June 1

Paying it Forward


Today I fed an old homeless guy in Bogota, Colombia from over 5000 miles away.

Well, that’s not completely true, but I was partly responsible for it.
Let me explain.

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Last edited 13/04/2020

The Back Story

I was emailed a few days ago by one of my subscribers Darren Chapman who lives and works in Bogota for a venerable old company, and he was in a pickle.

He’d been given a dataset to analyse and his boss said to him what all bosses who have little understanding of data analysis say – that he should be able to complete the work in a couple of hours.

‘After all, you’ve got all the data, and Excel gives you all the buttons you need to do everything for you, right?’.

Yeah, what planet are you on guv? 

3 Reasons The Boss Was Wrong

Except it was the kind of analysis that he’d never done before and he didn’t really know what he was doing, so he reached out to me and asked me for a bit of advice (in my other business I'm a Data Scientist, but don't worry - that's got nothing to do with this story).

I had a look at the dataset and figured that:

  1. 1
    ​His boss had no idea what he was asking Darren to do
  2. 2
    It took me 18 months to learn how to do this kind of analysis
  3. 3
    You can’t do these analyses in Microsoft Excel, you need more specialist tools such as CorrelViz (shameless plug to one of my own products!)
How to improve your day by paying it forward


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Teach a Man to Fish

The best way to help him was to do the analyses myself and write a help document that explains all the steps I’d taken.

You know, like the teach a man to fish thing…

So I spent a couple of days doing the analyses and when I’d finished I sent him the results. I’m a generous sort so I did the whole thing for free.

I could have charged him, but I didn’t want to. I was just happy to help.

A couple of hours later I got a reply from him that said, and I quote directly (complete with CAPITALS and exclamation marks!!!):


“HOLY SMOKING RAISINS!!!! WHAT A PIECE OF WORK!! I’m totally gobsmacked”.


Payback, Part 1

I guess he was happy then.

Well, actually he was so happy that he said:

“I’m standing at a street food stand now and just bought lunch for an old homeless guy as a way of giving something back to society, the way you have helped me”.

When I got up this morning I was looking forward to the day and hoping it was going to be a good one. 

It turned out to be a lot better than I had hoped. 

Payback, Part 2

After getting his email I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day.

I told the story to other people.

They smiled too.

Better still, some of them went on to do good things for others during the day.

For no reason.

I never expected anything from doing the work for free (except a small thank you), but I got so much more.

I paid it forward – you know, like the film.

My guy in Bogota paid it forward.

Others around me paid it forward. 

We all felt good about it, and an old homeless guy 5000 miles away got fed. 

​Pay it Forward - do a good deed and get DOSEd #payitforward #mentalhealth #workfromhome

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A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings

This is what happens when you do something generous.

You don’t do it so that someone will owe you. 

You do it because, well, just because. 

And you just never know what good will come of it.

A butterfly flaps its wings and sets off a chain of events that can be felt on the other side of the world.


But here's the thing. There's a very good reason why you should do random good deeds for seemingly no reason.

You should do them because ​they make you feel good - you get a shot of DOSE in your day:

  • ​Dopamine
  • ​Oxytocin
  • ​Serotonin
  • Endorphins

​These are the 4 primary chemicals that can drive positive emotions you feel throughout ​your day.

Dopamine is commonly known as the 'happy drug', while Oxytocin is the 'social drug' and helps us feel empathy.

Serotonin is the 'good mood/bad mood drug'. When we get enough of it we're in a good mood, and vice versa.

Finally, Endorphins are the 'pain killing drugs' that helps us push through when we're feeling discomfort or pain.

​Getting Paid

​So you see, when you do a random good deed, you get paid - in DOSEs.

And when you're in difficult situations, like we're all in at the moment - ​isolated at home a long way from our friends, colleagues and loved ones - you're going to need regular DOSEs .

It's why in such difficult situations people often come together (whilst staying 2 metres apart!) and do good deeds for their neighbours and communities.

  • ​People go shopping for elderly neighbours.​
  • They volunteer at local food banks.
  • They go and do unpaid work at the hospital, even if it increases their risk of contracting coronavirus.

​They do it because they get their just rewards - a healthy dose of DOSE!

How to Work From Home...

​and ​stay productive, healthy and sane

Learn how to balance work-life, home-school the kids and keep your boss happy too!


​Daily Gratitude Journal

​One of the things that I recommend you do - to aid your mental health - is put little moments of joy into each day.

I mean, actually schedule them!

​One way of doing this is to put set up a daily gratitude journal on Happyfeed.

Happyfeed is a free app for your mobile that encourages you to record 3 things at the end of each day that you are grateful for.

This helps you ​train your brain to focus on the positive moments in your life, lower your stress and feel calmer. In the longer term it helps you find a more positive outlook in life.

Check it out, see if it's right for you.

Pay it Forward

So what generous deed can you do today to pay it forward?

Go ahead – do something good for someone for no reason other than it feels good, then come back here and tell me all about it.

  • ​Did it make you feel good?
  • Did someone else do something good as a result?
  • Did you get some kind of Karmic pat on the back?

The Pay it Forward Foundation

​PS – there is a Pay It Forward Foundation established by Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of the novel Pay It Forward.

Go and check it out.

No, I didn’t know it existed either, but here we are paying it forward again…

​Recommended Reading

​Below are a few books that I highly recommend reading. You already know Pay It Forward, but there's also The Science of Positivity that helps you learn simple, practical examples to shift your thinking to take advantage of the DOSE happy chemicals.

And finally, a novel - This Book Will Save Your Life. This book first caught my eye whilst travelling in Sri Lanka. After reading it for the first time, I've since re-read it many times more. It's so uplifting and helps you get perspective in your daily life.

Check them out, and if there are any similar books that you recommend, let me know in the comments below and I'll add them.

Who knows? Maybe in time we'll have a whole library here!

And yes - they are big, fat, hairy scary affiliate links...


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