100 world domination summit

The $100 That Changed My Money Life

A stranger hands you an envelope and says, “Inside this envelope, you will find $100.”

“You’ll also find some basic instructions,” he continues. “They’re really quite simple. Make an investment, start a project or invest in someone else. The money is yours, and what you do with it is up to you.”


I was attending The World Domination Summit (yes, that’s the real name), organized by Chris Guillebeau – internet-famous traveler, entrepreneur  and author of the $100 Startup. At the end of three days, I joined 1,000 of my fellow attendees in the auditorium and sat in shock as Chris explained that he was giving each of us a $100 bill in an envelope with those simple instructions: invest that money in yourself or someone else.

Check out the video below to see how it all went down:

What would you do with that $100?

I exited the theater with the other audience members and was promptly handed an envelope. The theater was buzzing with conversation. We were all wearing the same disbelieving, elated grin and asking each other the same question: “What will you do with your $100?”

I couldn’t stop smiling. Sure, I was thrilled to have been handed free money. But this wasn’t the same smile you get when you find $5 in your pocket. It was a challenge: it was my job to grow this money into something bigger. I was tasked with investing this money in myself or in others, and to watch the waves of that initial $100 ripple throughout the world.

There were no strings attached to the money, and yet I felt as if I carried the weight of the world.

It felt like this was the most important $100 I would ever spend in my life.

Credit: WDS 2012 Flickr Stream and Armosa Studios

How Intention Can Change Everything

It was a simple gesture: give a person $100, and see what they do with it. But that envelope fundamentally transformed the way I think about my finances.

I asked myself:

What if we treated every $100 with this much intention?

How would it affect our financial health? What kind of values could we teach our children with so much purpose behind a single financial decision?

My notion of money – something that you earn for the sake of supporting your livelihood – was flipped on its head. For me, money had been a scarcity, a finite resource to budget, to save and to spend. For the first time in my life, I saw money for what it really was: a tool to create value in the world.

In the days following the conference, I felt so many emotions about my $100 bill:

  • I felt abundance, knowing that I had what I needed in my life and I could freely give this money away.
  • I felt clarity, knowing that I was making a choice to use this money that had more emotional value than monetary.
  • I felt responsibility, knowing that it was my duty to invest my money wisely, and my decision would impact another person’s life.

It’s amazing when you remove money out of its day-to-day context – the endless cycle of earning and spending – how clear its purpose becomes.

Getting $100 never felt so good. And I know that giving it away will feel like a million bucks.

P.S. I’ve decided to invest my $100 in my brother who’s trying to build his career as a musician. It felt so great to give him the money with a copy of Chris Guillebeau’s $100 Startup and tell him the story of this money 🙂

Want more intention with your money? Get your free copy of my money comic guide below!

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