch meeting with somebody, we schedule a lunch date together and, you know, if they've got wifi and we can hang out and work from a coffee shop for the rest of the afternoon, we try to do that. And that's just become like really special. So, and then we'll even like to the granular enough to where we'll even map out like date ideas throughout the year, I can be a really bad planner. My wife, our last vacation as a family, we were on the drive home. She had already booked the place for the next one, <laugh>.
Uh, so like, she's an executor, I'm a dreamer. She's got the, you know, she's an executor, so it's kind of funny, but we'll even map out date ideas. And so I can kind of pick from one of those, and I'm still bad at that honestly. Um, but we try to map out, man, if we can get these two trips, these, this number of lunch dates and a little bit of time alone, we feel like we at least have our time to connect, um, and prioritize. And so we, we try to do that. Um, the other thing that I would say, and not to give too long of an answer, no, come on. Um, would really come back to the work that y'all are doing. Um, now that we have, you know, three kids, um, do you realize how big of a distraction a phone Yeah.
Can be. Um, and we knew it was coming, but it's similar to being in proximity to poverty. Like until you experience it, till you're kid, you realize that you, you said, hold on three times and then they're still waiting on you. Um, wow. It only takes a couple of those for it to really hit you. And so I'm big on frameworks and, and my biggest, I say this all the time, is every time I go to speak, like one of the biggest lessons I try to instill in the world is I feel like, uh, one of the greatest threats on our lives is distraction. Mm. Um, and our phones give us incredible freedom, but they can be incredibly damaging. Yeah. And so I, I'm big on guardrails against distraction. And so, um, you know, it's, it's when I'm eating say, am I eating because I'm still hungry or, or because I want this?
And so I have all these little guardrails, um, that I have in my life, and I really believe that ro in my framework of life may be the best guardrail against the greatest threat to my life. So thank you for building it. Thank you for giving us that guardrail. Thanks for giving us that protection because I think distraction from the thing we want most in life, uh, it's a drift. And it's not necessarily, nobody has the intention to spend their life here versus here. Um, but we drift there. And so I see what you guys have created as one of the best guardrails against the greatest threat that I believe is in my life.
Joey Odom (48:13):
Well, you're you're very generous there. Thank you. Um, and it's, and I couldn't agree more. I mean, we, we define distraction very simply. Distraction as anything that gets in the way of your intentions. And I believe that when I get home, I wanna be the most present for my kids. And if you know, you find yourself again and again, just getting something getting in the way of that. And so how can you, and to your point, I really like what you said, because it is a drift, it is insidious, it is slow. And so how can you set up those frameworks and those guardrails and Andy Stanley talks about, you know, guardrails are there so that something worse doesn't happen. It's, it's, it's not great if you tap your car against the guardrail, but it's a lot worse if you're off the cliff. And so that guardrail is there so you can just bump it and experience something that's kind of bad so you don't experience something that's really bad.
And so, I, I love, I mean, even in your, I mean, you're talking about, you're talking about a date Friday with your wife, that's also a guardrail, right? That's a guardrail, that's a positive guardrail, that's a guardrail to make sure that you are, you're prioritizing your, those things that are, that are most important to you, which is connection and intimacy and all that kinda stuff. Um, I love that. I love how, um, you're, I love how you say you're a dreamer and I, I do, I do know that and believe that, but you're also super practical. I mean, all of these things are, it's almost like you've, you've, you've like put up all these systems so that you can achieve your dreams. It's like ethereal and practical all at once. That's super interesting.
Blake Canterbury (49:36):
<laugh> well, allows me to dream. Cuz if I had the things that I know I'm gonna do and accomplish, then okay, I'm probably gonna get distracted throughout my year in this year. But we've gotten the baselines and if we know we got these, then we can ensure success and try to work that. So that's why frameworks are big. It's an Enneagram seven, you know, love it runs against me all the time. <laugh>,
Joey Odom (49:56):
Man, you've answered a lot of it. You are extraordinarily intentional. We talk about intentionality a bunch, and that's what the, the, our podcast is. It's conversations with people who strive to live intentionally. Um, what does that mean to you? What does intentionality mean to you?
Blake Canterbury (50:11):
Um, I think intentionality to mean means know that, that you know what matters most here and that you've prioritized this, right? So if, if this conversation for me, if I'm gonna be intentional, I have to know that this conversation matters the most in the world to me right now during this conversation. And I've prioritized it so that I've prepped, I'm ready, I'm not distracted. And to me, I think it, I know what matters most here and I've prioritized for it. To me, that's, that's being intentional,
Joey Odom (50:45):
Man. That's so good. Real quick, what's a favorite family movie of yours? Whether it's just you and your wife, or you and the kids, what's a, what's a favorite family movie people should check out?
Blake Canterbury (50:58):
Oh, good one. Um, the one prep one Kids are in? Yeah, no, no prep for that one. <laugh>. The one our kids are into is Luca right now. Ah, yeah. For whatever reason, it's a Disney animated movie. Um, they, they really like Luca. Um, I love it. Silencio Bruno has become a big state. Hey, don't fear this, you're riding your bike. Go for it. You, you know, you're scared of monster silencio, Bruno, let's go have fun. Uh, don't worry about the monsters. So we pulled a couple little themes outta it that are good.
Joey Odom (51:28):
I love that. Uh, hit what do, what does ity need right now? What's the, what's the best thing that anybody can do who's listening Relative propensity. What, what, what do you need?
Blake Canterbury (51:42):
Um, look, if you, if you believe that statement that you would help your neighbor if you knew they were in need, create an account and help one person and set a goal to do it. Even if it's twice a year, once a month. Um, just take that next step. Take the next step, step towards generosity for us. That would be the best thing you could do
Joey Odom (52:04):
From personal experience. It's so well worth it. Do it as a family. Do it yourself individually. Have your kids do it. Let them make it a project for them. Let them take control. We don't give enough credit to our kids. They, they would love to do that stuff. And they, and if you give them just, Hey, here's some money. Go, go help some people. You said something earlier, by the way. I'm gonna come back to that. I love you said when your kid, your kids know that Daddy, you use your phones to help people. What a cool, we love technology here. We, we put it down, we want people to put it down for a few minutes every day. But what a cool framework your kids have. Oh yeah. A phone. That's how you help people. What a cool paradigm that you can, you can kind of flip the script on phones. That was just something that popped out. So I would encourage families, go, go. Please do go set up an account. Go get involved. We'll have all the stuff in the show notes on, on where to download and all that kinda stuff. Um, and then it's prop ity.org. Is that the, is that the website?
Blake Canterbury (52:55):
Yeah, prop preity.com.
Joey Odom (52:57):
Preity.com. I like that. Bringing it outta the real people, you know. I like that. the.com. You
Blake Canterbury (53:02):
Can find it. You can find it. Preity dot, if you can put purpose and generosity together, you'll get there. I love it. <laugh>
Joey Odom (53:08):
Blake, bro, thank you so much for all the work you're doing. Thank you for your wisdom. Thanks for making me cry a little bit. Um, appreciate that. Um, and man, I appreciate what you're doing. Thank you very, very much.
Blake Canterbury (53:19):
Same here, man. Really enjoyed the conversation,
Joey Odom (53:23):
Our gang. You know what to do. Go download the Purposity app, get your families involved in giving, make it just a habitual part of your life and your family culture. Propensity is such a cool way to do it. It's very, very tech forward. It's using tech for good to help people around you. People you might pass today. And if you knew they were in need, you would help them and propensity allows you to do that. So, so grateful for Blake and his team. Thank you very, very much for tuning in to The Aro Podcast. We can't wait to see you for the next episode. The Aro podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Pod co. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support and to our executive producer Aro's own, Katelyn Farley.